Having a vision is like having a roadmap for the path ahead. While things may not go exactly in the direction you planned, having a vision for your future is significant in creating plans, goal setting and clearly and passionately communicating your goal with others.
As part of our series about the 5 things you need to succeed in the fashion industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dionna Dorsey.
Dionna’s love for design began as a young child with a coloring book and has since grown into an entrepreneurial passion. She uses culture, purpose, intention, simplicity, consistency, and inspiring design to support clients in their brand development. Her compassionate nature allows her to empathize with her clients — as well as their audiences — and the result has been her unique ability to create, develop, and nurture ‘the’ message to best align purpose and passion for brands.
She’s also the founder of DISTRICT of CLOTHING, a lifestyle brand encouraging progression, inspiring action and supporting self-love. With apparel and accessory items for the sideline rejectors who awake with passion for progress and desire to make their dreams reality, District of Clothing is worn by the change makers making change happen.
Dionna attended Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania and Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy. She has been featured in Adweek, Forbes, People, The Washington Informer, was named a Washingtonian Style Setter, and currently resides in Washington, DC.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was eventually laid off after many rounds of layoffs at my fashion design job in NYC. I stayed in the city for one additional year, and finally returned home to DC in November 2009. Once here, I wasn’t able to get hired so I hired myself. That led to the creation of my graphic design business, Dionna Dorsey Design. During year 4, my prime client went on a spending freeze, and I started District of Clothing as a side hustle to help make ends meet.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Audrey Lorde said it best, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and an act of political warfare.” I try to remind myself that in order for me to fill the cups I’ve been given to fill, I have to first fill my own.
So, every day, I give myself grace and try to make a to-do list where I put myself first on it. (Since the pandemic, I’ve also started putting myself at the bottom of my daily to-do list, too.) I don’t always get it right–I make tons of mistakes, but it’s the little things like praying, taking long walks, definitely working for me, not accepting zoom invites and sending folks to voicemail or responding to texts. And doing what I can to remain disciplined through disappointment.
- There’s power in the word, ‘no’.
- Give yourself grace.
- Learn to listen to your body.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’ve donated funds raised from t-shirts created to help provide food during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we use our small platform to share positive messages of encouragement, progression, and self-love.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” ― Maya Angelou
My journey to this point is the story of my continuing.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
I’m thrilled to see more collaborations between smaller brands and larger houses, the industry’s collective cultural appropriation coming to an end, as well as more companies adopting sustainable materials and practices.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
- VISION — Having a vision is like having a roadmap for the path ahead. While things may not go exactly in the direction you planned, having a vision for your future is significant in creating plans, goal setting and clearly and passionately communicating your goal with others.
- COURAGE — Courage will allow you to keep moving beyond the fear of failing and the fear of the unknown. Having the courage to continue is imperative to success.
- REST — Rest and relaxation are key to living a healthy life. When we get the proper amount of sleep, we improve our mental and physical health, reduce stress, and are able to better maintain a routine that is critical to daily healthy functioning.
- EMPATHY — Empathy for others, as well as empathy for yourself. Empathy is significant in achieving success as it improves your capacity to better understand and communicate with others.
- PATIENCE — Patience is incredibly necessary in any industry, but especially in the fashion industry. You’re going to fail, and you’re going to make mistakes, but if you have patience, you’ll be able to withstand the obstacles that come your way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Food equity…healthful, affordable, and culturally significant foods for all people.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@dionnadorsey on all platforms and @districtofclothing on IG