I have lived in Burbank, CA for almost 13 years. I'll admit, it wasn't my first choice when I decided to move from Orange County to the L.A. area. I imagined myself in West Hollywood, Los Feliz, anywhere but true Suburbia, but good schools beckoned for my youngest daughter and I found myself on a tree lined street in a traditional California bungalow.
I slowly fell in love with my new town. Great vintage stores, super cool restaurants, and fantastic neighbors. I was involved with my daughter's school events and concerts and certainly felt like I was part of the community but didn't become deeply entrenched, until today.
The 2016 election was extremely important to me. I voted for Hillary Clinton for several reasons, yes – because she was a woman and I believe we were long past due for a female perspective on life in our country. But also, because I felt she was completely qualified and ready to tackle this all-important position as leader of the free world. I was confident and excited.
I sent in a write-in ballot because I would be on vacation in Israel the day of the election. I wasn't worried, I figured I'd be celebrating with friends when Hillary won. Sadly, there was no celebrating, only shock and utter silence. As we somberly and quietly attended our scheduled tours the next day, numerous people would come up to us and ask, “Are you American, have you heard, what do you think…?" It was overwhelming and incredible at the same time.
"If you think I was a Nasty Woman Before, Buckle Up Buttercup"
Once home a week later, and still in shock, I knew I had to do something but didn't know what. I felt paralyzed and completely powerless. When the Women's March was announced there was no question I'd be there, I couldn't wait. Outfitted in my “If you think I was a Nasty Woman Before, Buckle Up Buttercup" tee, I joined a few friends to march with 700k+ other men and women in downtown Los Angeles. It was an experience I'll never forget, we were together, and were on fire. I felt a kinship with women I would have never met, had it not been for the march. I had hope that as a movement we could make a difference.
I trudged along and looked forward to marching again and getting some of that united spirit back.
Over this past year, I must admit, I've lost a lot of that hope. That sadness I felt so far away from my country on November 9, 2016 had returned. I trudged along and looked forward to marching again and getting some of that united spirit back. I had planned to go to downtown L.A. again and then discovered a march was planned for Burbank, my little town that I've grown to love so much, was marching. I was elated!
I arrived early so I could meet the founder of this year's march, Joanna Peresie. When I asked her why she rallied everyone to march this year, she said, very simply, and very powerfully, “I did it for my daughter, Ella."
Joanna was quick to ask that I mention the three women who started last year's march in Burbank, Ashley Gogerty, Rhiannon Clark, and Sylvia Hendershot.
I listened to Joanna speak to the crowd about why she was here and why she took charge this year. Listened as her voice cracked but stood proud and strong. This is a humble woman, a loving mother, and I am honored to have met her today.
I also had the pleasure of meeting our state Senator, Anthony Portantino. He was dressed in a pink shirt and attending with his lovely daughter, Bella. He told me about his wife and both daughters, about his dedication to public service, and his belief in this march; “…it was too important not to be here." When he spoke to the crowd, he opened with “Are you listening downtown Los Angeles, because it's rockin' in Burbank!" The crowd roared! He then told us all that “this was a moment in history, meet the person next to you, say hello, share the sisterhood of this moment…" AND WE DID! It was a powerful experience! As he marched with us, I was filled with civic pride to walk alongside someone I had actually voted for. I thought to myself, 'my super power is voting!'
One of our John Burroughs High School teachers who teaches science, Jill Tobin, spoke and delighted the crowd. Once again, I swelled with pride as she told the kids in the crowd “YOUR VOICE MATTERS, YOU MATTER!" This fantastic past Burbank Teacher of the Year AND LA County Teacher of the Year award-winner is working with our future leaders! Aren't they lucky?!
Even though I knew the answer, I asked about our congressman, Adam Schiff. He was working tirelessly last night trying to stop the shut down of our government. Joanna shared that his office did call her yesterday and our hard-working congressman had wished he could be here. I absolutely believe that. One of the many things I've learned since last year's march is how hard Congressman Schiff works for his district, his people, our people. Community is deep in this man's soul, of that I am sure.
Our Vice-Mayor, Emily Gabel-Luddy spoke, and Burbank City Attorney, Amy Albano who also marched in DTLA last year, really got the crowd inspired! I was positively filled with hope as I stood and listened. More so than last year because these people work for my town every day. “Local" isn't just a buzz word for them, they live it. And I'm so glad they do. As I walked with men, women, children, families, and friends, we chatted, we remarked on so many clever signs, and for two hours on a very chilly Saturday morning we literally came together. We stood together, we chanted together, and we marched together. THIS is community. This is why we march, this is hope.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!