Great Gifts For Travel-Lovers: An Interview With Kristy Sickles of Daisy Mae Designs
Hey there, Gadabout Gal Kelly here! I’m thrilled to introduce you all to a fellow travel-lover and a true kindred spirit ~ Kristy Sickles of Daisy Mae Designs.
I first met Kristy in 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. We were both vendors at a new local made artisan shop/collective called Dames Bond Marketplace, in the Short North. I was selling my newly-launched Sugar Pie Tees and Kristy sold her map jewelry, bottle openers and wine stoppers. The first time I met her and saw her items in the shop, I was in love! Obviously, you know I’m in love with travel…and when I saw her beautiful items and the cool vintage maps she used? Wowza, unlike any other goodies I’d seen before! In my head, I immediately created a list of all the friends and relatives that I knew would love her work!
Flash forward 6 years ~ Kristy and I are still friends and her Daisy Mae Designs business has grown to include map pillows, blankets, totes, luggage tags, compacts and even custom cabinet knobs! Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Ohio Magazine and many others. She specializes in creating beautiful customized items with maps of your special place!
I recently had the pleasure to interview Kristy about her growing business and love of travel~
Kelly: What made you decide to start Daisy Mae Designs and eventually pursue it full-time?
Kristy: I grew up with a love of travel. When I was younger, we road tripped as a family everywhere. From Chicago to Glacier National Park and everywhere in-between. My sisters are a generation older so I was alone in the backseat, and the atlas occupied me like a DVD player in the backseat does for today’s kiddos. I’d get lost in where we were on the map, where we were going, and where we may go someday. I have the most fond memories of those adventures, stopping off at random places on the way to our destination. My dad was really in his happy place when we were road tripping as a family. He was eager to show me places he’d been and share it with us. My parents valued experiences over things and I was very fortunate to have the opportunities to travel so frequently.
I started making jewelry as a hobby as a creative outlet and giving pieces to friends as gifts. I realized I was on to something and opened up an Etsy shop in 2007. I soon learned that everyone has a special place, whether it's their hometown, honeymoon destination, or bucket list destination. After I started offering customization, and expanded my product line, I started seeing consistent sales. Not long after, I expanded to selling in boutiques. What started as a fun hobby eventually covered our son's daycare expenses and it grew from there.
While doing this as a side hustle, I was in a career that I truly loved. I consulted in a field I was passionate about, worked with people who became lifelong friends, and had the opportunity to travel the world. However, as our family grew, stepping away for business trips over 2-3 weeks became more challenging. Just as I hit that point, my business had grown to a point where I could step away from that career and make Daisy Mae Designs my full-time gig. That was 2 years ago last week and it's the best decision I've ever made.
It's not without it's challenges and scary moments; being a solo entrepreneur means you're responsible for everything to make that business run successfully, but I have the support of my family and friends who step in and help all the time behind-the-scenes and at events.
Kelly: What is your favorite aspect of the business?
Kristy: I love when folks share the reason behind choosing a certain map location. The stories are amazing. This last weekend at a market, a client ordered custom bracelets. Her grandmother had a house in Cape May Point, New Jersey and it's a special place for them. She ordered bracelets for the ladies in the family with a map of Cape May Point and her grandmother's initial. I think about stories like that as I make these items and it makes it so much more special.
The best compliment I can get from a client is when they give one of our items as a gift and make the recipient cry (good tears). I hope that our products help people give exceptionally personal and thoughtful gifts.
Kelly: Do you have a favorite travel destination?
Kristy: Where do I start?
My favorite overseas destination was Istanbul, Turkey. My cousin and I traveled together when we were 21 and 19, alone with no major overseas travel experience. We got the travel lessons of a lifetime getting there (flights cancelled, renting cars, staying in dodgy hotels ... all before we left the United States) but we had the experience of a lifetime traveling to Turkey. Rich culture, amazing history, great food, friendly people.
In 2014, I traveled with my parents to Amsterdam and Berlin. My dad had lived in The Netherlands for work before I was born and he wanted to show me all the places that were important to him. He's been in declining health the last several years, so that trip was really important to me.
My career before Daisy Mae Designs involved a lot of travel. For one client, I had the opportunity to travel from the US to Taiwan, Japan, France, and Germany all in the same trip. Literally around the world. While I didn't get a ton of personal time for sightseeing (but believe me, I made the most of the 6 hours of sightseeing time I had in Paris and Taipei!), I got a great feel for each of the cultures and I can't wait to visit those places for fun with my family.
My hubby and I didn't grow up going to beach destinations so we both assumed we weren't beach people. We were wrong. Friends of ours convinced us to travel to South Carolina and we loved it so much, we've tried to visit a beach location each summer right before our son goes back to school in the fall. We leave soon for Isle of Palms outside of Charleston. It's our happy place - the perfect combination of relaxed beach time, but close to Charleston for history, architecture tours, and good food.
Kelly: What destinations are on your travel bucket list and why?
Kristy: It changes all the time, but here's where my head's at currently:
We purchased a travel trailer last year and we've had a blast slowing down and enjoying the outdoors frequently as a family. Our destinations have been pretty limited to the surrounding states, but my bucket list with the travel trailer is to take several weeks and head out West, hitting the major national parks and taking our time.
I can't wait to travel to Europe with my hubby and son. We hope to take our son before he graduates high school. Many dinner conversations revolve around where we'd visit, but the UK, Germany, and Italy are among the likely candidates.
Kelly: Where can people go to find out more about (and purchase) your designs?
Kristy: Our full collection is online at daisymaedesigns.net
A list of our retail partners is available at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ksickles#about
TIP: Some of my favorite Daisy Mae items are her fun pillows and her new map throw blanket (I also love her jewelry and often give them as special gifts to friends and relatives). Honestly, everything Kristy creates is truly special and fabulous. For all of you travel-lovers like me, definitely check out her Etsy site and various social media platforms, I know you will fall in love with her work, just like I did!