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Stop Worrying About The People Who Doubt You.

Danielle shares her story on the challenges and successes of building her brand

What’s your backstory?

I was kicked off my Division I softball team for calling out my manipulative coach my senior year of college. Softball was entirely all I knew. It’d taken me out of my less than small hometown of 10,000 people, introduced me to people I now considered my family, and gave me a safe place to be 100% okay with myself and my sexuality. But when I left the team, I was furious, and not because I wasn’t on the team anymore. But because the woman who was responsible…was a woman. This woman, who was supposed to be guiding the future women of the world in sport, character, and much more, was mentally manipulating myself and my teammates instead. When I was the one who had to leave who I considered my family after 14 years of playing competitive ball, it made me see womanhood through an entirely different lens.

Basically, it lit a fire under my ass. I wanted to build something that had so much of me and my views in it. Thus, QWN Apparel was born. QWN Apparel was my first business, my baby, and still today remains a huge part of my life. It’s safe to say there’s forever a crown-shaped space in my heart. QWN was a female-oriented, empowerment-first clothing brand. The brand started with a single, charcoal dad hat. I had come up with this concept of taking their worth in their OWN hands. I loved that idea. So very literally and figuratively, women were placing their own crown on their own heads. They were actively choosing to empower themselves, on no one else’s terms.

I had no start-up money, literally zero. I was a psychology undergrad, still in college, with not even a clue as to how to properly do laundry let alone start a textile-based business. And let me tell you, those early days were the hardest. I had a single sample, an Instagram account, and a whole lot of doubters in my corner. My girlfriend at the time was less than supportive when I pitched the idea, worrying that I might be overzealous with my passion.

With her opinion in my ear, she was the only person I’d told. Still, I pursued it. I was sick of seeing women my age self-deprecating. I was sick of women-based brands who were founded by men. And I was sick of the quiet life I was living. I took the chance, started the business, and after a year of work and countless sleepless nights, a private purchase acquired it. At the age of 23, I’d built and sold my first business.

At the time this had happened, my long-time girlfriend had just ended our three year relationship. I was devastated, feeling undesirable and worthless all over again. From an emotional standpoint, I felt I was back at square one. This sucked lol.

There was a key moment though, that changed everything. I was sitting in my apartment a week or so after the breakup had happened. I hadn’t eaten in days, my apartment was a mess, I wasn’t sleeping. With the acquisition going on, I was overwhelmed, stressed and completely unhealthy. I was ignored by my ex, and I couldn’t figure out how to handle it.

I was in this apartment with all of our things, pictures of us, basically drowning in our relationship. I was sitting there looking at all of our things, and something snapped.

I got up, put everything in a box, shoved the box in the corner and got to work. I put blinders on. I forgot about the relationship for a brief moment. In the moments I couldn’t sleep – I was working. In the moment I felt sad – I was working. When the time came for me to feel angry – I channeled it and worked.

I launched Reigning Women during this time, an online motivational collective for women, Fatale Arteest, an art company highlighting female trailblazers in art, Interior Sugar, an interior design and decor platforms for creatives of that space, I consulted for businesses on their social media, creative, branding, ad spends, you name, and eventually combined allof this work into one.single.brand.

Regina Creative is now my baby, a creative agency built for creatives of many proportions. We allow brands, influencers, and curators to cultivate their ideas into actual functioning campaigns, monetizable projects, and more. We consult on major events, implement graphic design and branding, and so much more.

Currently, the agency houses 12 of our own in-house brands, which we’ve started and nurtured from the ground up, and 3 external long-term client projects. My love for empowerment has transformed into a love for CREATION, CREATORS, and brilliant minds, and I am so thankful to have been able to serve so many creators from so many walks of life.

Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?

A major success story in my life is being able to say I started a business at 21 years old, especially while I was still in school. Mind you, it was only a t-shirt business, but a t-shirt business nonetheless. I was a kid with an unclear future, and I cultivated my own future because of that little t-shirt business. I’m very proud of that choice.

Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?

At the time of my breakup, I nearly gave up. I truly felt that I was undesirable, unwanted, and so many other insecurity-ridden things. I felt as though I couldn’t promote a brand and a lifestyle that endorsed empowering yourself when I was incapable of doing that myself. But like I said, I just saw an opportunity in the pain I was feeling. I made use of intense energies inside of me, no matter how negative, and turned them into something beautiful.

