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Jessy Dover's Journey as a Handbag Designer with Dagne Dover on Handbag Designer 101 Podcast

Only for HBD101 Podcast listeners, Dagne Dover is offering a 20% discount for full-priced items with code HANDBAG101 at checkout.


Host: Emily Blumenthal


Hi and welcome to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast with your host, emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, where we cover everything about handbags, from making marketing, designing and talking to handbag designers and industry experts about what it takes to make a successful handbag. Welcome, jessy Dover, the one and only the one of the thruple of Dagne Dover. Thank you so very much for joining Handbag Designer 101, the podcast. It is an honor and pleasure and, shockingly enough, this is our first official time talking.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, it's very nice to meet you officially in person.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


I know Well quasi person over Zoom. But yeah, I know I am number one, very excited to chat with you. We were pre-chatting, like we were pre-gaming, and I had to put a stop to it because it was just getting so interesting that we go through an hour without even recording. But I want to. As we spoke about, you are one of three and typically you are the one who seems to be the chatty one amongst the interviews and so forth, but I am very much aware that you went straight from designing to. I have an idea with two other people, let's do this. So that's ballsy man how and the why.

Guest: Jessy Dover


I always wanted to start my own brand. That was just sort of like I knew that I love to build things, I love to create, but I had a plan.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Could you sew as a child? Were you one of those? Yeah.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, it wasn't any good, but I did it anyway. Did you make your prom dress? Were you one of those? Yeah, yeah, it wasn't any good, but I did it anyway. Did you make your prom?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


dress. Were you one of those?

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, so bad, but I did. What color was it? Hot pink, satin, actually. And I just made it because I couldn't find what I wanted, to be honest, and it didn't turn out very good, but at least it was like sort of, in essence, what I had felt like I wanted to identify with.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Was it polysatin or was it a stretch or like?

Guest: Jessy Dover


how was it? I guess it was a polysatin, it wasn't stretch, which was part of the issue with. You know how it came out, but I got it at Walmart and it was all that they had. I grew up in Colorado, in a really small town called Steamboat Springs, and so I was limited to like what they had at Walmart, to be honest.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Do you know that's and I'm so happy you brought that up, because so many designers with whom I've worked and spoken have this notion that their customer, that she typically, that they identify as a woman for this conversation assume that she is a very chic, metropolitan, fabulous woman wearing all the best clothes, going to the best places hair, nails, makeup. And when I've encouraged them to do this deep dive on the analytics of who's actually buying their product, it's someone from a town with a stop sign, a church, a bar, a school and a Walmart, and you understand that they are spending their hard-earned money on a product that is either 100% for function, and they carve out one part of their budget for that, or it's disposable income and it's there to make them feel good. So that you know you understood that from the get go.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, I mean, I don't even know if I understood that as much as I, just that's what I come from and so that is like in my soul a little bit DNA, man DNA, and then you came.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Was it a big deal to come to New York from Colorado?

Guest: Jessy Dover


I didn't even really know. I was thinking this morning like I don't think I knew what New York was really like.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


I knew of New York, but I was more like the cool person that you wanted to hang out with uh yeah, exactly.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, like I knew it was cool, but I didn't identify with wanting to be in New York. I just thought, like I just didn't even know enough. I'm like from the country, like the mountains, rather, and like my put it this way, my mom doesn't know. She might still not really know what Louis Vuitton is Like. It's like that, so that's okay. So that's okay. Oh, it's great and it's wonderful. I mean I was able to discover it on my own without any sort of like preconceived ideas of like fashion or handbags or this world of retail is. But well, I really wanted to be a designer. Like my dream was to be a designer and like the reason for that was really that like I want stuff and I really like to make it. Like I like that process, like want something, can't find it or can't afford it, so I'll make it.


And I wanted to go to Parsons. I got a plug, sort of, from my aunt. She like dropped a little or planted a little seed with me when I was probably in like high school, early high school years of like there are design schools and you were like what I was like? Yeah, what? Like I'm sort of middle American kind of kid playing soccer. Like sports, sports, sports, everything like not a lot of access to culture or anything like what we have here in New York. And so I thought, whoa, like that's cool. So I immediately like dug into RISD, parsons, savannah College of Art and Design and just kind of like got familiar with what design schools were out there and I like was just, I mean, that was it for me. As soon as the idea was planted I was like done, that's where I was going, and your parents tried to dissuade you from that, or they were like you go, we'll see you.


