Last summer Regan decided to launch her own brand that, if it hasn't already, would make her dad proud.
Take us back to you as a kid. I grew up on a farm in small town northwest Iowa. As a little girl, I never liked playing with dolls; I was always doing crafts or playing outside on our farm. I went to a small school and graduated with a class of 18 people. Yeah, that's not a typo. During my freshman year of high school, I realized graphic design was my thing. Throughout the rest of high school, I spent time focusing on taking as many design and business classes as I could. My dad is the hardest worker I know, so I learned from an early age the value that hard work brings.
Walk us through the days leading up to starting your own thing. I started doing some freelance design here and there when I was still in high school such as designing graduation invitations and Christmas cards. I continued growing my freelance business throughout college and then finally last summer I decided it was time to launch my brand, Doe A Deer. I attended Grand View University, and there is this old hardware store on the corner near the Grand View campus. One day when I was walking by it, I saw this jackalope painted on the door. This sparked my idea for Doe A Deer!
I get a lot of questions about the name “Doe A Deer” and my logo mark. There’s a lot of things that go into it, but the quick explanation is: my last name is DOEly, my favorite animal is a bunny and my husband’s favorite animal is a deer – hence the jackalope-, a doe is both a female deer and a female bunny and the Sound of Music cheers me up when I’m having a bad day “Doe A Deer, a female deer…”.
"My dad is the hardest worker I know, so I learned from an early age the value that hard work brings."
What have been the challenges? Who and what has helped? One thing I really try to focus on is making things as inexpensive and economical as I can for my clients/customers. Finding vendors/printers to work with that can help me make that happen is always a bit of an ongoing struggle. I’ve learned that doing your research and testing things out is the best way to grow and make connections. I’ve convinced myself that designing a new product and making it a reality is all part of the experience. If it isn’t a success, then oh well at least I tried! It’s all about growing and learning as a designer and an entrepreneur.
Balancing work and life is also a bit of a challenge. I work as a graphic designer for a financial services business, TMG, as my day job, so at night and over my lunch hour is when the Doe A Deer magic occurs. It’s sometimes hard trying to juggle both and still make time to relax and spend time with my husband, family and friends. Getting burnt out is a common occurrence for creatives, so I try to set aside nights to just lay on the couch and watch Law and Order SVU with a glass of wine in hand.
Talk to us about one of your good days this week. Well this week has been filled with putting in orders to restock my inventory. On Monday, I met with a new retailer who is carrying Doe A Deer products which always makes me SO excited! It’s such a dream come true that people actually want my products in their stores.
"Doing your research and testing things out is the best way to grow and make connections."
Someone is starting a project for the first time, what would you want to say to them? Come up with a plan, but don’t spend too much time on the planning part; just dive right in. I truly believe the only way to learn is through trial and error and experiences. Also, reach out to other people you admire and ask for advice. I know that is super scary, but I recently reached out to a couple Etsy sellers whom I really admire and was so surprised with the warm response I received. I’ve learned that a lot of people are just like me, and figuring things out as they go.
Why Des Moines? Well my husband is a small-town Iowan for life, and I love city life. The Des Moines area was our compromise. We both grew up in small towns in northwest Iowa and concluded that we want that kind of environment for our children someday, so we actually live in Stuart. I lived in Des Moines for four years in college and fell in love with this amazing city. I’m so glad that I get to work in Des Moines every day and grow my connection with this awesome place.
Convince someone new to DSM your favorite place to go on your day off. A day off in Des Moines always starts with coffee. My current favorite is an iced latte from 5 Borough Bagels in West Des Moines – I loooove that place. My other favorites are the Downtown Farmers Market, walking around the East Village and Valley Junction and going to the cute antique/junk stores. I also love exploring the small-town vintage stores around the Des Moines area; there are SO many good ones. My current favorite restaurant is Bubba, seriously their Pimento Mac ‘n Cheese is to die for. Do all those things, and you’re sure to have an amazing day.
The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why? All of the local shops/restaurants and their owners. These people are seriously amazing. They work their butts off, and I feel like so many people overlook all of the awesome small businesses here in DSM and just head to the mall. SHOP LOCAL!
"So many people overlook all of the awesome small businesses here in DSM and just head to the mall."
What are you most proud of and why? I’m really proud of how far Doe A Deer has come since I launched last summer. Doe a Deer products are currently being sold in six stores and also on Etsy, but there’s definitely still work to be done! It’s so exciting to see hard work and dedication pay off.
What’s one thing people need to know you really care about? I really care about each and every person I have the pleasure of designing for. I want my clients to feel as much of an emotional connection to the finished product as I do. Whether it’s the awesome store owners I’m having the pleasure of building relationships with or a bride whose wedding invitations I’m designing, it’s seriously making my dreams come true. I LOVE designing and providing quality products to people.