The ultimate city girl –> island girl success story.
Above image, photo credit @jamiewisewerner
When happens when a bonafide city girl turns beach babe island girl, all while running a cult-following beauty brand, a family of four, and finding time to pen the 2nd edition of her best-selling transformative book series – not to mention finding time for that elusive R&R? Find out in our Q&A with Dana Myers, Founder of the Booty Parlor and Mojo Makeover empires – boudoir-driven beauty & lifestyle brands inspiring confidence, sexiness and satisfaction amongst all women, inside and out of the bedroom. When her husband and business partner Charlie had the opportunity to become further involved in the operations of his family business, St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach Viceroy Resort, Dana packed up the fam and embarked on a life-changing move from Brooklyn to the Caribbean – where she found a new wardrobe, new ways to shop for food, a new tribe of girlfriends, and an entirely new lease on life.
Here, we caught up with the city girl-turned-beach babe on entrepreneurial ambitions and challenges, transitioning from city life –> island life, her top 5 island girl essentials, fave beach brands and tropical cocktail of choice. Plus: everything you need to know about the Sugar Beach Viceroy, including some serious #bathgoals.
1. Tell us a little about your background and how you came to launch Booty Parlor.
My mom was a make-up artist and beauty entrepreneur, and I grew up watching her transform women in her chair. It was crystal clear how a little lip gloss and some girlfriend-to-girlfriend chatter could transform a woman’s day, and even her life! As I grew up, I became a beauty product junkie and make-up artist myself, and in addition, I also felt very empowered by my sexuality. It wasn’t a taboo subject in my life, and so naturally, I became the one my friends turned to for love & relationship advice. I was just that girl, and beauty & “sexy” became my calling cards. Yet, while I was always passionate about all things feminine & sexy, I soon discovered I wasn’t so passionate about the offering of “sexy” products on the market in the xxx stores. They were tacky, the quality was poor, and they simply didn’t fit in with my lifestyle or in the way that I liked to shop. By the time I was 28, I was working in the entertainment industry, but saw there was white space in the sexual marketplace for something much better — and I wanted to create a line of sensual beauty & bedroom products that were sexy and sophisticated, and that were sold in a way that made me feel sensual and confident. I knew that if I had a need for those products, then so would millions of other women! The idea for Booty Parlor was born. At the same time, I’d fallen in love with a guy I’d met on Match.com and shared my idea on a romantic drive down the California coast. By the time we got home to LA, we’d become business partners. We wrote a business plan, quit our jobs, got married and launched Booty Parlor. The brand is now 12 years old, and we’ve been married the same amount of time!
2. Did you always have entrepreneurial ambitions growing up?
Yes, for sure. Both my parents worked for themselves and to me, it was just the way. I started my first business when I was 21, living in NYC while going to grad school at NYU. [Ed. note: Dana graduated with an impressive Master’s Degree in Business & Entertainment.] It was called Braverwoman Music (Braverman is my maiden name) – and I managed local music artists, produced demos, did radio promotion — all sorts of things in the independent music scene. Then, I went corporate for a few years (after 9/11) which provided great stability, and also gave me some solid experience with big ticket licensing deals, brand partnerships and celebrity endorsements, all of which came in handy as we grew Booty Parlor. Growing up, I didn’t know that I’d start a brand that merged ‘sex’ and ‘beauty’ – but I did know I’d start something for myself someday. Meeting Charlie and having such instant personal and entrepreneurial chemistry certainly was a big turning point in my entrepreneurial journey.
3. Did you have any idea Booty Parlor would take off so quickly – not to mention spin off into The Mojo Makeover (HarperCollins) and Mommy Mojo Makeover (Viva Editions) brands?
This is a wild question. Booty Parlor took off quickly in the press – but it has been a long and winding road to build the actual business to where it is today. There have been more peaks and valleys than I ever thought possible! But yes – at the start, we knew we had a good idea, a strong, female-focused empowering philosophy, and a knack for branding and product development. But, nothing about building a brand is easy or overnight. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears — and cash flow — so you have to be prepared and ready to pivot when an idea you thought was great tanks instead of succeeds! The idea for the Mojo Makeover spin-off came early in our development – but was organic in its evolution, it wasn’t something I went digging for. The ‘makeover’ was just something I did while standing in a room full of women selling our products, asking them questions about their sexy self-confidence and relationships, and giving them advice in return. I took in all that information and the Mojo Makeover formula & book concept evolved out of those conversations. I knew that one day I’d have kids and have to figure out the next iteration of it — the Mommy Mojo Makeover. Now is that time – two kids later, and I’m currently writing the 2nd book (launching March 2018) and will launch live and digital workshops at the same time.
