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Community Highlights: Meet Mia Dunn and Mecca McDonald of Mo.Na. Gems

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mia Dunn and Mecca McDonald.

Hi Mia and Mecca, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
We realized there were no trendy sustainable alternatives to accessories and which is why we created Mo.Na., Mo.Na. is a bioplastic accessories startup that offers biodegradable and sustainable alternatives to conventional plastic accessories. Our pilot product is an earring that we call a Gem.

We plan to expand other accessories and lifestyle goods. After many failed trials of finding the perfect bioplastic formula, our first successful Gem was born in our kitchens. Soon thereafter, things started to snowball. We were selected to be part of and awarded $5000 from FFU’s Fuel, an accelerator program at Johns Hopkins for student startups. Through the fuel program, we were able to launch our product. Mo.Na. Gems sold out in three days and we made approximately $3,000 in the first three months of selling our product. We accomplished this without paying for advertising, just word of mouth and great marketing! At the end of the Fuel program, we had to compete in Demo Day by presenting our product and its progress to a panel of three judges. There were eight other startups in our cohort, which we had to compete with for a first-place prize of $20,000. The judges were wowed by our presentation and we were selected as the first place prize winners. We’re so grateful and excited for this opportunity because we know the $20,000 is going to help take Mo.Na. to the next level. We look forward to working on this venture full-time after graduation.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
We failed so many times. It took Mo.Na. seven months and hundreds of trials alongside consistent experimentation to find the perfect bioplastic formula. We’ve also been rejected by many grant funds. A current challenge we’re facing is trying to successfully scale our business and developing a water-resistant bioplastic formula. But throughout all the challenges, we’ve learned that failure is just an opportunity for growth and learning. So the sooner we fail, the better.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Mo.Na. Gems?
We are Mo.Na. Gems and we have a solution to reducing plastic waste in the fashion industry. We have developed earrings from bioplastic – Mo.Na. Gems look like synthetic plastic and come in trendy shapes but are 100% biodegradable. When discarded, our gems will break down into their original and natural components, leaving a minimal environmental footprint. Through our gems, we strive to protect Mother Earth.

Mo.Na was born out of a JHU student’s kitchen. The founders are Mecca McDonald and Mia Dunn. We are college students with a dream of building a better world. Mo.Na stands for Mother Nature. In light of how polluting the fashion industry is, we chose this name because we wanted to bring awareness to how important the earth is and why, when buying something, it’s important to give back to the earth. Earrings made out of biodegradable materials have never been done before. But the time has come.

One of our goals is to influence the world’s perception of fashion and how what we buy impacts the earth, even after we die. We want to encourage the fashion world to be more eco-friendly while being modern, cute, and fun. We want people to feel more responsible about the world they live in and to feel good about consciously choosing to be more eco-friendly. There is a dynamic of giving and take here, and we want people to be more conscious of how they give back to Mother Nature.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Make Art Not Content, How I Built This, Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday’s.


  • The average price of our Gem is $25

Contact Info:

Image Credits

The photographer is Mecca McDonald, @thatgirlmecca

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