Overcoming the Odds

the

Nicole Walters Podcast

The Nicole Walters Podcast

Join me each week for a new episode packed with what you need to know to gain clarity, grow your network, and monetize your life using the proven corporate strategies I’ve mastered in 10 years as a Fortune 500 executive.

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SHOW NOTES

Friend you may be able to skip church this week because Durana Elmi, co-founder at Cymbiotika, is here preaching! Throughout this chat, Durana shares how she has overcome the odds and while doing that, she tucks in nuggets for our lives as mommas and business owners.

You KNOW you won’t just hear the all the achievements Durana’s earned. We dive into Durana’s background and how it informs her life today. Her story of starting fresh is one you won’t want to miss!

 

Nicole:

Friends, so you know that typically for our chats, it’s just me and it’s you cooking dinner, hanging out in your kitchen, being with the kids in the car, right to work. But occasionally, I like to invite someone in who I know is going to speak into, let me be honest, our lives.

And I have the opportunity to chat with someone who honestly I don’t know if everyone gets access to this level of knowledge, experience, and just genuine authentic warmth, wisdom. I’m here with Durana Elmi. She is the co-founder of Cymbiotika and I know a lot of you already know about Cymbiotika because back when I said I was looking to round out my supplement journey, the amount of people who slid into my DMs saying Cymbiotika is the way to go, was just overwhelming.

Well, because of that, you know, I love my research. I am so pleased to bring her in for this conversation. Now I just wanted to let you know that this is not a conversation strictly about supplements because you can go anywhere for that. You know who I am and you know how I love to honor our time together. When I have a powerful, strong, accomplished woman with a heck of a story across from me, I’m going to ask her how she got here. Because we all need the fuel to keep going so friends I’m so excited to welcome to Durana. Durana, thank you for being here.

Durana:

Thank you Nicole. You’re such a powerhouse yourself so oh such a privilege to be here to meet you. And I feel like I should be interviewing you. I could be learning a lot from what you do.

Nicole:

Oh my goodness and my angel she’s saying all this looking gorgeous, put together, hair curled right? And her kids, I bet you know where they are. I don’t know where mine are right now. Do you know what I mean? You are amazing.

Durana:
We could definitely be friends. I don’t know half the time, honestly. I’m like, one hour at a time. I can’t keep up with all life has to offer.

Nicole:

Yes. Oh, I get it. I get it. So before we dive into like all the work stuff in the stats, tell us about your babies. How old are they and what are their ages? All the good stuff?

Durana:
Yes. So I have two incredible daughters. Yasmine is 10 years old. Oh 10 going on to 40. She’s very, very mature. Truly my best friend. My second daughter, Ariana is eight and a half. And she’s probably about 33 right now. Her spirit is about 33 years old. Love, love being a mom. They have redefined what success means to me. They’ve given my life purpose and everything I do because of them and my incredible husband and my mother, has given me intention. Like I live with intention. It’s not just our company mantra, but everything is very intentional for me.

Nicole:

Oh, do y’all hear this? I told you, Durana is our people. Like she gets it because that is exactly how we all feel about our littles. You know if there is a reason to do the work we do. It’s because we’ve got these incredible legacies that we get the privilege of raising.

So all that being said, eight and 10. That is quite the energy. I’ve got an 11 year old and she turns 12 next week, I don’t know if she’s gonna make it. I’m telling you she’s driving me crazy. Like I’m telling she came out in a crop top and many shorts to go to sixth grade and it was an event. We had a conversation. How are you managing, having two littles knowing that you’ve got to get work done, you’ve got responsibilities. What’s it like momming every day?

Durana:

Well, at their birthday parties. I always have alcohol.

Nicole:

That’s right. That’s right. keeps us together. Listen, I went through a divorce. I’m telling you when people are like, do you drink? I’m like, I went through a divorce. Yes, I drink.

Durana:

That was honest. I always have some wine or champagne for the parents because I’m like, we have to be here together. Yeah, we’ll get through this.

Nicole:

Solidarity.

Durana:

So you know, it’s tough balance. When I was pre-kids, I was a corporate Gao and I did that really well. Then I had children and I was like, what is this? This is an absolute shit show. I don’t even I can’t even turn these kids off. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, to be honest with you. After becoming a mother. My respect for moms went up a million folds, because I’m like, How do you do this? And, for me, to be honest, I first remind myself that I am completely imperfect. Every single day is not going to be how I plan it out to be. But I just tried to be the best version of myself.

