Di O’Reilly is the sole director of marketing and PR consultancy Collaborate Communications, she’s also a mother, wife, business owner, philanthropist, MC and foster parent. All at the same time.
In her professional business she is a PR and Marketing consultant with her small business Collaborate Communications, that she started 10 years ago.
And if that’s not enough, she has also recently gone into a fun business called OMG Decadent Donuts. The donuts are utterly delicious and yet free of gluten, yeast, nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat and sulphite and are vegan. They have a solid business model where they sell their product via turn-key license agreements to licensees throughout Australia. OMG Decadent Donuts only launched last August and have already sold 10 licenses.
An integral part of her life is that she is one of the founders and on the board of Mothers of Boys (MOB).
“This started as a bit of a joke to be honest – a group of mothers were standing on the side line of a rugby match having a 1st world kind of whine about how they never get to go to mother/daughter morning teas or fashion parades and so on. We decided to have our own lunch and only invite mothers who only have boys – that lunch had about 100 people at it but it grew and grew and grew and now we are a bonafide charity which is a bit like a foundation and we raise funds and awareness for a different charity every year.
We have lunches in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Toowoomba and this year for the first time in Adelaide. I also MC all the lunches – I love it. We now have more than 15000 Facebook followers Australia wide. The board and I and everyone involved work on it all entirely for free.”
It’s safe to say that Di has a lot on her plate. We sat down with Di to find out more about her journey so far…
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
No, I’ve pretty much winged it all my life. I’ve almost always worked in some kind of marketing and PR capacity and that is my happy place. I’ve always felt that if you love what you do it will never truly feel like work. Necessity is often the mother of invention, and like many women when I had children I had to re-invent the way I worked, so I guess that was a significant turning point – starting my own business was the best solution for me when I had little children.
Was your entrepreneurial journey linked to your personal one?
Yes, when I was single and before I started popping babies out, I had a great career in tourism marketing and conference management. That was about 1000 years ago though. In every incarnation of my professional life since it has been linked to my personal life. When my 3 boys were little, it was not possible to care for them and work full-time, so I started the marketing and PR consultancy and that enabled me to combine parenting with work.
When I more recently became involved with OMG Decadent Donuts the timing coincided perfectly as my husband and I had unexpectedly and accidentally become foster parents to 2 girls aged 7 and 8. Our combined 6 boys are all fully grown, but here we are again making school lunches and supervising homework. Professionally, having these children in our lives meant that I had to refuse many PR and Marketing gigs as there was just not the time and, due to their past, the little girls needed lots of stability and care. I’m absolutely loving the OMG Decadent Donut business and the entrepreneurial attitude we have to growing it.
With Mothers of Boys (MOB) – for the first 10 years at first it was just a bit of a fun thing to do. My second husband, Steven Morris, is a commercial lawyer and he was horrified we were just playing with it and not taking it seriously. It was he who formed MOB in to a bonafide Public Ancillary Fund and applied for DGR status and whipped us in to shape. He’s now our secretary – we like that idea – an all-female board of directors and a male secretary. Since it was formed into a proper entity though, we’ve had the confidence to grow and grow it and while we personally don’t achieve even one dollar in recompence we’ve been able to raise significant funds and awareness for wonderful charities, which is very satisfying.
Initially, what difficulties did you face?
For Collaborate Communications the PR and Marketing consultancy – at the time it was juggling full time parenting with full time working. For much of the time I was raising my children as a single mother and it was very, very difficult. Thankfully I had great, understanding clients, a terrific Mum who helped out my boys, and a willingness to work in to the wee small hours while the kids were asleep.
With OMG Decadent Donuts there haven’t really been any major difficulties. We have 4 directors – David Moore, Andrew Clarke, Steven Morris and myself. We each have strong but different skill sets and lots of experience. We work together seamlessly and make decisions well together. I’m the only woman so naturally I have the most votes.
When I first became involved with OMG Decadent Donuts the logo and branding had already been developed, the first thing Steven did was try to get it trademarked, it took 7 months for them to tell us ‘No”. So….we had to start from scratch and design a new logo and then replace all licensees branded equipment. That was a very big financial blow but also a blessing because I love love love our new brand and it’s working very well for us.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
One of my co-directors, David Moore, and I have worked together in various incarnations over many years and bounce off each other extremely well (especially if a glass of wine is involved). With the problem of the new logo we just workshopped it, liaised with the graphic artist and boom – we had a whole new look and feel.
Experience teaches you ‘it is what it is’ – just move forward and work it out. Problems are only problems till you solve them.
David and his partner Andrew developed the product of these donuts which are utterly delicious. They’re the clever ones. The donuts are gluten, wheat, yeast, nut, egg, dairy and sulphite free and are vegan. The donuts are dusted in bespoke sugars which are funky combos of whole dehydrated fruit, vege and spice. The name came about literally because whenever anyone tasted one that is what they would exclaim “OMG”.
I had the idea to expand the product nationally and my husband Steve, put together all the legals. We now sell OMG license agreements to other like-minded entrepreneurs and have licensees from Far North Queensland to Melbourne, our aim is 100 licensees Australia wide.
With Mothers of Boys – we are a strong board of women (you have to be strong to be a mother of all boys!). We all work extremely well together – there’s no argument over pay equality – as none of us are paid! We just get in and do the work.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- If you don’t already have these particular skills – get a great commercial lawyer and accountant.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?
- Not money (just ask my accountant!)
- Helping others
- The satisfaction of your idea becoming a reality
You have several businesses, what led you to starting more than one?
In recent times it’s been necessity. After taking on these 2 little girls, whose needs gazumped really everything else, it made doing much of the PR and Marketing work I had traditionally done very difficult; so I’ve trimmed that part of the work back a bit and am working hard on building the OMG Decadent Donut brand up.
With Mothers of Boys it’s not a business – it’s just a way to give back to community. I am a great believer that if everyone just did even just a little bit for others, the world would be a better place.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
Apart from being on the board of Mothers of Boys, I’m also on the committee of Women in Media – which is a wonderful not for profit which helps with networking, equality and diversity for women in the media industry.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I really enjoy the creativity of it. It builds a great deal of confidence in yourself being able to envisage and then deliver something new to the world. The possibilities are endless.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
- Eating OMG Decadent Donuts on the fly bridge of our boat floating around French Polynesia and the donuts being available worldwide. Too specific for you??
- Mothers of Boys will have helped another 10 worthy charities.
- Women in Media possibly won’t exist at all as it will have succeeded in its aim of creating equality and diversity.
- My own 3 boys and 3 step-sons all safe, well and happy; my current and future grandchildren all safe, well and happy and our foster children successfully entering adult hood – whole, safe, well and happy.
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