So, you may be wondering: How does one start a business off of FEATHERS?? Honestly if you would have approached me 5 years ago and told me that I'd be making a living and running a very successful business creating angel wings I would probably laugh, but in all actuality I probably wouldn't have been surprised. I have always had an entrepreneur mindset and gravitated towards the creative side of the world. Honestly, I really don't even think that there has ever been a period of time where I wasn't doing something creative or in the performing arts realm. I attended a performing arts school growing up and continued to express my creativity through theatre, dance, majorette line, and I was even a vocalist of a metal band at one point. (Yes that really happened. No I wont release the band name LOL.) I started modeling at age 15 and honestly loved expressing creativity through photographs, I have modeled ever since and would love to share that Journey in another blog post one day or else you'll be reading for hours!
In 2019, I met my now husband and the love of my life. He's the ying to my yang and helps me follow through with every creative idea I have no matter how outlandish it may be. As a photographer himself, he loves helping me express my creative impulses through imagery. It wasnt all feathers and adhesive all the time. I started intensely studying Special Effects Makeup shortly after we met. I was itching to bring so many visions to life and I was already gifted at Makeup Artistry. Actually, the name Kayla Douglas Artistry came from the start of my Makeup Business Journey. Ric was so sweet to let me practice for the entire first year on him. All the bald caps, the adhesive, the prosthetics, the eyeliner oh it never ends. Countless times he would come home from work and I'd look like some decaying zombie creature or something. (I am SURE our neighbors were entertained by the amount of times I would go outside completely in full costume to photograph my creation.) I seriously cherish all of those memories and experiences.
Lets get to the feathers- Where did those come in? I already knew the basis of sewing and I had the thought to create an amazing Forest Fairy look. But I wanted to create my own costume. Mind you, I am a very creatively impulsive human. I am not impulsive with my business, as in I will not release a design until testing it for months first. So usually, when you see a new design show up on my website or social media I more than likely came up with that design randomly a few months back. Most of my designs pop into my head right before bed or in the shower. Anyhow, I created this amazing forest fairy look that looked similar to a Poison Ivy body suit but more couture. I had soooooo much fun creating that look and it gave me so much confidence in my designing abilities. Over my years of modeling and Ric and I's presence in the ATL photography community we created a pretty decent following. A few weeks after creating that amazing costume, I had another impulsive creation idea.
One day I was taking a shower and thought about how beautiful the Brazilian Carnival costumes are. The makeup, the costume, the feathers! I wanted to create five looks. Crazy right? Not one look, not two looks, but FIVE whole looks. I had some confidence built up after creating my first costume which was a bodysuit and i thought, why not? I had nothing to lose but my own money. I wanted diversity in the colors, models, costumes which is why I chose five looks. I ran out of the shower and expressed this idea to Ric and he was all for it! That day I booked five models after posting a casting call. Little did I know that would be the start of my successful business I now run today.
I booked a studio, makeup artists, models and hair stylists within 24 hours for a date 2 months in advanced. Talk about pressure! I know how I function, which is best under inspired action and deadlines I place upon myself. I created 5 costumes based around the models measurements I booked previously.Each costume either had a full set of wings, a feathered backpack, collar or headpiece. That was the introduction to my first experience to Ostrich feathers.
I posted little updates on my costume process on my personal facebook page but what got the most attention was the floor length angel wings! I am a research-aholic. I research EVERYTHING. So before I started creating costumes I wanted to research biggest complaints people had from working with feathers, feathered costumes, etc. I stumbled upon an article talking about Boudoir Photography and the use of angel wings in work. Many complaints about the weight of wings, the lifespan of them and how they fall apart after a few uses or within a year. Especially with the typical wire, piping and fabric method that is floating around Pinterest. (Not knocking that method at all, I just viewed this as a challenge to create something TOTALLY unique and create my own design.) I wanted to create something I was proud of, I knew was different and that I could use over and over again without the worry of wasting $600+ dollars on Ostrich feathers for me to use them once, maybe twice. I designed these things AT LEAST 5 different times before feeling confident in my design and submitted my product to be patented with the USPTO office which actually came months later after testing out my final design in many scenerios, climates and situations that I knew id want to put them in the future.
