I'M COMING CLEAN: THE TRUTH ABOUT MY WORK.

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I’ve been hiding something I need to be honest about.

For the past 10 months I haven’t really been telling the full, unadulterated truth.

Partly because I thought I needed to ease myself into it.

Partly because I was waiting for more answers.

Mostly because it’s another turning point in my life…and turning points can feel scary.

It’s just so much easier to keep going forward when you think you know exactly what the road ahead holds.

But of course, that's some straight up bullshit 'cause

we NEVER really know about the journey ahead with absolute certainty.

And now I've come to the point where

the thought of

staying still right where I am is more uncomfortable than the thought of just saying what needs to be said.

So here's my truth:

I love interior design.

I believe the real impact of design is much deeper than beautiful drapery & rich pillows & imported rugs & handmade tiles...

but I love those aspects of it too.

I love how it feels to create spaces that make people say,

"This is exactly what I wanted, I just didn't know how to tell you."

I love that I've made a space for myself out of thin air. I didn't fill someone's job description and what I'm doing--

who I am + HOW I'm doing it

-

-didn't exist until I was born.

I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Hear me again: MY BUSINESS LITERALLY DIDN'T EXIST UNTIL I CREATED IT.

I love that I've been able to make a name for myself as a designer--that

people have found value in the service I provide and that I've created work I can take pride in.

I've designed amazing things with great companies and been exposed to some opportunities that I never, ever imagined myself having.

I like design a lot. I'll even say that I love design. 

But I'm not obsessed with it. 

I don't think about the blind spots to my design approach while I'm driving around.

I don't obsessively read every design book by every famous designer that's ever been published because I don't even own most of them.

Matter of fact, I really 

couldn't 

care less.

My design magazines come in the mail and pile up for months because I don't immediately devour them to make style notebooks like I used to in the early days.

I no longer aim to fill my calendar with every 

single design event

 in Atlanta.

I don't stay 

in the know

 on all of the design blogger news and professional industry "scuttlebutt".

Something indeed, has shifted.

I like design. I even love design. But I'm just not 

there

 anymore.

I've grown.

I know without a doubt that my greatest work is 

the work that is yet ahead of me

--the work that's been waiting ever so patiently to be created. It revolves around

Personal Empowerment, Personal Responsibility, Honesty, Authenticity and specifically, the Empowerment of Women

(it's some serious work--it needs to be capitalized).

I think about it all of the time. 

I read about it all of the time.

I talk about it all of the time.

 (if you've ever had more than a 30 minute conversation with me, you can vouch for this!)

I write about it.

I post on social media about it.

I unpack it endlessly with my closest friends.

We could be talking about a combination of

your medical history, a 1964 Mustang, the weather in Istanbul & the benefits of Kale as a super green

and I promise you--somehow, someway, I will bring that conversation back to

Personal Empowerment.

It's just how my mind makes sense of the world.

Telling the truth. Owning your own shit. Self care. Making empowering decisions. Personal responsibility. THESE are the things I want to spend my life working on.

I want to speak to groups, conferences & students to remind them that Personal Power is a Personal Job.

Coach women on uncovering & staying in alignment with their deepest values.

Write books on how & the why.

Host retreats for women fostering authentic connections & empowered living.

Author articles.

And boldly explore the corners of this world both on my own & with groups of courageous women.

 Annnnnndddddd....you know what??

I want to design some beautiful spaces here & there, too.

A few super cool projects every year for

wonderful, bad ass clients with great budgets who love me, love my approach and TRUST me to do my thing.

Wait--did you expect me to say I was quitting design?? 

No--that's not exactly where I was going with this.

It's more about

being radically honest with myself AND with you.

And to serve as your personal reminder that

life WILL change...and when it does it's so much easier to go where it is taking you than to fight against it.

Nine times out of ten it will lead you to the place you most want to be anyhow, you just don't know it in this moment. 

So just relax & go with the flow.

Trust me on this.

Yes, I still want to take on some design projects, but I'm looking for

the RIGHT people

and

the RIGHT projects.

Cool projects, good budgets, funny, fun, quirky, interesting people...

the kind of folks that carry their own pixie dust and know it.

The kind I wrote about in this post.

And since I'm being so honest, let me just keep it 1000:

It takes courage to turn business away when a glance at your bank statement reminds you that the easy way out is to betray yourself & just take the money anyway.