Good luck. My parents are super supportive of anything that I want to do, like if I can figure out how to do it on my own, like most kind of people, but they didn't try to dissuade me from being a designer. I think they saw me in a lot of ways and understood where I might find happiness. Also, I have a lot of like artists type of people in my family not that they all decided to be entrepreneurs and like a way to support their lifestyle, but were you?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


like a hustler person, like did you work through school? Did you work in high school? Did you have side businesses, side jobs? Like whichever way you could? So what were your internships? Because I deal with students all the time and I mean, I look at their resumes. I help with cover letters. I'm dealing with one particular student. We've gone back and forth with her resume like 80 times and I'm like, before you become the best publicist of yourself, like go back and check and if it's a necessity, as in what your situation is based on what you're saying, and you're saying like college was the most you know dream Emily in Paris, Jessy in New York kind of situation, because you were always like I am the prize. I am the prize. You had to work.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, and I think that's really beautiful, that you work with young designers in that way. I wish I would have had someone like you.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


I'm amazing. I wish I would have had me. You don't even know You're amazing. You are, Well you know, truly Only on Tuesdays.

Guest: Jessy Dover


So don't, don't catch me on a Wednesday. I know I hear you window, I mean I think that's why it's so great. It's because, like, who has time for that? And when you start working and like you're overwhelmed, you know, really, by the amount of things that end up needing to get done for just like life and work.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


But yeah, I mean, were you taking accessory design classes, like, was that your focus? I?

Guest: Jessy Dover


wasn't actually because I didn't know yet what I wanted to do.


I wanted to be like I loved clothing For starters, like that's where I was at like in my interests.


And then, as time went on, I started to kind of really understand that strategy was important for me and also that there are all these glamorous jobs that everybody wants that's like gonna be real tough to get, even if you are the best. And then there's all these sort of like less glamorous jobs that are still in the industry, that are great jobs, that are just like not as glitzy and glam we'll say. And so I started designing accessories. Like the second half I might have even been like my senior year at Parsons because I thought, hmm, maybe I'll try it, Like maybe that could be interesting. Coach was hosting and I think they still do an accessories design award for the students and I decided to enter in it because because you could, because I could, yeah, and I was also like it was during finals and I knew that I had to recycle what you'd already made, or did you make a lot, so you make something specific to it based on the coach DNA.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. They gave us at that point a very specific prompt to create, and I hadn't really designed handbags before that, to be honest, I just designed other things. It's very transferable the skills, but they're not the exact same. I mean, I had to learn a lot, but that all for me, happened more like on the job.

Host: Emily Blumenthal



Guest: Jessy Dover


So you applied and you won yeah, yeah, were you like what is that? I was? I was like what? And things like that around this time in my life started to kind of happen, like I just decided, like my dad basically said like I'm not paying for you after this, so like, get a job or come over whatever like. So I'm not paying for you after this, so like, get a job or come over, whatever Like. So I was like, shoot, okay, I'm gonna apply to everything I can. I'm gonna do like apply to the best internship that I don't think I can get at Armani. And I ended up getting the internship and I was like holy cow, like this is awesome. And then it ended up being such a beautiful learning experience for me, just because of the way that that company was run at that time and the management.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Emporio Armani or Armani Exchange. Armani Exchange, gotcha In.

Guest: Jessy Dover


New York, yeah, and I think Emporio I don't think that that's here, but it doesn't matter it was Armani Exchange and the creative director there at the time, who I'm still like, actually pretty close with, was just incredible at managing his team, at creating a very productive yet positive team culture and people really respected him.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


It's so important to be exposed to that Because when you're at such a tender age to be exposed, to see how somebody leads by example, it stays with you.

Guest: Jessy Dover


It stays with you and that is like one of the things that is like super important to, I know, both my partners and myself is just like being able to lead by example and always ensuring that like we're supporting team culture and growth, and like the youth of our company and like raising them into good leaders as we work through this whole thing. That is like building a brand, which is like a lot in and of itself. But yeah, so I was there, I got that internship. It changed everything for me in terms of how I saw fashion, because a lot of the other internships I had had were at smaller, more luxury, luxury, I would say, fashion houses, and it was just kind of a mess behind the scenes or behind the curtains, as you'd say, and I was like, whoa, okay, like that's not what I want to do.


