written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Dana Young, a Massachusetts native, attended art school in Brooklyn, N.Y. She studied industrial design with the intention of going into product design. Instead, she entered the fashion jewelry realm. She now designs and creates her own fashion jewelry line.
Dana specializes in lost wax casting. All of her products are animal and nature themed. They’re all 3-dimensional and sculptural.
The Benefits of Working With A Local Jewelry Artisan Like Dana Young
* There’s something really lovely about things that are special and crafted by hand. This is especially true when so much is mass produced everywhere and it’s difficult to find something eclectic.
* It’s really personal. It’s art that speaks to you. It has an association that bonds the piece with the one who wears it. Whether it’s a memory of a person, a place, an event or a cause, it’s a reminder that’s constant.
* It’s unusual. It’s not cookie-cutter jewelry. It’s not likely that everyone else is going to be wearing the same piece.
* It reminds you of who you are. There’s a connection. Just looking at it or feeling it brings its special meaning to mind.
* It supports the local artisans and stimulates the local economy. It’s extremely important for the business community to thrive. Successful businesses benefit everyone in the local community, surrounding areas and beyond.
Dana Young, the only child of a single parent, grew up in a suburb of Boston. She was a ‘city girl’ at heart. “I was always into art and into fashion. I dressed weird and I had colored hair. I was obsessed with nature and, generally, I was like a punky nerd'”
“I worked in corporate fashion jewelry for about ten years before I got chewed up and spit out the other end because it’s a very toxic environment. It’s very high stress. I learned a lot and worked my way all the way to the top.”
Dana worked in Manhattan for a few companies who mostly did private label. That’s when a company does the design work and the production for other brand names. We did work for places like Anthropology, Banana Republic, J.C. Penney…I did work on all of those kinds of accounts.”
“Once it was kind of done with me and I was done with it, it was a pretty mutual split. I decided to start my own business.”
When The Career Tide Turned For Dana
“I had taken a job that I thought was going to be a really exciting, great opportunity and it ended up being really unpleasant and not great for me and a lot of other workers. After about ten months, I was really sticking it out.”
Then, her co-worker turned to her and said, “Do you ever think about starting your own company?” Dana replied, “All the time.” About two hours later, they were both laid off!
She took it as a sign. “Fine, it’s a sign. I’m just not going back into the industry. I’m done.”
The Road To Entrepreneurship Leads To Frederick
About a month later, after already deciding to start Dana Young Jewelry, her partner found employment at Gettysburg College. “Frederick was the only place that I thought looked really great. I was very excited about it. It’s kind of like a baby New York.”
There’s a sense of belonging in this business community. It’s very closely knit and the entrepreneurs all support one another. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it. It’s really beautiful.”
If Dana Could Turn Back Time…
If she could go back in time and give herself some advice, what would it be? “I think I’d tell myself that making something awesome is better than making something cheap and accessible.”
Dana explains, “When I first started out, I felt a lot of pressure to make things less and less expensive, which is really challenging to do when you’re not working overseas. I produce everything in the US.”
She continues, “So, I tried really hard and everything kept getting smaller and smaller and more and more boring and I finally realized that nobody wants that from me. That’s what Wal-Mart is for.”
The Biggest Challenge Of Growing Her Own Jewelry Brand
“My biggest challenge is work-life balance which has always been a challenge for me. Now that it’s in my own hands, it’s a huge priority to try to get myself into less of a workaholic mode and more into a social mode every so often.”
Dana knows that she’s making a difference as an entrepreneur. “Part of my business plan is that I donate a percentage of my profits to different animal and environmental welfare organizations. One of my regular customers works in animal rescue.”
“She actually goes into bad situations and rescues dogs and cats and places them in new homes. Last week, she was on a rescue trip in Tennessee and she was wearing a necklace of mine which is a narwhal tusk.”
“She was out to dinner with a co-rescuer who said it looked like a key to a magical land where no animal cruelty exists. I was floored! It makes me feel like I’m reaching the right people. Like, people are feeling something and we’re connecting.”
Dana Recommends The Afterlight App
“I use it to edit all of my photos before I put them on social media. Take a photo on your phone and you can crop it, lighten it, brighten it — it has its own filters and it’s really fun.” Check out this cool editing app for yourself!
She eagerly shares her favorite quote from Winston Churchill. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” And, she’s quick to share that the books that have had the greatest impact on her belong to the Harry Potter series.
“I connect a lot with it because it reminds people that it’s okay to dream and to be child-like in the world…to be transported by art and books and whatever it is that does it for you. That’s valid. It’s also kind of what my jewelry line is all about.”
Dana Young Jewelry is available at Treaty General Store in downtown Frederick and at Danayoungjewelry.com
You’ll also find Dana on Facebook and Instagram.
Content Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast #034