AZHELLE WADE: “What you learn to love as an entrepreneur is roller coasters, so—
AMY PORTERFIELD: “Truly. You got to learn to love it.
AZHELLE: You got to learn to love it. Like, the ups and the downs, you know, when things are going down, you're going down on a roller coaster, it's like, okay, open rates are down. It's quiet on social. My client list is down, and that's scary, and financially, that's scary. But at the same time, it's thrilling, and it gets your endorphins running, and your survival mode kicks in, and then you pivot and react because you know that roller coaster is going to go back up. And honestly, after the roller coaster of cancer, I'm, like, anything is fine. Anything where I know the roller coaster is going to come back up is totally fine because I can handle it.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small–but–mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step–by–step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY: I think by now you probably know that I love bragging about my students. Honestly, the stuff they do continues to amaze me. And what works out in my favor is that I know you like to hear about their stories and strategies, too. So today I'm sharing a crazy–fun story from my student, Azhelle Wade, who left her very cozy ten-year, six–figure corporate job to create the online business and digital course that she has today.
Now, make no mistake that leaving her job wasn’t overnight, and making the decision and final leap wasn't the easiest thing she's ever done in her life. But I'll tell you this, my friend. She's never looked back. I just love this story so much.
She's going to share actual strategies that she took to officially take the leap into entrepreneurship, tangible strategies that you can use as well. We're talking about a couple of unique approaches that she took to generate—well, I'm not going to tell you how much money. You got to listen. I want her to share that with you. Plus, we're talking about how to make your brand unforgettable and how she shook things up in her industry with some diversity.
Okay, my friend. We have a lot to cover today, so let's get to it.
Azhelle, thank you so very much for being here with me today, I am honored to have you here.
AZHELLE: Oh, Amy, I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
AMY: Of course. I mean, we have so much to cover, but I love your story because you transitioned away from a cushy corporate job into being an entrepreneur, and a very successful one at that. So can you share a little bit about what your journey looked like from corporate to where you are now?
AZHELLE: Yeah, of course. So I worked in the toy industry for ten years at corporate jobs, one after the other. And like you, I am the type of person where I give 150 percent. So I climbed up and across the ladder really quickly, and I got to be a VP at a toy company by the age of thirty.
And then, I went to this toy–industry event. It was an awards event, and I met this woman who was so passionate about this game that she'd invented. And so I was at this position where I could really have helped her bring that game maybe to my boss and say, “This is something we should license and we should work with.” But she did not know how to express to me what the game was or tell me what I needed to hear to even be able to do that. And that is where the very first idea came to my mind, where I thought, “You know, there should be some sort of a resource where I could point somebody to and say, I love your energy and I love your passion for toys. But this is what you need to present a product to someone like me. Follow this resource.” And I thought, “Yeah, I think I'm going to just, like, make a blog around this, teaching people how to pitch your toy ideas, how to invent toys.” And then I was like, “No, that's too much work. I think I'll have to do too much work to do a blog. So a podcast will be way easier,” right? Yeah, yeah. Right. So easy.
AZHELLE: It’s so easy.
AMY: And so you did that, though.
AZHELLE: Yeah. So I developed the podcast, realized it's not easier than writing a blog.
AZHELLE: Essentially, a podcast is doing a blog and then some, so—
AZHELLE: —way harder. But, yes. I built out this content library, like you teach. I've been listening to you, I've got to say, for, like, seven years.
AZHELLE: Yeah. I've been in depth with all of your podcast episodes. I've learned so much.
I built out this content library around toys the way you do for marketing, for online marketing. And once I built out that library and that podcast, people started reaching out. They started saying, like, “Oh, can you help me with this idea? Can you help me design this?” And my sister was my biggest supporter. She was like, “Azhelle, when are you going to pay attention to the universe? Like, when are you going to listen to what's happening and move away from your full–time job?” But I was really comfy making six figures at my full–time job.
AMY: I hear ya.
AZHELLE: Right? I didn't want to leave.
But then one day I got this email. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in a car dealership getting my car fixed to drive this adorable Mini Cooper. And I got this email from a potential client, and they were, like, really impressive. They had an incredible brand that they'd already built up, and they wanted someone to help them with a specific project, and it was a project I'd be really excited about. And I forwarded the email to my boyfriend immediately, and I said, “Babe, I think I've got to quit my job.”
AMY: Whoa. What did he say?
AZHELLE: He was like, “We'll talk about this when you get home.”