And then I saw kind of yeah, I guess in Armani and at Coach, like how a well-run retail business right can kind of go. So then I like kind of set my sights on like that's what I want to do. And then I graduated. And then you were like oh damn, oh damn. But I got a job before I graduated because I was like that girl I needed to. I worked in footwear actually because I was, at the time, interested in accessories and footwear, was it? And that's where there was a job available, so I took it and it was just a disaster, to be totally honest, like it just was not for me.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Footwear is really tricky and I want to call out and I'm happy you said that and I don't want to say that it's indicative of all footwear companies.


But I feel, in my personal opinion, obviously coming from the handbag lens, when you are working with something or a product that has sizing, the return rate is so high and the marketing angle and the sales angle is so challenging that unless you're doing shoes, that has a match back to another sellable product, to tell a stronger brand story that has a match back to another sellable product, to tell a stronger brand story, it's very, very difficult because it's more about those Monday morning numbers of sales and sell-through than, in my opinion and this is again speaking from a handbag person than the product. So as a designer it's especially a young one it's very stifling to be like I don't think this is for me. But having those crappy experiences, also young is great, because then you see the factory margins, you see how people are working, you're able to like, figure it out, like oh, I see, this is what it's like to work in a stressful situation where it's all about making money, profit, that's it.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Mm, hmm, yep, and what it looks like in, in my case, for design to have no authority or respect in that like world or at a specific company. And so I did learn a lot. I learned a lot about what I didn't want. I learned a lot about making money in retail and what that means and what like compromises one has to consider as a designer. Yeah, and also, just like, what does design mean? You know, like to me, is it retail? Like is it just enough for me to like make something that is a paint by number sort of design situation where the bottoms are decided because our price point is like whatever sense for that, whatever that is, the uppers, we only have three, these three materials, because these are the vendors that we already have relationships with and that's the only way we can get this shoe in the amount of time that we need it in. And blah, blah, you get it like just super restrained and that's all.


That's all margin driven now yeah, and that's great for some people, and I think a lot of people I worked with there were like happy. And so the learning for me at that point in time was just like what I want or what I didn't want, which was that kind of I wanted to be creative found value in that were maybe more interesting than just three different colors that had shown to be saleable over the past 20 years, like of being in business. So here's our three hero products. Let's keep iterating it over. You can only do brown and black, like you're only allowed to do brown and black. I was like like what? No, I can't, I can't live like that. I need a world of color. But yeah, it wasn't a good fit.


And then that's when the next stage of my plan was that I was going to go to business school because I knew that I needed to understand the business to be able to run a company. So randomly I get an email from my partner now partner Melissa. That was like hey, I'm at Wharton Business School. I really want to start a bag brand. I saw your stuff at Coach. Let's go get coffee. How did she know you existed? She saw my work from the award that I had won at Coach. She saw my bags that I had created.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


When you got this email were you like who is this and what? Yeah, I was.

Guest: Jessy Dover


But like she was so enthusiastic and like like just cool, and then I was like you know what, let's do it. Like I'm very open minded person. I love meeting new people like you. I think you said so. I was like let's go grab a coffee and we just like hit it off honestly, like it was like a date. It was like a blind date and she basically was like okay, I worked at Coach for a long time. I opened their UK store in Heathrow Terminal, which was their first UK store, and all that was happening was like people coming in that had spilled their water bottle on their computer or like I don't even know. Their bag was just like a mess. The handle broke, like so she's like they wanted work bags and I literally had to send them to other brands because, like we didn't have anything but they were willing to like and ready to buy a bag and I and I had this is like one day you had you apply this is I'm so.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


There was no application.

Guest: Jessy Dover


It was a random email that popped up in my inbox and me being like not, and how did she?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


find your email. I have no idea. I don't know. I have to ask her. Need to ask her that, because then that's like part two. How did you find? Probably?

