A designer from Queens, New York, is proving you can always pursue your dreams. Dayanne Danier, of Astoria, Queens, has dreamt of being a fashion designer since she was a little girl. Now Danier is expanding her five-year-old women’s wear collection, Bien Aby?. The name comes French Creole that means “well dressed.”
Danier, a Haitian-American, has even shown her collection at New York Fashion Week. She also runs a nonprofit organization called Fleur De Vie that benefits the children of Haiti.
Danier tells TNJ.com about her future plans for Bien Aby?.
TNJ.com: What led you to launch your own line?
Dayanne Danier: I would have to say it was timing and the pursuit of my dreams. I had been in the industry for over a decade designing for large fashion corporations such as Perry Ellis and Phillip Van Heusen. And I just came to a point in my life when I thought about my ultimate dream and how it was always about having my own line. So after years of experience, I felt the time was right and the time was now.
TNJ.com: How did you fund the startup?
DD: I worked hard to fund my startup on my own. Personal savings have been my largest source of funding and when I had my first fashion show during New York Fashion Week, I was fortunate in that my family supported me.
TNJ.com How did you come up with the name?
DD: The name Bien Aby?, which means “well-dressed” in French Creole, has a lot of history behind it. Growing up, image was strongly enforced in my household. My father would make the statement every time my siblings and I got dressed; we couldn?t leave the house without being ?Bien Aby?.” When I had to come up with a name for the collection, the phrase was fitting since it was a phrase that helped shape my life.
TNJ.com: It seems to be that one needs a lot of money to introduce a line of clothing, how did you deal with this?
DD: That is true, fashion is not a cheap business, it?s almost impossible without a major investor. Keeping that in mind, I try my best to keep the collection current while seeking my magic angel. ?With the new S7VEN concept, addressing the challenge is easier.
TNJ.com: How did you came up with the S7VEN concept?
DD: The S7VEN concept is all about redefining how women shop. In today?s market, we have been inundated with a whole lot of fast fashion; clothes that are worn today and thrown away tomorrow. So many womens’ closets have been packed with these types of pieces that it creates a struggle between her and her closet.
With my Bien Aby? collection, I took a moment to focus on what women need for their overall lifestyle: look chic, quality styles, and save time. And that was the conception of S7VEN, styles that are designed to make women look fabulous at all times effortlessly.
TNJ.com: What are some obstacles you have faced in launching and growing your business and how have you dealt with them?
DD: That?s a great question! Some of the obstacles I have faced are the same obstacles every designer faces, especially emerging designers. The industry has a ?catch 22? aspect to it: in order to get into boutiques, you need to have press; in order to have press; you have to be in a boutique. It seems like the impossible. But now with the Internet and social media, emerging designers have options. We can interact with our clients directly and that is what I do through the Bien Aby? Facebook, twitter, and Instagram page. Also, the entire collection is sold online through the company website, dayannedanier .com.
TNJ.com: Did you find any special challenges being Black women in fashion?
DD: The same challenges one would find in one industry, you can find them in the fashion industry. ?The only difference is the product and people are used to seeing Black fashion designers in general. Too often people don?t know we exist, where to find us, or even how to support us. But when I talk to my fellow Black entrepreneurs in other careers they say the same thing. I don?t let that stop me, fashion is what I know, is what I studied, is what I have become, and I just keep going.
TNJ.com: What are your goals for this year?
DD: My goal for this year is to have a major female figure wearing Bien Aby? consistently. Women are playing major roles in public: CEOs, entrepreneurs, TV personalities, politics, etc. We all want to look appropriate; we all want to look well dressed. And ?what should I wear? is the question asked at all levels. I want Bien Aby? to be the answer heard from a major female figure.
TNJ.com: ?Long-term goals?
DD: I have two long-term goals. One, I would like to have free-standing Bien Aby? stores where women can come and enjoy shopping all over again. And two, I would like to have Bien Aby? to be offered globally. Although, Bien Aby? is a French Creole word, all women want to be well dressed, that is an international philosophy.
TNJ.com: Please tell me more about the foundation, Fleur De Vie, and why you launched it.
DD: I once heard this quote from Sheila Johnson, ?You can?t be successful if you don?t give back.” A statement like that, I couldn?t have said it better. I grew up always giving back and thinking of those less fortunate. And as I become more seasoned in my professional career, I wanted to give back closer to home. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti made this happen quicker than expected. Many of my friends wanted to continue to support Haiti but they didn?t know if they could trust that their donations would get to those in need. So I felt it was a calling and I started a non-profit organization called Fleur De Vie, which means Flower of Life.
Fleur De Vie is an organization whose mission is to support the initiatives of struggling nonprofit groups that are implementing social change in their communities in the areas of education, health, and environmental sustainability. We are composed of a team of professional volunteers whose been focusing on the education of the youth by partnering with numerous schools in Haiti. We are right now preparing for our third annual Back to School program for 600 students at the end of September. Building a strong foundation for the future is important and giving back to support that is our goal.