A few Booty Parlor editor’s picks – shop all here!
4. Was there a defining moment when you thought “I’ve made it?”
What’s interesting about entrepreneurship is that there are many moments where you think you’ve made it. We’ve landed massive, mainstream clients as a baby brand fighting way above our weight, and that’s felt like we made it. Selling my first book was another moment. Getting A-list celebrity endorsements and national TV spots has incited the same feeling. But what you learn – or at least, what I’ve learned, is that there’s not one defining moment on the path to success. There are many big, glorious wins and devastating losses along the way. I think it’s the fact that we’ve had many of both, and have continued to infuse new life into the brand, continued to seek out fresh, creative methods of distribution, that makes me feel as though we’ve made it.
5. Biggest career challenge?
KIDS! I gave birth to our first child 4 months before my book launched, and so there wasn’t much time to cocoon and experience the transformational period where you’re learning to become a mother. It was an exciting time – the baby just traveled with us on my book tour, came to pitch meetings, and I pumped anywhere I had to in order to keep the schedule flowing — most memorably, in the basement of Henri Bendel’s on 5th Ave during a Booty Parlor Christmas trunk show. But after a while, balancing my career with motherhood became increasingly difficult for me — I wanted to give so much of myself to both the baby and the business, and with such intensity, but it wasn’t sustainable. It was wearing me down, pulling me in too many directions. Once the 2nd kid came along, it was obvious that I wasn’t able to give my best to either motherhood or the brand. It was a tough decision, but I chose to take a few steps back from my career for a while. I never quit completely, but I dialed my daily workload way down. It turned out to be the right decision. Right about at the same time, we moved to the Caribbean and I got to experience motherhood from a different perspective and at a slower pace — island chill vs. city buzz. In the beginning of our time here in St. Lucia, I constantly wondered… will I ever be able to get back to my “business self”? Will I be able to find that pace again? That energy and ambition? The answer was Yes… and No. I realized I didn’t have to work at the same pace as I had while living in Brooklyn or LA. There was an alternative way to do it. During my time away, not only did I get to experience island life and a more chilled-out version of motherhood, but I have also made progress in my career— securing an international licensing deal for Booty Parlor, launching a digital program and selling and writing my 2nd book, The Mommy Mojo Makeover. Kids threw a beautiful wrench in my career, that’s for sure, but the experience opened my eyes to an alternative way to live and work as well. Plus, motherhood will always be more fulfilling than my career in my heart of hearts… and it’s been nice to dive deeply into that space without the intense distractions of work. Big time blessing.
6. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself as a #bossbabe?
I’ve always been a tenacious and well-organized person. Since I was very young, if my sights were set on something, I’d work and work and work towards it with extreme focus until I got it done. I’d tackle piano recitals, theatrical performances, entrance exams, my grad school thesis, landing jobs – all these things — by breaking down the work, creating a detailed schedule, and just chipping away at it, day by day by day. Now, as a #bossbabe and #bossmom, I do exactly the same. I don’t know why this surprises me, but it does. Perhaps because now the stakes seem higher, and so there is a bit more fear of failure— will this product have a successful launch? Will anyone attend my workshops? Will I ever finish this book? Will anyone read it? It’s easy to get overwhelmed and hide, panic or perhaps decide to aim just a bit lower. But I don’t. My inner ‘organizer’ kicks in. I make a plan and then tackle whatever beast is in front me – task by task, pitch by pitch, chapter by chapter, you get the idea. The fear and self-doubt can’t stand up to that, because I’ve proven to myself, time and time again, that if I just get up and do the work, and stay on schedule, the job will get done. It may not always be perfect – but I am always proud of my process. But like I said… I’m not sure why this is still surprising to me!?