Guest: Jessy Dover


tracked me down on like Facebook or something like that she.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


She literally was like. I remember that girl. She was young enough, green enough. I'm sure she gets it. She'd probably be available and open to ideas because she's young and trained.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Let's give her a go? Yeah, I think so. I think I would guess that's how it went, and I know that she was looking for someone who she could build a brand with and that would be as enthusiastic and committed as she was, was it?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


understood that you would be a partner, or did she present it to you as like hey, can you be the designer?

Guest: Jessy Dover


for In the beginning she said, basically I need help creating this concept that I want to explore and I, well, it was like a freelance gig and I was like, sure, let's do it. And then, pretty quickly, I think we both realized like we're very good compliments to one another. While this is all happening, my other partner this is Melissa mash. Melissa Mash, yeah, she was like she's our CEO, she had the original idea, and then my partner, deepa Gandhi, was at Wharton with Melissa at this time and was also kind of working with Melissa a little bit, just helping her out, like peripherally, mm-hmm. And Deepa's background was in finance, obviously and she also worked in buying, so she was like in the industry, but much more on the financial and analytical side of things, and we started all three working together.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Had they graduated or they were still there. They were in school, so they took the train from Philly what? And I was still working, so they took the train from Philly and then they're like here we'll come in on a weekend. Weekend was your first meeting with melissa, and then deepa showed up and like hey, ps, this is deepa, she's part of this gig now so it's just yeah, something like that, but it was more like melissa was like I want to do this thing, will you help me?

Guest: Jessy Dover


and then, once I went to penn, like for a visit to like show her some designs that I had created, and Deepa was there Right, like hi, like I am so happy to meet you and I'm so excited about this. Like she's just like ready to go and super excited about everything, do you?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


think because. But I want to ask you do you think it's because you're from a small town or a smaller place that your opinions of people are a lot less jaded, like the small town vibe is? You say hello to everybody, you're open to things. I wouldn't want to assume that you're positive by design, but to be like yeah sure, I'll talk to you. Yeah, sure, if I can see money. Yes, sir, I see a project. Like do you think that had an impact? Because a lot of people off the record would probably be to quote my son a little sauce about who's this person and now why is she here? Like, what's this about you?

Guest: Jessy Dover


know, I think like it's really funny that you asked me that, because I've been asked before by Mel. I think like, how did you meet that person? And I'm like I don't know. Like I think I just like, oh, I met one of my great friends just on the corner of the street over here. So I was walking my dog and she just walked out. She looked like she was just like so happy and wanted to chat. But I don't necessarily think it's. I think it's my personality.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


What number child are you?

Guest: Jessy Dover


I'm the third of five.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Oh wow, you're from a posse. Oh yeah, yeah, so OK. So there it is. You are a get along gang kind of gal. That's why, yes, yes.

Guest: Jessy Dover


So there you go.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


OK, you're a long gang kind of gal. I like that I mean have told me that you know and it's funny on my Q&A with my students every semester I have them say what number child they are, because I have learned that birth order dictates so much.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Emily, that's such a great question. Wait, what else do you ask them? Because I'm just curious.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Well, you're going to be a guest speaker next semester. If you ever wanted to start a handbag brand and didn't know where to start, this is for you. If you had dreams of becoming a handbag designer but aren't trained in design, this is for you. If you have a handbag brand and need strategy and direction, this is for you. I'm Emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, and this is the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass. Over the next 10 classes, I will break down everything you need to know to make, manufacture and market a handbag brand, broken down to ensure that you will not only skip steps in the handbag building process, but also to save money to avoid the learning curve of costly mistakes. For the past 20 years, I've been teaching at the top fashion universities in New York City, wrote the Handbag Designer Bible, founded the Handbag Awards and created the only Handbag Designer Podcast. I'm going to show you like I have countless brands to create in this in-depth course, from sketch to sample to sale. Whether you're just starting out and don't even know where to start or begin, or if you've had a brand and need some strategic direction, the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass is just for you. So let's get started and you'll be the creator of the next it Bag. Join me, emily Blumenthal in the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass. So be sure to sign up at emilyblumenthal in the Handbag Designer 101 Masterclass. So be sure to sign up at emilyblumenthalcom slash masterclass and type in the code PINECAST to get 10% off your masterclass today.


