"I wanted to be brutally honest so [readers] could see that I didn't have anything special," Raegan Moya-Jones tells PEOPLE of her new book, out May 7
“I was like, ‘Yeah no, hell will freeze over before you put a photo of me on the front of the book,’ ” Moya-Jones tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview, sharing its newly revealed cover.
The humble entrepreneur, who built a $100 million business while working a full-time job and raising her four daughters, felt that a painting by Kelly Reemtsen was a far better representation of the story she wanted to tell.
“As women in business and as entrepreneurs, we’re often told that we should be more like men to be successful, whereas I flew in the face of that,” she explains. “I’ve cried in meetings. I hugged my staff. I was an emotional woman when I needed to be and yet I was quite prepared to pick up a pick-axe and wield it around when I needed to get what I needed, done.”
Reemtsen’s painting, which hangs in Moya-Jones’ home, depicts the journey her entrepreneurship brought — from a mother with her first newborn daughter, working a job she was not happy with, to the CEO of a flourishing business that was simply the manifestation of an idea and the desire to act on it.
“The cover itself is going to be a story … because clearly it’s not a typical book cover for a business or an entrepreneurial book,” she tells PEOPLE.
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And her book isn’t a typical business story, either — because Moya-Jones believes she’s not the typical entrepreneur. Having dropped out of college, she explains that she didn’t have the degree, background or connections that most people expect a successful business owner to have.
Moya-Jones calls herself a “very average person,” in fact. But it was this recognition that she believes, in part, helped her succeed.
“I’m never the smartest person in the room. I’m never the most creative person in the room. I’m not the best networker,” she admits. “I was smart enough to surround myself with incredibly talented, smart people, and be humble enough to be okay with the people around me knowing more and being more talented.”
Unlike many typical new entrepreneurs, when Moya-Jones started her business, she was a first-time mom to her oldest daughter Anais (now 15) — whom she says was “the catalyst” for her business.
By the time her products with aden + anais hit the market in 2006, she had already welcomed her second daughter: Lourdes, 13. In 2007, she was pregnant again with her third daughter Arin, 11. And by 2010, the girl gang had welcomed Amelie Rose, 8.
Starting her business while working a full-time job and being a mother of four was “bloody hard,” Moya-Jones admits to PEOPLE.
“When I was with the girls and I was Raegan the mom, I was 100 percent focused on the girls,” she says. “I wasn’t doing e-mails and taking calls and all the rest of it. When I was Raegan the CEO and founder, I was focused on my business.”
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She was running on “sheer will and adrenaline” in those early years of motherhood and business ownership, trying to balance her many roles and responsibilities.
“I used to wait until the girls went to bed at about 8 or 8:30 and that’s when I then would sit down and focus on aden + anais,” she explains. “I would work on the business until about 3 or 3:30 in the morning and then I’d be up at 6:30 or 7 to start the next day.”
But the work certainly caught up with Moya-Jones, complete with numerous moments that made her question what she was doing.
“There were definitely times where I literally fell to the floor with exhaustion and crying,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’d just hit a wall, but I’d come so far that at that point I was like, ‘I can’t give up now because everything I’ve done and everything I’ve been through will have been for naught.’ ”
Moya-Jones hopes that her book helps young, budding entrepreneurs who need someone to tell them to just bite the bullet, encouraging them to stick to their ideas. And her writing is clear and concise, just like her advice.
“I wanted to be brutally honest so they could see that I didn’t have anything special,” she tells PEOPLE. “Through just sheer tenacity and the ability to work my ass off, look what I was able to accomplish.”
Now, Moya-Jones is taking her entrepreneurial drive to a new industry, going from “babies to booze” and launching Saint Luna, a charcoal-filtered moonshine that she expects to do just as well as aden + anais did.
Moya-Jones’ new book, What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds, goes on sale May 7.