And having two daughters who want to emulate everything that I do, I’m very cautious, most importantly, how I treat people. Because I think that if I can raise two daughters who are kind to themselves, in terms of how they speak of themselves, how they feel about themselves, and then they’re kind to the people around them, and they’re kind to the world, and they have the ability to think outside themselves, I believe that I can really make them rich, and the character that they’re going to be, and they’ll live a meaningful, purposeful life.

Nicole:

Oh, my goodness, y’all understand, we’re just at the beginning. I mean, like, so, so good, and so valuable. I think that’s something that comes up a lot. And I want to kind of call out what we’re hearing echoed from all the powerful ladies that we do chat with here. And we don’t chat with a lot, I really don’t say yes to a lot of interviews, because I do want to make sure that if I share someone with, you know, my community that I really understand their values and the product that they built, and you are a great example of that Durana.

And I think what you’ve shared here about giving yourself grace is something we all need to hear. We’re going to be imperfect, for sure. You know, and the idea about being present, you know, when you have a lot of things going on. So I want to ask you in a practical way, you know, I think that as moms like you were saying in corporate we think we have to do it all, you know, talk to me a little bit more about that. Do you have a team? Do you delegate? Have you learned how to, you know, have a support system? Or are you really doing it all like give us the real because you look good today you will seem put together you have this incredible business which is your fifth so what is the truth? You know, are you doing everything yourself?

Durana:

I think anyone that sits here or says that they do something all by themselves is full of shit.

Nicole:

PREACH. PREACH… Are y’all hearing that? It is normal to feel crazy because you’re not supposed to be doing it yourself.

Durana:

Yes. So I have an extraordinary team of women around me. So first off I don’t always look like this I got an amazing glam team. It is so hard. In college, I went to UCLA, I used to, I was a Mac girl so I know full blown how to do makeup. That’s what was like your skin, your skin is amazing. So now I’m at a place where I’m like so tired. My mom’s like for the love of God, you have all this makeup like put it on your face.

Nicole:
I need it.

Durana:
So I do, I have an amazing glam team that helps me with obviously hair and makeup. I had to get a personal trainer because it holds me accountable. And I’m not afraid to say that. When like on the weekends, I figure out different workouts that for me, I love tennis. So I found my love and passion in tennis that holds me accountable to go work out and I play tennis without realizing that I’m actually working out.

Nicole:

That’s actually really powerful. I hope you all are hearing that mom tips if you can find something you love to do, it’s both a treat, a stress reliever, and it can be exercise. That’s very good.

Durana:

And then on the work front, 70% of Cymbiotika are women. And I am incredibly proud of that. I love women. I shared with you earlier, I was born in Afghanistan. So my love for women comes from such a deep place because when I think about what the woman in Afghanistan are going through today, I’m reminded of how lucky and grateful that I am today, every day doing what I do wearing what I wear, I’m making the decisions that I make.

And so if I can pave the way and help support other women around me that I know that I’m really living a purposeful life. At work these women are smarter than me.

Nicole:
You’re so generous.

Durana:
I swear to God and so I love surrounding myself with women that enrich my thoughts, move my emotion and help me be a better person, help me think differently, help me show up not just to work but to everyone around me. So yes, I do have an amazing team of women around me. And I’ve got a husband who’s incredibly supportive and the truth is it’s not easy and I think we’re very very hard on ourselves because society makes you feel… First off you go look on social media right and social media…

Nicole:

Preach. Tell it, like everyone seems some people are eating pancakes in bed with their children and hosting whole photoshoots like, I can’t do it. Yeah, not real life.

Durana:

I feel like social media, it just really like it can trigger an insecurity in you. So for me, it’s like there’s a very fine balance. I will put a post, like a few and then I have to get off. I always detox from it, that’s good, because I don’t want it to consume my thoughts or control my narrative of how I feel like I should look and feel. And the truth is, you know, you, there’s so many beautiful women out there. And there’s so many levels of success. So if you go on social media, it almost makes you feel like you need to compare your life to other people. And the truth is, you only need to compare your life to yourself.

