Get into the grind as soon as possible. — As a founder, getting your hands on the product or service and engaging with the end user as quickly as possible is paramount for success. In the beginning phase, this can’t be delegated to employees or paid advertising. Being involved in all areas of the product, service and business while it is getting off of the ground is critical to understand your customer and their needs.
Asa part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dianna Smith.
Dianna Smith is the founder of Hadobody, a wellness and sustainable lifestyle brand featuring men’s and women’s apparel, accessories and home goods! Dianna began her holistic wellness journey with a breast cancer diagnosis in 2010. With this experience she dove deep into holistic wellness and personal healing which has led her to want to share her experience and understanding of holistic wellbeing with the world through beautifully constructed and ethically sourced personal lifestyle and home goods.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Mystory begins about 25 years ago as I embarked on a career path in a very competitive and male dominated industry. As a single mother, building a highly successful business, I often sacrificed my personal wellbeing taking care of my family, my clients and my business before looking after my own personal needs. In hindsight, I realized that I lived in a chronic state of fight or flight. Over time, this took its toll on my health and in 2010, 12 years into my career, I was given a health diagnosis that stopped me in my tracks at the age of 47. I had breast cancer.
I allowed this diagnosis to serve as a wakeup call for the deep need to come back and embrace my Femininity and learn how to lead and create in an integrated way. I had become very good at “getting things done” and “driving results”. I had my boxing gloves on every day, ready for the good fight! I learned that it would be supportive to remember how to lean into my feminine energy and strengths in order to embrace, both my masculine and feminine energies, in order to create a well-rounded approach to my life. This was the continuation of my journey into holistic wellness and spirituality. At the time of the diagnosis I began my spiritual work with an energy healer from Germany. Her name is Ursula and I study and practice with her still today.
As my journey continued, I fell in love with the work of Nikola Tesla, the study of energy and vibration. I devoured everything I could from Dr. Emoto’s work on the qualities of water, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Lynne McTaggart, The HeartMath Institute and everything I could find on energy, vibration and intention. I always knew there was a mind, body, spirit connection and now it was all coming together. I learned (remembered) of the many tools that are available to me, and everyone, which can be used to affect change in my mind, my spirit and therefore I could actively participate in the healing of my body.
What I continue to observe is that technology is allowing science to catch up with spirituality. We now have tools which can measure our energetic bodies, our energetics fields, our brain waves, even our heart auras. I am able to incorporate this information into my daily life. We all have access to these tools. I want everyone to know about them.
As I think of the origins of Hadobody, I knew I wanted to educate and inspire people to understand the subtle nuances of energy and how that can affect our lives but I didn’t know how to deliver it… yet.
In 2012, while thriving in my intense corporate career, I had the overwhelming feeling that I had to create something bigger than myself and help to spread the word about subtle energy, in a fun and gentle way, along with all of the tools and concepts that are available to each of us today.
It was during this time, the name of the business came to me, Hadobody. Hado means the first vibration in nature. Hadobody came immediately to mind. Wouldn’t it be great if we could infuse our body with positive self-affirmation through our most intimate clothing, using eco-friendly and body friendly fibers. I immediately trademarked the name Hadobody, hence the concept of Hadobody was born in 2012.
I wanted to find a personal way for people to literally wear their daily affirmation and what a more perfect way than to design intimate wear for men and women with personal self-affirmations adorning the garments. Of course, the fabrics must be sustainable, and in 2019 the first designs of Hadobody were produced. You can link to our website here www.hadobody.com.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
As a founder, you have a general plan, you put the elements of the plan into place, you measure results, then make adjustments. There have been many times, and there will be more, where I ask, what am I missing, what is my next step? I have learned that this is the point where I stop, get quiet and ask, often out loud, what do I need to know? What else do we need to do or have? What resources am I not thinking of? What is my next step? The interesting part of this, as I go about my business, within the next few days or weeks the answer sits next to me on a plane, or on the beach, comes through a random introduction, or even a text message!
Recently, I sat next to a stranger on the plane, we struck up a conversation and he had a solution to the question I was asking the universe just a few days prior to this serendipitous meeting! That conversation led to an introduction to a team that could help take our reach to the next level. Just yesterday we were in a zoom meeting as he was kind enough to introduce me to a trusted colleague for just the service I have been seeking. Another example, while on the beach talking with my girlfriend, we discovered that her daughter knew a woman who had expertise in the area we needed expert advice in. The introductions were made and we were able to consult with an experienced expert in the industry. These are two examples and I can go on! The more we trust the universe and ask the questions, the more we get quiet in prayer or meditation and allow the answers to come to us, the more we will get the answers we are seeking. This is my belief.
