The three co-founders of Dagne Dover are passionate about sustainable fashion
As the fashion industry increasingly moves towards sustainability, Dagne Dover has emerged to meet consumer demand. The eco-conscious brand creates bags, backpacks and wallets with a functional minimalist design designed for today’s modern lifestyle, able to transition easily from work to play to travel. It was founded in 2013 by three women – Melissa Mash (CEO), Deepa Gandhi (COO) and Jessy Dover (CCO) – all of whom have a passionate commitment to environmentally and socially responsible business practices.
All products in Dagne Dover’s signature + leather line feature recycled Repreve liners and dust bags created entirely from plastic bottles. Many items are 100% vegan. The company focuses on ethical manufacturing, minimizing waste and avoiding toxic chemicals in production. Dagne Dover’s flagship store is in Soho, and products are also sold in all Nordstrom stores in the United States and Canada as well as online.
“As a company, we’ve always loved what we do, but initially the lack of sustainable material options was an issue that we didn’t feel 100 percent about,” the co-founders say. “Today, we are more proud than ever of the products we present to our customers. Sustainability hits home because as parents we always talk to our kids about climate change. We must do our best to preserve nature for them.
Melissa Mash is co-founder and CEO of Dagne Dover. She says her life’s purpose is “to discover, innovate and defend. My life’s purpose isn’t something I decided – it’s what I’ve noticed that energizes me and what I gravitate toward. Your life purpose reveals itself to you when you truly sink into who you are and adjust to the things in your life that fill your cup.
Mash remembers reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau in high school and learning the concept of “sleep walking through life”. It had a profound impact on her. “For me, pursuing a career that I created for myself is the best way to achieve the feeling of freedom. Having pursued entrepreneurship, I can choose how I keep my work ever-changing and fulfilling,” she explains.
“There is nothing more empowering than turning dreams into reality, especially for others,” says Deepa Gandhi, co-founder and COO of Dagne Dover. “I like to celebrate and stand up for people, and I want people to feel empowered to live a life they’re proud of. I’m inspired by others who have forged their own path and haven’t let the rules stop them.
Gandhi considers herself lucky to be able to pursue a career that has value and meaning. “Being able to spend my day doing what I love allows me to bring positive, empowered energy to everything I do,” she says. “This path allows me to combine my passion with my daily life, which leads to an immense feeling of fulfillment and joy.”
As co-founder and creative director of Dagne Dover, Jessy Dover designs the company’s products. “My passion for design led me to product design, and I fell in love with bag design from there,” she says. “My successes guided me, and my family and friends encouraged me to pursue my desires despite all the challenges I encountered along the way. Bold humans who overcame prejudice and overcome obstacles have always been my inspiration: my mother, Frida Kahlo, Virgil Abloh, Jil Sander and RBG to name a few!
Being an entrepreneur is tough, says Dover. “Your conscious mind is most often on overload. It is needed to make important decisions, so there can be a lot of feelings of fatigue and pressure. Being a designer is also very vulnerable. Putting your heart into the world day in and day out can be heartbreaking and even embarrassing. However, the rewards are worth it. “The beauty is in the victories and the successes, and in the people you meet along the way.”
From the start of the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020, Dagne Dover and Rhone co-founded Brands for Better, a group of digital native brands that came together to donate a portion of the profits to Covid relief organizations such as Feeding America, The CDC Foundation, and Save the Children. The program has donated over $4 million so far.
To others looking to align their career with their life purpose, the three co-founders of Dagne Dover offer this advice. “When you start your career, you may feel like ‘everyone is on a path except me’. Don’t compare yourself to others. Invest time and energy in pursuing things that enlighten you. Also, just because you’re good at something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s serving you.There’s a distinction between the two, and understanding that distinction also helps you make better decisions about your career.