In the midst of writing Part I, the wheels in my head started spinning with practical tips I could share with you if find yourself dreaming of starting a new biz or moving to the next level with your current one. Lots of specifics crossed my mind, but as I though of nuggets that would hold true across any industry, there were 2 major things that stood out to me.

Can it really be that simple--only two things??
Yup, it is.

I don't care what industry you're in, or how old you are, if you're looking to launch a new business there are really only 2 things you're really going to need in abundance.

pic via Angela Murry Morris 

Confidence & Faith.

Everyone thinks money is the holy grail--and don't get me wrong, it helps A LOT--but here's the thing:  there are many a problem that an abundance of money can't solve.
A fool-proof business plan? A dream business partner? A can't-fail marketing strategy?
All fine & dandy, but none of these things can take the place of good ol' confidence & faith.

Confidence: There's a video that's been floating around the web for years now, and it features a curly haired little girl dancing on top of a vanity in the bathroom mirror full of gratitude for every little thing & telling herself how wonderful she is (see it here).  It's a great video...all of us really should wake up reminding ourselves of our utter wonderfulness everyday. But the reality is that you're gonna have those days where you wonder if you're good enough.
If your work is solid. 
If people like you OR your business. 
If you're doing the right thing. 
If anyone is reading what you wrote. 
Maybe even if you're a fool for choosing your career path.
(yes, sometimes on this road you'll be really unkind to yourself, too)

pic via Christina Wedge for DRD

The confidence you'll need to develop isn't for those fantastic days when you'll feel like Olivia Pope, walking across the White House lawn in 6" stilettos, taking names & solving the crises of the world in 45 minutes. It's actually for those OTHER days....when you think that your parents (partner/friend/teacher/etc) might have been right and maybe you should go get a "real job" instead of trying to make your dream work.
When it seems like your endeavor isn't a novel idea after all.
When you feel all lost, overwhelmed and unsure about which way to go...so you kinda just want to give up instead.

The truth is, no one is really gonna be able to pull you out of those shitty spots but you.
Being successful in business really means finding your voice and expressing it, but you can't do that without a shot of confidence...because in being you & expressing your unique voice, there will inevitably be something you'll want to say or do one day that will go against the grain. And the main thing you need to go against the grain is, you guessed it--confidence.
(or as I like to say "balls"--even though my mom hates when I say that)

Faith: Although I believe in God, I'm not saying you have to. What I am saying is this:
 you need to be very clear about your fundamental belief on how you think the world works...and if it's not a positive set of beliefs, you might as well stop now. Because trust me--as you move & grow in your business, you'll come across enough reasons to doubt yourself or think something isn't possible without adding a negative world view into the mix. I believe that the circle you create/world you live in is merely a reflection of what you believe about other people and the world as a whole, so if you're one of those conspiracy theory/everyone-is-out-to-get-me/no-one-is-ever-on-my-side/nothing-ever-works-out-for-me kinda people, please let me help you save your hard earned dollars--just stop, now. Do not try to start a business unless you're selling said conspiracy theory (in that case, it's a perfect fit!)--you're better off finding something else to spend your money on.
Because there WILL be late nights of "why??" and early mornings of "how??" and if you don't have a fundamental world view (or belief in God) that says something like "good will always triumph" or "I'll never miss anything that is truly for me" or "the Universe is always conspiring in my favor", then chiiiile...you are gonna have a tough time. Because it's never "if" those days come but "when" they come. And when they do, you need to have something to stand on that keeps you moving forward when you're doubting yourself and it's too dark to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 
So develop a belief system that supports you and I promise...you'll find yourself supported.
When people talk about how much being an entrepreneur has changed them, I think this is really what they're talking about. That no matter the industry, what changes who you are the most is going through each of these phases & uncovering that thing that we all have deep inside to push us forward to the other end--at least I know this is what I mean.
Each time you beat back your doubts, you win.
Each time you take a chance on your intuition and see that it was right, you get stronger.
Each time you remind yourself that "no matter what it looks like right now, all is well", you grow.
Each time you go against your gut, get burned but keep moving anyhow...you STILL win .

And this is how being a business owner can change the very core of who you are.
You might not always get it right, your idea may not make a gazillion dollars, you might stick your foot in your mouth more times than you'd care to, and you may never become a commercial success (whatever that means to you), BUT...if you can just believe that you're on the right path and have some faith that everything is ultimately working out for your good in spite of the details, you can always rest assured of one thing.

