Meet our Founder - VoyageHouston Magazine
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Davis-Toliver.
Jennifer, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
How I got started… the truth is I got started because no one wanted to hire me. Let’s go back so that I can explain why. I dropped out of college to pursue modeling in 2008, traveled to Paris, London, New York, landed an anniversary magazine cover here in town with JMG Magazine things were going great. Then I quit modeling, I was tired of only being seen as a pretty face. In 2010, I decided to re-enroll and chose to attend Houston Baptist University to pursue a career as a sports reporter. In 2011, I landed a co-hosting gig with an up and coming tv station called Mi-Casa Broadcasting. Our show was called Latina Spice. My Puerto Rican heritage was a huge part in the reason I was able to secure a spot on the show. We were 4 Latina women, in different stages of life, able to speak both English and Spanish about life, politics, and family while teaching viewers certain things about our culture.
Throughout that time, I was also bartending my way through school. Latina Spice wasn’t a paid gig, however, I need money to survive. Being a bartender allowed me to have a short but profitable schedule, maintain my grades and co-host. Latina Spice ended, I graduated college and decided to head into the corporate world. I no longer wanted to be a sports reporter because I didn’t want to chase boys, men or coaches around for interviews. I realized (a little late in the game) that it wasn’t for me.
With no experience in the corporate world, I went on interview after interview, put out my resume over a 100 times a week. Nothing. So I kept bartending. That continued for four years. By the time I hit 28, I was frustrated and confused. Being rejected every single Monday morning took a toll on me. I was rejected for jobs like flight attendant, secretary, administrative assistant, communications, I mean you name it I applied and was rejected. So in 2016, I decided to pursue my Masters in Finance. I graduated with a 4.0 in 2 years. Went back to the job hunt to literally find nothing.
By this time, I was married, living between North Miami Beach, FL and Hamilton Ontario (45 min east of Southeast Toronto) due to my husband’s career. Eventually, I became sick and tired of not having my independence. You see I had had a job since I was 15, my license since I was 15, making my own money since I was 15. Getting married and being dependent wasn’t my ideal life. I’m grateful for my husband but I wanted to support us as well, I wanted my identity, I wanted big things for my life. ONLY being somebodies wife wasn’t it. I needed JEN to flourish. I always knew I wanted to be my own boss. My father had raised me to be my own boss, always warning me that I wouldn’t want to work for anyone or follow anyone else’s rules. He also said that I would want to be free to do life as I pleased and entrepreneurship would be my way of doing it.
During my last stint in Hamilton, (which at the time neither my husband nor I knew it would be) I had decided to get some air and sit at a Starbucks while having a latte and journaling, I noticed the amount of women entering the coffee hub with infants and young toddlers. Sip after sip, one mom turned into three, turned into four, five and so on. In my five hours of observation, I saw at LEAST 15 NEW moms. One mom sat down, pulled a notebook out of her diaper bag and started to write and sip, the baby became fussy and it was time for her nurse. She was alone, so she packed up all of her belongings into her stroller and rushed her crying baby into the ladies restroom.
Immediately, I thought to myself, what if I could make something for all mama’s out there. Something that worked for THEM and the baby, she could feed easily and not have anyone but her have access to the sight of her feeding. She wouldn’t have to struggle with one of those unforgiving spandex straight jacket things or ever have to pack up and go to a nasty bathroom or leave to feed at another place because she wouldn’t need to FIND privacy, she’d already HAVE it, packed in her bag.
The Love Deklyn Nursing Cover was Born.
I spent the next few days, in and out of fabric stores, searching for the right materials for the idea bottled up in my head. Came home created a prototype and emailed a dozen manufacturers. That was in October 2018. Three manufacturers told me that couldn’t do it, that the fabric was too delicate. Another made me a sample but when it came down to order, quit on me and told me that his company didn’t want the liability of ruining the fabric. It took another six months to find the right manufacturer but I did, I refused to quit because I knew that my cover would be a blessing to someone, even if it was just one mother.
In the midst of all of this, my husband started his second career. We moved to a new city and I had yet to order my covers or even establish an online store. I was procrastinating and scared. I also wanted to build my company off my own shoulders with my own money so that I could say, “I created this, I built this and I did this by myself!” Let me interject here say God bless my husband, he’s truly a saint, he has been my backbone and support system and wanted to support this venture financially but I refused. I need to do this on my own. Anyway, during our transition it became evident to ME that I was becoming depressed. I had nothing for myself (in my mind), no employer wanted to deal with me and all my education because they’d have to pay me, I spent my days bouncing through morning shows, becoming the best at home secret agent watching Jack Ryan and such.
I had always been the “strong friend” always asking others how they were doing, solving all of their problems but couldn’t seem to solve my own. Not to mention my husband went from spending time with me 24/7 to working full time and coaching hours 7a-8p, that plus being in a new city with no acquaintances just helped me into a deeper hole. One day I was on the phone with my parents and my dad asked “well are you happy?” my reply was “well, I’m not unhappy.” I hung up the phone, walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Something had to change. I had decided. I would do something and be something at all cost. It was time for ME to worry about ME, I had to be the strong one for myself. I had decided I would be successful and that attaining SOME job wasn’t a measure of MY success. So grabbed my credit card, contacted my manufacturer and purchased my first order, immediately after the order, I built my site.