7. Top 3 most challenging things about transitioning from life as a city girl –> island girl:
a) Convenience. There are no Whole Foods or CVS drugstores on the island! To me, this meant a dramatic reduction in convenience in my life — I could no longer get what I wanted when I wanted it. Having no easy, healthy one-stop shop for prepared foods and organic ingredients means taking a ton of time out of my day to visit three or four stores + three vegetable stands + the fish guy, and then spending several hours cooking in the kitchen. (I rarely cooked in Brooklyn!) So many folks accused me of whining too much about this, as if the privilege of living in a sunny place should erase my desire for convenience… but as a busy mama-of-two trying to get some work done, the loss of convenience was a big challenge for me. On the flipside, through this, I realized that my inner domestic goddess is a total babe and actually likes to cook!
b) Action. There’s very little action happening on the island, certainly in comparison to Brooklyn. The options to go out to new places, to be stimulated, to experience art, music and culture… are definitely more limited. After 3 years of living here, I still struggle with this one, because I love to see shows, visit galleries and museums, to talk to street performers, to give and receive energy… basically, to feel part of something much bigger than myself – and a city provides that. Island life is, in a way, much more introspective. My solo yoga practice has become stronger, I’ve read more books – you get the idea. Plus, you wind up making more of your own fun – throwing parties, having spontaneous dance sessions with your friends, getting lost on a drive in the jungle… anything to generate the feeling of action.
c) Instant Connection & Access: We went from being in a high-rise building full of people, many of whom we made friends with. There was always someone to stop-and-chat with – and I loved that instant connection and sense of community. Plus, we lived on a busy street corner in Williamsburg, where you stepped out of your door and straight into… everything. If you felt lonely, all you had to do was walk down the street. If you were hungry, there were a thousand choices at your fingertips. Need your nails done? Want to hear some live music? Take the kid for a walk in the stroller? It was all there for us. (Mind you, so was the stress of living in NYC!) Our island lifestyle is very different. Our home is beautiful and spacious, with incredible views of a lush valley in front of us, the kite-surfing beach on the the Atlantic to the left, and the Caribbean Sea to the right. It’s gorgeous, but isolated. You can’t just pop out and take a walk to… anywhere, really. It’s quiet – you hear only tree frogs and crickets at night. If you want to see a friend, you have to plan for it. This took some time to get used to. That said, there have been incredible benefits to living here. I have a feeling I’m going to miss it more than I think when I’m back in a city and sirens have replaced my chirping frog friends!
8. Top 3 best things about transitioning from life as a city girl –> island girl.
a) Slowing Down. It took some time to ‘de-Brooklynize’ myself upon moving here – to breathe instead of getting impatient, to laugh instead of getting irritated, to simply accept and lean into a slower pace of life. But once I did, I realized the beauty in living life at a slower pace and embraced it as a unique moment in my life — a life teaching moment to stop and smell the Hibiscus (one of our popular island flowers!). Time tends to linger here, so what’s the use of rushing? I think, at this particular moment in my life, where I have two small kids, placing myself in a slower environment was a true gift — I stopped rushing so often, and spent more quality time just chilling with the little ones.
b) Sugar Beach. We moved here so that my husband could be involved in his family’s business, Sugar Beach Viceroy. So, naturally, spending a ton of time on-property has been one of the most amazing benefits of living here. It’s a magical place, nestled in between the Pitons (a UNESCO World Heritage site). You can’t help but feel awestruck when you’re standing on the soft white sand beach in between these two gorgeous, chocolate-drop mountains that rise out of the Caribbean Sea. Plus, I got to climb the Gros Piton with friends and then delight in Sugar Beach’s perfect cheeseburger afterwards (it was a 3 hour hike, and we were all ravenous!). It’s been a total joy to spend so much time there, to share it with friends and family, and to become a part of the Sugar Beach community.
