21 year old starts succesful business (Booty Tools) – with Dorine Vermeulen

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Dorine has always been a person I look up to. Not only does she have a lot of knowledge about training and nutrition, she also has a successful personal training business and she even launched a second business which has also been very successful. In our interview, we talk about being self-employed, launching her business, training clients, bikini prep, booty building…

Can you tell us something more about yourself?

I am 21 years old. I graduated in September last year. I didn’t do anything for a few months to start my personal training business in January. I have been working as a personal trainer for almost a year in the gym as well as self-employed.

Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?

I was already training for years. First I did home workouts and then I started going to the gym. That was what I did most during my studies. I got a lot of questions about training on social media. Fitness was becoming a hype. It was growing. I knew I wanted to do something with fitness but I didn’t know what yet. I wanted to get a certification to learn more. In my second year in high school, I did my first personal training education. I also did a second education. When I was in my third year, I was convinced that I didn’t want to work in psychology. I found it interesting but I didn’t see myself working for a boss with fixed hours and little flexibility. It felt like a daily drag. I thought my internship was interesting but it was not for me. I really wanted to become self-employed. Fitness was my passion and making your passion your job is one of the most beautiful things you can do if you ask me. 

Was it hard to combine your studies with the personal training education?

Yes. School was always my priority. I thought my 3 years in college were more important than a 5 month personal training education. It was hard to combine because I had a lot of classes. Every Saturday, I had my personal training education. I was super busy and I didn’t have a lot of free time. I still went to the gym but I never had time to watch TV. The first time I did my personal training exam, I failed haha. I didn’t take enough time to study for it. However, my retake was succesful.

Do you regret having studied psychology? 

Not at all. It all comes back. I still use motivational conversations. There are a lot of people coming to me who suffer from binge eating. There are more people than I thought who have problems like that. I can use my psychology knowledge in my coaching. 

Do you think it’s possible to start a business when you are still studying?

That is a hard one. I think when you are still studying, you can dream about it and you can work on it but really starting your business, that wouldn’t work for me personally. When I am focused on something, all my attention goes to that. If I would have started a business during my studies, I think I would have neglected my studies. I think for others, it might be something good because you have more benefits. You don’t have to pay as many taxes when you are still a student. For me it was better to focus on school first and then on something else. 

Was it scary to become self-employed?

Yes. The first months, I was looking at my bills and income every day. In the beginning, you tell everyone you are starting and some people come to you but not enough. I already have an apartment so that took a bit of the stress away because I knew I had a back-up. Now it is less scary. Now I noticed that if clients go away, new clients come. The amount of clients stays roughly the same. I know how much I am going to earn so now it is ok. 

Do you only teach your clients about physical health or do you also teach them about mental health?

During the training sessions, mostly physical health but like I said, there are a lot of people who have problems with impulses and keeping them under control. Some people are scared to take a cheat meal. They are afraid they won’t be able to stop eating. I teach them that they need to take that cheat meal. If they don’t take their cheat meal, they will not learn how to stop. I know it is a learning process and I try to guide them, to give them tips and to talk with them. I ask them why they had a binge. I would never say they have to do more cardio because they ate too much.

Why are you a better coach than others?

I talked to a few of your clients and they told me that they think you are a very good coach and you are better than the previous coaches they had. 

I think it’s important to treat everyone as an individual. A lot of coaches give different people the same plans, even though they don’t like certain foods or they love certain foods. I think it is super important that the plans are working and that they are pleasant. If a client tells me she has a sweet tooth, I put Oppo ice cream in their plan or French toast with chocolate sprinkles. I try to take into account everything my clients tell me. There are personal trainers I know who always stop after an hour, even though the workout is not finished. I never do that. Even though it takes 2 hours, I will finish the workout. I know it is less beneficial for my income but it is way more customer-friendly. I have a few clients that stop for a few months because they don’t have the resources. Sometimes, they come back after a few months so that is a good sign to me. 

How did you become an expert in booty building?

From day one, booty building was my priority. I always searched for YouTube videos and articles online about booty building. I didn’t have any booty. In secondary school, boys in my class used to make fun of me because I was flat. I didn’t like that and I wanted to change that. The first thing I did was the ‘Jen Selter 30 day squat challenge’ but then I noticed that my upper legs had grown more than my booty. Then I started doing research and I kept doing it. I googled a lot of things like ‘booty exercises’. I bought ankle weights, a barbell, I already did hip thrusts. Booty building was always my biggest interest and my Instagram evolved around it. 

How did you come up with Booty Tools (Dorine’s new company)?

At FIBO in Germany (one of the biggest fitness expos in Europe), I bought my first good quality band. I already had plastic bands but I noticed that the plastic bands lose strength, they roll up, if you lay them on the ground, all the dirt sticks to it… I found it super annoying. I already saw good booty bands on Instagram from an American company. I searched on FIBO for a long time and eventually, I found a good quality band. It was so much better than a plastic one. I was wondering why it wasn’t being sold here and I was sure it would do well here too. I was driving to work when I came up with the idea. When I was still doing home workouts, I also used ankle weights but you can only find them up to 2 kilograms and I wanted heavier ones. I also wanted resistance bands. During that drive, I already came up with the name ‘Booty Tools’. The same day, I started looking for manufacturers. When I have an idea, I always want to execute it immediately. 

Have you been wanting to start your company for a while or was it a sudden decision?

I wanted to so something next to my personal training., I wanted to do something extra. That was the first good idea that came up in my head so I kept the idea. It was definitely scary. To buy all my products, I spent 3000 euros: customs fees, shipping costs… I had to take a risk. If I wouldn’t have a decent income from my personal training, I don’t know if I would have done it. It wasn’t always my dream to become self-employed and to start my own company. It came later on. I always knew I didn’t like working fixed hours but I didn’t know that I wanted to be self-employed.

