Entrepreneurial Life: From Utah to London

In Business, Work-Life by Dani RichesonLeave a Comment

Owning the U.K. based SMART Travel Accessories Brand was not something I would have imagined happening, and given the circumstances of where I grew up and where I live now, others might agree how unlikely the situation is. Regardless, I get to call myself, Dani Richeson, Co-Founder, Product Designer, & Brand Director at FYB® London. While I am forever grateful for the opportunity to co-own an international brand, managing it from a sleepy city in Utah has required a high level of resilience, perseverance, and the ability to self-motivate.

Coming from the humble beginnings of a town in Southern Utah with a population of just 200 people, I was used to my world is small. Our nearest neighbours were miles away, and I didn’t have TV, cell phones, or internet to keep myself entertained. Rather than using electronics, I had to be creative to fill the time. Little did I realize, the isolation that fed my creativity would serve as the foundation for much more than childhood entertainment.

At the age of fifteen, I moved with my family to Ogden, Utah which is just north of the state’s capital, and where I still live today. I had gone from small town to small city but the difference was massive to me at the time. I remember thinking I would, ‘I would never be able to learn my way around’. As the years passed I came to love Ogden and its community, and I am happy to report that I managed to learn the cities layout without too much trouble.

In the summer of 2014 at the age of twenty-five, I decided my nine-to-five job as a legal assistant wasn’t allowing me to utilize my creative skills nor providing me with the growth I craved. I began working hired helped gigs at expositions in Salt Lake City to forge more opportunities for myself. It was at an expo that I met a British fellow named Jason Lowe who was there promoting a range of anti-theft backpacks he had created and, just my luck, needed a North American Account Manager. Fast forward to December of 2016 and the launch of FYB® with me and my colleague Jason as Co-Founders. It turned out taking on the job with him served as the perfect opportunity for two minds coming together and the experience needed for the brand concept and product design.

FYB® is a travel accessories brand that integrates the latest SMART technology to create innovative products, like Luxury Handbags & Travel Totes, which include wireless phone charging, fingerprint lock security, Bluetooth® connectivity and distance alerts, and internal organization to rival a mobile office. The experience I and my colleague gained through frequent business travel led to the inspiration for these handbags and totes and helped us to identify some of the problems that entrepreneurs face when commuting and travelling.

Along with design inspiration, travel helped me to gain a better understanding of how much I genuinely appreciate my home. Utah is best known for its nature, with gorgeous mountains, beautiful lakes, and hiking trails “in your backyard”. Ogden is a hidden gem, nestled at the base of some of these magnificent mountains, and only a twenty-minute drive to a mountain lake, or thirty-minute drive to a ski resort. It is calm and quiet, and has a quirky uniqueness, and is often referred to as ‘Indie Ogden’, due to its community of artists and Indie Kid culture. It is also home to most of my family; three brothers, three sisters, and my parents. Although I haven’t started a family of my own, I frequently enjoy the company of my many nieces and nephews.

While there is much to be admired about Ogden, being an entrepreneur here comes with many challenges. In the ways of offering networking events and opportunities, there is a definite lack. I am always excited about the great news from my colleagues in London, who often update me on connecting with amazing people and attending some of the thousands of networking events that are on every week, but I sometimes feel that twinge of jealousy because I couldn’t attend as well. And in a community of predominantly nine-to-five jobs, being able to relate as an entrepreneur can be difficult. When travelling around a city like New York or London, the buzz and movement of all the people is invigorating and gives one a boost of possibilities and ‘what if’s’, but it is difficult to obtain the same feeling in Ogden.

I do have to stay focused and make sure not to waste my mornings otherwise I start to fall behind We manufacture in China who wakes up first, and always have updates and things they need from me, then the UK wakes up and my colleague will also have updates and things he needs etc.. I seek to stay as motivated as possible to keep pace and keep ahead. Staying in the right mindset has been one of the biggest challenges, and has resulted in my frequent visits to YouTube to search for motivational speeches and TEDx Talks.

Being a business owner naturally involves early mornings and late evenings, an average workday can be 15+ hours long. And of course, holidays and weekends are often used as an opportunity to catch up. Despite long hours, I choose to view work as an opportunity to learn and grow my skill set.

Manufacturing, meetings and press often require travel. Depending on what stage the business is at determines how much time I spend on airplanes. Currently, brand exposure and the press have been our priority which has not required a lot of travel, but when there is an opportunity for TV or an interview I make a last-minute dash to the airport. I have learned to be very flexible to meet business requirements and do what it takes to move the company forward.

