My name is Amber Fant, I am a full-time, self-employed, handbag designer/maker/owner at Daylin Skye Designs. I get asked how I started my business and it always sort of puts a wry smile on my face. Mostly because, I don’t really care for purses. In fact, it was the fact that I don’t like carrying a purse that put this whole thing in motion.
Five years ago, I bought an iPad. Although I was working in a lucrative corporate position and could afford to pay cash for the iPad outright, I made myself raise the money because I saw it as a toy and not a need. So after selling other electronics, my bike, household decor items and anything else I told myself I didn’t need, I had the $900 to get the iPad and accessories I wanted. And with said iPad in hand, off to Starbucks I went to do my whole, hipster-haveing-coffee-while-browsing-the-internet-on-my-iPad. With coffee in one hand and iPad in the other, I stopped at to put some splenda (don’t judge) in my latte and stuck the iPad under my arm. I immediately had this vision of the iPad slipping out from under my arm and crashing to the ground. $900 out the window, bye. Shudder. I was not about to let that happen. So began my search for a way to carry it that wasn’t a purse.
After not finding any options that were “me”, I decided to make myself something. My mom had a 40 year old sewing machine… How hard could it be? All I wanted was a flat satchel that would be lightweight and I could put a long strap on it and go! And me, being me, I went to search for fabrics that weren’t the norm. I ended up buying fabric from an upholstery store and I made my bag. The bag is beautiful at first glance, but it makes me laugh now. I love to look at it and see how far I’ve come.
I mentioned the corporate job above, and while it was the best paying job I had ever had, it also had some major drawbacks. The main one being the one-way, hour-long commute. But I did what we all do, I traded part of my life for a job and I thought it was a good exchange. Yes, the commute was long, and yes I was often searching for ways not to be bored at my job, but hey, I did shop whenever I wanted, I was debt free, I was able to take off to Vegas for the weekend… so it was good right? And then my Dad was in a terrible car accident and while he was in ICU they found cancer. Everything changed. My world shifted to my Dad. For three years, we battled that hateful disease. There were good times when we would get a good report of a clean scan, but on the evening of December 17, 2010, my sweet Daddy passed away in our living room while surrounded by those he loved most. I had no clue, no idea, no understanding of how my life was about to turn upside down.
And here is where the iPad enters the picture. After making that first bag for myself, my friends and co-workers started asking if I would make one for them. Needing to express each one individually, I designed each one slightly different, using different fabrics and techniques. And that quickly escalated to requests for purses, and tote bags. Soon all my free time was spent making bags. And even though personally I didn’t like purses, I found I completely enjoyed making them. My non-existent sewing skills thankfully improved and I decided to start a business.
My search for a name led back to my Daddy. He had come up with the name Daylin as a name for my first child. My father’s name is Gary Dale Fant and the Daylin (for a girl) or Dalen (for a boy) was my Dad’s compromise for me not naming the first born, Gary Dale. (smile) And so, Daylin it was. Skye is a nod to my Dad’s favorite song, Take it to the Limit, by the Eagles. Daylin Skye Designs.
Life’s too short to not go for it
My Dad’s death was a catalyst to a lot of changes in my life. I realized life was too short to hate my commute, be under valued, and be bored. So on May 18, 2011 I resigned from my corporate job. Two months later, I officially launched my online business, and now four years later here I am. I can unreservedly tell you that I have not once regretted my decision. Although I rarely shop anymore and eating out is a thing of the past, I am also more at peace, and more fulfilled than I knew could be possible for myself. These four years have, not at one time, been easy. Not in the sense that I formerly defined that word. There is nothing smooth about owning a business and being your own full-time employee. There is nothing like those moments I have while sewing or cutting out fabric and I pause to realize that I am incredibly grateful to do what I love.
We’ll end with a few words of wisdom:
For me, one of the most important parts of being a business owner is being able to say, “No”. In the beginning with my business I received all types of requests. “Could I do this?” “Would I make that?” I learned quickly to heed that gut feeling when responding to people. I would often get requests for a custom bag that wasn’t a style I identified with. For instance, diaper bags. Not something I offer. I don’t have kids, I don’t relate with that niche. And I don’t enjoy making that style. However, when you are hard up for sales the temptation to compromise is strong! But I asked myself why would I leave a job that I didn’t enjoy (and paid a hell of a lot more) to start a business (that wasn’t profitable yet) and do something that drained me? For me it was that clear, and I learned to say, “No”. Being a responsible business owner requires clear boundaries. I have a framed print next to my computer that says, “No.” is a complete sentence. When I tell someone no I don’t normally offer an explanation. I’m always polite, but firm. No is not a bad word.