You'll end up winning anyhow.

(And PS--if you have a husband/girlfriend/lover/partner that isn't supportive of your dreams, you need to exit stage left IMMEDIATELY...and you probably don't need me to tell you this. Going this road is hard enough without the support of your intimate circle. If you're in bed with someone who doesn't support you...you should think about what you're really telling yourself about what you deserve).




I can't believe that this November marked 4 years in business for me.

When I first launched Dayka Robinson Designs in 2010, every tiny step seemed like a massive leap of faith. Major.
I look back & laugh now, because it's so easy to see in hindsight, how all of those little steps were examples of my floor becoming my ceiling.
Yet still, I remember being down at the county office filling out the required paperwork and turning my payment in, feeling like a fraud because I didn't know if I had the correct forms, the right dollar amount, or really, just what I was going to do when I left that office. I secretly wondered if someone was going to jump from behind that plexiglass window, call my bluff right there in that waiting room & blow my cover...'cause I wasn't really sure how to proceed with this business of mine. It all seemed so overwhelming at the time, and yet I still remember how I felt when I walked out of that that office--like a bonafide business owner. 

There's no doubt about it--business ownership has been one of the hardest and most incredibly rewarding experiences of my life. 
In the early days, every little step was a walk in the dark--though a tentative one--because I was never 100% sure if what I was doing was right. 
That feeling stayed with me for several years and it's only been since last year--in all honesty--that I was really able to identify exactly what that feeling was--that I was waiting for permission.
To build my business.
To share my ideas.
To be great.
Patrick Heagney for The Atlantan 

If I could share any advice on starting a business it would be this: don't worry about what you don't know...because if you do, it will overwhelm you.
The truth is, there is gonna be a lot you don't know--A LOT--but the most important exercise is putting one foot in front of the other, every single day. There are 1,001 business books on the market giving you the so-called "insider scoop" on how to make your endeavor a success, but there really is no one correct formula...every approach has to be tailored for the clientele the business serves and the owner who gives it life. You can have 2 people in the same field--especially a creative field--and I can assure you, they will run business their business in two totally different ways.
And not only is this okay, but it's what you should endeavor to do--make your business stand out by keeping YOU at the center of your passions.

As I see it, the biggest challenge in entrepreneurship is to stay focused on what you know intuitively.
And if you're clear about your why, it will be so much easier.

Want to know all of my secrets??
Well here's a tip: you won't have to look far, because my whole journey is detailed on this blog. And I don't mean all of the specifics, but if you start from the beginning, you can see pretty clearly how I built my business.
I don't edit my old blog content on purpose, because it's important to me that the people who WANT to know how I started can see all of the turns my business has taken. When I started this blog back in 2009, my first post wasn't even about design, it was about whether or not I should relax my hair (omg)!! I tell anyone who inquires about my path that this business has grown very organically...and looking back, I never would've been able to connect all of the dots that have brought me to this point...not in a million years. If you've followed me from the beginning you know that I used to do a ton of DIY projects and furniture refinishing...but as I've gained more experience and broadened my horizons, I've moved away from what I was SURE I'd be doing all of my career towards a niche that encompasses all of who I am...not just as a designer or a business owner, but most importantly, as a woman as well.

My intent is to help you live your home AND your life by design and not by default.

Did I start out that way?
Not at all.
Do I wish I had?
Here's my truth: it probably would've made for a more seamless blog with hundreds of thousands of readers, exciting sponsorships and new opportunities (well, more than the ones I've had) but the path I took speaks to my most important values--transparency & authenticity--and I'm happy that I can share that with all of you.
I've been flexible enough to remain open to the possibilities & turns that my life/interests have taken and in that way, my blog has been like a glimpse into my life. I'm a very different person now than who I was when I first started this blog. And I love that I've had this blog here to archive and detail some of that progression.

Through it all, I've just continued to keep moving forward, one step at a time. 

