Melissa Shin Mash, of Dagne Dover, is a Korean American, whose favorite saying is: If something is broken in the world, go fix it. And the motto her company lives by is: Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself. That’s the motto they live by as a company. Melissa ran the Coach store in London, and returned to America to create the ultimate handbag. She did so by returning to school, researching a top designer, surveying her ideal customer (which were attending grad school with her), and setting up a pre-sell. As success came, so did the challenges!
Yes! The perfect recipe occurs when entrepreneurs come to this country.
In the fashion and beauty industry think of Levi Strauss from Bavaria, of Estee Lauder, who’s family came from Hungary (by the way, see my interview with her son Leonard Lauder, at my website), and Ralph Lauren, who’s parents came from Germany.
In this Episode 2 you’ll hear Melissa Shin Mash, tell how she pre-sold $40,000 of handbags, got her pick of investors, focused on the supply chain and is taking her company, Dagne Dover, to the next level. Melissa is a Korean American, who made up her own motto: If something is broken in the world, go fix it!
Kent: So, today, I’m very happy bring you Melissa Shin Mash co-founder of Dagne Dover,
Im here in their beautiful offices in the fashion district. They are a New York based handbag company, whose philosophy is, You Are What You Carry! Hi Melissa.
MELISSA: Hi Kent, How are you?
Kent: Good. Welcome to The Immigrant Entrepreneur
MELISSA: Thank you for joining us in the office today!
Kent Trabing(1:07): Thank you so much for coming on The Immigrant Entrepreneur! We want to hear your story. Where are you from? When did you start Dagne Dover and how did you come to create it?
MELISSA: I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and I went to New York University for undergrad. When I was there I worked a bunch of internships in fashion – worked for a bunch of smaller brands and then ended up having an internship at Coach. I ended up starting my career there so I’ve alway worked in handbags. I was working with buyers at department stores everyday since I was 22. Then I launched a wholesale ecommerce channel at Coach. That was Coach on Macys.com, Nordstroms.com, and Dillards.com. At the end of 2008 I decided to move to London and I was recruited to lead Coach’s turn around in their first UK retail store. They were having a lot of issues with their distributor and they needed someone to come and turn it all around. I led a nine international-salesperson team. All spoke different languages, all had different levels of skill and varying levels of education. I was brought in to redo the buy, redo the visual merchandizing, improve the operations and so on. It was a fantastic year. While I was there I got to speak with customers first hand every day. I heard what their biggest handbag problems were. I heard the same problems of not being able to find your keys or your water bottle tipping over ruining all of your thousands of dollars of tech in your bag or ruining important papers that you've written on. These were all really low tech problems to solve and I saw there was an opportunity to solve for a brand that looked fantastic, it always has to look fantastic or a girl’s not going to carry that, but it also had to be practically organized. That is why we like to say You Are What You Carry. You feel just as disorganized as your bag reflects. I went back to Wharton the following year and that is where I decided to pursue this idea. That is where I reconnected with Deepa who is one of my co founders. She was a year behind me at Wharton and Jesse Dover who won the Coach accessories design competition in 2011.
Kent Trabing(3:25): Who was your first customer?
MELISSA: We were at Wharton. We had the opportunity to survey and focus group a thousand wom...