Women Who Own It
CEO of Darna & Company; NoMo Nausea
What inspired you to start your business?
Helping others has always been my passion, so going into medicine was a no-brainer. However, the tables turned when I became the patient after I needed an emergency c-section. I vomited for three days due to the anesthesia I received, and none of the medications I was given helped. Finally, I turned to Eastern Medicine practices of acupressure and aromatherapy, and it worked! I felt better instantly using a napkin taped at the P6 point on the wrist and smelling peppermint leaves, but the leaves kept falling so I made a wristband by taping the two together. After a Google search returned no products combining acupressure and essential oils, I filed my patent and NoMo Nausea was born. It dawned on me that as a practitioner I help people on a 1:1 scale, but with my product I can help the MILLIONS of people who suffer from nausea, vomiting, headaches and migraines daily.
What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how have you overcome them?
Oh boy. What challenges haven’t I faced might be a better question! I’m a Hispanic female with no business training whatsoever. I knew I had a great product, but I had no idea of how to get it into the hands of people that needed it, nor did I know anything about marketing. So, I sought out mentors. You’d be amazed at how many people are willing to help you if you only ask. Networking has been key for me. I say all the time, “Business is the business of people not products or services.”
What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Never be the smartest person in the room! You want to surround yourself with smart, successful people, and don’t be afraid to ask for their help. Then, remember to pay it forward by helping those behind you.
What three traits define you?
Persistent. I set clear goals and I don’t stop until I meet and exceed them, and I don’t take no for an answer.
Energetic. I thrive on loving what I do, helping others, staying busy, and it’s a good thing too! I’m a mom to two beautiful children, a wife, I run my company, and still make time to see patients.
Innovative. I think that shows through my product, but I’m always thinking outside the box or trying things from a different angle.
What women inspire you?
My mom inspired me to have the confidence in myself to do anything. I thought my mom was a stay-at-home mom, but I later learned that she worked nights and weekends as a nurse when I was with my dad. I didn’t know it at the time, but she balanced her time as a working mother so that she could devote herself to cultivating my talents. She was there at every cheerleading competition, horseback riding show, dance recital, school honors banquets, and the person I can go to in every minute of any day. I still am amazed that she drives 45 minutes at a drop of a hat to watch her grandbabies when I have to fly across the world, and she even went around to every hospital and pharmacy in Europe giving samples of my product to drum up sales on her 25th wedding anniversary vacation to Europe for over 20 days.
Other women in business that I admire include Susan Stackhouse, CEO of Stellar Airport Stores, for her continuous efforts to help all women in business succeed. She’s never too busy to answer emails or phone calls, and is happy to take a chance buying up and coming women owned products to be featured in her hundreds of airport stores.
Bridgette Bello, CEO of Tampa Bay Business Journal, for her networking talents. She knows everyone in the industry and is happiest when she can connect you to people you’ve been dying to meet. She has dealt with very trying personal times with a smile on her face, so that not even her employees or friends knew the medical issues she was facing. She grew one of the largest publications in Florida all at the same time.
Joy Randels, a Silicon Valley mogul who I’m proud to call a friend and mentor, has successfully exited over 17 multimillion dollar companies. When she’s in town she’s never too busy to have a brainstorming session, which always changes my perspective on how I look at things.
Last, I want to mention Katie Krimistsos, founder of Biz Women Rock, her undying energetic spirit lifts all women up and she successfully scaled this huge podcast all while being a first-time mom.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
Being certified through WBENC has opened the door to an invaluable network of professionals, thought leaders in the industry, business meetings with key buyers I could have only dreamed of meeting, and a cohort of other strong and motivated business women that have my same mentality of “let’s grow together.” The opportunities and mentorship I’ve received in just the few months that we’ve been certified is incredible, and attending and winning PepsiCo Choice Competition in Detroit in 2018 has only catapulted my business to new heights in such a short period of time.
As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?
What’s next? My mind is constantly in motion - I’m always questioning how we can do things better and different ways to help my company grow. From where the industry is going, to who is the next large sales funnel, how can I scale, and what products to launch next and how they will be perceived by the public.
What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?
I think it can become difficult for many females, not just entrepreneurs, to overcome the fear of failure. If you’re not scared, you’re not dreaming large enough. Society puts an enormous amount of pressure for us to be everything to everyone and to be perfect at it the first time. Forget that! If you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t growing. Mistakes are a blessing and hopefully you recognize them soon enough so that small failures are seen as stepping stones instead of roadblocks.
What do you love about being a business owner?
I love the freedom I have to express my creativity, ingenuity, and be my own boss. It’s so much fun to come up with different ways of doing things, to think outside of the box, and see business as an oval and not a square. In being a business owner, I can push my company forward, extending far past initial possibilities, and all without being pin-holed by creation, invention, or direction of where my company will move.
What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?
Finding balance. It’s extremely easy to let work overflow into my personal time and space. I had to become very strict in setting time for work and time for me, my family, and friends.
How do you define success?
To me, success is growth. If I can pursue my passion in such a way that business continues to grow and sustain itself, then I am successful. Successes should always be celebrated for a short period of time, 5 minutes in my company, and then the follow up question should be, “What’s next?” I never want to get comfortable, complacent, or stagnant. I truly believe movement in a positive direction is recipe for success.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
If you are the smartest person in the room, then it’s time to find a new room.
What’s your favorite career moment?
Standing in line at CVS and the person in front of me was buying my product!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a doctor and a mom, and I am proud to say I fulfilled my dream. More specifically I said I wanted to be an Obstetrician Gynecologist with a specialization in In Vitro Fertilization. I wanted to help couples have babies, although that isn’t the subspecialty I chose, I still feel blessed to be the creator of Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast to help pregnant women answer the questions they are too afraid to ask their doctor so I help them using humor and talking to them as their best friend would.
How do you unwind after a long workday?
I feel like my brain is always running until I crash on my pillow. My husband can tell you I fall asleep in 5 minutes flat. I usually love snuggling with the whole family on the couch, including our dog, and then will read stories to the kids or talk about their day. Unwinding is hard for me, as I love to stay busy until I get into my comfy bed of course. I do keep a notepad on my nightstand to make sure I write down any good ideas I dream about, and it helps me go back to sleep instantly so I can revisit that idea the next morning.
Fill in the blank:
When I face a challenge, I... think of solutions and then run it by my team.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... to take a business and marketing class in college..
The one thing I couldn’t live without is... my Samsung cell phone.
By this time next year, I will be... in 5 more big box retailers and in hospitals in 2 new countries.
The best thing that happened to me recently was... I won PepsiCo Choice Competition and I get to produce NoMo Sleepless Nights, our sleep product, with the prize money.
To get my creative juices flowing, I... jump into the shower.
About Darna & Company
Darna & Company is the creator and wholesaler of NoMo Bands: the first and only acupressure and aromatherapy wristbands that prevent and instantly relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, as well as headaches and migraines. Developed by an anesthesia expert, they are award winning products that are now in 12 countries of the world and sold in retailers across the USA. Our mission is simple "NoMo Nausea!" In other words, stop nausea now, safely and naturally, and provide a better quality of life to those in need.