Meet Merel Kriegsman, she passed from former opera Singer to Women’s Wealth Advocate & Business Mentor, she helps female entrepreneurs sell high-end — so they can make thousands of dollars a day, doing what they absolutely love (AKA, become the Hermes bag of their industry — and charge accordingly).
“I'm always extremely outspoken and courageous in what I share. And that comes with a certain vulnerability. But I rather face that than not speak my truth”
Who is Merel Kriegsman? Define yourself
I'm a wealthy, wild woman! I'm a women's wealth advocate who is raising three girls together with my opera singing husband on our farm in rural Canada, practicing the art of living simply while making millions. I'm the daughter of a mom who couldn't turn talents into money, and seeing that ache of unfulfilled potential made me promise to myself, that wouldn't be me. And it definitely would not be my daughters.
You are Dutch, how were you as a kid?
People described me as "melancholy" - I just think I was unhappy quite a bit. I remember coming downstairs one evening and asking my loving parents, “Who am I, why are we here, ¿and where do we come from?". I think that freaked them out a bit - I was a deep thinker. My childhood was filled with sword fighting with my siblings, sewing my own medieval dresses and reading (I loved hiding up on the roof, hiding from everyone, reading Jane Eyre). I was basically raised to be a heroine from a 19th century novel. I can embroider the cushions, ride horses, speak 3 languages fluently, paint and draw and sing Opera. Oh, and arrange flowers. Writing this down I'm like, "what were my parents thinking?" haha! Being born and raised in Holland means nothing is taboo - we talk about everything.
Tell us more about your academic background, what did you study?
I went to the Waldorf school (google it, it's awesome) until I was 15, getting the most creative, grounded education a kid could wish for. In my teens, I developed anorexia. Starting with an innocent fascination with fashion magazines, and ending in the clinic weighing about 100 pounds (I'm 6 feet tall). I healed. When I saw that I had only months until my heart would be damaged (as well as other internal organs), I "snapped out of it" - and ate a sandwich on the way home. I graduated high school two years after, but I never went back to school; we homeschooled. After that, I went to study classical vocal performance.
You were a professionally trained opera singer performing on some of the most coveted stages in Europe. How did you jump from the point to found your own company?
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I realized two things: I didn't want to be touring, be away from my baby, need to keep her away from me anytime she had a cold because it could affect my performance (you can't sing Opera well with a throat ache and stuffy sinuses). And I got real about the fact that, despite "success", I wasn't making any money. In fact, I realized I had not made more than $7000-ish in my entire life. I was going to be just like my mom and grandma: depending on men to fund my life. And I remember my inner mama bear roaring, “HELL TO THE NO am I passing on this toxic sh**”. I decided to take an online business school. I tried starting a few things (including a company selling hand sewn wrist warmers - I think the profit margin on those was $376 haha!). But I didn't give up and decided to start selling copywriting services because I couldn't quite figure out what I wanted, but felt copywriting skills would serve me no matter what I'd decide to do in the end (smart girl, I was so right).
“People who give referrals, get referrals. People who put other people forward for career defining opportunities, get put forward in turn. You HAVE the power to create your reality this way”
Your work centers around breaking generational chains of scarcity (AKA copying your mom's toxic patterns that kept her financially dependent) and giving female business owners the skills they need to make as much money as they desire. And that makes them powerful beyond measure. Can you elaborate on that?
My mom had a secret drawer (maybe yours did too). And inside this drawer she'd hide clothes she would buy for herself. And then slowly, over the course of a few weeks, she'd drip out items hoping my dad wouldn't notice she had spent money on herself. Seeing that, as a young girl, really hurt me. It made me believe pleasure goes hand in hand with guilt. That it's not OK to spend money on yourself. That daddy holds the purse strings. And almost every woman I know has a story like that. And these stories don't die there. We keep on living them every single day as adult women. Influencing our (in) ability to make money. Repeating those patterns can keep even the most brilliant woman broke. Being able to set yourself free (by learning how to make as much money as you desire - and being able to RECEIVE) can enable a woman to SELF FUND your beautiful, unconventional life.
You are Women’s Wealth Advocate, you are creating a worldwide movement of empowered Women Entrepreneurs. You have been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and many others. You created your coaching and advocacy company, which you have grown to over 7 figures annually in less than 5 years. What's the recipe for your success?
Being exquisitely supported. I haven't created this success on my own. But I did believe in what I wanted to create enough to be uncompromising in feeling worthy of being supported, and ruthless in demanding it (ask my husband). Where so many women go wrong is that they believe they should be able to create extraordinary results by themselves. Or only line up support once they have PROVEN they can make the money to support that hire. (It's the other way around. You line up the support first, which creates the space to do what leads to even better results.) I have a direction of operations manager, a virtual assistant, a financial coach, someone who designs landing pages for me, people who support me in facilitating my business mentorship program, and my husband's job is to support me, both as the CFO of our company (of which we're co-owners) and at home cooking beautiful meals (straight from our own garden), taking care of our girls while I'm working (childcare has been sketchy ever since COVID -19), being the social secretary (the list goes on). I'm also surrounded by girlfriends who have my back, and who I can go to when the going gets tough, and I need a shoulder to cry on, or when I have something to celebrate!