It's one thing to 

talk

 about taking a stand for yourself & ONLY doing work you really love with people you really want to work with but....

actually doing it??

This is a completely different ballgame, my friends.

It's scary and empowering. Crazy and commendable. The kinda work that will put a bit of hair on your chest.

There's no husband, partner, or sugar daddy over here to share the load--just me by myself (and God!) doing the very best I can to make it happen. Every.single.day.

Me & my

ballsy self.

Getting clear about your values, about who you are and then living in a way that conveys 

personal integrity

 is at the very core of sharing this publicly.

Showing up for MYSELF. Making sure that

who I ACTUALLY AM and who I SAY I AM are the exact same woman.

This is some boss work, my friends, and while it may not be for everybody.....

IT IS FOR ME.

THIS IS MY JOURNEY.

So here's what I'm looking for:

If you're in need of design services--residential design, commercial design or brand -- you've got a few dollars to spend and *you're super cool, I'd love to hear from you.

It could be a small project, a big project, a production project--but it must be interesting. Let's do something bold and have fun! Y

ou should be ready & willing to hire a designer and most importantly, you should want to work with ME, specifically.

If you fit the bill, send me an email at

dayka@daykarobinsondesigns.com

or leave your info below and let's see how we can create magic together.

If you are a woman who could use a little bit of my Personal Empowerment pixie dust--who's ready to evolve to the next level but isn't quite sure how to do it, who knows you've got some blind spots & you're ready face them head on, I'd LOVE to hear from you.

I'd love to work with you and help you learn how to empower YOURSELF in a way that feels right for you.

No more stories about him.

About her.

About what happened. About why it sucked. About why the business isn't working. About why you can't do whatever it is that you know you're supposed to be doing right now.

Just you

--

right where you are, right here & right now

--

and me together, working together to move you forward into who you KNOW you're destined to be.

If I'm talking to you, please drop me a line.

Or if you're comfortable, leave your info below & I'll send you an email.

I would LOVE to work with you.

L.O.V.E. And if you're not sure that I'm talking to you, here's how to know:

if you're reading this and getting a tingle then yeah, I'm talking to you.

When you know that you know, you KNOW.

In the meantime,

thank you for your support.

For reading my words & sharing them with your friends, for hiring me to design your most intimate spaces & for always, aways ALWAYS cheering me on.

It means more than I could ever adequately express.

Trust me when I say this is only the beginning.

**

And FYI, you cannot vouch for your own cool factor--someone must have actually TOLD YOU that you were cool. Folk need to be vetted!! ;-) 

**

THE PROFESSIONAL DESIGN TOOL YOU NEED. FROM THE DESIGN EXPERT YOU LOVE.

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If you're in the design business--as a student, an aspiring designer/decorator, a newly minted entrepreneur or an established professional--then consider me your newly minted Design Fairy Godmother 'cause you're about to hit the jackpot! 

For the first time ever I've taken one of my most valuable design resources & made it available to you.My DRD Design Proposal & Terms--the on-boarding packet I use for all of my private full service design clients--is now ready for purchase & available to the public!!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS. 

WHY AWFUL CLIENTS ARE GREAT FOR YOUR BUSINESS.

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Awful clients.

The ones that want you to give them everything, at the highest quality, but then nickel & dime the budget. The ones that hire you to do a job but don't trust you to actually DO the job. The ones who won't acknowledge that they don't know what the hell they want. The I-already-know-how-this-works-because-I've done-this-before people (except that they don't know how it works) and the can-you-do-it for-cheaper? folks. Ridiculous turnaround times, unrealistic expectations, clients who think they can do your job better than you, & clients who just want to use you for your resources--these folks can quickly become an entrepreneur's worst nightmare.

Whether you're a Photographer, Graphic Designer, Personal Trainer, Copywriter, Fashion Stylist, Videographer, Baker, Producer, PR guru, Interior Designer or any other kind of creative business owner, you'll probably encounter one of these people at some point during the life of your business. Do I hope that they never--EVER--cross your path? Of course. But the reality is that they probably WILL show up along your entrepreneurial journey because they're there to teach you how to show up more fully in your business. Knowing them will raise your blood pressure, create tons of physical stress & almost make you were sitting in an office cubicle instead of crafting a career you love...but these people can be really great for your business if you can learn what they're really trying to teach you.Let me explain.

