Danielle and Jodie Snyder (pictured right) are paradigms of the "New York story". These Jacksonville, FL natives
exploded onto the fashion scene not overnight, but through some serious nerve and unyielding hard work. The
initial glimpses of their major venture began from making beaded jewelry with their father's medical tools when
they were just kids. Danielle, the younger, but more artisanally-gauged of the two, eventually gained a penchant for
wire-work and soon enough, as their talents bloomed, so did their aspirations. Although the jewelry boutique they
opened in Jacksonville eventually closed, that didn't keep these entrepreneurs from thinking ahead. After Jodie
and Danielle graduated from the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University, respectively, they joined forces
once again, this time in New York City, and went completely guerilla-warfare on editors and stores alike. With a
little bit of clout (Natalie Portman called DANNIJO's pieces for the Living With a Life-Long Ambition charity gala the
"gift to give" for the holiday season back in 2007) and a versatile double-dose of talent, it's no wonder Bergdorf
Goodman welcomed the sisters behind its luxurious velvet rope.
This year, the Snyder sisters kicked off New York Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with their debut entitled
"Aboriginal". The interactive presentation/soiree was held in Chelsea where editors and friends alike roamed the
room where models lounged and sported their elegant and boheme DANNIJO pieces in unfettered chic
nonchalance. One can see where the sensibilities meet to create glam hybrids that sometimes translate into an
earthy elevation, like with their Kaimi necklace or any of their tribal inspired Apple case designs for either your iPad
or iPhone, and sometimes just sheer robust elegance, like with any of their stunning bib necklaces - the Carlotta
especially comes to mind.
The DANNIJO star is only getting higher. The brand can be found at Shopbop.com, Henri Bendel and Harvey
Nichols. With Hollywood starlets like Britney Spears, Blake Lively, Katy Perry and Beyonce Knowles donning
DANNIJO precious baubles, we had to go straight to the source to find out what's up ahead.
By Alexander Patino
FASHION Q+A: Do either of you still have those formative pieces you made with your father's medical
tools? What kinds of things would you create as kids?
JODIE SNYDER: Designing jewelry was a very organic process for us as kids. Danielle and I have always
been creative, and from a young age we made jewelry for ourselves, and designed for friends and family.
In the beginning our designs were comprised mostly of beadwork. When Danielle taught herself wirework
with our dad's medical tools, our designs became more intricate and complex. We still have some of our
first pieces- it’s a great reminder of where we started and how far we’ve come. Some of our friends still
wear pieces we made back in 2003, which is a good sign.
FQA: What's more exciting? Seeing your jewelry on a high-profile celebrity or seeing it out in the world
on a complete stranger?
SNYDER: It’s always exciting to see celebrities with amazing style in our jewelry. One especially cool
moment was when Beyonce bought our necklace at Bergdorf Goodman, and wore it on tour. That being
said, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing strangers on the subway wearing our designs and
making it their own.
FQA: There are so many great sister duos out there. We've certainly come across a good handful here
at Q+A. What is it about a sisterly creative team-up that almost always leads to success?
SNYDER: There's a level of transparency with siblings that makes for a great business partnership. We are
able to be open and honest with each other, and work off each other's strengths. Working together has
made our relationship even stronger. This ultimately benefited our business by giving it a solid DNA.
FQA: Tell us, about Living With a Life-Long Ambition (LWALA), Danielle's non-profit. How did this effort
help to catapult your careers as jewelry designers?
SNYDER: A friend of Danielle's from Vanderbilt had lost both his mother and father to AIDS. He was from
the village of LWALA in western Kenya. In the summer of 2006, Danielle convinced her boss at 85 Broads
to send her and the team to LWALA to create a documentary on women’s initiatives and AIDS in Africa. She
then took the documentary back to the states and used it to fundraise for LWALA's first health facility.
Inspired by her trip to Kenya, Danielle co-founded a non-profit with the mantra "Live With a Life-long
Ambition." The organization fundraises for grass-roots initiatives in Africa by encouraging young people to
use their passions and talents to impact change. We designed a capsule jewelry collection for one of the
fundraising galas, and the response was incredible. Natalie Portman had signed on board to support the
initiative, and ended up mentioning the jewelry in New York magazine as the "gift to give" that year. This
was the beginning of DANNIJO, as the LWALA effort helped us realize there was a demand for our jewelry,
and gave us the confidence to pursue DANNIJO full-time.
into your pieces. But all great artists look to explore new things and new
facets of their work with each new collection. What particular things are you
each curious to explore with your jewelry in 2011?
SNYDER: For 2011 we're both inspired by the pastoral frontier of the Wild West
and the notion of juxtaposing it with the shameless opulence of the roaring
20s. Some of our mood board clippings were pulled from Legends of the Fall
and The Great Gatsby. We're also really feeling golden brass metalwork with
pops of color. The jewelry feels very tribal and bohemian yet still glamourous
FQA: How do you go about naming your pieces?
SNYDER: Several of our pieces are named after friends and family. We always
take inspiration from our lives when developing new collections. The people in
our lives, from childhood friends to musical influences, undoubtedly play a big
FQA: How do men react to your self-made success and inherent business
SNYDER: Some men can be intimidated or feel threatened, but the right guys
find our success very attractive, and we've been very lucky.
FQA: Any plans to open your own store again?
SNYDER: Before we started DANNIJO, we opened a local boutique in our
hometown of Jacksonville, FL. It was a fun, formative experience, and one that
helped shape the brand. We're open to exploring the notion of a DANNIJO