‘Almost a Miracle’
“I heard a voice say, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’’
It felt almost like a miracle to her.
“The feeling of coke left instantly – I wasn’t wanting it anymore. I rolled up my beach mat, turned around and hiked a mile that I needed to in order to get back to my car. I drove 45 minutes to the beach where I was living. And the whole time I was driving, it was as if the left side of my mind was saying, ‘This is not what is intended for your life, you shouldn’t be drinking. There is more to life,’ and the right side was saying, ‘You’re a failure, you’re a loser, you’re filthy; worse than your parents. Drive this car into the ocean.’ This was like a war inside my mind with these voices and I was literally in a trance.
And I have no idea why I chose to listen to that first voice.”
So Dani began to ask herself: What can I do? What do I need to do to get myself out this situation?
“As a cocktail waitress, I was not making enough, so I had to figure out my options.”
She needed $4,500 to be able to afford an apartment but with a small income derived mostly from tips coupled with the island’s high rents, it would take her four months to save enough money.
“I didn’t want to be homeless for another four months. Rent in Hawaii was outrageously expensive and I couldn’t afford plane tickets back to California. I knew no one. I was terrified I would be raped or beaten or kidnapped because there wasn’t any shelter. I was a kid who, between the ages of three to 16, was abused and molested. The emotions were still there. You try to push this back but when you’re homeless, it is at the forefront of your mind all the time and it was terrifying to me.”
That night she fell asleep in her car without any answers but the following day, the proverbial light bulb went off.
“I get this idea. Everything I ever owned was in the backseat of my car. And there was this weight loss program I had purchased long before I was homeless, lying in the back seat. I had used it for a week. I never paid attention to it before. And it just caught the corner of my eye in the sun. It was warped from the humidity. But it was as if this device was talking to me. I picked it up and it was as if this thing was saying, ‘I’m your answer.’ And my first thought was, ‘No, I’m not going to peddle a weight loss program! No way I’m going to do this!’
As if it was beneath me. As if it was sinking to a new depth. And you know, sometimes you have that feeling that you need to do something you don’t want to do?
I turned the box around, saw the manufacturer’s details and called them from the payphone.
I started asking them the question: What is it going to take to carry the product in Hawaii? As it turned out, it would require me to have licensing – and money, that I didn’t have.”
And this is when Dani – given her very scant means – decided to get resourceful.
“I handwrote a flyer [for the weight loss program] but I needed a phone number to advertise so people could contact me – and I didn’t have one. So I picked up the Yellow Pages in the phone booth. You know cocktail waitresses always have coins! So I looked through the Yellow Pages and called a small telecommunications company. And I chatted with this guy for some time, trying to build a relationship. I asked him what the cost of their voice mail service was.
He said to me, ‘Don’t drive all the way to pay for this. Send me a check for $15. Here’s your new number…!’
Dani, of course, was elated – down to her last quarter for that week, she got the break she needed.
“I put up the flyer at the Post Office where everyone in this town went to, and three hours later, not thinking I would get any messages – it was filled with 25 messages. I didn’t know what to do with them!
Long story short, I ended up with 40 checks, totaling $4,000 dollars from people I didn’t even know – that first month!
I called up the manufacturer with an order but they wanted a physical address to send the product and I didn’t have one. So I talked the local liquor store into letting me use their address.”
Dani made a quarter of a million dollars that first year just by selling the weight loss program, was a millionaire by the second year and went on to open up 18 weight loss centers around the country. She sold the business in 1996 – a multi-millionaire.