Updated: Jan 4

Why start a business at the ripe old age of 41? Why a design studio? What does Bali have to do with anything? What exactly happened there? All very valid questions.

Bali seems like such a distant memory these days. I was 36 years old and I sold everything I owned to live life with no regrets. After experiencing life abroad in England, I had the travel bug and I had it bad! I felt the need to see as much of the world as possible before life got away from me. People always told me that getting older happens in a flash. Just like that.

So I sold it all, left Chicago and landed in Melbourne excited about a new adventure and a new life! My intention was to move to Australia for good and live my life overseas. I felt like I finally had permission now that my brother was back from his 20 years of living abroad. Somebody would be close to care for the parents, should something happen.

I got to Australia and started meeting new friends and forming a wonderful life there. I met a new friend at a beach volleyball meet-up, Libby. After several get-togethers involving wine, she mentioned she was going to a wedding in Bali and wanted to know if I wanted to travel with her. She was planning on staying for 3 weeks, exploring various parts of the island, and didn't want to go at it on her own. I didn't have anything else to do, so I obliged. Why not, right? Except, I decided to stay the full length of the visa (4 weeks), thinking I would meet other travelers along the way.

"Denise, honestly, I don't know how much longer I can sustain myself."

While we were there, we decided to explore Seminyak... although neither of us was really all that excited about going there since that's where most Australians go on holiday, we thought we'd see what the fuss was all about... We had a great time going to Potato Head Beach Club where we lounged by an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and drinking gorgeous drinks.

My brother saw on Facebook that I was there and he suggested that I meet a friend of his that he met during his time in Taiwan. His name was Aaron and he was a Canadian Chef. He owned a restaurant in the lobby of a beautiful resort. This resort was a hidden gem, situated across the street from a little rice patty.

Ron gave me the name of Aaron's restaurant, but I couldn't find it online anywhere. He had to reach out to Aaron to find out the address so we could pop by and say, "Hi!" Took a cab and a few minutes later there we were, meeting Aaron (aka "Moose") for the first time. Lively Canadian, he was! Full of great energy and so much fun to chat with. I said to him, "Aaron, what the heck?! I couldn't find you online anywhere!" He responded with, "Denise, I am a Chef. I don't know anything about this technology stuff." "Well I do, and I don't know what I'm doing my last week here. I'm happy to come back to help you!", I said.

And that's what I did! I spent a full week setting him up on 10 different online platforms, built his website, took photos of his food, re-created menus for the guests at the resort... all in exchange for a place to stay.

During that week, Aaron and I went out to breakfast one morning and I remember him saying to me, "Denise, honestly, I don't know how much longer I can sustain myself. I'm nervous that I may have to leave Bali." I put my hand over his and said, "Don't worry. Once we get you set-up online, you'll be fine." Sure enough, three months later he was listed as the #1 restaurant in his area on Trip Advisor and was reservation only. Now he has several different restaurant concepts, is married to the beautiful Sri, and together they have two gorgeous little tykes.

Things didn't work out quite like I had hoped in Australia and it was time to come back to America. I wasn't quite ready to return to Chicago, so I landed in New York City to see what life would be like there. At this point, I had been looking for a job for almost a year with very little luck. A Recruiter in New York said to me, "We have candidates with more recent experience than you.", which was disappointing, but I was at peace and in the mindset of, "What will be, will be."

Fast forward a couple of years, I'm working again as a Project Manager at a big bank downtown and I'm sitting at my desk saying to myself, "Ugh. I feel so unfulfilled." When that project ended, guess what happened next? That's right, I couldn't find another job to save my life. It was like the Universe was telling me, "This is *not* what you're supposed to be doing."

I think the success story I had with Aaron in Bali was sitting in my subconscious. One night I'm lying in bed and I think to myself, "I should start my own business! I want to call it de la foye design studio." It was like an epiphany had overcome me! And once I had made that decision, everything fell into place so beautifully. That's when I knew that I was finally doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

A few months after starting my business, Geoff and I had reconnected. Geoff and I had been friends for 7 years at that point and he had been working at Whole Foods during that entire time. Once Amazon bought Whole Foods, all of their store Artists were let go and Geoff was trying to figure out what his next steps would be.

I had gotten a tiny little 120 square foot office and he would join me from time-to-time to figure out his life and plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe. Eventually, I started to get work for him more and more and, well, he has decided to stick around! Thankfully.

Every year, the business gets better and better. Our clients have seen steady growth and have come back to us time and time again. We've increased our family to over 20 clients, moved into a larger office, and have expanded our offerings to include Photography and Marketing. We’ve opened up our office to others, creating a beautiful, comfy co-working space. We hosted a learning series that highlighted other small business owners with the intention of helping one another grow and prosper.

This job, and business, is beyond fulfilling. I’ve thought to myself, “If I can help another small business owner the way in which I helped Aaron, I’d be so honored.” And look! Here we are! Helping make a difference.

We are not just a design studio, we’re a partner. We promote your business along with you and share in the excitement of our projects together. We share in the thrill of your businesses growth. We’re your biggest fan!

As we celebrate our third birthday, I’m so enthusiastic about the future of de la foye design studio! I can’t wait to see what happens in the next three years! We're on an incredible journey and I'm here for the ride!

~ Denise


© 2022 by de la foye design studio, llc.

chicago + asheville


Chicago + Asheville

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