Before Dagne Dover (pronounced Dag-NE Doh-ver) ever existed, CEO and Founder Melissa Mash knew that someday, she was going to own her own business. The ‘how’ was something she was willing to figure out later, but the ‘why’ was something that she’d known for a while. After working for years at a globally known brand, it was hard not to notice two things: one, a lot of the management was men, even though the product was a handbag for women; and two, they lacked the drive to become more innovative and idea-driven. For years she succeeded in climbing the ladder and became the “go-to” person when the brand was re-introduced to the European market. Days and nights were spent speaking to customers and seeing what they actually needed and how they could make their products more appealing. That was where she found her “how.” The gap in the market was large, and no one was addressing it.
“That’s where I began to see that there was a really big opportunity to create a brand. It would look great without having a thousand logos all over it. I wanted it to be really understated and classy, to let the design speak for itself. Something practical that would help solve some of the problems you have (carrying around all the things.) It would make you feel like you had your shit together and could take on the world.”
With all of her experience in the retail world, she was confident that she could design a quality bag for under $300, which is a steal in the handbag market. So Melissa went back to business school and a year later, hit the ground running.
With Jessy Dover as her Creative Director and Deepa Gandhi as her CFO/COO, they created an all-female dream team to kick things off. The office has now grown by 10 (including two men), and the sense of building hasn’t stopped. Working at Dagne Dover is like a co-op. “It’s really important that we take care of each other,” shares Melissa. They have a lively office in SOHO West, surrounded by great food and lots of natural light. They have thrived on the idea that if you start with experts and trust them then you can do anything. Promoting and hiring from within is the norm in this office. Everyone’s schedules are different and by having these self-motivated people around it gives way to a lot of flexibility to working from home and setting your own hours. “We’re genuinely friends and truly love each other,” she says, “There’s always a group chat, and we’re usually not talking about work.”
Melissa has built a company that is about inclusivism – something that will help to empower this generation of dreamers and thinkers to connect with each other and their audience to form a collaborative space. Their success has come from the connections they have been able to build with their audience, starting with organic social media, “… we’re just sharing ourselves as three women, with handbag problems on this journey of trying to create this brand”, Melissa says. And create, they have.
They have been so successful with their social media audience that Instagram contacted them to let them know that they are one of the top businesses that use their platform. And the interaction with their audience is so communicative that when they did their last survey, 40% of the people who responded didn’t even have a product of theirs yet! They just wanted to share with the company what they are looking for and what they are hoping to see in the future.
The future is big and bright over at Dagne Dover. Melissa shared that because of all of the feedback from their followers, they are going to be at several events this year, so their customers (and future customers) will get a chance to see and feel the products they love. Having just launched their 365 Collection this past January, the sky is the limit. They plan on continuing to grow their three collections and branch out more into other markets, whether it be men’s accessories, baby bags, or pet accessories – there’s no bad idea.
Melissa says they have many mantras, but the one that has motivated and shaped them from the beginning is:
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about building yourself.”
So what’s the office coffee sitch’, you ask? Well, even though Melissa herself has given up caffeine ( I don’t know how she does it!), they do have an espresso machine that gets a lot of love, but they’re also around the corner from some great coffee shops, so they’re covered one way or the other.
Because I have kind of a large-ish laptop I had the chance to review The 15” Tote. The price is usually $265, but right now it’s only $189! I know, I know. It’s still a little bit pricey for a tote but this isn’t some floppy, fall apart bag. It’s a heavy duty tote that’s made of a coated canvas with ALL of the pockets.
First I’d like to point out that this tote is all-weather, spill proof. Like I said, the exterior of the bag is made with a coated canvas. This also carries into the interior of the bag where you get a plethora of pockets. There’s an oversized, padded pocket for your laptop as well as a smaller tablet or notebook. These clip closed with a magnetic clasp. In front of those pockets you have a smaller pocket for loose items, cards, and sunglasses. There’s even a few spots to store your favorite pens to find in a flash.
Opposite these pockets are more pockets. One is a zip pocket that’s perfect to hold your wallet, loose change, and for me, also any loose lip gloss. The pocket in front of the zip is like my catch-all. It’s where I put my gum, my glasses cleaning kit, retainer case (yes, I have a retainer), extra toothbrush and paste. But it has also caught the bank card I thought I put in the zip pocket.
Then there’s a whole center section (yes, it is that big and no, we are not done yet). This is just open and free for whatever you want but there are a few great features of this space that saved my butt a few times. The removable thermos, water bottle, umbrella holder actually buttons to one side of the bag so you don’t have to worry about your water spilling all over your notebook or laptop. It’ll be safely tucked away and easy to get to. Then there’s the removable key holder. I did not know how much I needed one of these in my life. I cannot tell you how many minutes a day are wasted digging around my purse playing “keys or change” while holding an armful of groceries or anxious kiddos. To be able to just grab the little tether (that attaches opposite the water bottle) is a complete relief. No more missing keys because I know have a key tether and I just always attach them as soon as I lock the car or the house.
So what to do with the rest of the free space? Well let me tell you, whatever you want. I have played quite a few games of “how much can I fit in my new purse?!”. It’s like a challenge really. I have pushed this baby to capacity a few times. Now keep in mind when I say that I’m not shoving bags of flour (although you could easily fit a 5lb bag if you needed to) in it trying to pop the seams. I’m seeing how much stuff can fit while still being able to get to everything and close the bag.
Below I have the contents of what I would put in this bag on a typical day.
o Laptop and charger
o Coffee thermos
o Make-up Bag
o Tissue pack
o Retainer Case
o Mini Nail set
o Glasses Case
o Cleaning kit
o Travel Body Spray
o Travel Toothbrush & paste
This is literally what I would carry on a regular basis except it would be split between my purse and some sort of bag. But I didn’t really think about it until I carried it around for a bit, this thing can get heavy. Like tweak your shoulder heavy. So word to the wise, don’t over-do it.
Over all this bag delivers what it says it will. It keeps you organized, is made of high quality materials that you can really feel, and it’s incredibly durable. From a girl on the go to the girl on the go, this one’s a keeper.