AMY: It’s really scary just to even talk about quitting your job with your partner. It's scary for them as well. I remember when I told Hobie I wanted to quit. He's always been in support of it. But he was like, “Okay,” because like you, it paid the bills. It was good money. And there's security, and the security is every other week you are getting money, rain or shine, no matter what. And so that is scary. And then don't even get me on health benefits like, holy cow, you live in the U.S. It's a thing, for sure. So all of that is scary to take the leap, but you did it. So first of all, congratulations.
AZHELLE: Oh, thank you.
AMY: Every leap deserves that big congrats. So congrats to that.
So, for my listeners who are in the shoes you were at, that crossroads, and they want to leave their corporate or their nine–to–five job, what would you say are the best strategies that helped officially make that leap? And what fears were holding you back about getting the courage to make the leap? Give me some tips, some strategies, and share some of your fears.
AZHELLE: Yeah, sure. So I guess the very first tip that I learned because of the quarantine imposed by COVID was savings will set you free.
AMY: Mm, yes.
AZHELLE: It will set you free. And we don't need nearly as much as we think we do to live. And working and going to a job every day is actually expensive, in, at least, the city that I live in. The travel, the maintenance for the car, and the tolls, it was very expensive. So at the end of the day, I look at my finances, and I'm like, “Yeah, I might be making this much money, but a huge chunk of that is getting me to work.”
And I would just say to anybody thinking about it, really look at your finances. Think about what you could sacrifice for just six months. And I say six months because I think I sacrificed about three to four months, and I had enough of a nest egg, but I already had some money saved up. So I would say, look at your finances, and look at what you spend money on. And, seriously, cut out the things that you think like, “Oh, I can't give up that dance class,” or “I need to order out.” Really cut those things out for a predetermined amount of time, and you will start to build up this nest egg that will give you the freedom to actually make this choice. That is what I had, and that was the very first foundation that allowed me, a planner, to even consider this idea of like, what if I don't have income in the next month or two?
AMY: Ah, so good. I love that you brought up the finances. First of all, I love that you said you don't need as much as you think you do. And number two, you talked about this idea that there are some things that you can cut out, and there's some money you’re spending because of the job you have now, the way you live right now, that you can definitely rework that. So really, really good strategies.
Now talk to me about some of the fears you had.
AZHELLE: Oh, man. Well, you know, a lot of fears.
AMY: There’s always a lot.
AZHELLE: So many. So very many. I mean, help was definitely a primary fear for me. I haven't told you this yet, but I am also a cancer survivor.
AMY: I didn't know. Okay. When was that, in this whole scheme of things?
AZHELLE: So I was actually working for Toys R Us at the time, and it was 2016, and I got just this horrifying, out–of–nowhere diagnosis of kidney cancer. And everything I Googled said I was going to die.
AMY: Oh, my gosh.
AZHELLE: So, number one, don't Google it. Don't do that.
AZHELLE: But that experience, going through it and getting lucky. I mean, I really got lucky that it was just—it happened to be the rarest form of a rare situation of somebody my age having this type of cancer. And this rare form of cancer was just likely to not recur, and it had a 95 percent survival rate. Like, it's a totally different world. So I got a new lease on life. And then I became, essentially, a serial entrepreneur.
I relaunched my costume company, and I actually think this was the same time that I found you, now that I think about it.
AZHELLE: Yeah. Because I was like, how do I market this online? And then I did some research, and I discovered your podcast. So from there, my mindset shifted. So I became very much a doer, a go-do–now type person. You don't know. Tomorrow's not promised. You never know what's going to happen. So you've got to try whatever you can today.
So the biggest fear was definitely health and trying to figure out how I could pay for my health care if I needed to. And that just required a lot of research. It was a ton of research. I had my mom on the job too. Together, we figured it out, and we got something that I could afford to maintain my health. I applied for help through the hospital that saved my life. And I have to say, what you learn to love as an entrepreneur is roller coasters, so—
AMY PORTERFIELD: Truly. You got to learn to love it.
AZHELLE: You got to learn to love it. Like, the ups and the downs, you know, when things are going down, you're going down on a roller coaster, it's like, okay, open rates are down. It's quiet on social. My client list is down, and that's scary, and financially, that's scary. But at the same time, it's thrilling, and it gets your endorphins running, and your survival mode kicks in, and then you pivot and react because you know that roller coaster is going to go back up. And honestly, after the roller coaster of cancer, I'm, like, anything is fine. Anything where I know the roller coaster is going to come back up is totally fine because I can handle it. No problem.