c) Amazing TRIBE of new friends. I have met the MOST amazing friends here, many from St. Lucia, many from all over the world! There is group of close-knit families who hang out, which is wonderful with husbands, wives and kids of all ages spending time together – there’s a real sense of community here. But the experiences I’ve had here with my new girlfriends have been truly epic. Crazy, rum-fueled, day-time boat excursions exploring secret caves and mud baths, laughing at the sight of naked fishermen, going snorkeling, having dance parties on hidden beaches — literally, all before we pick the kids up from school at 3pm. Staging “wild woman photo shoots” in remote nature reserves, just because we had a free morning and needed something fun to do. Hiking a trail that hugs the rugged coast of the Atlantic and stumbling upon a team of wild horses… releasing a collective gasp at the sight. This is island life, and these are the experiences you share with your friends. Because the island is much more isolated than a city— it has a way of bonding you to your friends in a different way. You have to make your own fun and magic together, in order to survive and thrive. It’s a trade-off. You don’t have the bright, buzzing distractions of a city, the endless choices of things to do, see and experience. Nor do you have that multitude of friend circles that a city provides — your friends, mom friends, gym friends, school friends, etc. Here: it’s just YOUR FRIENDS. You see them 12 times a day, every day, and then again on the weekends. It’s very close-knit, very unique. Not like anything I’ve ever experienced before.
9. Top 5 things we should know about Sugar Beach Viceroy:
a) Pitons – As I described above, the hotel is nestled between one of the world’s most breathtaking natural wonders. You wake up, step outside your epic villa and are wow’d by the sight of lush, green mountains framing the sea. You’ll stare at them for hours and hours when you’re there…
b) Sand – They call it Sugar Beach for a reason! The sand literally feels like soft sugar between your toes. I don’t even like sand, and I LOVE this beach more than any other place in the world.
c) Bathtubs – Every villa has an outrageously luxurious bath tub. Every time we stay on property, I must bathe at least 2-3 times a day – even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time. The bathtubs spoil me, for sure.
d) Best New Year’s Eve party in the Caribbean – We are a family who loves to party and Sugar Beach knows how to throw an epic New Year’s Eve bash. Incredible DJs from London, wild dancing, outrageous food, a jaw-dropping fireworks show that lights up the sea, and you can get heavenly room service that’ll stave off your hangover after you’ve returned home at 5am.
e) Incredible staff – Sugar Beach offers impeccable service across every area – from your personal butler getting you what you need when you need it, to private Cabé service by the pool, to the TukTuk drivers taking you wherever you’d like to go, to just everyone knowing your name and stepping up to make your stay perfect! On top of that, everyone on staff is just so… WARM. LOVING. FUNNY. CHARMING. I believe this is the true nature of the St. Lucian people. It’s a very special place with very special people.
All above images courtesy of Sugar Beach Viceroy
10. Top 5 island girl essentials:
a) Sun Bum sunscreen: This is my favorite sun care brand – gorgeous, smooth formulas and the most delicious banana scent. I bring it over by the case when I travel back to the States.
b) Booty Parlor Flirty Little Secret Firming Bronzer with Pheromones: Shameless plug here, but this is an incredible product I created! It’s a topical body bronzer with light-reflecting particles that firms and tones the skin while giving it a bronzed, goddess-like glow. I apply it all over my body before going out – it smoothes out imperfections and makes me look like I’ve caught the sun evenly.
c) A JUMBO Beach Bag: You won’t find phenomenal concessions at any of the public beaches here, (except for Sugar Beach) so it’s important to pack everything you want and need for a day at the beach: plush towels, snacks, loads of water, a book, toys for the kids, changes of clothes, etc. Plan what you need for the whole day, and stuff it inside a ginormous bag to get your on your way!
d) A tough car: St. Lucia is wonderfully hilly and rugged and many of the roads are unpaved. You need a powerful car to get you where you want to go, and something that can get you out of sticky situations (i.e, ditches, uneven mountainside paths, etc.). One of the best things to do here with my husband is just drive into the jungle, and get lost – you need a car that’ll handle going off-road to explore more remote areas. That’s the fun part – because, you never know what you’ll find. We’ve stumbled upon a beach that was home to hundreds of thousands of crabs (it felt like an eerie outer space Crab Planet, and we got out of there quick!), we’ve pulled into wild donkey pastures, abandoned sugar mills overgrown by epic trees. All magical stuff that you’d miss if you don’t have a car that can handle the terrain.
e) Mosquito Net: Island mosquitos are hungry f*ckers and they will GET YOU! Especially while you’re sleeping. A good mosquito net is clutch if you want to sleep through the night without waking up in an itching fit.
