When Mecca McDonald and Mia Dunn began advertising biodegradable earrings from their store Mo.Na. Gems, they envisioned the venture as a pleasurable side hustle, a way to reconnect with a childhood love of creating friendship bracelets. But just a calendar year afterwards, with 1000’s of bucks of revenue and $20,000 in funding beneath their belt, the two are relocating to New York Metropolis with each other in the hopes of turning Mo.Na. Gems into a whole-time occupation.
The hope is that the undertaking will not only modify their life but the globe of style and sustainability, as effectively.
Mo.Na Gems, named for Mom Character, produces and sells biodegradable plastic earrings in funky colors and shapes motivated by mother nature and foodstuff, with a colourful, poppy aesthetic.
McDonald, who graduated this spring with a degree in psychology, claimed the idea for Mo.Na. Gems was a outcome of boredom in the early pandemic shutdown. She was paying a lot more time browsing on the internet and experienced begun to detect that a selection of folks had commenced generating resin art. Before long she started to question regardless of whether there was a biodegradable different to these resin jewelry items.
McDonald then reached out to a close friend and fellow 2021 graduate Mia Dunn, whose background in chemical engineering and artwork was the excellent suit for the strategy.
“We primarily knew each individual other by means of a mutual pal,” McDonald reported. “But she experienced the science competencies and the inventive eyesight to pull this off. She understands creativeness, science, and the artwork of aesthetics.”
Even though the pair uncovered a number of chemical recipes for biodegradable resins on line, McDonald claimed she did not believe any of them in good shape their needs. They would have to develop their personal chemical formula, almost from scratch.
“Sustainability has a specified glimpse, and it can be not always aesthetically attractive,” McDonald stated. “So our objective was to make anything that was sustainable but also interesting, interesting, stylish, and modern-day.”
They settled on a starch-centered bioplastic that makes gorgeous items out of their molds but will also degrade when discarded and exposed to microorganisms. If buried, Dunn estimates their pieces will biodegrade within four months.
“When compared to a resin-based mostly plastic, these are going to depart a substantially smaller environmental footprint,” Dunn reported. “We’re starting off with necklaces, but we hope to extend to other products and solutions to lower waste not only in the style field but in other industries as properly.”
Just after settling on a formulation and producing their to start with exam batches, Dunn and McDonald joined Johns Hopkins’ startup accelerator program FastForward U. With the aid of fellow alumni business owners, they launched their online retailer and commenced growing the number of patterns available on the web page. Soon, they contacted doubledutch Boutique in Baltimore and commenced promoting pieces in individual as effectively. Dunn and McDonald have sold about 250 pieces so far, and are looking to ramp up generation in the in close proximity to future.
This spring, Mo.Na. Gems won $20,000 in funding at FFU’s Demo Day. McDonald mentioned this recognition has really opened their eyes to the possible for Mo.Na. Gems to be additional than just a facet hustle. The pair are currently looking for prospective brands so that they can outsource manufacturing of the earrings. They also approach to shell out the new funding on upgrading their packaging and improving upon their molding process.
“FFU created us comprehend that Mo.Na. could be one thing far more than a modest small business, it can be a little something bigger,” Dunn claimed. “This grant funding is these a wonderful option mainly because a ton of entrepreneurs have to faucet into their own particular cost savings to commence anything like this, but we have the luxurious of remaining capable to use Hopkins’ money to grow our enterprise.”
In the extensive term, Dunn and McDonald hope to extend the number of suppliers exactly where Mo.Na. Gems are bought, aiming for significant chain shops like Anthropologie. They also want to grow past earrings and jewelry to build phone conditions and way of living solutions.
“There’s no brand name just for sustainability,” McDonald said. “You have Nike for athletics and Apple for subtle tech men and women. You will find so quite a few specialized niche manufacturers for distinctive persona kinds, and it would be wonderful if Mo.Na. became that manufacturer for art, manner, and sustainability.”