Creator's Talk | Deon Dane

I decided to start this brand new series on this blog. While sharing my outfits and the latest fashion trends is a huge topic in this blog and will still remain my passion I also have a different side to me. I've been talking about my creative side and my design work for clients in a post before. Ever since I've been trying to build up that business further and while I've been doing more and more collaborations for Instagram and the Blog I've started to wonder what is their story. I get sent their products they have been working so hard for, maybe they have been handcrafting it, maybe they've been designing it or maybe it was just their dream to build up that business. I wanted to know what their vision was, how they made it and I wanted to get to know the people behind the brands and labels.
And I thought that you might like to hear that, too.

So the very first entrepreneur I will be interviewing is Laura Howard, founder and designer of the Australian watch brand DEON DANE.

Hi Laura, you’re a young designer and entrepreneur. First tell us a little bit more about you and your background story. So that we can get to know you better.

Well I was born in Illinois in the US and grew up in Dallas, Texas.  I migrated to Australia after University and really fell in love with the lifestyle here and never left!  I am now an Australian citizen.

I read that you studied first and made a good career out of it. But when did you come up with the idea to start your own business and was there a key moment you knew that starting a business was what you wanted to do ? If yes, what did it feel like ?

I don’t think there was really one moment but more of an idea in my head for years that I wanted to do something more... something more exciting, something more than a 9-5, something I could really get personally excited about.  I’ve had many ideas but one day just decided some good advise I should take is that the worst decision you can make in life is not to make one at all!  So I just picked an idea and wasn’t even sure how I was going to do it but just put it together one step at a time.

What does it feel like now ? I’m sure there are many chances and challenges about being your own boss. Tell us a bit more about them.

It is a feeling that I think you are very lucky if you can get from working for someone else.  Having something that is all yours is very rewarding.  It is also a little stressfull for the same reason – all of the risk is yours as well.

Who is involved in Deon Dane ? Is it just you at the moment or do you have any employees ?

It is just me at the moment so I am a very busy girl ☺

You’re also the designer and creative mind behind Deon Dane. What is your creative vision ? Do you feel like there are maybe two sides of you ? The creative one and the business one ?

I have never been asked that question before but it is a great one.  I definately feel like there are two sides to me.  It is part of the reason I wanted to do this in the first place.  In my day job I am very professional and it is all business without a lot of room for creativity.  With Deon Dane it allows me to be creative and also to do what I want, how I want it - not that I’m a control freak! ;)

Do you have any plans and goals for the future, maybe for this year ? At the moment there are 5 watches and additional straps available in your shop. Are there any new designs planned or even new products ?

There are new designs in the works and yes, potentially other products too but I’m keeping that under wraps for now.  Watch this space ☺

So now a bit more about the production process. Where are your watches being produced and which steps are involved. I also read that Deon Dane uses Kangaroo leather straps. Tell us a bit more about that, especially considering sustainability. 

The watches are assembled in a factory in Shenzhen in China.  The parts are sourced globally; the movement from Japan, the leather from Australia etc.  It is unfortunate that there are no manufacturers in Australia but is the reality for all watch companies that we have to use Chinese factories.  Cluse, Daniel Wellington, The Fifth etc., they are all made in China. For a step in the right direction I wanted at least a part of it from Australia so sourced Kangaroo leather from Queensland in Australia’s North East.  A surprising fact to many foreigners is that there are actually too many kangaroos in a Australia - there are more kangaroos than humans in Australia!  So the population has to be controlled.  Kangaroos are culled every year as regulated by the government. The kangaroo leather we use is actually a recylced byproduct that would otherwise end up as waste.  Kangaroos are not farmed but are in the wild and also do not produce methane like cows do.  We like to say Kangaroo leather is the green alternative to cow hide.  It also happens to be the strongest and lightest leather available so it is really a win all round!

A lot of influencers are making their way up through Instagram at the moment. Deon Dane is also very active on Instagram and sharing lots of minimalistic photos promoting their watches. How important and effective is Instagram as a marketing tool and do you still invest in any classic advertising tools ?

It is amazing the influence of social media these days.  Instagram has proved very effective and really is the primary marketing tool for Deon Dane.  I have advertised in traditional print such as Fashion Journal and Vogue.  I actually get a much better return from social influencers for a fraction of the cost.  I think it is much more genuine when people see someone they look up to for style and lifestyle advice wearing a peice.  Typically the influencers are genuinely interested in the product too and I only work with influencers who suit the Deon Dane style.  People seem to want to find something a little different rather than going with what mainstream media are selling to them so Instagram is a great resource for that.

NOW THE FUN PART

If I was an animal I would be… maybe I would be a polar bear because they get to live in the water and on the land.

If I was a word I would be… Genuine. Because that’s my favourite quality to find in people and I hope that’s how people see me!

If I was a colour I would be… aqua blue like the ocean

I used to… bake a lot before I became so busy!

My favourite Instagram accounts at the moment are… @pepamack @andicsinger @mija_mija

I draw inspiration from... fashion and interiors

Thank you so much for answering these questions for me! I wish you all the best for your personal future as well as for Deon Dane.

So that was the very first entrepreneur business interview here on For Your Life. I think it's so interesting to see and understand how people build up their business and what they strive for. I can relate to that really well as I've always wanted to build up my own business and that's why I find that we need more young creatives and risk takers out there sharing their story to encourage other people. Next Monday I will be interviewing Nika from The Good Mood Cosmetics. So keep tuned!

Viviane xx