Meet Raegan Moya-Jones
Oct 23, 2018
Raegan Moya-Jones began her journey at her kitchen table, where she founded aden + anais, a maker of muslin swaddles and other baby products that grew into a $100-million global business.
“What made me successful was being prepared to work really, really hard,” she says. “I’m not the smartest person in the room. I’m not the most creative person in the room. I just work my ass off and do whatever it takes to make a business a success.”
In scaling her business, Moya-Jones found that finding the cash to fuel growth was the greatest challenge for her in the early years.
“The biggest challenge by far is always working capital, generating enough cash to keep up with the demand,” she says.
She is a staunch advocate for bootstrapping. To retain as much stake in her business as possible, she borrowed from family and friends at 10-percent interest.
“Scratch and claw,” she advises. “Don’t take what appears to be the simplest route.”
Moya-Jones also resisted the temptation for what she and her team dubbed The Land Grab. “We would see opportunities and we would want to go after all of them, but that is not necessarily the right way to grow,” she recalls.
At aden + anais, she looked for white spaces in the market, niches that weren’t currently filled by competitors’ products.
“The key is to define the most obvious growth opportunities and focus on where you can get the most growth the most quickly in the most efficient way,” she says.
Moya-Jones, who was born and raised in Australia, saw an opportunity in international growth, setting up distribution in foreign markets.
“Most entrepreneurs focus on their own backyard,” she says. “I wanted to control the brand globally.”
Along the way, she benefitted from the insights of advisers, although she did not have mentors.
“I’ve never had a mentor in either my corporate or entrepreneurial career,” she says. “That said, I’ve had a lot of advisers since starting aden + anais, rather than someone who has championed me along the way. I’ve reached out to many people along the way who have expertise that I needed to run my business successfully.”
That has shaped her approach to helping other entrepreneurs.
“Well, no, I’m not going to be your mentor,” she says. “But I’m more than happy to be an adviser.”
In 2010, when the friends and family loans were no longer sufficient to fund the growth of her company, she sold a minority share of her business to Seidler Equity Partners, which turned out to be a very successful and productive partnership. In 2013, she sold the company to a second private equity firm and bought back 25 percent of the business. She holds a minority stake but is still the largest individual shareholder.
It is a decision she regrets. The buyers weren’t the right partners for her, making decisions from spreadsheets.
“Do not sell a majority stake in your business if you are still passionate about it and would like to continue to oversee it with your vision,” she says. “I still have millions of dollars in a business that I no longer have any say in, despite still having a seat on the board. I will never make that mistake again.”
Moya-Jones has co-founded a new company, Saint Luna, a boutique moonshine business.
“The tagline should be from babies to booze,” she says.
She expects Saint Luna will do for moonshine what aden + anais did for muslin, elevating a humble material into a product with cache.
“Moonshine is for the most part considered a low-end, rocket-fuel, for people-in-overalls with no teeth,” she says. “We have created a very high-end, molasses-based, charcoal-filtered moonshine that we want to see on the cocktail menus of Michelin-star restaurants around the globe.”
She brings the insights she gained from growing aden + anais to her new pursuit, filling a white space.
“It’s intuitive in that you see an opportunity that is clear, then you do your market research,” Moya-Jones says. “We learned we had an opportunity to turn that product category on its ear.”
Saint Luna has distilled its first batch. Building on the successful strategy of aden + anais, the company will distribute internationally from the get-go.
Her book, What It Takes, which is being published by Penguin Random House in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia in May 2019, details her growth from a sole proprietor, still working a full-time job, to the leader of a diverse, international brand.
Moya-Jones is the winner of the inaugural Vertex Award which is presented to a woman founder who, having reached the summit, has changed the face and direction of women’s high-growth entrepreneurship.
The Vertex award will be presented at The Intersection, an event that brings together AWE’s expansive network to identify new founders with promise, connect founders who have already achieved, and recognize the community that supports both of their efforts to grow.
Join us to hear more about her fantastic story.