But I really think, though, who you are, within birth order Like I have one student this semester who is tasked to turn to the point where I need to like yank her voice out. Oh yeah, she is one of several children and I can get her to speak, but when it comes to presenting, she's like a cricket and, you know, reads her notes. And I said you know, within the family, are you the child that the parents don't need to worry about, because they always know, no matter what you'll do, what you're supposed to, that you get everything done, and they know they can always rely on you and always depend on you. So you're not the wave maker. That's the kid above you or below you, yeah, and I said well, you're paying for this. You're here. This is the time for you to find your voice, share your voice and be heard. So if there's ever a window, this is it. This is it girl step up.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, I think like that is great advice because no one's just going to like pause to listen to what you have to say, unfortunately in the world. But also she has a perspective and a point of view she just has to get used to maybe like sharing it.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


I think that I can like totally relate to because Like Deepa and Melissa and I don't want to say this for them, but it sounds like they were the first Jessy champions to say what do you have to say? We're here to hear it, and that's why you were like you're my people.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yes, I have goosebumps, but yes, that's it. Like they see something in me and saw something in me at that point, before I saw it.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


So you weren't even hesitant about joining, like starting a company with them. You were like, yeah, I'm in it, I'm here for it.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Well, I thought at that time like I have nothing to lose, like I haven't really made a lot of headway in the career, like I didn't have a career yet, so I felt like I saw it as an opportunity.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Really the interesting thing is, though, you weren't even the customer. You weren't even the customer, you weren't the demographic of the product that you were designing.

Guest: Jessy Dover


No, how was it? Well, I was in that I was going to work every day and I needed a bag that was organized, and I resonated with it because I needed somewhere to put my things like. We had real portfolios at that point the big things Yay, the big things. I was like always carrying that plus like swatch book, like just all my files, all my swatches, just like you know, a water bottle, the normal things, your keys, your wallet, and I was like a disheveled mess because-.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


You're so clean looking. Now You've like dewy skin. How could that be?

Guest: Jessy Dover


I didn't see that as part of your DNA well, I spend my life trying to keep it all in order, I guess. But yeah, like I was actually making my own bags. They were like not very cute, but like they worked, because there was nobody making bags big enough for like a portfolio, like whatever. So I resonated with the concept and I was like yes, totally like no one's making bags for us, like let's figure out how to do this, and that was more.


I guess our first collection was for working urban women in particular, and then a big learning for me was like how do I apply this to my life? And like how do I really like share my perspective here while also still kind of creating value through the products that I'm making? And that's when I decided to drop a neoprene collection, which was really more of like an athleisure focus, like that was your idea. That was really my baby, because it was like that's me. I'm very casual, but I still want to look very polished and clean and like nice. But I want to be organized also and be able to like go from the gym to the office to walking my dog or the coffee shop or whatever it be like looking good, but I don't need to be like looking super polished and professional all the time.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Are you guys a company at this point? Were you guys like? That's it, we're incorporated. I'm keeping my day job, you guys, so finish school. We'll keep doing this while like, and ps to that, like, you're the only one who has the official name in the name. So, as part of this throuple, so I'd like to you know, because I'm not losing that name, because I've just, you know, recently I love that name for us.

Guest: Jessy Dover


We are. I mean it's accurate. We call each other we're like married, we're definitely married in in that name because I've just, you know, recently, I love that name for us. We are a couple. I mean it's accurate. We call each other we're like married, we're definitely married and yeah, so it makes sense.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


But yeah, so how were you still day jobbing and you're like, OK, here's the first bag, but I really think neoprene, like let's do the wetsuit material. And how did all this come to pass? Like were you waking up day jobbing and then meeting them at nights and weekends and then, yeah, that's how it worked. That's how it worked. Deepa was like, OK, we need to incorporate, we need to open up a bank account.

Guest: Jessy Dover


My partners are super organized, super on top of it, like my partner at the time when we started it. He called them the sharks because they were just like on top of everything all the time, like ahead a million steps. So I personally was just like along for that ride of like incorporating the business and getting everything going, raising money. All of that kind of stuff is really like their wheelhouse. And so, okay, step one we created the first like product assortment, which was only two products. It was a tote and a clutch wallet that you could use as a combination for your workday to like take all your stuff to work and then you could pull out the clutch wallet and like go to lunch or go to dinner or whatever. So you didn't have to carry the whole tote. Those two products were together as a system we launched with like this very like work, focused woman run business aesthetic and like ethos and that were they made?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Where were the bags being made Like? Was that you for sourcing and factories? Was that on you?

