Jennifer West February 17, 2019
Dr. Jacqueline (Jackie) Darna never imagined that experiencing a severe bout of nausea after the birth of her daughter would lead to the discovery of a line of natural products which would take the homeopathic medical community by storm. Recently, I caught up with Jackie to get the scoop on how she founded her company, what drives her to keep reaching for success, what her plans are for the future, and more!
How did you come up with the idea or the concept for NoMo Nausea?
NoMo Nausea actually happened because I became a patient. When my beautiful daughter , who is asleep in the backseat right now, was born, I had to have an emergency C-section. I actually got sick after giving birth for her. I was throwing up for like three days straight. Nothing the physician or the people I worked with did was working. We were trying everything— every type of drug you can imagine. It was not working. Then he [the physician] came in as was like, “Hey, we’ll try a medically induced coma. We don’t really know what else to do for you because you just won’t stop.” Then, I remembered about acupressure— holding pressure on the P6 point of the wrist. About that time, my step-mom walked in with a peppermint plant. After smelling the leaves, it actually stopped me from vomiting. I was like, “Wow, this actually works.” Well the problem is I was breastfeeding and I had a lot going on and I like felt like I was getting sick. I needed something immediately, but I never had the leaves when I needed them. I needed something immediately but I never had the least when I needed them. So I taped the leaves to the acupressure point and I thought this would be a really good idea for a wristband. No one had ever combined essential oils and acupressure before. Then I went home and try to look for it. I looked all over— even for patenting the idea. Once I found out that nobody had ever done it, I patented the idea and basically came out with the concept of combining peppermint essential oil and acupressure. And that’s what you see on the shelf— Nomo Nausea.
Wow, that’s very, very amazing and inspiring.
Thank you. There’s more now, that’s for sure. There’s NoMo Migraine and different brands that have come out of it. It all started with my beautiful daughter.
What are your responsibilities as the CEO of a company?
As a CEO, I always joke it means Chief Everything Officer. By that, I mean starting as the inventor— the creator— moving into the business realm— anything from checking in with my vice president and my chief operations officer— making sure my shipments are going to come in accordingly— to talking to my sales representatives— making sure everybody is on top of things. I still go and bid whenever we have big contracts. I might go and fly up to the CVS headquarters or Target headquarters and I’ll go and sell the ideas or products and then follow up with everything else that has to come in and out of it. So it’s a lot of moving parts. That’s the back end of the business where marketing is the front end and the face of the company. It’s really about having the vision to be able to help others build a better quality of life, naturally, while using my products.
What was your mission at the outset?
To help others, to give them a better quality of life, naturally. A large portion of the world’s population suffers from nausea, vomiting, or headaches every day. So, I actually invented products that can help 50 percent feel better, not get sick. People should be able to enjoy life without all of the scary side effects of drugs and of all the other things that we are so accustomed to here. Kind of like the Western world got a little taste of the Eastern world. It’s nice to see that there are things that are very medically relevant [from the Eastern world] that have been used for thousands of years. I just made it more accessible— attractive— you know, a wrist band— something that everybody can put on their wrist and it becomes mainstream.
What do you view as your greatest setback and what did you learn from that experience?
The first one— there have been quite a few— was not ever taking a business or marketing class before, and getting the “in the trenches” MBA. I give this example every time I speak. My biggest failure was, I think we spent around $15,000, maybe a little less, in order to do a show called 97X Next Big Thing. It was a big concert. There were like thousands of people there. We had a booth there. It was myself, Taco Bus, and Budweiser all cosponsoring the event. It was on the radio— huge marketing publicity. Guess how many bands we sold. There were probably 5000 people there.
Maybe a hundred?
We sold seven. At a $10 price point, we’re looking at $70. We lost so much money. We’re talking that you have to know your primary market. Our number one target market is pregnant women. College kids are not thinking about not wanting to have a hangover the next day. Instead, they’d rather use ten extra dollars to drink another beer. So it was a big wakeup call. Regardless of how much publicity, it’s not targeting your main objective. You’re just not doing anyone justice or a favor. That was my biggest setback.
What has been the most important part of your journey?
The most important part has honestly been connection, learning that business is the business of people, not products or services. I have learned that regardless of what the business is, whether you have something to sell, or you are offering a service, it’s incredible how people want to do business with other people that they like and they trust. So having the combination of both, I really learned that you can do just about anything, in any different type of market share, when you form a unit, people are more than willing to help out.
