If there's one thing we love, it's championing women and empowering them to follow their passions—which is exactly what Nikki Day, the founder of Ayla & Co is doing! Believe it or not, we've been following Nikki's journey long before her dreams of Ayla came to fruition. Nikki is a former FIT4MOM franchisee and a strong advocate for women in business. We were lucky enough to pick her brain a bit about her inspiration, her life as a mom and a business owner, and her passion for setting a strong example for her four children.
MOMPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT: Meet Nikki Day, Founder of Ayla & Co
Can you give us a general bio/a bit about you, Nikki?
I am a busy mom of four littles and the owner and founder of Ayla & Co, an innovative diaper bag brand that combines both fashion and function to help make your life a little bit easier. We design beautiful, high-end bags for every stage of parenthood, that combine parent-friendly features with simplicity and style. Our diaper bag even has a chic, portable vacuum that can help with all of life’s messy moments.
What inspired you to start your business?
My business was started out of necessity. As mentioned above, I had four kids in four years. Needless to say, I went through a lot of diaper bags and just couldn't quite find one that met both my needs for function and didn't scream “diaper bag”. (#relatable)
I wanted something that wouldn’t force me to sacrifice fashion as I transitioned into the motherhood phase. I couldn't find anything on the market that really worked for me. I tried a few really beautiful bags, but at the end of the day didn't meet my needs for functionality. So I hit the drawing tables and designed something that I knew would not only work for me but would work for other moms!
What is your background? What did you do before this?
Prior to starting Ayla & Co, I was a FIT4MOM Franchise owner! It was one of the most rewarding parts of my early motherhood experience. I had been a FIT4MOM member and even an instructor for years prior to owning the FIT4MOM South Valley franchise in Utah (now FIT4MOM Salt Lake Valley), and the program still holds a very, very special place in my heart. My babies grew up doing Stroller Strides every day and it was the most memorable time for me and my kiddos.
FIT4MOM was my first experience with owning and running a business and I learned a lot. But the FIT4MOM business was a service-based business, so when I launched a product-based business it was dramatically different and was also a big learning curve! I like to think that I have gotten my real-world MBA over the last few years, learning the ins and outs of running different businesses! I still have a lot to learn but it has been quite the adventure.
How has being a mother informed your role as a business owner?
My top priority is always my family. It is WHY I do everything that I do. Motherhood is actually quite a bit like running a business. You need to be adaptable, and good at solving problems. That is really what I do as a CEO almost every single day. There is never a dull moment in my home, as I simultaneously run my business and raise four young children. In fact, I quite frequently refer to Ayla & Co as my fifth child. There are a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of blood sweat, and tears, and a lot of really difficult moments. However, just like motherhood, it is also extremely rewarding! It is important for my kids to have a mother who can model hard work, perseverance, and determination.
Interesting fact: the name “Ayla” in its Hebrew roots, means “oak tree” and in its Scottish roots means “from a strong and resilient place.” We felt that this was the perfect name to embody all of the qualities of our brand and they completely translate over to parenthood. Having the strength to remain true to our desires to “do the best we can” in spite of the obstacles that arise. Being less reactive while withstanding unpredictable circumstances that makeup “life”. Being steady, persevering, and dependable as a parent. Exhibiting strength of mind that enables us parents to endure adversity with courage. It is clear to see that motherhood had a profound impact on Ayla & Co, even down to the very name and its meaning!
What advice do you have for women who are interested in becoming a mompreneur?
We live in a society where there is still a lot of stigma around being a working mother. My advice for all of you mompreneurs out there is this, don’t let the mom guilt get you. Sometimes it sneaks in as you are trying to juggle so many things. There are many nights where I go to sleep and think that there were things I could have done better, more things I could have done for my kids. But at the end of the day, my kids know they are loved, they are happy, and they are seeing their mom work really hard for them and our family. There are so many great qualities that you are exemplifying to your children every day by being a hardworking mother. So rise above the mom guilt! You got this, Mama!