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yes, we worked with a factory in New York City which I still like deeply adore and have so much like gratitude for, because I was so annoying and we were like just trying so hard to like figure it out when you know you can't really produce anything in new york that's like super high quality or like affordable, just not affordable at all, like it just doesn't work. And there are sample rooms here. So essentially that's what it was. It was a sample room who I convinced to do our first one of production and we're convinced, rather, they just agreed to do it because they were like this girl's not going to stop showing up on our doorstep.


Let's just like do this and get it over with, is what I imagine they were thinking. But, um, yeah, so like we put our website up, which we also designed I think I also designed that, I don't even remember at this point and we sold. We hosted a pre-sale, so we sold based on, like our samples, and then we went to the factory, placed the order, waited for the samples to be finished or, sorry, the production line to be finished, and then we shipped to customers based on that.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


How did you find that? I'm so talking over you and people complain, but I get excited, so I apologize to every listener. Well, I'm like listening to this, I'm like, but where did you get the customers?

Guest: Jessy Dover


We were hustling and sharing with all of our friends and family, Like everybody knew we were working on it and we had Instagram and the internet at our disposal, which were like for brand marketing. I think we were probably one of the first brands that really like, harnessed it and utilized it in a successful way, and so we posted on Instagram, Facebook, like, had events, we were hosting events, we had a lot of focus groups and surveying that we had done. That's NBA designed. Yep. Yeah, that's like where we had a lot of our I guess supporters and customers come from. Yeah, we just like we're spreading the word like but can I ask you?

Host: Emily Blumenthal


there were other bags and I remember overhearing this conversation while you were having that meeting where I peripherally met you guys. There were other brands at that point who had organization and pockets. So what made the three of you decide that you had a fighting chance to stand apart from the others, comparatively to other products on the market that were theoretically trying to do the same thing?

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sorry, I didn't mean, I just cut you off.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


No, no, no, no, no. I mean the takeaways, because I started my handbag line while I was getting my MBA and it was a beautiful spot to do research and have students do my heavy lifting. And that's where you learn about the SWOT, the comparative analysis, the competitive analysis, the deep dive on the customer, and you know the psychographics and you know what does she, he, they eat and what do they drive and watch it. All that nonsense Most designers don't do that. That's what an MBA does. So how are you guys approaching this, saying, okay, there might be other bags that have compartments in an organization, but this is why ours are better, especially you as a designer.

Guest: Jessy Dover


I guess our mission to begin with was to provide like organized bags to professional women at a price point that was attainable and that were high quality products so you could like wipe them, they were durable enough to like throw around and you didn't have to treat them like a designer handbag that's made of leather and that's like really soft and like delicate. At that time, there were probably two brands that I could think of that were hanging their coat on organization and functionality, both of which were not cool, and we were, like you know, millennial women at that point in our early 20s. Like we do know, we're not going to be caught. That's, that's not for us.


Yes, when we got to like the decision of what we were gonna wear, I was like I'll either wear something like cute that doesn't work for me at all, or for me it was like I'll make my own. But for them they were like like what are we gonna do? And they just wore these like handbags and shoved their computers inside of like kind of half hanging out. So I think that through all of the I mean honestly, I'm really I just thought it was like I would buy it like that. It's not even that. That's all you need. I was just like I'm gonna make something that I would buy and then I think my friends would wear.


I would like to say that it was like you know, obviously there was a ton of research and like a lot of thought and analysis put into why we created the brand the way that we did and why we created the products that we did. But from a creative standpoint, I always feel like that's it. It's not that complicated Like it can be if you want to make it that complicated, but it's not Right, right, right, right.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


No, I think, listen, we've spoken more about little Jessy than adult Jessy at this point and, like you know, I could hold you captive for another three hours. I know this is fun, I would say, because it's all about you.


This is like a nice therapy session. I call this handbag therapy because, as somebody said, like I always tell people, as I told you, you're going to end up telling me something that you haven't shared, because everybody else's interviews are, you know, editorial. Right now is so click driven that it's all about what are those? Within a chasm. You know what is? The pain points, the challenges, the agony, the solution, the monetization, like it was the NBA buzzwords blah, blah, blah.


