Hot! Lori Reynolds-Louis, Mocha Moon

Mocha Moon in Atlanta, Ga., was started in August 2009 and is a designer of functional luxury goods with a mission.

‘Ah ha’ moment that led to launching the business: One morning while getting dressed and running late, I was frustrated with digging through my cluttered makeup drawer and makeup bag to find my makeup. I thought there has got to be a better way. Over the course of a few years I came up with that better way and created a line of cosmetic organizers known as the Cosmetic Couture Bags – the ultramodern cosmetic organizers.

Ideal customer: My ideal customers are women on the go looking to simplify their beauty and travel routines.

Landing first customer: I landed my first customer when I was in the prototype stage. A friend saw the CAD drawings and wanted one. The man developing the drawings also wanted one for his wife.

Measuring Success: I measure success when I see the smiles and/or testimonials from the people who purchase the products. I feel successful because I actually created something that women really love. My early success came after a presentation on my products at an Atlanta Ladies Who Launch event. Robyn Spizman, a local TV personality and author who was there, loved the products and committed to helping me make some connections to her key contacts.

Biggest Struggle: Getting into retail stores. With the economy down, retail stores are not taking a big change brining in new/unproven products. But I believe in my product and I am not giving up.

Surprise!: The amount of free product that I would be giving away, I accounted for some freebies but not nearly enough. For a small, start-up business you feel it in the pocket. But it is extremely necessary to get your company name and products out there.

Getting Sales: Networking, joining networking organizations and word of mouth.

What I wish I would’ve known: The cost involved in shipping products from China, and not using credit cards for funding.

What keeps you up at night (business-wise!)?: All of the inventory that is still sitting in my house that is not selling. This, after I had taken money from my personal accounts, thinking that the inventory would sell in two months. It has been six months now and most of the inventory is just sitting there.

Ever tempted to throw in the towel and just get a job?: I still have my full-time job and will not leave it until my company is financially sound. If I did not have my job I still would not throw in the towel, but I would get a job to bring in additional income.

Moving Forward: I would like to get into one major retail store. I will be contracting a consultant with experience with getting luxury products into retail stores.

Pricing, Getting it Right: Get out and ask your target market what they would be willing to pay for it.

Funding: I needed $15,000 but I was fortunate that I could self-fund. The advice that I would give on funding is to know when you can’t afford to put any more of your own money into your company and stop. Have a Plan B – and C, D, E and F.

A Few Good Tips: If you have an invention you are trying to bring to market, do not recreate the wheel. Join a local inventors group: you will save a lot of time and money, as this group is full of experience.

Must-Read Online Resources: Forbes.com has consumer product trends, consumer purchasing habits and other vital information for inventors.

The absolute best part of owning my business is: the freedom and flexibility.

If I had to start over again, I would: not have used my credit cards to help with funding.

I never imagined: getting into retail stores would be so difficult.

If standing on a rooftop facing crowds of aspiring or struggling small business owners, I would shout: : “Do it, stop talking about it and get busy doing something to bring you idea to life.”

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