Nicole:

That’s so good. I mean, that is so powerful. I think that comparison is part of what can be so difficult. I mean, even when you listen to these podcasts, and you hear things like, well, I’ve got this team or I have this strong marriage. And it’s so easy for us to be inspired at the same time as we compare within. Where we’re like, well, maybe I can’t do it, because I don’t have a great partnership. Or maybe I can’t do it, because I don’t have a great team. But now I want to go back to the fact that you are from Afghanistan. I think that so many people here, this portion, start comparing, but they don’t understand that, you know, your chapter one did not look like this.

So they’re actually comparing it to something that isn’t really fair, because you’ve done the work to get here. So let’s go back as the child of immigrants, myself, both my parents from Ghana, West Africa, you know, I’m first generation. So it’s not lost on me the incredible privilege that I have to have the options I do as an American citizen. And I’m grateful for them, because I know that my future could look different. And it’s part of why I work so hard and I run so hard and why I share so big. And I see that in you as well.

So tell me a little bit about your background. I think it’s something we relate on. How do you think that having, you know, a background from Afghanistan inspires your work ethic and your appreciation for the life that you have?

Durana:

I was born in Afghanistan, I left when I was about three and a half months old. Obviously, I don’t remember Afghanistan. Unfortunately and fortunately, I’ve never been back. Unfortunately, because of the circumstances today I haven’t been back. But I would love to one day go. And that’s my roots, my culture, my bloodline, that’s where I am from. Today, I say, and I wholeheartedly mean this, I am so proud to be an Afghan American, because I’m very Americanized. But my mother has always taught me that in order to know where you’re going in life, you must always remember where you’ve come from.

Nicole:
Very good.

Durana:

And I’ve done a lot of philanthropy work in Afghanistan, I’ve built three schools there, my father was very strict growing up, because of the cultural and traditional differences and the vast between the American culture and an Afghan or Middle Eastern culture, very, very strict father. You won’t believe this but to the age of 12 to 18, I could never go out. I was like Cinderella.

Nicole:
Oh, oh, I can believe that, my parents are African. So you know, it’s interesting, because I think that, especially here in America, so many people don’t realize how many overlaps there are. If you have old school parents, where it’s like, oh, we don’t date, you know, that’s not a thing. Or if you have those parents who are like, look, the door closes at eight you got to be in. We actually share a lot culturally, more in common, I think, than people know. And same thing for me. You know, even though I did not grow up, I was born here. But my household was Ghanaian. You know, and those are the rules that would you know, run the household.

My parents would literally say, You’re not like these American children. You need to understand they can do whatever they want. But you are African, what do you need to do at the mall? And what is at the mall for you? You don’t need. What do you need to sleep over at someone’s house? You have bed here. Yeah, how I was growing up, that is the culture, right?

So even though you are fully American, and how you’ve been raised in three months, I mean, you were a baby. You were raised, you know, as if you were in Afghanistan, you know, just different opportunities. So what was that like for you? Because shaping your perspective around what you can accomplish when you are living in two worlds is very difficult to do.

Durana:

It warms my heart that you can resonate with that because most times people are like what? So my closest friends know how dark my childhood was. I cried a lot. To be honest. I was very sad as a child because I couldn’t understand my father. And he was very successful, very wealthy in Afghanistan, left everything because of the Russian invasion and Haiti and came here. And so for him, it was even shocking. So he became an alcoholic. And I have three brothers. My brothers could do anything. Like they can bring girlfriends to the house. I couldn’t do anything and so when I would want to sit with my father and ask him why. Why can I go out?

Nicole:
But you can’t ask why though. One more thing you can’t do.

Durana:

I wouldn’t. I would physically get my ass kicked. And that became very norm for me. So I spent a lot of time with myself. I didn’t, so reflecting now as an adult, what I realized all that time that I spent with myself, lifting myself up having that inner voice that was self-love. And my mother used to always share with me, she says you can self-destruct. And the only person you’re going to hurt is yourself, you’re not a victim in this life, this is just your life. This is just your story.

So I never victimized myself for my childhood, I just remember that when I have the ability and the power to get out of this circumstance, I am going to do something powerful.

Nicole:
That’s right.

Durana:
I am going to make sure that my story can inspire another young girl. My father would never let me celebrate my birthday. And I’ve never ever actually share this. My closest friends know this about me because I, every year I throw a very, very big birthday. And I don’t do it because I love throwing massive parties. Well, part of that, of course.

Nicole:
Party is a good time.

