Meet Local Artist & Illustrator: Kelsie Dayna!

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If you placed an order with us this month (February 2022), then chances are you may have received this super cute sticker:
Dolkii Blog Featuring Hawai'i Artist Kelsie Dayna
The amazing illustrator behind this sticker is Kelsie Dayna! Back in 2021, Kelsie tagged our brand in one of her art pieces featuring WAHINE type along side some of her favorite women-owned local brands. We were honored to be chosen as one of the brands she highlighted in this piece and even purchased a poster-sized copy for our office. You can shop this item at Kelsie's Etsy store HERE!
Once I saw the rest of Kelsie's work I immediately became a huge fan and started following her journey from just starting out as a freelancer, balancing work & mama life, to today where her work is loved by so many AND she's finishing up her biggest project yet: a beautiful mural at Keiki and the Pineapple!
Kelsie Dayna Mural for Keiki and the PineappleKelsie Dayna Mural at Keiki and the Pineapple
Between her busy schedule, we're so glad to have been able to catch up with Kelsie and get to know her a little more! 
1. Tell our readers about yourself! I know.. loaded question lol. Okay, let's start here: What are 3 facts about you that you'd love our readers to know?
  1. I have no formal education or training in art/design. I actually have a degree in business marketing. It was either business school or fashion school (yes, fashion school!)--and ultimately I went with what I thought was my "safer" option. Though I've always gravitated towards art/design, I never had the courage or confidence to go after it. I think growing up I didn't realize just how many real-world applications that art could have--and that there is actually a demand for it! I thought the only way to make a living from art was to have your pieces in a stuffy art gallery. It's taken me years to realize that art is a totally legitimate career. 
  2. I secretly love sci-fi movies/shows. I guess it's not a secret now, but there's something about sci-fi movies that really captivates me. I'm not a science buff. I've never seen a Star Trek or Star Wars movie. But I think these shows are just a great reminder of how vast and unknown space is. The reminder of how very little we are in the universe. My current Netflix favorites are Silent Sea and Away.
  3. My all-time career goal would be to have a PowWow mural! I'm just getting my feet wet in the world of mural art. It's been an amazing learning experience and it has brought a newfound appreciation for all the work that goes into those amazing murals you see out in public. I think murals are so powerful in changing a space and more so, in changing your mood! They really can brighten your day! 
2. How did you get started as an illustrator and what made you want to go into art & design? Believe it or not, I thought that if I ever ended up in the creative field that illustrating would be the last thing I would do. Clearly, the universe had other plans. 
I like to think I inherited my creative genes from my grandmothers. Both of them were seamstresses and my Popo even had a dress shop in Kaimuki from the 60s to early 90s. So it's safe to say I had great role models growing up. 
After high school, I tried hard to find the right outlet for my creative energy. I tried sewing, jewelry making, painting, photography--you name it, I probably tried it. But back then, social media wasn't nearly as popular as it is today nor was the access to educational resources readily available. Unless you went to art school, there was no easy way to grow your skills. Today, you can pop-open YouTube or sign up for a class on SkillShare and instantly find out how to create or do something. It really is amazing. 
Full transparency, Instagram has been the catalyst for allowing me to grow, build confidence, and I think most importantly, find community. I don't have co-workers, I spend most of my days with my young kids, and so finding community has been the most rewarding part of it all. 
3. Were you always a freelance designer or did you also hold any part-time/full-time jobs before taking the leap? If so, what made you finally take the leap into freelancing? I was not always a freelance designer. For many years, I worked at your run-of-the-mill corporate office in business marketing. I remember thinking at one point: this is where I will work for the rest of my life. Then the pandemic hit. I got laid off for not being able to find childcare quick enough to return back to the office (sheesh!) and it kind of sent me on a path to self-discovery. I know, it sounds corny. But the pandemic has taught me, like it has for many of us, that life is short. And the thought of spending another minute doing something I didn't love just didn't sit well. 
With all this new time on my hands, I decided to give my art the attention I should have years ago. It's brought me out of my comfort zone in the best ways possible and here I am, almost a year and half later, speaking with the amazing team here at Dolkii!
4. Do you have a favorite Dolkii tee or item from our shop?
Hands down, the Wahine tee! The colors are on point and the cut of the shirt is super flattering on women of all shapes and sizes! Plus they're super soft and buttery!!
5. We love how you use your platform to normalize motherhood and running your business. Any advice you can give to other mamas who are also entrepreneurs? Find support! I can't tell you how important it is to have a good support system. Whether that means a friend who you can vent to, an aunty who can babysit when you need, or a partner who can tackle dinner and groceries. Find the help where you can and try not to feel guilty about it either! I know I still struggle with the guilt part, but accepting help from others has allowed me to grow in ways I didn't think possible. 
Kelsie Dayna in Tee Wahine - Pineapple
Kelsie is wearing TEE WAHINE in PINEAPPLE in Size Large.

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