Photography by Ella Snyder
Talent and perseverance, that is how fashion designer Danielle Guizio has made her way from shipping orders out of the basement of her childhood home in suburban New Jersey to being at the forefront of the women’s streetwear movement. Having dropped out of school to focus on creating her eponymous brand, Guizio lacked financial backing, but that didn’t stop her. The young designer recognized early on the power social media had and used Instagram as a platform to turn her following into sales. Nowadays, you can find her creations on the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Priyanka Chopra, Ariana Grande, and even Lady Gaga.
As a designer, there isn’t much Guizio hasn’t already accomplished. She’s made clothes for both men and women as well as swimwear, footwear and accessories. She’s collaborated with FDNY and in our interview, hinted at some exciting collaborations coming down the line. Her clothes are casual and comfortable, her sweatsuits taking the cake for both best luxury athleisure and being what made brand so loved and well-known. Yet, Guizio has designs for every occasion, influenced by the youth in the downtown New York scene, her designs range from feminine corset tops and mini skirts to tailored business suits and baggy jeans. The designer and her clothes are the epitome of cool.
I sat down with the designer in her New York studio to chat about being self-made, the power of Instagram, what’s coming next for her brand and our favorite restaurant, Lucien.
Ella Snyder: You've gone from shipping orders out of your parents' home in New Jersey to being named one of Forbes 30 under 30, can you tell us a little bit about that journey and how you've found such great success as a designer?
Danielle Guizio: It definitely was a journey. Obviously, when you start out, you're super vulnerable... you don't really know what you're doing. As time goes on, you learn so many lessons. People always ask me, "what was one of the lessons you learned?" and I swear to God since it is such a small company and everything is so hands-on, I learn something new every single day. It's hard to sum your question up all into one because every day you become stronger and get closer to the person you want to be, and it's a slow build but there's progression every day.
ES: What have been some of the biggest turning points, business-wise, in terms of your career?
DG: Utilizing the internet! Social media, specifically Instagram, has been a huge platform in growing my business, and I definitely take advantage of it as much as I can. It's crazy to think about how much power it has, and it's free! With work and building your resume, your Instagram becomes your resume. It's definitely a business tool, nothing is by word of mouth anymore, it's all Instagram.
ES: You seem to be the queen of Influencer marketing, how did that become your go-to strategy and how has it helped your brand grow?
DG: When I started my brand, there wasn't really a blogger or vlogger or influencer scene. I remember I would work with a couple of my blogger friends, one was from New York and the others in Los Angeles, I would send them a hoodie and pray that they would wear it in a photo. Each unit accounts for the cost of something, and you have to hope for a return on investment. So even in the early days of Instagram, seeing one of my friends post in my clothes and seeing the bloggers post in my clothes, those posts turned into sales. I got the grasp of it very quickly. I understood the marketing aspect of it and how much influence these people really have on their demographics that follow them. After a while, stylists came into play, and that changed the game. I was gifting to Kylie (Jenner), but I remember Hailey Baldwin's stylist messaged me and asked if they could come to my showroom. I didn't have a showroom at the time! This didn't exist! I was freaking out. I gifted her sweatsuits, and I'm still appreciative to this day for the growth that came out of the experience. These stylists have helped me build my brand too. Nowadays, we don't really gift anymore. I was seeing fast fashion brands come into play and I don't want to look like that. I don't want my stuff to be one of the 200 packages some of these girls are unboxing. The dignity of my brand is more important, it needs to have a sense of exclusivity. So now we just send stuff to my favorite girls, the girls we love who I feel like connect to my brand. And I do it because I want to see them in my pieces.
ES: Your brand is an ode to your personal style with a heavy influence from downtown New York streetwear culture, who you design for? Who are you hoping to reach with your designs?
DG: It's honestly very inspiring seeing the younger generation coming up in New York... I was just at Lucien the other night and there were just all of these younger kids in there and for the first time I was like... oh my God I only know two people in this room. It's always important to me to stay in touch with the youth because that's who is buying my pieces. As I'm growing, my brand is growing with me and so are my customers but I still find it important to focus on the younger generation and the youth because those are the people that we should all be listening to.
ES: From designing clothes for both men and women to designing shoes and accessories, you seem to have conquered it all. What's something new that you're hoping to create for the brand?
DG: I would love to get into handbags and introduce more shoe silhouettes down the line. And farther in the future, I would love to design furniture, mirrors, candles and home stuff. I'm always thinking of things, like oh, I would love to wear this! But those things only exist inside my head, and that's why I make what I make. So even now, I'm furniture shopping and everything sucks! What I want only exists in my imagination, and that's how design becomes addicting because you have the power to create whatever you want from scratch.
ES: What are your biggest tips for those looking to start their own brand?
DG: I would say save as much money as you can. Very few people are blessed with financial backing from family or even investors, so it's important to save money in any way you can and use it wisely. Everyone wants to flex but if you save money now when you can, you can buy whatever you want in the future. Slow down, work hard and you can have it all in the future. Business-wise I would say to keep your overhead as low as you can, I was working out of a doctor's office when I first moved out. It was so embarrassing but it was cheap! I couldn't even have employees there, but when I look back, it was totally the right move. You have to have humility in it all, focus on yourself and focus on growing your business.
ES: What's next for DG? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the next few months?
DG: I have a collab coming out but I definitely can't talk about it. You'll just have to wait and see... For now, I'm just building my collection!