Despite my busy schedule, I work hard to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. I am an avid gym goer and make the effort to stay in hotels that have a fitness centre and make healthy food choices when I can.

While I love all things business, travel, & health, my passion is certainly found in my creativity, where I find my flow. Many of my nights and weekends are spent writing, sketching, sewing, and painting. Cultivating these talents have helped to fuel parts of my business. I now write my own articles, produce fashion sketches for our social media pages, and am working on new designs to expand our product collection.

When starting each day, I apply a piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey, who says to “live a life of intention” (intentions; a thing intended, an aim or a plan). I am an advocate of cultivating a life of good habits, as it is the thousands of small decisions we make each day that form our lives.

I wake to my alarm early each morning and always make my bed; if you want to do the big things right, do the small things right first. Even though I work from home I get ready for the day. I dress in an outfit that, at minimum consists of jeans and a shirt, brush my teeth, and apply some makeup. It is easy to fall into the habit of staying in your pyjamas, never combing your hair, and forgetting to brush your teeth when it’s just you and the cat hanging around all day. Doing this helps me to feel good about myself, and allows me to venture out to a nearby Starbucks or café to work in if I grow tired of the isolation and monotony. Breaking up the week this way can be invigorating and reinforce that I have not lost all social skills. For some, this can be the only way to work as it sets you in a place with fewer distractions. It is far too easy to justify why you should start your day by throwing a load of laundry in or clean up the kitchen. Unfortunately, doing this can remind you of the million other chores you need to complete and can derail your focus and energy. Going back to Oprah’s lesson on intention, if you don’t intend to do chores all day I discourage starting this way.

Most days it seems like five and six p.m. can arrive too soon, and it would be easy to work straight into the night. Unless I have a project that is detrimentally time sensitive, I always change into my workout clothes and head to the gym. Having grown up with a mother who was a figure competitor (and winner), it was a must for me that I take up weight training. My gym sessions serve as an outlet and an excuse to take my eyes off the laptop. While I understand that the gym may not be a favourite place for everyone, I highly recommend physical exercise every day, the benefits certainly outweigh any negative feelings for or about it. I have found that returning to my work following a gym session can lead to better focus, and I am able to complete projects and tie up loose ends.

If my eyes aren’t shutting against my will upon completing my work day, I turn to one of my many art projects before lying down with a good book. I do my best to take time out for my art and books every day, it takes my mind off work and helps me to centre and reset myself.

My creativity is the cornerstone to my work habits. It is through creative thinking that I have found the best ways to keep myself motivated, choose positive ways to frame my outlook on life and work and keep myself focused. By taking a positive approach I maintain enthusiasm, which contributes to my level of resilience and perseverance. Focus is also an important work habit, and is detrimental to success; what you focus on tends to magnify and expand. Without the habits of creativity, self-motivation, resilience, perseverance, and strong focus I would not be where I am today.

Being an entrepreneur living in Ogden has its positives and negatives, by keeping the right perspective and cultivating a life of good habits I have learnt to navigate the extreme highs and extreme lows with ease. Through owning a business, I have surprised myself in many ways; from learning of what a problem solver I really am to the discovery of many talents I never knew I possessed. It is by finding what brings me joy and following it that has set me on this amazing journey and has let do my dedication to share the message behind my brand.

FYB® is for Follow Your Bliss which means, ‘do what makes you happy and the rest will follow’. This phrase illustrates the idea that when you do what makes you happy the right people and opportunities will arrive. Through personal experience, I have found this to be true and relevant in my life. By following my bliss, I have grown from humble beginnings to being a Co-Founder and world traveller, and having experiences, relationships, and opportunities I would never have thought possible.

Choosing the life of an entrepreneur is about the journey and who we become along the way. My advice to other entrepreneurs is to do what makes you happy, enjoy the process and everything you learn from it, appreciate the people who help you along the way and work to cultivate a life of good habits to live with intention. Good things take time, perseverance is key, and resilience is what sets you apart. And, at the end of the day as an entrepreneur working from anywhere around the world, our problems are good problems to have.

Time to meet Jason Lowe serial disrupter, multi-award winning entrepreneur and the other Founder of London based startup, FYB® London.

The beautiful Smart Handbag is available now from http://www.fyblondon.com

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