AMY: It's so true. And I love that you said after the cancer that you had a new lease on life, and I do think that puts things in perspective. And at the same time, I think about things like that. And for those of us who haven't experienced anything like that, God forbid, yet, but let's say we haven't, we have this great benefit of learning from people like you who have gone before us to say, don't wait. Get your priorities straight. Really figure out what you want and go after it because you don't need a cancer diagnosis to say, “I’m going to go all out and be this entrepreneur I want to be.” And so we are the fortunate ones that can learn from your harrowing experiences. So thank you so much for sharing that. I think we need to talk about situations like that more and more. I really appreciate it.
AZHELLE: Oh, of course. Yeah. I hope no one ever has to experience it, and I hope that I can inspire people to go out there and just do.
AMY: Yes. Just do.
Okay. So speaking of. Another thing I want to explore with you is turning your expertise—so whether that be in corporate or in some kind of nine–to–five job—turning that expertise into a business. And I think there are two things we can cover here. One, how do you hone in on what you could take and make into, let's say, a digital course? And then two, do you have any tips or things to keep in mind if you're wanting to go this route and kind of moving in this direction? So can you offer some advice there?
AZHELLE: Yeah. So when I look back on what I actually created with my course, I realized that I really created what I wish existed when I was first starting my toy career, because before my toy career, I studied toys at the Yeah. So when I look back on what I actually created with my course, I realized that I really created what I wish existed when I was first starting my career, because before my career I studied toys at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I learned to draw toys; physically make toys in a workshop, with wooden lathes and silicone molds.
AMY: Okay. This is the coolest thing. Like, we haven't even touched on—you've got a really cool background.
AZHELLE: Thank you. Thank you.
AZHELLE: I was modeling toys in 3D. But it wasn't until I got into the toy industry where I really learned toy business. So when I started the outline for my course, I didn't realize what I was going to build. I didn't realize that I was creating what I wish existed. But I did know who my IC was, going back to that event where I met my IC and I knew what they needed help with. So, I had this pretty clear vision of who they were and what their questions were. They tend to be these analytical creatives that get lost in the details. And I started to ask myself, “What are they going to need to thrive?” And with you in my ear, I realized they need rules and they need a system, right? And then I was like, “And what else will they need if they feel alone? They're going to need a community. And then what else are they going to feel like when their imposter syndrome kicks in and they're like, ‘I shouldn't be making toys’? They need support and toy-spiration.”
So all of that is what I built my identity as The Toy Coach around and then, also, my actual course. I built out a system for developing toys. So it’s all of the things that I learned in my career and in school. I compiled it all into a system for developing toys. And that was the most important part to what I created.
AMY: Okay. I'm really glad you brought up the S word, so, system. I teach this in Digital Course Academy, to get some kind of formula, roadmap, flow system together for what you want to teach and how you want to teach it. And I want everyone to hear me right now to say that it will change over time, but you have to start somewhere. So don't be afraid to take everything you know, your years of education or experiences, and put them into a system of how might I teach this? What do they need to know? What would this maybe look like? It's that crappy first draft that they talk about when you write a book. You just got to go for it. So the fact—because I think a lot of people are afraid to put together a system when they've never done it before, but that's precisely what you did, and look where you are now. So I think the system is really important. And I'm assuming, over the years you've refined and changed it and made it better.
AZHELLE: Yeah. I actually have several systems. I'm not going to lie.
AMY: Great. Tell me about those.
AZHELLE: Well, one of the first things I created was called the Toyetic Principles. And these four principles are the guiding light—and this is something I actually give away for free on my podcast but dive deeper in into my course—and this is the guiding light for creating products that are more toyetic. Toyetic products are products that would lend themselves well to being blown up in, like, in a media sensation or building an entire toy line around them. Toyetic products have four things: one being distinct character personalities. Two, they're scalable by theme. Three, they've got these, like, specific accessories to the character. And four, they have this fun surprise conflict for the kid to keep them coming back again and again.
So I built out—that was my very first system. And it resonated so well because it gave people a simple way to think about designing and creating toys. And I realized that I came to these principles, these four toyetic principles, because this is exactly what I go through in my mind when I'm improving or creating a new toy product. So you just have to look at the end product of whatever you want your IC to make and ask yourself, “If I was making this, what are the questions that I would ask myself? What are my checks and balances?” And that will turn into your system.
