Marina DiDomenico of Amora Coffee: “You need to staff your company with passionate leaders that share your “fire” for achieving company goals and objectives”

Authority Magazine
Jun 14 · 9 min read

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marina DiDomenico, Co-Founder of Amora Coffee. She is an entrepreneur to the core. Starting several businesses that all provide a service to the end consumer, Marina has learned and earned the value of Customer Loyalty. Marina shares in Giving Back and Paying Forward by supporting organizations that focus on children in need.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started my career in Direct-to-Consumer Subscription Services working for Kraft General Foods, now Kraft-Heinz as an intern in the coffee division. After spending over 10 years at Kraft and then starting my own entrepreneurial services business, I became reconnected with a Kraft colleague who also crossed over to the entrepreneurial services side and we co-founded a hot beverages direct-to-consumer business called Amora which currently sells coffee and teas from around the world. Our concept of providing coffee from Roaster to Home and skipping the market has grown to millions of shipments and continues with strong momentum.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I received a phone call from United States Customs that said my truck container of coffee was at the port but it was going to be a few weeks before they could release the beans to us. When I inquired as to why, the customs agent told me that there was a significant effort being put in place to ensure that only coffee was being shipped in these containers and nothing illegal. I said illegal, what are you talking about?? He said that they were backed up on inbound coffee containers and they didn’t have enough resources to search for drugs. I said, what?? Drugs?? And that is when I learned that dogs can’t really sniff out illegal substances surrounded by coffee. Moral of the story is don’t check coffee in your bags, I guess.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Amora Coffee is all about Roasted in small batches, hand packing, moving to the shipping as soon as possible, using express delivery to the consumer, all to get Amora Coffee to you as soon as possible and fresh as can be. So when we launched the business, we said no one would ever want to buy really fresh flavored coffee as the flavor might not be as much of a value proposition as FRESH. Well, we were wrong as our customers demanded flavors which now makes up over half of our shipments. So what we learned is that WE many not always know what our customers want, so listen!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think that one of the key unique selling propositions of our company….is the love and focus we have for our customers. Today’s consumer truly wants to have a relationship with companies that they engage with. We were committed from day one to making sure that Amora was a brand that consumers would know and trust. We weren’t some big monolithic entity. We always wanted our customers to know that we felt they were family to us. That they understood that they were valued and that we would do all we could to build a strong and friendly relationship with our company. No doubt…we needed to listen to them and provide them with a great product….that was table stakes. Amora means “love” and we wanted the relationship to be loving and caring — It is that attention to detail and customer care coupled with a tremendous product that makes us stand-out among our competitive set.

I am very hands on in all aspects of our business. I take great pride in our commitment to the highest quality of product and service in all areas of our business. If I need to answer customer calls, reply to emails, pack boxes of coffee, I will do whatever it takes to keep our promises. Loyalty to our customers come before customer loyalty to Amora.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are doing all we can to leverage our relationship with Amora’s coffee lovers to address many of the world’s greatest challenges. We want to spread Amora love throughout the globe. We have partnered with several partners to assist in efforts for those battling Juvenile Diabetes, Children’s Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness. As Amora grows, we recognize the Give Back and Pay Forward responsibility of success.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Always be dedicated to being the best version of yourself each day. Keep growing your skill set and the person that you are. It’s ok to be afraid at times, don’t let fear be a roadblock…Have courage to move forward boldly to achieve your goals and dreams. Don’t be wary of challenging the status quo…the world needs more change agents…strive for positive change. Make sure that your team members share your commitment to excellence. Hire people who are passionate about “something” — you will need passionate employees to achieve success. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to stoke their flame and allow them to stand tall.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

You need to be the company’s biggest evangelist and cheerleader. You need to staff your company with passionate leaders that share your “fire” for achieving company goals and objectives. You can’t do it by yourself. You should be clear with your team what is expected in the method and manner that you believe in. You want to remind them that they don’t need to be “cookie cutter” versions of you. They need to understand what you believe in and then have them come up with their own ideas on how to motivate other team members to achieve the company’s goals and objectives. Most importantly you need to walk the talk and lead by example. You must earn their respect and respect your team members in order to get the best out of each of them. You must be clear about what you would value and what you will not tolerate so that there is no confusion in terms of the profile of team members you want to employ. Two way communication is paramount.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My entrepreneurial inspiration started with my father, an entrepreneur himself. From a young girl until this day, he always reminds me that stuff doesn’t get done without getting your hands dirty! My husband and children have also helped me greatly with any success that I have achieved. Jim is a great mentor of mine as he has been instrumental in helping many other companies with all aspects of their business. Thru Fosina Marketing Group…Jim has seen it all in terms of business success and failure. He is very happy to alert me of any potential pitfalls and/or issues that might come up in running the Amora business. It’s great to have Jim as a sounding board for new ideas and strategies. He is never shy about offering his guidance and thoughts about the business. My children keep me grounded and aren’t bashful in sharing their opinions about how their generation sees product promises and customer service. A tremendous combination of people making up a great in home focus group.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that is the mission of every human being to bring goodness to the world. I take this responsibility very seriously in all aspects of my life. I have always had a code of conduct that is rooted in “do unto others as you would have done to yourself”. Whatever “success” I have achieved in my life has come from others supporting and helping me along the way. I continue to work within my family, friends and community to pay it forward. Life can be hectic, juggling so many roles and responsibilities…but I always find time in small ways to share the love of my coffee and myself with others in need. It really doesn’t take a lot of time to change the world if all of us commit to random acts of kindness each day. I look forward to the day when each member of the human family acts on this responsibility to help another…the world would be a much kinder place for all of us.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Leaders Can’t Achieve Success Alone — learned this from day one — there isn’t enough time and/or bandwidth to do everything with a commitment to excellence
  2. Leaders need to be enablers of success — I need to be the person that knocks down the roadblocks that prevent us from achieving our goals and objectives
  3. Don’t be the smartest person in the room — Hire passionate people who are creative problem solvers and then have the common sense to be quiet and let them be heard.
  4. Leaders need to talk less & Listen More — It’s all about listening and gaining insight from others. You never do know where the best ideas will come from.
  5. Be Authentic & Emotional About what you believe in — don’t lose yourself and your humanity in business…it’s the road to ruin.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We need to reduce trash and waste — it’s one of the reasons why we founded Amora Coffee. Brewing in pots and using travel mugs instead of buying at the Café in a disposable cup or tossing a K-Cup for every single serve can really change the Green of our Earth. It is why Amora ships directly into homes, fresh roasted, where we provide an airtight canister to store to avoid using plastic bags, a Silver Plated Scoop rather than plastic throw aways and travel mugs to keep Amora Coffee on the move with you. Imagine how much waste is eliminate this way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Do what you have always done and you’ll get what you have always got.” — I have always believed that I am in control of my own life. I am responsible for my own choices and decisions along the results of those choices. I choose not to be fearful about the road ahead and the choices that I make. Am I correct all the time ? No. Do I make my share of mistakes….for sure. I understand that growth means taking a risk at times….going with my gut. I am not fearful. I choose to be confident in all that I do ….I have decided that I won’t sit by the sidelines of life…I jump in with both feet and go in the direction of my dreams. I embrace change.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I can’t say that there is a particular person that comes to mind but if someone read this story and had a seriously ill child in need of a miracle, I’d want to spend my time having breakfast or lunch with her or him and their child. If I can provide just an ounce of optimism, then I’d feel very rewarded.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Authority Magazine

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Authority Magazine is devoted to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.