We had the good fortune of connecting with Kyla Skinner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kyla, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Fear of risk has handicapped me most of my life. Fear of debt, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of unknowns. I stayed with what was comfortable, what was safe, what was predictable, what other people expected of me.
2020 was climactic. Out of all the things I’ve worried about in my life, a global pandemic was never on my radar! Combined with the traumatic loss of my biological mother and religious confusion, anxiety and depression literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to focus on each moment, on each day, on the beauty surrounding me despite the unknowns, to carry on. It was one breath at a time. I realized no amount of worry, trying to grip security tightly, or attempting to avoid risk was going to protect me.
Life is risky. Life is hard. But it’s also sweet and full of connections and love. And until we take risks, we can’t experience our full potential. With the help of therapy and a business coach, I shifted my frame of mind. Risk was no longer so scary and frightening but, instead, exciting and liberating!
I opened the doors to my business, Specs by Kyla, on my 42nd birthday. The birth of a new way of thinking. The birth of my new business and embracing risk for the first time in my life. And I have never been happier!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Specs by Kyla is an eyewear and sunglass shop, it is a modern space full of light, plants and cool glasses! I’ve been a certified optician for 21 years and always dreamed of opening my own optical shop. It is now a reality!
We carry only independent eyewear brands, focusing on quality and connection. We highly value customer service and building relationships with those that trust us with their vision and style. We offer individualized service and honest feedback, the fit of your eyewear is as important as style. Your frames need to be analyzed and adjusted by an expert to ensure they are comfortable and that you see clearly. Glasses are necessary but don’t need to be boring. We consider them a fashionable flattering accessory and we encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and embrace glasses as part of their individuality.
Another huge part of my business opening is my adoption story. I’d like to share it as well; as the risks I took to explore that part of my history helped me get where I am today. I was adopted at 8 months old and didn’t explore my roots until my late 30s. The unknowns scared me so much, not knowing who my birth family was and what they’d expect or think of me.
I found my half sister first. We got to know each other over a couple years, then, as we both had our own children, we felt the need to find our birth mom and let her know we were ok, and that we appreciated our lives. We found our aunts & uncle, met them and we were amazed at the beautiful connection we felt.
We finally mustered the courage to send our birth mom a letter but it was too hard for her to respond. Two and a half years later, she found us both on Facebook, she said she loved us, that she was proud of us – and she saw pictures of our families and lives. Less than 3 months later, she died unexpectedly and suddenly. The grief hit me raw and like a ton of bricks. The old baby grief surfaced as well as fresh new suffocating grief.
A few months later, we learned she had us in her will. For many years, long before we reached out to her. She left us all she owned, as well as peace, knowing that she loved us. As much as I wanted to hold tightly to that money, to keep it safe locked away, because spending it felt like I was letting go of her too, I knew I had to take this chance to follow my dream of starting my own business. Now was the time. I opened my hands and my heart, I forced myself to look at is an opportunity versus a risk. I opened 3 months ago and it has been far more successful than I had hoped. Sometimes I pinch myself, I can’t believe I’m actually doing it. My only regret is not doing it sooner!
I risked a lot, finding my birth family. My life as I knew it was changed forever. I get chills thinking of the massive regrets my sister and I would have had we NOT RISKED it, though. It’s the same with this business, I needed to live my life in a genuine way I won’t regret -despite the risks.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atascadero is a small town on the central coast of California. Located half way between San Francisco & Los Angeles, 20 minutes from the ocean, in the heart of wine country, it’s perfection in my mind. I would choose to stay at an Airbnb as I love feeling like I’m at home when I’m on vacation.
Explore the shops on Traffic Way, where my shop is located. There’s Central Coast Distillery with amazing cocktails, Traffic Way Records, sushi at Nogi, The Book Odyssey is jam packed full of great used books perfect for vacation reading. Ancient Owl & Poisoned Apple are two hip new hangouts on El Camino with huge beer & cider selections. Negranti Creamery just opened in a cool shipping container village, their strawberry basil ice cream made from sheep’s milk is so refreshing. While there, visit Sabreena with Stellar & S.U.N. who makes custom hats with the most gorgeous details. If you’re in the shopping mood, venture down Entrada St, I love Black Sheep who has a mix of vintage/new clothing, unique jewelry and gifts, I always find treasures there. Farron Elizabeth for women’s clothing and Bloke across the street carries awesome men’s items. The Juice Boss offers freshly squeezed healthy fruit & veggie juices, also, side-note, her daughter raises corgis which is where we got our sweet shop dog, Poppy!
Breakfast at the Kitchenette in Templeton, wine tasting on Highway 46 West then a nap. Naps are always good. Pier 46 for the best fish tacos ever.
San Luis Obispo is a fun college town with lots of great hiking, Bishop’s Peak is my favorite hike with an amazing view. Farmer’s Market happens Thursday night and it’s more like a street fair with entertainment and food vendors.
Another day, breakfast at The Hidden Kitchen in Cayucos and a long walk on the beach by Morro Rock.
Drive north up Highway 1 to explore Ragged Point. On your way back, a gorgeous beach spot is San Simeon where there’s an easy hike out the point to stretch your legs…and end the day with a glass of wine at Hearst Ranch and tacos from the food truck usually parked there. It seriously feels like paradise. Watch for the zebras owned by the Hearst Castle property.
Back in Atascadero, and because I love the outdoors, check out the Jim Green Trail and the 3 Bridges hike. Also there’s Atascadero Lake you can walk around and a lovely park there with a small but great zoo for the kids. We love the red pandas! Sunken Gardens is another gorgeous park for a picnic, enjoy the sounds of the huge fountain on the cool grass with the beautifully renovated City Hall in the background.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have found a tribe of women who are bravely taking their own risks and encouraging me to do the same, too many to list but I am so grateful for each and every one of them.
My EMDR-trained therapist helped me work through anxiety and childhood adoption trauma/grief.
Christie Garcia with Mindful Choice Coaching got to the deep roots of my fears around the risks of starting a business, helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses, take ownership and strive to become 1% better each day. Baby steps equal big steps in time.
My husband and my 2 girls have supported me in remodeling my business space and telling me every day that I am capable and I CAN DO THIS.
Carlee Tatum with Milk & Thistle Photography