When I graduated from Spelman I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
My friends immediately landed great corporate jobs but I found myself sitting alone on the sidelines, wondering what was next for me. I, too, wanted one of those corporate gigs with an impressive job title (or so I thought) and I even tried my hand at it for awhile...but quickly learned that a 9-5 wasn't the right fit for me. Traditional work environments left me feeling suffocated & depressed. Trapped. And while I still wasn't sure what I should pursue, I knew one thing for certain:
I didn't want to end up like so many people I knew--those who hated their jobs, complained about their co-workers and lived solely for weekends & vacations. I wanted to feel different about my life. I wanted to be happy & excited & inspired to show up in the world, everyday.
But more specifically, I wanted a life I didn't need a vacation from.
So I enrolled in hair school....and ended up learning that I actually liked to do MY OWN hair more than I liked to do other people's. Then I tried selling real estate....but quickly found that I wasn't keen on hard sales pitches & hated having to talk people into buying something they already knew they needed. And no matter what new job I tried after that, I never felt like I fit in. I didn't simply want to be told what to do, I wanted to understand...a trait many bosses misread as a challenge. I often felt like the outsider--never quite at home--so I kept searching for my place. And then, quite unexpectedly, the perfect job fell right in my lap.
In 2006 I purchased my first home & the process of buying & renovating that house ignited an obsession for all things interior design.
When I accidentally stumbled upon the world of blogging late night one night I was amazed....and hooked.
I found an entire online community of people posting pictures of their house projects & detailing the ways they were styling their homes and it was like someone had suddenly flipped on a light switch in a dark room. I had no idea what I was doing & didn't have a real plan, but it didn't matter--I immediately launched my own blog & invested hours working on that site.
The year was 2009.
My first real design clients were blog readers who, after following the transformations I was making in my own home, started reaching out to me for design advice & help with refinishing furniture. An avalanche of requests and "you should really be doing this as a business" comments ended up pushing me to turn that little blog into a full fledged design business less than 12 months later. In 2010 I officially launched Dayka Robinson Designs as an untrained designer with nothing but a passion for the craft & an eye for great style. And in a short amount of time I quickly found my voice as a designer with a bold aesthetic who not only worked with private residential clients, but also partnered with major brands including Turner Studios, Home Depot, Colgate Palmolive, FLOR, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Essence, Terminix, HGTV.com. & more. For a girl who was winging it as she went, I was thrilled...and it didn't hurt that I also picked up some cool industry accolades along the way--things I'd never even imagined were possible just a few years before. I was pretty sure my career life was set.
But in the midst of starting this new business venture, something weird started happening with my body--something that I hid from almost everyone I knew: My body was turning white, and I had zero idea why.
In 2008, after noticing three small discolored spots on my stomach,
I was diagnosed with Vitiligo--an autoimmune disease that attacks pigment by destroying the melanin, turning the skin white. I was 28 years old. No one in my family had it & the spots seemingly appeared one day out of the blue (doctors now think it was related to the stress of my father's sudden death less than 12 months earlier). When I left my doctor's office I jumped on Google & was stunned by the images I saw--How would I ever be able to show my face in public again? And more importantly, who would want to be with me with white spots all over my body?? I was scared out of my mind & certain that life as I knew it was over.
Turns out I was (kinda) right. Vitiligo doesn't effect the way the body functions but a diagnosis is often psychologically devastating.
Doctors had no idea if those initial three spots would spread & couldn't offer many options for treatment, which left me feeling completely helpless. Eventually those white patches started appearing all over my body & I found myself spending years trying to hide the fact that I had it. I felt ugly. Damaged. And I believed that God was punishing me. I threw away my backless dresses & tank tops and refused to wear anything that showed too much skin. It was shocking & traumatic to go through 28 years of life with one body, only to watch it change right before my eyes. The only thing I desperately wanted was to look "normal" again....and of course that was the one thing I couldn't control. But this autoimmune disease became the very thing that changed my life.
This unexpected diagnosis marked the beginning of a very long personal journey--you could call it my dark night of the soul. Watching my body transform, and knowing the only thing I could control was my response, led me to start the process of deep personal work. Spiritual work. Emotional work.
And to start asking some very hard questions:
About my self worth.
My life purpose.
What I believed about God.
What truly made me beautiful.
And who I really was without the body I valued so obsessively.
These weren't questions I could answer overnight but the more I allowed myself to tell the truth about what I was feeling, the more the answers revealed themselves. Answers I never imagined. Vitiligo was the catalyst that helped me realize, "You must act like you believe what you say you believe. You can't afford to live any other way."
So I did. I disassembled every area of my life & rebuilt it from the ground up. In truth.
Vitiligo was at one time, the source of my greatest pain, but I took that pain & allowed the journey to make me into someone new. And it ended up being the best thing I ever could've done for myself. Through it I found the courage to change my own life.
I walked away from a comfortable 8 year relationship simply because I felt my intuition telling me it was time to go. I shared my story publicly for the first time & was blown away by the outpouring of support I received. I filed for bankruptcy.
And I completely overhauled my diet--from the food I ate, to the shows I watched, the books I read & the people I hung out with--to remind myself that the only wolf that wins is the one I feed.
And then I changed my business.
Fired the clients & partners who didn't share my values. Stopped interacting with people I didn't like & doing things that didn't make me feel good. Found my voice as a writer & started talking about the ideas that mattered deeply to me.
And in the wee hours of a summer morning I booked a trip to Turkey--my first solo international trip--simply because something in my soul told me I needed to go. And that "random" trip to Istanbul ended up igniting a passion for solo travel which has grown to multiple international adventures & designing my own curated retreats for women that consistently sell out in a matter of days. More importantly, it taught me to stay open to the possibilities. All of them.
The work I now do is central to the woman I am today--100% Dayka.
Whether I'm teaching you how to live a values-centered life, creating soulful international retreats for women, or helping you design a home that really feels like you, everything I do is about teaching you how to show up more authentically in your own life. About helping you tell the truth & holding you accountable to being who you say you are. And I'm excellent at guiding others through this work because I've spent so many years doing it for myself.
Because I've walked this road with my own two feet, I'm not just telling you what I think--I'm telling you what I know.
Facing my deepest fear & shame helped me uncover the truth about who I am and what I want. So this is the same work I bring to you. My journey taught me that sometimes the thing we think will destroy us is actually the very thing that saves us. And now I know the answer to the question that haunted me for so many years: The only one way to create a life you don't need a vacation from is to tell the truth about who you really are. To get crystal clear about what's really motivating your behavior. And to be relentless about articulating your core personal values in every area of your life. Every single day. Because how you show up in the world matters. The choices you make matter. The ideas you believe in matter. Everything about you matters.
This definitely isn't the life I imagined for myself 20 years ago...but thank God it's 10xs better.