Durana:

Yeah, the truth is I do that because I was never able to celebrate my birthday. So all the nights and days that I would cry, because my father wouldn’t even acknowledge my birthday, I would say to myself, God, if you give me the strength to get through these days, one day, I’m going to honor my breath. I’m going to honor my life. So that’s the reason why I throw such massive birthday parties because it’s my way of showing gratitude to God, to the universe, to my friends through the journey. So life wasn’t easy. But I think that at the end of the day, what you tell yourself determines your outcome.

Nicole:

Oh, so good. So, so good. I want to touch on that. Because I actually when I tell you the overlaps, y’all I told you, she’s our people, birthday blues are a thing. You know, there’s nothing more awkward to me now, as an adult, when people are like, oh, have like, I don’t even want people to know, because it’s so awkward, because I’m so used to not having birthdays, you know, don’t call attention to yourself, we don’t have money for that, you know, that’s an American thing. You know, like, that was kind of how I was raised.

So this year is my first real birthday party that I’m going to throw like a big one for myself. So I get it. And I really want to call out here something that I think you may be in a unique place to speak on. And I talk about this but, you know, for all my friends listening here, you know how sometimes you hear it from one person, we gotta hear from another to know that this is really true, there is so much that comes from taking the time to talk to yourself,the way that you deserve to be treated. And that is something you started doing when you were young. I didn’t start doing this until honestly, maybe eight years ago with like a lot of therapy, I really started coaching myself around, you know, even if you’re scared, give it a shot, you know, would you do the same treatment, you know, would you beat yourself up? If you were doing it to your children? No, you wouldn’t beat your kids up over making a mistake. So why would you do that to yourself, you know, I really had to work hard on restructuring the way that I treated myself right down to wellness, you know, which we’re gonna get into in a minute, you know, because that’s one of your, your whole business. You know, I wasn’t even good to myself, nutrition wise. 

But that said, you started doing that at a young age, which is such an incredible response to trauma. Has that been something you’ve called upon through motherhood? Being a business owner, in the day to day do you find yourself kind of coaching yourself through?

Durana:

Yeah, I want to mention something really interesting. When I was going through this trauma, I always listened to music. And now today, like music has become a really powerful way to heal yourself.

Nicole:
Wow.

Durana:
So I love music even they say like, like sounds like different beats help you through your pain, and can help you like through anxiety. And I didn’t know that but I love music and music has been a big part of my healing and has been a big part of like, who I am. I love music and even today, I wake up to music.

Nicole:
That’s incredible.

Durana:
And so I think that people and individuals have to figure out what helps them kind of get through the pain. So for me, it was music. I also at a young age cut out pictures and magazines to take away from my reality. And almost again, it’s called manifestation today…

Nicole:

Vision boarding. I mean, it’s what people are doing, but you’re you were doing at a young age.

Durana:
I would take myself out of my sadness and my sorrow and I would say okay, I had these posters, like, this is what my life will be like this and I would go into that. And so I would think about it so much. I think I 100% manifested my husband, I’ve manifested my life. I used to have a credit card is to be a size of a credit card and the one side had my three year plan and on the backside had my five year plan.

Nicole:
Incredible.

Durana:
And I believe that if you write it, you see it and you have it with you every single day. You live and you work towards it.

Nicole:

That’s like a biblical, so I’m Christian. That’s a biblical principle. They say write it down and make it plain because there’s real power In tongue in the Word, you know, so a lot of times we keep things inside because we think it’s safer than articulating it. But little do you know that is, you know, a plight, a tool of negative energy, right, you know, is telling you to keep it inside, you’re saying that writing things down, making it visual actually helps you kind of wrap yourself around it, so that you can actually make it real.

Durana:
Yeah.

Nicole:
Beautiful, beautiful, incredible. So I mean, this is all we could, I could literally probably talk to you forever, about just that stage of your life because I know that so much great work happened there to get you where you are today. So now you’ve built this incredible business. And it’s interesting, because on a lot of these podcast chats, y’all, people will start with, so you built this incredible business, and you do all these things, and then they go into the hardship. I want to tell you right now, I like starting with the hard stuff. Because if you hear all the glitz and glamour, it can be difficult to believe that this hard stuff came first. And I want you to know, real mom, every day, tough background, nothing handed to her had to do the same work that we’re all doing, which is coaching ourselves and building a fan all again, actionable work to make it real. So I want to talk about the start of the Cymbiotika brand. So when you first started, was it just an idea? What was the problem you were trying to solve?

