Be strategic when planning your work day. Leave time open for the unexpected so you have time to handle whatever comes your way.
The daughter to persian immigrants, Davina grew up in Reno, Nevada. She studied at the University of California – Los Angeles, where she majored in psychology, with a minor in childhood education. Davina founded Shaya, the first line of luxury handbags for people and pets, in October 2019 as a way to bridge the gap between low end dog bags and ultra luxury pet carriers. She lives in New York with her 6 pound brussels mix – Baby G.
Where did the idea for Shaya come from?
During my junior year, I studied abroad in Israel, returning thereafter to complete my UCLA degree. The transition from living overseas was challenging and in an effort to cope with the change, I adopted a dog. Baby G quickly became a vastly important part of my life, becoming a companion and best friend while completely changing the trajectory of my career path.
As a first time dog mom, I immediately wanted to bring Baby G everywhere with me, but struggled to find a pet carrier that was safe and practical for my furry best friend while also being appropriate for everyday life (and fashionable enough to please my Persian mom) – so I designed one. I founded Shaya with both the comfort of pets and the style of their humans in mind, designed to keep pups safe, secure, and by your side, while looking chic in the process.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am typically up until 3am speaking with my manufacturer in Italy, so I tend to start my day later than most,around 9:30am. The first thing I do is walk, feed, and play with my dog, Baby G. This way I start my day on a positive note and give my body some time to wake up. Around 10:30 I sit down to answer all of my emails, read news articles, and prepare for any important meetings. Keeping my mornings free of meetings is the best way to stay productive – it’s (usually) uninterrupted time to accomplish everything on my to-do list. If I do not have a lunch meeting, I set aside one hour to work on designs for future product launches. The afternoons are a mix of meetings, shipping out product to customers, and speaking with other entrepreneurs. I take at least a two hour break for dinner then I’m back home around 9pm answering more emails and preparing notes for my call with my manufacturing team at 2am.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The most critical first step in bringing any idea to life is to conduct market research and check if it’s something people actually want. Before designing our debut Shaya Pet Carrier, we spoke with 200 dog and cat owners in New York and Los Angeles. After the first design, we talked to another 300 over the following five months. Conducting this research early on in the process saved us from spending thousands of dollars on an initial design that wouldn’t have solved the carrier gap for modern small pet owners.
What’s one trend that excites you?
People are becoming pet parents at a younger age and with more frequency than ever before. It’s exciting to see them approach this responsibility in creative ways. There are now cat and dog cafes popping up, dating apps for people with pets, and communities centered around your love for your furry best friend. I’ve made more friends since Baby G joined my life because of these opportunities. I’m just waiting to meet a fellow dog dad on one of those dating apps 🙂
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I never schedule my whole day. You never know when there might be an urgent email or call that needs to be taken care of asap. Instead of putting myself in a position where I may need to push and reschedule planned events, I leave at minimum, three thirty-minute windows open everyday. This allows for flexibility and saves time in the long run that might otherwise be spent rescheduling.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Focus on building friendships and relationships as much as you do on your studies. While you may drift apart from friends, you’ll have learned more lessons from them than from a textbook.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Crunchy cookies are better than soft cookies (unless served warm and with a scoop of ice cream).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I don’t go to bed without creating a checklist for the following day. As you go through the day, it’s great to physically check something off. It also saves you from having to mentally going through the list of things you need to get done.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Connect and talk to anybody and everybody. It may sound like obvious advice, but when you are running around building a business – and spreading your focus on 100 different things – common sense can often be overlooked. On top of that, instead of limiting myself to speaking to people in my industry or “experts,” I set four times a week to speak to friends, family, and entrepreneurs in varying fields who can provide a different perspective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I see everything that didn’t go right as a learning opportunity. And I don’t consider anything, other than giving up, a failure.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A platform for entrepreneurs to share their business plans and offer an ownership stake to celebrities who agree to rep the brand.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Two days before we launched Shaya, I bought a toaster oven. I had been living in NYC for almost three years without one and decided to buy it as a launch present to myself. I swear I am still excited every time I put my bagel in it to toast, or bake a piece of salmon for dinner. It’s the small things that make a difference when you are busy building a brand!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Canva has been great in helping us quickly and easily create graphics for our website and social media. While I know how to use photoshop, it’s usually faster to use the Canva platform to make an email banner or infographic.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It’s also a great conversation starter when you are reading in public.
What is your favorite quote?
“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.” – Charlie Chaplin
- Be strategic when planning your work day. Leave time open for the unexpected so you have time to handle whatever comes your way.
- Be open to talking about your business with people from different backgrounds and make the time to really sit and listen to their thoughts.
- Take note and appreciate the little things in your life that make your day better.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.