At 50 years old, Heather Daily has had more than her fair share of highs and lows. Having married in her early 20s and given birth to four children in five years, Heather, like many women, put her life on hold to raise her family. But when things suddenly came unraveled — a divorce, a cancer diagnosis and four young mouths to feed — she was devastated. It’s a period she describes as “the breath-taking chapters of life.”
Today, though, Heather is enjoying Life 2.0. She’s cancer-free, happily remarried and has recently launched a new career she never imagined. Her furniture business, Southern Revival Home, debuted at High Point Market just last month to great acclaim, and today, she’s sharing her infectious optimism, her inspiring words of wisdom and the amazing road that led her to today. Meet our newest FACE of Nashville, the warm, uplifting, and all-around-amazing Heather Daily.
Where are you from, and how did you arrive in Nashville?
I was born in Texas into a military family, so we moved a lot. We moved to Florida, back to Texas, to Guam, and to New Mexico, and when I was 7, my dad got transferred to California, and that’s where I spent the rest of my growing up. I graduated from high school there and was already making music. I won a songwriting contest and was offered a scholarship to Belmont.
Tell us about what you call “the breath-taking chapters” of your life.
More than anything, the hardest part of becoming a single parent when it’s not of your choosing is you carry the burden of your children’s pain as well as your own. I think I cried for a whole year after he left — my entire identity had been in being a wife and mom, and I just thought What am I supposed to do with myself?
I went back to school and got my degree in liberal studies with an emphasis on visual arts. Belmont had an adult learning program — you could basically craft your degree, so I was teaching and then went right into grad school. I was juggling four kids and still trying to figure out what I was doing with myself. I finished grad school, and about six months after that, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was 36. I was so young!
When you’re faced with a physical hardship, you realize every day is a gift. I read One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp, and it completely changed my perspective. I began to focus on deliberate gratitude. It was a sucker punch, but it was breathtaking in that it opened my eyes and heart to the beauty that is in every day.
How did you get into furniture design?
So how did Southern Revival Home come about?
I was painting original work for a giclée print company out of California that serves the home furnishing industry, and it was being marketed and sold at Furniture Market in High Point and Winter Market in Las Vegas. We had some friends whose family was in the furniture business, so we decided to go to one market, and we met a whole lot of people. Then we went back a second time, and it was a strange turn of events. My now-husband was talking to the owners of this furniture company out of Boone, NC, and long story short, they ended up connecting the dots and realized that they knew each other. My husband had been to their lake house when he was a teen. There are a million square feet of exhibit space in High Point, and we made that connection, so it was serendipitous.
Also, the second time we went to market, we met the president of Charleston Forge, Rick Grant — an amazing, gregarious man. He asked my opinion about a piece in their new collection. I commented that it didn’t have soft-close drawers. A couple of months went by, and he asked if I’d thought about designing a line of furniture. He said, “I think you should create a brand — you have charisma and ideas, and your story resonates.”
So I started sending them drawings. They have an amazing industrial designer, Wilson Keel, who had won several Pinnacle Awards. He does all the CAD and mechanical specifics, and he’d say “We can make this happen,” or “There’s no way we can do it.” And here we are.
What inspired the company name, Southern Revival Home?
In thinking about the word “revival,” something can’t be revived unless it’s on the doorstep of death. I think my life went through this flatline period of time when it was just assault after assault, and I really felt like uncle! But through the hardship, all this beauty and perspective was born. It was really the same way that I saw Nashville.
When I first moved here, the Ryman, which, itself, has a story rooted in revival, had just reopened. At the time, you didn’t go downtown, there was no nightlife. In the time since then, Nashville has experienced a revival. It’s happening all across the South.
You describe the brand as “furniture design with artisan sensibility.” What does that mean?
“Artisan sensibility” permeates the pieces in Southern Revival wholly because each piece is hand-made by skilled American artisans who are masters of their craft. Every piece produced by Charleston Forge & McKinley Leather is touched by many sets of hands, from the imagined concept drawn on paper, to each hand-forged table leg, to the hand-hewn wooden tabletops and hand-made frames for leather seating, to the gorgeous hand stitching that finishes the upholstered pieces. “Artisan sensibility” is embodied in each piece.
What was it like to bring your product to market for the first time?
To be a 50-year-old woman, someone who is at an age where the rest of the world says I have nothing to offer, and to step into this new adventure wholeheartedly, is so affirming that life is never over. Your potential is never over!
Do you ever look back and wonder how you got to this point?
Two elemental people happened into my life, and they are how I’ve found myself a maker, teacher, and now designer. Rick Grant believed in me. He went out on a limb and gave me a shot, not because I was a proven furniture designer, but because I was authentic and passionate not only in my vision but in who — through being roughed up by life — I had grown into. Simultaneously, for the first time in my life, I have a partner who is so secure in who he is that he wholeheartedly supports me in anything I endeavor. Both of those things contribute to the third part of the puzzle, which is this: For the first time in my life, after living half a century believing the lies of society that told me otherwise, I believe I can.
What’s the best piece of advice you can offer others trying to find their way?
Keep doing what you love, and when opportunities come, it’s your responsibility to walk through the door. You have nothing to lose. You have “no” to start with, but if you choose to go forward and walk through that door, who knows? It could be “yes,” or “maybe,” and sure, it could be “no,” but nothing is lost in trying.
And last question: Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Coffee, music and a good bourbon
She has a passion for pulmonary health and patient care, and she’s on the forefront of cutting edge lung health technological advances. Meet our newest FACE of TriStar, Dr. Susan Garwood of TriStar Centennial Medical Center. Click HERE.