How Dani Nagel, Founder of Dazey LA, Turned Her Small One-Gal Operation into a Dynamic Fashion Business
By Bri’Ann Stephens
Danielle Nagel, better known as Dani, is a fashion designer and the founder of Dazey, an art-centered clothing line with hand-drawn creations made by Dani herself.
Combining her two loves of art and fashion to create her "dream job" was no easy task. By sharing her entrepreneurial journey through video with full transparency, Dani was able to gain many supporters.
For the past six years she has been designing for many notable companies both freelance and full time. Some of these companies include Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Forever 21, Macy's, and more.
Dazey LA is much more than a clothing company, it is a source of empowerment for women across the globe. Dani talked to us about how she grew her company and brand, the women who inspire her, and tips for women who wish to create their own graphic tee company.
At what age did you know you had a passion for photography, illustration, design, and art? Tell us about that experience.
I have been creating art since I was a child. I come from a highly creative family where it was encouraged from a young age. I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry when I was in middle school, and in college I was able to refine my interests to apparel graphics.
Photography came a bit later as I was an art director for a company and got sick of hiring photographers that weren’t able to capture my vision. I picked up a camera and was able to get the hang of shooting pretty quickly. I knew that I wanted to start my own brand soon and photography was a skill that would come in handy. Plus it’s so much fun!
You are a feminist and a lot of your work targets alpha females. What influences from your upbringing molded you into the woman you are today and why is feminism important to you?
I grew up in a small, conservative town that often told me I was too bold, driven, or opinionated. I was told that getting married and having kids at a young age was what a woman should do.
I was often reprimanded for sharing my thoughts, and this continued into my adult life and career. I grew so tired of being silenced because I was an opinionated young woman, and I began to feel like there was something wrong with me. Then, I realized there wasn’t anything wrong with me, and the real problem was society’s thoughts on how a woman should act. That is a pretty big factor on why I am such an advocate for feminism.
You launched Dazey in 2016. How did your brand and company grow so quickly in a year?
I am driven to a fault. I would say my tireless drive is what has gotten me this far. When I set out to do something, good luck trying to get in my way! Also, having had a dynamic and long career in apparel graphics has given me the tools and connections to know what I needed to do.
Being radically transparent and sharing everything has been a huge help too. I think women can relate to my company being a small one-gal operation and are happy to support!
What do you want women who wear your graphic tees to feel and represent? What message do you want to spread?
I design my tees for girls just like me! Young, creative career-minded women. I want to spread female empowerment. I know what it’s like to be told you can’t do something. I want girls to know that they are capable of anything. Following your dreams can be scary, but boy are they worth it. I want to be an example of that.
Could you name at least 5 women who inspire you and tell us why?
Sophia Amoruso - Though Nasty Gal is now out of business, it’s still incredible what she was able to build from nothing!
Kelli Murray - She was a mentor to me at a young age and was always someone I looked up to as a designer and business woman.
Bri Emery of Design Love Fest - Her eye for all things beautiful blows my mind. She has style and taste like no other.
Cammy and Cologne of Show Me Your MuMu - They are the sweetest down-to- earth girls despite all of their success!
Jen Gotch of Bando - This lady is 100 percent bonkers, but I love it. She seems like such a great example of how to be a fun, but respected boss lady!
What is some advice or 3 main tips you'd like to give to women who aspire to start their own graphic design or graphic tee company?