A Young Entrepreneur Learns How to Grow Her Denim Business
March 3, 2020
In her mid-teens, Daniella Ohebshalom was inspired to spruce up her mother’s old denim jacket to wear to a friend’s birthday. She sewed on a patch symbol she felt represented her—a peace sign—and red varsity letters spelling her initials: “D.E.O.”
The upcycled jacket was a hit with partygoers, who wanted one of their own. This drove Daniella to found her own custom denimwear line, DANIELLA ERIN NYC, less than a year later. Today, she is an LIM sophomore learning best practices for her thriving business.
“I’m about the brains of the business—money, making a company do better,” says the Fashion Merchandising major. “I looked at schools that did fashion, saw LIM, and said, ‘This is the school for me,’ because it’s not focused on design. I applied, I got in, and I haven’t looked back.”
Daniella started with creating personalized products for friends and family who gave her their denim jackets to beautify with ornamental patches. Her client list quickly grew to include word-of-mouth customers and casual observers. She started an Instagram page through which she could make sales and spread the word even faster. With guidance from her aunt, a fashion blogger and interior designer, Daniella turned her hobby into a full-blown business while still in high school.
Shortly thereafter, another family member in the denim business took Daniella to a showroom, where she placed her own wholesale order. After several months producing original pieces in her increasingly popular style, another huge milestone awaited Daniella that winter.
"I wanted to spice up my denim, but also make it something someone could wear in cold weather, so I made this fur-lined denim jacket, and that’s what caught Bloomingdale’s eye. At the time I had around 1500 Instagram followers," Daniella says.
"I received a one-sentence email from a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. It said, 'I found your account on Instagram, and I want to have you in our store.' I remember walking into my science class shaking, crying, screaming."
“I had a three-day trunk show in the Bloomingdale’s store," Daniella continues. "Because of Bloomingdale’s, I had to register an LLC, build a website, work with Shopify, and I began working with other brands, too."
So, when a high school senior already owns a profitable business with growing demand and even international customers, what's to be gained from four years of college?
"I was doing so well," Daniella says, "but I knew I didn't know everything. I knew surface aspects of running a company, but at LIM I've learned more that I’ve applied to my business: the basics of retailing, customer service, what to do when something goes wrong, how to better your company's position."
Daniella continues showcasing the pieces in her perpetually growing line. She’s found a niche with smaller, private trunk shows and with philanthropic groups. These not only keep Daniella’s schedule full, they also enable her to add a charity aspect to her successful business, as she donates products and sales percentages to causes she supports, such as Northwell Health, the UJA Federation, and Babes Against Cancer.
Today, DANIELLA ERIN NYC, has its own tailors—handling patchwork, alterations, embroidery, and vinyl—a sales team, and an accountant.
As for her future, Daniella says, "Whether it's continuing to own my own business or working for someone else, I can’t picture myself leaving LIM without having a lot to look forward to and a great career after this."