I'm Melissa Rodgers, recovering supermom, corporate dropout and CEO of a successful online business that I built from scratch with a baby on my hip. Through lots of trial and more error than I'd like to admit, I built a thriving company that impacts thousands of busy high achieving moms around the world- and gives me and my family a life and future that we had only dreamed of before.

I created the Self-Made Mamas Podcast to bring you step-by-step strategies and inspirational stories that will help you design a business that gives you the life you really want and the future you've been dreaming of. If you are an ambitious business mom or one in the making, you're in the right place. So... let's get to work!


Connecting Your Story to your Service Proposition with Avigayil Basser

December 17, 2021

Episode 20 of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast


Melissa: Hey Avigayil, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so excited to have you here. For those who don’t know, Avigayil is an Eco Brand Strategist based in Toronto, and we recently connected on Instagram over a post I made about my past and my story as a mom and as a guardian to my siblings, and all that fun stuff. We ended up chatting for a couple of hours on and off, and really getting to know each other. We started talking about this idea of having a complicated and not very idyllic story to tell, and how we can do that as entrepreneurs. Avigayil has some amazing insights on this and also an incredible story that I really want you guys to hear. Welcome to the podcast Avigayil, thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do right now, what your business is? Also, your story and how you got here?




Avigayil: Yeah, definitely. Thanks for having me, Melissa. It’s been great connecting with you. I grew up in a religious Ultra-Orthodox Jewish family. I was also homeschooled. I lived my life between Toronto and Israel for different amounts of time. I was raised in a really neglectful, abusive home. One of the things that really impacted me, and I’ll explain how this affected me going forward, is just that lack of education. When I say I was homeschooled, I wasn’t really homeschooled. It was free for all, and it meant not going to school, so there are a lot of gaps in my education. Fast forward to my teenage years, I left home before I turned 18. When I started college, I was super unaware about the world and very confused. I ended up getting married when I was almost 21. It lasted a few months and got divorced promptly thereafter. I was very lucky that it wasn’t more complicated than it could have been. So, I have just spent the past 10-years figuring out who I am, what I want to do, how I can use my life experience, and feeling like I’m supposed to actually help people instead of feeling down about it. Now, I am a mom of two kids, I have a full-time job. I also manage my husband’s martial arts school, and when that was closed because of the pandemic, and virtual classes were just so limited because of the nature of what we do, I really missed having something that was a way to express my creativity. I had come to develop my business skills over 5-years of building and running a business. I’ve always loved writing. I’ve been doing a lot of this branding and writing work in my day job. I figured why not use this skill and this passion to also help brands that I’m super passionate about working with, and that’s how USP Enthusiast was born.


M: Can you explain to people that aren’t aware yet, what is a USP? Why is it important?


A: A USP is a unique selling proposition. It essentially tells people what you do, who you do it for, how you do that, and most importantly, what problem you’re solving or what job you’re doing. That’s getting deep into the reasons behind people’s needs for products or services, as opposed to the actual name or specific product or service that you offer. It’s a way to communicate with people what you do in a way that helps them see you as the solution to a problem.


M: That’s perfect. Can we rewind a little bit? You lived in between Israel and Toronto. Was that through most of your childhood, or was it for a fixed time period?


A: Yes and no. I was born in Toronto. At the age of 7, my family moved to Israel. At 14, we came back to Toronto for 6 months. It was a way just to earn income because it’s pretty hard to do that in Israel. Then we moved back again, before finally landing back in Toronto when my father tried to basically jump bail on child abuse charges. At 16, we moved back, and that was the final step back here. So, large chunks of time were commuting or flying every 6months or so.


M: In Israel, you were involved with Child Welfare Organizations, obviously, if it had gotten to that point. Was that the case in Canada too? Was this a feature of your life in both countries?


A: Yeah. I wasn’t at home when this happened, but apparently, Israeli authorities did notify Canadian authorities. They did come and…


M: Oh wow.


A: Yeah. I didn’t believe that either. They came and checked in, my mom and brother were there, my brother told me about it after that. Unfortunately, there isn’t much follow-up that happened in either place. As you know, this stuff can take a long time and a lot can be hidden, especially once physical abuse is no longer a factor as much. If it all comes down to the emotional and neglectful stuff, which is what started happening, or what kept happening as opposed to the physical component, which I think, my dad just realized he was getting caught, so he stopped.


M: I’m so sorry that you have to go through that. It’s incredible that you have come through all of that turmoil, essentially. Even in a healthy family situation, immigrating repeatedly is hard on kids.


A: Yeah.


