Selling jewelry and a lifestyle, a snapshot at a time

For those who suffer from #fomo (fear of missing out), it’s a good idea to avoid the Instagram feed of Dannijo, a fashion jewelry line favored by downtown socialites and celebrities.

The founders of Dannijo — Danielle Snyder, 27, and her sister, Jodie Snyder, 30 — are known to post photographs of themselves sunning in Mexico, hobnobbing with billionaires like Richard Branson, and palling with Cynthia Rowley at Art Basel Miami Beach.

That their boho-chic jewelry — made of oxidized metals, dotted with colorful stones and studded with shards of crystal — is peripheral in the photos is precisely the point.

“The No. 1 one thing people say to us is, ‘You have great social media,’ ” Danielle said. “People want to see jewelry, but they don’t want to be promoted to all the time. If we’re at Art Basel or on vacation, people want to see that. It’s like flipping through a magazine. They want to see the lifestyle.”

The Snyders are jeweler designers by trade, but it is largely through social media that Dannijo went from a few homemade necklaces, strung together in an East Village apartment, to a top seller at Bergdorf Goodman and Shopbop.com.

Using Instagram and Twitter, the sisters have become editors of a cool-kid style (documenting their way through Paris Fashion Week, South by Southwest, Coachella, St. Bart’s and Montauk) with models, actresses and blogger friends in tow.

“They’re cool, young, fun girls that are just showing what they’re doing at night, places they’re going, and then, of course, wearing their jewelry,” said Hilary Rhoda, a model who has vacationed with Danielle in Jamaica.

Social media allows them to create an intimate bond with customers. Every post on Twitter and Instagram is composed by the sisters themselves, unlike at larger fashion brands, which often farm out the task to digital advertising agencies.

“It helps when a brand puts itself out there in a human and personal way with character,” said Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter, who met Danielle on an airplane going to Coachella, in Indio, Calif., and has since become a friend. “Often brands are dehumanized a bit and you forget who’s behind it.”

In an inventive twist, the sisters also use clever hashtags like #armparty, which they appended to Instagram and Twitter posts as a way for their tech-savvy fans to share the same fashion impulses (in this case, a look that celebrates mismatched arm bracelets). The sisters say it revved up their online bracelet business. Indeed, more than 230,000 instances of #armparty can be found on Instagram, including those used by Michael Kors and Lucky Magazine.

Another hashtag they popularized, #putabibonit, refers to their line of colorful bib necklaces. Their fans picked up on the hashtag, and the sisters estimate it has increased online bib sales by 20 percent.

While the Dannijo sisters enjoy social media, jewelry has always been their passion. They were raised in Jacksonville, Fla., where they taught themselves to make jewelry from their father’s old medical tools. After college, they made their way to New York City, Jodie in 2005 and Danielle in 2007, seeking glamorous jobs in fashion.

Jodie got a job running the private-label department at Sam Edelman, a footwear company. Danielle worked in sales at Penny Preville, the jewelry firm. They found the jobs uninspiring, so they returned to their childhood love.

From the fourth floor walk-up they shared on St. Marks Place, they designed their first collection, inspired by “Star Wars.” It featured 15 necklaces, each with a twisted, silver-plated piece strung around the back and layered with chains. They started cold-calling department stores, eventually landing a meeting with Bergdorf Goodman in 2008. The store took the pieces on consignment, priced them from $250 to $550 and sold every one.

“We didn’t know anyone in the industry, we were in the heart of the recession, and people said we were crazy to start a jewelry company,” Jodie said. But the timing turned out to be fortuitous. “Jewelry became the thing to invest in,” she said. “Women already had the black dress and were using accessories to complement what they owned.”

The Snyders’ biggest break came before they made a sale. In 2007, they spotted Natalie Morales, a “Today” show anchor, in a store. Danielle approached her, and the two began chatting. Two days later, Ms. Morales wore Dannijo on the show, and in 2009, she featured the sisters in a segment about young entrepreneurs.

“That’s when I realized I’m not afraid to walk over to people and start talking to them, which has become one of my biggest contributions to this brand,” Danielle said.

Indeed, the sisters seem to put the “social” in social media, and are fearless when it comes to introducing themselves to boldface names. Brooklyn Decker followed Dannijo on Twitter before reaching out to the sisters to borrow jewelry for a press junket. “They invited me into their showroom, and I spent hours there,” Ms. Decker said. “We became fast friends. They’ve been down to my home in Austin.”

The celebrity chef Katie Lee met the sisters last April at Dannijo’s showroom in the meatpacking district. By November, they were surfing together in the Caribbean. It was documented, of course, on Instagram.

Other friends include Natalie Portman, who served as an ambassador at a party for a charity Danielle helped found; Alexandra Richards, who appeared in a Dannijo look book; and Questlove, who D.J.’ed at their collection preview last September. (Rashida Jones is hosting their presentation Thursday at the Jane hotel.)

As the Snyders expand the Dannijo business, fans can keep up with their every move over social media. A handbag and ready-to-wear line is planned, as are more trips around the world and A-list parties.

“There are aspects of our business that have put Dannijo more in the public eye, and being into social media is one of them,” Jodie said. “But we attribute a lot of our success to being young and open-minded and being part of a changing landscape of marketing and brand building.”

Source: NY Times

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