The rest is history as they say, once I decided, god, my spiritual guidance and the universe aided me. I was able to sponsor my first event, a very special conference called NFLThread, where ladies of the NFL, coaches wives and girlfriends gather and network. I’ve generated sales quicker than my competitors in the same niche, my website is in the top 21% for Shopify websites launched in the same week. The websites CTR (Click Through Rate) is insanely good at 32.1%. I’ve sold internationally, have site traffic from all over the world and my business currently has a 5-star rating. I will also get to do some events in Miami for the 2020 Super Bowl. Literally, the moment I decided and shifted my mindset, the world became my oyster.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yeah, no it hasn’t been the smoothest road. I started a business on credit with no income. My first scheduled shoot, I drove two hours from where I live to Houston to shoot a model who volunteered. I sat and waited, waited and wait. I texted, called, emailed. She flaked and blocked me. It’s funny now but I was pretty disappointed when it happened. Disappointed, however I wasn’t discouraged. We were gonna make it without her. I’m actually super thankful because the model for our first campaign KILLED IT! Everything happens for a reason. My biggest issue is growing and marketing. I’m committed to growing our following and community organically but I’m no techy, I don’t understand code, I’m barely getting by with SEO. So that’s been difficult. I’ve turned to YouTube university. I’m sort of an introvert who excels in the public (weird I know) but I live in my own bubble. That doesn’t help sales!
My first week, I ended up paying out of pocket for quite a few shipments because I didn’t set my shipping up correctly. My customers elected free shipping (which I mean anyone in their right mind would) however, it was a costly mistake, but a hilarious one (smh). Larger companies have they’re peddle to the metal! This SEO game is ridiculous. I’m still just barely popping up on Google if you insert “Love Deklyn or Love Deklyn Nursing cover” into the search box. I’m learning as I go but I’m also loving every step of the way. It’s taught me so much about myself.
Lastly, my biggest hurdle was leaving Miami, the transition was difficult mentally and emotionally. I grew up in Houston, Houston had a special place in my heart but I flourished in So FL. Ironically, coming back to Texas was probably the best thing my husband and I did for my career and business. I ended up moving to Forbes’ #2 towns/cities for small business. God/The universe works funny that way. So now, when things happen I just smile and ask if I’m making the right choices. Eventually, I get my answers.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Love Deklyn – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Oh man where do I start, that’s such an exciting question. First, I’ll start off by saying that I created these products with the MOTHER in mind. I wanted to create things for HER. You see when babies are born all of the attention goes to the newborn and stays there. People rarely focus on the mother, how she is feeling, what she needs and her pain. It’s my mission for Love Deklyn to focus on those aspects. We are here for the mom, building for the mom, supporting the mom the best way we can and will continue to do so.
As far as the products, I’ll start with my nursing cover. The Love Deklyn Nursing cover is the perfect accessory for breastfeeding mothers. The coolest thing about the nursing cover is that it has a viewing screen, No other cover scarf or blanket has this feature and you can feed from the right or left breast and get the exact same coverage either side! Some moms have called the viewing screen a window, or a peek a boo screen because you can see your baby from looking over top of the cover not looking under.
The baby can look up and see you while he/she is feeding, on the other hand moms can feed safely, see the baby makes sure it’s not choking, the cover is adjustable to size and weight so it’s useful for plus size moms, moms with twins and moms with larger breast, it’s lightweight, breathable, chic and a convenient way to breastfeed your little one without the need to search for privacy. No need to go to the restroom or a breastfeeding area or excuse yourself for privacy. You can lift the fabric to see the screen or you can cover it. It’s also a wearable shawl. It’s really incredible Moms love this thing.
Secondly, We have The Love Deklyn Intensive Belly Balm Collagen Infused Firming blend is a balm that offers intense moisture and collagen for elasticity packaged in an easy to use, mess free stick. The stick offers convenience for pregnant mothers and moms on the go.
The ALL-natural ingredients offer healing properties that prevent stretch marks from weight gain or pregnancy, moisture so that the stretch of the skin doesn’t leave permanent scarring, the oils offer wound and skin healing. When applied two times daily, the balm reduces itching and firms the skin. Oils have been infused with herbs that provide skin healing and a glow that is unforgettable.
We have an unscented balm and a lavender scented balm. The lavender soothes the mind and body, helping relieve any anxiety. The balm is equivalent to a stretch mark cream, pregnancy cream, firm cream, or collagen cream except that it is packaged in a stick container for convenience and a roll-on effect that won’t get under your nails or dirty your jewelry.
Lastly, The balm serves as an acne scar remedy and scar healer. I literally use the balm on my face every day and my skin is glowing! It’s something you have to try to believe. I surprised my darn self with the results. If you look at my google photos, I have actual result photos for acne scars to clear skin. It’s amazing.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The future is mine! As I said, I know that the world is our oyster. I’m working on adding a lot more products to the brand to support the mother postpartum. I’m working on items that will boost mental strength and confidence. Help her in her daily life. Right now, we are building a community with our blog. (check out the "Am I Okay" challenge on the blog). It’s a really good read. I’m hoping for more moms to join the community and talk about things they don’t feel like they can share in person or are afraid to say out loud, share their stories on the site. Many moms spend their time alone, especially stay-at-home moms and I don’t think people realize how lonely that can be.
Also, I’m working on finding the right charity for the brand to partner with. We want to support mothers, homeless mothers, hungry mothers, we as a brand want to do our best to set the standard and not just be another brand asking, we want to give and support and as much as can.
- Love Deklyn Nursing Cover is 39.99 has 4 color options
- LD Intensive Belly Balm Collagen firming blend Unscented is $14.99; Lavender scent is $17.99
- LD Collagen Facial Balm is $15.99
- Website: www.lovedeklyn.com
- Phone: 707-780-2001
- Email: Contact@lovedeklyn.com
- Instagram: @lovedeklyn
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveDeklynllc/
Full article with photos can be seen at VoyageHouston.