AMY: Yes. This is such great advice. I hope you all are paying close attention. This can help in content creation in general, digital–course creation, if you have a membership site, this can help all of it. This thought process of someone who's gone before you, so very valuable.
Now, another thing I want to explore with you is this idea that you did a launch party, and I freaking love that.
AMY: So give me a quick rundown of what that launch party looked like, and also tell me about your launch. Give me some details. What were your results?
AZHELLE: I am so excited to talk to you about this launch party.
AMY: Me too.
AZHELLE: I'm not going to lie. So, I was in Digital Course Academy, but you hadn't gotten to the webinar phase yet when I decided to throw this launch party, launching my course. So I had no idea what I was doing.
AMY: Overachiever. These are my overachievers. They just do it. It’s so good.
AZHELLE: Listen. I’ve been following you for seven years, so I felt like—
AMY: You earned it. You're like, I can go ahead a little.
AZHELLE: Yes, exactly.
So, I'm looking at my personality online, right? And this is how I came to the decision to do a launch party. I'm looking at who I am online, how I'm showing up, and I have pink hair or purple hair, and I deliver my message about toys in a very fun and engaging and entertaining way. So when I looked to plan what would launch my course, the word webinar to me felt like—I don‘t know. It didn't feel fun enough. Masterclass felt too scary and serious for my IC.
So I went back to my roots of when I created and launched my costume line, and in that world of fashion, you would normally have a launch party for your line or for your product. So I was like, “You know, maybe I should have a launch party.” And I thought it was the beginning of quar—well, it wasn’t the beginning. It was around September in quarantine, and people were getting antsy. So I was like, “We're going to make this fun. We're going to make this feel like you're out with me at a party.”
So I got a ton of balloons, and I got some champagne, and I planned on some prizes and giveaways. And I sent a very simple email to my list saying, “I know you've been waiting for this, and it's almost here. The launch party is going to be this date. Click this button to tell me that you want to RSVP.” I had no real tracking system. The only thing that happened was people got moved over into a group in my email–service provider that says they clicked the link, so I knew they were interested.
AMY: Okay. We're keeping it simple. This is how you do it in the beginning.
AZHELLE: I think I—honestly, I think I was playing it small. I think I was scared. I thought no one would sign up.
AMY: Oh, you know, this is interesting. Let's stop there for a second.
AMY: So a lot of the times—I love the honesty here because a lot of the times people will say something like, “Well, I didn't have time to do a lot, so I just did this and that.” And it works for them. They do their very best, and they take action, and I love it. But I think underneath that—and it's okay what's underneath that as well—is “I didn't do ten things, or I didn't set it up sophisticated because I was scared. What if no one shows up? Like, I can't do all that stuff knowing what if this doesn't work.” I think that's very honest and true, and it happens to most of us. Thank you for sharing that.
AZHELLE: Exactly. That was exactly how I felt. Yeah.
AMY: Okay. Keep going. Keep going.
AZHELLE: So I had a bell. I think I had, like, forty people that clicked the link. But then, you know, there's some people that just see a big button and they want to press it. So I don't know if they really meant it. They didn’t have to put in any information. They just click a link. So then I had, like—I think I had, like, forty people when I said, “Oh, people might show up for this.” So I was like, “Let me put it on a Facebook event as well,” because I was a little more confident, right?
AZHELLE: So I made a Facebook event that was on—it was public. I think it was on my Facebook group page. And I said, “The launch party, same information, same fun picture of me with balloons. Click here to say you're going.” I was giving giveaways. Like, if you show up, you'll be entered in a chance to win a free one on one with me, and things like that.
So then, when I put the Facebook group together, only, like, ten people I think said they were going to show up on the Facebook group. And I was like, “Oh, no. This is so embarrassing. Why did I put this up here? Now no one's going to come because they all see that no one's coming.” So I was super nervous.
But when the launch party launched, I think at some point I had, like, forty to forty–five people show up. It was really hard to see. The iPad was very far away. I couldn't really tell. But the people that came were super engaged. I was asking questions like what was your favorite toy growing up? And then once my nerves kind of settled, I stopped shaking, because I shake when I get nervous.
AMY: Me too. Me too.
AZHELLE: You do not. Really?
AMY: Yes. Promise I do. In the weirdest times, my whole body convulses.
AZHELLE: Yes! Oh, my god, yes.
AZHELLE: Oh, wow. Oh, that makes me feel so much better. Yes.
AMY: Yeah, for sure.
