The story of Coleen Otero’s life could be summed up as a journey of resilience. At one point, she and her husband were riding high; they had four properties, three cars, two thriving businesses, a great social life, and a loving family that included four children. But then the 2009 market crash changed all of that and the pair literally lost everything. It took the couple two years to fully recover, and now Otero is using her experience not only to create new businesses but also help other women learn to soar.
Born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Otero has worked with such celebrities as Sherri Shepherd, Sisaundra Lewis from “The Voice,” Myesha Chaney of “Preachers of LA,” and Junice Rockman from “Relationship Rescue” to help them develop their brands. The celebrity beauty expert, branding strategist, and motivational speaker currently owns YourBeautyXpert, LLC, a store that sells products for Pure Luxe Remy Hair and Smize Lashes. She also launched the CEO Chicks, an interactive mastermind group comprised of aspiring and established entrepreneurs that offers members masterminds calls, retreats, courses, coaching, and services to help their brands excel.
Now, Otero is taking her talent to print, publishing, “Brand to Bucks,” an entrepreneurial guide where she shares five success strategies on how to master, market, and monetize your brand. The book includes inspirational success stories, business lessons, advice, and integrated coaching exercises to help individuals develop their brand story. Otero and her team of industry professionals have also developed “iCandy,” a company providing marketing tools such as video promos, photo shoots, website development, logos, product line concepts, production, and social media management for branding clients.
Before “Brands to Bucks,” Otero released the ebook and virtual mentorship program Thousand Dollar Day$ through which she shared the solutions and strategies she has learned on her road to success. Here, Otero spoke with MadameNoire about some of those life lessons and her plan to empower other women.
MadameNoire (MN): You run several businesses and you’re a mom to young kids, how do you balance it all?
Coleen Otero (CO): I have to say it took time to learn how to, but I’m juggling it all. It is important to have a good support system. And with your business, you can’t be afraid to delegate. You have to take some things off your plate. That’s a must.
MN: You went through a very difficult period when you lost everything. How did you come back from that?
CO: When the market crashed, my husband and I lost everything. We had entered the real estate business and we were this young couple in our 20s living high. But we learned from these mistakes. We were house rich but cash poor and that is a formula for disaster.
I had a beauty salon that was doing good but we had to close it. And I realized that was actually the best day of my life. It had always been a dream to own my own salon. It is the dream of many hair stylists, and when it opened I could cross that off my bucket list. But closing it was actually freeing. I could reinvent my beauty brand. That is how we came back, by rebranding.
MN: What led you to write “Brand to Bucks”?
CO: It started as a blog and since I love to write I kept expanding on the idea. I learned a lot from my journey about business and branding and I wanted to share this information.
MN: What were some of the key lessons you learned?
CO: That there are two types of entrepreneurs I have worked with. There are those who are analytical, and those who are the fly-by-the-seat of her pants type and if these two types partner they can be a dynamic team.
If you are alone, you can use the techniques of both. Sometimes it’s best to analyze things, and other times you just have to take a risk. There is risk in entrepreneurship.
MN: Why did you describe “Brand to Bucks” as a Brand Bible?
CO: I put so much of my own experiences and information in the book and I feel it really is a practical and easy-to-follow guide to branding. I go through the problems someone might face in branding to offering the solutions.
MN: What do you think is the biggest mistake female entrepreneurs make?
CO: Often times we will overestimate other people and underestimate ourselves. But if we take time to cultivate our own gifts, the well will never run dry.
MN: What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to branding?
CO: People tend to misunderstand branding. Branding is not just the logo and the business cards. It’s not about the surface. Branding is about the feeling you want your company to convey. You want people to connect with your brand on an emotional level. And to do this you really have to be clear about what your brand is and the message of your brand.
Another mistake is copying someone’s marketing idea. What works for one brand, won’t work for your brand. Each brand is unique and it takes patience to develop your own brand strategy.
MN: How do you find the message of your brand?
CO: Think about the story behind the brand. Why was the brand born? What is the style of the brand? If the brand was a person, what would its personality be? Why will people need your brand? These are the questions you need to ask when getting clarity on your brand.
MN: What do you like most about what you do?
CO: I love when people fall in love with their own brand.