Over the course of my 5.5 years in design, I've probably had 3 clients who I'd put in the no-matter-what-happens-please-absolutely-never-ever-call-my-line-again category. Some as recently as 2015. With two of the projects there came a point where I thought, "there's not enough money you could pay me that would make this a pleasant-enough experience to continue"--too many changes to the scope, too many fluxuations in the budget & not enough trust to execute the project in a way that would make this collaborative design process fun. And for awhile I did what we normally do in these cases--complain to family & close friends about what an absolute hemorrhoid these people had become. But that quickly got old. And I knew deep down that they weren't just there to get on my nerves but that they (and my experiences with them) could teach me something, if I changed my perspective.Because all the "awful clients" are really doing is showing you where you need to "tighten up" in your biz--where you need to be more specific in your contracts, raise your prices, eliminate some services or set clearer personal & professional boundaries.

So I did. And here's what I realized: that in the beginning of my career, as a fresh & bright-eyed designer, I'd constructed an ideal client profile that consisted of something like this: Good eye.Great budget. And that was pretty much it. What I most wanted were clients with a good eye for design who'd let me execute my vision + a sufficient-enough budget ($10k & up) with which to execute said design. They should "benice", "be cool" and "be flexible". And when I found those people, I was straight up overjoyed. But now that I've had time to develop as a designer, expand my professional interests, work with a variety of clients & grow as a person (read: I've acquired some skin in the game),that short list doesn't cut it anymore.Not if I intend to continue doing work I love, for people I love working with.

Here's the invaluable insight The Awfuls have helped me realize: I'm no longer willing to settle for clients with just "good money & good style" and I can no longer focus on the traditional quantitative demographics like age, education level, marital status, family makeup & income level to identify the people I most want to work with(categories we entrepreneurs are traditionally taught to use). Instead, I've shifted to a Values-Based Client Profilewhich means I care more about WHO my clients are and what THEY value then what they're bringing to the table.TheAwfuls have schooled me on this:  My ideal/targeted clients are people with a high level of personal integrity--ones who take responsibility for their behavior. They're people who value my time as a professional & who understand that Interior Design is a professional luxury service. These people trust the process of design and understand that there's no one size fits all design approach. My ideal clients believe in the importance of self-care & view the creation of a beautiful home as an extension of their well-being. They communicate authentically, are decisive, have a great sense of humor & genuinely want to work with a designer. Do I still want them to have a stylish eye & enough of a budget to execute their wishes? Absolutely. But I don't worry about those things because they're encompassed within the values/standards I set regarding the people I want to work with. Because someone who understands that Interior Design is a professional luxury service would never belittle me or themselves by asking me to render a service for less than it's value. Someone who really wants to work with a designer will give me the freedom & trust to work my magic and create something jaw dropping for them. Someone with a high level of personal integrity is honest about their budget upfront. See what I mean?

Here's another example: If you're an "artisanal croissant maker", your client is not "anyone who can afford $2.25 for a piece of bread". It's someone who LOVES a delicious buttery & flakey croissant. Someone who will find a bakeshop they love & drive 20 minutes clear across town on a Sunday morning to read the New York Times & have a croissant because it's their "thing"--an act of self-love. It's someone who believes in the value of knowing where their food comes from. High quality butter.Locally grown ingredients. Developing relationships with the people who make their food. A person who believes that not just anyone can make "good bread".  If you're a croissant artisan or specialty bread maker, your clients are not "anybody who will buy a croissant"--you want the people who appreciate the value of the service you're providing. And if you really love what you do, you should want the same thing, too.

I'm not implying that when you encounter The Awfuls that it automatically means you need better people--that was just one of my lessons. I've also learned that if I have a misunderstanding with a client it's probably a sign that I need to update my contract & make sure the major details are in writing. And I've learned that I needed to stop giving clients discounts that they didn't ask for because giving without explaining the true value of the discount means they won't understand the value of the service they're receiving. And because of that, they will ride me bareback (not to mention that clients who want a discount should AT LEAST have the balls to ask for one).  Because I've had the ability to create my own path, I intend to work with the kind of people I genuinely want to be around. Think about these questions with regard to your biz: For whom are you making your product? How do you want your clients to interact with YOU? Who do you want them to be in their personal lives? What does investing in your product mean that they value?? I NEVER would this kind of clarity about my business & my tribe if it hadn't been for The Awfuls. When I got fed up enough & realized I never wanted to work with those kind of people again, it gave me the push to figure out the kind of people I DO want to work with, which has made all the difference. And it's also why I don't really believe in "awful clients"--I just see them as the guides who show us where we aren't in alignment with who we really are & what we really want. All they're really here to do is point you towards greater happiness....so acknowledge what you need to change & go change it. 'Cause your best work is still waiting for you.

