Meet Jessy Dover, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Dagne Dover
Jessy Dover is the co-founder and creative director of the bag company Dagne Dover. Dagne and Dover bags and accessories are perfect for the professional woman. They’re both functional and fashionable. The bags include everything: laptop pocket, phone pocket, tablet pocket, water bottle sleeve, umbrella holder, pen and lipgloss compartments, key strap, and metro card holder. I’m often out of the house from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. — a bag like this bag would get me through the day!
Jessy and I met a few weeks ago and have gotten together a few times since then. I admire her creativity, passion, enthusiasm, professionalism, and advice. I’m excited to share some of it with you now!
How would you describe the brand in a few sentences?
Dagne Dover is a brand dedicated to smart design and living with intention. Melissa, Deepa, and I started the company to change the way women experience and use handbags. It has evolved into a brand that seeks to empower them to be the best versions of themselves, wherever their day takes them.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start her own business?
First, do your research. Second, find a great mentor. Third, take action. Never get attached to ideas. Make sure to honestly evaluate everything all the time. That means every product, every decision, and every situation.
Meditation time! 10 minutes is all it takes to get a good session in. Ommmmmm.
Workout with my trainer/therapist or hit SoulCycle with a buddy. Seriously, these people have such a positive influence on my life, I would practically name my first born after them. Actually. I think I’ll do that.
Make my magic green juice (mom’s recipe) and read up on any fashion/lifestyle news. I’m also trying to incorporate regular old news. It’s good to know what’s up in the “real world.”
Stop by my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Fair Folks & a Goat (no, there’s no real goat…so sad, I know), chat it up with the baristas, and then hop on the A train to head into the office. This place is the best combination of two of life’s ultimate joys: Coffee Shop + Local Designer Boutique = Genius! One of those things I can’t believe I didn’t think of.
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Emails and communication. This is the most difficult part of my day because sitting still at this time is so hard! But it’s also why my workout is so important: it helps control the morning wiggles.
Sometimes I use this time for emails, sometimes I chat it up with my other half, Lisa (our CMO and brand guru), about the latest and greatest. Depends on the day!
10:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.
Design/creative time. This is when I get my best work done, so I make sure to do it while my brain is well rested and in a good place to problem solve and create. It’s rare that you’ll find me without my headphones on at this time.
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Lunchtime! I try to use this time to rest my brain a little; it’s usually in need of a recharge by now.
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Meetings. I think it is SO important to be on the same page with the people that you work with, but if I don’t build structure into meetings, it can suck up major hours of the work day. I schedule three hours per day for meeting with various parts of the team – sometimes we use it, sometimes we don’t, but it’s good to have that set aside. If we don’t use it, there’s always a long list of other things to get to!
5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Sourcing and production. This is my time to communicate with our factories, material vendors, etc. Nerd time.
Dinner! I love to eat with people. It’s a great way to wind down and create new connections and experiences. It’s usually accompanied by a glass of red wine, but I need to switch to white because my teeth are really starting to suffer! Those Crest White Strips are getting dusty.
9 p.m. -10:30 p.m.
Recess! I use this time to watch TV, research my next trip, edit my wardrobe, FaceTime my loves, or decorate my apartment. Or I’m with friends. Who knows, it could be anything.
It’s bedtime. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I NEED sleep to operate well.
I also reserve Fridays for personal development and inspiration. I do my best to make time to visit museums, make day trips, watch movies, read, see exhibits, explore my city, and basically do whatever I can to expose myself to new things and drum up inspiration for seasons to come.
Saturday is freedom. Wherever my heart takes me.
Sundays are personal days, when I make sure to get all my housework, laundry, and cooking done for the week. Boring, but it’s necessary!
What have been some of the best things, and on the flip side the most challenging things, about starting a business?
The best thing is that you have a feeling of complete freedom in your work – and to me, freedom is happiness. The difficult thing is that that freedom can be overwhelming! With too many choices, it’s easy to hit standstills. I’ve found that the best solve for me is to make sure to set boundaries with yourself and always keep your top three goals in mind.
What are some of the benefits about working with a team cofounders?
It’s always nice to have another set of eyes on anything. I’ll be the first to say that I’ve come up with some really amazing ideas…and some REALLY terrible ones. It’s great to have supportive team members to tell me when I’m hitting the jackpot or if I need to go back to the drawing board.
How did you come up with the designs for the Dagne and Dover bags? You thought of every possible compartment!
When creating Dagne Dover products, I like to say we “work backwards.” We start by addressing the need of the wearer and then designing around that information, instead of starting with creative silhouettes and planning what pockets will work inside them. Function is at the core of every design. Of course, beautiful craftsmanship and timeless style are always top of mind.
What has been your proudest moment from your career so far?
Seeing women, and sometimes men, wearing the bags I’ve designed. It’s fulfilling to run into someone on the subway platform or in a boutique rocking their Dagne.
What has been the biggest mistake that you’ve made during your career, and what did you learn from it?
Not budgeting enough time and resources for important things. Planning might be the single most important step when running a business or embarking on any endeavor. Even when you’ve done it a million times, there is an incredible amount of planning needed for execution. I have learned to OVER plan and give more time and resources in order to set myself and my team up for success.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Know your worth and trust yourself.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
Plan meticulously, but be prepared to go with the flow. Things never pan out how you expect, so it’s important to be open to what is happening and committed to making it work.
What is one branding lesson everyone should follow?
Whatever you do, be true to yourself. Authenticity is #1. My best friend always reminds me of this. You cannot break down boundaries without being yourself! This goes for branding…and everything else in life, really.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Around a New York City corner. Haha. Is that an answer? I am inspired by almost everything I encounter, and it almost always becomes a part of what I create: an Instagram snapshot, a much needed weekend out of the city, a SoulCycle ride with Marvin, my best friend’s smile, the tiles on a coffee shop floor, a shadow on a building, even a feeling…you get the point.
How would you describe your professional style? What are a few staples (other than a Dagne Dover bag)?
I have lately started wearing this awesome “Jessy Uniform” that consists of the perfect soft crew-neck tee (Aritzia) with high rise ripped jeans (FRAME), a pair of Nikes (Airforce One’s), and some sparkly jewelry…usually something sentimental.
My favorite right now is this bracelet that my friends gifted me from Links London. And naturally my pop comes from my bag!
What is on your desk right now?
I am VERY emotionally affected by my surroundings, so my desk contains items that give me clarity and a little eye candy when I need it! A Day Designer, silk peonies (because who can keep real plants alive?), a chrome gold stapler, my iMac, Fall/Winter 2015 color swatches, and probably today’s WWD. Oh yeah, and my Moleskine Sketch book, about four notebooks, and COFFEE.
“Give everything. But up.”
What advice do you have for other young professional women?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, do it right, and listen to yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons and competition, but the real win is when you’ve achieved what you set out for, and that can only be defined by YOU.
Thank you, Jessy!