February 10, 2016

Donna Maria Coles Johnson


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, the Indie Business Network (IBN) provides product liability insurance and mentoring, coaching and training to entrepreneurs who make the products they sell. Donna Maria calls this growing segment of small business owners “Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs,” who make and sell consumer products like soaps, cosmetics, candles, perfumes, jewelry and other types of lifestyle products, and baked goods.

IBN has grown to include an expansive multimedia portfolio that includes a weekly mentoring letter, the Indie Business Podcast, the Indie Business Blog, the annual Indie Cruise, and the Indie Business Network: Maker Mastermind retreat.

Donna Maria is the author of “Making Aromatherapy Creams & Lotions” (Storey Books, 2000) and an oft-requested speaker at conferences nationwide. As the leader of the Indie Business Network, “dM,” as she is affectionately known by thousands, is a respected business leader and a passionate advocate for women entrepreneurs.

dM has been included or quoted in hundreds of media outlets including 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, the Charlotte Observer 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.

Donna Maria is the Small Business columnist for QCityMetro, a local publication in her adopted hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. She serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Natural Products Association.

dM’s mission is to empower women and families to maximize their potential through small business ownership. Originally from Washington, DC, dM resides in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and children. Her motto is: “Break all the rules, Build your own corporate ladder, and Create the life you love!” Twitter: @IndieBusiness


handmade column feature (1)

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Handmade goods and the small business owners behind them may be more than just a trend. The industry is booming and there are more arenas in which the makers of these goods can shop their products.


rose soap

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Getting caught up in the craft of running your handmade goods business? Remember, your handiwork is only as good as the marketing campaign behind it. Here are 10 things to consider when promoting your business and products.