JUNE CHALLENGE: DOING WHAT MATTERS MOST

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June is here!! We're officially halfway through 2016 and just as it happens every year, I'm looking up thinking, "Where has the time gone??!".

When January slides in it feels like 12 months--hell, even 6 months--is a loooonnngggg way away.  And then before I know it, the Atlanta weather is sticky, everyone's showing off their summer bodies & I start taking stock of what I've accomplished since the beginning of the year. I'm normally a "6 month goal check-in!" kinda gal but this year I've decided to mark this halfway point by doing something radical: I've made a personal commitment to spend the next 30 days doing the things that matter most. And just what makes this simple idea radical?? The fact that I spend a lot of time doing OTHER things that keep me "busy". I do the things I THINK I should be done (post here, create more engagement there, figure out how to monetize X, get more clients/more money, etc.) but to be honest, I don't always feel like I'm doing the RIGHT things. And in this case, the "right" things are the ones that matter to & for me BEYOND the snappy business advice....the things that speak to who I am as a person. I've been on a wheel of what feels like a lot of DOING--trying to "make" or "force" things to happen--versus just BEING, which means working according to flow and moving inRIGHT action. All of this "busy-ness" is actually counterintuitive to how I believe the world turns and how I should believe my life should work. So I figured it's time to line up with what I believe. There's nothing wrong with having a full calendar (I detest the word "busy"), but too often I think we fall victim to filling the holes just to fill the holes. Or at least I have. Like there's something wrong with silence spaces or doing the work that comes easy. The need to DO all the time makes it seem like there's one tried & true route to "success" when there's not--and by working in a way that feeds into the myth, I feel like I'm abandoning the things that really matter for what "the world" says is right. Which doesn't make sense because my beliefs are metaphysical in nature (stay with me here). So I'm calling bullshit on myself. I want to be in the flow of allowing and inspired action...and because of that,I'm taking a step back. Doing less to do more. 

 I've decided not to waste my time "checking back over my 2016 goals" or mapping out more things to do before the calendar year escapes my grasp. I know that a lot of what I really need to be doing right now is WRITING. About secrets. love. entrepreneurship. business advice. confidence. staying in your own lane. making room for God. I have a lot I want to talk about! And a lot I want to hear from YOU about! For years I've believed that being successful in business is related to how much I'm worth as evidenced by how many clients I have at any given moment & how much they're each paying me--you know, what i'm doing to make the machine run. But when I think about how I really want to be spending my days, the kind of work I really want to be doing, who I most want to work with & the kind of legacy that I most want to leave, I know it's about building a special kind of COMMUNITY. And as a result, there's always a single refrain running through my mind: Write. Write. Write. So that's what I'm committing to do this month. 6 blog posts. And that may not seem like a big deal to you but because it's the thing I think I run from the most (which is odd because it's also one of the things I want to do the most) 6 is me really pushing myself to put pen to paper over the next 30 days. To stop putting off the inspired ideas for the ones I THINK are "best" because I'm trying to force what I think is right (what the "experts" say & what other people are doing). Because what's really right for me a this moment, is to write (as much as 6 scares me). And to know that I'll meet who I need to meet, travel where I'm supposed to travel and create what I'm supposed to create but in a more meaningful way--all because I listened to my heart. 

So that's my plan for my "6 month business check-in":

focus on what matters most

. And my question for you is this:

Is there something you'd LIKE me to write about?? A question you've been wanting to ask me or something you'd like my take on?

If so, leave it in the comments below...or email me if that makes you feel more comfortable. dayka@daykarobinsondesigns.com

Happy June!

WHAT I'M READING: JANAURY 2016

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#1: I'm a traditionalist and love a good ol' fashion, paper book. I've tried reading on my iPhone/iPad but for me, there's nothing quite the same as physically holding a book in my precious hands. I love the smell & feel. I like to underline, highlight & make asterisks in my books (even the fiction--there's a method to my process!) and while I know that you can do some of that on a handheld device, I'm just not sold. When you find me reading a book you can be sure that I always have it on me--either in my purse (hence it averaging 837 pounds) or in my car. Always.

