One of the best ways to make yourself and your business the best they can be is to learn from the success of others. That’s why we love to spotlight our members here at the blog. Today, you’ll meet Diana O'Donnell, founder of Moana Beauty in Naples, Florida. Moana products have been featured in several magazines like Marie Claire, Everyday With Rachel Ray and more.
At Moana Beauty, Diana makes luxury handmade skin care and bath products with ingredients from Tahiti. Diana has been a member of the Indie Business Network since January 2010. I asked her to share a bit about her life and Moana Beauty, along with some of her best business tips. Here's a little of what she said.
Q1 TELL US ABOUT MOANA BEAUTY
It started back when I created my first homemade beauty products in the tiny bathroom of my New York City apartment during my college years at the School of Visual Arts. When I wasn't working on my art or cocktail waitressing at a rock n' roll club, I was turning flower waters, clay, oils, and herbs into natural beauty potions.
It was around this time that I discovered Monoi de Tahiti Oil, a unique coconut oil from Tahiti used for body and hair care. I fell in love with it and dreamed of one day visiting Tahiti. Years later, that dream came true when my husband and I honeymooned there.
Rediscovering Monoi in its native land, I gained more knowledge about it through local women and went home with a suitcase full of Monoi. Using Monoi Oil at home brought me back to Tahiti, and I wanted all of my products to make me feel that way. After a lot of research, two more trips to Tahiti and a child, Moana Beauty was finally born.
Q2 WHAT IS YOUR BEST SELLING PRODUCT?
By far, the Monoi de Tahiti Oil, with Tiare and Beach being the bestselling scents. Monoi Body Butter is also popular and the Beach Body Polish is a favorite too
Q3 WHAT BUSINESS PRINCIPLE DO YOU FOLLOW NOW THAT YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU ABOUT BEFORE YOU STARTED MOANA BEAUTY?
Keep things small and focused.
I started my line with too many fragrances and too many products. It’s best to start small – even with one single product or single fragrance for a line of just five to seven products. Gain traction and grow from there.
Q4 WHAT SORTS OF THINGS DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING?
Hmmm, when am I not working? Oh yes! I like spending time with my family – I’ve got a wonderful husband who’s a guitarist from Ireland and we have a very high energy little girl in the first grade.
For “me” time, I like to take Zumba classes, I find shakin’ my booty very therapeutic. Going out to hear my husband play music makes me happy, and carting our daughter to her four dance classes each week is becoming like a second job.
Besides that, I’m addicted to Downtown Abbey, and since we live in Southwest Florida, we get to go to the beach all year round – which I vowed to do more of this year. Oh, and I’m going to started school full-time last month to get my Facial Specialist license. I’m very excited about that!
Q5 WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS STARTING OUT TODAY?
Do your research BEFORE you start selling. And then research some more. Don’t bolt out of the gate because you think you’ll figure it out as you go along. Wrong. For example, it’s not enough just to secure a domain name once you’ve picked that fabulous name for your company. You need to search and triple-check the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see if your name (or a possibly confusingly similar one) is already in use.
If need be, make sure you have secured the proper license to do business in your state before you start. Research costs as much as you can and then be prepared to spend money on things you never thought of like insurance, trademarking your name, business associations, UPC codes.
Do your research BEFORE you start selling.
Diana O'Donnell, Moana Beauty
Q6 WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS GOING WHEN THE MOST CHALLENGING TIMES COME YOUR WAY?
Recently, I almost shut down my business completely for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t. For me, it boils down to sheer tenacity, perseverance and a sort of obsessed, single-mindedness, coupled with the fact that I want to be an inspiration for my 6-year old daughter. You have to be a bit bull-headed to be a business owner, but be bull-headed about the right things.
There’s a saying: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.” You have to learn to let go of what’s not working in your business, even if you think it’s the greatest thing in the world. Hacking away at your product line, your operating processes, your website, rebranding, etc., can be very liberating, and the process of renewal can also lead to great inspiration. I’m going through that process right now and am very excited about the possibilities, even more than when I first started.
Q7 WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF THE INDIE BUSINESS NETWORK?
My initial reason for joining the Indie Business Network was the affordable product liability insurance. In fact, for the first couple of years, that’s all I used it for. I never explored the other member offerings.
Then one day, in my third year of membership, I started poking around the site out of curiosity and and couldn’t believe all of the great info I was missing out on!
The practical knowledge I’ve gained from being a member of IBN has been wonderful. From learning new business processes, to finding out basic things like new supplier information or equipment ideas, the Success Calls, all of it has been vastly helpful to me.
Beyond that, simply discovering that I’m not alone in this journey has been great – there’s a network of support at IBN that I don’t think you can find anywhere else.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MOANA BEAUTY