AZHELLE: So, yeah. Then, my boyfriend was like my VA for the day, and he was logged in on another computer, answering questions and fielding things. And I just kind of entertained. And then after entertaining, I said, “Okay. Thank you guys so much for showing up. Let's go through the modules.” And I kind of—I hadn’t built this course yet, right? This was a presell. So I was like, “This is what the modules are going to be.” And as I'm saying it, I'm like, “Well, I'm committing. This is what they’re going to be. This is what they have to be.” “There’s going to be,” I think I said, “six modules. The last module is going to be a part A and a part B for inventors, for entrepreneurs. And this is what you can kind of expect in each. I want to invite you to sign up today as my founding members,” and all this. People were commenting, like “So excited.” Some people were like, “This is too expensive.” And I was like, “It's not for you.”
And then, I log off of this one-hour launch party, and I had three sales. I had three sales.
AZHELLE: Yes! I had three sales, and I literally cried. I cried.
AMY: Aw. You did it!
AZHELLE: I cried. I jumped up and down. I hugged my boyfriend. I told him, “Amy Porterfield said if you can make $1,000 online, you can make $100,000 online.” I was so excited.
AMY: Amen! Amen.
AZHELLE: I was so excited.
And then, over the next forty-eight hours—I had a special for the price for forty–eight hours because I have a special email list for first–time people that wanted in on the course—and the next forty-eight hours, like, 70 percent of my sales came in.
AZHELLE: And I eventually hit twenty–five students.
AMY: So good.
AZHELLE: Yeah. I made 11K in sales.
AMY: So fantastic.
AZHELLE: I’m like, what is my life?
AMY: Right? It’s like, I am a millionaire—
AMY: —because it’s just the potential you know is there. So I get it. When I made $30,000, I thought I made $300 million because I had unlocked the code, and you did too. Like, you did the work, and you figured it out.
AZHELLE: Oh, man. Amy, thank you for saying that. I don't—it doesn't feel like that. You're always like, how did that happen? But—
AMY: Right, right.
AZHELLE: —[unclear 25:11]
AMY: I get it.
So, yeah. So that whole process. And then I actually gave myself time off, like you always say, after the launch, and I had, like, four days before the course actually kicked in. And it was a mad dash every week trying to create those modules and trying to live up. But I think about halfway through building the course, I realized, “Oh, this was way underpriced.”
AMY: How it usually happens. So what did you charge for your course, again?
AZHELLE: Oh, my gosh. It’s embarrassing. Should we say it? I don’t know. It’s such an embarrassment.
AMY: Just tell me.
AZHELLE: I’ll say this. So the original price I think that I loaded up was $697, right?
AZHELLE: But for people that were on my super-special “I want to get in on this now” list, there was a 50% discount for those first—
AMY: Got it.
AZHELLE: —forty-eight hours.
AZHELLE: And I mean, I don’t know. I didn’t tell you this, but in my course I also include group coaching. So with that group coaching, with all the stuff I was building in, and the contacts and everything, I was like, “This is way underpriced. This is outrageous.”
AMY: And the great thing is that happens in—there’s nothing wrong with it. I actually like that that happened, because here’s why. Now that you sold it for under four hundred bucks, that you're like, “No way. There's group coaching. This is too valuable,” the next time you sell it and you charge more, you have confidence because you know how it felt to undersell. So you're not scared to go up, because you're like, “I'm not going back to that.”
AMY: So it's this confidence builder through the launch, after launch, after launch. So I'm not mad about it. I actually love that it worked out like that. I think that’s great.
AZHELLE: Thank you. And you have testimonials, right?
AMY: And you have testimonials, which is so incredibly valuable.
AMY: So, okay. So tell me this. What is one takeaway that you think made that launch such a success?
AZHELLE: Oh, can I give a few?
AMY: Please, please.
AZHELLE: So, number one, I think that that initial promo price with the forty–eight hours obviously drove a lot of sales, and I would say for a first–time launch it was a great idea, again because I didn't have the testimonials to support this specific course and also because the course didn't exist, right.
AZHELLE: I think that drove a lot of sales and conversation. People were DMing me and saying like, “Oh, my gosh. I just missed it because I'm in the UK, and your email came so late,” and I was like, “Okay, here we go.” You know, that was a really good move.
But also, I would say, I actually gathered some video testimonials about working with me as an individual. So I didn't have course testimonials, but I had kind of, I guess, personality and business–relationship testimonials on my sales page so people could see other people saying, you know, “I worked with Azhelle, The Toy Coach, on this project, and she's phenomenal. I highly recommend her, and here’s why. She helped me do x, y, z.” And I feel like that combined with me showing up and being really natural with people as far as who I am and how I teach really let people feel comfortable, like they were in the right hands.
