123: Danielle Snyder – How to Build a Community of True Fans Who Buy Your Art
“What good collaboration should do is inspire you.”
– Danielle Snyder
Hey guys! Welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (Formerly NIONradio). I’m so glad you’re here today. This episode is going to be incredibly valuable for all you creative entrepreneurs out there because we’re talking all about what you need to do to find the people who will respond to your art and grow your following.
Here’s the thing: Great creative entrepreneurs are great community builders. They know how to build communities among their followers, and they know how to build their own communities with other creatives. They know the importance of being authentic in their own branding. But they also know that collaborations — those that serve the creators’ personal aesthetics and brands — can help massively impact everyone for the better.
As creative alchemists, we all want to know how to create businesses that are authentic to who we are but that are also financially viable. We want to be successful and make our living with our art, but it’s not always easy — especially when you’re just starting out.
Thankfully I have the perfect guest today to teach us all how to build a brand and a following with joy and honesty. She’s been a good friend of mine ever since we met at a Summit event about eight years ago. Her name is Danielle Snyder, but you probably know her as half of the jewelry company Dannijo, which she co-created with her sister, Jodie.
Dannijo has been astounding the world for decades, but they really took off when Beyoncé bought one of their pieces and actually wore it on tour! From that point on, Danielle and Jodie were jewelry royalty. But even before their rise to fame and any attention from Beyoncé, Dannijo was hustling full-time — making beautiful jewelry and building an artistic community.
Danielle and I have a great conversation in this episode. We talk about the importance of having a personal brand fueled by your own creativity and passion. We also discuss the power of social media and how you can use it to build a community of followers who support you and what you do. And finally, we talk about the importance of having a community to help get your creative juices flowing. I know you all are going to get a lot of value out of this conversation — I certainly did. Let’s dive in.
Who Is Danielle Snyder?
As I said before, Danielle Snyder is half of the famous jewelry duo Dannijo. She and her sister, Jodie, have been creating beautiful jewelry since they were little kids making fun pieces with their cardiologist father’s medical tools. They grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and continued to make jewelry into their college years when they sold their pieces to raise money for charity.
But New York City was calling. After school, Danielle’s older sister moved to New York, and Danielle followed her as soon as possible. They both worked full-time and considered their jewelry a fun and potentially lucrative hobby, but then they both lost their jobs. Within a month, the only way they were paying that infamous New York rent was through their jewelry business — which quickly took off.
The two made a cold call to Bergdorf Goodman in 2008, and they took the jewelry on consignment, marking the official beginning of Dannijo as a brand. In their second week on the market, Beyoncé discovered one of their necklaces and purchased it to wear on tour, and the rest is history.
Throughout their rise in the world of creative entrepreneurship, Danielle and Jodie have placed a strong emphasis on philanthropy. Their first major project — while Danielle was still in college — was a fundraiser for the first health facility in the village of Lwala, Kenya. Since then, Dannijo has launched the nonprofit L.W.A.L.A. (Live With A Lifelong Ambition) to continue raising money to support healthcare in Kenya.
I’m so inspired by the work Danielle and Jodie are putting out into the world. They create some of the most beautiful jewelry, and their genuine hearts for philanthropy are second to none. And through it all, they have maintained a consistency of brand, voice, and passion that has shaped the Dannijo brand. They are a model for all of us of how to create and maintain an authentic voice in a creative space. Let’s dive in and talk more about that…
Creating a Personal Aesthetic
One of the things I love most about Dannijo jewelry is how each piece fits perfectly into their personal aesthetic. Danielle and Jodie have carefully crafted an aesthetic that is bright, colorful, and fun without being overstated or silly — and that really mirrors their personalities.
“There was a period where I was [shy], and I came out of my shell, and I think the jewelry is bold and sort of fearless, and it sort of mirrors my personality. It’s very much uninhibited.”
– Danielle Snyder
Danielle’s art mirrors her personal journey. The boldness and color of her pieces is a perfect reflection of her bright personality. And that makes the work feel authentic — that’s why so many people connect to the Dannijo brand.
What is your personal aesthetic? Have you carefully crafted it based on what you think works in the industry? Or is it built to be reflective of who you are as an artist?
It’s so important to build a recognizable brand that represents who you are. Audiences, clients, and customers respond to art that speaks to who the artist is. Personal artistry creates human connection.
“I think the overwhelming theme of everything that inspires me is somehow tied to psychology because that’s what I majored in. So like it’s just having a connection to something or someone.”
– Danielle Snyder
Do you want to create a community of fans who will invest in your art? Then be honest. Be authentic in your creations. Put your personality in your art, and show the world the journey you’re on. Other people will see your work and connect to it because it’s real. Your voice will resonate with your audience, and people will be attracted to your work — even to the point of wanting to invest in it financially.
Using Social Media to Grow Your Community
But authenticity in your branding goes beyond the aesthetics of your art. You can infuse your personal voice into every aspect of your company. This is so important, especially in your social media presence.
Social media is a powerful and essential tool for creative entrepreneurs working to build brand awareness and community around their art. Dannijo knows this well — they’ve carefully crafted their online presence to represent their voice and build a community around their art.