In 4 short years I've:

Started a business
Launched a website
Redesigned my blog
Redesigned my website
Had my work published in a coffee table book
Had my work published in 2 national magazines
Been featured in every major local Atlanta lifestyle magazine (Atlanta, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles)
One of 20 designers selected to participate in the 2013 Cathedral Antiques Inspiration House (show house)
Recognized on HGTV.com's Front Door as one of Atlanta's Best Interior Designers
Featured twice in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC)
Featured on West Elm blog
Named to the Hot List by The Atlantan as an up & coming designer to watch
Started a non-profit for designers to collaborate & makeover shelters in the Atlanta area
Participated in & managed the redesign of 3 homeless/temporary housing projects in 2 years
Named to the 2014 15 Under 40 list for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles
Selected to design a vignette for the 2014 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
2013 Decor Judge for Taste of Atlanta
Design Assistant on TBS' Movie & A Makeover
Project Designer for Flynnside Out Productions
Featured on Design Sponge
Style Spotlight on Style Blueprint Atlanta
Styled national ad campaigns for HGTV's 2013 & 2014 outdoor & indoor furniture lines plus gardening accessories
Requested panelist for AmericasMart Seminars
Featured speaker for 2013 Winter Market at AmericasMart
Asked to speak at a local high school for career day
Filmed a 2 news segments with the local NBC affiliate
Partnered with national brands including Home Depot, FLOR, Sherwin Williams, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, WallpaperPlus, HomeRite
Styled editorial photo shoots for Atlanta magazine & Jezebel
Helped countless clients improve their lives through the power of great design.
Producing my first design video (Flynnside Out) in less than 2 weeks!

In the midst of that I've also:
Left an 8 year relationship
Lost 37 pounds
Developed an autoimmune disease
Started & ended a business
Lost my grandmother
Tackled some major financial hurdles
Gained a few fantastic new friends
Rediscovered some incredible old friends
Wrestled with some really tough decisions
Uncovered more of myself

Mali Azima for AHL

It hasn't always been easy and the path isn't always clear.
Every step of growth means I'm simultaneously outgrowing something else, and I've had to get very very comfortable with change--that's the nature of being an entrepreneur, especially in a creative field. There have been times when I didn't know how I was going to make it and hear my heart when I say this--I can surely tell you a thing or two about rubbing 2 quarters together!!
But through it all, I've kept on going. And because of that one commitment to myself, I now have a life (and a business) that I never ever imagined I'd have when I graduated from college so many years ago.
So as I celebrate my 4th anniversary, I encourage you to honor whatever whisper is keeping you up at night. If you want to start a business, start today. Yes, it's scary and you'll feel like everyone is watching you and you might not be sure how to do everything and you may not even be sure your idea is going to work but here's one thing I know--it will never work if you don't at least try.
Your future self is waiting on you. 

(If you STILL want to read more, you're in luck...Part II of my reflections will post on Friday!)



This past year, my work with Flynnside Out Productions as a Project Designer has had me dividing my time between my personal residential/commercial clients for DRD and designing/project managing various projects for FSO, the brainchild production company of Interior Designer Brian Patrick Flynn.

Flynnside Out is a full-service production company specializing in lifestyle related content, and some of the major projects we do each year include the production of HGTV.com's Spring House and Holiday House, both of which are entire home makeovers packed with tons of tips, projects & design ideas to inspire you to live stylishly throughout the seasons.

Most of this summer was all about creating Holiday House 2014, and I have to tell you...
I worked my ass off. 

Imagine making Christmas merry in the sweltering Atlanta heat & humidity, smack dab in the middle of July--trimming the Christmas tree, lighting fires in the fireplace and making gift baskets & making tasty cold weather holiday treats while simultaneously trying to make sure you don't have a heatstroke because the A/C is struggling to compete with the heat which is streaming inside because the doors need to be open for maximum light exposure. 


Boozy Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate
That, in a nutshell, is how you tackle a project like this in the off-season. 

The upside of all of this toiling, of course, is that YOU get to see the fruits of our labor--visually stunning interiors and very cool projects to up the Christmas & holiday ante in your own home. With picture galleries, recipes, easy DIYs plus beautiful room tours & video how-tos, EVERYTHING you need to banish seasonal bah humbug is right at your little fingertips. 

If I was a betting woman, I'd bet that one of the best things you could probably do for yourself today would be to hop on over to HGTV.com (here) to see this rest of the project....I can assure you, you will be blown away and encouraged to create a little holiday cheer in your own place.
So proud of our team! 



Thanksgiving 2014 was so good that I didn't step one foot outside of my house for 2 whole days after!!
 I didn't even post any pics on Instagram until today.