AMY: Gotcha. Yeah. That’s really great advice. Give me some more.
AZHELLE: Yeah. And okay. This one I think is huge, but, of course, I didn't have good systems in place so I didn't track this very well. But I feel like showing up on other podcasts—
AZHELLE: —and doing webinars for my industry really helped people know me.
AMY: Yes. Now, did you do this the first launch?
AZHELLE: Yeah, I did—well, okay, so I did them way before the launch was planned, just because I was trying to build up my notoriety as The Toy Coach. But what started happening is I would literally go to webinars, and people would be in the comments like, “Oh, my god. The Toy Coach is here! We love her!” and I’d be like, “Who are these people? Who are these people?”
AMY: So good.
AZHELLE: But it was so cool. I was like, “Oh, wow. You know me, and you remember me, and that’s awesome.” And I think building that personality and that relationship and having a simple name for people to remember, just so valuable.
AMY: I mean, who doesn't want to be called The Toy Coach? I want to change my name to The Toy Coach.
AZHELLE: [unclear 29:24].
AMY: One thing I’m jealous about right now—
AZHELLE: It’s pretty cool, right?
AMY: —is that your topic is more fun than mine.
AZHELLE: Oh, no.
AMY: You get to do—I mean, of course, what—I know this is so cliché, and I'm also showing my age—what movie do I keep thinking of and I can't think of the name?
AZHELLE: Oh, Big?
AMY: First of all, do you like that movie?
AZHELLE: Yeah, I like it, but it also—it was a little before me, so I watched…
AMY: Totally. Yeah, it’s very old. I’m very much dating myself. But I remember just the good feelings of that movie because obviously he kind of got to be a toy coach a little bit, but—
AMY: —it's such a great topic. But you're right. The fact that you had this cool name and people remember that and they can call you out by that, there is some power in that.
AZHELLE: There is real power. Honestly, I've toyed with the idea of changing the name of my podcast to The Toy Coach because people—
AMY: Uh, yes.
AZHELLE: —people literally keep calling it that, and I’m like, “That’s not the name of it, though.”
AMY: Wait. What is the name of your podcast?
AZHELLE: So it’s Making It in the Toy Industry, with The Toy Coach,” but people just say, “Oh, The Toy Coach Podcast.” I’m like, “That…”
AMY: Okay. I kind of like The Toy Coach Podcast. And maybe just be careful because now that this is going to go live, someone else might grab it.
AMY: But also, you could always do The Toy Coach Podcast: How to Make It in the Toy Industry could be your subtitle.
AZHELLE: That is so true.
AMY: I mean, I don't like to give unsolicited advice. You could just keep that title—
AMY: — and title you have, and it'd be great. But it is really a fun title.
AZHELLE: You, my sisters, and everyone else—
AZHELLE: —is telling me the same thing. I have thetoycoach.com. I have it,—
AMY: Good, okay.
AZHELLE: —so it's not a problem. I can still have it, but, okay, fine, Amy.
AMY: Do it! It’s so good.
AZHELLE: I hear you, and I’m taking your advice. By the time this goes live—I'm a doer—it'll be done.
AMY: Okay. She is such a doer. This is a magic of how you get to the finish line with your digital course. You just do it. When you don't know your analytics, when you don't know what a launch party is, but you do one anyway, and when you just get scrappy.
And I love the advice you just gave about getting on people's podcasts, even before your live webinar. You want to build rapport, and you've got to get out in front of people that you normally would not have in your audience. That's the power of growing your audience. So I'm all about it.
AZHELLE: I have to tell you, I also did a wrap party.
AMY: What? What did that look like?
AZHELLE: It was the similar thing. But this launch—I have a launch coming up soon, so I'm actually going to be combining my wrap party with your webinar strategy.
AMY: Nice. Okay. What it will look like? How will that go down?
AZHELLE: I think it's really going to be like a webinar, but there will be, like, a little party right before it, and then maybe a little party and giveaways at the end of it. But last time, it was literally the same thing as my launch party. I went through the modules, and it pushed some sales, but not as many as the first one. So I definitely think I'm going to be combining your webinar with my wrap party.
AMY: Okay. In a wrap party, it could be a really cool thing you do on cart close, right?
AZHELLE: Yeah. It's my cart-close party. Yes.