M: Moving back and forth is tumultuous. Even without all of the added dysfunction, that is super hard.


A: It’s definitely interesting, looking back and seeing all the things that I would say were challenging for “normal” children, or children growing up in a healthier family environment, a lot of the things that I went through, whether it was bullying, from moving to a new country, or even just being uprooted, those things don’t even register as trauma. Given everything else, though, I’m sure they’re there.


M: Yeah, I don’t think we ever escape anything completely. Tell me about your family now. You have two little kids. I think our children are very close in age, I think we have discovered.


A: Yeah, we both are moms to cute little boys. I have a 1.5-year-old and a 4-year-old. They’re amazing. They’re so naughty, they totally keep me on my toes. One of the other things that are a constant struggle or challenge that I face right now is that they both have life-threatening anaphylactic allergies. It’s like a full-time job just managing those appointments and the testing and trying new foods and calling companies to make sure foods are safe and not cross-contaminated with a list of 12 foods.


M: Just adding on the layers of stress.


A: Yeah.


M: How do you feel about becoming a mom and an entrepreneur and having accomplished so much, given your roots and the barriers you had to overcome? This is something we talk about a lot on the podcast. This is not a case of motivation or taking opportunities or a girl boss hustle, there’s a lot more to this when you’re coming from a situation that has created real barriers for you. What’s your take on that?


A: I think in a weird way, it has made me not only resilient but incredibly resourceful. I’ve always had to figure out creative solutions, and I use that in my business to grow my business. I use that as a mom. So, definitely, it has given me the ability to say, “I can do this.” I know I can do this; I have been through a lot. I think that every time I realize that, I’m encouraged to keep going, to keep growing, and to help other people do the same.


M: It’s amazing. I love that language, “every time I realize that,” because I think we forget. When you normalize these things that have happened to you, you forget how much you have persevered through, and you do have to remind yourself and realize it again.


A: Definitely.


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Using Your Story


Melissa: What do you want people to know about how to bring out your true self? Obviously, you have an incredible, complicated personal and private story at its core, right? Most of what you have been through, it’s not stuff that you’re going to be shouting from the rooftops as it’s part of your business. Nonetheless, your story is part of you, and you can’t pull it out of the fabric of who you are as a person, as a mom, and as an entrepreneur. What do you want people to know about doing that, about bringing their true selves to the table when their true self is complicated and maybe even painful?


Avigayil: I really looked at it as falling into two buckets. One of the ways I like to use my story is really just storytelling. So, as a copywriter at heart, we use words to tell stories, to engage people. I have used my story, little bits of it, just to get interest in things like, “Wow, that’s interesting.” One specific instance comes to mind as I told people on Instagram that I didn’t know the word “T-Rex” until I was 18, or 17, and that’s just from being so isolated. I have five younger brothers, and they didn’t have toys, so we didn’t have toy dinosaurs. Now my child is running around, and he knows the names. He’s four years old, and he knows every kind of dinosaur that has ever roamed the earth. Maybe just thinking about that juxtaposition highlighted that for me, how absurd it was. I didn’t realize it at the time, and I use it just as a human interest thing without dumping the heaviness of my experience, and all the reasons why I didn’t know that. Just sharing how I went from not knowing a really basic word that a lot of 4-year-olds know, to writing, and using writing in creative ways, and also as the core of my business. That was really interesting to people, I got a lot of interest in that. That’s number one, just the storytelling. I think the other way to do it is to share your reasons and to connect with people about why you do this, why it’s meaningful to you. It’s meaningful to me to help, and this is not really going back so much to the trauma, but there is a reason why I want to help sustainable brands grow their business. That’s because I started going down this rabbit hole when my children were diagnosed with these food allergies, and it created a meaning for me in trying to help as best I could or as best as I could understand it to help their immune systems by taking some stuff out of our life that I thought might be interfering with it, and that brings me a personal reason to really be passionate about what I do. I see it as either storytelling and getting some interest or explaining why you’re so passionate about helping your people out there. Instead of dumping the heaviness on them, which honestly doesn’t serve you as a person because it’s just too vulnerable. It doesn’t serve your community because they’re going through their own stuff, they really don’t want to see more of that, for better or for worse. The best empathy you could have is the empathy you have for yourself, instead of looking for it elsewhere. I definitely see it as a tool when used wisely, and it tells people what makes you unique, which is the heart of the idea where you implement the unique selling proposition throughout your business.