“I think for us, social media is one of the best tools that we’ve ever had. … I think it’s a language that we grew up with as millennials that our parents didn’t have. … On Instagram, we can tell our own story, so we can show you the entire picture of who we are, where we come from, how we style the jewelry, [and] where the ideas come from, and it becomes an open channel for us to learn more about our customer base.”
– Danielle Snyder
You have a serious advantage here. Like Danielle said — the generation before us didn’t have the language of social media to use as a community-building tool. They didn’t have the advantage of an online platform to promote their art and grow their following. But we do have that tool. We can use social media to show the world our art and build connections with people.
How would you characterize your social media presence? Are you active on Instagram? Are you showing the world your art?
If you’re an artist, chances are you already have an Instagram and maybe a Twitter and a Facebook account that you use to promote your art. But let me ask you this — are your social media posts uber-polished and professional, or do they show the messy, behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into creating your beautiful work?
It’s interesting to me that people today resonate with messiness. It goes back to authenticity — audiences will gather around creators who show the raw, real, messy sides of being a creative entrepreneur. People resonate with the voices of creators who acknowledge that life isn’t always pretty.
“… Something might’ve worked for me three or four years ago on Instagram, for instance, like beautiful editorial images that were shot on a proper camera and you later put on Instagram. … [The] pendulum’s swung, and now it’s like people want to see raw. They want to see what you look like, what you’re wearing, what you’re saying unedited … not picture perfect. … When Instagram started, I think there was a whole wave [where] everyone was sort of chasing perfection, and the more high-res and the more professional your feed looked, the more people started to follow you. I think it’s the opposite now. I think the more raw and bare-bones you get, the more people relate to you …”
– Danielle Snyder
When people can relate to you — when you can create a real, human connection with your audience — they’re going to follow your work. They’re going to keep up with you and become true fans. And they’re going to want to buy your work.
How are you cultivating social media presence? Are you allowing the raw, unfiltered sides of your personality to show? I want to encourage you to show the world who you really are. Be authentic — the world will resonate with your honest voice.
Building a Community Through Collaborations
But social media isn’t the only way to build a community. It’s also essential to make connections with other artists and create beautiful things through a collaborative effort.
“I think ultimately what good collaboration should do is inspire you and get your creative juices flowing. … That’s what it’s all about. We basically just feed off of each other as sources of inspiration. … You hit roadblocks in anything you do, so … you kind of need someone to pick you up and take you with them, and I think that’s what a collaboration does.”
– Danielle Snyder
It’s so true. When artists collaborate, they feed off each other’s energy and bring each other new inspiration. That can help them overcome roadblocks and create new and exciting art that they couldn’t have made alone.
But here’s the cool thing about collaboration: It really gives you a double-sided advantage. Not only does collaboration allow you to be inspired by other artists and create new works of art, but your audience will resonate with your work when they see that it’s created out of a genuine human connection.
“I think collaboration is a dream when it’s authentic and organic, and you actually like the person or product, and it speaks to your audience and community.”
– Danielle Snyder
Are you seeking opportunities to collaborate with other artists? When you collaborate with people whose voices and aesthetics complement and amplify your own, you create opportunities for new connections and continue to grow your community.
Be a Creative Alchemist with Danielle Snyder
I really admire Danielle and the work she does with her sister, Jodie. They are dedicated to cultivating their authentic voices, and because of that, they’ve been able to grow a community of people who want to support them and buy their art.
How are you showing your authentic voice to the world? Are you using social media and engaging in inspiring collaborations? When you bring together the different elements of who you are and combine those with tools like social media and artist collaborations, you alchemize those things and create a loyal and dedicated audience for your work
Thank you so much for joining me today — I hope this post inspired you. If it did, please share the episode and tag Danielle, @danielleasnyder, and me, @nickonken. And don’t forget to leave ONKEN RADIO a five-star review over on Apple Podcasts. Every review helps this show reach more listeners!
Until next time — show the world your authentic voice, and watch the community around your art grow and thrive.
I’ll talk to you later —
Some things we learn in this podcast:
- When Danielle started making jewelry [5:00]
- How jewelry came back into her life in college [6:30]
- What happened when Beyoncé bought one of their pieces [9:00]
- What she learned from getting fired [11:15]
- The challenges of growing and scaling a business [13:40]
- The value of using social media as a tool [15:20]
- How to build a community online [18:20]
- What inspired Danielle [20:50]
- Where her aesthetic came from [22:20]
- The power of true collaboration [24:50]
- Why you have to get out of the office or studio [29:30]
- What Danielle’s creative process looks like [32:05]
- How Danielle lives a full life [36:40]
- The routines Danielle practices [38:20]
- How mindfulness helps creativity and productivity [41:50]
- When their company started to grow [46:40]
- How she carried on her nonprofit work [47:25]
- The importance of giving back [48:30]
- Danielle’s philanthropic passions [51:00]
- The future of Dannijo [54:50]
- The biggest challenges of her entrepreneurial journey [58:45]
- Check out Dannijo Jewelry and the World of Dannijo
- Learn more about Misty Copeland
- Watch the Lauryn Hill lecture
- Follow Vienna Pharaon on Instagram
- Check out the Headspace app
- Learn more about Indego Africa
- Check out the Bob Woodruff Foundation
- Join the Nion Life Community on Facebook
- Music Credit: Purple Craze by Chex Ft. Lily Grieve