Dani Egna is the founder and CEO of Inked By Dani. Wanting to take an elevated twist on the temporary tattoo craze, artist and founder Dani Egna created a line of chic and creative temporary tattoos inspired by her hand-drawn designs. She went from selling her temporary tattoos in sorority houses on a college campus to being picked up by major retailers including Brandy Melville, Ulta, Anthropologie, Bloomingdales, Forever 21 and more. This year she was named in Forbes 30 Under 30.
With their signature on-trend style and worldwide fan base, INKED by Dani is redefining temporary tattoos into a whole new world of upscale, wearable art.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start INKED by Dani?
My name is Dani and I am the founder, CEO, and head designer of INKED by Dani. I received a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California in May 2015, which is when I started the brand.
I came up with the idea for INKED by Dani after a night out during college at a themed party. My friends, who knew how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in cool hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The designs were a hit and I was inspired to take an unprecedented, art-driven approach to temporary tattoo design. This lightbulb moment started INKED by Dani, while bringing my fine arts expertise to redefine temporary tattoos into a whole new category of upscale, wearable art and creative beauty.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually work at least 12 hours a day and at least one day of the weekend. (Pre-covid…) I was constantly traveling for retail appointments and to our production facilities. On the weekends, I work at tradeshows across the country. I also have my hands in all areas of the business, including merchandising, production, sales, and marketing.
I wake up around 6:45 am. First thing I do is check my emails, respond to anything urgent, and get ready for a quick workout. I review my calendar for the day to see what I have going on, and answer a few more emails before getting ready for the day.Once I get into the office, my priority is checking out my daily dashboard reports, then touching base with my team on our priorities for the day week.
I meet with our sales team to hear progress on pending leads, updates on our current accounts and strategizing our ‘wishlist’ retailers. I’m always communicating with one of our factories to chat about current production, new product ideas, and upcoming orders. We have multiple distribution centers across the country, so making sure everything flows perfectly is a huge part of my everyday routine! My days can be filled with calls to major retailers interested in having INKED in their stores, meeting with my press and social media team to go over our latest features, new campaign ideas, content calendar... Or stopping by to check out our product in stores around the city! I love seeing the in-store set up and how the final merchandising plan has come to life. I’m regularly on calls with brands we’re collaborating with. We’re working with a fine jewelry brand who is bringing our tattoo designs to life in a limited edition collection! It's so exciting to see my art through other categories of accessories.
I’m always creating and thinking about our next collection. Inked is all about self expression and merging fine art with the beauty world, and I love to create mood boards on the wall to help inspire my next release.
I’m definitely a night owl and end up doing a lot of design work at night. Whether that’s drawing for our next collection, or for a custom project with a brand or retailer.
I’m in bed by 12:00 pm latest, and try to be asleep before 1am the latest! I get eager for it to be the next day, so I can do it all over again.
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The worst piece of advice I’ve received was to only sell direct-to-consumer and to avoid retail partnerships due to the decline of brick-and-mortar retail. This year, 90% of the brand’s sales are from brick-and-mortar stores. INKED by Dani is featured at their check-out locations, a highly coveted store placement. Despite the popularity of a DTC sales approach, INKED by Dani has capitalized on a market need for a chic, budget-friendly and unique in-store beauty impulse buy.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me (put very simply) would be achieving the goals I've set for myself. I think success means different things at different parts of your life, but I can confidently say that happiness for me is a huge part of success. In regards to INKED, I feel most successful when I see how much happiness my art brings to people.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
In moments where I am doubting myself or feeling challenged, I definitely listen to my gut feeling. I've found going with my instinct is usually the right answer.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced? As a fine artist, at the end of a long day I love to paint and create artwork for commissioned pieces. It’s a great way to relax after a long day. Each series I make, I make sure to keep one piece to donate to a charity that supports a cause close to my heart.
Do you have a favorite or ‘go-to’ tattoo from your collection that you reach for the most? Additionally, any new or exciting upcoming projects or new collections you can tell us about?
Sounds so cliche, but picking a favorite tattoo is like picking a favorite child: I truly don’t think I could just pick one! They are all my works of art, and I love each for different reasons. But, I did make a limited edition pack called ‘Dani’s Picks’ which includes a few of my favorites... It was so popular, we’re actually almost sold out of it!
Where can we find you?
On a typical day, you can find me either working at my office, taking meetings at Soho House, or at some of my favorite village restaurants. On a typical weekend, you can find me hanging out with friends in Washington Square Park, or checking out new art galleries around meatpacking and soho... and always shooting content for INKED! For socials, you can find me at @inked.bydani on Instagram or visit my website at www.inkedbydani.com.
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