AMY: Okay, cool. I think that is fantastic.
So how many times have you launched? Have you just done the one launch of $11,000?
AZHELLE: Yes, just the one launch.
AMY: Okay. So, you've got launch number two coming up.
AZHELLE: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
AMY: Okay. So I am going to be waiting for all the details.
AZHELLE: Oh, I’m so scared.
AMY: And tell me one thing you're going to do differently in launch two that you learned from doing launch one.
AZHELLE: Yeah. So much that it's scary. I'm doing a lot more—I actually have a pre–launch runway, for a change. That’s number one.
AMY: Yes. Fantastic. A lot of people just go out with it without a prelaunch, so the next launch, they’re like, “Got to get that prelaunch.” Great.
AZHELLE: Right. So I launched a quiz: What Type of Toy Creator Are You?
AMY: Ah, yes! I'm obsessed with quizzes.
AZHELLE: Yeah. It's doing well. And then, I'm having a game night, which is something I really wanted to do, but I feel like it's going to be a real good bonding experience with the people that follow me. And I also had a toy challenge, which was incredible. I made it a fourteen-day challenge where we came up with ideas, and I coached a bunch of people. I had thirty–nine people doing that.
AZHELLE: It was a free challenge, but it was a challenge.
AMY: Yes. Great, great list builder.
AZHELLE: Yeah. So I've been doing that stuff. I've actually been doing that stuff more as like a nurture—the challenge was more of, like, nurturing my current list, kind of.
AMY: Yep. Brilliant.
AZHELLE: But people did sign up. And yeah, aside from that, I'm going to just go live. In the first launch, I actually went live once a week. So my goal is—I know this is crazy—but my goal is to go live every day for a week.
AMY: I’m not against it. I mean, here's the thing you got to remember with live launches. You go all in; then you take a break. So it's nothing that I would encourage long term, but going live for a full week, you can do it. I have every—if you want to. Everyone listening that you're like, “Amy, that's hustle mentality,” then it's not for you, and I support that. Other people get really excited about the challenge. So I'm all for it. Yeah. Do what works best for you.
Okay. I've got two more questions for you. Number one is, what are one or two strategies for creating a brand that becomes what you are known for? Because you've built a really wonderful brand. Obviously, we talked about having a great name. So that does help.
AZHELLE: That's number one.
AMY: Yeah. What are some other strategies for creating a brand that really becomes what you are known for?
AZHELLE: You really have to know what your mission—oh, it's so funny that I'm saying this, because I literally—this is what I recorded my podcast episode today about, knowing what your mission is—it’s so funny—
AZHELLE: —knowing what your mission is for your brand, who you're going to help, and why you're going to help them, and why you're the best person to help them so that that resonates with every post that you do. But at the same time, that you understand who you are, who you're helping, and why, that you also have to meet your audience where they're at.
And I specifically, I'm thinking of a time when the Black Lives Matter protests happened during the quarantine. I remember looking at my boyfriend, and I was like, I have to say something about this. So I did a podcast episode on the ripple effect of racial bias in the toy industry. And that podcast episode blew up in the toy industry. People were sharing it. People were DMing me. People were posting about it, commenting on it. And people felt that I had a really strong voice, and they wanted me to come and speak at their companies, at their events, about this topic. And I think what just happened was I met them where they're at. And I also served them in the same way that I always said I would serve them. I didn't just preach from a hilltop about why black people matter. Of course we matter. But what I did in this episode is I made it very specific to my audience, and I said, “These are the mistakes that are happening in the toy industry right now. And these are the steps that you can take to help fix these mistakes so that black people, any other people of color, Latin, Asian, they're not being pushed down anymore and that they're rising to the top.” I gave direct, actionable advice on how you could handle racial bias in your specific company and how you can attack it for your specific toy products.
AMY: Okay. I want to go into that a little bit more. But before I do, I just did an interview with Zafira Rajan, and we were talking about writing email copy in a way that your personality really comes through. And one of the tips she gave was to not be afraid to be polarizing or to really speak your mind, take a stand, be known for something. And what you did there I think was so important, and you did that. So can we talk about breaking through the glass ceiling of diversity in your industry and what that has been like for you personally?
AZHELLE: I mean, I'll let you know when I finish breaking through it.
AMY: Right? Like you have.
AZHELLE: Like I break it, and then there's more ceiling.
AMY: Oh, yeah. Good point. The journey thus far. Talk to me about that.
