Dayna is the designer and owner of Dayna Lee Collection.
What is your morning routine?
As a very busy mom of three, my morning mostly belongs to my children. The focus is just getting them to school on time with breakfast in their tummies and lunch in their backpacks. My youngest daughter, who is almost two, stays home with me each day so if she naps, I work during that time but save most of my work for when they’re in bed. I make sure to post on social media each morning, and the most important part of my routine is just to enjoy a very large cup of coffee.
Tell us about your career path.
I love this question because I hope my answer reminds anyone who needs it that absolutely anything is possible…even if you don’t think you’re qualified. For ten years prior to starting my business, I worked at a college cafeteria, took Pizza Hut orders from my basement, had a home daycare, and my last job was working the drive thru of Tim Hortons just over three years ago. I was really unhappy in the service industry and felt like I pigeonholed myself doing something I didn’t have passion for. I felt stuck, worthless and depressed around the time I quit my job.
With nothing to fall back on and literally no experience in design, I started practicing fake calligraphy on paper and mugs because I thought my half-decent handwriting could pull it off. My work was nothing great and it took a while to even get my first sale, but I worked every single day on new quotes and perfecting my craft. When I realized I was writing quotes for myself about hope and changing one’s life, Dayna Lee Collection really came to life as well. I soon realized I wanted to cheer on other women to follow their dreams, like I followed my own.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
The main challenge I have is copycats, and it’s something I never would’ve thought of in the beginning. I see a lot of creatives struggling with this issue and personally, watching people take my exact artwork and illegally printing it and selling it gives me a feeling in my stomach that is indescribable. I almost always break down in tears. I thought of all things, self-doubt would be the biggest challenge when creating and running your own business. I face doubt every day, but the only reason I ever want to quit is people stealing my work. I watch the words I’ve written get away from me and am left with a feeling like I don’t have ownership of my designs nor my quotes.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
Authenticity is really important to me, and I believe the possibilities are endless when you put your heart and originality into what you do. I belong to a saturated market of home decor/stationery products designed to empower women through inspirational quotes. I do my best to stand out with pastel hues, original quotes and vulnerability. I have to believe there’s room for me here because I’m putting my heart into what I do and I genuinely want to see other women succeed and feel good about themselves.
I would also like to say please be open minded about your definition of success. When I first started my business, I thought there was a set path and certain achievements I had to cross off before I would consider myself successful. I wasn’t open to new possibilities and it wasn’t until Plan A didn’t work out for me that I gave Plan B a chance. Once I did, my business changed and evolved and has become something I could never have imagined for myself. Entrepreneurship is unpredictable and out of your control. Just enjoy the different things that come your way. When things don’t go the way you imagined, it doesn’t define you and isn’t a reflection of your talent, so don’t give up. Something even better is waiting for you.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
I’m going to be honest, I haven’t figured this out yet. My husband does shift work and a lot of the time I’m taking care of our children alone. At the same time, I can’t press pause on a business that I run on my own. I don’t have a lot of downtime or a set schedule, but I’m sure as my daughter gets older things will get easier. At this point, I’m working almost every day and balancing being a mother at the same time.
What inspires you?
Women taking a chance on themselves, getting out of their own way, believing in their abilities and following their dreams. I love watching women leap into the unknown in that moment where they finally realize they’re worthy of great happiness. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there and I know that amazing things can come out of it. But I’m just excited for them and they inspire me to keep writing quotes to let them know how amazing they are and that they always have a cheerleader.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
On or off the clock…gummy bears and a little reality television.