Durana:

So there are three founders at Cymbiotika, my husband and myself and Chervin Jafarieh.

Nicole:
Okay.

Durana:

And the start of it was, we were living in Atlanta at the time. We were on our fourth business, my husband and I have realized we’re very ying and yang. He has things that he’s great at, I am terrible at the things that I am great at or good at or that I’m passionate about is not his forte. 

Nicole:
Wonderful. But y’all had a foundation of trust. Yes. And that’s a very big thing. Because you all know I’ve talked about relationships, plenty here, if you don’t have the trust that each person will do the part that they say they will do. It’s not going to work, even if you’re yin and yang.

Durana:

Yeah, well, yes, very true. And that also applies to the folks that you hire and bring on and your work family. That’s you hire folks, and you’ve hired them, but you don’t trust them. You’re better off letting them go.

Nicole:
That’s so good.

Durana:

Hire people trust them, you know, provide them with resources, tools, and then get out of their way and have that spirit of trust.

Nicole:

Wow, that is worth the price of entry right there. Write that down. That was a freebie. You’re welcome.

Durana:
I love you.

Nicole:
It’s true. I mean, that is like literally, we’re talking business school right there in one sentence, because someone right now listening is going to fire that assistant, who is wasting their time and energy. So thank you for that. But circling back to the so there’s three of y’all, and you’re starting it and what did you just sit down and you’re like, oh, you know, like, we need better supplements, or I mean, how does this even start?

Durana:
So my husband, Shahab, and Chervin were high school friends. So they had known one another so they go way back. We were living in Atlanta, we came here to visit because we have a lot of family and friends from Orange County, LA and we originally from Orange County. So we came out here. It was a kid summer break, we had state rented a home and we’re inviting all of our different friends that we haven’t seen in so long. And my husband invites Chervin over and at the time, I call it Cymbiotika 1.0 because there was one product, it was called Omega. And Chervin’s expertise is the science side of the business. He loves it. He’s incredibly great and passionate about producing formulations, products that work…

Nicole:
And are high quality and all of that. And y’all if you’re not familiar with Cymbiotika, the details will be in the show notes. It is worth checking out if you are interested in supplements, if you have been using supplements, I just encourage you to take another look at what you’re using versus what they’re offering to make sure because there’s a lot of evolution in the supplement world and Cymbiotika is on the on the forefront of that. So just check it out. It’s worth looking at. So I love this story just because, literally people think they have to be like struck with a genius or have 15 degrees to come up with a great idea and you’re telling me like I was a mom hanging out with my friends, you know, out of town even with the kids. And we all got together and sat down and we started kind of noodling the first version because it’s not perfect the first time.

Durana:
No, it’s not.

Nicole:
Many lessons

Durana:

Many lessons. And so when we sat back and you know kind of talked about well, what is the infrastructure of the company look like? There was none. Again, because it just wasn’t his passion like he’s like I’m just a guy trying to make great products like what I mean infrastructure, but that’s my husband’s and I that’s our forte, we come from a corporate background, I worked at T Mobile, AT&T. He worked at AT&T as well. And so that’s like our bread and butter. That’s how we know how to build scale the importance of infrastructure, people, culture. So the company was not doing well at the time and he said hey, you know, we should join forces because we all bring something so different to the table. It aligned with our values personally at the time. And still today, because after having two daughters, I had to reevaluate what success meant for me.

Nicole:

Yes, who don’t we all right? Do we even want it at all at the expense of our family? That’s something we all have to ask ourselves.

Durana:
Well, in corporate America success was for me at the time was defined by my salary, my title, and how many bags I had.

Nicole:
That’s right. That’s right.

Durana:
I had no children. I’m like, Yeah, I’m just accumulating things. And I had no work life balance. So the minute I had some time off, I was doing some retail therapy.

Nicole:
For sure.

Durana:
And after having daughters, I sat back with my husband. And I’m like, what? Like, what’s my story? Once these girls get old enough? That’s good. Mom’s super cool. We never see her. But she’s got a lot of bags. And I said to Shahab, I said, you know, we’ve got to redefine our stories. This isn’t our legacy. We’ve learned a lot here, built incredible mentors, you know, made a lot of money, great investments on the side, but this can’t be it.

