Interview With Jodie And Danielle Snyder, The Sister's Behind DANNIJO Jewelry Line

by Stanely Stuyvesant · July 9, 2009

[Jodie and Danielle Snyder] You may recognize their pieces from Gossip Girl-your favorite characters have all sported them-or perhaps from the numerous stores and online outlets like Bendel's, Bergdorf's, Net-a-Porter, and ShopBob (to name a few), that carry their eclectic creations. Or perhaps you have heard whispers of their names around the LWALA events.  Whatever the case, Jodie and Danielle Snyder, the beautiful and charismatic sisters from Jacksonville, FL have taken NYC by storm; picking up fans along the way (myself included). Team Hamptons will be hosting a trunk show this weekend at Alice & Olivia with DANNIJO (details below), which means it's the perfect time to get an official interview with them.  An avid borrower of their creations, I never fail to get compliments and inquiries when wearing DANNIJO.

Make sure you are following both @dannijo and @danielleasnyder on Twitter, and check out their new men's line HERE!

[Dannijo Necklaces Are Magical] [Dannijo Jewelry]

Carson sat down to get the official scoop from our favorite line...

Your website describes DANNIJO as "pieces seamlessly combine indie hipster style with timeless sophistication, resulting in statement pieces that emit a polished uptown feel with a raw downtown flair. " Can you elaborate on this at all?

Jodie and I have very different personalities--her style is more classic and Jackie O inspired whereas mine is more bohemian and rock'n'roll inspired. The DANNIJO aesthetic strives to infuse both perspectives so that the line is unique and can be worn by a range of personalities. The idea is for each piece to be individually interpreted and worn in an individualistic way. We think fashion jewelry should be expressive and play to your moods and lifestyle--its eclectic for a reason. There is never an outfit that DANNIJO doesn't work with. The collection is designed to be playfully mixed and matched, stacked and layered. We love bold and we love effortless, so that is the underlying theme of all our collections.

Did both of you go to school knowing you wanted to do jewelry design considering you had a boutique prior to your New York days? Can you tell us a little bit about your early days as jewelry designers?

I think we both went to school knowing that we wanted a well-rounded liberal arts education. We never really intended on DANNIJO being our full-time job--especially so soon out of college--but I think we had always had the idea of going into business together, and making jewelry had always been such a big part of our childhood. I had found my father’s medical tool kit as a young girl and taught myself wirework, so our designs were able to get much more intricate and expressive with time, despite never being formally trained. Making jewelry was always our creative outlet and a hobby Jodie and I enjoyed together throughout our college years. She lived in Florence, Italy and I lived in Barcelona, Spain for a brief time, which inspired our designs and fueled our creativity.

We kind of fell into DANNIJO once we were both living in New York. Jodie and I had designed a capsule jewelry collection to fundraise for a health facility in the village of Lwala, Kenya, which we launched at the November 2007 LWALA [Live With A Lifelong Ambition] gala. The collection was well received and ultimately played a large part in our pursuing DANNIJO as a full-time job.

We started the company out of our little St. Marks Place apartment and landed Bergdorf Goodman as our first account in March of 2008. Our growth has been very organic and has allowed us to really sculpt our brand and take part in innovative collaborations and partnerships.

In the future, are there any other materials that you could see yourselves incorporating into your jewelry, or that you might be interested in trying?

Jodie and I are really into the early days of surf culture and the great American summer. Our current storyboards feature plaids, stripes, polka dots, pops of neon, paracord lanyards, friendship bracelets, and a slew of unexpected elements. Because Jodie and I were never formally trained, we have never felt confined by a set of materials--we like to mix it up. Stay tuned.

Are their certain pieces entirely designed by Danielle and entirely designed by Jodie, and pieces that are combination? Same with collections? How does the design process typically go?

Our best designs tend to be the collaborative ones because they strike a perfect balance, but Jodie and I do design on our own as well. Most of the time we'll end up building off one another’s design to roll out an entire collection. We are very hands-on so we prefer to play with the materials rather than sketch our designs. The best part of having each other to bounce ideas off of is that we bring very different perspectives to the jewelry design process. It keeps the collections very open-minded yet wearable.

Danielle started the African non-profit LWALA, and DANNIJO did a capsule collection in collaboration with this. How do you coordinate charities with the company?

