Donna is a wife to Joel her amazing husband and mom of two adorable girls ages 4 and 7. She has worked in the children's clothing and accessory business for over 20 years. In 1989 at the age of 22 she opened her first sales studio in downtown Los Angeles at the California Apparel Mart, representing over 15 small-to- medium-sized companies who manufactured children's clothing in the USA and Europe. In 2005, Donna began her journey with Blessed Nest becoming a partner in 2007. You can now find Donna dreaming of life on a farm as she home schools her two children in busy and beautiful Southern CA. Donna and Blessed Nest founder Heather nurture mothers from their perches here and here; you can read about their decades-long friendship here.
Motherhood is a dream that I did not really dare to dream. I had my first child at age 37 and my second at 39 after living the life of a single career woman. I wasn't avoiding motherhood to fulfill a need for a successful career; the timing just wasn't right until the timing was perfect!
The same is true of my partnering with Heather at Blessed Nest. She was pursuing her dream because a friend believed in Heather's talent and wanted to invest in her. In 2002, Blessed nest was born as a line of baby bedding. In 2003, I gave birth to my first child. I had a horrible time breastfeeding my wiggly baby and called Heather, crying, asking her to design a nursing pillow that would work. The Nesting Pillow saved my breastfeeding experience, and I dreamed of helping other moms who were struggling too. And that became my dream — every mom needed to know about the Nesting Pillow. Because my pre-baby days were spent as an Independent Sales Representative in the children's clothing industry, I could help make Heather's dream happen — and mine.
Within a few months after the Nesting Pillow launched, we realized
we needed to focus the company, and phased out bedding for a
season. Five years later, however, we are now in the process of moving
Heather out of the sewing room, and back into the design room as she is
a natural and gifted designer.
In sharing the story of Blessed Nest, Whitney asked me Was going into business easier this time around because the business is related to and integrates mothering? Yes – absolutely. Not only because I brought twenty years of relevant experience, but because it's more exciting: I am leveraging that experience in service of my current dream.
What makes Blessed Nest a joy for both Heather and me is our mission: “We
nurture moms so they can nurture their babies with peace of mind.” Our
dream is to nurture. Without nurturing moms in our community, we would
simply be pushing a product, and that is not our dream.
Another question – what have you learned, what advice would you give to women who want to start their own business?
1. Dream: Find something that adds value to your day, creates balance, and then leap into the dream. Don't just look at a business from a financial perspective. It's not just about the bottom line. Think of a business idea as if it were your child. Will you give up when the going gets tough? If you say yes, even for a minute, then the dream isn't big enough to become a reality. Heather and I love to nurture women. This is our larger dream: it encourages us and keeps us going even when the other elements don't quite add up.
2. Don't allow ‘mommy guilt' to dampen your dream. Find the work/life balance. Being involved with Blessed Nest as a new mom was a very positive experience for me. I home school which actually allows me to have more time with my children and my work. There is a lot of freedom and joy in pursuing dreams that most would say don't quite fit together.
If you have a dream and strongly believe in it, don't let anyone outside of your closest family/friend circle tell you that you are doing something you should not be doing. Your have your dream, your convictions. If your dreams give you peace in the chaos of the day, run with them.
3. Work with trusted partners: We did not look for an ‘angel investor', but instead found family and
friends who believed in and invested in us. Heather also took the
initiative to enter a business plan competition in 2007. Her first
place prize of $10,000 has helped grow Blessed Nest. Be willing to go slow and let time teach you where your resources are best spent. Do NOT take out a loan to finance your business. Most small businesses close within five years because they have a high debt-to-income ratio. By growing at a slow yet steady pace, Blessed Nest has held its own.
4. Know what your gifts and talents are — and delegate: After you've had your hand in every aspect of the business, delegate what you are not so great at. Be okay with someone else being better than you in a given area. If you try to do it all, you will burn out. Even with the parts of the business that you enjoy, you should have a back-up plan for times when you can't do them.
At present, Heather is creative director, designer, seamstress,
production manager — she's all about making the product. She is also
now savvy in HTML writing, accounting and building websites — which
is what you do when you run a company without a lot of extra money.
She is currently in the process of handing over the accounting and
administrative work and hiring more seamstresses. She will
always oversee the entire business, but as the business grows she is
I started in sales, focusing on how to launch the Nesting Pillow. In 2007, I became a partner and expanded our efforts to help moms discover our product. I now manage wholesale, retail sales and customer communications while creating community through social networking and blogging.
5. It takes a village to raise a business. We have amazing support. Our team at the Perch is an example of that. Surround yourself with wise men and women and develop relationships with your customers — they will be your biggest supporters. We call all of our customers friends, but there are a few who have become cheerleaders. Christal, for example, is one of our customers turned friend in whom we confide and depend upon. She has the most adorable family; we will be using a photo she placed on our fan page in our new marketing materials. Whatever you do — don't go it alone.
Dream big dreams. Then wake up. Look and see all that is around you; the challenges, the issues, the obstacles. Think about why you dream your dream. Walk toward it with your eyes wide open, then when you enter the dream, close your eyes only to open them when you must see a little light.
Dreams are exciting. They are also terrifying at times unless they are fueled with hope. Dreams give us hope, and hope fuels our dreams.
Dare to dream —
Love to the moon and back,
What are your dreams? How can you pull them together — perhaps your dream of being a mother and a businesswoman and achieve a balance between work/life as Chrysula Winegar encourages us to do? To what extent have your dreams been born of necessity, of solving a problem?
When and if you do start a business, is this idea like your child? Is it something that you are fully committed to? A great piece of advice, isn't it? If we don't feel fully committed, perhaps it makes sense to keep dating… or dream dabbling?
As you think about starting a business, bootstrapping will likely be required – but what resources do you have available to you — right now? Many more than you suppose?
How are you delegating? Remember how Psyche/The Country Bunny learned to delegate? Do we practice delegating with our children? Giving them the opportunity to really grow up?