Linda Bryant of Destiny Darlings and I connected on a Monday morning, with her video conferencing me into her home/mobile studio, a 32 ft. camper she recently purchased. Like most entrepreneurs, her business is her life and she loves having her studio space so close to her, now having the ability to travel and take her work on the road throughout the country. Just last year alone, Linda visited 8 craft fairs and is excited about being able to attend them with her mobile studio in tow!!!
Destiny Darlings came into existence in November 2019 based off of Linda’s passion for creativity and making people happy. For years, she would make her family and friends homemade Christmas presents. One year she painted birdhouses, then jewelry boxes – it was always a combination of using wood and paint in some shape or form. Then in 2017 she found an obscure website through Pinterest from somewhere in Latin America that had a picture of what a finished popsicle stick angel looked like. This new, small project quickly turned into an addition, and soon enough she had over 200 of these angels, which she attempted to sell at craft fairs.
At the time, Linda was working for Ann Clark Cookie Cutters in Rutland. To her surprise, Ann became very excited in her business and even started painting the wings for the angels. (For those of you who don’t know Ann owns the largest cookie cutter company in the world). “Just knowing that someone like Ann would help – I was in awe of her.” With Ann’s encouragement Linda’s new business started to come to fruition.
What is her “why?”
Linda got into this out of the love of making people happy. At first she tried to market the figures to adults like a paint and sip sort of thing. She thought that putting the pixies together would be too much of a challenge for a child — but she was proven wrong. To this day, the most rewarding moments for her are when a child comes running up to her booth at a craft show with excitement and goes, “oh my gosh Mommy! I HAVE to have one of those!!!.” She’s had parents buy a kit and later show her pictures of a child putting a kit together. “The joy on the child’s face of holding up the finished product – that is so rewarding, it’s so rewarding to see how happy it makes them.” (I should mention Linda herself is beaming when telling these stories to me).
A Values-Driven Business
Sitting behind Linda is her vision board with a ton of captions–the most notable of which are her core values: trustworthiness & compassion. Whenever she must make a decision, she looks at the board and reflects on how it aligns with those values. This practice has been going on for two years. Now, trustworthiness is an obvious trait for a business owner to have, and for Linda it is reflected the quality and pricing of her work, but what about compassion? Well, for Linda, that’s what a huge part of this business is about. As a mother of three children and grandmother to five she has a lot of compassion for adults who need a break and want to give their kids a chance to do something fun other than play on an iPad. Her kits not only give parents a couple hours of rest, but the finished product is something that child can treasure or at least play with for a while.
Secondly, Linda is very compassionate about the environment and very eco-conscious. By pre-making these kits, she’s hoping to lower the environmental impact of what parents would generate in trying to attempt this on their own.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most difficult path on this journey has been getting people to take her seriously. She’s heard various iterations of “Oh, it’s just popsicle sticks. I can do that at home,” or “Oh, my kid did one of these for me one year…” It’s not that simple, as Linda describes. In order to make these at home you’d have to buy paint, glue glitter, sticks, and would be stuck with those 8oz bottles collecting dust for 10 years. Each kit comes with perfectly proportioned materials and instructions. It truly is an environmentally friendly and waste-free way of providing a project. (And as a child who frequently made craft items at home – I can attest to the materials wasting away in a long-forgotten bin until you find dried out paint and glue years down the road). In total, each kit takes about an hour to make and the mark up is hardly anything for retail, nothing for wholesale.
Part of owning a business, is that you’re presented with ups and downs. The huge upside is that you can make your own decisions without having to clear it with anyone. The greatest challenge with that is that the money coming in is inconsistent. One month she might do great, the next month there is very little or nothing. Trying to navigate that territory can be difficult. In the meantime, as many startup business owners do, Linda has a 9-12 job with Addison County Community Trust that pays the bills.
How has WBON been important to you?
Linda loves collaborating and networking. WBON gives her the opportunity to do both with amazing women business owners from all over the state – especially now with video conferencing. She loves hearing about other businesses, because even if they are nothing like her own, their experiences and knowledge are often relevant to any business. Simply put, the benefits of WBON are endless, and their involvement in public policy and advocating for women business owners’ rights particularly is important. She is also so very proud of being a woma- owned business for the obvious reason that, “It’s a man’s world and I’m sick of it!!”
What and who inspires you most?
There are three answers to that question. The first is that Linda finds divine inspiration in nature. She loves taking walks and people watching. She enjoys getting out to unwind and also finds joy in observing kids doing things with their parents. She’ll see a family with children in tow, and that really is her target market – people who take their kids outside to spend time with them. That’s so rare and unusual in this day and age that that is where she finds her truest inspiration.
Secondly, her estranged husband has been extremely important to staying inspired and motivated. Although they are no longer together, he is still a main root of support. He has always had faith in her, encouraged her, and rooted her on. They still talk about the business, and he cheerleads.
Lastly, Linda joined a group called Tizzit.co , it is a resource for owners of handmade shops that has classes, resources, and a community forum. It’s a place where handcrafters can reach out to each other and share wins, as well as hold each other accountable for business goals. Linda gets a ton of out it. As background, Linda has a MBA but thinks if she had joined before getting that, she “could have saved $100,000.” MBA’s are all about working in the corporate world, and pertain very little (or not at all) to owning a craft business.
What do you want your business to grow into?
That answer is very simple. Linda aspires to be like her mentor, Ann Clark and one day own a factory in Virginia, near the beach, that mass produces the kits. She wants to be able to take vacations, and to be the next fad like beanie babies. Not to the point that one of her kits sells for $10,000 dollars, but more in the sense that she wants them to be collectable. To get to the point where her followers say, “I have to have one of those,” when she comes up with a new design.
The idea of moving to Virginia is not based in a desire to leave Vermont. Linda has been here for 15 years and says that hands down it is the best of the 19 states she has lived in. She loves that people here don’t drive like maniacs. That there’s no forest fires, no hurricanes, no tornadoes. Vermont to her is a place where she is safe from mother nature. Plus, there are relatively few people in Vermont and that makes getting out in nature so much more peaceful. On the flipside it is difficult to sell your products in a state with so few people, and she’s ready to one day move to a warmer climate where it’s not too hot, not too cold, and where there’s a beach. (Something I think we can all relate to when it’s -20 out).
Do you feel you have arrived?
This question generates a chuckle and flat answer of “definitely not arrived.” Linda is still in the growing stages of her business. People don’t know who she is yet. She can see her path to growth very clearly, though, in her business plan and in the notable steps along the way. In her town of residence, Middlebury, one of the local stores on Main Street just started selling her products. More steps like this will help her get to where she wants to be, but take note. She will be arriving soon!
WBON members represent a diversity of industries, perspectives, and experiences. Be inspired by our Member Spotlight posts, an intimate look at one member, written by another WBON member. This month’s Member Spotlight was written by WBON member Mary Capparuccini, self-employed insurance agent for New York Life.