Many women with young families manage to run their own businesses full-time while in a medical marriage.

My friend Savannah Hayes is one of them.

She is an amazing textile designer and entrepreneur who graduated from the prestigious FIT in NYC. Her products are in Domino, Lulu&Georgia and Houzz and many magazines such as House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest and HGTV Magazine.

She is also the host of a podcast called Game Changers for creative entrepreneurs.

She is crazy creative, talented, and hard working. You guys, she wakes up at 5 AM (even on weekends) and works while her baby is asleep. I am blown away by her dedication and hard work.

This article is a part of the DocWife Entrepreneurs series. May she inspire you as she inspires me.


textile savannah hayes
Savannah Hayes, textile designer

1. Background

What do you do and where are you located?

I’m a textile designer based in Pittsburgh, PA. I have an online shop (savannahhayes.com) where I sell home décor products. I design and sell fabric-by-the-yard, decorative pillows, throw blankets, baby blankets, tea towels, zip pouches, phone cases, marble accessories, you name it! I’m a surface/pattern designer by training so print is my medium – anything I can put a pattern on, I’ll do it.

What is your background?

 I studied fine art & art history in college and was encouraged to pursue textile design by one of my first bosses. I went to grad school at FIT in New York and everything shifted. I knew I wanted to own my own business, designing and selling products.

2. The product

What inspired you to start your business? What inspires you when you design your product?

Everything I design starts in my home studio. I work by hand at first, sketching, drawing, painting and cutting. Then I scan the artwork into the computer, moving from analog to digital. Once my work is in the computer, I’ll manipulate the motifs into a repeating pattern. After the patterns are designed, I send the artwork off to the various manufacturing partners I work with across the US. Everything we do is proudly made in America.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Everything I design starts in my home studio. I work by hand at first, sketching, drawing, painting and cutting. Then I scan the artwork into the computer, moving from analog to digital. Once my work is in the computer, I’ll manipulate the motifs into a repeating pattern. After the patterns are designed, I send the artwork off to the various manufacturing partners I work with across the US. Everything we do is proudly made in America.

What was your mission at the outset?

When I was first starting out I read everything I could find about other female entrepreneurs working in the creative space. I was fascinated with their businesses and how they came to have success. A lot of these women became the role models that influence my company.

What are your bestsellers?

Our bestsellers are our Bruges Pillow, our Milas Throw, and our Rivington Baby Blanket (it makes a great baby shower gift!)

3. The business model

Where is your studio?

My studio is the third floor of our house & we use part of our basement to hold inventory and shipping supplies.

Are there any big plans in the future for your business?

I’m launching a podcast! I’ll be interviewing other female entrepreneurs who are kicking ass and changing the game.

4. Getting started

How did you start?

I quit my day job and three months later, I launched seven product categories under my own label. Within a few months, my brand was represented in three interior design showrooms and a dozen home décor shops across the country. Within a year, we had expanded to eight showrooms – six domestic and two international in Canada and Australia. Our products are now in stores across the country and abroad as far away as the Four Seasons Hong Kong. They’re sold on websites including Domino, Lulu&Georgia and Houzz. We’ve been featured in House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest and HGTV Magazine. And last year, after I had my daughter & scaled back to essentially part-time, we doubled our revenue and are projected to double our sales again this year.

How many people work for you and what do they do for you?

People often ask me, “Are you a one woman show?” I’m a one woman studio but I work with an accountant, a lawyer, eight different production teams for eleven different product lines, two sales reps, seven showrooms, an SEO digital marketing team and an ads team. I’m outsourcing production, marketing, sales and accounting. Which leaves what I’m passionate about: design.

5. Medical journey

How/where did you meet your DrSpouse?

I met my husband on the first day of college at Penn. We lived next door to each in our freshman hall.

What specialty is he in?

He’s the Director of an ED outside of Pittsburgh, working as an Attending Emergency Medicine physician.

Where did you guys move during the medical journey? How does your location or moving around affect your career?

After college in Philadelphia, we moved to Massachusetts for Jake’s med school training. During his second year of Med School I attended grad school in New York City. After med school, he matched to UPMC and we moved here to Pittsburgh. His residency was 3 years but when the time came, we couldn’t move! We love it here so much, we doubled down: bought a house, got a dog, had a baby.

6. Balancing work-life

How do you handle work around childcare and your DrSpouse’s schedule?

I wake up everyday (even most weekends!) at 5am. I am a HUGE fan of getting work done before the sun and before the distractions of the day set in. I work during naptimes & sometimes after my 18 month old has gone to bed. I work a full time job but we only need 12 hours of childcare – per week! We’ve been able to balance my time to work with my husband’s unusual schedule. Some days it’s crazy but it works for us!

7. Fun facts

Name your favorite dessert.

A cinnamon roll from our corner bakery. It’s heaven.

Name places you love that you have lived in or visited.

London is my favorite city in the world. I lived there for 6 months when I was 20 and the energy is incomparable. I’d love to travel to Thailand, one day soon!

8. Advice for other women

To what do you attribute your success?

The single most important decision I’ve made in my business has been to just show up. Every. Single. Day. As a creative it’s so easy to let fear cause procrastination. I force myself into my studio everyday, even if it’s just for a half hour. Once I’m here, I’m so comfortable and any fears wash away.

How do you get over your fear of failure?

Failure is the worst. In the moment. Once you’ve gotten a little distance, though, it’s one hundred percent a learning experience. I try to think about that when something is really going terribly. It will be over soon, we’ll move on, we’ll learn from it and we will get better and stronger.

9. Lessons

If you had one piece of advice to another woman just starting out, what would it be?

My piece of advice for another woman just starting out is to share your work, your idea, your passion project, before you think it’s ready to be shared. Get it out in the world, gain valuable criticism, start building an audience.

10. Can’t get enough of you

Where can we connect with you?