Nicole:
Can we just pause for a second on this can’t be it because I’ve talked about this a lot, where I just want to battle against what we’re hearing so much in the world, which is, oh, you’re lacking money. Oh, you’re lacking this, and I don’t want to minimize money is a beautiful tool. It is so nice to have options. It’s a great gift. And you all deserve it. Okay, that is 100%. True. But it is not everything. And I have not met a single person who has made millions who hasn’t said to themselves at some point, this can’t be it. And ‘ve said it, you know, you’re saying it now. And I just want to call that out to let you know that if you’re starting from the beginning, keep that in mind, because you will come to this question as well.

So here you are saying like, you know, we know what it’s like to make money through corporate, we know what it’s like to have this stuff. We want to build something that allows us to also honor the life that we want to have, and also leave a great impact in the world. And that’s what happened here.

Durana:

Yeah, the times where I made the most money. It was the moments that I was most miserable.

Nicole:

That’s good. That’s good.

Durana:

It’s a very, like honest, discussion that are, you know, like an honest moment you have to have with yourself.

Nicole:

A lot of people don’t.

Durana:

I was miserable. I didn’t like the person I worked for. They didn’t make me feel good. And I lived a life just like going through the motions. Yeah, like, I just got to show up to work.

Nicole:
Yes.

Durana:
So for us, we had a lot of, you know, we had done well financially. And at this point, what my husband and I wanted was, we wanted to own our time back, because we didn’t own time. Corporate America owned our time, but that’s okay, that works for some.

Nicole:

And there’s nothing wrong with it. Because for some people, that structure affords you the life that you want to have, and let’s not minimize benefits, you know, I can appreciate not wanting to worry about, you know, navigating benefits and those things when you have a kid who has, you know, health conditions or whatever. But there’s also something to be said for always having a source of revenue, even on the side that you control. I always encourage that for everyone. And you know, call that an immigrants, you know, perspective, but you always want to have your own money.

Durana:

Yeah. And so at the time when we didn’t have children, corporate America was great for us. Yep. But after having children. The first steps my daughter, Yasmine took, I remember the nanny sending me a message saying your daughter took her first steps. And I was like it till this day, like makes me want to cry, because I’m like, if you really reflect back on what matters, it’s that. It’s those moments.

Nicole:
You can’t pay for those back, no matter how much money you make. I get it, even though again, grace to the mamas, some of us have to work and we understand it. But the truth is, if you had a choice, we all know where we would be. Yeah. So it was at that small table, you know, that it was like, Hey, we all have something to lend to this. We’re going to build this thing out, we’re gonna make it happen. And it’s really exciting. Because I mean, the product suite that you have at Cymbiotika is impressive. You know, and I know it started with, you know, one product that you’ve grown and scaled as you’re, you know, engaging with the market. My personal favorite thing about the company as I’m a corporate consultant, that’s my background. The thing that I love about the company is their approach to supplements, you know, the way that they’ve innovated the delivery of supplements is what really makes it stand out.

So for y’all who are like, well, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Most vitamins and supplements come in pill form. And that’s very challenging, I’ll just say for me, you know.

Durana:
And me.

Nicole:
You know, like I’ve hear it all the time. The last thing I want, especially as I’ve age is to take 15 pills, you know, to get the wide range of pure clean, you know, vegan products that I need. You guys do this thing called liposomal technology. And I don’t need to get into all the nuances. And frankly, none of us care. We care about how it works with our life, right? Liposomal technology basically means it’s like a gel.

Durana:

It’s a liquid form, it has the highest absorption rate, so your body absorbs it like its food. And so for us, it was when we first look, I’m sorry, if I could just take a quick step. No, of course, I think it’s important when you get into a business to really understand the landscape and understand the competitive landscape. So for us, we 100% believed and yes, there is such a lack of this in the industry, we looked at the competitive landscape. And really, there was none there, I had oversight before as being transparent. No one is creating products with no synthetics, no fillers, all organic, and just being completely authentic, and, you know, transparent in terms of how they’re making their products.

For us, it was like, we’re on to something. The world is lacking this. And again, it aligned with our values. So then we looked at, again, the competitive landscape and said, Well, everyone has this in pill form. And for me, I’ve got a pallet of a child.

Nicole:
Yep, same.

