An Interview with Karen Mangia
Don’t be afraid to experiment either. You never know what will be successful and go viral.”
We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?
In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Elina Furman.
Elina Furman is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor with over 15 years in the baby products industry. She is deeply passionate about spreading awareness about the importance of infant/child massage and earned her infant massage certification after talking to many parents who were confused and bewildered about how to perform baby massage. In June 2022, Elina officially launched Kahlmi, the first bonding and massage tool for babies/children using Acu-touch technology and gentle, low frequency vibration to help families connect, calm and comfort. www.kahlmi.com
Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?
“As a new mom, I wished I had known about the role that touch and massage plays in establishing the connection between mom and baby. My son suffers from anxiety and had colic as a baby and I wish I had been taught about the importance of baby massage. Our first year was one of the hardest of my life and I know had I learned baby massage, it would have made it much easier.
As a seasoned baby industry veteran and consultant, I have helped and scaled many baby brands and created new categories in the juvenile products space. I have 15 years of experience as a consultant, marketer, and expert in the baby/child industry, during which time I launched and scaled baby companies from $0–35 mm and have been widely documented in industry publications.
After a two-year sabbatical, I decided I wanted to develop a mission-based company around baby massage, mindfulness and wellness and received my certification as an infant massage instructor. That’s when I designed the first patented baby massager, Kahlmi, that fosters interactivity and connection while allowing parents to quickly and easily begin the massage journey.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?
“I learned two important lessons:
1. Everything takes twice as long as you anticipate: Patience and persistence are key, even when you’re not sure about the final results and especially when it comes to product development. It’s best to take your time creating the perfect product and not cut any corners, since this is the most important aspect of any business.
2. Product is king. If your customers don’t love your product, you might as well go home. When I first created Kahlmi, I tested it out with families and babies to see how they would react. I carefully designed every aspect of the baby massager to make sure the toughest critics (babies!) loved it. And thankfully they did. How well the product works and how satisfied the customers are with the overall experience is what matters most, and this is the basic framework from which I operate.”
We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?
“Kahlmi is all about making a positive impact in the world and with families. Regular baby massage helps reduce violence and abuse by producing secure adults and helps promote mutually respectful familial and extended relationships. Cross cultural studies have shown that in cultures where children receive appropriate tactile input, they grow to be less violent and contribute to a more compassionate society.
Kahlmi’s mission is to spread awareness of the many social, psychological and emotional benefits for families. The social impact and larger scope of the company includes education at the institutional level to help underserved populations develop a greater understanding of their babies, which results in healthier relationships and less child abuse.
When children are shown love, they feel loved and respected, and in turn grow to be loving, respectful and secure adults. This creates a healthier and more compassionate society.
I spend a lot of my days building our social community that has over 700K followers on Instagram and Tiktok. I grew my channels organically in one year because of the educational content and value my massage education provides. I learned early on that you have to provide your community with real value. The baby massage videos are a huge hit with my followers and parents often email thanking me for helping in their motherhood and fatherhood journey.
My goal with Kahlmi is to bring peace and calm and connection to families. Due to social media and our devices, we are more disconnected than ever from each other and this can take a toll on families. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be just another product taking up space in people’s minds or on shelves and that I had a real core mission of helping families thrive, connect and find peace during their most tumultuous years.”
Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?
“As a baby care expert, I focus on education and bringing value to parents in a fun and informative way so they can watch the videos and take something away every day. As long as you focus on helping others, you will be successful. Too many influencers worry about how they look or sound when in fact providing valuable education is the fastest and most rewarding way to grow.”
Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?
“Success to me means not feeling guilty and not stressing over the everyday list of to-dos that pile up. As a busy mom entrepreneur with two boys who need to be driven everywhere, I used to spend a lot of my time stressing that I wasn’t giving enough time to them or to my work. Now that they have turned 10 and 14, I have a little more breathing room in the sense that I have deliberately tried to carve out time for myself and the business without feeling guilty about it. It’s a constant learning process but I feel like I am making more strides. I realized that in order for me to be happy and be a great mom, I need an outlet for my own dreams and aspirations.”
What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?
“I don’t have any specific strategies and some days are easier than others, but I try to carve out time for work and also my key relationships. I try to shut off work on weekends and evenings and focus on their needs and work very hard to get everything done during my children’s school days. I also prioritize my time with my husband by going out once a week as well as time with my mother and sister who I am super close with. It’s also important to maintain relationships with friends and I try to plan parties and get-togethers to foster connection whenever I can.”
How do you reduce or mitigate stress?
“I try to take a long view of every situation and forgive myself when I feel stressed and overwhelmed. I think ‘will this impact me 10 years from now, 20 years?’ And if not, I try to let it go.”
I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’
“My biggest tip would be to be consistent and figure out what the world needs to know and then deliver it in an engaging, fun and educational way.
Growing social media is all about Reels and videos these days. There is not much organic growth happening otherwise. But the important thing is to be consistent and pick a day once a week where you shoot all your videos for the week and post 3–5 times a week to warm up the social algorithms.
Don’t be afraid to experiment either. You never know what will be successful and go viral.”
What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?
“I try to be authentic and helpful and provide science-based facts and advice, helping parents understand that they have much more agency and competence than they thought. Too many news sources and information makes parents question themselves and become less confident. It’s important to empower parents so that they realize that they have everything their baby and child needs to be happy and content.”
As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
“Yes, I am already doing that by focusing on holistic and natural methods for baby care. The Kahlmi movement is all about bringing peace, mindfulness and love to the family home through touch and togetherness. Combining ancient traditions rooted in science and putting a modern twist on them through technology and innovation. That is at the core of everything we do.
By fostering connection and bonding at the earliest stages, Kahlmi’s mission is to help families thrive and set up a lifetime value of communication, understanding and connection. We are facing a huge anxiety epidemic among children that if left unchecked can contribute to a host of later anxiety and depression amongst young people.”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂
“I would like to sit down and have an Italian brunch with Sophia Loren. She’s an inspiring, glamorous woman who has had amazing career longevity, raw talent, and continues to be a female icon and inspiration. She also managed to have it all, family, work, travel and purpose in her life, which is what we’re all striving for.”
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
“You can follow me at kahlmi.com and at the below social media channels:
Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!
About The Interviewer: Karen Mangia is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world, sharing her thought leadership with over 10,000 organizations during the course of her career. As Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, she helps individuals and organizations define, design and deliver the future. Discover her proven strategies to access your own success in her fourth book Success from Anywhere and by connecting with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Elina Furman Of Kahlmi On How To Cultivate Connection & Community In A Click to Connect World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.