Donna Maria Coles Johnson
Once a practicing attorney, Donna Maria left the well-paying, predictable, traditional job of “corporate attorney” to blaze a trail of her own as an award-winning small business advocate and the founder and CEO of Indie Business Network.
Launched in 2000 as “the Handmade Toiletries Network,” the company encompasses the Indie Beauty Network, a trade organization serving the business needs of independent manufacturers of handmade soaps and cosmetics, and has recently expanded to include products like candles, jewelry, and confectionery items like cupcakes, chocolates, and cookies.
The company has grown to include an expansive multimedia and merchandising portfolio that includes the INDIE Newsletter (since 2000), INDIE Business Podcast (since 2005), INDIE Business Blog (since 2005), the annual INDIE Cruise. She recently added the popular #HandmadeChat, a weekly Twitter talk show. #HanmadeChat is the trusted source on Twitter to discuss everything “EntreIndies” need to now about launching and running a profitable handmade business.
Donna Maria is the author of “Making Aromatherapy Creams & Lotions” and a highly sought after keynote speaker at women’s business conferences nationwide. As the leader of the Indie Business Network, “dM,” as she is affectionately known by thousands, is a passionate advocate for women and families. Her devotion has leads her to speak out publicly on behalf of small companies that are especially vulnerable to any amount of increased regulation that would unduly burden them without any corresponding public benefit. She speaks out regularly to lawmakers, policy makers, and their staff members to ensure that the voice of independent business owners is heard loudly and clearly at the highest levels of state and federal government.
dM has been included or quoted in hundreds of media outlets including Time Magazine, Parents Magazine, First For Women, Upscale Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washington Business Journal, Black Enterprise.com, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Working Woman Magazine, ABC World News, CBS Evening News (Washington, DC affiliate), Global Cosmetics Industry Magazine, The Rose Sheet, The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle and more. Her advice has been included in the pages of numerous books aimed at small business owners including “Bye Bye Board Room,” “The Brand Called You,” “Business Plans Made Easy,” “Small Town Rules” and more.
dM’s mission is to empower women and families to maximize their potential through small business ownership. As such, it’s no surprise that she manages Indie Business Network with her husband of 12 years, and together, they are training their young children in the independent ways that will allow them to thrive as we approach a time when more and more people will be challenged to generate income on their own terms, rather than simply from a traditional job.
Originally from Washington, DC, dM resides in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and children. Her motto is: “Enjoy your life! Build your business! Have your way!”