Who Am I?
Hi I’m Dylan!
I have this uncanny knack for for pushing seemingly crazy ideas that no one else believes in and making them successful. For example, in 2010, I decided to try to sell a bowl with feet. I remember announcing to the board chairman of the charity I was currently running that I was stepping down to sell bowls with feet. I can only imagine the conflict he felt wanting to support me but not understanding why anyone would want a bowl with feet!
Within a year that little bowl went viral, appearing on over 300 blogs around the world and I had an unexpected and unanticipated consumer products business! I outgrew my US ceramics factory, boarded a plan and figured out how to manufacture in China. I both loved the clay used in Chinese ceramics and enjoyed working with the factories on how to best engineer the now expanding footed ceramic line to avoid leans, bowing legs and other ballet type moves that come from positioning something heavy on two tiny legs.
Where did my courage come from to start this company? Through serendipity. I n ever thought I was an entrepreneur. I felt more like a misfit. Unable to hold a job, unable to finish college until my mid 30s. I didn't come from entrepreneurial parents. I thought there was something wrong with me because I never had a 9-5 job.
By 2004, I had finally finished college and a post-grad public affairs fellowship. I excited to use my education to change the world after working on my first nonprofit as an undergrad at UCLA. I flirted with the corporate world working for the Jewish Federation then I was hired to work with the arts and county-level political leadership. I was fired within 6 months from both. Discouraged, I decided to screw it all and go throw bowls again on my potters wheel.
However, I could not forget two important keys to my own life -- how important being creative was to my own sanity and how much I wanted to make a difference in the world. I was going to reopen my ceramics studio but this time partner with agencies serving local youth to provide them weekly classes.
Breakfast with my friend, then City Council now Mayor, Eric Garcetti positioned me in Hollywood. A few introductions to local leaders serving the local youth opened my eyes to a completely overlooked and difficult to reach population of people in need -- homeless young adults.
Something in this group of lost kids spoke to me. I would spend every night with them on the streets, listening. When I proposed my ceramics studio idea they turned away. They didn't want to throw bowls on wheels. I persisted. What did they want? They wanted to be actors, fashion designers, music producers. And therein lied my opportunity.
I closed down the never really opened ceramics studio in Hollywood and instead set out to build the only educational agency in the nation to mainstream over the age of 18 homeless youth through arts-, music-, performance- and fashion-based education.
Good grief was this met with opposition! How many times did I defend my work against Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? These kids don't need watercolors and paints, they need food, and someplace to sleep.
And on it went. However I knew that no amount of food and shelter would change the fundamental problem -- these kids had no emotional capacity, no intellectual skill, no self-love, no support community and through arts-based learning all these areas could be developed and improved.
I could write a book on my hypothesis for Hollywood Arts and its successful impact but for now, I'll put a pin here and move on. Within a year Hollywood Arts was the city's darling charity with the likes of cast from the Office and bands like Maroon Five playing our events. And then I resigned. During my time at my charity I became a foster mom to John Kyzer, a 14 year old desperately needing a parent. Part of my work with Hollywood Arts unpacked my own baggage -- I solved a problem, built a wonderful school and family of kids and needed to move on.
After many years living oversees - from Cyprus to Africa to France - I moved to Los Angeles in my early 20s and began bartending in the well-known Gaslight/Opium Den in Hollywood. After work, and in the darkest hours of the night, I built magical creatures out of clay.
I moved to Oakland, California at 27 to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts for ceramics which was my 7th attempt at college. I rented a warehouse studio in a terrible, blighted neighborhood. Every morning over coffee I would look out my studio windows and was greeted with trash, junk, lifelessness, poverty. I couldn’t take it. I firmly believed that if everyone had access to the arts, either as a maker or a participant, then they would have a changed life. I closed down my ceramics studio, applied to UCLA to study arts education. I finished my BA at 31 and my MA at 33 and was then accepted into CORO, a national public affairs leadership program at 34. Never too late.
I founded my first company, Hollywood Arts, at 35 after being fired within 6 months from my only "official" 9-5 job managing community relations for the Jewish Community Foundation. I learned a lot building Hollywood Arts and, most important, I saw that we can never underestimate the role happiness and home plays in our own sense of well-being. I created a “home” out of a 2,000 square foot store front filled with instruments, computers, their photos and work on the walls, and a lot of laughter.
With this in mind, I launched Dylan Kendall Home. I returned to the footed bowl, a product I made years ago in my ceramics studio. Along the way I became a foster mom to a 14 year old boy named John who once took classes at Hollywood Arts. Through him, I met Karina, his high school girlfriend, and am now a grandmother to their son, an 8-year-old boy named Adrian.
Starting Dylan Kendall and juggling the company with being present for Karina and Adrian has been one of my most joyful challenges! I built this company out of nothing but a few small family and friend loans; three Small Business Association micro loans; and 5 crowdfunding campaigns.
Now that I am more settled I want to turn my attention to something that has always meant a lot to me: the welfare of animals and the planet we call home, our bigger home.
Join me, talk to me, share with me as I forge my own new journey discovering ways to keep our homes design-friendly as well as compassionate and cruelty free because I really do believe that Happy Homes Make Happy People and happy people will change the world.