M: I tend to agree with you on all of those points. I find my story is very different from yours, I’m not even remotely comparable, in my opinion. However, I find that when I do share about what I’ve been through with my family, which I will talk about in another episode, but when I do share little snippets of that and share small uplifting things, I find people come out of the woodwork that I had no idea were following me. That’s actually how you and I connected. I think I said something during that episode. I’m very private, I don’t share intimate details of my life on social media, which is where I primarily market my business. Even just little things that allude to the gravity of my story and sharing the other side of it, I prefer to process things privately. Once I have processed them and I feel that I’m healed from them, then I will talk about them. That’s just my personal preference. I find that it brings people out of the woodwork who then become super fans because they realize that not only am I doing something that they want to be doing, but I’ve been where they are, or I’ve been where they’ve been, and that is just so incredibly powerful and creating connection, I think. 


A: Absolutely.


M: It’s so easy to see everybody with their beautiful lives and their big wins and all the things that we share on social media, and we don’t know what their story is, we don’t know how they’ve gotten there, or what they’ve been through or what mountains they’ve climbed over to get there. I love your approach of combining a little bit of storytelling without dumping your therapy session onto your Instagram page. Also, making it your “why”. I think that’s a really insightful and clear way of laying it out because I think it is important. As you said, I do think there’s a line, and I think we have a bit of a problem now. I don’t know if you agree with this or not, feel free to disagree. I think we have a bit of a problem with people processing things via social media, rather than processing them off of social media and then bringing them to share their experiences. People are publicly processing these heavy things now, and I mean, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a professional, I don’t know how healthy that is.


A: Yeah. Especially when you get so much feedback, which can influence that inner work that you can do quietly, or you’re doing with the help of a professional, and you get responses that influence that processing, whether it’s anything from “poor you,” which may not be helpful, or “you’re amazing,” which is also not helpful. I hate when people do that when they say like, “Oh, you’ve overcome so much, you’re amazing,” it almost takes away from the gravity of what you’re going through, and I feel like all of that can play into 100% as you process it, which is why it’s so much more helpful and just easier to share it as you say years down the line after you’ve understood what happened. Then people’s input, whether they pay attention to it or the lack of attention to it, doesn’t affect the validity of your experience.


M: I love that. I hate saying, “I love that,” on the podcast because I think that’s a cliche podcast hosting, you’re like, “Oh, my God, I love that,” but I do, I love it.


USP context, woman on laptop with headphones talking into microphone


Finding Your Niche


Melissa: Aside from that, what are some issues that you see with people bringing your private life into the public as a marketing tool or perhaps as a tool for connection? I think this is something that a lot of people do now. We’re all very aware that we have to keep a human element in our brands, particularly our personal brands. What are some of the issues that you see with that as a brand strategist, or as a writer? What is your opinion on the problems that are currently popping up on social media with people navigating this water?


Avigayil: One of the interesting ones I see, and this is the opposite of my story but I hear this from clients saying, “I don’t have anything, everybody’s sharing their story, and I got nothing. I’m just a normal kid from a normal family,” I hate to use the word “normal,” but that’s what I hear. “My life is average. Everything’s great. I don’t have anything amazing to share, and I don’t have anything. I don’t have a horror story or backstory. I’m just me.” And they say…


M: I don’t feel like I have overcome anything.


A: Yeah, exactly. You know what? Fine, maybe you haven’t overcome anything, but the funny thing is, I like to go super meta, and I’m like, “Share that. You’ll connect with people in a similar situation, tell them about this, share your struggle with that is an internal struggle, you’re not asking for attention, and you’re not acting sad, or making it or comparing yourself, you’re just sharing your reality if your reality is that you’ve had an average life, and you’re not sure how to find your people and connect more deeply, talk about the struggle.” Whenever people tell me they don’t know what to share, just share that you don’t know what to share, and get creative with it. I feel like you always have something, and it’s also just about finding it. One of the things I love so much about identifying your unique selling proposition and niching down is that you have to work way less hard to create content and communicate with people because you know exactly who you’re talking to. Ideally, you’re talking to someone you already connect with. For me, it’s super easy once I nailed it down, and I didn’t have it nailed down to start up the interesting thing. Even as someone who specializes in creating this one little piece of a linguistic asset for brands, I didn’t even have mine nail down, and that’s okay, and I’ll go into that in a minute. Once I nailed it down, and I said, “Okay, I want to talk to these sustainable businesses,” content is never a problem. Not only that, it’s never a problem knowing who to pitch to, who to follow, and who to connect with, it’s all-natural because it’s the same community, and it comes so easily. I highly recommend that. Just going back to address the fact that I didn’t know where to niche, that’s totally okay. You’re going to start more broadly unless you already know, but you’re often going to start more broadly, and what I said is, “I’m helping solopreneurs,” which may be specified on the surface, but it is not specific. I spent days trying to decide, do I highlight my content? Do I use words like customers? Do I use words like clients? Do I say products? Or do I say services? What do I call my ideal client? As soon as I narrowed it down, and it took about 2 months, all of that struggle went away. It allowed me to share my story and my reason to talk straight to my ideal client and to actually find clients that I enjoy working with. I’m a massive fan, as you could tell since I named my business after it. I’m a massive fan of finding your niche and using it to drive your business, it’s more than a sentence, it’s everything, you just look back if you’re having struggles, and you say, “does this fit?”