11. Top 3 favorite swim and/or beachwear brands:
a) Cool Change and SunChild: Really, about 80% of my daily wear is made up of these two brands. I wear some version of the Cool Change “Pamela” dress everyday. I have about 30 of them (most of which I’ve snagged up at their amazing sample sales), in different colors and patterns, and I tailor them to different lengths. They’re practically weightless and so breathable, so they keep me feeling cool without sacrificing style. To the beach, I wear a Cool Change caftan over a bikini. To go out at night, I’m mostly wearing SunChild dresses right now— gorgeous, silk dresses designed and made in India by my friend, Elissa Kravetz, who founded the brand and runs it out of her cabin in Topanga. The dresses are slinky, sexy, backless and… you just feel utterly transformed into a goddess when you put them on.
b) Luli Fama: I’m short and curvy, so when I find a bikini brand that flatters my body easily, I’m all in and very loyal. Lulu Fama is definitely my go-to swimwear brand, and has been for years. Their collections are always ultra-bright and playful!
c) Star Mela: I love Star Mela bags and pick up a new one every so often at Boutique by Rory which has two outposts at Sugar Beach Viceroy. I love their bohemian sensibility and have an affinity for the tassels that are attached to almost all of them!
12. Because we have to ask – if you were stranded on a tropical island (without the conveniences of Sugar Beach Viceroy), what 3 items would you have with you?
If I was truly stranded, I suppose I’d be practical and bring some flint and steel to make fire, a cutlass (to slash coconuts open for sustenance), and a nice pillow for catching some zzzs on the sand! I’m afraid I wouldn’t fare very well if this were actually the case though…
13. If I could invite any 3 people in the world (past or present) to a dinner party, the guest list would read:
Beethoven – I’ve played classical piano since I was four, and Beethoven is the composer who’s moves me the most, decade after decade. He is a total genius and icon. The passion in his music is mind-boggling and I’d kill to sit with him!
Sergei Polunin – I recently saw a fab documentary about him, called Dancer, and was totally captivated by him. He’s a young and brilliant ballet dancer, and someone I’m excited to keep an eye, both for his creative work and to see how he initiates change in the ballet world.
My mama! – Because we have wicked fun together and she makes every experience that much more fabulous.
14. Favorite island-themed movie:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall?! It’s certainly not exotic or high-brow but it cracks me up every single time I watch it. Russell Brand is just too funny in that film.
15. If you were to find me at the bar, I’d be drinking:
A Moscow Mule – sweet, sharp, ginger-y, and citrus-y. My all-time favorite and the drink I serve the most at our house parties.
16. If I could pack up and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d go to:
Thailand – I’ve never been and I think it’s going to be a magical trip when it finally comes to be. Plus… elephants. I’ve always wanted to connect with them and I’ve heard there are some amazing elephant sanctuaries there where you can care for them.
17. Bikini or 1-Piece?
Always a bikini, by Luli Fama, just in different colors & patterns. That said, I just saw a gorgeous maillot by Kiini, called the Tasmin Scoop Back One Piece, that I’m now lusting after. So, I’m pretty sure that 1-piece will be my next swimwear purchase!
18. Poolside or beachside?
Ooh, tough one! I’m going to have to say – wherever there is MORE SHADE! I run very hot, so staying cool – or at least as cool as possible on this hot, hot rock – is always a priority for me. I’ve learned to cope with the heat better these days, but you’ll still find me seeking out the shadiest spot, pressing ice cubes to my wrists, holding a rechargeable, handheld, misting fan up to my face! It may not be glamorous, but the fan keeps me from internally combusting and losing the plot on the days where the sun is just scorching!!
19. Sunrise or Sunset?
Definitely sunset – the colors, the magic hour, the transition from a hot, sunny day into a cooler evening. Heaven!
20. What’s next for the Dana Myers brand?
Exciting stuff, I think! After three years of living on the island, we’ll be moving to Miami where I’ll launch my book, and run live workshops and digital course offerings for moms looking to reconnect with their sensuality and reignite the spark in their relationships. I absolutely love inspiring other women in a live environment, and I learn so much from them in return. As for Booty Parlor, we’ll continue to expand our distribution both domestically and internationally. There are so many places in the world where women are underserved with sensual products, they just don’t have access yet – and that’s a big opportunity for us. Regarding our family lifestyle, we’ll be back and forth to the island every month or so – we have roots, a life, a tribe here now, and so we’ll figure out how to split our time!