My journey started in July 1991 in a city called Harbin in Northern China as the treasured only child of loving parents.
I had the privilege of growing up in a wonderful and loving family. My only complaint was that my dad was away a lot because traveling for business was part of his job. I don’t know that kids understand the economics of life very well—and I definitely didn’t at the time— but my dad had to travel to make the money that took care of our family.
Both my parents were well-educated…in fact, the first college graduates in BOTH of their families. So, as you can imagine…educating me was really important to my parents and one of their TOP priorities.
Education in China is on a completely different level than most Western countries. HINT: Homework + Study. On the daily. Summer Homework is a thing in China. Always. And not just a couple of assignments—some days it was ALL DAY LONG.
Typical school day for elementary students:
Wake up at 7am.
Go home. Eat dinner.
Study from 6-10pm.
In ELEMENTARY School.
No sports. No play dates. No extra-curricular activities.
On weekends we did….Wait… we didn’t get ‘weekends’. There weren’t many relaxing weekends hanging out with my family—there was always studying to be done.
In 2001 our family made a big decision. We decided to immigrate to Canada. 🇨🇳 → 🇨🇦
Looking back now that I’m an adult… I can see what a big risk my parents took to leave China. It’s expensive and scary. They didn’t know anyone. They didn’t have jobs. There was no guarantee of success. Every Single Thing in your life that is familiar—your friends and family, your house, your school, your professional connections—is left behind to venture into the unknown.
My parents were both educated professionals in China. My mom was a professor. My dad was an engineer. In Canada my dad was forced to take an office job making $15/hour because he had no other options. No connections. Not much English. Because we had no family in Canada to help with childcare, my mom stayed home to look after me…but quickly realized that she needed to work too to put food on the table. My mom, the professor, took on 3 jobs…and none of them was being a professor. During the day she worked as a cleaner and a tutor. At night she would wash dishes at a restaurant.
As a kid, you don’t really understand how hard that must have been for them…educated people doing menial labour.
My parents worked so hard to survive and we did, but there was NO money for extras. I still remember these hot lunches we could get at our elementary school. You’d pay $15 on Fridays. I really wanted to order them—even once—but we didn’t have the money.
I’ll NEVER forget those days. Of not having enough. Not being able to do things. We had food to eat but no money for anything extra. Ever. It was difficult.
By the time high school rolled around, I wasn’t really into school or education in general. My priority—like most teenagers—was to socialize and hang out with my friends. To have some fun. Not so much into doing homework. My parents weren’t really into my new attitude towards education—they gave up everything to come to Canada so I could have a better life and take advantage of the opportunities here. They thought I was slacking off. They became stricter and more demanding. It didn’t make me more studious…
My parents wanted me to study like a typical Chinese student but I wasn’t IN China anymore and was simply acting like a typical Canadian teenager…unfortunately they saw it as wasting my life and opportunities. Tensions between us grew. We disagreed about almost everything.
We butted heads daily.
I didn’t even order my grad pix because I didn’t want to burden my parents with the extra expense. Not sure if I regret this or not…. Just because I didn’t like to study didn’t mean that I couldn’t game my way through university—I took a lot of online classes and the credits transferred to the universities I was interested in so it all worked out in the end.
So. I got into UBC. But into the Arts faculty…when I really wanted to get into the business school.
FINALLY. I’m a university student. Freedom! Escape from my parents!
I took out a student loan (which is WAY too easy) and managed to convince my parents to let me live on campus. I’m sure you can see how this is going… With my newfound freedom, I became a party animal… out drinking every night. Going to sleep at 3AM, waking up at 3PM… missing all my classes… that I wasn’t that interested in anyway.
Turns out that they’re not keen on slackers at university and seeing as I paid no attention, my grades sucked. Got kicked out for ‘poor academic performance’. One down.Moving right along. Registered at Langara College. Same thing happened. Poor Academic Performance Remix. Two down.
Next stop - Kelowna. If nothing, I’m consistent. Again, invited to leave. Three down.
These were dark times. I felt lost. My friends thought I was a loser. My family thought I was a disgrace…my dad even said that the apple fell VERY far from the tree in my case. Pretty devastating.
I FINALLY decided to get my shit together and try yet again…but made a smarter choice. I applied to BCIT which is known to be quite challenging but the programs are relevant to the REAL world.
Turns out BCIT was applicable to the ‘real world’ and the coursework was actually interesting to me—we learned how to read financial statements and did marketing case studies among other useful tasks. Finished my program two years later. Finally. The program was good…but it was still school.
Time to get a real job!
Not much work experience.
Four post-secondary institutions and only one program graduation.
Graduated high school 6 years ago.
Non-standard resume noted.
