An Hour with Danni Rose 

An Hour with Danni Rose 


Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of chatting with the lady behind the sewing machine, Danni herself. For this piece, I asked her twenty or so questions - some of which were provided by you. In this time, we talked about the fast fashion industry, the power of the gram and off the shoulder tops. Our conversation is as follows...

The first question on the agenda was when did you first start sewing?
For Danni, it all began in year 7 and learning how to sew at school. More accurately, whilst sewing a reversible pillowcase in her colour choice of hot pink and black.  
“It felt so creative being like I’m going to pair these colours together and then make a reversible pillowcase.”
“Before this I thought sewing was something just for older people.”
“It was the first time I was in a class and felt like I could be creative.”


Then in Year 13, when the questions of careers and university started circulating, Danni chose to stick with the subject she still enjoyed most. 

“I thought to myself: what do I want to be. Why don’t I just choose my dream job and then go for that, rather than the safe option.”
“I just wanted something I truly was going to enjoy for the rest of my life.” 

We then talked about how the ‘dream job’ narrowed down from ‘something in fashion’ to Danni Rose Designs specifically. 
“For a very long time, I never saw myself as someone who wanted to have their own business and work for myself and do all the sewing. I thought that there would be too much stress.” 

But this changed with her second year of university. Living in Wellington and studying at Massey, she started to uncover some of the uglier sides of the business. Danni clearly remembers the life-changing assignment she wrote on capitalism halfway through her degree. 
“I chose to relate the assignment as much back to fashion as possible.”
“I watched The True Cost documentary and it was the first time I saw the gap between the consumer and - not even the designer - but the person who made the clothes.”
She realised how heavily the industry exploited people and the environment. Although her love of sewing and creating never wavered, she started second guessing her choice to study fashion and become part of the industry.  

Danni retold the conversation she had with a lecturer, following her recent insights into the industry. She passed on her feelings of shock and annoyance… why wasn’t something being taught at university, why wasn’t something people knew about? 
This lecturer was the first person to plant the seeds of Danni Rose Designs. Informing her about sustainable fashion, a very small part of the industry. 

“She said, there’s a niche market for it at the moment, but that’s only going to grow. Since it’s a niche market, if you’re one brand you’re always going to have customers.”

After this conversation Danni’s perspective changed from, I’m in the wrong degree, I’ve come into the wrong industry to something more positive and passionate. 
“It is the right time for me to be in the fashion industry because right now, I have far less brands to compete against.”
“I want to be one to educate myself and then educate others.”

This last statement led perfectly into my next line of questioning: recommendations. We talked about the best things to watch and listen to if you're wanting to become more educated on the industry:

  1. Documentaries 

  • The True Cost Documentary

“It’s a very good starting point.”

  • The Minimalist. 

“it’s hardcore, but it makes you realise how much stuff you have and how you’ve been manipulated by the industry into thinking you need lots of things.”

  • Would you still buy that dress after watching this

  1. Podcasts

  • Conscious Chatter

“They interview so many different people from so many different industries, often people who are smaller and have worked for larger companies and expose so many different companies.”
“I felt I could connect to the podcasts more because you hear personal stories.” 
  1. The gram 

Danni’s found so many other great accounts and people by following certain hashtags, particularly #whomademyclothes and #sustainablefashionquotes. 
This means her news feed isn’t chock-a-block with influencers and friends and people who are always buying new things and following trends.

“Even when you’re educated in yourself to know what the industry is like and you know it’s bad, when you see something so many times, your mind starts to want it and feel like you almost need it in your wardrobe and in your life. It’s just the way advertising works. Your personal style can end up just being what’s on trend.”

We talked about Princess Polly hauls and the abundance of clothes influencers try on. Danni thinks it’s important to remember these people are getting paid and they often get the clothes for free. Although the clothes are pretty and tempting, it’s important to be really aware of advertisement now, being aware of the content you’re consuming. To question if you do really like something or if you’ve just seen a million times. 

She told me an anecdote, a time when she fell into fast fashion’s clutches: 
“I remember when off the shoulder tops came out.” She laughed. 
“I hated them so much. But I worked in a clothing store at the time, the store started selling them, people were buying them, trying them on and wearing them.” 
Then, worn down by her environment, she purchased an off the shoulder top!  
“I am my own example, I look back at photos now and it’s just not my style. It was so annoying to do anything in these tops. I had to wear a strapless bra, which was quite uncomfortable because I’m bustier. You’d raise your arms and they would slide up your shoulders.`` 
“You see something the first time, you hate it, you see the same thing over and over again and suddenly you’re like, I want it.”