“Don't aim for pain and risk free. You're going to get your butt kicked when you step into the arena of wanting to make more money. You're going to have triggering conversations with family members, with clients, you name it. Instead, take excellent care of yourself in all ways so that when you have a rough day (or week) you have reserves to fall back on”
What kind of services does your company offer?
We offer business mentorship. And we run a program every year that teaches women how to call in their high-ticket clients and make them buy from them - whenever they want, and at whatever price point they desire. It's designed to shift women's thinking from "I have to take what I can get", to designing who they want to work with, and being unapologetic in asking top dollar for their zone of genius work - and getting it! We've had women go from making a few thousand dollars/mo to having $500,0000+ launches of their high-ticket programs within months. The game we play? If you had 10x the courage… what would you charge? How would you work with your clients? What clients would you fire? What would you say in your content? Who would you reach out to? It's an initiation for women who need to experience that they have FULL PERMISSION to be who they want to be, and lead their business from that place of unapologetic and radical self acceptance.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
I wake up and nurse my newborn (again, haha! She nurses a lot in the night right now). My husband makes us a delicious, healthy breakfast, like oatmeal and berries and milk from our local dairy farm. At 8:30 the kids get picked up by the person who homeschools them for us (so luxurious). My husband and I get ready, take showers, and grab another cup of tea. I start at 9am with work for myself, like creating content for that week or replying to questions from the media. On Monday, I have our team meeting at 10am for about 45 minutes where I catch up with my social media manager, director of operations, assistant etc. and outline what the focus is for that week. I take an hour off to be with my baby, have an early lunch and walk around outside on our farm for a bit (checking those tomato plants!). At noon I facilitate a group session inside my business mentorship program, having a blast teaching women how to make lots of money. And after that, I might do a sales call or two or rest up a bit. At 4 I end my work day (no exceptions - we're very firm about that) and we have dinner with our girls. In the summer we will spend the evening gardening (we grow our own food) while the kids have big adventures till the sun goes down.
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
Love: when I wake up in the morning and check my community and see posts and videos of women who have had a life-changing monetary win. Something dramatically shifts in what women believe about themselves, their ability to self-fund, and their self worth when someone is willing to pay them $10,000 for a VIP day, or they have that first multiple six figure launch - selling something they're IN LOVE with. Her life is changed forever in that moment. And it's a joy to witness. Difficult: when women project their anger on me because what I write about women, power and wealth triggers them. I'm always extremely outspoken and courageous in what I share. And that comes with a certain vulnerability. But I rather face that than not speak my truth.
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow your business?
Giving other people referrals! And in general, creating the opportunities for other people that you would love to receive or experience. It has always moved me, from sitting and waiting for good things to happen to me, to creating good Karma and giving what I'd love to receive. It's very simple: people who give referrals, get referrals. People who put other people forward for career defining opportunities, get put forward in turn. You HAVE the power to create your reality this way. NOTE: this only works if you give without expecting to receive from that same source, trust that somehow the good you give will find its way back to you - without controlling the how.
“Whenever an opportunity shows up, ask yourself, "does it make me feel wonderful to say yes to this?". If it's not a hell yes, it's a no”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
Get clear on your numbers, baby! Most women say they want to make "more". But magic happens when you sit down, figure out your business expenses, your personal expenses (don't be skimpy, don't forget to add taxes!) and come up with your true monthly revenue goal. Now, don't dismiss it. Believe it's possible for you to reach it (because it is). And reverse engineer what your prices need to be, based on that revenue goal and how much time you have to work with clients. Add a solid profit margin, so you can afford to take a few days off when you need to. Let's say you're a service provider and you come up with a $2,500 day rate. Next time you're pitching, instead of comparing yourself with other people who offer what you offer, or wondering, "Am I charging too much?", you KNOW that number is based on your true financial needs. And that charging anything less means you're paying in quality of life. And that's not what you're committed to, right?
What are the do and don’ts for women in order to make more money?
- Don't think your results only truly count if you've achieved them on your own (there's nothing honorable in that, and it's, in fact, a bad idea to go down that route).
- Don't fall into the trap of undercharging out of loyalty to your mom who never made much.