#2: I date all of my books. Whenever I'm starting a new read I write the month & year on one of the opening pages so I'll always have a record of when I first cracked it open. Dating my books also gives some additional context to all my highlighting/underlining--I can pick up a book from 3 years ago and, just by looking at my "notes", know exactly where I was at that point in my life. Which is kinda cool.

#3: I tend to read a lot and I read quickly. It's not totally uncommon for me to finish a 250-350 page book in 3 or 4 daysso when I'm really on it, I can read 3 books a month easily.  It also helps that I watch very little TV.

Alright! So here's what I read in December 2015....

  • Peace From Broken Pieces (Iyanla Vanzant): I had this book for 5 years but never seemed to be able to get all the way through it. I picked it back up sometime during the month to finish what I'd started (don't know when since I didn't date this book originally) and found it so easy to get through this time around. Some books just have to sit on the shelf until you're at a place where they speak to you and that's how this one was for me. You may know Iyanla as the the Life Coach often featured alongside Oprah and the host of the OWN Network show, Iyanla Fix My Life. This book is basically an auto-biography of Iyanla's incredible life--"part personal chronicle" & "part How to manual". I love reading about the shadows of people's lives and how they learned to navigate their minefields--especially the ones we don't often know about (reminds me how common my experiences really are). She shares so many deeply personal stories (her traumatic childhood, putting herself through law school as a single mom of 3, the unexpected death of her eldest daughter, her dangerous relationship pathologies, & her rock-bottom business moments) and all of the lessons she learned along the way--about God, love, personal responsibility and of course, "how to get peace from your broken pieces". If you're a fan of her work and her tell-it-like-it-is style, you'll love this book.
  • God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work (Regina Brett): This book is divided into 50 short lessons (4-5 pages each) each interpreted through a spiritual lens. It's not a "Christian book" nor a Bible-based book, but as the title suggests, it does have a spiritual foundation based in universal Truth.I picked this book up during my Amtrak trip when I'd arrived in LA & stumbled upon a Barnes & Noble right up the street from my hotel. I almost left it in the store because it was hardback (heavy! bulky!) but am SOOO glad I snatched it up. I love how she weaves her lessons through the lens of creating meaningful work because it's one of the foundations of how I personally work and see myself as a business woman (Lesson #1: "When You Don't Get What You Want, You Get Something Better--Experience" & Lesson #27: "Clear the Path for the Person After You"). I like business books that speak to creating what works for each individual versus following a prescribed formula, so I loved that this book reframes success in ways that align with my core beliefs about life & business. If any of these topics are of interest to you, don't miss this one (even if you're not an entrepreneur).
  • The Year of Yes (Shonda Rimes): If you're on ANY social media platforms I'm sure you've seen this book floating around the web. It was given to me as a gift for Christmas but I but I didn't start it until almost New Year's Eve so this was the last book I read in 2015 and my first book of 2016. I'll be honest--the beginning of this book was hard for me to follow because Shonda writes as a TV writer (like an episode of Grey's Anatomy!) but after I got about 50 pages in, I was hooked & finished it in 2 days! I loved this book because Shonda lets you all the way in her life and her personal challenge to commit to a year of saying "yes" to all of the things she normally shied away from. It's eye-opening to read about the more human side of the woman who "owns Thursday nights on ABC"--how uncomfortable she was in the spotlight and how she struggled with balancing her home life with her super successful work life, all while wondering if her speeches were good enough & figuring out who her real friends were. We have a tendency look at ultra successful people and make up a lot of stories about how webelieve they live & who wethink they are--but Shonda  has a thing or two to teach you. I also loved reading her observations of women in business, feminine power & "likeability". A good reminder that underneath all of the titles, money & notoriety, we're really facing the same challenges & asking the same questions.

