A- A+

Episode 39: Sustainable Accessories in DSM - Dona Bela Shreds

Dona Bela Shreds Podcast

December 13, 2019

Allison Davidson Motoyama is the owner of Dona Bela Shreds. She spoke with The Partnership’s Mike Colwell about her company’s start and how she navigated retail and online selling. Dona Bela Shreds currently serves over 1000 stores nation-wide in addition to a significant online sales business. Mike talked with Allison about the early years. 

An Idea for a Fashion Accessory Business

During a trip to Brazil, Allison saw textile remnants, or unused scraps, purchased some and began to create her own neckwear designs. After bringing them back to the U.S., her family and friends became excited about them too. The experience created a passion within Allison. From there, Dona Bela Shreds was born.

Upcycling

The fabric used for the Shreds comes from upcycling cloth. Allison says she wanted to start a business she could be excited about but didn’t really think about the fact that it would be a sustainable product. That was a happy by-product of starting a business doing something she was passionate about. By upcycling, the Shreds take on different shades and Allison says she loves the artistry in creating individual items.

Local Opportunities

By taking her product to local events, such as farmers’ markets, holiday marts, musical festivals and other outdoor events, interest grew in the product. From there, she expanded to online sales.

Allison says you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but it’s a good idea to not to make as many financially costly mistakes, something she acknowledges is hard to do. When selling to retailers, she had to come up with an entire package for pricing and selling. She’s benefited from different e-commerce websites becoming bigger players.

Product Lines + Target Customers

Launching into wholesale, Allison explains discovering her key demographic is 50+. Shreds started in neckwear, with a variety of options, including:

  • SHRED Light (bestseller!) – a mix between a necklace and a scarf
  • Classic – a little bit heavier accessory
  • Fiona – sports a design with more pizzazz
  • Magnetic – features the luxury Maggie scarf

Other product lines include the belabands, including headbands and bracelets. New products are in the works for spring 2020. Allison says they try to have a new product every year.

Website Evolution

By finding the right person to work with, you’re able to make your site the best it can be. With all local team members, Allison says the website benefits from a husband/wife duo who develop and design the site and a photographer who takes all website photos.

Listen to the entire podcast: https://www.buzzsprout.com/162832/1947788-allison-davidson-motoyama-dona-bela-shreds.

Inspired by this Startup Story? Subscribe to the Startup Stories DSM podcast and check out upcoming events, videos and other free resources dedicated to helping startups and small businesses accelerate success in Greater Des Moines (DSM).