It is my experience that the answers appear when you ask the question and then allow yourself to receive the answer. The moral of the story, trust that when we ask the questions, the answers will come. Be still, be open and receptive.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the initial product development phase of Hadobody, we were creating patterns and samples, which required fabric selections. I knew that we had to work with sustainable fabrics. For Hadobody, this means it cannot be made of polyester or rayon, which are typically the base of many “performance” stretchy fabrics. I selected a very silky soft fabric with a little bit of stretch in it. The sample was made and part of the process is wearing it to see how it holds up and feels. By the end of the day, the fabric had stretched out so much that the undies just fell completely off, to the floor! Not a good outcome for an undie, for sure, needless to say, we did not use that particular fabric blend!
This is important to me, in terms of sustainability, many performance fabrics and many fabrics that our society has worn for decades are plastic and petroleum based, you may be familiar with polyester, rayon, and even spandex. We are literally wearing clothing made of petroleum next to our largest organ, our skin, and intimate parts of our bodies. This is not healthy for the human body and often not thought of as a health concern. It’s very challenging to source fabrics that have performance qualities and are still sustainable and affordable. For the health of our bodies and Planet Earth, we need to continue to create fibers and fabrics that take less resources to process and that are made with natural fibers. At Hadobody, it is one of our missions to continue to develop fibers and fabrics that are healthy on our bodies and gentle on the planet.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many people that I am so very grateful for! May I indulge and give you a few more than one person? Thank you! My mom, first and foremost, she told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to and I believed her. She is a beautiful seamstress and I learned so much about clothing construction and design watching her make all my clothes when I was a little girl growing up. My daughter grounded me into love, success and the drive to make things happen. My energy healers and coaches, Ursula and Ana who both continue to support my journey and that I hold council with daily. And of course, my husband who supports me, believes in me and is my life partner and my business partner.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
We are making progress, yet still the process is too slow. The pandemic brought on many challenges for everyone, especially women. With every challenge, opportunity is also presented. In 2021, 49% of all new business start-ups were women owned, which is up from 28% in 2019, according to weforum.org. I believe that women are finding their voices and their power. We are ready to take the risk of putting our ideas into the world in a faster fashion than we have ever seen before, this movement is gaining momentum and it needs to continue to grow.
There are still many challenges that women face as founders. Access to capital and resources is the biggest obstacle, in my opinion. The traditional banks are difficult to navigate through for a start up business and venture capital and private equity are still male dominated. We need more successful women to put together their own venture capital funds and resources that are able to seed the great ideas that women consistently bring to the table. Today, non-bank financing options are available, at higher than market interest rates. Depending on the conviction and overall situation of the founder, this may be an option.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
As individuals, let’s remember that every dollar makes a difference. We can support women owned businesses by making intentional shopping decisions based on the woman owned business and business ethos. More women are getting into venture capital due to their own personal success and reinvesting in other women owned businesses helping them to succeed. This is huge and we are seeing it a bit more now in private equity, as well. Studies show, women with money tend to think about helping their families, others and their communities. Women with money tend to give back and help others. Studies, like The Power of the Purse, also show that women and young people are looking for brands they can trust, brands that provide quality goods and services, brands that are inclusive, sustainable and hold similar values they themselves stand for.
I believe that individuals are the best stewards of their own capital. We need to get more capital into the hands of women. We need a boost up on this, I think this comes from successful women and men, investing in women founders.
As a society, one decision at a time eventually creates a collective and there becomes a tipping point where we begin to value and focus on what is good for our bodies, our society, and our planet over a focus on cheaper things faster. This is happening now and it will give direction to decisions being made as we move forward into a more regenerative future for ourselves and our planet. I believe that individuals and free markets are more resourceful than government mandates, which can often have unintended consequences.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
Women in decision making capacities tend to focus on helping their family and their community. We are naturally very strong leaders. We are wonderful collaborators. We are intuitive. We are incredibly innovative. We are patient enough to see things through and allow things to grow and we are nimble enough to make those gentle shifts and pivots that are needed when founding a new concept or company.
We are strong beyond compare and we can bring in feminine energies of collaboration, love, empathy while also utilizing masculine energy used for creating structure, drive and action. We can create balance and synergies in the business world, just like we have done for our families and societies for centuries. And yes, we are good at math and science, too!
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
Everything goes according to plan as long as you have a plan.
You can have the best plan and there are going to be curve balls thrown at you, just know you can solve all issues. There is a solution.
Everything has to be perfectly lined up before you get started.
Sometimes you just have to start, just do it, and make adjustments as you go!
Everything takes 2x longer and is 2x more expensive.
Everything takes 3x to 5x longer and is also that much more expensive, plan ahead for that. Keep grinding it out and set your sights on your intentions and goals. Check in with your plan, make shifts as needed, and keep moving forward — even when it seems impossible.
You’ll have more flexibility in your schedule.
Your time is not your own in the beginning. It will take long hours, weekends, to get your business up and running. In the beginning you will need to work both hard and smart! As the infrastructure is built, you can find great people to delegate to, but in the beginning, it’s likely all you! You will need to work both smart and hard.
You will be your own boss.
You will have many types of people to answer to! Your team as you develop that part of your business, your customers or clients, as well as your shareholders and investors!
