We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Hodge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My thought process behind Alma Ocean was wanting Black women, men & children to have more representation in the water space. My goal was always not just to help the Black community feel more confident in the water, but to also provide them with the proper resources to do so. That’s why I created the “community” page with a list of swim coaches and water activities. The list will continue to grow and as the brand grows there will be more added content for people wanting to learn more about swimming.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My mind kind of operates like this…. I say I want to do something, and I find a way to do it, period. Every human has that ball of fear inside them when they are about to do something out of their comfort zone. I feel like that all went out the window for me when I saw all the silly stuff on the internet landing people on large platforms going viral. I start businesses ready to fail. Once you realize there’s nothing wrong with failing and that you control and decide if you want to get back up after being knocked down – It’s all under your control.
What sets Alma Ocean apart from other brands is the love for uplifting a community that is still struggling statistically with drownings. Water safety is important and that’s why Alma Ocean is more than a pool inflatable. It’s a hub and community to help build your confidence in the water space.
I got as far as I am today by pure focus. When I first started I almost burnt myself out. I had to take a quick step back and realize no one can tell my story like me. So no matter how many people copy or try to hold me back, it’s already for me. Realizing that is when I re gained my work life balance. I would say the hardest part in all of this is that balance between passion for what I’m doing and making sure to spend time with family and friends. You really need that balance and it’s important. Having the love and support from your circle helps, but remembering to tap out from work is even more important.
I’ve overcome challenges by asking questions to mentors or people who have been successful with their brands. I think keeping an open dialogue instead of isolating yourself when any trouble occurs is a big part of succeeding.
Sometimes a convo you might have will lead people saying they know someone who can help you or they may have been in the situation before themselves. I used to go in hiding trying to solve problems alone and that didn’t help much. It’s so much easier just to talk things out with a trusted friend or mentor to bounce ideas. Especially while being a solo entrepreneur.
What I want the world to know about Alma Ocean is this is something that was missing and we didn’t even realize it. I didn’t until 2020 when I had time to be still. It took me having an eye opening experience waking down the swim isle in stores and not seeing myself and then questioning why not. Why aren’t we on more swim products? Why aren’t we learning how to swim if we don’t know how? How can we overcome that fear? How can we gain more confidence and make swimming fun. Alma Ocean became that answer.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In Orlando I’m into finding new places that have a cool environment. Since I’m not home a lot and travel for work, every time I go home something new is open. I’m more of a backyard kick it type of gal and of course love to be around water. If someone comes to visit me they can expect we’ll be out doors, most likely on a boat, by a pool or an outdoor patio at a bar. No place specific, I’ll just be sure to find one of those options.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out Noelle Ndiaye of Afro Swimmers who is not only an advocate for Black swimmers, she also met me with open arms during the pandemic while I was launching Alma Ocean. I was looking to connect with others in the aquatics community and reached out to her through social media asking her if she would hop on a call. We got on the phone and spoke for hours laughing sharing our journey’s and love for swimming. Her story in itself of how swimming helped heal her illness alone is inspiring. I already know how to swim, but if I didn’t, I would for sure want her to be my swim coach. She has a loving energy about her and a beautiful connection to an amazing tribe of swim coaches & foundations focusing on water safety. Noelle, I know you’re reading this guuuuurl, I’m giving you ALL your flowers because you deserve them!
Youtube: Alma Ocean
Doug Cupid Photography (only for image with 3 people in the pool.) Rest of the images were taken by me.