- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

Donna Maria Coles Johnson has been awarded by the federal government for her advocacy and legal work for small businesses in the Washington area.
Mrs. Johnson, 40, won the Small Business Administration's Home-Based Business Advocate award. She was one of 32 small-business owners in the area to win an SBA award.
"I'm greatly humbled for getting recognition on something I love doing, and feel is my purpose," she said.
Mrs. Johnson founded the Handmade Beauty Network, a trade organization for manufacturers of handmade cosmetics, toiletries, soaps and other beauty products, in her Bowie home in 2000.
She said the organization was a response to the difficulties she encountered while running a natural-cosmetics manufacturing business from 1993 to 1997.
"One of the biggest challenges I found was ordering supplies. Most suppliers had you buy a truckload of coconut oil, and that's not feasible on a small-business budget," Mrs. Johnson said.
In addition to her 400-member organization, she has continued her 15-year legal career with a practice focused on small-business clients.
She deals mainly with trademark issues and contract negotiations at a rate of $120 to $150 per hour.
At law offices with which she has worked, including Tydings & Rosenberg in Baltimore, Mrs. Johnson charged at least $250 an hour.
"Issues like trademark protection are something a small business puts off until it absolutely has to deal with because prices are so steep. As someone who left a large corporation to be a small-business owner, I felt it was the least I could do."
Mrs. Johnson also has set up an online matching service for suppliers, manufacturers and hobbyists.
Joseph Loddo, director of the SBA's Washington office, said he realized that Mrs. Johnson fit all the requirements of a home-based advocate when she phoned him and asked him to give a talk to members of her Handmade Beauty Network association.
"Donna wanted to know about loan programs because it was a big issue to her members, and I thought she had a lot of entrepreneurial spirit to get me talking to hundreds of people," Mr. Loddo said.
Mr. Loddo said Mrs. Johnson also has helped the community by providing cosmetics-making workshops at Hannah's House, a D.C. transitional shelter for drug-addicted and homeless women.
Mrs. Johnson lives with her husband, Darryl, and daughter, Vanessa. She is expecting her second child in September.

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