When Danielle and I met to talk about this article, she expressed to me that this was the first time she had ever told her story. I suspect that it’s because she is early in her career and still building all the pieces.
She is only 3 years out of college and that about knocked me out of my chair. I thought she had been working a lot longer than that! I’ve been noticing how much more sophisticated the younger generations of professional women are. It inspires me and helps me focus on why I do what I do for work everyday.
When Danielle was in high school, her parents encouraged her to try a sport or activity. She tried all of the things and found that she sucked at all of them. When she was 15, her best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer and Danielle needed an outlet to cope.
Art is most often the best outlet and Danielle discovered photography. She was lucky because her dad was an artist, a musician, and he supported her in the arts. Together, they took a photography class and Danielle ultimately studied it for 4 years.
She loved creating compositions and focused on abstract. When it was time to apply to college, she applied to 12 art schools and was accepted to all of them.
For her, it was between the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, or Savannah College of Art & Design. She chose SCAD and declared photography her major. After her first year, she lost the passion she had for photography and decided to take a Graphic Design class. She felt that photography was a piece of the experience, but wanted to explore other outlets. After one class, she was hooked, and switched majors. To this day, she says it’s the best thing she’s ever done.
She interned at great companies like Fossil, HP and even Target. When the Target opportunity came up, she was intrigued because she likes the idea of living in a new city. She grew up in New York and Miami, lived in Savannah, studied abroad in France and Hong Kong.
Never one to get complacent, she decided to meet with Target for a phone interview. The night before the interview, she was held up at gun point. The man who robbed her stole her purse, which contained everything, and by everything, I mean all her backed up design files.
Listening to her tell this story, I couldn’t tell which was more devastating, actually being held up, or losing all of her work. Honestly, my first thought was: “You lost all your work?!@#”
She proceeded to have the phone interview with Target the next day and was hired for an internship as an art director on the weekly ad. Her current position is as a Senior Designer for Home on Target.com.
Her style priority is comfort and isn’t into trends. She focuses on the materials that clothes are made of and wants to feel good in her body. Lately, she’s been experimenting with statement pieces and color. Those statement making expressions typically come to life in her footwear.
When she moved to Minnesota, she admits to experiencing style culture shock. Her references to style were NYC, where there are so many different cultures, you’re inspired by the diversity on a daily basis. Living in Miami, the cultural style was all about showing off your body. It was while she was in Miami, that she realized her style was very simple and mostly east coast.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
My Uncle and my Grandma. My Uncle was killed in the Vietnam war when he was only 19 years old. My Grandma has been fighting stomach cancer, so I’d like to go back in time to when she was cancer free and he was alive.
Would you like to be famous?
Only if it is in the design field. I want to be known for something that helps people through design.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Yes, because I think with my mouth instead of my heart sometimes.
When did you last sing to yourself?
On King’s Day in Amsterdam.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time?
I’d like to travel to Cuba. I’m Cuban, Puerto Rican, Portuguese and British. My Grandma, on my Dad’s side, is Cuban and is very proud of her heritage. She likes to say that she’s “150% Cuban!” She left Cuba when she was 13 years old and returned 73 years later. That trip meant a lot to her and I just want to experience the country.
What do you value most in a friendship?
Loyalty, honesty and trust. It’s also important to me to know that I can go months without talking to my friends and trust that nothing about our relationship has changed when we do decide to catch up.
What is your most terrible memory?
Getting held up at gunpoint. It was a moment that really changed things for me. Things changed for the good, though, because of the choices I made. The most terrible part of the memory is not the actual incident, it’s that it occurred 2 days before my brother’s wedding in Puerto Rico. I lost all of my identification, so I didn’t know how I was going to get there. It all worked out and I made it to the wedding, but once I was there everything hit me.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Cancer. My mom had cancer, and my Grandma has had cancer twice.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to read minds. Like, when somebody is trying to say something, but not really saying it. I want to be able to turn it off and on though.
Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
my life with.