Before even photographing the Carnival shoot, I had many photographers reach out about the set I was creating for the shoot. This was exciting for me, as I saw this as a major opportunity to live out my entrepreneurial dreams and maybe create something I was incredibly proud of. This created some pressure on me though, as someone who works best under pressure I took the orders. The first one for just the cost of materials. (Bless their patience in my learning process because I know now in hindsight all of the ways I could have made those better.) But I was still proud of them. My first set of wings couldnt be folded. I knew This wasnt going to work so after sending out that design (for just materials) I started brainstorming on how to make them fold, lightweight and durable. I cant take all the credit though because my loving husband is the one who came up with a major design detail in the final product which is the adjustable corset back which hes rightfully credited on the patent. Thank goodness for him too, because that is my favorite part of my design because its so fashionable while serving a huge purpose of adjusting the wings width.
Not only was I creating five outfits in 3 months, I was also creating 3 orders for full length angel wings for clients I charged next to nothing for. I knew this would pay off though. Fast forward 3 months later and that shoot is STILL my favorite shoot to this date. The models did so well, and I used some of those wings I created at the end of the shoot to help promote my new-found business after creating a functional, durable, lightweight and stylish design I was proud of that addressed all the major complaints from fellow photographers. I received amazing promotional images, my design was successful and had been tested out multiple times by then, AND I did it all while creating five full costumes. I was very proud of my achievements and very grateful for the sequence of events that led me here.
3 months after the shoot I continued to test out my final design, send out the product for patent processing and start promoting my new found business! I started the kickoff of my business by doing a $700 Flash Sale for a month. Oh my gosh did I wish I planned that differently by the time I was creating orders. I sold over 40 pairs in that time frame..... I became a work-aholic and seriously gave myself carpal tunnel from consistently working. I completely burned myself out and considered just quitting the business after orders were finished. I was honestly making next to nothing off of each pair and putting in DAYS of work on these things. Not a smart business move on my part. I oathed to never ever do a sale like that again, because essentially I worked for free. I do NOT regret it though! Even though it was the most time-consuming, tiring thing ive done it was the best thing I could have done at the time. My name EXPLODED. People were loving my product and it was like christmas every single time someone sent me client photos or personally messaged me about their joy over their wings. Fast forward a year later and I have since sold over 200 pairs world wide, been published in 10 magazines, and have grown to have assistants. Everyone has a niche, and I know I am not the only creator in this market of what I do. Actually, I absolutely love seeing the success of other wing designers because I know theres a client for everyone. Everyones product is different and attracts clients for different reasons. Like shoes, Theres no one size fits all for product. I am so grateful for each client that considers me as their go-to designer and I wouldnt have it any other way. Sometime in the near future I will be releasing more gowns, (My wedding gown collection) and wing designs and custom lingerie. My goal is to keep growing and creating new designs that photographers can cherish and enjoy to help make their clients feel even more beautiful. If you made it thus far, Thank you so much for reading my personal designer journey! If youre a client of mine, please keep emailing me photos! I will post you on my client gallery and testimonial page. It's so special to see the variety of beautiful images and styles that each client has and I thoroughly appreciate the pictures and videos. I try to upload them once a month and I'd be lying if i said im not currently behind a month on uploading them on the site. If you are considering purchasing a set of wings, I would be honored to be your go-to designer! Please remember I have Payment Plans, where you can pay $265 on my website under the deposit tab on whichever set of wings you choose- and the remainder will be sent via Square invoices and split biweekly payments over the course of the 4-6 week production period. Feel free to reach out via email at kayladouglasartistry@gmail,com or Facebook @KaylaDouglasArtistry for any questions.
Remember that each sale,15% goes to the Capture Wonder Foundation- A Guatemala Relief Fund. I will be writing a blog post giving the most detail about our foundation next week so be sure to subscribe on my website for any upcoming blog posts, announcements, sales, and new design alerts!
Thank you so much for reading, I hope to design something special for you! Attached below are some Images from the Carnival shoot and a fun special effects makeup behind the scenes!
xoxo- Kayla Douglas