We then meandered our way onto different topics. As someone who can’t sew, I was really interested in finding out about Danni’s creative process. How does one create a garment from nothing? What’s involved mentally and physically?
From an outsider perspective, I’d describe Danni’s relationship with clothing as intuitive, she’s really at one with the garment when creating. 

 She told me about how she made the Olly Dress - her favourite  garment to date.
“I didn’t really draw a picture of it before I did it. I had some fabric that I bought second hand off a local designer."
Pushed for time, she made the garment pretty quickly. 
“I knew I wanted it to be midi length and that’s all I knew.”
“I cut it out, I wanted a close neckline but then I couldn’t fit my head through. So I cut down the centre of the back and attached the tie.”
She then added puffy sleeves, inspired by a custom garment made earlier that day. 
“I honestly made the design up as I was cutting it out. I made the design and finished the dress within two hours.” 
“It wasn’t thoughtless, but it just happened, that's how I’ve always worked.”
This lady and her talent is rare.

From here, the plan is to experiment even more. Wanting to branch into knitwear, printed fabrics and Cupro (vegan silk). A studio would also be nice. The Danni Rose business started out in her bedroom, currently it’s got it’s own space in the living room of her flat.
“The website is done, that’s a huge accomplishment and I kind of just want to marinate in that for a bit and just enjoy having a website. But next thing would be to expand the business by letting it have its own space.”

We chewed the fat about how the brand got going. How it grew from a bedroom project to having an Instagram with 3000 followers, a website, potential studio and customers from all over. 

Danni's initial plan after university was to go into retail management, where she’d learn about how to run a business. She started working full time in a manager role but it wasn’t what she imagined.

Inspiration struck about two years ago in the form of a one-off market.  
It was run by younger Wellington creatives, with stall holders selling jewellery and pottery. 
“I just thought, this is what I need to do, I need to come into a market like this.”
And that's exactly what she did. She had garments from her fourth year collection from uni and and took them to markets. On her first market, she sold about 15 items! 
“I’d worked in retail for years, but it was my first time ever with my own clothes and strangers approaching me being like ‘oh my gosh you’ve made this.’" 
“It was really weird to talk about my own stuff, very confronting, very exciting, so many emotions.”


Then COVID happened and markets were cancelled. But ever resourceful, Danni didn’t see this as a setback whatsoever.
“In lockdown, I had a whole wardrobe of fabrics and nothing else to do, so I just started sewing.” 
Back then, her Instagram page was more of a side thing. A place where customers from markets could find her and contact her. But with lockdown, people were more interested in supporting small businesses and spending much more time on their phone, two factors that worked in her favor. Lockdown finished and she had over 50 garments ready to ship out to customers. 
“Instagram was definitely quite an accident, I never planned for it to be the way I run it, I was never an Instagram person myself.”
“I just didn’t understand the power of the gram.” 

As the Danni Rose Designs brand grew, she began shrinking her hours at her retail job. Initially sewing before work and on days off, she slowly was able to dedicate more and more time to what she really enjoyed. 
“I was just grinding for two years while I was working full time.” 
“I just knew where I wanted to be and just didn’t question the amount of time I was spending on it.”

As our time drew to a close, I squeezed in as many typical interview questions as I could. 
"Who inspires you?" I asked. 
“I used to have bigger brands, but I think now, I get more inspiration from people who are doing the same thing as me.” 
Sera Choat of My Keeper was who sprung to mind. 
“She works full time and she has her business and she’s killing it.”
For those who don’t know, My Keeper is a handmade designer rental company based in Auckland. 
“She’s a huge inspiration to me because I can see the amount of work and the love she has for the business.”
“I can feel inspired by bigger brands, but when you ask them, ‘how did you get here, you’ll see that they had investors and people who worked for them.’” None of which Danni has. She built the brand by herself. 

 I also want people to know my core values, she’d said.
“Sustainability first, passion second and then, just happiness.”
“What’s the point in grinding and working so hard, if you’re not going to be happy doing it.” 

And there we have it, that was an hour with Danni. I hope you found it as inspiring to read as I did to chat with the lady herself. 

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