But I think understanding the origin story of a designer can speak volumes about the success as to the brand that they created and the fact that you know you're a very positive person, you're a very kind person, you're a very complimentary person and it's so not easy to work with people. It's not. It's not easy to be married, it's not easy to to work. I mean it's all these things because everything's a partnership and it's about compromise. Yeah, it's really about recognizing, especially with people with whom you work. You know everybody gets their respective role, but at some points you have to come together and I've heard an interview where partners have said, if this is a nine of importance to me and a two of importance for you, then we have to be able to come together and recognize at that moment it goes to me for what's important as opposed to. I know at other times it's going to be a two for me and a 10 for you and I'm going to say then we need to listen to what's important to you, because I respect what means to you. Yeah.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, totally. I mean, it's hard, it's really hard. I think that there are a few things that have helped support me through this, but I think the main thing that has made us like successful in our thruple, we'll say is that that we that's never gonna get old, that we all, like, beyond the brand, we really care about each other and and the people that work for you, like, yeah, the people that work for you, like, yeah, the people that work for us. We're not like saving lives and so nothing's really, you know, that big of a deal at the end of the day. So, like, being able to like cry to each other and you know, like, this is a 10 for me and this is why Like, and I just need you to hear me on this and then being like, okay, cool, let's do it like. That is, I guess, like the holding space for each other, and the culturally of Dagne Dover, I've never heard anything negative.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Wow, yeah, I mean my ears to the ground because I hear about all this stuff and you know it's really unfortunate that the perception of female run companies, yeah, rah, rah, females, women in business, girl boss, which we all know, rip has had its day, but yeah, there have been enough horror stories of female run, specifically handbag brands and how they've been run. Because it does Growth is challenging. To scale a brand, to go from one bag to getting a showroom, to getting an office, to getting employees, to getting health care, to then firing people and then realizing all of that it's, that's big kid stuff and it's stuff you know. And to recognize the trajectory of your brand, to say, are we a boutique brand, are we a retail brand? Are we indeed a C brand? How can we segment how we want our retail strategy to go?


Because, especially after the pandemic, as I'm sure, everything had to get flipped on its head because who needed a work bag? Nobody needed a bag to begin with, but who needed a work bag, you know, I mean that's the time when anything handbag related was taking a dip. So how can you pivot and turn it into travel, turn it into adventure, turn it into lifestyle, and you know all of that's really challenging. So to be able to still work together and respect the people who are working with you and for you, it's not easy. It really isn't.

Guest: Jessy Dover


It's not no, but I think I don't know. I don't know what it's. I've never worked at another company, really to be totally honest with you, so I think it's really hard and I don't even know why. I guess something that's important to me, because I would categorize myself as a hypersensitive person, and I'm not.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


You're in the climate where you can be so.

Guest: Jessy Dover


lucky you, lucky me but it's hard, it's really hard and I've gone through some mental health struggles and I think that I just can't operate in a situation that's not healthy. Like some people, I even have friends like this who are like working at hedge funds and they're like they're in there, they're like fighting with people all day, yeah, getting just like they're just part of these, like super toxic cultures that they can come home from and then just like, let it all go. I can't do that. I just physically can't. I get sick, I cry all day, like it's just a sad kind of thing, like I can't, just like don't have that, whatever that is.


So it was sort of like not an option for me to try and create an environment that like I could thrive in and I think, by default, like we ended up creating something that, yeah, a really healthy workplace. Honestly, that is focused a lot on like the products that we create, but also, and then the brand that we're kind of like I don't I guess projecting, but then also like our own, you know, mental health and like you know, protection, like it's a very protected environment. Right, my opinion, like the design room is separate from the marketing room, is separate from, you know, like other rooms, and that is like not to create separation but to like hold like these really delicate. I guess you could say like how do I say this? I like to hold this energetic creative base.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


It's a balance of power.

Guest: Jessy Dover


And it's also a balance of power. Exactly yes.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Do you allow your marketing team to impact design? Because you know we had an incredible woman on one of the earlier episodes, jamie Levy, who worked at Steve Madden for years, and you know the pushback of having the marketing and salespeople with the design people and you know it's like at the end of the day, the product has to be designed to sell.

