For most citizens of the Internet, the birth of Danielle Guizio’s eponymous label can be traced back to a single moment in 2015: Kylie Jenner wearing a T-shirt from the brand that says ‘Daddy’. But for Guizio herself, the beginnings of her streetwear-influenced, ready-to-wear label worn by Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin Bieber on the regular today goes back to her parents’ basement.
Setting up operations out of said location with just $400 dollars, graphic tees for starter products, and an Instagram account, Guizio launched her label into the world in 2014. Fast forward 6 years, the designer now boasts a full-fledged range of garments and accessories — beloved for its figure-hugging dresses to blazers, and denim jeans to knits alike.
Here, she talks to ELLE Singapore about brand and social media strategies, the importance of quality to back up the buzz, and what it means for her label to impact its community during the ongoing crisis.
“Our team truly works extremely hard, not to just become the biggest brand, but to be sure we are always staying true to our brand identity and company cultures.”
When you knew you wanted to launch your own label, how early on did you strategise how you were going to grow it, and what did it take for you to go about achieving it?
Danielle Guizio (DG): In the very beginning stages, I was focused on laying down a strong foundation for the business, from logistics to managing inventory and building a strong relationship with my customers. For me, it was important to not scale too fast but to grow at a steady pace, from hiring employees, to introducing new categories and increasing SKUs.
As social media has been a tool in the growth of your brand, could you share with us how you utilised the platform in the early days, and if your social media strategy has evolved since?
DG: When I started my brand, there weren’t many influencers yet. It was just bloggers that would shoot content for their blogs and link us, and then tag us on their Instagram. So it was a time right before there was an influx of influencer marketing. I would just send my pieces to girls I thought were cool with a great following and engaged audience. As the brand continued to grow, we ramped up our product seeding to get our pieces in front of eyes that have yet to see it. This really helped us gain exposure fast. Our marketing strategies have shifted a bit since; we have pulled the reins on gifting, now to two to three of our top favorite girls a month which just feels more organic.
Talk to us about the design language of your label. What is Danielle Guizio, the label, all about?
DG: There’s a girl I have in mind when I’m designing. I think about her lifestyle and how the garments she wears reflect that; from where she’s going, what she’s doing while wearing them day and night, and also her overall vibe. With that being said, the design language of my brand is also heavily influenced by my personal style. An idea for a design usually stems from me reaching in my closet for something that doesn’t exist, or isn’t in the exact fit, fabric, or silhouette that I’m imagining.
We’ve read that you sent Kylie Jenner a T-shirt and she ended up wearing it. How much would you say this moment — and your tenacity to hustle — plays into the star power and celebrity influence your brand now has?
DG: I do believe that that mindset of hustling and thinking creatively out of the box has definitely influenced my brand. But above all, I feel we’ve just remained really authentic to the brand identity and ethos. I don’t take anything for granted and I treat all of our clients and customers with the utmost respect and professionalism, as I’m truly grateful for the girls who wear my designs.
How did you go about building off that momentum?
DG: By offering great product frequently and keeping our customers constantly stimulated. Our team truly works extremely hard, not to just become the biggest brand, but to be sure we are always staying true to our brand identity and company cultures. I want to be bigger yes, but I really focus on being better. Better than who we were last season, or even better than who we were yesterday. That’s our main focus.
There is undeniable power in celebrities and individuals with social influence when it comes to building a brand. Do you think the landscape will evolve in the foreseeable future?
DG: I do believe there is an undeniable power in celebrity and social/style influencers, yes. But above all, it’s extremely important to build a trusting and strong relationship with your customer. Without customers you simply can not run a business. It’s critical to be in-tune with them and put them first, they’re your all-stars.
We see that you do some custom pieces. Is this something that you intend to open up for the average consumer?
DG: At the moment, I don’t see myself offering custom designs to our customer mainly because customisation becomes a bit more complicated once mass orders are involved. I love working intimately with my clients for custom pieces for tour, photoshoots or special events. From understanding my client’s vision to sketching out ideas, conceptualising the garments, working closely with our atelier team and seeing a one of a kind final outcome, it just feels very special and I would not want to compromise the unique aspects of the process.
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We love that your FDNY collaboration actually benefited the Fire Department of New York, given that you donated a portion of your sales. How else do you envision your label to have real-world impact beyond great clothes?
DG: By nature, I’m an empathetic person so I’m always trying to help everyone around me. I love that I have the opportunity to help and connect with others through the work I do, the clothes I design and the messages behind each collection. I hope to be able to continue embedding my passions into work, I genuinely get pleasure out building collections or certain styles with the idea of donating or working towards a better cause.
In a time like the current global pandemic, what do you think your label can realistically do to help — in ways big or small — its community, and vice versa?
DG: I’ve definitely been using my platform as a way to inform my audience as well as encouraging them to support small business in ways that they can. I’ve also been in contact with our factories and manufacturers to see how we can assist in securing more medical supplies for hospitals. I feel any form of helps truly makes an impact, big or small. Whether your actions help one person or help one hundred people, now is the time to really stick together as a community and help in any way.
What are your hopes for the future of your label?
DG: I’m always excited for the future; it’s never been something that scared me. I’m looking forward to continuing to bring new ideas to the table, and as I was saying I’m eager to be better than we were yesterday and to keep reinventing the brand throughout time. I’m confident that I won’t stop giving it my all.