- Don't compare yourself to others (except for some initial research maybe), ESPECIALLY when it comes to pricing and messaging. Let your freak flag fly! People love different
- Don't aim for pain and risk free. You're going to get your butt kicked when you step into the arena of wanting to make more money. You're going to have triggering conversations with family members, with clients, you name it. Instead, take excellent care of yourself in all ways so that when you have a rough day (or week) you have reserves to fall back on.
- Don't unplug on self-love, self-worth or your sense of safety when someone criticizes you. Learn, adapt, but stand by yourself NO MATTER WHAT.
- Do figure out your revenue goal, because now you have the power of knowing.
- Do line up support - there's nothing wrong with getting help.
- Do keep an eye out for potentially repeating your mom's history with money.
- Do read money books - ALWAYS (I highly recommend "You're Badass at Making Money", "It's Not Your Money", "The Science of Getting Rich", anything by Barbara Stanny, "Worth It" by Amanda Steinberg and "Get Rich Lucky Bitch")
- Do come to this conversation with the attitude of "If I had 10x the courage...". And be willing to feel deeply uncomfortable as you grow into becoming a self-funded, unapologetic female leader who demands what she's worth - and gets it.
Everybody has had dark moments in their lives. What have you done to get out of that phase?
Radically accepting who I am. As a young woman, I really struggled with my bi-sexuality and I so didn't want to be the way that I am. I had huge judgements about it for myself. Had some pretty dark nights fearing I'd never be fulfilled in any relationship. But the thing is… when you fully accept who you are, you attract people who love you for who you are and who find your unconventional desires lovable and sexy.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I find that "having it all" always translates into "doing it all". And so I carefully choose what my priorities are and drop the rest. In my spare time I read historical romance books. Hang out with my husband and kids in the garden. We're extremely low key. And on top of that we're practicing the art of living simply while making millions. In other words… we're minimalists. We don't travel. We have minimal possessions (so I don't have to spend my spare time organizing my stuff). I love reading about going zero waste and creating a beautiful home life with sustainable luxury. In the evening, my husband reads to me about regenerative farming (we live on 160 acres of land) and we scheme about how we can ramp up our food production to feed 100 local families in need of fresh, organic produce. My advice? Keep it simple. Choose. Both joy and luxury can be found in the smallest of things.
What are your plans for the future?
To put as much money in the hands of women who will vote for a fairer, greener world through business mentorship, and showing the art of living simply while making millions. I want to show women that WEALTH doesn't mean unconscious consumerism and doesn't need to be a force of greed. It can be a force for good. Personally, our money is being spent on acquiring more land that we plan to farm with regenerative farming practices (healthy soil is ultimate wealth) and share the produce we farm with families and individuals who otherwise don't have access to healthy food. Keep the yacht; I'll take the organic farm, being surrounded by my children's laughter playing between rows of carrots and leeks, and knowing in my heart I’m doing my part in healing the world (and sure, I'll take the sustainably made, gorgeous baby alpaca sweaters too).
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for the fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
More than anything, watch out for your INNER glass ceiling. The patriarchy has wrapped it's tentacles around our minds and tells us we're not good enough, accredited enough, courageous enough - and then we back down. When these thoughts come up, just know that it's not YOU. Those thoughts and beliefs come from the SAME system that keeps job opportunities away from women (especially women of color). It's just pretending to be you. My experience with the (external) glass ceiling has been minimal. I used to be a soprano. There was little male competition there since castrating males got out of fashion (OMG). And after that I went straight into starting my own business online where (thank god) we experience a lot more diversity and equality (although not nearly enough). Another way the glass ceiling shows up is in how women keep other women down, criticize each other (or even try and "cancel" each other online), or offer fellow women opportunities that don't pay. I once refused a speaking opportunity at a summit created by a self confessed feminist who wanted me to fly myself in, pay for hotel, etc., out of my own pocket and didn't have money available to pay for the actual speaking. I kindly declined. Whenever an opportunity shows up, ask yourself, "does it make me feel wonderful to say yes to this?". If it's not a hell yes, it's a no.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what you do (professionally). With this idea in mind, what is being Merel, and what's not?
I think a lot of people think I'm some sort of super woman (7-figure business, providing for my family while birthing and raising three girls under the age of 5 and running a farm). But like I said, I get so much support. Also, people tend to think that successful people have their shizz together. But I'm human just like anyone else. Maybe the only difference is that instead of being surprised to find myself crying in the corner sometimes (just like any other young mom), I expect to end up there from time to time, and don't make it mean I'm a failure. It's more of a, "Oh, here we are again! Just have a good ol' cry, girl!". Being your own very best cheerleader helps.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
Frida Kahlo. Her dedication to expressing herself in her art, but also in her life, I find utterly exhilarating and inspiring. Also, as a fellow bi-sexual with naturally bushy eyebrows, what can't I love about her?
Name: Merel Kriegsman
Company: Merel Kriegsman Media
Designation: CEO and founder
Country: Holland/ Canada