Guest: Jessy Dover


It does, and I think physical space to design that is protected is very important for the design process to happen. Right Leadership is really important, like obviously really important, but in like deciphering the information that's important to come from the sales team to the marketing team. The marketing team Like, for example, I would not have, like, the head of my sales team come in and tell my design team exactly what they want, because it's not going to land like the way that it needs to. But if I get that information and I know what I need to know from my marketing and sales and business teams, I can give them that information in a way that can be received and implemented into future designs.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


So I think it's like that's excellent, I must say and I don't want to say it because it's female run and it's sensitive, you know but it definitely doesn't hurt to recognize that information.

Guest: Jessy Dover


That's the thing, too is like it doesn't hurt to be overly sensitive or overly communicative or overly careful. You might as well do that. You might as well do it. Yeah, in any situation.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Can I ask you one final question just now? You know companies. They've hired me to analyze not so much the health of the company for acquisition, but just to evaluate the brand, the line, like investment firms, to see if it's worthy of covering blah, blah, blah. And one of the key points is color, color within the assortment and typically, to your point, you have your black, your brown, your oxblood, your reddish, yeah, reddish, whatever that color.


I don't understand personally how that color can sell, but that's some reason. It's like a neutral. I don't get it. I don't get it, but it's within the palette. And then you'll have a pop of color to satisfy whatever the hot trend. So everything's hot pink right now. Barbie, blah, blah. It's not going to stay like that. Pink will always be there for gender understood. People can fight it. It is what it is. It is what it is. Yeah, it is what it is. That said, for work bags, your palette is surprisingly pastel-y. Turn that into an adverb. How did you especially this must have been coming from you how did you and then we can wrap up determine that color should be part of the palette? Because I see black and if anybody watches this on YouTube, they can see your screen behind you. But how did you make that determination? Because that's definitely a unique selling point, a brand separator that you have black, and then you have these I don't want to say unsafe colors, but they are not offensive, they are like they're gentle versions of neutrals.

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think I guess a part of what's important to me as a designer and as a consumer is like color is powerful, Like it's really powerful. It's very emotional, and the way that people dress and like, present themselves and create their wardrobe is a creative process based on what they want their own personal brand to be, and so it's important to me to be able to offer people, as much as I can, options to be able to do that for themselves. I want to do it for myself, too. Plus, like how good, just like.


How good does it feel if you have like a cool green outfit that you're going to wear to like your yoga class and then you can buy a bag that's either complimentary to that or like exact same match?


That feels just like very put together, very peaceful, very organized, very like I don't have to worry about what I'm looking like right now, and I feel really, really good that this is an expression of me and not just like some brand, and that's why I think that it's important to incorporate color and it just I don't know. I guess it's like something that my partners also appreciate, and I also just like see how excited my team gets when we incorporate color and print and things that are like fun and not just like the usual, and that me, you know, wherever there is excitement says that there's like an appetite for something. So yeah, like you know, it's all give and take, though of course, it's like I do get shut down a lot when I want to do certain things and there are colors that don't sell because they generally just like don't sit well with people purple, and that's okay, that happens.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


It's like a risk that we take, but um, yeah, dude, Jessy, this has been absolutely phenomenal for the handbag happy hour. Slash therapy, slash everything. Yeah, how can people learn more about you, about Dagne Dover? Where can I get all the good stuff?

Guest: Jessy Dover


Yeah, so we are on Instagram, Facebook, all the social media platforms as Dagne Dover D-A-G-N-E-D-O-V-E-R, and our website is DagnyDovercom.

Host: Emily Blumenthal


Wonderful. I can't thank you enough. I'm probably going to want to have you back for a part two or like a continuation, because this was a surface scratch man. This was a drive by yes, so thank you so very much. I encourage everybody to follow Jessy, follow the brand. It is a wonderful, special brand and I'm just so grateful to have had you on today. So thank you so very much. Thank you, emily.

Guest: Jessy Dover


I really appreciate it.


Host: Emily Blumenthal


Thanks for listening. Don't forget to rate and review, and follow us on every single platform at Handbag Designer. Thanks so much. See you next time.

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