By Janelle Morrison. Photos by JJ Kaplan
She’s a working mom by day, attentive mom by early evening and an entrepreneur by night. Diana Dinges, a Carmel resident, has launched her own product line, ZooMoos, while working a full-time job and raising her two children as a single mom.
“I went to Center Grove High School and graduated from Purdue University. I majored in management with a minor in marketing,” Dinges said. “After college, I went to work for Ferguson, a Fortune 500 company in Texas. I transferred back a year later and started managing the Ferguson showroom in Carmel. I was engaging in business-to-consumer sales and business-to-business sales and managing the showroom.”
During that time, Dinges had the first of her two children, Audrey. She was working 10-hour days and was taking the necessary steps to move toward realizing her dream. “In August of 2011, I was working full time and had both of my children. I was and continued to be very involved within the community. I serve on two boards, the Home Artisans of Indiana and NARI, and am the chair of NSID, a design organization.”
There was still something more that Dinges wanted to achieve, and soon the opportunity presented itself. Her present employer had and continues to prepare Dinges for the challenges of owning and operating her own business.
“Ferguson is a very large but entrepreneurial company,” Dinges explained. “They are very empowering with their people. I ran my own branch, had my own profit and loss statement, and it taught me a lot about how to run a business. I had to manage people, vendors and numbers. I had to make sure there was enough money to buy general office supplies down to the toilet paper. It’s been an incredible experience for me. I understand the profit margin that a distributor needs in order to be successful.”
Her career at Ferguson has prepared her for the experience of purchasing, dealing with returns, meeting with vendors and creating displays. It all eventually led to the creation of her brainchild, ZooMoos.
“I came up with the idea because my daughter, Audrey, is a complete milk-a-holic and
we’re always on the go, Dinges said. “We’re at the pool, the park, etc., and she always wants ice-cold milk. A lot of places don’t serve milk and I would put coozies on her sippy cup to keep her milk that we brought cold. When I went to look for an insulated child’s cup, all I found was a plain green coozy, and I thought that it would be great if there were coozies for kids that were unique and fun. My kids adore their stuffed animals, so I designed animal coozies that were functional. I designed them all so they’re proportional on each side to make them easy to hold on to. ZooMoos add spice to everyday life by being functional and fun. They are constructed of neoprene and will keep drinks cold but are stuffed, plush and handcrafted to provide fun for children too. With ZooMoos, they will have their favorite animal wrapped around their favorite drink.”
Dinges described what it was like for her to see and hold her products for the first time after receiving her first shipment. “It felt really amazing,” she said. “You put yourself out there. No one wants to fail. It’s really easy to hide behind something, but I felt really excited and empowered but also very vulnerable. This year I had the most amazing professional year of my life, and then a start over of my personal life and became a single mom. This year was too drastic with three big events that happened, and it was a range of emotions, but more than anything I am really proud. I have no regrets. I am proud that I stuck with something and worked through some of the initial challenges.”
Dinges signed up with Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Through crowd-funding, where people pre-buy a product in hopes to help further the development of it, ZooMoos was off to a good start and ready for production of its first line of the adorable animal-themed children’s coozies.
When asked how she manages to have it all and balance the time spent on work and her children, she replied, “We all have the same amount of hours in the day, and we all get to choose how we use it. I work all day. I come home and play with my kids, fix dinner and run bath time, and once they’re in bed I work on ZooMoos every night until midnight. I do it because I like to work and I want to succeed. I have to take every extra hour and make the most of it.
There are sacrifices made along the path of success. Dinges said she’s had to decide between attending a Super Bowl party with friends that she hasn’t seen in a while or work on orders, packaging and calling on boutiques that may be interested in selling her products. She chose to stay home and work through the day. Dinges hopes to be a positive role model for her growing children.
“I’m doing it all for my children,” she said. “I’m doing it as an example for my kids. One of the top reasons for my doing this is to show my children hard work. I think that is really important. The cycle of growth in social and economical development is seeing what your parents did. Watching them get up and go to work is really healthy. For my children to see me working in my office and my products laid out, they get really excited and they love to go with me to deliver my product. I’m teaching my children hard work, entrepreneurship and tenacity.”
ZooMoos are available for purchase at Ballerinas and Bruisers in Zionsville and online at zoomoos.myshopify.com.Read more