The first of my “Real Life Spotlight” series involves an interview with a man that has not quite entered into the 40 and over club yet. 39 year old Kevin Bennett is the owner of KBenn Merchandises. My first interaction with Kevin happened when he thanked me for liking his Facebook page. As many pages that I have liked on Facebook, (well beyond the so called “500 limit”) I can not remember anyone ever thanking me for a like. From that point on, I knew that Kevin was a person that I wanted to know.
When I asked Kevin to be a part of this new blog series that I am writing, there was no hesitation. Having never meeting him in person and living in different areas, I did not know exactly how to get this done. I was so excited to move forward with the process however, I came up with a questionnaire for him to respond to. To my surprise, he completed it very quickly and with much enthusiasm. This told me a great deal about my new found Facebook friend. That along with the answers to the questions I had for Kevin should tell you a lot about him and the type of person he is too.
I started by asking Kevin to tell me a little bit about himself.
“My name is Kevin Bennett, and I’m 39 years old. I was born and raised in Bonneau Beach, SC, and I lived in Bonneau Beach, SC until I was 18 years old. At age 18, I went to college to play basketball at The University of South Carolina at Spartanburg (Now USC-Upstate). I studied business management and completed college at The University of South Carolina in Columbia. I’m single. I have one brother that’s one year younger than me, and I have four sisters (two older and two younger). I love traveling, playing sports, watching and attending sporting events, concerts, comedy shows, entertaining family and friends, going on cruises, meeting new people, trying and learning new things, reading, educating myself on a wide variety of topics, listening to music, watching movies (theater and home), watching a wide variety of TV programming, networking, motivating and inspiring others, running my business, helping others in anyway I can and living life. ”
How do you feel about turning 40 soon?
“I feel great about turning 40 on August 12, 2012. I look forward to it. If I live to see it, I’ll feel blessed to have lived 40 years on earth. A lot of people have said they were getting depressed when they were reaching 40. I thank GOD for life and every second that I breathe. More importantly, I thank GOD for all that I’ve learned throughout my years of living. I thank GOD for the wisdom I’ve gained in my 39 years of living. Turning 40 would be a blessing. I’ve had many family, friends and associates who didn’t live to see 20, 25, 30 or 35. I’m looking forward to 40.”
What is KBenn Merchandises?
“KBenn Merchandises is a retailer of fragrance lamps / electric oil burners, tealight oil warmers, fragrance oils, scented crystal rocks, lanterns, incense, candleholders & home decor. With so many colorful ways to bring an added glow and delightful aroma to your room, it’s no wonder that fragrance lamps / electric oil burners are our best sellers here at KBenn Merchandises. From simple designs to elegant artistry, we have a wide selection to fit every home. We also have figurine fragrance lamps / electric oil burners that are hand-painted from a poly-resin cast. Beautifully crafted, these eye-catching creations compliment moments from nature that bring so much pleasure from land, sea or air. Our scented crystal rocks are pure ionic crystals from the Caribbean Sea; colored in rich hues and infused with pure oils to provide a lasting fragrance. The fragrance from the crystals are strong as candles, yet safe to your health and environment. Scented crystal rocks are also called crystal potpourri. Our long lasting fragrance oils are great for aroma burners, lamp rings, potpourri, etc.”
What else do you do or what did you do before starting your business?
“Prior to starting my business, I sold cars for 2 years, and I was a senior loan officer in the mortgage lending industry for 9 years. Both of those careers involved selling, and both were 100% commission careers. When I started selling cars, I was young. I was excited for the first 5-6 months because of the money I was making, but after 6 months I noticed something. I noticed that I wasn’t happy with selling cars. I only liked the money I was making. There’s nothing worse than going to earn a living while doing something you don’t like doing. After 2 years in the car industry, one of my customers told me that I should try the mortgage lending industry. I don’t know why she told me that, but she did and I’m glad she did. I tried the mortgage lending industry, and I realized that I wasn’t only making money, but I actually loved doing what I was doing. I loved it when I was a part of a person or a family obtaining a home, refinancing their mortgage for their benefit or for whatever reason. I loved the fact that I was making people happy. The housing market, credit market, financial market, and the mortgage lending industry started going downhill in 2005. This was well in advanced when the public knew about all of this during the presidential campaign of 2008. Before the mortgage lending industry hit rock bottom, I got out early and knew it was time to start my own business.”
How did you go about starting your own business?
“I started my business based on the fact that I wanted to be my own boss. Prior to starting my business, I spent 11 years on commission. Basically, if I didn’t produce for the companies I worked for, I didn’t get paid. With that being said, I’ve always had the confidence in myself that I can produce my own income no matter what. I’ve always said I was going to start my own business, but one day I just told myself to stop saying it and just do it. I got my business license before I decided on what I wanted to sell. I researched many things that I could buy wholesale, but I wasn’t feeling the products I was researching. Finally, I looked around the house and realized that I love home decor and fragrances. I researched home decor and fragrance products and found a few wholesalers that I have build wonderful relationships with. I love what I do, and I love what I sell. It’s easy for my to sell my products because customers can see that I genuinely have a passion for my products. I don’t consider what I do as work because it’s fun to me.”
What type of marketing techniques do you use find customers?
“I use word of mouth, print advertising, online advertising, social media, in store flyers, fundraising events, musical festivals, fairs, and whatever other way I can get the word out. You have to very creative in business.”
What motivates you on a daily basis?
“GOD motivates me on a daily basis. The fact that I’m breathing motivates me on a daily basis. My family, friends and my customers motivate me on a daily basis. Running my business motivates me on a daily basis. Learning everyday motivates me. Also, my past mistakes motivate me to be the best man personally and the best entrepreneur that I can be.”
Owing your own business can be very stressful at times. How do you handle stress?
I handle stress by praying to GOD, having faith in GOD, trusting GOD, following Jesus Christ and reading the Bible. I’m not perfect, but I know it is because of GOD that I have life and all that I have. I also handle stress by surrounding myself around positive and only positive people. We are all here to help each other and comfort each other.
What advice do you have for others wanting to start their own business?
“My advice to others that want to start their own business is simple. Trust GOD, have faith in GOD, trust yourself and have faith in yourself. The best time to start your business is NOW. If you don’t have the money to do all that you want to do, start with what you have. Start by doing your research. Start by creating a plan. Start by getting your license. It’s very inexpensive. Whatever you have to do, take a step forward. You have to crawl before you walk. Any action is better than no action at all. Do not fear the unknown possibilities ahead. Take on every challenge head on. And know that success is not going to happen overnight. You will only get out of it what you put into it. Do not allow negative individuals to deter you or put limitations on yourself that are based on someone else’s negativity.”
Is there anything else you want my readers to know?
“It Is Better To Be Alone, Than In The Wrong Company. Tell me who your best friends are, and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate for the good and the bad. The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you. Consider This: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere. With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it. Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you see people without a smile today, give them one of yours. Choose to rise…Don’t settle…and go for your dreams!”
Thank you Kevin for your inspiring words and best of luck to you with your business! Your faith and determination is an inspiration to me!
You can also get to know Kevin and take a look at is beautiful products by visiting the KBenn Merchandises Facebook page.