How Dani Roche’s career went from Neopets to vegan fashion
Like a true creative, Dani Roche is the kind of girl who could never be happy just doing one thing with her life. She’s the founder of not one, but two completely different businesses. She’s the creative director of Biannual, a vegan coat company launching next month, and she runs a female-driven creative agency called Kastor & Pollux.
And, you might be asking yourself right about now, how did Dani get started on this very particular career path?
One word: Neopets.
“You come from a graphic design background, right,” I asked Dani at the start of our interview, “how did you get started in fashion?”
“So it’s actually a funny story,” Dani responded. “When I was twelve years old, I started on this website called neopets.com and I was obsessed. Mostly because I loved the idea of meeting internet friends. I was from a suburb outside of Toronto and I thought it was fascinating that as a twelve-year-old, I could meet someone from Australia and have MSN conversations with them.”
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And as Dani got a little older, she slowly transitioned from being all about that Neopet life to getting wrapped up in the early fashion blog scene.
“Back in 2008, Instagram didn’t exist. So this idea of community-driven fashion storytelling was a completely new thing,” Dani explained. “It was basically all street style fashion, so it would be like, let me take my outfit picture and let me post it to this website.”
Obviously Dani started her own fashion blog, which quickly turned into an e-commerce shop where she “designed clothes and accessories with my business partner at the time in our small basement from my parents’ house.”
She explained, “we saw an opportunity to do something new and from there, I realized through trial and error that I didn’t want to sell clothes in my parent’s basement,” which got pretty repetitive after a while.
So she pulled off the mother of all pivots and turned her blog into her a creative agency centered around the idea that content creators shouldn’t feel like they’re boxed in to just being one thing. “It’s about how can I integrate copy writing that’s funny alongside videography driven by what I like to wear or the things I like looking at on Pinterest or something like that,” Dani said.
And then in the spirit of not wanting to feel like she was boxed into one thing, in April 2016 Dani started thinking about starting her own company. And 6 months of brainstorming later, Biannual was born.
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Right away Dani knew she didn’t just want to make a coat company, but a coat company with a message. And that message was inclusivity.
“I wanted it to be a coat brand and a lifestyle brand in general that people can look at and know that they can relate to it,” Dani said. “They’re not like oh, that’s fur, so I have to step back from it because it goes against my beliefs.”
And it was really important to her to make coats that were high-quality and timeless enough that you could wear them for the rest of your life and feel totally Gucci about it.
“Biannual will grow with you. It’s not like you’re wearing Juicy sweatsuits. You can wear Biannual clothing. You have forty years olds and Biannual will still fit you,” Dani said. “That really speaks to the whole sustainability thing because you want clothes that will grow with you and you won’t have to get rid of them in a few years. “
And I should probably tell you that Biannual coats are really soft and the fake fur looks so real you’d swear Dani was pulling a fast one on you. I swear. I touched them with my own hands, and it was love.
Plus Dani swears on her reputation as a Canadian that Biannual coats are warm enough to withstand even the most extreme polar vortex.
Check them out here.