Danielle Bernstein, founder of WeWoreWhat and author of ‘This is Not a Fashion Story’, Photo Credit: … [+]
Photo Credit: Jeff Thibodeau
Danielle Bernstein wants you to know this: her business will always be a work in progress.
This might come as a surprise to the 2.4 million loyal fans of Bernstein’s Instagram feed and style platform, WeWoreWhat, who follow her of-the-moment looks and jam-packed schedule as founder of the multimillion-dollar fashion brand ShopWeWoreWhat and tech founder of the influencer project management suite Moe Assist (among her many other ventures), but Bernstein is a driven entrepreneur who is excited to grow and evolve.
“The world is ever changing, so you have to be willing to change with it, or else you’re going to fall behind,” Bernstein asserts. “Being able to adapt easily without compromising the important things — like your values and your standards — is really important, and something that I’ve done throughout my entire career.”
Bernstein, who has already proven her clout as a businesswoman and creative force as a designer, can now add published author to her list of impressive accolades with her debut book, This is Not a Fashion Story, which was officially released today.
Although she dove into the influencer scene headfirst as the fashion blogger behind WeWoreWhat more than 10 years ago, Bernstein has pivoted more than once in her already illustrious career — and reached a career-defining milestone by earning a place on the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Art & Style list at age 24.
“That was a huge career goal of mine and accomplishment. My goal was to be named Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ by age 25, and I did it at 24,” Bernstein shares enthusiastically.
Of the 27 chapters in the book — each one representing a business lesson of Bernstein’s — one of the overarching themes that sticks out is that “The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.”
Bernstein walks the talk by continuously evolving and growing, as both a businesswoman and a person. Yes, her initial claim to social media fame was as blogger WeWoreWhat. But today, she is proof positive that she can be more layered than the fashion persona she created for herself.
This point is evidenced by the multiple parts of Bernstein’s title — there isn’t enough room on Instagram’s bio section for all the characters necessary to include Bernstein’s multifaceted career. (True story.) She has added many roles to her plate, from blogger and influencer, to designer and fashion brand founder (ShopWeWoreWhat’s product categories have so far included overalls, swimsuits and most recently denim) to tech founder, investor, author, and activist with the recent launch of the charitable platform, WeGaveWhat.
When the effect of COVID-19’s new normal began in early March, Bernstein started sharing helpful resources on her platform and promoting small business owners. She quickly saw that the impact she was making was going a long way, so she got to work with her team and launched WeGaveWhat, aimed at supporting charitable initiatives and raising awareness for small businesses.
“I’m a doer. So when I say I want to do something, I literally get up and do it — I don’t wait to get it done. I’ve always been somebody who wants to get to work right away if I have a new idea. So when we had the idea for WeGaveWhat, we got to work on it immediately so that we’d be able to launch it the following week.”
This ignited a passion in Bernstein to want to use her platform to give back and make a difference, beyond the current situation.
“This idea of giving back past the pandemic is something that means so much to me. I really want to be able to continue it, and I can’t continue it on my own. And so WeGaveWhat will be my way to do that with my team, so that I could still run WeWoreWhat and my other businesses, but really have a place for all of these charitable initiatives so that they will continue, even when the quarantine is over.”
WeGaveWhat has proven that giving is more than possible via Bernstein’s platform: since launching less than two weeks ago, it has already donated over $50,000 to Food Bank For New York City and The River Fund New York, and raised enough money to donate 4,000 meals to frontline workers around NYC (in only a few hours) in partnership with Feeding People. WeGaveWhat also collaborated with illustrator Sara Sidari to create a coloring book, and raised $10,000 (100% of which was donated to Food Bank For New York City and fed 50,000 New Yorkers).
“All this started as a response to COVID-19, but it won’t end once the pandemic is over. Our work is just beginning,” Bernstein asserts.
‘This is Not a Fashion Story’ Book Cover, Photo Courtesy of Vertel Publishing
Photo Courtesy of Vertel Publishing
In early March, Bernstein released the first season of her namesake brand collection with Macy’s (Danielle Bernstein for Macy’s), which is size inclusive and accessible, with every piece priced under $100.
Bernstein shares the details of her negotiations with Macy’s in the book: she ended up getting a four-season, year-long partnership with the legacy department store, ensuring that she also oversees every detail of the collection, from start to completion. (Involvement in and exposure to all aspects of a collection’s creation is also a non-negotiable for Bernstein when she attaches her brand to something, a lesson she learned the hard way, as she shares in the book.)
The 27 lessons that fill the pages of This is Not a Fashion Story serve as a playbook for any woman looking to take risks, go after her dreams, and not only break the rules, but rewrite them in the process.
Another recurring theme in the book is the importance of listening to your intuition and not ignoring the red flags that can present themselves in potential business partnerships. (Also, always read the fine print and be cautious when finding the right business partners.)
And while Bernstein shares details about her personal life, such as the big moments in her family life that have helped shape her, as well as her romantic encounters, one thing she stands by today is the notion of “Marrying the Brands.” This is a strategy that helps guide her business partnerships, which she sees as long-term, holistic partnerships, rather than “one-offs” with short-term results.
She’s also focused on building her team, which started with her first hire in 2013: Maureen “Moe” Paretti, who started as an intern and is now chief operating officer of the entire company (and who is the inspiration behind Moe Assist). WeWoreWhat’s team currently boasts 20 people and only continues to grow today.
About to celebrate her golden birthday — as she turns 28 this May 28 — Bernstein is proving to be a force in several industries. And while fashion might have led to her golden opportunity, it’s clearly just one part of her story.