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
There are certain qualities that are helpful and even required to be a successful founder such as: Passion, Drive, Irreverence, Ambition, High Energy, a High Pain Tolerance (lol!), and more!
I believe that when someone has the passion for their idea or business, these traits can be learned, when you have a vision big enough. We all have capabilities beyond our current understanding of ourselves. I believe that when we stretch ourselves, we find more of what we are seeking. We all have brilliance within us.
Someone that may seem better suited for a 9 to 5 type of work may have an idea for a new gadget or business and that can spark their passion that unleashes their full potential, allowing them to be a successful founder. Another person may use their passion or spark towards their family, their community or some other outlet besides founding a company — and we very much benefit from all of this, just in different ways.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Get into the grind as soon as possible.
As a founder, getting your hands on the product or service and engaging with the end user as quickly as possible is paramount for success. In the beginning phase, this can’t be delegated to employees or paid advertising. Being involved in all areas of the product, service and business while it is getting off of the ground is critical to understand your customer and their needs.
2. It is likely going to cost 3–5x more than you are planning on.
Create your business plan and projections, then estimate the plan to cost 3 to 5 times more than your projections in both time and money. When you do this and execute ahead of plan, you can enjoy that success. Be prepared for the worst, celebrate when you have better than expected outcomes.
3. You will have self-doubt.
It’s OK, just don’t let it get the best of you. Launching a new company is a critical time that a founder needs to learn how to lean into the feeling of success. How does it feel to achieve the goals that you have established for your start up company? Take the time to be quiet with yourself, go into meditation, then once your brain waves are fully receptive, imagine through visualization what your business success looks like, what it feels like, what it even smells like — visualize every single detail. Do this at least once a day, twice a day is ideal. I love the ZIVA meditation process created by Emily Fletcher, which uses Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifesting for a total of 15 minutes, 2x per day.
4. Be very clear on your WHY for starting your business.
Keep it simple: a one word or one phrase WHY is the most powerful. Be vulnerable enough to share your WHY with the world. Take your time on this and you will thank yourself in the days ahead. When you can share your clear WHY with a client, customer, manufacturing partner, supplier, and advertising team your Voice, as the business, is more clearly defined. Clear is Kind. Clear is Powerful. Know Your WHY and be prepared to share it. I did this work and yet it felt very vulnerable to share my WHY in the beginning. It took practice to state my WHY in an elegant fashion. It was scary, and it takes alot to scare me! When I allowed myself to share my WHY with people, I was astounded at the beautiful responses that I received from people. I also found that people who loved the brand, and after learning my WHY, they LOVED the brand! Know Your WHY and Share it Often! My WHY: I want to remind people how magnificent they truly are.
5. Digital Marketing is still the Wild Wild West. You know your why, you know the voice of your brand, but unless you are a coder or an expert at SEO and Paid Advertising on the digital platforms, it is still difficult to find a team of professionals that can actually execute on achieving results with paid advertising alone. Three things on this:
- Research and interview the top digital marketing agencies within your price point. Once you’re satisfied with your q&a process, ask them for references from clients they have in your industry and also with start up companies. If they cannot provide that to you, move on to the next agency. They must have experience within your industry as well as with start-up companies.
- Read the data daily, weekly, monthly. What insights are you picking up from the trends you are seeing? No one will care more about your business than you, be your own advocate and don’t just assume that because you hired a great team for your digital marketing that they are executing as well as you deserve or could be. Stay on top of this and manage this.
- People buy from People. Create relationships with influencers in your industry, collaborate with affinity brands and products, sponsor podcasts, get out there and be the voice of your brand and company. Have a holistic approach to your marketing. Digital marketing is table stakes, you have to have it, but also utilize other methods of building raving fans, through relationships and people. Get out there and mingle and let everyone experience how magnificent that you truly are!
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Yes and we are just getting started. First of all, each one of our team members earn above market wages, even when they are part-time. Our primary manufacturer, which is LA, California based, also pays living wages, provides great benefits and takes care of their people. This is important to us. We use as many sustainable materials as we possibly can, which is a bit more difficult to source and the costs are still higher than most petroleum based fabrics and materials. We also give back with each purchase. We have hand selected 7 charities, as our Impact Partners, that align with each of the Seven Chakras in the Seven Chakra System. With every purchase a percent of the profits go to the Impact Partner that is aligned with that particular Chakra Collection. We believe that we need to hit on all areas in order to truly be a Conscious Company paving the way as to how all companies will be ran going forward. We see this trend happening now and we strive to lead the way in this category.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to see the movement where every single person looks at themselves in the mirror each morning and says out loud I AM Awesome. I AM Powerful, I AM Enough. I AM Brilliant. I AM Love. Whatever feels good to them. #IAM! When every single person on this planet remembers how magnificent they truly are, they can be the best version of themselves. When we do this easy practice consistently, our energy gently shifts and we send our positive vibrations out into the world, creating a ripple effect of positivity throughout the ocean of oneness that we all live in!
Source: Authority Magazine