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Running a business

Dante Biss-Grayson has global dreams for his Native-inspired fashion line

In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, QuickBooks is spotlighting indigenous-owned small businesses, their stories, and their journeys to success. Check the Small Business Stories hub all month for more inspiration. 

Name: Dante Biss-Grayson

Location: Taos, New Mexico.

Business: Sky-Eagle Collection

Tell us about your business.

The Sky-Eagle Fashion House is a family-owned business. The key ethos is to build platforms online for awareness and to inspire action for issues impacting Native American communities. The clothing is designed for all and aims to empower! We plan on taking the Sky-Eagle fashion house to the global market with a variety of brands in development.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

After multiple tours overseas in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Italy, I returned home with many traumatic incidents locked deep inside my heart and soul. I needed a release, I needed therapy, so I opened my art and fashion studios as a way to heal. I paint, write poetry, sculpt, create art installations, and I am a fashion designer.

Recently, I have had two sold out runway shows in Santa Fe, and had a runway show in London. I am branching out into high-end fashion and couture, and I plan on becoming one of the first global Native and Veteran Fashion Brands.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

Be flexible and give it your all! Having a vision for your business is one thing, but making it a reality is the key. Many times, the original design does not match the outcome, but it is always good to embrace the accident and be flexible to solutions. And give it your all—it is rewarding to put in the time and effort and see the business become a success!

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?


How much time flies when you love what you are doing!


How does running your own business make you feel?


It is a great feeling. There is a mix of emotions—from being excited for the new launches and being anxious about the growth, to exploring new technology, and having opportunities come to you. It is a whole mix of perspectives and it is a rewarding journey. Even through the trials and tribulations, I keep designing and striving for success.


What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome?


Keeping inventory is our main challenge. We tend to sell out quite fast. I have created multiple brands under the Sky-Eagle fashion house, and one is the “Wow-Pow!” clothing line. This line is easier to scale for ready-to-wear, and this is one way I am solving the challenge of keeping inventory. Under this label, I will be able to scale up and keep more sizes and large quantities on my website and shop in Taos.

quote image
Time flies when you love what you are doing.

How is your business handling recent inflation and supply chain issues? 


I see it as making the product more accessible with lower costs—more of a volume business model for a few of my brands. I still have high-end couture pieces, but on the other end of the spectrum, I have more price points and options for all. 


Also, social media campaigns are key to keeping our customers engaged through the peaks and valleys of the economy. Fashion is interesting in that people buy for festive occasions and many times for “retail therapy.” Fashion can help make people feel better. When they wear the Sky-Eagle Brand, they feel empowered. 


What challenges do you feel are unique to indigenous small business owners? 


I would say the biggest challenge is educating people on the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. The Sky-Eagle Collection strives to create designs rooted in culture for the general public to enjoy.


How do you engage with the community and how do they engage with or help your business?


I have been able to leverage e-commerce and social media platforms. We really started the business during the pandemic, so going virtual was natural for us. Posts on social media that are true and resonate with the viewers is key. We are consistent in posting, we always have new collections, and we are having fun!

What are your proudest moments? 


Getting mentioned in Vogue twice was a big one, interviews on NBC-LA, having 2 sold out runway shows, and having a small background part in the Killers of the Flower Moon, Directed by Martin Scorsese.


What are the next big plans you have for your business? 


I have shows planned at New York Fashion Week, Cannes, Paris Fashion Week, and Santa Fe in 2023. I am at the point where I need to send proposals to larger distributors and see if we can scale up the brand nationally.


When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?


My family. Also knowing that we are doing good work to bring awareness to critical issues impacting Native communities. It is all very fulfilling and motivates me to achieve more.

What advice would you give to other business owners just starting out?


Have a long-term strategic plan, create a business model that is flexible, never forget about your key focus areas, and don’t wait for anyone to come and “discover” you. You need to simply be true to your values and what you stand for and the work will come out true.


What’s your “power song” and why?


“Hang Fire” by the Rolling Stones. I grew up with Classic Rock in my house and this song has a good beat and is a good balance of fun, inspiration, and action!


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