During the month of March, which is Women’s History Month, #DawsonWritesAmerica will be placing a spotlight on WOMEN MAKING HISTORY, a series acknowledging the very best of us.
Daria Petties recently spent her mornng at a Bronx elementary school speaking to students about future careers. She answered every question, and talked to them about what freedom really means when it comes to emplyoment. She gave them answers based on her unique perspective, letting them know what is possible. Gave them a new way of thinking.
Petties was able to do that because she’s put in the work over the years to have the life she’s always wanted. Currently, she’s both a flight attendant for ExpressJet and an entrepreneur–the owner of a jewelry business, Daria’s Blings N Things. Being a flight attendant allows her to travel the world on someone else’s dime, while the jewelry business allows her to make money on her own terms. It’s a winning situation, one that she’s sure the students appreciated.
“At such young ages, the students were already thinking about and telling me the jobs they had,” she says with a smile. “One young man pointed to his temple and said that was his business. I was so impressed. They were so charming. I just let them know what I’ve been able to do and hopefully they will remember the lady that came in and spoke with them about seeing the world and owning their own business.”
Born and raised in Queens, Petties was always a trendsetter. She was fashion forward at five years old, and wore flat tops when they weren’t yet popular. “I was always pushing the envelope,” she made clear. That creative spirit, that need to be free, made working a 9-to-5 especially difficult. She did it, though, for years, working at different jobs around the city, while also working on her own businesses. “I always dabbled in doing other things,” she recalls about her hustle game. “I had clothing that I made, called Aksentz. I was selling those on the weekend while working at NYU during the week, and was making more money doing that than I did sitting at a desk pushing papers.”
HOW ARE YOU MAKING HISTORY?
“I’M MAKING HISTORY BY BEING A SINGLE, ZERO DEPENDENT, OVER 50–AND NOT LOOKING OR ACTING LIKE IT–WOMAN AND DOING THINGS THE WAY I WANT TO DO THEM. I’M SHOWING THAT NO MATTER WHEN YOU START, BECAUSE I’M STILL PLANNING ON BEING A MILLIONAIRE, YOU CAN STILL GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU ACHIEVE YOUR DREAM WHILE STILL LIVING AND ENJOYING THE JOURNEY.” — DARIA PETTIES
It was when she turned 40 that she made a promise to herself that she would look for a job that had perks. The goal, she says, was to find a gig where she didn’t have to work as much. That led to her becoming a flight attendant. “It was the perfect job,” she says, laughing. Flying definitely has its advantages, with Petties usually the only flight attendant on a plane that seats up to 50 passengers. She’s been with the airline for 13 years, and her seniority allows her to set her own schedule. “I work eight days a month and am able to do everything else I want to do.”
That everyhing else includes Daria’s Blings N Things, which she runs under the umbrella of the parent company Paparazzi Accessories. It was her sister Wendy, who is also a life coach, that reminded her that being a trendsetter is what she does, so working with jewelry would be a no-brainer. After doing the research, Petties was impressed with what the company had to offer–a chance to work independently and make good money. “It’s a direct sale company and you can just soar on your own,” she explains. “You don’t have to rely on residuals because you have a tangible item to sell. And of course, women and jewelry is a perfect match.”
It’s been two years since she’s been selling the lead- and nickel-free jewelry, and her clientele keeps growing. “Just walking around wearing it, people are like ‘Oh my god I love that.’ They’ve literally bought stuff right off of my neck!” Petties is also working to save the environment by leading the stainless straw movement, the sales of which are going well, she says. “I can’t drink anything without a straw, and other people feel the same. So by purchasing the stainless steel, we’re all doing our part.”
Business has been going so well, last year after taxes, she says she made more working with jewelry than she did working for the airlines. “You don’t become a flight attendant to become rich,” she says sincerely. “You do it for the benefits [laughs] and for the incredible experiences.” It’s a balancing act, for sure, but one that has given Petties the flexibility to do things she loves.
When asked how she’s making history, she stayed true to form. “I feel like I’m making history by showing a different way to do things. I’m making history by being a single, zero dependent, over 50–and not looking or acting like it–woman and doing things the way I want to do them. I’m showing that no matter when you start, because I’m still planning on being a millionaire, you can still get to the point where you achieve your dream while still living and enjoying the journey.”