By Nina Polien Light | Photo by Doug Khrenosvky
“I’m really proud of how far we’ve come,” she says of the online jewelry business she started with business partner Wendy Campbell. “We’ve exceeded our sales expectations by three times the goal we set last year. Most people just try to break even their first year.”
Moceanu and Campbell bonded over their children’s involvement in gymnastics, then quickly discovered a mutual interest in jewelry design and entrepreneurship. A lunch meeting in November 2014 led to a business plan, round-the-clock work to create unique jewelry pieces and tend to administrative tasks, and the launch of their website the following March. They named the company after their surnames (Moceanu’s married name is Canales).
Fortunately, seed money was not an issue. Inspired by her mother’s extensive jewelry wardrobe and encouragement to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams, Moceanu had been setting aside money little-by-little after earning a business degree from John Carroll University. Now that the business is up and running, the biggest challenge is ensuring enough sales each month to cover expenses.
“We want to stay within our means,” Moceanu says. “Here and there, we take a risk on a project that may require $500 or $600 in supplies, but hopefully we get our return down the road.”
Moceanu and Campbell, who both design jewelry, offer pieces ranging from a $26 jeweled bookmark to necklaces that cost upward of $600. Pieces are made from a variety of materials, including 14 karat gold, sterling silver, wrapped wire, and Swarovski pearls and crystals.
Among the highlights of the Dominique Moceanu Signature Collection is the Gold Medal Collection. These pieces, which pay tribute to Moceanu’s Olympic past, are modeled after Olympic medals and are also available in silver and bronze. The Ocean Dream Collection plays off the middle letters in Moceanu and is inspired by her childhood love of visiting the shore. Other collections, including one for brides and another for young girls, are also offered.
Part of Moceanu’s and Campbell’s mission is “to inspire the beauty within and empower all with our one-of-a-kind designs.” To that end, they offer customization options that allow customers to design their own creations or purchase only the components they need. For example, if a woman adores Moceanu’s signature pendant (which depicts her final gymnastics pose) but already owns a nice chain to hang it on, she may purchase the pendant only. The idea is to allow women to express themselves while staying within their means.
“Empowering women has been a theme of mine in the last few years,” Moceanu says. “We’re an all-woman business, and we want our jewelry to make women feel more emboldened or beautiful or subtle—whatever they wish.”
Moceanu’s journey from young Olympian to confident entrepreneur was anything but smooth. Born to Romanian immigrants, she began gymnastics lessons at age three and competed nationally as a Junior Elite gymnast by age nine. By age 10, she donned a red, white, and blue uniform at the Pan American Games and, at 14, became the youngest member of Team USA at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta—a dream that almost got derailed. Leading up to the Games, Moceanu collapsed with a stress fracture.
“But I pushed until the very end because you never know what could happen,” says Moceanu, recalling she was over-trained and emotionally abused by coaches but nonetheless underwent physical therapy to heal her injuries and took organic supplements to increase her bone strength. “Sure enough, I made the team. I learned perseverance and fighting for something you believed in.”
These skills would serve her well in the coming years. After suffering from her father’s emotional, physical, and financial abuse, she won emancipation from her parents at age 17. She later learned about the existence of a sister, born without legs, whom her parents had placed for adoption at birth, unbeknownst to Moceanu. Moceanu and her parents eventually reconciled and Moceanu forgave her father before his death. She also met and established a relationship with her sister.
Despite these challenges, Moceanu finished college, married, became the mother of two children, and authored the brutally honest memoir, “Off Balance.” In addition to logging many hours on the jewelry business, she appears as a motivational speaker at women’s leadership conferences and other events.
“I talk about overcoming adversity and how everybody needs to find balance in their life,” says Moceanu, who takes her own advice by scheduling speaking engagements around her children’s school and gymnastics schedules. “Serious things happened in my life and forced me to mature beyond my years. I help people understand that nobody has it perfect, but how we deal with the hand dealt to us is how we build character and our lives.”
For more information: creationsbycandc.com