All of my guests showed up with delicious contributions in-hand and we ate and talked and laughed and played games and I thought for a moment, "I should really be posting photos of all of this on Instagram...", but every time I got ready to, it seemed silly to stop living my life to share the documentation of my life....so I didn't. I just stayed present with my people and figured I'd leave the rest to this week.

Guess who got braces?!!

Engrossed in Taboo

As much as I love Christmas, I have to say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.
I have so much to be grateful for this year.
After coming off of a very recent health scare, I am grateful that I can say that I'm healthy...nothing is more important than this. 
I'm grateful for a career that I love and jobs and clients that I like & projects that excite me. 
I'm grateful for my family--people who are smart, very witty, and all around awesome.
I'm grateful that I've been able to see all of my best friends this year which is no small feat, considering that they're each spread out to the corners of this country.
I'm grateful to be 35...and that I love being 35! I saw an episode of the Kardashians over the weekend where Khloe was turning 30 and sad about not being where she thought she would be. It made me laugh because on this side I know how, if you give it time, it can be so much better than you anticipate.
I'm grateful for my faith. It has carried me through, changed me & keeps me expecting the best.
I'm grateful for financial stability.
I'm grateful for my big, audacious dreams that have me excited to work & keep me up at night. I have big, big plans, y'all.
And I'm grateful for the people who joined me last week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday...truly, good friends make life worth living.

As I love to say, my cup runneth over....and I hope yours did/does too.



Wishing you all of the love
good food
and most of all--gratitude--that your heart can hold today. 

Happy Thanksgiving. 




I'm hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year...and I'm super excited to share my favorite holiday with the people that I love being around! 

As my life has shifted and I've started focusing more on living with intention, I noticed that entertaining at home is higher up on my list than I've realized before. I love & value my intimate friendships and my long distance best friends know best--I love nothing more than to lay across their beds and just be with them.  
Look in their closets. 
Ride with them to the grocery store. 
 Immerse myself in their daily routines.
And just be.
All all of the things only best friends can do in the quiet comfort of their relationships.
So once I realized that I've really been missing out in that department, this self-proclaimed "Introverted Extrovert" has vowed to do more going forward. 
Which brings us to Thursday. 

I'm hosting 11 friends for dinner--about 8 for the sit-down portion, and then a few others will join later in the evening for dessert. So I've gone back and forth about whether to follow my normal "diet" and do a Paleo meal, or if I should satisfy the masses and go the SAD route (Standard American Diet--clink the link for more details). 

since I'm hosting I think it only makes sense that I stick to what I would normally do and in the process, introduce some of my friends who are not that familiar with Paleo, to a new way of eating. And the great thing about eating Paleo is...most people don't even realize they're doing it until I tell them! There's not THAT much that's different from my old Thanksgiving menu, since many dishes can be Paleo-fied. I'm cooking all of the main dishes & desserts, then having my guests fill in with sides and/or apps. For the people who are bringing dishes--no, I'm not asking them to adhere to my lifestyle...I think that would be a little unfair. I want everyone to enjoy themselves, eat well, and be exposed to something that they may not have otherwise had. So based on what the others are bringing, we'll be doing an 80/20 Paleo Thanksgiving menu. 

Here's what I'm having:

(I don't have the exact recipe for this..I kind of wing it, but see the link for the basic sauce, then add herbs to taste. So good)

(this recipe is in the first Against All Grains cookbook so it's not online. Click the link for a Parnip/Turnip Puree that's just as good!)
Deviled Eggs (brought by guest)
Dressing (brought by guest)
Pork BBQ Ribs (brought by guest)
Mango & Kale salad (brought by guest)
Quiche (brought by guest
Rolls (brought by guest) 

Sweet Potato Pie (brought by guest)

And to wash it all down??

I'm always so concerned about having enough food for everyone but in this case...I think I'm pretty much covered in that area.  I try to make Paleo do-able for my lifestyle (and tastebuds), which means that I'm not extremely hard on myself if I don't follow it to the letter....I'm okay with leaving some wiggle room for special occasions like holidays.  In this case, that Pizookie is so AMAZING you'd never know it's Paleo, and as an added bonus...I won't have to worry about killing my stomach in the process of making sweet love to that deliciously decadent, warm cookie & ice cream. 
A definitive win-win. 

If you have any questions about my menu OR the Paleo lifestyle, feel free to ask me below! 
The Thanksgiving countdown is officially on....

images: here, here, here, here
Related Posts with Thumbnails