Monday, March 21, 2011

Sisters In Enterprise ? Building Fast Growth Jewelry Brand Dannijo


This is a guest post by Joanne Wilson, a guest writer for The NextWomen based in New York. She is involved with various startups as an advisor or investor, has also invested in a few restaurants, is an early supporter of the Highline project, and sits on various non-profit boards.

I got an email from Danielle, the younger of the two Snyder sisters behind the New York based Jewelry brand Dannijo, introducing herself as an avid fan of my blog. Funny enough, I own one of their bracelets so how could I resist meeting the sisters? So glad I did. Two smart women with interesting stories and a passion for life who definitely work as hard as they play.

Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, Danielle and Jodie started making jewelry�together at 9 and 12 years old. Grabbing their father?s medical tools, they worked their way into using metals for their designs. As the story unfolds, it is not surprising at all that the road would eventually lead to a jewelry business.

During High School, Jodie worked in a high end store in Jacksonville and convinced the owner to sell their jewelry line. Everything sold out and both Jo and Danielle saw their wares being worn on the college students walking around town. They were definitely on to something.

Jodie went to school at University of Florida and Danielle went off to Vanderbilt. When Danielle went abroad for a semester she spent some time working with Robert Cavelli learning more and more about the fashion business. They continued to make jewelry together while in college. Moving forward, while Danielle was at Vanderbilt, their uncle gave them an opportunity to take over a small storefront, part of his real estate portfolio, which they called Dannijo Jewels . Their parents seeded this idea. They certainly learned alot but after running that store for a year and a half that was enough. They paid back�every dime, paid their rent and were�even able to pocket a little bit at the end of its run.

Fast forward and Jodie is living and working in NYC at Sam Edelman, a shoe company. She is doing private label sales for their large clients. A great experience but not sure this was it. Danielle comes to NYC to do a summer internship at 85 Broads. The internship sent her and a few people to Africa to make a documentary for an organization they started called Lwala (Living with a Lifelong Ambition). The concept was to create a documentary about the AIDS problems in the village of Lwala, Kenya hoping that it would motivate their peers to do something to fight AIDS in Africa. They raised money for the elders of the community who had a very hard time with young people opening up these issues to the world. One of the initial members of Lwala was a Vanderbilt University medical student who had lost his parents to AIDS. This organization still exists today.

It was the Lwala event, where Danielle and Jodie has worked together on a small three piece collection for the fundraising party, when they started thinking perhaps they had something here like a jewelry business.

Graduation was around the corner and Jodie was continuing to figure out her career in the fashion industry in NYC. Once graduated Danielle got a job at Prime Time hoping to fulfill her desire to become the next Ed Bradley. After spending hours in a small room doing time coding, she lost interest, went on Craigs List and found a job at Penny Preville, a fine jewelry company and pivoted back to jewelry.

Within one month of each other both sisters found themselves out of work and looking at each other and thinking ?now what??. This goes under the heading ?things happen for a reason?. The line they had created for LWALA had been so well received that they knew they were on to something. They had success before in paying back their parents when they funded the store so they went back to the well. Give us six months and let us launch this business.

Both Danielle and Jodie have serious energy but they truly compliment each other. One has a better head for business and the other has more creativity and tenacity. Taking their line into Bergdoff Goodman after calling at 5pm and getting an assistant designer on the phone who they told that they were in the neighborhood en route to see someone who was about to write about them and wanted BG?s opinion on their wares. The assistant designer bought it hook, line and sinker. Once she saw the line, the buyer walked in and took a peek and the rest is history.

Their business has doubled each year since. They are starting to think out of the box and how they use social media to push out their product directly to the consumer.

I loved these girls. After spending many of my former years in the retail and manufacturing space, on many levels no much has changed and I could completely relate to what they were doing and how they are going about it.

Don?t be surprised to see Dannijo become a big life style brand built on top of their first product and love, good jewelry.


Nicky Hilton Karen Carreno Vanessa Marcil Noureen DeWulf Rebecca Romijn

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