Jodie and I created our first capsule collection for LWALA as the non-profits mantra is “Live With A Lifelong Ambition”. It encourages young people to use their passion and talent to impact change. Our DANNIJO for LWALA collection featured the LWALA leaf logo, which represents grass-roots initiatives and re-growth. I am co-founder of LWALA so it was a natural collaboration for DANNIJO.

We partner with charities that we feel share similar ideals and that are relevant to DANNIJO. We believe in building a brand and using it as a platform to make positive change in the world. Right now we are working on a business model that involves partnering with women’s groups in underdeveloped parts of Africa to make DANNIJO jewelry so that we are not only empowering the women but also creating sustainable economic opportunity. We want DANNIJO to be about something greater than just fashion or art—we want it to have a pulse.

It's hard enough working as business partners - how do the two of you do it being sisters?

It works because Jodie and I are best friends and we really admire each other’s creativity. We recognize that we each bring very different strengths to DANNIJO. The fact that we spend 24/7 together (we still love going out together outside of work) is a testament not only to our mutual respect for one another but to the authenticity of our friendship. We live together, work together, and go out together- and it’s a really special relationship that I think has a very positive impact on DANNIJO. It’s a lifestyle brand because it’s built around our lifestyles.

Right now you're selling in all the hottest spots - Bergdorf's, Bendel's, net-a-porter.com, and I saw you were recently on Gilt Groupe as well. Is there anywhere the company is reaching towards as a goal, venue wise, you would like to have the product sold?

We’re working on some exciting innovative partnerships and collaborations right now. We’ll continue to partner with retail outlets that we see fit for the brand. Our growth thus far has been very organic and we plan on maintaining this approach.

Besides all the celebrities and socialites who already wear your jewelry - not to mention Gossip Girl! - is there anyone each of you would personally love to see wear a piece of your jewelry? Any favorite star or person you think just needs to be wearing DANNIJO right now?

Jodie: Agyness Dean--we love her style and vibe. Danielle: I think Alexa Chung has a really cool aesthetic and I’ve been following her on Twitter lately—I’d like to see her rock some DJ.

Jodie: Also, Michelle Obama and Carla Sarkozy are women that we really admire and would love to see in our work.

Danielle: Mad Men is a recent obsession, and Jodie and I love its 1960s New York style so it’d be cool to see DANNIJO on the women of Mad Men—I especially love Christina Hendricks. But most of all we love seeing our friends wear the jewelry. It’s more meaningful when people we know wear DANNIJO because it really resonates with our lifestyle aesthetic. I still get excited when I see girls on the street or out wearing my designs. As far as celebrities or public figures, we’ve been fortunate enough to get to know incredible women like Natalie Portman and Natalie Morales who have been huge supporters of the collection. They are women at the forefront of some incredible efforts and it’s always exciting when they wear their DANNIJO.

Personally, I love the "Lost At Sea" collection - especially because it's summer. Do each of you have a different favorite collection? A different favorite piece of the moment, or one you are just wearing constantly?

It's constantly changing depending on my mood, but right now I love the Harlow ID bracelets, Colette Cuffs and Veronika bracelet stacked. I'm really into tons of different textures and designs around the wrist. Jodie’s been wearing the Wynn and Zuza a lot—they’re great summer pieces when you have a tan because they really pop. I also love the Rocco ring, the Onyango and Ora necklaces because they’re a bit bohemian-tribal with an effortless elegance. I'm into easy pieces that you can throw on mindlessly and that go with just about everything. I'd say Jodie and I wear pieces from Cult Couture and Haring the most, but we like switching it up.

We know you two both love the Hamptons - can you each tell us some of your favorite things to do and places to go when you're out there?

We of course love the beaches. We go to Jamesport the most---we love its desolate beaches and wine vineyards. We have the most relaxing weekends there. It's like a mini vacation. Afternoon beach runs, tennis, wakeboarding, sailing, sun bathing, and home-cooked meals are my favorite things about my weekends in Jamesport. Jodie makes the most amazing food from locally grown produce, and we end up eating really fresh fish after fishing trips! It’s a simple and calm life, exactly what we crave on weekends when we want to escape the city. I recently fell in love with Montauk. I love Surf Lodge and Montauk Yaught Club for beachy nightlife. TalkHouse in East Hampton is really fun too. Daytrips to Sunset Beach for lunch is also a favorite.