Hi HH friends!
Homefront Heroes, LLC is 10.5 months old ... and it occured to me that I haven't properly introduced myself yet, so ...
Hi! I'm Darla!
I'm the founder, owner, author, artist, product designer, curator, marketing exec., office manager, packager, package dropper offer, accountant, social media poster, cheerleader of our military families, and maker & consumer of all of the coffee behind Homefront Heroes, LLC.
Homefront Heroes, LLC officially launched in July 2019 (you can read about how HH came to be, here), but we didn't reveal to our friends and family that we were the family behind HH until February 2020. Seems silly, right?
Well, this was a calculated move. I wanted to know that each order, comment, and 'like' was authentic and not a friend or family member who felt obligated to support our new adventure. Not even our closest friends knew what I was up to - my husband was literally the only person who knew and cheered me on (thanks, babe!). Yes, it meant HH grew a little slower, but I was OK with that.
Fast forward to today: HH is still growing and reaching more of our amazing military families every week. It's pretty great! But I realized that after we shared our exciting news with friends and family, I never looped back to properly introduce myself to our HH friends. Oops. But I want you all know who you are supporting when you 'like,' comment, share, and/or purchase from HH.
We are an Active Duty Navy family (shout out to the Submarine Force!). My husband has been serving since December of 1999, and I've been proudly by his side since we met in early 2007. We have the cutest, sweetest little boys: Owen and Ethan; they keep us very entertained! We currently live in Kitsap County, Washington, but I dream of the days when we live somewhere warm, again.
We've had a rare military experience in regards to duty stations: in over 20 years of service, my husband has only been stationed in 3 places. We seem to always get back-to-back orders at each duty station; in fact, we're on our 3rd command here in Kitsap. It's still odd seeing military friends move every couple of years when we've been in the same place since the end 2012! Part of me wishes we moved a little more often and got to experience different places, but I love that we've been able to truly set roots in each place we've lived.
Little Things That Make Me Happy
- Iced coffee with a dash of half & half. I worked at a coffee shop in college & loved all of the foo foo drinks ... but now I keep it simple.
- A good hair day ... AKA: a good top knot!
- Music. I stink at lyrics and naming artists, but I love having music on in the background.
- Hearing my kids laugh.
- Driving with the windows down on a warm day.
- Strolling Target.
- Random hugs from my boys.
- Hearing the National Anthem.
- Trader Joe's flowers. They are seriously the best place to get flowers!
My Favorite Duty Station
San Diego. Hands-down, San Diego. It will always be San Diego.
I transferred from the University of Oregon to the Design Institute of San Diego; I was there before I met my husband, so it wasn't just 'a place the Navy moved us.' San Diego is where I got my dog, Avery, where I met my husband, where I graduated college & started my career, where we bought our first house, where we got married, where I had my first experiences with this "military life" and met oodles of amazing military families ... I could go on and on about all of my wonderful memories from there. And the amazing weather was a big perk, too!
I'm not sure if we'll ever live in San Diego again, but I will always be a San Diegan at heart.
And, although our boys have never lived in San Diego, we've been back multiple times over the years for vacation and our oldest asks on a weekly basis to move to San Diego. It drives my husband crazy, but I love it ... he's a kid after my own heart.
Random Facts About Me
- I love dresses! I still miss wearing sun dresses 10+ months of the year.
- My signature look since moving to the PNW: leggings with a chambray button-up or a black & white striped shirt, and a top knot.
- I hate seafood, but I loved my Grandma M.'s tuna fish sandwiches (shh, don't tell my family I'm admitting to liking fish).
- I drive the one vehicle I said I would never drive ... a minivan!
- If I hadn't pursued architecture & interior design, I would've become a high school English teacher.
- I want to flip a house, or two, someday. I love what I do (!!!), but I still love working on houses. I look at MLS listings for fun & think about what I'd do to each house.
- I can drive a manual car; I've had 2 and drove a stick shift for 12+ years (this is a skill that I think is going away).
- Bread & cheese are my weakness; not sweets.
- I played soccer for 10+ years ... and still miss it.
- I've had the same cell phone number since my 16th birthday!
- I'm very introverted; I prefer to sit back, listen to conversations, and observe.
- Even though I've designed multi-million dollar residences and had relationships-with amazing companies and access-to some incredible products, our home is full of Target, Macy's, HomeGoods, Pottery Barn, and IKEA pieces, with a few antiques mixed in! #KeepingItReal ;)
My career background is a little eclectic, which is hard for me to admit since I was the kid who, in the second grade, was sure of what I wanted to do/be in life.
Architecture & Interior Design
Literally - at age 7 I knew I wanted to be an architect; I was determined that was my calling. As a kid, all I wanted was graph paper and pencils, and I rearranged my room more times than I can count. I did a job shadow for career day in the 6th grade, had an internship with an architect in high school, and I had an incredible teacher who encouraged me and created new curriculum for me after I completed all of the regular CAD classes my high school offered. I attended the University of Oregon as a declared Architecture major ... there was no changing my mission to become an architect.
However, after my first year at UO, I transferred to the Design Institute of San Diego for Interior Design. DISD allowed me to combine all of the space planning, structural components, and code compliance that I loved about architecture with the extra level of aesthetics and creativity that I found with interior design. It was a perfect mesh for me! My last year of college I interned at a great design firm (shout out to Brion Design!); I was fortunate to be offered a position there upon graduating college, and I continued to work there until the Navy moved us to Washington at the end of 2012. I had the privilege to work on multi-million dollar residences, high-end corporate offices, and large-name hospitals, but residential design was always my favorite!
Event & Wedding Planning
I quickly learned after moving to the PNW that my career did not move well; interior designers were in-demand in San Diego, but let's just say Kitsap County is a completely different market and clientele. Determined not to give up on my career, I launched my own design firm, Red Door Designs. RDD quickly evolved into two branches: 1) interior design, and 2) event & wedding planning - which has always been a hobby. And oddly enough, event & wedding planning ended up being a majority of my business. I had the privilege of getting know some truly amazing couples and being a part of so many beautiful wedding days!
As much as I loved getting to be a part of people's special day, the schedule was not ideal with a deploying husband and a little kiddo at home, so I made the hard decision to close RDD when I was pregnant with my youngest son.
Copyright Author, Product Designer, & Cheerleader of Our Military Families
And, obviously my career evolved again with the creation of HH. As I've said before, I only intended to create something for my family - and it evolved into Homefront Heroes, LLC! And HH is what it is today because of my husband, who saw what I was working on and encouraged me to think bigger; I opened up to the idea of making submarine-based products for our fellow submarine families ... then I thought I should expand to include the whole Navy ... and then realized if there is a lack of positive and encouraging deployment based goods for us, other branches are probably the same, so I set out to design products that are suitable for families of ALL branches of our active duty military, reserve, guard, and any other deploying DoD personnel.
We've come a long way in a short amount of time, and there's still SO much more to come. I literally have a stack of products designed and curated for future release, but as we are self-funded and growing our small business organically, we can only release one product at a time. So, be sure you are following HH on social media to stay up-to-date on our product releases.
I literally could not be prouder of my business! Thank you for supporting us and our mission to recognize, support, and celebrate our fellow military families!
And if you have any questions, feel free to ask! I've seen/experienced a lot on this military journey ... always happy to share our experiences.