JANUARY 2016

  • The Game of Life and How to Play It: The Complete Works (Florence Scovel Shinn): "It is done unto you as you believe."If you believe this sentiment, then you will get your ENTIRE NATURAL LIFE from this book. Florence Scovel Shinn was a New Thought spiritual teacher & metaphysical writer in the early 1900s and The Game of Life and How to Play It is her most well known book. This is really a guide on how (and why!) to train your mind to believe in the outcomes you actually WANT to happen versus focusing on what you don't what (which is what too many of us tend to do). I personally believe that we design our lives through the power of the words that we speak/thoughts we think and this book, written in 1925, lays out the secret to a successful life which is basically to guard your mind....Every.Single.Day.(thoughts like "I'm fat/broke/dumb", "There are no good men available", "Life is rough" will literally drain the life from you). The Complete Works is a compilation of 4 of her books & if you believe in the premise, I can't recommend this book enough.  I've highlighted so much in this thing that it looks like its been in my library since 1976. Buy a copy for yourself....and for a friend, too.
  • The Purpose of Power: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better (Richard J. Leider): Let me tell you something about airport bookstores--they're goldmines for books that you normally might skip over. I picked this one up during a work trip to Florida last month after getting hooked while reading a few pages to pass the time away while standing in line. This is another book about uncovering meaning & authenticity in your life/work under the premise that bringing your WHOLE self to everything you do is the only way to create true success ("...becoming aware of who you are and the choices that you are bringing to life during each day"). I love reading about stuff because, as a business owner, I find that so much of the entrepreneurial messaging is about following "this method" or "buying this program" or "recreating his/her model" when really, there are VERY few new ideas under the sun. And by "very few", I mean none. Each of us builds on something another person has done and in that way, the only way we can REALLY find success is to saturate everything we do with who we really are (even though so much of the broader messaging is about following the crowd). If you're interested in a primer on what it really means to have purpose, this is a great book to read.
  • The Courage to Be Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Emotional Strength & Self-Esteem (Sue Patton Thoele): Seriously--this should be required reading for every woman walking the face of this earth. Hands down, period (how's that for an endorsement?!). It's easy to read & talks in-depth about some of my absolute favorite topics--women's empowerment, courage and self-esteem--which are measured by the way that we behave in relationship with ourselves and how we honor our own feelings ("Why do we so easily give ourselves away by doing more than we're comfortable doing?" and "Whenever we receive unacceptable treatment in silent suffering, or whine and beg ineffectually to be treated better, we ignore our limits and permit others to invade the boundaries of our self respect."). She champions doing your own work in unveiling your underlying assumptions, speaking your mind, facing your fears, and taking responsibility for your own emotional stability--lessons that will serve all women no matter where you live or how you earn your money ("To the extent that you feel the need to mother another adult, you will also shoulder his or her responsibility. If you are carrying all of the responsibility in a relationship, why should the other person even attempt to carry his or her own?" BLOOP). There are great practical assignments in this book but even if you don't do any of them, I promise that this book will make you think differently about how you show up in the world and assess whether you're showing up as the woman you know yourself to be. Questions only you can answer!

Look out for my February post in the coming weeks and of course, I'll share the 3 books I ordered for my trip to Bali, too! Would love to hear your feedback if any of you have read one of the titles above or if you have a good one to recommend, please leave the title in the comments!

UNANSWERED PRAYERS.

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Last week I had an opportunity to speak to a group of Interior Design students in the Business Practices class at Gwinnett Technical College. This talk was extra special for me not only because it's my first of 2016, but it was only 5 short years ago that I sat in that very same classroom, trying to determine if I really had what it took to become an Interior Designer. To look up & find myself standing in front of them on Wednesday speaking about the trajectory of my career was so full circle. A reminder that I actually came to those classes with everything I needed. I had it all along.

Dayka Robinson, Gwinnett Technical College 2016-2

Dayka Robinson, Gwinnett Technical College 2016-1

I was there to talk about my career & how I use social media in my business but of course I ended up covering a wide swath of info! Talks like that are always fun because they're informal and there's a lot of interaction with people who are so passionate about creating a career they love. One of the things I shared with the students was to be mindful that throughout their journey, their goals will shift, expand and quite possibly completely change shape. What they think they want to do right now may be the exact thing they don't want to do in just a few years. And then I shared how when I was sitting in that very class, my dream was to have my own brick & mortar retail store. I wanted my own studio where I could meet with design clients and sell the vintage furniture pieces that I was custom finishing by hand. I wanted to spend my days surrounded by beautiful furniture that customers could customize to suit their own needs and taking meetings with clients in my private office. I imagined a young, diverse staff and even visualized myself running around the shop with a cordless phone attached to my hip while the sounds of T.I. played over the sound system. OMG, when I tell you I wanted that SO bad???? I tell you no lie. I even picked out the building I wanted and captured a picture of myself sitting on the steps so I could hang it on the walls when my shop opened--I had it all planned out.

