NAME: Bonnie Davis
COMPANY: Dylan Kain
TITLE(S): Brand Manager
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Bad ass (haha) but also ambitious, determined and creative.
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today?
I wasn’t passionate about my job, and I felt stuck being told what to do by my boss all the time. At the same time, I was looking to buy my first really nice handbag and all the ones I wanted were over $2k which was not possible a) on a designer’s wage and b) without a cashed up sugar daddy. There was nothing on the market that I liked, so I figured it was up to me to design something! I sketched up some designs, made a business plan, did some financials and asked my sister and dad if they could help out with a loan. Thankfully, they agreed!
I think it is really important people can explain their main message in a concise paragraph – if the above is the
full version - What is your elevator pitch on what you do?
I design handbags for women who are elegantly cool.
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? (If not, what did you think you would be
I had hoped I would be doing something along these lines, although I would have most likely thought I’d be designing jewellery or clothing.
What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’?
Successful in the fact that I’m happy. I love doing what I am doing - I have a loving family and I work with awesome people. However, on the career/business front I feel there’s a lot more to achieve.
What do you still want to achieve (personally and/or professionally)
To see Dylan Kain as the dominant leather goods brand in the global market, stocked in all major high-end department stores. Oh, and personally, to have a private yacht.
Did you study anything specific for the career you are in?
I started out in sales career, worked as a sales rep and then went on to study graphic design. I don’t think any of that helped prepare me to run a business – it’s a baptism of fire. I’ve learnt on the fly.
What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date?
I love having my own schedule! Grabbing a coffee in the mornings and having an excuse to buy every French Vogue that comes out or a new perfume (because it will look good in an Instagram pic!). This year we’ve already done a trip to New York, LA and Palm Springs, with another trip to NYC and Vegas lined up. The travel side of things is also one of my favourite aspects of my career!
Tell us about your workspace (Office/café/couch/aesthetic) what inspires you about your workspace?
Our studio space always has gangster rap playing, usually Drake, sometimes TLC. We love our 5pm vodka happy hours, or sometimes if we feel like it, we share a bottle of champagne. The girls I work with are all super smart, funny and beautiful inside and out, so our work environment is always fun. We work hard, but we are enjoying ourselves along the way.
What are some frustrations you have experienced on your career journey?
When I was living and working in France, I had some bad experiences dealing with some people in the industry. That taught me a lot.
When was the last time you were overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work/workload?
I really try to not let the emotion come into work anymore, it impairs my decision making too much. It has been a while that I’ve let things really get to me, but I had my fair share of tears the first few years - I think I’m all cried out! It’s just time to get on with business.
Would you say you put pressure on yourself? Has this increased or decreased as you progress in your career?
I used to put so much pressure on myself but now I just go with the flow. The best thing about getting older is having the ability to let go of negative thoughts. Now I am grateful about what I have rather than always thinking about what I don’t have.
If you are a business owner, and you often can’t just check out/ have a week off when you are dealing with personal things, how do you keep on keeping on with your business when things get tough?
Just keep going. I am so lucky to have my mum and aunty who help look after my 2 kids, taking care of the school pick-up etc. Sometimes they are away on holidays, so I’m back to juggling business and babies all at once. It means that I hang with the kids during the day and then work most of the night (I find my brain loves a 2am keyboard session!). It’s hard and it makes me crazy, but I still wouldn’t change a thing.
Has your career affected your personal life/relationships? If so how?
My husband is so patient with me even when I’ve lost my cool or been a psycho bitch after two nights of no sleep. I’m still surprised that I haven't pushed him over the edge, poor guy.
Has your journey at times felt lonely? How?
The first 4 years of running the business – definitely. I was doing everything by myself.
What causes you anxiety/sleepless nights?
Nothing anymore, I’m so exhausted I pass out! But I used to have terrible insomnia. At the time we were living in France and during the day I would be looking after my daughter/trying to function in a country where I didn't speak the language. At night, I would be up sending emails, working with suppliers, designing and planning shoots. The lack of sleep and the stress was not great, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get things done.
If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently?
Just to absorb as much as possible from past jobs to take into the future. If you are currently working in a job you hate, doesn’t matter - watch how different facets of the business works and use it.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
Chill. The. Fuck. Out.
And just to know that the best things aren’t instantly good, it takes time and energy to learn. Don’t expect to be the best straight up, work for it and good things will come.
Who are some women in business you admire & why?
Any woman giving it a go. Women like Lucy Folk, or The Realisation Par girls, they are all doing it their own way. I’m impressed with women who have created the full package - the full brand experience. I think the above women are all very successful at doing that.
What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with?
My best friend Hannah is the first person I employed as soon as I could afford it. She is organised, gorgeous, hilarious and humble. I think that is one of the best things about creating your own business - you get to choose who you will be spending each day with.
My Dad is also inspiring in the sense that if he comes across a problem, he will think about it, study it and not be afraid to ask others for advice. Because of this, he always does a great job at getting tasks done. I think that is a super cool personality trait to have.
Work life balance; does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it?
Not really. I find myself feeling so guilty sometimes. Like when my daughter asks me a question and I am so busy focusing on work that she has to repeat the question ten times before I get back to her. I just hope she doesn’t hate me for it one day, but can appreciate what I was trying to do.
Have you ever thought about giving up / quitting? If so, does that feeling hit from the same triggers? Why
haven’t you quit?
I definitely have. I think that you get to a certain point where you realise it would almost be more work to quit, than it would be to keep going.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
That a designer spends all day designing. I think I probably only spend one or two days a month fully committed to designing.
What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry?
Take it easy, set everything up properly and enjoy yourself.
If you knew what you know now, about how much work was involved to get you to where you are now, would you do it again or do something different, if so, what?
I might have changed the timing. I started this business when I was working, then I fell pregnant, renovated a house, sold it, moved countries, fell pregnant again, had a baby while living overseas, all the trying to run Dylan Kain. I just had to get on with it.
I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be?
No legacy. I just want to have a good time!
The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important/(why did you want to be involved in this interview)?
It’s inspiring to see how others have achieved what they have and it’s nice to know that it’s not easy for anyone - look at Richard Branson, or even Samantha Wills. It takes time, patience, failure and determination.
What are some of your favourite quotes?
To be honest, I’m not one for inspiring quotes. I don’t waste my time with them, I just get on with reality!
What woman would you like to nominate to be featured for a profile on the SW Foundation, and why?
Quentin Jones, I think she’s super interesting and creative. And Lucy Folk.