How building a personal brand have helped grow my business exponentially

Building a personal brand massively important today. People today are overwhelmed and flooded with branding, concepts, marketing and advertising. What people really want, and need is your story. It is so CRUCIAL to understand that your documentation of your life, your authenticity, your rawness and TRUTH, is important.

For me, this has meant getting REALLY vulnerable about my struggles. I’ve openly expressed my immense pain following my break ups. My feelings of worthlessness and insecurity. These things are mentioned not to warrant pity but understanding. We ALL feel this way. I don’t know a person that hasn’t felt insecure about something. And making people understand just how much my insecurities impacted my life will lead them to understand just how much it’s possible to become what you want to become through that.

This is a key part to my business. As a creative agency, we serve creators of similar beginnings, we serve HUMAN BEINGS. To be able to become and resonate as HUMAN is huge, and it all starts with my story.

What techniques and methods do you use day to day to stay continuously motivated, focused and proactive when fear, hardships and procrastination have the best of you?

Every single day I ask myself, “What the hell do I have to today to support the life I want to live?” I ask that question in every day, decision, and moment of negativity or doubt. It sounds utterly cliche, but it’s the truth. If it doesn’t, I don’t spend my time on it. This can pertain to something as small as taking a call or a message from someone in your past life that no longer serves you spiritually, to something as major as choosing to run two miles that day.

What is your definition of success?

My definition of success has changed drastically over the years. At first, I thought it was all the cliche things. Money, cars, notoriety. Now I attend events of multi-million-dollar hosts and consult for businesses of great account sizes and get little fulfillment out of the sizes and numbers and proportions. Now, I define success on two things:

  1. How do I feel? Do i feel good? Do I feel fulfilled? Do I feel like I’m happy with where I’m at? Do I like what I’m doing, and do I feel connected to the world?
  1. Have I done what I set out to do and has what I’ve set out to do positively impacted someone (myself or others included).
  1. If one or both of those things feel off, I do too. So, I reevaluate.

If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?

Work for free. Work for free. Work for free. So much of my figuring things out was based on testing the waters in so many different industries. There was a brief moment recently when I was doing so well in some fronts of my career from a monetary perspective and wanted experience in another industry, so I literally did free work.

The point is you have to prove yourself, both to your clients and yourself. This is a big lesson in self-awareness and failing is great for that. If by doing things for free you realize you suck at something (and trust me I have realized that in some pursuits), then you’ve made a massive step in the right direction for what you actually should be doing, and you’ve lost nothing but time, and trust me – when you’re young you’ve got nothing but that. Which leads me to my next suggestion:

Try EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, we live in a world that only requires us to sit, answer, and speak when we’re told. We’re taught to react to fixed responses and put creativity second. So when you leave high school or college and you have all the ambition in the world with no idea what to do with it, you’ve got to give yourself every opportunity to figure out what the hell it is you even like.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

For me, it’s freedom. Money is great, but ultimately you can burn it. Freedom is fluid, it’s intangible, it’s internal. No one can take away freedom that you’ve given yourself. I want to have the freedom to be with my family when something serious arises, freedom to be able to see the world when and how I’d like to. Freedom to explore different parts of my human self that I might not otherwise be able to.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? What lesson did you learn from them?

I’d have to say I thank my best friend. She was my roommate all four years of college. She has seen me change from a very soft, insecure version of myself to the person I am now. She has cushioned a lot of my really hard blows in life and she has truly always had my best interest in mind. To me, she’s the sister I never had, and her loyalty to me has taught me so much about human connection and character. I truly think it’s allowed me to see things more clearly in the earlier stages of my development, and I’m thankful for that.

If you could travel back in time to before you started, what 3 tips would you give yourself and why?

1. Be patient. You’ve lived only 21 years, you’ve got so much time.

2. Start NOW. Stop worrying about the people who doubt you.

3. Give yourself more love, you are the most important support system you have.

What do you think makes your work stand out?

We’re human beings. I don’t sugar coat a thing. I know exactly where I come from and what it is I can give you. I don’t want to pitch you, I don’t want to work for you, I want to work with you, I want to CREATE, and I believe that sets us apart. We’re human beings, and we understand a good vision when we see one. So we seldom turn away a project that we KNOW is going to HOT with or without our services just because the funds aren’t there. We see the value in creativity, vision, effort and inspiration, and we ALWAYS make it work for brands and people we believe in. This makes us relatable, this makes us palpable to our clients and potential clients, this makes us real. This makes us unique.

What are your success habits?

Wake up early, get there early, stay late.

Optimizing efforts, doing things smarter, always asking if there’s a better way to do this. 

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