Dana Dinerman is the founder and fearless leader of Hulabelle: swimwear resort wear for every woman. Dana is a breast cancer survivor, entrepreneur, and compelling person to learn about. I'm excited to share her interview with you.
Dana, your transparency, resilience, and commitment to inclusivity are genuinely inspiring. What is something you have accomplished that you are most proud of?
Dana's answer was thoughtful and clear:
"I am most proud of being true to myself by keeping the values I have been taught by my family of being inclusive and helping others."
When reflecting on this question, Dana expanded on the impact the women in her life have had on her.
"I was always told and shown by the strong women in my life helping others matters. I am proud that I am able to keep the tradition."
You created something called 'Save The Women Project'....tell me about that. What inspired you to start that particular project?
Save the Women Project is something that Dana created during her personal battle with breast cancer.
"I saw a need for those fighting Stage IV breast cancer to have a voice, a platform to share their stories."
After, people in Dana's life shared that they felt their own personal experiences couldn't compare to Dana's.
People shared with Dana that "they did not feel as if their stories counted compared to mine as they never had to fight cancer."
This bothered Dana, and prompted her to create Save the Women: a platform to uplift and empower many different voices.
"I believe we all have personal battles...it can be domestic abuse to eating disorders. All of these are relevant. No one, not one soul is less than another in this world. A story can save a life. I needed to hear stories of other women my age battling cancer so I could feel energized to keep the fight going. I believe if stories are shared from all women, lives can be saved. I decided to share the stories of women through fashion photography. We dress women up in pieces from either I have created or from local designers. They get to have a complimentary photo shoot and keep the images for themselves. I then share the images and the story on our social media page. It is a way to say you count, you are beautiful."
Were you always interested in starting your own venture? What inspired you to start your own business?
Dana never expected to have her own business; she actually went to college to major in History, so she could teach high school students! After her son was born, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer, everything changed. It was during this time she saw a need for post-mastectomy swimwear.
"I never thought I would have my own business. It came to me when I saw a need and knew I needed to act."
What was the beginning like? Did you have a hard time getting started, or did the pieces fall into place?
Similar to many new entrepreneurs, Dana's beginning was initially challenging. This beginning was made even more complicated by additional obligations, like being a mother.
"Yes, it is always difficult to begin a process such as a business or venture. It takes daily dedication and sacrifice. It is especially difficult to begin a venture as a mom and while battling cancer. I had days I could not devote time to the project."
What is the biggest failure you've experienced in your business? What did you learn from it?
Understandably, Dana's cancer treatment sometimes conflicted with her work commitments.
"I think the biggest failure is being unable to continue shoots during certain times due to scheduling conflicts with my cancer treatment. Also, being physically unable to do shoots was quite difficult. I was quite hard on myself for creating something while undergoing treatment and being a mom."
Since then, Dana has learned a valuable lesson:
"I have learned since then, a balance is necessary."
What's the best advice you've ever been given in life or business?
Dana's advice is simple, powerful, and largely applicable.
"The best advice I have been given is I can only control my own reactions to what happens in life. I cannot control the actions of others or control what happens, I can only adjust my sails."
What's the most recent lesson your business has taught you?
I really appreciated Dana's answer to this question. She shared how important it is to include various diverse perspectives and to continually update her brand values + image.
"I need to be sure to include all ideas and shift the mission with current times. For example, Black Lives Matter movement is something I want to include. I may lose followers, and I believe I already have due to some posts I have made. As I think this is unfortunate, it makes me realize how people are not understanding the severity of the problem when it comes to inequality. I have a responsibility to help educate others through this project, how vital movements such as Black Lives Matter is to help others."
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Dana's input is timeless: Patience.
"It is not an overnight success. A business or venture is a long-term goal. You need to build and build upon it. It takes hard work and commitment."
She also noted that if you're not enjoying the work you do, it might be time to re-evaluate what you're spending your time on.
What's your favorite part about being a business owner? What's the hardest part?
Dana's favorite part has been the decision-making power within her business.
"I get to create and take this business wherever I choose. It is fun and inspiring, and I get to meet so many amazing people."
On the other hand, finding the time to accomplish everything that needs to get done can be a challenge. Managing company finances is also tricky.
Despite that, "both of these are vital; however, for the business to keep going so the hard work is extra when it comes to these two key components."
What are the most important skills or traits you've found helpful in entrepreneurship? Are there any traits you've discovered that make it harder to succeed if you don't keep it in check?
Dana shared how communication skills are essential to running a successful business.
"I love talking to people. That is something you should enjoy doing…one should love being around people and learning about them. I love hearing their stories and working with others to collaborate on projects. If you don't work each day and keep in touch with people you work with on these projects such as follow-up or lose contact in general, this can be unfortunate as one needs to build a base of a social network. These are your people, your girl gang, so to speak."
What's your favorite 'game-changer' tool that you can share with everyone? (ie. hellobonsai, airtable, later, etc)
Dana recommended Canva, as a tool to create social media campaigns that are visually stunning and professional.
She additionally noted, "it is affordable and easy to use."
Where can we find you, if we'd like to learn more about you?
"I have a social media account @Save_The_Women or www.savethewomen.one."
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