Jade Darmawangsa founded X8 Media after years of experience in selling products online that she would buy from sites like Alibaba. Her first ventures, while quaint, helped give her the basic tools that she needed to be able to earn a living in the world of online content marketing. We sat down with Darmawangsa to discuss everything from her start in selling Kawaii keychains to what inspired X8 Media in the first place.
Grit Daily: You had your own adventures in business before you launched X8 Media. Share those.
Jade Darmawangsa: I remember my first business venture so vividly. When I was nine, I started a business called Simply Kawaii on Weebly—this was before Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify. I would buy products from Alibaba, sell them at my little store, like my home garage, and make YouTube videos to market them. My business didn’t make money until I started listing my products on Amazon. I made around $5,000 after a few months of selling these Simply Kawaii keychains. This led me to start my company X8 Media. I knew I had a passion for content marketing, so I created X8 Media as an overhead to help other brands market better to their customers
Grit Daily: What’s behind the X8 Media name?
JD: There are two main components to the X8 name: number one is, it sounded cool. The X in Chinese is pronounced as “shen” and it refers to the Xin Dynasty meaning mighty. The number eight represents infinity, a symbol of how boundless you can be. In Ancient Chinese culture, there was a time when the Chinese economy developed and gave inspiration for innovation to many Western countries. A lot of leaders emerged from that and I wanted to emulate the good things that can come out of such hard times. So with X8 together, the two characters mean powerful and boundless.
The second component is that I needed something that could represent everything that I wanted to do and be a versatile name. I believe in multi-niche creators but don’t believe you should be in one bubble. When working with creators, I hope to subconsciously empower people to do whatever the fuck they want and realize they don’t have to be tied down to just one thing. So it was exciting to come up with a super well-rounded name where if tomorrow I wanted to start a kitchen pan company, I could.
Grit Daily: For the uninitiated, what is the Raisn Brand?
JD: The Raisn Brand is my version of talking about my experience working in the creator economy for almost ten years. It’s real stories and interviews, and sharing things that I have learned every week. For me, the Raisn Brand is super important because it’s the only platform where I feel like I can be myself and tell stories that I might not be able to on other social media.
In 2018, we did climb to top 50 business podcasts, which is super cool, but my goals were to raise a brand beyond the number and to have real conversations. My goal from today and moving forward is to focus on making the podcast as authentic as possible.
Grit Daily: How do you generate new ideas for your clients?
JD: I’m an observer. I learned by recreating and taking different elements of campaigns that I love and bringing them together. A lot of my ideas are not original, and that is important to note.
Artists don’t copy, they take elements from other art and put it into a new piece
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
It’s essential as a brand and marketer to take inspiration from other people; the key is fusing different ideas that fit together.
Another way I generate new ideas is with real stories. I understand the importance of having a voice for the brand. As soon as you start thinking about the brand as a person it allows you to generate ideas. Copywriter Abigail Ann and I are always asking ourselves; how does this person sound like, how do they look, how do they speak or what is their attitude like. When you look at a brand as a human being, you get a lot of inspiration. I believe that learning from other brands, campaigns and developing a unique voice are all great ways to get ideas.
Grit Daily: How do you distinguish yourself from your peers?
JD: I don’t try to distinguish myself from my peers. Many people want to be original, and they want to be different, but you honestly don’t have to try that hard.
Sometimes I get inspiration from other people or my mentors, so I take on some of their characteristics. I think it’s okay to have something in common with people, but I think what makes you truly unique is having all these behaviors, traits, and experiences specific to you.
You can feel pressure to stand out every time, but there is beauty in recreating and getting inspiration from others. The important thing is understanding that you are the only person with all those traits together blended like a smoothie in one person.
Another way I try to be more of myself is by expressing myself in different mediums on video. For me, it’s simple to showcase my attitude, my voice, and my playfulness. I am also an enormous fashion enthusiast. Some might say that I look at Pinterest and copy it, whatever, but I’m really into it.
I believe that you don’t necessarily set yourself apart by trying to be different from other people. You just have to find your medium of how you want to express yourself.
Grit Daily: What is one conventional wisdom about influencer marketing that’s just plain wrong?
JD: The primary conventional wisdom of influencer marketing, that’s just plain wrong, is that by getting someone with followers, you will sell your product. There’s this article, you can look it up, where an influencer or an Instagrammer with millions of followers could only sell twenty-three shirts from her merch store.
When you think about that, you’re like, damn… she’s probably a lousy influencer. You’d be surprised at how common this is. I think many people believe as a brand hiring influencers selling a product will be easy. If you’re an influencer working with brands, you might think it’s also really easy to get a brand deal. People do not realize that the influencer marketing has changed a lot. There are many more creators, which creates more competition and makes it harder to influence others on what to buy.
You have to understand that you don’t go from wrong to right. Every time you launch a campaign, you get 2% better. Learn from your mistakes and improve. When you make micro improvement over time, you will significantly get better. It doesn’t happen overnight.
If you want to know the truth, no one truly knows what they’re doing. We’re all a little bit confused when it comes to working in this industry. It’s important to note that people show their confusion in different ways. Remember not to bring people down in the process or be hard on yourself. Give yourself some compassion so you can be a kinder person in this world.
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