I learned to listen growing up in the midst of eight sisters and a brother. What else is a brother to do? Listening is essential to designing. If you can take a few minutes to read the story of DayMakers® you will understand that providing excellent and personal service with a good listener's attention to detail is the bedrock of DayMakers®. It isn't just a slogan to "make your day".
DayMakers® roots go back to 1979. The economy had been tough for a long time and I was jobless. Making things out of leather presented itself as an opportunity. I made a $300.00 down payment on a $1,200.00 sewing machine and was trusted to pay the rest in three monthly payments. I looked at the sewing machine and had a sense I would always have work. I started out making drawstring pouches with leather remnants. One day my sister-in-law's grandmother commissioned a handbag. (I was able to retrieve this "very first bag" more than 20 years later).
Making useful durable bags came naturally. Within two years I was admitted to the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show making leather zipper pouches, belts, waist packs and shoulder bags with a foot-treadle sewing machine. Santa Barbara Leather Works™ was born. I displayed products made during the week and created special orders "while you wait".
At the Art Show I listened a lot and took on any task that could be made of soft leather. Need a zipper case for your flute? No problem. A bag with 14 pockets precisely where you want them? No problem. I became proficient at understanding and designing the bag each customer wanted, even better than they had wished for. If they did not like it they did not have to buy it. They always bought it.
In recognition of this advance in ability, from drawstring pouches complex custom creations, I changed my business name to "William Norris Designs™". This is the soul of DayMakers®. While my beginning was drawstring pouches, years later I made a custom diaper bag for a doctor to give to his nurse. It was according to his detailed blueprint. It needed to be leather, lightweight and with pockets galore. When he and his wife came to see it they were thrilled. We had estimated it would be $700- $800. It came to $1,000 in time and materials and I told him I could do sliding scale if necessary. He was slightly taken back and then said “It is beautiful and $1,000 is fine." He wrote the check with gratitude and I am sure someone is using that bag to this day.
One day I received a phone call from a federal Fish and Game agent who worked undercover in the Florida Keys. His mother lived in Santa Barbara and was one of my shoulder bag customers. She referred him to me to see if I could make a waist pack for his concealed weapon. In designing this I incorporated a pair of steel cables in the strap for the first time, to make it slice-proof. I tried 1/8" cable, which was way too thick, and then 1/16" aircraft cable, which worked very well. (To this day I use a pair of 1/16" cables in all security straps for shoulder or cross-body bags, waist packs, or a la carte straps for your camera, camera bag, or briefcase. It is the strongest slice-proof method.) I incorporated the steel cables into the regular waist packs I sold at the Art Show. I added a Velcro wrapper to conceal the buckle and a swivel clip on a leash to secure the zippers. After over 800 Sundays at the Art Show, I had one of the first HipSafes™ in my hands and realized I was about to start a business to reach the world beyond the Art Show. That Sunday morning I was facing the sidewalk, Cabrillo Boulevard, and the mountains. Later that day I turned to face the Ocean and the vast world beyond. Presenting my designs to the whole world via the Internet is a reality beyond any dream.
I was riding in a car with a niece and nephew and his family, going to Santa Maria to visit my parents. We were talking and I mentioned what I was doing. We proceeded to brainstorm for a name. It popped into mind that my products would definitely help to make a person's day and the name "DayMakers®" became the next name for my work, succeeding Santa Barbara Leather Works™ and William Norris Designs™. This was in October 1995. In January 1996 the first security waist pack (with slice-proof strap, and buckle and zipper security) debuted on the cover of Magellan's Travel Catalog! This HipSafe put DayMakers® on the map. How DayMakers® became what it is today is comprised of some longer stories for other days. I listen and am dedicated to providing excellent and personal service. Meanwhile I hope what I offer surpasses what you might be hoping to find. Please tell your friends!
Billy Norris Owner/Designer DayMakers® / BeSafeBags®
Office 805-937-9160; Cell 805-406-2312; email: [email protected]