A network for women by women



designer, doodler, entrepreneur and full time mum!!!

I’m Danni, 31, and a self confessed creative doodler. I’ve always enjoyed the creative side of business and have been lucky enough to indulge in a fair few projects. I mean, everyone owns 47 domain names they never use because they have a great idea at 4am, right?

It all started whilst studying Fashion Design and Illustration at University. I was fortunate enough to land a job as an assistant designer in a small boutique in Birmingham after a work experience placement. Sourcing and revamping vintage clothing with old trinkets and finds are probably to blame for my current hoard of all things crafty. It was here that I also designed and made a collection, which was sold in several Topshop stores across the UK. For someone who was yet to graduate it was a great opportunity and gave me an insight into making a profit from being creative.

After graduating in 2005 I approached the Prince Trust with a business plan. It was a “Dragons Den” style presentation that I sweated over for weeks. Luckily they weren’t dragon like at all and I walked away with a business loan and the support of a business mentor. It was this that helped me create my first company “dressedbydanni”, an alternative clothing company. I built my own ecommerce website and designed, manufactured and marketed the clothing from my bedroom. It was a great learning experience and I had a great customer rapport, which was definitely the key to my success. The company ran for 4 years, selling clothing to everyone from my next door neighbour to a transvestite in Hollywood.

It was a natural progression to reinstate my love of drawing. I set up “doodlesbydanni” as a sister company, selling my illustrations on everything from canvases to T-shirts. There were no outlay costs with this company as all my products were produced and shipped through 3rd party sites. This is a great way for anyone looking for small start up costs. I used, (and still use), sites such as “Redbubble” and “Society6”, but there are plenty more reputable sites out there to choose from. Having an online portfolio and doing freelance illustration and graphic design work secured me fulltime roles with some big brands. I worked with Esbelt Brazilian Bodywear, Booze Buster and Oddbins creating various marketing campaigns, as well as creating page layouts for Lingerie Buyer, Bridal Buyer and Simply Yours.

My hardest job to date would have to be becoming a mother, as I’m sure many of you would agree, but I’m enjoying watching my son grow and seeing him develop his own creative flare. Luckily his artistic skills overshadow the clumsiness he has also inherited from me.

In March of this year it was time to get back to business so I set up Brand13, a creative agency providing web design, branding and marketing. I had been freelancing using sites such as “crowdspring” and “people per hour” but it felt natural to market my skill set a little differently than previous attempts. I had more knowledge, I had more experience and I wanted more money. Its early days, but my clients and work are of a much higher quality and I’m happy that my creative journey has arrived at the right destination. If your next venture needs an online presence, feel free to visit my website www.brand13.im

As if running my own company and growing a child wasn’t enough, I’ve also recently secured a full time role as a Graphic designer at CreativeBuzz, the new marketing team at Best Group International. It was this opportunity that allowed me to create the branding for Women Make Waves and be part of this empowering new network. Everyday is different, exciting, and most importantly creative. Definitely a busy bee (every pun intended).

If you have a passion for your talent and you can make money from it then you have already won. It’s not work if you love what you do.

Danni Smurthwaite

Illustrator and Graphic Designer



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