Designer Daniella Kallmeyer got her first internship in the fashion industry when she handed Luca Luca designer Luca Orlandi her resume at age 15.
“I was very headstrong about it,” she said. “I went in there and handed him my sketchbook, and told him to hang on to it.”
Kallmeyer went on to more internships with brands including Proenza Schouler and Alexander McQueen, but by the time she decided to launch her namesake ready-to-wear brand, the path to getting a new label off the ground had changed. In Kallmeyer’s words, “there is no traditional way to becoming a designer” anymore.
Kallmeyer joined the Glossy Podcast to discuss her biggest regret around launching her brand, the power shift from brand to consumers, and her brand’s next milestone.
Edited highlights, below.
Putting passion in front of a business plan
When Kallmeyer started her brand in 2011, she had been working in fashion for years, but had been spinning her wheels on exact timing. Eventually, she said, she might have jumped the gun. But she doesn’t believe there’s any exact science to figuring out how to align her creative passion with a business plan.
“I started my brand out of passion. You can spend a year writing a business plan and in that time everything could change,” she said. “My mom just turned to me one day and said ‘I think it’s time’ [to start your business]. Was it time? Probably not. I didn’t have a whole lot of money, or a proper business plans, or investors. But you see so many successful companies coming out of nowhere today, and it’s out of passion.”
Different paths to success
When asked whether or not it’s easier or harder to start a brand today, Kallmeyer said it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, there’s so much noise out there today, designers can’t just put product out there and expect it to sell in the way that it used to. But on the other, brands can get by on their own means now more than ever, simply by connecting an e-commerce site to a Shopify account.
“There is definitely not a traditional route anymore — that I can say definitively,” she said. “Even when I started six years ago, it was all about the brand. The brand, the brand, the brand. But then you have to start looking at advertising and marketing concepts, and it’s about more than your brand and vision. There’s no proper way to do things. The idea of a brand is either going to not exist entirely, or change completely.”
Kallmeyer said that, even though she’s a young designer, she’s still holding onto some nostalgia for the traditional ways fashion once worked. When she started her brand, she said she thought more about that than about how customers today actually shop.
“I took the easiest point of entry, which was: make clothes, show them to buyers. That was driven by aesthetic, but not necessarily by how my customer shops, and the brand that I’m trying to build and create,” she said. “I think my big regret was not going direct-to-consumer from the start.”