Dreamer All-Stars

Dreamer All-Star Training Session #2: Brandice Daniel

Congratulations, Dreamer! You are officially almost finished with week #2 of The STRETCH. To wrap up week two, you’ll be training with Dream Project participant, Brandice Daniels, founder of Harlem Fashion Row. You’ll read about how Brandice ran with an idea of hosting fashion shows in Harlem and literally STRETCHed the idea into the nation’s largest platform for designers of color.

For the past 12 years, Brandice has hosted some of the most sought-after fashion shows during New York Fashion Week, and she recently spearheaded a history-making partnership between Harlem Fashion Row and Nike in which she matched LeBron James with three Harlem Fashion Row designers to create his first women’s basketball shoe with Nike. I’ve watched and supported Brandice for 12 years as she’s STRETCHed again and again during her Dream journey. In the following excerpts from her session with the Dream Project, Brandice offers winning business strategies and tips and stories.

  • Dreamer All-Star: Brandice Daniel
  • Dreamer Type: CEO Dreamer

Brandice Daniel is the founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR), a prestigious platform for multicultural fashion designers. Brandice also co-founded and co-hosts “Great Girlfriends,” a podcast created to offer women daily tips and solutions for living passionate lives and building thriving businesses. She went from being an industry outsider to now being called by the Wall Street Journal, “A Fashion Insider that Pushes for Diversity.”

Releasing the “How?”

“I had no evidence that I could make this dream happen. I didn’t have any experience doing a fashion show from start to finish, and at the beginning that was the entire dream. Then the dream God gave me was so much bigger, but I think He started with the fashion show. I needed that smaller start because I think if God had showed me the whole picture I would have freaked out. I didn’t have any evidence that I could do it, but I felt compelled to do it. I didn’t know anything or anyone when I got started. I didn’t know the people who I was asking to be a part of it. I really didn’t know how I was going to pull it off, but I kept going forward anyway. I didn’t have any experience doing a fashion show from start to finish. I didn’t even know what kind of people I’d need to put it together, but the thing I was convinced of was that this dream was given to me. I felt that so strongly that I didn’t worry about how I was going to make it happen. I just kept going.”

Being on the Right “Floor”

“When I first had the dream, I was working a full-time job as a production manager for an instant apparel company in New York. Before that, I was a senior assistant buyer for a company in Memphis. So, I’d been around fashion, but never this particular thing. I always say, ‘Just be on the right floor. If you’re on the right floor, you’ll eventually open the right door, or you’ll land in the right place.’ I was on the right floor, but I just hadn’t found the right door. I was doing different things around fashion, but this was my door.”

The Advantage of Being An Outsider

“Being an outsider can be an advantage. Being an outsider, you have the opportunity to build and make mistakes while nobody’s watching. A lot of times people think, “Oh, I don’t know anybody. If only I had connections.” But those first few years of building something as an outsider can be a gift. Nobody saw all my disastrous mistakes in the beginning because I was an outsider—nobody cared. Nobody was paying attention to me.”

Making Space for Dreaming

“As an entrepreneur, you can get so caught up in a day-to-day, it is very easy to stop dreaming and just keep working on the dreams that you have—not letting your mind wander. One of the things that I’ve been doing for years now is I take this trip called ‘the golden girls trip’ with three of my friends. We go to Miami—we go to the exact same hotel because it’s a mindless trip, right? We don’t want to think about anything. We’ve gone to the same hotel every single time and we do the exact same thing every single trip. We go to the same restaurants. We ride the same bikes. Every time I go on that trip, I come back with new ideas, new perspective, new dreams, new ideas, solutions to problems that I just couldn’t figure out before.”

Checking Out to Check in

“Right now, I’m off social media so I’m not posting anything. I just had to give myself the space. I felt too crowded, and I have to give myself the space to turn off everything that wasn’t necessary. Social media was one of those things for me. Particularly Instagram. Probably once every other month, I’ll just turn off social media for a week or so just to give myself the time to think and dream and be and be present. Because, I can tell you for sure, when I’m on social media, I’m not present.”

Learning to be a Fighter

“I think my biggest battle has definitely been finances. I remember one year in particular, I was planning an event and a sponsor confirmed and then they backed out. They confirmed verbally, but then they backed out. I remember just sobbing because that was a big sponsor, and it was a big amount. I left there and was on the subway, and God said, ’Fight. You don’t sit back. You fight.’ So, I wrote a respectful but very direct email that I wouldn’t normally send, explaining the impact of retracting of sponsorship that you verbally committed to — and what the relationship meant for us. They actually ended up coming back on board, not for the same amount, but they came back on board. For me, so many times, it’s been about fighting the challenges of financing a small business, fighting, also, the fear that comes up within myself. And the doubt that comes up. And making sure that I never get to a place where I start questioning, ’Is this going to happen?’ I make sure my language is as if it’s already happening and is following my dream, not undermining my dream.”

Knowing Her Purpose

“My purpose is to create opportunity for designers of color in fashion. It’s really that simple. Whether that’s supporting them with their own lines or helping them find opportunities within a brand as a designer, my goal is to make sure that any talented designer who’s a person of color is able to find opportunities in fashion without discrimination. I think it’s just a part of my DNA; I want to see people live out their life’s purpose. What I’m doing through HFR is allowing me to see designers be able to live out their purpose without blocks, without anything holding them back.”