Marketplace: Basking in the Poison love
August 27, 2010
It feels good when someone likes your product, and Amy Skaling is experiencing that sensation many times over as hers are repeatedly appearing on national television.
About 10 years ago she founded Team Diva, a company that creates embellished accessories. Her tastes admittedly run "over the top," and are finding fans in people who love "bling," she said. Her motto is, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."
Her biggest sellers are embellished cowboy hats. Friends of hers are friends with singer and television star Bret Michaels. She sent several hats with them to his concert as gifts. He liked them so much he asked for a few more to be sent to New York City.
Soon he was wearing her hats on nearly every episode of Donald Trump’s reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice." He gave them to others to wear on the show as well, and has continued to wear them during television appearances (including "American Idol") and his performances.
Although there are imitators, Skaling said people have been interested in purchasing the same hats he wears. Google "Bret Michaels cowboy hats" and underneath costume makers, the second or third post will credit Team Diva.
"I make them with my own hands, every single hat," she said.
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What she makes is the design, or embellishment. She uses appliqués (patches), Swarovski crystals imported from Europe, nail heads and more to create her designs. Skaling says she’s inspired by the motorbike culture. Her own self-decorated bike can be seen every year in Park City’s Fourth of July parade.
Skaling said she loved her 29 years as a sales representative for a ski equipment manufacturer, but feels so liberated making money with her own creativity.
Her job was great, but her designs were too over-the-top for the ski industry, she says.
But motorcycle culture isn’t a far cry from the ski culture, Skaling believes. In both, people want stylish outfits that are durable and will stand up to the elements. So she moved to Park City from Southern California and brought her Harley Davidson with her.
"For me, it’s about being crazy on my own without a big company weighing me down," she said.
The irony of people across the country scouring the Internet to find a Bret Michaels hat, is that Team Diva’s products have long been available at Mary Jane’s on Main Street, she said.
She can often be found on the street with her wares doing a trunk show during the Sundance Film Festival. It’s her biggest time of the year. In addition to hats, her shirts and belt buckles are the best sellers. Last year a popular item was a belt with an embellished and removable flask.
"There are so many women out there who love bling," she said. "They’re in all walks of life babies and grandmothers. It’s amazing to me everyone wants a piece of the bling."
Swarovski crystals are used because nothing else shines quite like them, she explains.
One of the most popular hats she made for Michaels features feathers and a blown out motorcycle spark plug. Together, it looks like a butterfly in the hat.
Skaling takes requests and can customize but, so far, Team Diva has been successful with ideas that come to her while riding, she said.
Meet Skaling and see more of her product at the Sept. 12 Park Silly Sunday Market in the beer garden.
Creator of Bret Michaels’ cowboy hats
Found locally at Mary Jane’s
on Main Street