(FYI Standard resume= HS grad, university grad, relevant volunteer work or internship, acceptable hobbies and interests—all one after the other with no noticeable breaks)
Resume submitted to 15+ jobs. No offers.
Rejected left, right AND centre.
Finally got an offer from Yellow Pages.
$22K = minimum wage. Tragic.
Commission = uncapped. Win.
Met a guy named Pavan who said he made $250K at Yellow Pages. My jaw dropped. Saw the value of uncapped commission. Emulated the success of Pavan (thanks man).
First year out of college I made $150K! One hundred and fifty-thousand dollars! Woohoo! Yep I may have sucked at school but this is the real world and I was WINNING AT LIFE. I was happy. I was proud of myself. I gained a lot of confidence. $150K! So it was all good…but I was working for the man. Deep inside, I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I worked at Yellow Pages by day, but selling hoverboards became my side hustle.
Long story short—I’m not the Hoverboard King and the venture failed. However, I learned a lot by failing. Things you don’t learn in school. During my hoverboard days I met a guy who said he could sell my hoverboards on Amazon. I’m thinking…’What?…don’t you sell books on Amazon?’ I had NO IDEA what Amazon was at the time. So this guy showed me how to work the Amazon gig…I was like ‘wow…this is INTERESTING. Let me look into this further.’ I was excited and energized.
I did a lot of research at home. I listened to podcasts. Started thinking…hmmm…this is really do-able. Game ON. In 2017, my girlfriend (now fiancé) and I, launched our first product on Amazon: Sdara Skincare Vitamin C Serum. Little did we know that this was THE most competitive product to sell on Amazon… #liveandlearn
A few months later in April, we launched our second product—the silicone makeup sponge. Little did we know this was a huge FAD! #liveandlearnx2
After these two failures, I was ready to give up. Full marks to my fiancé…she refused and said we HAD to keep trying. Last try…we found this weird looking skincare tool care called a derma roller. I’d never heard of it. Neither had she. We were skeptical but watched the market for 2-3 months. It kept growing and growing. We decided to go all in and launch a derma roller…I told her that if it fails, I’m OUT…no more Amazon.
3-2-1 LAUNCH! Lightning in a bottle…sort of. We started selling 10 units a day. Then 20. Then 50 units a day. We’ve hit it…we’re onto something. Finally stepped up to be my own boss in December 2017—quit my 6-figure comfortable job to be a full-time Amazon entrepreneur.
We grew our business from $20K to $250K in just FOUR months. One fateful day in April, it all came crashing down—our Amazon account was suspended!
I was in shock. Didn’t know what to do. I scrambled to get back online ASAP. This was one of the scariest things I’ve ever gone through—our business went from $250/month to ZERO. In a day.
On top of the world…then BAM. Rock bottom.
The story has a happy ending though…we got our account back two months later. We finished the year at $1.7M in sales. We continued to launch products under the Sdara Skincare brand. Year two milestone: Christina quit her day job so we’re both ALL IN on the Amazon journey!
During this time, I started documenting my Amazon journey on YouTube. People were interested. Asking lots of questions. Hmmm… I decided to launch a mini course. Not gonna brag, but people loved the course. My audience and following really started to grow from this point onward. I enjoyed documenting the process of building a business. People seemed to like what I had to say.
Winning all round.
Our third year finished nicely at $3M in sales. Three years. Three million in sales. Pretty good for a university drop-out. In December 2020, Sdara Skincare was acquired by a company called Thrasio. Sold our first company! When the deal went through, I kept refreshing my bank account online every two minutes until finally…there it was. Literally EVERYTHING I’d worked for over the past 15 years. One of life’s greatest moments for sure.
Since selling our first Amazon business in 2020, I’ve been building my FBA Masterclass— Fulfillment by Amazon for those of you who are new to the game.
Although, I've sold Sdara skincare, I believe in the Amazon/ecommerce industry is growing more than ever. The latest 2020 reports from the US Chamber of Commerce indicates that we're only at 26% of ecommerce penetration. I believe this is going to triple in size for the next couple of years. This is why i'm doubling down my efforts on building Amazon brands. In fact, when you're part of my FBA Masterclass mentorship program, I share updates, news and advices with you every few weeks. You get to see behind the scene on my personal brand, on what i'm doing and how i'm adjusting to changes on the platform. I'm more excited than ever for this industry. Therefore, If you choose to enroll on our mentorship program you'll learn that all the information we teach is up to date and applicable to today's reality and that's because i'm still in the trenches with you.
We have over 5,000 students in our community. Five thousand people who’ve taken my FBA Masterclass. I’ve met every single one of them and I’m proud to say that a lot of them have gotten some amazing results from the course.