Stefan was working for a leading financial institution for 5 years when some life altering events gave him a different perspective on life. It allowed him the chance to re-evaluate and reflect on his life; he was given a second chance. He was given an opportunity to become an ambassador for Luxury World Traveler and he decided to quit his 9-5 corporate job and book a one-way flight to wherever his finger landed on a spun globe. That was 3 years ago. Through the help and guidance from Gil Antolin, the founder of Luxury World Traveler, he was able to build up to who he is today. He turned his passion into his lifestyle. Through his learnings and experiences, he has successfully started his own marketing and social media consulting company, LuxVision Media Group.
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You have a significant following on social media - how did you go about building that audience?
Building a social media audience is based on understanding what you represent and what you want to showcase- consistency is the key to success. Many face obstacles when they do not know what their niche is, making it difficult to succeed in digital marketing or social media. Having a clear vision of what you want to do and sticking to it will target your audience and lead to an engaging following. My advice is that you know your audience, understand your niche and be consistent.
How did you decide to leap working for RBC to start LuxVision Media Group?
I worked for a leading financial institution for five years when some significant changes in my life occurred. It gave me a chance to re-evaluate and reflect on my life; I was given a second chance. I was given an opportunity to become an ambassador for Luxury World Traveler from Gil Antolin. I decided to quit my 9-5 corporate job and book a one-way flight to wherever my finger landed on a spun globe. That was three and a half years ago. Through the help and guidance from Gill himself, the founder of Luxury World Traveler and anyone I have met through there, I built myself into who I am today. I turned my passion into my lifestyle, and I decided to start my own company using my expertise and network to help others with digital marketing and PR.
I decided to transition and branch my line of business into social media marketing to help micro-influencers realize their vision. When I gave my corporate career an entire investment in my passion and led it into a career, I had a minimal idea about this line of work. Over time, I have picked up many strategies that have boosted my career and concepts that have allowed me to think outside of the box and break those walls and let my mind wander. I genuinely believe I have only scratched the surface of the social media influencer game. Each influencer, no matter their niche, runs their own business; it is self-taught and self-employment. We are in charge of the amount of content we produce, the reach it gets and the quality of work.
The strategies I have acquired along the way are what created the influencer I am. My goal is to teach as many as possible what I have learnt to set them up for success. Being a social media influencer is a career choice, not merely a lifestyle choice.
What has been your favourite project to work on? Favourite country or place you've visited?
My favourite project I must have worked on has to be with Heineken Canada. It was a surreal atmosphere, and it is one for the books to represent your country internationally and be part of one of the most significant sports events internationally.
If I had to choose a favourite country right now, it has to be the Maldives—a country with 1,100 islands so small on the map, yet so picturesque. No property is the same, no matter how many times you go.
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Has there been a big brand that you've turned down working with because it wasn't a brand that resonated with you? I would imagine in the luxury brand space, you probably want to keep that relationship (because there aren't that many of them, and they are hard to get) - so advice on how to say "no"?
As an influencer, I only gravitate towards brands whose beliefs align with my mind. I will never promote or collaborate with a brand that I do not wholeheartedly believe in.
Since I am a luxury content creator, most of my partnerships are with 5-star luxury hotels and resorts and luxury brands. I also represented Heineken Canada in November of 2019; I have had the pleasure of partnering with Heineken in Japan at their Rugby event, which led to me becoming the representative of Heineken Canada as a social media influencer.
What is something about being a social media influencer that you would say could be viewed negatively? Anything about being an influencer that has been unexpected?
Being a social media influencer has its ups and downs. People have this vision we live this perfect life, and yet no one cares to know what and how much hard work goes behind creating content and keeping it consistent. When I started my journey, I initially explored this beautiful planet, and I had no expectations. As time went by and my content went viral, things changed, and I had a different perspective, and I had to work harder as brands wanted to partner with me. If you care about what people had to say, you will never move forward in life. I have very thick skin, and I care less about what people have to say when coming from a negative place. I do what's suitable for me, and as long as I know I'm doing something right, nothing else matters.