M: We do something very similar inside The Self-Made Mama Society. I actually put students through an exercise where we don’t narrow it down to one sentence, but I do make them identify a core promise that solves a core problem, and they only get one. They’re not allowed to include multiple things in this statement, it has to be one thing, and then we branch out from there. That’s how we develop their unique marketing plan. It’s just so powerful. As you said, it strips away the confusion. Confusion kills conversions. You can’t sell to people if they’re confused about what you do, or why you do it, or who you do it for. It’s almost impossible, so I love it. I think that’s excellent advice.


USP context, woman sitting at dkesk in front of window with laptop and book in her lap


Nailing Your USP


Melissa: What are some steps that people can take? Regardless of what your story is, whether you have had this beautifully normal life and nothing bad has ever happened to you, whether you have just been through the wars and you have many things that you’re carrying and you’re starting a business, what are your tips for communicating effectively in a way that weaves your story in a way that creates that connection, and feeds your USP, feeds your unique selling proposition?


Avigayil: If you’re not someone who’s always telling yourself your life story in your mind, which I am, then there are some easy ways to get it out there and get it out of your head. One of them is to literally just take a piece of paper, open your phone and go on notes, and write down 10 things that make you “YOU.” Get specific, it can include your life story, but can also include something you’re super passionate about, it could include a hobby, it can include something a little more general like your mom, the things that make you “YOU” and look at that. That is the starting process to identify your communication strategy with your target market. Knowing all of those things you can add to the list, you could take away and choose to focus on 3 out of that list of 10. It’s super powerful to just look at that on a piece of paper and say, “There’s got to be somebody out there who this would really quickly click with.”


M: What if that doesn’t happen? What if you create your USP, as you said, you took a few months to come up with yours? I have altered mine many times, trying to hone it down and perfect it as I’ve gathered more information about who I can best serve and how I can best serve them. I think that’s the case for every entrepreneur, we evolve it as we go. What do you suggest for somebody who comes up with something and puts it out there, and silence? Nothing happens.


A: There are two things. One of them is you haven’t landed your USP yet. To be 100% honest, if your USP is even okay, not great, but okay, doable, possible, and you put yourself out there, and there are zero bites, I honestly tell people to rethink the product or the service, not just how they’re marketing it. I know that might be controversial, and I don’t think you should do that over the weekend. I think it needs to give it time. If a month, 2 months go by, and nobody bites, no one in your existing network, no one refers to you, no one even connects the dots or even asks questions, you don’t get any DMs or there’s just nothing, nobody even seems remotely interested, then you might want to think if whatever you’re offering does a meaningful job in somebody’s life. It probably does, and you probably haven’t nailed down what the job is, and that’s what’s missing. I’m a big fan of “Shark Tank” and “Dragons Den” and I know that’s totally cliched. One of my favourite things is if someone comes out with a product or service and it’s sad, but you’re just confused about how they got this far because, clearly, it’s not needed.


M: Yeah.


A: That doesn’t mean that you have bad ideas, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to come up with a better idea. It just means that this wasn’t the idea. I can’t tell you how many of those ideas I’ve had. I’ve thought of these things, and I’ve put stuff out there, and either I decided it didn’t do a meaningful job or decided I’m not passionate about it enough to continue. I think that you have to assess those two things. Is your product or service doing a meaningful job for people? If it isn’t, and if it can’t, then you are going to find something else? If it is, but you haven’t been communicating it well, then rethink how you’re communicating that with your USP with your calls to action with your content with your copy of all of that.


M: I agree 100%? That’s great advice. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for sharing so candidly with us. I feel like people are going to get a lot of value out of hearing your take on this.


A: Definitely, thanks for having me.


Avigayil headshot



Avigayil writes copy for natural and mental health providers. Check her out on Instagram at @alignedcopyco and alignedcopyco.com.


Connect with her for a complimentary assessment call.





Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast. You can find more information about working with us at theselfmademama.com or connect with us on Instagram at @selfmademama_. I can’t wait to chat.


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