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2011: Old times. Old dreams. Old weight. 

And then I started experiencing things I never imagined I'd be a part of and my prayers changed. Fast forward to today and, as I was sharing with the students, the last thing I could imagine having now is my own retail shop & refinishing furniture for resale. I'd seriously be miserable. As I drove home it made me start thinking about unanswered prayers and alllllllllllllllllllll of the things and men (oh dear God, the men!!) that I once wanted sooo bad, only to turn the corner and find myself so grateful & thankful that I didn't get what I thought I once really needed. Do you ever think about that?? All of the things that you used to hope/pray/wish for, only to get a little farther down the road and realize how grateful you are that you didn't get the very thing you'd once thought you might die without? Yikes. My life is littered with them. Being back at the school to share my story was such an honor and yet more than anything, it made me really mindful of how much is waiting for me beyond what I can currently imagine. Garth Brooks truly said it best: "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

So I'd really LOVE to hear about the some of the things you once hoped & wished for...and how glad you are that they didn't happen for you after all! Please share your unanswered prayers below! Let's chat....

(thanks for the pics, Shannon!)

DAYKA...AL ROKER...AND MY FIRST LIVE, NATIONAL TV INTERVIEW--EVER!

Deep inside, I've always known that TV was in the cards for me.
As I became more confident in my abilities & established some bigger dreams, it started to become clear that it's the next logical, progressive step along my path. 
I've been offered two opportunities in years past and received emails from a few producers requesting casting videos, but I either didn't make the final cut or it was for something I've always shied away from--a competition-style show. 
Because I've been able to get a good amount of behind-the-scenes production work under my belt, both from my days as a Design Assistant on the show Movie & A Makeover (Turner Broadcasting) and from the last few years through my work with Flynnside Out, I'm clear that my ideal situation is being in front of the camera as an expert. There are so many uncontrollable things that happen behind the scenes that the viewer never sees--budgets disappear, parameters change, etc, but all you end up seeing in the end is an ugly room--no thanks. There's nothing wrong with the competition premise in general, but also I understand my personality enough to know that it probably won't play well in those circumstances--I've been told I have a case of RBF (Resting Bitch Face), I'm often a little heavy on the sarcasm & I absolutely enjoy a raunchy comment (or two!) every now & then. In TV land, this is either a recipe for disaster or the makings of great drama...depending on who's doing the interpreting! 
So it shouldn't come as a surprise to you when I say that getting booked as a guest expert on the Wake Up With Al morning show (The Weather Channel) was right up my alley--the exact thing kind of thing I've been wanting to do. It may be a surprise to you, however, to learn that 3 minutes after the opportunity was extended to to me...I got scared, y'all!! I immediately said yes but my mind was all, "What have you done???", once I started thinking about the parameters of live tv & how there's no editing. Then all of the dreaded "what-ifs" started popping up:
What if I trip over my feet, grab the table for balance & pull it down with me??
What if I get all tongue tied as I'm speaking, can't get my words out & just go into blank zone???
   Or better yet, What if I drop my beloved F-bomb in an off-the-cuff moment??
YIKES. All very scary scenarios.
But as much as fearful dayka was saying no (little d), I had this other voice in my heart that was all, "Go girl...you know you got this!" (said in my Mom's tone), so of course there was no turning back. 
Not only because I believe we have to run towards the things we're afraid of, but also because it was true--I am/was equipped for this!!
And in the end, this first-timer couldn't have asked for a better outcome.
The thing about live TV is this--the only way for you to get better at doing live TV is to actually DO live TV....I don't think there's any other way to simulate this kind of experience. After my fantastic producer Michael discussed the parameters of the segment with me, I pitched 10 ideas and he narrowed it down to the ones he liked the best/thought were the best fit for their content (weather-related upcycle & recycle projects). I actually prepared 6 projects, we narrowed it down to 5 when I arrived Wednesday morning, and then during my segment, Al actually skipped over the recycled umbrella bag (which was fantastic, btw), so I only ended up presenting 4 of my projects which worked perfect for my 2.5 minutes. I had a bit of anxiety Monday & Tuesday morning but by the time I settled in Tuesday evening and carved out some quiet space, I was feeling confident and great...which lasted right up until we were about 15 seconds out and my stomach went all haywire. I was telling myself, "Don't you even do this shit, Dayka. Not now." and that was all I needed to pull it together--ha! All in all, my 2.5 minutes went off without a hitch (of course there are a few things I could nitpick, but I won't) and I'm pretty proud of this segment! Sam Champion--formerly of GMA and now host of his own show, AMHQ--and I were in makeup together so we had a chance to chat for a bit  which was very cool--such a great guy to be around (with a body to match!).
Totally just as warm & pleasant as you would expect. And Stephanie Abrams, his cohost, is hilarious--I can see why they make a great team. 
 I was able to stay in the studio for a bit around my segment and watching Al work is incredible...and so mind blowing to find myself in the same studio with an icon that I grew up with every morning, not only watching him do his thing in person but being interviewed by him as well!! 
I seriously wanted to pinch myself.
I can only imagine the grind of getting up at 3am daily (and having to go to bed very early, I imagine), but they both made it look effortless.
 I'm believing my skills will be much the same one day, too (and soon)!