Durana:
I take the slightest thing, you know, my son, my son, my tummy hurts. So we were like, there are no supplements today, that isn’t a liquid form, that’s really filling that bridging the gap and bridging the gap, but is fulfilling the gaps in your modern diet. And we are going to do that. So we started out then that was Cymbiotika 2.0 is what I call it. And so when we started out, we built an infrastructure first and foremost, because most people think and they look at the success. But every single time we were profitable, we were successful, we took that money, and we put it right back into the business. So we built infrastructure, we brought our fulfillment in house. Then we… fulfillment for anyone, I apologize, I say that. But you know, we were using a third party logistics company that was fulfilling our orders. And there were a lot of issues, delays, all those things. So we said, You know what, we’ve got to bring in our fulfillment in house, we opened our own warehouse.

Nicole:
Which is very risky. Just let y’all know, as it is a bold move in business to say that you’re going to do in house fulfillment, because inventory management can be a killer that literally can sink your business, if you aren’t ordering the right amount. If you aren’t shipping out at the right time. I have a lot of business owners who are listening right now who can understand and relate to that. And, you know, but what I want to call out more than anything is, it’s a choice that every company actually has to make. If they are product-based at some point, and there’s no getting around it, you will look at your inventory and you will say I have to bring this in house to generate the right revenue and to scale.

And so for those of you who are listening, who are of the business standpoint, it’s a bold move. But if you make the right choices on the front end, you’ll feel confident in your numbers, you know, you’ll still feel scared, because it’s always scary.

Durana:
Always scary.

Nicole:
But it is the right move. So that was bold. And that speaks to sort of the team that you had around you, for you all to be able to say, we’re going to take this next big leap.

Durana:

Yeah. And we also brought in our customers experience in house, which again, very, very costly to do, especially in California.

Nicole:
And people management, oh, my goodness, just like headaches. You know what I mean? When you’re just managing people,

Durana:

We always reflect on the fact that we went from a company that was, you know, two people to today, we’re almost at 100. And so we brought everything in house, we brought in tech in house, we brought in marketing in house. And I think that’s very, very important is that you’ve got to invest in yourself. And for all the business owners that are listening, if you’re getting into a business to make money, I believe you’re getting in for the wrong reason.

Nicole:
That’s right.

Durana:
You’ve got to get in because you’re passionate about what you’re doing. There’s a purpose that you’re trying to fulfill, then the money will come. And most importantly, you’ve got to be prepared to fail.

Nicole:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Because you’re gathering data around winning when you fail, you know. And so that’s a big one. So, I mean, you entered the market with this new product. And I’m excited, I know that I happen to know the Cymbiotika story so I’m going to lead you into something that I want them to hear. I’m sure that the minute you enter the product you just took off and everybody wanted one and you were in every store and everyone loved you and you were the greatest company in the entire world and everything was perfect. And you made millions of dollars.

Durana:
Not at all.

Nicole:
<laughs> Really surprise, you know, the internet doesn’t make it seem that way. Right. So So I want to know, can you just let all the people out there right now who are saying, this is crazy. I’m trying every day I’m knocking down doors. I feel like I’m the only one. How did it really happen?

Durana:

We failed a lot. And I think that every time you fail, the answer is you just haven’t come up with a solution.

Nicole:
That’s right. That’s right.

Durana:

And so we fail a lot. The one thing is we’ve all stuck together and we believe and each other we believe in each other’s strengths. We continue to invest in the infrastructure and the team. When COVID happened, everyone regressed in their businesses, started shutting down their offices, we doubled down and said, we believe in ourselves, try, let’s go all in. And we even opened a larger office and said, We’re going to build greater teams within each department. Today, you know, people ask us are you in, you know, this particular store. And although it sounds really glamorous to be in every store, you have to make decisions that A. are true to your brand. B. You have to make sure that you can, you know, support that distribution, that you have the cash flow, because we’re self-funded, to if you know, if it doesn’t, if your products don’t move, you’re gonna have to buy that back.

Nicole:

Exactly. Right. And a lot of people don’t know that. Yeah. So I just want to let all of you know that you know, it’s a flex on the internet, people are like, Oh, we are in 100 targets nationwide, you may not know if you’ve never worked with a consultant, that target has one of the strictest buyback policies. And sometimes the deal to buy back is at a discount. So you can actually post a loss and get your inventory back and not be able to sell it. So you know, that’s not always the biggest flex, you may want to be, if you’re especially if you’re self funded, aware of your distribution, ecommerce can be a great place to start.

