Entrepreneur Dani Nagel has had to defend her pricey Dazey-LA t-shirts but her refusal to cave to pressure to ship manufacturing overseas is winning her fans, and a growing army of ambassadors. She shares her strategies to leverage social media to create transparency, and grow her feminist brand.
Dani's money story:
Dani Nagel: For sure. I love that article and when it came out, I didn't know what the title was going to be, I just did the interview with them, and I just laughed out loud. Literally the title was Why Thousands of People Are Spending $52 On These T-shirts. And it does seem so backwards because people are used to paying $20 maybe $30 for a shirt, and our shirts are $52, and they're made to order so people are waiting sometimes three weeks to get their shirts. So it seems so backwards in this Amazon age of people getting things in a couple of days at rock bottom prices. But we are all about slow fashion and we make our shirts sustainably out of organic cotton right here in Los Angeles, and they're made to order to eliminate all waste.
Bobbi Rebell: How did you come to the idea that you're going to produce garments this way? Because I'm sure people said to you, "Oh, you should just offshore this and you can retail them for under 10 bucks."
Dani Nagel: Oh, totally. Every time I look at the prices of producing it in a different place, it's tempting. I'm not going to do it. Like I'm strong standing by my values, but oh my gosh, it's very tempting. You can get things made for a fraction of the price. But another big part of my clothing line is all about female empowerment, and I believe in order to be a truly empowering company, every person that touches our tees and is a part of this process needs to be positively impacted. And the truth is that most clothing companies can't say that. Production overseas is extremely inhumane and the garment workers are being oppressed, they're being in dangerous working conditions, paid extremely low wages, and we couldn't be a company that stood for female empowerment and put empowering phrases on our shirts without also thinking about everyone a part of that process.
Bobbi Rebell: When you presented these shirts to interested parties, investors, et cetera, what was the reaction? Was there pushback?
Dani Nagel: You know, where we get the most pushback is when we do Facebook ads, because people just don't understand and they're quick to judge. But luckily with our customers we spend so much time on social media educating them why the shirt costs that much and why it's truly valuable and it should cost that much.
Bobbi Rebell: And can you tell us more about where is the money going? I don't know if you can literally break down $52 but whatever you feel comfortable disclosing.
Dani Nagel: Our shirts are actually made to order in Los Angeles, which is really crazy and nobody really does that because it's really difficult. But by doing that, we've been able to eliminate all waste in our production, which is one of the biggest reasons why the fashion industry is the number two polluting industry in the world, there's so much waste. We have partnered with an amazing production company. My production partner, Kelly, has worked with us. We're the Guinea pigs on this big project he had and we met right when I was starting Dazey. And he has a facility in Los Angeles. They small batch make the shirts, so they'll make like 10 shirts in mustard and 10 shirts in off-white. And when the shirts are ordered, that's when they're printed. So it's a really complicated process and it does take time and we really embrace the term slow fashion as literally this is going to be slow. We use that a lot in our marketing.
Dani’s money lesson:
I'm happy to stand up for our shirts every time we get one of those comments, like trolls on Instagram. And since our clothing is so much about female empowerment, some people see the price of our shirts and say something like, "Okay, your shirts aren't economically inclusive." Our brand is all about inclusivity, empowerment and people will say that. And my response to them is, "If you really want to consider being economically inclusive, you have to think about the very bottom of this chain of production, which is the person making it, and paying them a fair living wage is truly what is going to be as economically inclusive as possible." And the truth is when you're paying $20, I mean maybe not $20, like $10, even 20 honestly for these shirts, someone else is paying the cost. That's usually somebody in the line of production being taken advantage of by these fast fashion companies. So I think the most feminist thing is paying for a shirt where everyone is being treated fairly in the process.
Dani's everyday money tip:
And as a slow fashion brand working with really tight margins, which people are always surprised to hear even with the $52 shirts, our margins are tight, making things to order here in LA, so I have to be really careful about our budgeting as a company and where I allocate my time as a small business owner. And something I did with my business coach, which really opened my mind to finances and allocating time was creating a list of how much time you spend doing each task and how much money that task generates. And she had me write down a list, and a couple of things on my list was our online blog. We run a blog, we promote a lot of other female owned businesses, talk about empowerment, and we were spending so much time curating this truly beautiful blog, almost like an article media website. And the truth is not a lot of people are reading our long form content.
And then I wrote down the time I spent on our ambassador program, which is something that generates a lot of money, and I was spending way more time on the blog that wasn't really generating us money and not enough time into our ambassador program. And putting it down on paper and looking at it was like a smack in the face and I realized I needed to better allocate my time. So once every few months, I sit down and kind of write down all the tasks I'm doing and what I'm getting back from those tasks, and I reprioritize the things. It's made a huge impact on our super nimble bootstraps business.