What is your goal with your company now?

First, I want to expand throughout Belgium. Then, I want to expand throughout Europe. My biggest dream is to have a booth at FIBO in the main hall where you can find Body Engineers. That is my end goal but that will not be for the next 10 years. Having a booth there costs around 20 000 euros. I also want to make more products. The next product I want to create is a good quality barbell pad. I think the usual ones are still painful on the hips and the Velcro is bad. I have different ideas. When I have all my tools, I might create clothing, maybe pants that make your booty look super good. 

Do you dare to ask help for your company or do you try to do everything on your own?

I try to ask for help. My boyfriend helps me a lot with making packages, posting my packages… If I am searching for ambassadors in Belgium or the Netherlands, I always ask him what he thinks of their profile. I always want a second opinion. I don’t think I would ask it to a lot of people but I always ask him. I also have a WhatsApp group with my ambassadors Axelle and Celine. We also share ideas about what I can still do. I try to gather different opinions. I didn’t make my web shop on my own because I can’t do that. I also got a photographer and a videographer. If I wouldn’t have done that, the launch would still have been far away.

Are your family and friends always supportive?

My boyfriend has always been supportive. My parents think it’s good but they don’t don’t really know what to say. They trust me because my personal training business has become a success. In the beginning, they found it a big investment because I hadn’t worked for one year yet. My parents are always a bit negative in the beginning but I don’t let them stop me.

How did you get 10k followers on Instagram?

In the beginning, I had 2000 followers from secondary school. I will be honest. From 2000-6000 followers, I had an app where I had to like pictures and I could use that for followers. It was super bad because I got fake followers and it fucked up my Instagram. I put a lot of time into it. I started doing this in the beginning of my last year in secondary school and I stopped doing it in my first year of college. It was a waste of time and I think a lot of people do it. When I stopped doing that, I lost a lot of followers because fake followers were being removed from Instagram. Since then, I just started posting regularly. I did everything ‘real’. I was in a WhatsApp group for comments once. I don’t think there’s something wrong with a group like that but I put too much time into it so I also stopped doing that. What I do now that has helped me from 8000 to 12,9k is uploading informative posts, posting regularly… My followers are still increasing but super slowly. If you get fake followers with apps, you are nothing with those followers. Fake accounts are not going to buy things from Booty Tools. I prefer having real followers that will buy my products. I think there should be talked about this more. Back when I was using the app for fake followers, I used to say they were all real. I had 600 likes on every picture, even though it was a bad one. I didn’t feel good about this. When I reached 10k followers, I suddenly had 11k one month later. I always had my hasthags in a note on my phone. I always used the same hashtags. When I reached 10k, I used hashtags of things that were actually in my pictures and that helped a lot. It’s important you don’t always use the same hashtags. 

In the past, you did a bikini competition. Why didn’t you do another one?

It was not for me. My prep lasted 5 months and I was a real bitch. I was always in a bad mood, I ate very little, I worked out three times a day: morning cardio, weight training and cardio again. I felt so bad for months. It was not fun. It depends a lot on your coach. If I would have picked a coach that let me have a bit more cheats, then maybe it would have been bearable but I have such a bad experience with it. I think I cheated 3 times in 5 months. Eating an extra nut that was not in my plan was already cheating. Mentally, it was fucked up. My boyfriend was also depressed after working with the same coach and doing his first competition. He binged, he didn’t have any motivation to train, he gained eight kilograms in six days. It was not normal and not healthy. For his last competition, he had a different coach and he could have a cheat meal every two weeks. He can eat delicious food. It is always hard to have a low body fat percentage but a lot depends on your coach. If I would be satisfied with my shape, I would do it again. Now, I know I don’t have a winning shape. After my competition, some days were good and some were bad. I tracked my food with MyfitnessPal but when I ate one thing that I didn’t track, I kept eating. 

Do you regret having done the competition?

No, not at all. I am happy I did it. If I wouldn’t have done it, I would still be hesitating whether to do it or not. I think if you are hesitating and you’ve been hesitating several times, you should do it some time. Otherwise, you might regret it later.

Do you think you will be doing another competition in the future?

I don’t think so. I have other things in my life now I think are more important. 

What are your best tips for students to find a good balance between studying, free time and health?

I think if you are hesitating between studying and working on other things, my tip is to focus on one thing first. In your free time you can build something else or maintain something else like fitness but my main focus has always been my education. Even though I was certain in my last year that I didn’t want to do a job in psychology, I still thought it was important to focus on my studies. You will have that security and you will feel less stressed later. You have that degree. You need to focus on studying first. Fitness was always my relaxation so when my roommates were watching Temptation Island, I was in the gym. Sometimes I was going to the gym reluctantly but I knew it would help me. Always listen to yourself. If you don’t want to go or you don’t feel well, stay home. That is also something I find very important as a self-employed person. If I would still want to train every single day right now, that wouldn’t be beneficial. You don’t want to lose motivation. The week before my launch, I only did 2 workouts but in my plan were 5-6 workouts. If this would have happened a few months ago, I would have felt so bad. Now I knew that my launch was a priority. I think it’s important to know your priorities. You can always get back to the gym. 

I loved doing this interview, especially because I would love to become self-employed and start a business after my studies. What Dorine is doing now, is my dream. What I also love about Dorine is that she is very open about everything, like you’ve read in the interview.

If you want to go to Dorine’s Instagram, click here. Do you want to check out Booty Tools? Click here. Are you interested in Dorine’s personal training? Click here.

If you liked reading this, please share this article on your Instagram stories and tag me. It would mean so much to me.

Love,

Jana

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