Durana:
Yeah, so we’re, you know, primarily D to C. And we’ve launched about a month or so ago, we had a soft launch in Dubai. Wow. And we know we’re in Canada, we’re in Australia, and we plan to go into Europe soon. But we’re very, very methodical in terms of where we go. Because it’s, it sounds great to be in all these places. But you have to make sure that you have an infrastructure to support that market. You have to have the infrastructure to support wholesale and every single experience in terms of our customer, if we’ve got a wholesaler, that’s our customer. If we’ve got, Target, that’s our customer, we’re not in target. As an example. Yep. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re delivering the same experience as you are D to C. So for us, if we can’t support that channel, we will hold off until we know it’s the right time for us. Again, because sometimes too fast of a growth can take you backwards.

Nicole:

Yeah. So okay. I know that we’ve had a ton of time here. But there’s so much in what you’re saying. And I hope everyone’s hearing it, you are literally a wealth of knowledge, because you are tucking in gems for life, right here with gems for business, you know, you don’t always want fast growth, you want sustainable growth. Sometimes we have to say no to opportunities we’re not ready for because I’m sure you guys get offers from large corporations. But it does not make sense. If it doesn’t fit into your strategy. Yes, you’re also sharing that intentionality matters again, and that is the thing I kind of want to close on because I have noticed that whether it is your life, you know, the things you survived when you were younger, and how you took that pain and trauma and applied it to your future or your business, the choices and changes and pivots you made for your personal success and private goals, intentionality, and strategy and structure are things that are the same everywhere.

You’re always intentional about everything you do. Can you just leave us with sort of, I hate to put the pressure on the one gem right, you know, but for the woman out there who’s saying to herself right now, I feel like my life is taking over. I feel like it’s not my own, you know, every day, I’m kind of running on autopilot. I feel like I need a fresh start. I feel like I’ve lost myself. You know, I’m working in the corporate job I’m clocking in but it’s killing my soul. You know, and I’m serving these babies. Where is one place I can get more intentional and take back a little bit of my life in my dreams? Where should I start?

Durana:

Self love. Self love for me is very important because I feel like it’s the foundation to how you do anything and everything. And I have a lot of girlfriends that say I don’t have the time to do something and I say you’re wrong. You haven’t made it important. It hasn’t become a priority for you. It’s not important enough. So for me, if there’s something, an aspect of your life where you’re like, gosh, you know, my I’m not happy with my career. You gotta I always say take a step back. Are you happy with yourself personally? Make those changes first. Because if you are happy from within, and you feel good, you feel empowered, you are able to conquer anything that comes your way.

Nicole:

Y’all. When I tell you you can skip church on Sunday, this was a whole sermon. Okay? I mean, come on, Durana with the fire. Okay, I’m over here revved up y’all like I could do laps around this building. So I am so grateful that you came in today not just to speak to into those of us who have businesses, you know, you’ve spoken to our little entrepreneurial souls, but to the mamas out there, you know, reminding us that we’re worthy and we should love ourselves because we’re showing up big every single day. Okay, as beautiful and wonderful and accomplished as you are, thank you for coming in here being real. I mean, there’s not enough of that. And you know, I think a lot of people tend to judge a book by their cover. And they forget that we’re all so much more than that and your realness is not lost on me. So, Durana, thank you for being here.

Durana:

Thank you, Nicole. What a pleasure. I love your energy. Oh, I like your energy. I mean, my goodness, can I bottle up your energy?

Nicole:

Unbelievable look, if we can figure out how to do it, but until then, there’s Cymbiotika. <laughs>

Durana:

Thank you so much for all your love and support.

Nicole:
And thanks for being here. Thank you.

 
In this episode, Durana and I chat about:
  • Raising daughters and how our shared childhood experiences play a role,
  • How Durana became involved with Cymbiotika,
  • Why self-love and the way Durana talks to herself is central to her success,
  • The childhood trauma that made Durana overcoming the odds unlikely, and
  • What you should EXPECT if you’re a business owner

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Find Durana Elmi on IG HERE and learn more about Cymbiotika HERE
  • Grab my New York Times Bestselling memoir, Nothing is Missing, HERE!
  • Send me a DM on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Book a 20 min call to see if working together is the right next step for you!
  • Don’t miss our last episode with Les Alfred of Balanced Black Girl HERE

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

Follow Nicole on IG @NicoleWalters and visit inheritlearningcompany.com today and click the button to join our betterment community. Your membership gives you access to a world of people and tools focused on helping you build the life you want.