So if you have a moment, take 2 minutes to watch my first, live national tv guest spot ever with none other than Al Roker himself. I wrote a blog post a few days ago where I mentioned just saying yes and thinking of your fear like a lion, only to get right up to it and see that it's just a tabby cat. 
This was one of those times, for sure, and it's funny to see how I wrote that just days before, not knowing that this opportunity was just around the corner.
Essentially I was talking to myself.
I was nervous, I won't lie, but when the cameras went live, your girl was ready to go.
 And now that I've got this one under my belt, I'm really excited about doing this again--I loved every minute.
http://www.weather.com/tv/shows/wake-up-with-al/video/recycling-repurposing-demo

AN 8 PAGE SPREAD IN SOUTHERN HOME...FEATURING YOURS TRULY!!

On the list of cool things that have happened to & for me since I started my business 4 years ago, this ranks up there at the very top--definitely a milestone. 
My first bit of press is out for 2015 and it's a huge deal for me--AN 8 PAGE FEATURE IN A NATIONAL MAGAZINE!!!! And I don't mean me and someone else on the same page, I mean page after page of yours truly in a story on my home here in Atlanta.

When an editor of Fresh Style magazine and its sister publication, Southern Lady, reached out back in November 2014 to profile me for this piece, my first thought was "no" because like most designers, my house isn't exactly how I want it to be. Still, I knew I'd be crazy to pass up the opportunity and got busy prepping my place for the team's arrival from Alabama. I'm used to working with my own photographers (or ones I know well) so it's rare that I don't see images before something gets published. In this case I didn't see anything with exception of the headshot pics they took of me, so I had zero idea of what to expect when it hit newsstands. When I finally found the magazine in the grocery store, I was in awe of how beautiful the photos were....and blown away by the size of the feature!

(pages aren't in order)

Seriously overjoyed!!

My house, as you can see, is done in a palette mainly consisting of black, white, brown & gold with a few pops of color, texture and pattern throughout. I really do LOVE color, but when I finally started getting around to addressing my home I found myself getting color confused (too many choices as a designer!) or the things I really obsessed over were a bit beyond what I wanted to spend, so I went with the palette of all of the things I most love to wear (which is a great place to start your design, btw!). This strategy also worked well for me because I tend to like spaces that feel warm & enveloping, so I'm a huge fan of darker colors and cozy rooms--and when I pull those blackout drapes closed in the living room, I feel like I'm in a cocoon on a planet far away.
Mission accomplished. 

Most of what you see here is vintage. The sofa & dining table are the only things that I purchased brand new almost 10 years ago...and both of them are hopefully on their way out soon! A few years back I mentioned in a blog post that I wanted the majority of the pieces in my home to be secondhand and fast forward a few years later and it's safe to say I'm around the 95% mark! The only other piece of furniture that I purchased brand new was my mattress--every other piece in my house is either from a thrift store, estate sale, yard sale or something similar, and it's all been refinished and reupholstered within an inch of its life! But I wouldn't change a thing about my choice to go that route. I pretty much love (almost) everything in here and when I DO tire of something, I have no qualms about letting it go on to its next life because my investment hasn't been outrageous. And more importantly, I know how good it feels to live with things you love. I'm grateful I can say that.

So if this is feature any indication of what 2015 will be for me, I am expecting to constantly have my mind blown this year, both personally and professionally.
And am I'm very much looking forward to every.single.bit of it.
And so it is.