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Have you fallen victim to the “Covid 15”? You know, the 15 extra pounds you probably gained while working from home and skipping out on your usual workouts? I know I have… A critical part of any proper self-care routine is feeding our bodies with the correct foods so we not only control our weight, but manage our hormonal balance, gut health and even our mental health. I can tell you, building your personal brand and growing your business is rigorous and it requires you to really take care of yourself. No one knows this better than Candida Khan. Candida, also known as Didi the Trini DN by her tribe of loyal followers and clients, is a young and ambitious nutritionist who has built her name and her brand by showing up on her Facebook page and giving valuable nutritional advice to her followers. I had a chance to sit with Didi to hear more about her journey through building her personal brand and business online. Of course, I also took the opportunity to get some nutritional and self-care advice as well.

 

How it started

Like many of us exiting high school, Didi wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life, but while studying nutrition at university, a passion she didn’t realise she had was ignited. She said “Honestly, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to dobut my passion only grew through my first degree. Growing up overweight I had my own journey with weight management and nutrition. I really wanted to share nutritional guidance to those who I felt needed it. With this in mind, I created a page on Facebook to reach people and share my message. I originally named the page ‘Nutrition Secrets’ but over time it evolved into ‘Didi The Trini DN’. Since then, I’ve opened my own consultancy and have become a registered dietician and graduated with my Masters in Nutrition.” Didi used her Facebook page to share nutritional facts and uploaded videos to YouTube, then, one day she decided to upload one of those videos to Facebook instead. That was the decision that led to her brand going viral.

Call it destiny, but that moment seemed etched in the stars since Didi always told herself that the typical 9-5 grind was not for her. She said “I’ve never followed the ‘norm’. I never saw working in the public sector as a place where I could grow and accomplish what I wanted. After my internship and during my studies for my Nutrition Diploma, I realized that the public sector was not for me. I tried on my own to create a brand where I could advertise and share information doing what I love through social media.”

 

The Breakthrough moment

It was in the midst of doing this that a golden opportunity came by way of Didi’s sister. “There was an advertisement for a Dietitian Nutritionist position via an online job link that was sent to my sister by a friend who knew my background. I decided to apply without giving it much thought. Before I knew it, I got the call back and was scheduled for an interview. The most exciting part was the job was based in Bermuda! I never imagined I would get the job, but I did and they wanted me to start that same month! It was all very exciting.”

This was the moment the value of building her brand online truly bore fruit. She said “my Facebook page gave the company a chance to get to know me and my personality before hiring me and they liked my bubbly personality and style. Once I took up the role, the job also gave me a chance to be creative while helping the company attract new clients. My role was to provide nutrition counselling sessions to assist clients with their weight or chronic disease. I also developed additional services like grocery shopping tours and healthy cooking sessions.

 

Overcoming tough times

Of course, growth doesn’t come without its pains. Didi eventually resigned her post in Bermuda and returned home when she felt the job was no longer as enjoyable as it used to be. This was compounded by a break up in her personal life. Despite this she saw the silver lining in it all. “My Bermuda experience opened my eyes to what’s possible when you put yourself out there and pursue opportunities that seem out of reach. After being employed by a private medical firm in Bermuda, I realized that I could create my own consultancy and do what I love doing, which is helping others with their health and wellness. In Bermuda, my clients loved me and my appointments were filled up for months!”

With this epiphany in her mind, she was ready to start creating her own business. “Once I made the decision to leave, I left everything behind and I refocused on myself, my goals and ambitions. I started slowly working on my programs. Eventually things started to pick up and now, this is what I do full time. I put all of my energy into my consultancy because I want it to reach its fullest potential and help people worldwide.”

 

The birth of a brand

Didi’s Nutrition Consultancy offers a suite of services including a weight management programme called “ Shape me Didi” nutritional counselling as well as number of recipe books including ‘50 Guiltless Chocolate Recipes’ Didi’s business is a fully digital and utilises social media like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn to advertise and engage through content. She also has her own website where she sells her nutritional products. But running an online business doesn’t come without the trolls. On this she said “When creating videos, I encountered a lot of cyberbullying and it was a horrible experience. I was trampled by negative comments, private messages and even hacked. At first I didn’t care and I focused on my goal, but after a while it affected me.

Overcoming trolls wasn’t the only challenge; she also had to convince her very traditional parents that this “unbeaten path” could be profitable. She said “It was tough not having the support of my parents. They wanted me to teach or work in a hospital but I knew that wasn’t the life for me. It was mainly through the unending support of my sister and brother who believed in me, that I was able to make it past the tough beginning and start seeing growth in my business.”

As for nutritional and self-care advice Didi had this to say, “You can’t do much if you’re not healthy, therefore it’s important to keep your health and wellness in check. I don’t believe in dieting, but having balanced nutrition and an overall moderate and healthy lifestyle. I work hard to practise what I preach.”

Didi plans to keep growing and evolving in business and growing her brand through consistently posting content. She said “I want to start my own cooking show very soon on social media, because I started doing live videos creating healthy options and they are effective in reaching my target.” She also wants to create her own line of herbal teas or instant oat mixes to give people quick and nutritional breakfast options.

To learn more about Didi find her on LinkedIn as Candida Khan or on Facebook as Didi the Trini DN.

Maria Ransome

Maria Ransome

Maria Ransome is a visual artist and content creator based in Trinidad and Tobago. Her work focuses on visual branding, graphic design and content creation for personal branding and social media.