Living the Lavender Life: Donna Maria - Public Speaker | Leighton DaCosta, Charleston Event Photographer

Donna Maria Coles Johnson speaks on day three of the United States Lavender Conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

Donna Maria Coles Johnson speaks on day three of the United States Lavender Conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

When I got the email that Donna Maria was looking for a photographer in the Charleston area to cover her talk at the United States Lavender Conference (USLC), I almost thought it was a prank or spam email and moved right on. I am glad I didn’t. For when I made that phone call and spoke to Donna, I felt a tremendous energy and enthusiasm on the other end of the line.

If the name Donna Maria sounds oddly familiar it might be because she has been all over television and media from ABC to the Wall Street Journal. Maybe you have followed her journey of helping and empowering others all over the world as they build businesses while maintaining life balance through the Indie Business Network. However she has entered your life, one thing is probably true, your life is the better for it!

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As the keynote speaker at the USLC, Donna’s message focused on the power of community and the community economy. Community marketing isn’t something that just came about with Facebook, but as Donna illustrated using the Harley Owners Group (HOG) as an example, goes back decades. The closeness of affiliation is huge and often goes back to an individual’s “why.”

Donna showcased how if you combine the elements of a product or service, with personal passion/lifestyle/experiences with the tools of social media, you could find a sweet spot where the community economy can thrive. Not forced, not coerced, not even sold to, but guided. These community economies thrive not because of what is received from them, but by what is put into them from the community.

Thanks Donna Maria for trusting me with this opportunity and I look forward to many more in the future.

If you would like to contact Donna or are interested in learning more about the The Indie Business Network, go to: and her blog -

The Indie Business Network

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5 things about lavender

  1. The word originates from the Latin word to “wash.”

  2. Lavender is highly drought resistant when mature and needs little to no water.

  3. Lavender is part of the Mint family and is resistant to insects.

  4. There are 39 species and over 400 varieties of lavender with some even being GREEN in color!

  5. Lavender was used in mummification in ancient Egypt.

The United States Lavender Growers' Association hosts a conference every other year, offered in locations rotated throughout the United States.  This year’s theme was: "Growing Your Lavender Business with Inspiration and Innovation"

The 2019 conference celebrated the inspiration (the "why") each people are drawn to lavender and building a lavender business, and the innovation (the "how") that so many lavender businesses have applied to diversify and have grown their businesses to be profitable and rewarding.

The next conference will be in 2021. For more information, visit: The US Lavender Growers Organization

Leighton DaCosta

Hello, I'm Leighton and I help people around the world tell their story. Let me introduce myself. Whether it's for online dating, or a professional profile, it always seems that the "About Me" section is always the hardest to write. Not because you have nothing to say about yourself, but because you want to be sincere, genuine, interesting, and brief all at the same time. I have never been a fan of writing about me in the third person, like: "Leighton DaCosta, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to Brooklyn, NY at an early age when his parents wanted to form a new life for themselves and their children. In the third grade, the family moved to Orlando, Fl, where Leighton considers his home town. After spending 3 tours in the Navy, he settled in Jacksonville, and now Miramar, Florida, where he now calls home. Today, still wanted by many, he does work as a fashion and wedding photographer. If you have a wedding(or photo shoot)... if no one else can help... and if you can find him... maybe you can hire... ok.. this is not The A- Team." But you see what I mean? What do you know about me? How can we connect? Did you know that my FAVORITE food is Pizza and Sushi? Or that my favorite color is Purple? When I go to the wine bars, I usually order Mimosas, because even the cheapest champagne tastes great with some good ole OJ. When I travel, I like staying in nice hotels. Not because of the name, (even though I AM partial to Hyatt) but because of the bathrooms. One of my favorite hotels is the Viking in Newport, Rhode Island. Small rooms, but AWESOME bathrooms. I LOVE TO EAT, and eating as much as I have, has led me to be about 100 pounds more than I was in High School... Yeah there is some muscle there, but if it was all muscle, I'm sorry folks, I wouldn't be taking photos, I would be retiring from the NFL. If you want to see some of my favorite dishes, follow me on Instagram. Because of that, I find myself now in the gym more than ever. Trying to stay fit and alive... I workout, so I can EAT! Well that's enough for now, if you want to know more about me, follow my blog. Better yet, I want to find out more about YOU. So let's talk!