AZHELLE: Right. Yeah. I mean, it was definitely a struggle. When I was working at corporate in some companies, you'd hear things being said about product or about people, and you just bite your tongue as a black woman when you hear things that you don't agree with. And the worst part is I'm actually a light–skinned black woman, and a lot of people, for some reason, felt more comfortable saying inappropriate things to me, not about me, but about other dark–skinned black people.
AMY: Whoa, whoa.
AZHELLE: Yeah. It’s really weird. It’s very strange.
AMY: Terrible. Yeah.
AZHELLE: So strange. And I think they see me as, “Oh, well, you get it, right?” Like, they feel like we're on the same team. And I'm like, “No, we are not on the same team. We are not.”
AMY: Yeah. Not at all, my friend.
AZHELLE: No. My father and my brother and my sister are all dark–skinned black people. So like, “No, we are not on the same team here at all.” So it was really hard to hear these things and to know what—and not to not know what to do, and I didn't do enough. And I see my position now as The Toy Coach and the fact that people are actually listening to what I have to say and listening to my podcast for advice, I see this as an opportunity to help guide people, based on my past experience, how I would have handled situations differently. And I give them advice that won't necessarily negatively affect their career, because I know you want to protect your career, but you also want to protect and express your values. So I try to use the position I'm at now to educate, guide, and give advice as far as being a black woman in toys.
AMY: Yes. And we need more black women in toys.
AMY: And I love that you are speaking up and making it happen. So that's incredible. I'm so glad we talked about that as well.
This literally has been one of my favorite podcasts.
AZHELLE: Oh, stop.
AMY: Don’t tell anybody. I love your enthusiasm. I love your scrappiness. I love your topic and what you’ve done with it. And most importantly, I love that you took the leap. You were in a great job, but you knew there was more for you out there. You knew that you could serve. You didn't have it all figured out. You figured it out as you went along. And I know somebody is listening right now that needs to hear this, that you just need to do it, my friend. It will never be done the way you think it should be done perfectly. But that doesn't matter, because my friend here made $11,000 figuring it out as she went.
And I can promise you this is just the beginning. You're going to be back on my show. We're going to talk about that $100,000 launch because I agree—
AZHELLE: Oh, my gosh, Amy.
AMY: —if you can make $11,000, you can make $100,000. You will be back, mark my words. And when you do, we will be back. It’s not all about the money, but it sure is fun seeing what you're made of and seeing what you can do. And the money's a byproduct, and we're going to talk all about it.
So until you come back again, tell me this: Where can my listeners find out more about you?
AZHELLE: Oh, they can head over to thetoycoach.com, or literally follow me anywhere at TheToyCoach. I'm on Instagram. I'm on Twitch. I’m on TikTok, but it's embarrassing. And I’m on Facebook. You can @TheToyCoach me pretty much anywhere.
AMY: Okay. This is fantastic. And we'll link to all of your stuff on my show notes so you guys can check it out there as well. Thank you so much for being here.
AZHELLE: Thank you so much for having me. This was too cool.
AMY: Okay. Azhelle is a freaking rock star, right? Her energy just radiates. And I have a feeling that you are inspired right now. You're going to go out there and kick some butt because you know that all you got to do is take action, my friend. Just take action.
Now, I'm so bummed because—speaking about taking action—when I stopped the recording, Azhelle and I were talking a little bit afterwards, and she told me that she was actually on TV because of a series of events of posting on social. And she might be in the works for a TV show, which is really cool, but she was asked to speak on talking about different diverse toys that you can gift to people. And she got this really great TV segment, which is wild because she had never done that before. I personally think she should be a host of some kind of toy–making/creating challenge reality TV show. I'm just putting it out there. I hope that happens for her. But we actually put the video of Azhelle on TV in the show notes. So if you go to amyporterfield.com/366, you could see her in action. And her segment was longer than anyone that had been ever offered a little segment on this TV show before. She got to talk longer than most. I think it's because she's that good. So I'm just over–the–moon excited for her.
So, I hope you take just one strategy that we shared here today and put it in action in the next twenty–four hours. Deal? Okay. I can't even wait to see what you create.
If you're ready to leave your corporate or your nine–to–five job, just know that I have your back. We can make a plan. We can set a date. We can do this together. You'll keep hearing my voice through this podcast. Join me in Digital Course Academy. I could guide you along the way, step by step. Let me be in your court because I know it's a scary step, but it's one where you will reap the benefits for years and years and years to come.
Thanks for joining me here today. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.