Here a Diva…There a Success

Jul 12, 2011 4 Comments
How do you make a diva? Teana McDonald devised the perfect recipe: sugar, spice, and unique, hand-crafted hair accessories for little girls. That’s everything nice, affordable and full of style. InterviewHer.com spoke with Teana to get a taste of her successful company, My Little Diva Accessories.
McDonald worked for eight years in the prepaid finance industry. She was serving as a consultant when the company ended itsteana-mcdonald contract. “I was laid off and I had never been laid off,” Teana tells InterviewHer.com. “I had always had a business in the back of my mind, though. I’d wanted to stay home with my firstborn and be a mom, but I also wanted an income, so I decided to start a personal shopping business for the everyday person.”
In 2006, Teana started The In-Style Diva, Inc. The company was designed to help people who didn’t like shopping or who wanted to buy a gift but didn’t feel confident selecting the “right” item and then wrapping and presenting it. Teana ran that company while on her maternity leave and then went back to working for someone else.  After a few years, she was mom to a new daughter and her entrepreneurial spirit was renewed when her little diva provided some inspiration. “My daughter didn’t have a lot of hair, so even though she would be dressed in pink, people would see her and say, ‘Oh, he’s so cute.’” Teana recalls. “It was just driving me crazy. So I went on the Internet and started looking at hair accessories. I ordered a few items, but the quality wasn’t something I liked. It all looked like something you could put together in less than two minutes. I went to a craft store one weekend, bought needle, thread, a glue gun, flowers, headbands and just worked on it all weekend. I had my prototype and a method for creating it. I decided I would make one for every outfit she had.”
From there a little diva and her accessories were born. A family member working in the fashion industry saw the items and encouraged Teana to grow her hobby into a business. Friends saw the items and started requesting that Teana make accessories for their children.
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To grow her new company, Teana relied on one particular ingredient: networking. “News about my company was spread mostly by word of mouth,” Teana says. “I have been a member of NAWBO (National Association of Business Owners) for four years. Aligning myself with women who have been in business for themselves for several years has been very helpful. It’s different when you offer a service from when you have a product. When you have a product you have to think of manufacturing, production, season, trade shows, and packaging. Networking with the right people and connecting with the moms and mom groups in my area has been essential.”
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Another key element to a dish worthy of a diva is creating an item that’s unique. InterviewHer.com asked Teana what makes her items stand out from the rest. “I always say that a hair accessory is a hair accessory is a hair accessory,” Teana says. “We keep our price point extremely affordable. I pay attention to what is out there and you start to see that everyone is using the same manufacturers. We look for unique, out-of-the-box items. We use hand-made flowers that are not on the market. I want that wow-factor, so when you put it on people react with, ‘Oh, my god! She is so cute!’ We also really want to build a relationship with every little girl. We don’t look for the customer who buys only one time,” Teana explains. “We want women to think, ‘I am going to have a baby and for her first photo, she has to have a My Little Diva Accessory.’ Then, ‘Now my daughter is going to have her first birthday, I need her to have a My Little Diva Accessory.’ We go for repeat business and try to hone in on that relationship. We are made in the U.S. and the quality of our hair accessories are much higher than items coming from overseas. I get to be extremely hands-on and I get to see each rhinestone, diamond, butterfly,  or bow that is placed on a headband. I am very meticulous.”
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My Little Diva Accessory has begun to take off, so like any wise master chief, Teana recognized the need for help and space. “It was getting chaotic and hectic trying to keep track of my orders on the kitchen table and take care of my kids,” Teana says. “When you own a business there are some risks you are going to take and you have to decide which those will be. Mine was getting the office space and knowing it would work itself out. I got a small office that was $500/ a month in an executive suite, but it wasn’t the right space. I didn’t know what I needed at the time and I needed a studio. So I chatted with a friend and she suggested a place that was right across the street from my house and it was exactly the space I needed. If you have a product you are manufacturing, you definitely need a space for inventory and a space that is conducive to you. When you stay home, you get distracted so for me, that is all left across the street.  Getting a space sets you up for something bigger. If you stay in one space and you are comfy, then you are staying in your comfort zone, you are never going to really understand the full potential of you as a person or of your business. You have to make room for all your opportunities to come into your life.” And make room she has.
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The company, located in Coral Springs, Florida, is currently interviewing for a full-time employee. Teana also works with two designers that collaborate for each new season or when there is a large order to be filled. A virtual assistant also helps.  The company gets the bulk of it’s business from their website, mylittledivaaccessories.com. “The website is my main bread and butter,” Teana says, “We do have some retail accounts and we are building our small boutique. I did the website myself. I encourage entrepreneurs to have an online presence. Get the site done and get it out there and as you grow you can invest more money into it. I am happy with it our site and I would like a really diva-licious website, but for now, I have to build up to that. At this time, I am taking risks in other parts of my business.” These risks include attending tradeshows that provide the opportunity for direct connections to bigger companies where Teana could sell her accessories. “You have to pick and choose where you are going to take your risks and just put it out there and do it, Teana says. “And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You just pick up the pieces and figure out what will work.”
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“The entrepreneurial journey has been difficult. Had I not been laid off, I probably still be working in another job because of that fear of failing, not having money, not being able to sustain and be successful, Teana says. “Getting laid off was a blessing in disguise and I would not turn back or have it any other way. It is easier to go to work and have your work load laid out for you. But to come to your own space every day and have to give yourself those tasks, manage your time, not get distracted and stay motivated is very hard. When you know it’s just you, and your family is depending on you, it’s a lot harder emotionally than with the financial aspect. If you could just get rid of the emotions, it would be so much easier.  On Monday, you are ready to go. Tuesday is good, but by Wednesday, you are like, ‘Oh my God! I don’t have a sale; I have to pay my rent; how am I going to afford this trade show?’ I can’t tell you how many times those kinds of things cross my mind, but you have to just step out of your head and believe, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have this sign hanging over my computer that says, ‘Teana, remember you are living your dreams.’ So, any time I get upset, I just look up. If it doesn’t work out, you can at least say you tried it and if it does, you know you have succeeded. For me, I would rather go through life knowing I tried it and failed than I didn’t try at all, and so I have at least tried, or if I have tried and been a success, either way it’s a win-win.”
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“You have to plan. I would suggest really having a good support system financially. If you have kids, really have a strong support system of family and friends,” Teana says to future entrepreneurs. “The biggest thing is getting out of your head and just doing. Even if you just take baby steps while you are working at your full-time job and then at night or on the weekends you work on your own business,  that is good. You can still be a small business owner and have a full-time job.”

So InterviewHer.com wants to know? Is the Diva done? “I have been making some money on the company now,” Teana says. “Am I where I want to be? No, but I know I will get there. You definitely need somebody in your corner. This mindset is what really propels you to take the next step.”

Look fab now; rule the world later. Success never looked, or tasted, so good.

 

 

Written by: Sherry Liantonio

Edited by: Bridgette Larcada

 

MY LITTLE DIVA ACCESSORIES

Baby, Beauty, Cities, Create, Ft. Lauderdale, Novelty, She Walks The Talk

4 Responses to “Here a Diva…There a Success”

  1. Lizzy Shaw says:

    Teana is an inspiration to all of those who think they have a great idea but need a little push to actually get going. Her message is loud and clear – have faith in yourself, take some risks, work hard and make your dreams come true. And of course it helps that My Little Diva Accessories are so CUTE!!!!

  2. Allyson Tomchin, LCSW says:

    Teana is a true role model for the modern day business woman!

  3. Marisol Hernandez says:

    Teana is AWESOME! She inpire and encourage other women and I admire that from her.

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