For our 43rd interview in the series we had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Amber Fant about her handmade vegan handbag designs; Daylin Syke. She tells us about her inspiration for her collections and what sets her handbags aside from the rest of what’s out there. Read on to find out more…
Hi Amber! Can you tell us a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I am a native Southern California girl and an only daughter. For about 7 years of my life, I grew up in a travel trailer with my parents, as my dad was travelling minister. We covered most of the south-west corner of the US from Texas to California. I was homeschooled by my mom and growing up on the road, so-to-speak, was one of the best experiences my parents could give me. I’ve been in towns where the population was in the millions and also those that numbered in the low hundreds. I have a deep love for the open road and to me, one of the most amazing sounds is the soft drum of the tires as they hit the asphalt on a quiet pre-dawn morning. I think my upbringing has given me the ability to be comfortable in a myriad of settings, in the company of many people or just myself.
Can you tell us a bit about Daylin Skye handbags and what made you start up a business?
Hahaha! This question always brings a smile to my face! The long and the short answers are that I bought an iPad and needed a way to carry it securely (as opposed to tucking it under my arm and then forgetting it was there!) The purse I carried was too small to fit the iPad and I didn’t want a bigger purse, so I decided to make a small satchel for myself. Looking back at it now I laugh because I knew nothing about sewing and it is definitely a piece only a mother could love! But it was a great mix of fabrics and my friends and co-workers started asking me to make one for them. That escalated quickly to being asked to make larger purses or messenger bags and tote bags. People wanted them for themselves or to give as gifts to their friends and family. Within a matter of months, I was sewing during all my free time. And as life would happen, in May of 2011 I left my corporate job and a few months later in July, I went full-time with Daylin Skye.
What makes Daylin Skye handbags different?
First I hope it is that I’ve created a line of bags that are beautiful and well crafted without them being leather. Second that they are not mass produced and made by me right here in Southern California.
What was your biggest challenge starting up a vegan business?
I am a handbag designer that offers vegan-friendly bags, I think I faced many of the same challenges familiar to small, handcrafted business. Running a successful business is truly so much more than making a beautiful product and collecting money for it.
What has been Daylin Skye’s biggest success to date?
Last October I broke my foot and had to have it surgically repaired. I was already feeling a bit discouraged with the lack of business growth and then because of the recovery time, I had to close my business through the end of the year. During that time I seriously considered closing down permanently. I felt I just wasn’t able to figure out how to make business happen. The added broken foot injury seemed to be the straw on the camel’s back. But somehow I was able to get my momentum going again and when I released the Spring 2016 hobo bags they were so well received. The success of that line gave me the confidence in my decision to keep designing.
Why do you think there has been such a rise in Veganism over the last few years?
I hope that it is because as a society we are more aware of the ways to live healthier, stronger and longer.
What inspires you?
People. Human beings living on this earth kindly. I don’t idolise perfection, but I find it incredibly beautiful and inspiring to witness people who live authentically.
What’s your average day like?
I am an early riser and I always get dressed first then let my fur baby out while I am brushing my teeth. Then once he is back inside I wash my face, maybe a cup of tea or coffee, and then I’m at the computer. Emails come first, then I’m checking my shop and website analytics, social media notifications, and responding as needed. I do all my own graphics and marketing and that can keep me at the computer through the early morning, then I’m in the bag making process pretty much the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, I generally sit back down at the computer for another round of emails and working on graphics. At bedtime, I wind down browsing YouTube and listening to podcasts. I love “Stuff You Should Know” and “True Crime Garage”. I usually fall asleep listening to them!
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
I am happy but since I work solo for most of my day, I forget to be social. I have to make myself get out there and talk to real-life humans!
What is the best part of your job?
That it is so fulfilling. It is a lot of work but it doesn’t feel like work!
What words do you live by?
Be kind. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard, but it is always worth it in the end.
What’s next for you?
I have the fall and winter bags in production now so all the planning and scheduling that accompany a new collection requires I stay very organised. Beyond t, at I keep going. I haven’t arrived and owning a successful business is no joke. There is a constant learning curve so thank goodness for Google!
Loved hearing about Amber and her vegan handbags, shop them here.
If you are a vegan brand, blogger or individual and are interested in being interviewed as part of our series please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images via Amber Fant.