I view social media in a positive light. I see it as a tool that can be used for good or bad (similar to a car). Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
I agree! They are platforms to share our thoughts and creativity in any way we desire. I use it to travel the world and portray “dreamy locations” through my content. I strongly believe that as long as you are true to yourself, it will always come out positive as long as you utilize it in the right way.
What's one goal that would feel like a big win for you if you were to accomplish it over the next three months?
The biggest goal for me to accomplish in the next 3 months would for my company to make a powerful impact on the social media marketing sector. I would love to see my company grow and reach its full potential.
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey? Did you have any doubters?
My family and friends have been a big part of my journey and supported me from the beginning when everyone doubted me. Many told my parents that I was wasting my time and wasting money but never took the time to understand what I was doing. If you had to live for others, you would never get far. I took everything anyone said negatively in one ear and out the other.
Where do you see Luxvision Media Group and yourself personally in the next 3-5 years?
I see LuxVision Media Group becoming a successful Social Media and Marketing PR firm. My partners and I have a clear vision of how we want to go about building our business, and we all bring our strengths to the table. LuxVision Media Group started as a Social Media Marketing company and is now affiliated with some of the largest online publication websites for Media Coverage.
How has COVID affected business? How has the business adapted?
COVID-19 has allowed me the opportunity to rebrand my brand. The spare time during quarantine has given me the chance to channel my creativity and work on my Lightroom presets, which has led my content to go viral. It allowed me to regroup and focus on LuxVision Media Group and refocus myself on what I would like to see from myself. I believe COVID-19 has allowed me to reset my life and shift my priorities for the better.
In terms of your legacy, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I want to be remembered as the first Southeast Asian, specifically the only Tamilian in the world to be a luxury content creator partnering up with some of the largest hotel brands in the world out of 700M + users on any social media platform.
Who is one person from the global Tamil community and one person that isn't Tamil that you admire and why?
I do not have idols and inspirations based on culture, I think there is much to appreciate from many people and cultures. My inspiration is @doyoutravel on Instagram. He is the first luxury travel content creator on social to be doing travel content on a luxury level.
What is a failure you've experienced in the last 5-10 years that you've learned the most from?
I went through a mishap a couple of years back that made me realize there is more to life than where I was. It made me follow the passion I am in currently, and what was a mishap in my life was the greatest blessing I could ever ask for. If it wasn't for the obstacle, I went through. I would have never been able to travel the world, start my own company or find the love of my life! Everything happens for a reason, and when one door closes, another one opens up, and 3.5 years ago, I took a leap of faith, and I am here today, living my best life.
What do you think you would tell 16-year-old Stefan looking back?
I would tell 16-year-old Stefan that do anything you want and don't let anyone stop you. Education is vital but following your heart and passion will lead you to never have regrets, and even if you fail, at least you tried.
How would you describe your dream life?
I am living my dream life and best life, and I could not ask for anything more. I get to travel the world and stay at the most luxurious hotel and enjoy this beautiful planet.
What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
My new belief or habit is to live a minimalistic life. Do not take anything for granted and be happy with what you have because there are so many people out there in this world who have nothing.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
If I were given 1 billion dollars, I would give back to orphanages worldwide. I'm a firm believer as I have done this with no money in whichever country, I go to find an orphanage and give back even as little as providing a meal just to see a smile on a child's face, so with 1 billion dollars, I would be able to do that life long and personally go and visit the misfortune to bring a smile on a child's face which is priceless.
How would you describe the impact that the Toronto Tamil community has had on you personally and on your business?
In all honesty, the Toronto Tamil community has done nothing for me. If anything, they doubted me as I was coming up. This might sound harsh, but it is the truth that I was shunned and talked about poorly by the community for following my passion and not fitting into our community’s typical social expectation. I am not offended nor hurt, I took it as constructive criticism to push myself harder and stronger and build a brand for myself.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
My favourite Tamil food would be rice, dhal, mutton curry and rasam
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
My favourites are Kadhalan & Basha.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
What Tamil culture means to me is survival in the most simplistic way. It's my heritage, and that's something that has been passed down through my ancestors. It's part of my identity and who I am, and I'm proud of it.
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