We had the good fortune of connecting with Donnica Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donnica, how do you think about risk?
Ironically, I never considered myself to be a risk taker. I played it safe for the majority of my life. I went to college, got my bachelor’s degree, and worked in the education field for 11 years. I felt like I was content with my life, but deep down, I wasn’t happy and I felt extremely stagnant in my career and life. It wasn’t until the pandemic happened, in 2020, that I was forced to sit still at home and truly reflect on my life and where it was going. I had always consumed myself with work, that I was too busy to do some real soul searching and reflection for myself. It was then that I knew that I definitely needed to make a change. Unfortunately, reality hit me when I was forced to resign from teaching because I refused to do in person learning during the pandemic. Taking a risk in my career and life came much sooner than I expected.
But, would I be ready to take on such a drastic risk from what I was use to? What was going to be my plan of action? Was I even ready to immerse myself into unfamiliar territory? These were all the questions that ran through my mind each day. I eventually told myself, I wouldn’t know what could happen until I did the necessary research, put in all of my effort and just tried it. I’m not going to lie, it was totally scary, and I was beyond nervous, because there was no road map or guide to predict what the outcome would be. However, once I began the process of starting my own businesses, there was no turning back. And, I was finally developing a new found passion that I never had before! It was like my life had just begun. That was when my alcoholic beverage company Kingston Bay and my e-commerce business, “Donnica Anelia” were born!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m currently the CEO of Kingston Bay and I have a reselling e-commerce business. I believe what sets me apart from others in regards to Kingston Bay is that it is a black, women-owned company in the alcoholic beverage industry, which is very rare. I’m excited that after working tirelessly on development and sourcing, we can finally celebrate the release of our white rum, which is now available for purchase online in 32 states!
The initial idea of Kingston Bay came after a failed attempt with a partnership with my three siblings on another alcoholic beverage brand we were working on together. It was throughout that process that I became immersed in the spirits and beverage industry and wanted to continue learning more about that field. I then made the decision to move forward and independently develop the Kingston Bay brand. Eventually with the support of my sister and the development program from Posh Beverage Company, together, we created Kingston Bay White Rum.
During this time, I made the difficult decision to resign from my job during the pandemic after working for over a decade in the education field. I made this decision after not having a choice to work from home instead of doing in person learning. I was told by the school board to either resign or take leave. And that’s when I decided to become a full time entrepreneur. That was the scariest decision I ever made! But maybe it was the push that I needed to finally take a risk, step it up and work harder on developing my businesses.
Was it easy? Absolutely NOT! Although the fantasy of developing an alcohol brand seemed amazing, the process, laws, expenses, endless delays and red tape seemed to be large hurdles to get over. There were so many questions running through my mind. I wanted to know, how would we fit in this rum market? Who will purchase our liquor? How can we compete with major established brands? And as a woman in a male dominated industry, I sometimes found it challenging just being heard, respected and taken seriously.
However, despite all of those factors, I did not allow them to deter me. Regardless of the many obstacles that may have come in my path, we still were able to make it to the finish line! And with the continuous support of my mom and dad, siblings close girlfriends and kind strangers, Kingston Bay will continue to grow and expand into an amazing company within the beverage industry.
This process has truly taught me that hard work and challenges go hand in hand whenever you’re developing and growing a brand. Trust me, I’ve felt like quitting and questioning if I made the right decision many times. But, this is something that I am truly passionate about, so I won’t allow any obstacle to deter me or make me give up. Even if I have to take a step back and rebrand or change directions in the future, I will continue giving it my all until the end.
Now, when it came to getting into the e-commerce reselling business, that decision was easy. I have been an avid consignment store shopper for almost a decade and 90% of my shopping is done online. I love fashion, accessories and home goods, but I hate paying retail prices for items. So combining e-commerce and reselling seemed to be a no brainer since it was something I was very familiar with. That is how my reselling business “Donnica Anelia” began.
Since I didn’t know anyone in the reselling business, I spent several weeks watching YouTube videos from established resellers, and I learned how to correctly set up my online stores on Ebay, Poshmark and Mercari. I will be expanding my stores and getting new inventory in a few weeks, so I’m extremely excited about that. I would eventually love to create an Amazon store as well in the future. The only challenge I initially had was just figuring out what to sell, cross selling on the various platforms, and where to get my inventory. But after some trial and error, I’m starting to get into the swing of things one day at a time. I truly love it!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am literally in love with hanging out in the city. There are so many fun and unique places to go and exciting things to do. My favorite place to eat is Surin of Thailand in Virginia Highlands. Their food is delicious and they drinks are strong and tasty. My favorite place to go just for the beautiful ambience is The Garden Room in Buckhead. It’s breathtaking and the drinks are too cute. If I’m in the mood to go hang out on a chill night, I’ll most likely visit one of my favorite bars, Church in Edgewood. I’m also a lover of art, so I’d recommend going to The High Museum to check out their exhibits. Lastly, if you’re in the mood for brunch and some Caribbean cuisine you’ll love Negril Village. They have live music and their rum punch is awesome.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Before I began the journey into entrepreneurship with Kingston Bay into the alcoholic beverage industry, I was constantly seeking mentorship, guidance and support. I knew that this wasn’t something that I could do alone and that I would definitely need some hand holding in the beginning stages in order to become a successful and independent company in the future.
I do appreciate the initial support of Posh Beverage Company for setting up a development program that allowed Kingston Bay to be born and launched. I have definitely learned a lot about this industry throughout that process, both good and bad, that has now allowed me to strengthen the overall direction and future outlook of my company moving forward.
I’d also like to recognize my sister, T’ka Martin-Hines who is the president of marketing and social media for Kingston Bay. She has been a key factor in the overall visual of the brand and has been an amazing sounding board for every creative idea that has been developed throughout our campaign. I truly don’t know what I would do without her.
No business can strive without the encouragement from loved ones. My loving(parents and siblings, close girlfriends and even Instagram friends I have never met have been so instrumental in keeping me going! I’m beyond thankful for their love, support and investment in me and my company. I truly could not do it without them!
Lastly, when it came to my reselling business, I truly credit those entrepreneurs on YouTube who shared their experiences on how to start and successfully run an e-commence business. It truly helped me to know what to do when starting my own reselling store, “Donnica Anelia”