What drives you to keep going when things get really tough?
My family— to be able to show the kids that they can do anything in the world. I went to school for twelve years of my life— having a doctorate, and I make wrist bands for a living. You may think you have a path, but I could only help patients on a ono-on-one basis. With my products, I can help millions of people. So, it’s a understanding that you’re doing something for the greater good. And when times get tough with them [family], I want to show them, one hundred percent, that I can be there for them. I can be a CEO. I can be a business woman. I can be a good sales person. I can be a mom, most importantly. I work and strive really hard to be able to create a legacy for them, so that they can not only be proud, they can want to be a part of something. My son actually invented NoMo Nausea Dog, our pet product. I’m just showing him how to turn ideas into something real and then the real work starts. Right? It’s just showing them that they can do it.
During my initial contact with you, you told me you have a very hectic schedule. How do you achieve a work life balance?
I love that question, because I have no idea. There is no such thing as work/life balance. Ok? (Laughs) If someone says they have an answer for that, please give them my number. Honestly, I feel like it is a pendulum. It’s a continuous motion. You just have to be able to figure out what’s the most important thing at that point in time. Sometimes, my kids know that when mommy comes home, I still have other stuff I have to do. I also know they are only awake for a certain number of hours, so I want to make sure I get to enjoy them. Once they go to sleep, then I can start working again. I have been caught many times, waking up at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, before everyone gets up, so I can get my stuff settled, before I have to start worrying about feeding the kids and the dog and everything else. Again, there is no such thing as work/life balance. You just have to be able to manage chaos. That’s probably the most important concept for any entrepreneur to see that is a true gift.
What has been your biggest aha moment?
Besides the actual product… It actually was when I was sitting and talking to CVS. Everyone told me that it is almost impossible, like winning the lottery, to get a product on the shelf of a major retailer. And they said it’s impossible without a broker, without having knowledge and skill in the area. I mean, looking back, I’m sure I filled out the form completely wrong, but I feel like it had to do with determination. It was the fact I had, against all odds, used every connection possible, had literally walked into a conference when I was not even supposed to be there and just took a risk to meet the people and get them to listen to me for 5 minutes. And when I was sitting in there, at CVS, forget thinking, “I’m just so proud of myself.” I was actually able to do all of it after they told me I was not going to be able to do it.
What is non-negotiable for you?
What’s non-negotiable would be my integrity. I would never sell my soul. By that, I mean I believe people are inherently good, and regardless of things in business that sometimes give you a bad taste, I will never practice things in a way that they should not be done. People get into really sketchy situations, stuff like that, and I don’t believe we should. I believe we are all good people, and as long as you are a good display of it, others will see that, too.
What is your personal vision for the future?
I want to create a NoMo for everything. I have all of these ideas. It started with NoMo Nausea, then, NoMo Migraine, now NoMo Sleepless Nights. I want NoMo Cough and Cold, NoMo Pain, just have a whole brand to help people with all different types of natural remedies, a first line of defense, a better form a wellness. I would love to be a household name. It would be the coolest thing ever for someone to say, “Man, I’m sick,” and for someone else to say, “Hey, go grab some NoMo Nausea.” Just like Zip Lock. Everybody knows what a Zip Lock bag is. Band Aid is a name brand. Everybody knows Band Aid. I want to be like a Band Aid for the world.
What is the most important piece of advice you have to offer to up and coming entrepreneurs?
Never give up. Do, then, say. By that, I mean, get it done now, then, talk about it. There are a lot of times that entrepreneurs get so distracted by everything that is going on. Make that first official go of it. I mentor, not just my interns, I also mentor other entrepreneurs, other business owners, and I see it all of the time. I offer this knowledge and there is no follow through. When I ask, “Why didn’t you take it,” they will be like, “Well, I wasn’t ready.” The thing is, you’re never going to be ready. There’s never going to be a perfect time. Entrepreneurs sell themselves short. “I don’t have a prototype. I need something that is physical.” No, you don’t. Sell it based off of the idea. Get a full understanding. Be determined, above all. Kick the door down to make sure that you get there. Then, sometimes, you don’t get a door. Sometimes, I have to fly through a window, or I sneak in the back door. You just have to have the determination, to want to do it. What’s the worst thing people can say? No. And, if that’s the case, you end up right back where you started, but at least you tried. But, sometimes, a no turns into a yes, or a maybe. By the way, a maybe can actually be a yes. What people don’t understand is you have to keep persisting.