June 21, 2021
Whether it’s a bride celebrating a bachelorette weekend, a new start up launching a business, an organization planning a company-wide teambuilding exercise or a non-profit seeking to raise awareness, Dream Wild Designs helps customers get noticed.
From her design studio at Farrington House on Gladstone Road, owner De’Andra Fawkes-Hield builds clients’ brand awareness by imprinting logos, names and designs on high-quality tee-shirts, tote bags and other promotional items for individuals, schools and businesses.
For someone whose job it is to create corporate swag, the former HR executive took over a decade to gain the confidence necessary to leap into fulltime entrepreneurship.
“I needed flexibility and the nine to five office hours were not for me. It felt too structured and was beginning to weigh on me,” said the married mother of two who started out in Customer Service, transitioned into Computer System Technology before working in Human Resources.
Deep down, Fawkes-Hield knew she was “meant for more.” She had always been artistic, good with her hands and was always tech-savvy. In 2017, she researched and purchased her first printing machine, something “compact and cost effective.” She remembers her very first order— t-shirts for a birthday tea party. Not long after fulfilling her first few client orders, she left her job and never looked back.
In the early days, her savings kept her afloat while word of mouth referrals slowly began to make the rounds. Impressed by her products’ utility and durability, family told friends and friends brought others to her storefront. It’s an organic growth the entrepreneur takes pride in.
“You have to possess the will to succeed in business. To make it through, I took it one day at a time. Every morning you have to get up and know within yourself this is your life-long dream, and this is what you want to do.”
Not surprisingly, COVID-19 tested her mental strength and ability to endure an unprecedented year but there were a few bright spots. Even in a pandemic, new businesses were popping up and there were corporate entities requiring her services.
Since Dream Wild Designs take orders big and small, everyone is a potential client – whether its custom embroidered golf shirts for an entrepreneur or t-shirts for a school club or outfitting an entire department with custom uniforms. There is no minimum order. Customers either bring their own print-ready images or Dream Wild Designs can create something new. Fawkes-Hield can monogram or personalize most fabrics, can print on glass, metal, wood, and most plastics. She prides herself on providing attentive customer service, expert advice and a quick turn-around time.
Presently, 50 percent of clients are repeat business and 20 percent are referrals. Walk-ins account for the remainder.
Like other businesses, economic disruption marred the past 14 months, but an opportunity also emerged. A grant from the Access Accelerator- Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) is helping the enterprise become more profitable. Just before the pandemic struck, Fawkes-Hield received funding to purchase new equipment for her growing operation. Designs can now be created using specialty software and a computer and then automatically transferred to the embroidery machine to complete the stitching of the design.
“From the age of 16, I had a goal to get into embroidery. The new machinery opens me up to bigger and better business opportunities. It’s superior technology. It allows me to do more batch printing and increase my print volume,” she explained.
“For customers, adding custom embroidery to a uniform or golf shirt makes a brand stand-out. It is a more sophisticated look that makes a statement and help differentiate you from other brands. Who wouldn’t want a walking billboard for their business?”