Dania Rodriguez is an MIU grad and Founder of Daniro Studio, women’s contemporary wear crafted in South Africa. She is our #WCW because of her passion for entrepreneurship and bravery in pursuing her dreams.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
I was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. When I finished high school, I decided to leave my country to become what I had always dreamed of becoming, a veterinarian. I went to the University of Georgia to study Animal Science. Dealing with the new language was extremely difficult my first year, but that experience helped me gain the courage I needed to deal with what the future had in store for me. Even though I was having the time of my life, I knew something was off. My dream of becoming a veterinarian had changed. I felt confused, and extremely scared since I had no plan B. I decided to go back home to clear my mind. After numerous career aptitude tests telling me the exact same thing, I decided to move to Miami and study what truly fascinated me, fashion. I completed a 4-year bachelor degree at the Miami International University of Art and Design in only two years, and despite what my parents thought of what I was doing with my life (they did not approve btw), I am actually very happy with the decision I made.
2. What motivates you?
There are actually two things in particular that motivate me. The first one would be proving to everyone, my family in particular, that I made the right decision when I decided to study fashion. I feel extremely proud of myself for making all those decisions and allowing myself to feel happy doing what I do.
The second one would be helping our community. Doing whatever we can to help other people and the environment is something that I very much believe in. This is one of the reasons I decided to manufacture in South Africa, since we are actually helping South African women provide for their families by promoting these types of jobs. Starting my own clothing brand has been an amazing journey and I cannot wait to share it with everyone!
3. Who is a hero of yours?
My hero is my father, without a doubt. My dad not only saves lives on a daily basis (he’s a cardiologist) but he manages to stay in contact with us and make sure that we have everything we need. He has given my brother and I the opportunity to follow our dreams and has sacrificed so much for his family. I am extremely grateful of everything he has done for us.
4. Give us a road map of your career. How did you get to where you are today?
Four years after I left Georgia, I found myself starting a women’s contemporary wear brand handmade in South Africa. Daniro Studio's work is in collaboration with other South African designers I contacted. I thought it would be amazing to bring a bit of their style and culture to the brand as well, but in a more modern and minimal way. Our goal is to move to all eco-friendly fabrics in the next year or so. Wish us luck!
5. What's your future plan? Your goals?
My plan is to grow our brand by selling to different retailers and through online orders to promote ethically made clothing. We also plan to give a portion of our sales to where our product was born, South Africa, and help as many people as we can.
6. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
These are some things that you will live as an entrepreneur. You're going to lose friends. People will think that you're going crazy. You're going to feel fear, and you're going to feel pain too. While you're going through the process you will to try to convince yourself not to. You will cry before you make it. Possibly your family will discourage you. You will doubt yourself every single day. You will develop very strange habits. People will judge you and criticize you. You will do things that you do not like to do. Suddenly everyone will want to be your friend, and finally everything, absolutely everything will be worth it.
My only advice will be to chase your dreams, everything will be worth it in the end!
7. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
Something I feel strongly about would be that we should all strive to make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small. We should all care about each other, as well as our animals and our environment. It is extremely saddening to see all the horrible things we have allowed to happen lately. How ignorant and uneducated people can pull us back to those abhorrent racist days, how immature people would do anything for more followers on social media, how those who have the power can take advantage of it for their personal benefit, and so on. With my brand, I strive to make a difference in the way we craft our products.
8. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?
Besides starting a women’s wear brand in South Africa, I would say that being a stylist at a bridal boutique was EXTREMELY exciting and beautiful. Helping brides choose the perfect dress for that special day was one of the best jobs I ever had. I cried every single day!