A few months ago, I was asked to speak at my very first event post launching CKO PR, and at the event I met one of the most inspiring women that I’ve come across in a while. Her name is Jackelyn Dacanay and she runs THE ART OF FATE – an eco-fashion brand that’s on a mission to create social change.
Jackie’s insight about the fashion industry runs deep and with her company, she’s setting out to change the game by partnering with emerging fashion and clean beauty brands to start a movement that brings environmental awareness and social change to the forefront of an industry where it’s pretty taboo.
I had a chance to catch up with Jackie to learn more about her story.
CO: Before we dive into THE ART OF FATE, let’s start with you. Tell me a little bit about your backstory.
JD: I grew up in Pawtucket, RI a small rural town on the Northern side of Rhode Island where there isn’t a whole lot going on. My mom dressed me in designers like Calvin Klein and Donna Karan (often like a tomboy!), which is funny because I’m the furthest from it. My Grandmother worked at a fashion jewelry company, and would bring home boxes of accessories that I would get to dig through, so that inspired my pursuit of fashion even more. I remember playing dress up and strutting around the house like it was my runway on many occasions! I was also one of those kids who loved having lemonade stands and yard sales. I sold anything I could find in the house, from pokemon cards to antiques. I loved making my own money and I was pretty good at it. When I got to high school, I quickly realized that despite being forced into private school where my creative freedom was replaced with a uniform, my love for fashion was still very much alive. I would wear colorful sneakers, sweaters, and headbands just to feel like I had a sense of individuality. I hated the idea of blending in. By senior year, I was accepted into three fashion institutes in Boston, NYC, and LA. After touring all three campuses, I decided to go to LA.
Whoa! From Pawtucket to LA…that’s a pretty big leap!
Moving from a small town to LA at 17 was a huge culture shock, but living on my own and adapting to a new vibrant city was an incredible experience and taught me a lot about the opportunities outside of my hometown. I interned with local designers and showrooms, worked backstage at fashion shows, and even hosted a red carpet event. I wrote a monthly fashion column for a local Spanish newspaper in my home town while I was in college which helped strengthen my writing skills and also kept me up-to-date with industry trends. Eventually I landed my first job in luxury fashion opening the first Henri Bendel in West Hollywood. This job groomed me into the woman I’ve become. I learned everything about clienteling, customer service, visual design, and sales. When I graduated, I transferred to the company’s flagship store in NYC. I went from having zero sales experience to becoming one of the top five sellers in the company, generating over $1M in revenue my last year.
Reaching that milestone felt incredibly rewarding because I worked so hard for it. There were days I didn’t take lunch breaks. But the workplace culture became very toxic. I fell into depression and realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I wrote my resignation letter shortly after, and promised myself that whatever was next, it would be much better than if I chose to stay. Two weeks later, my best friends and I drove a U-Haul from Brooklyn to Rhode Island full of my life in NYC. My parents were so compassionate, and gave me a few weeks to unwind and reboot.
It sounds like it was quite a transition time for you. How did the idea to build this business come about?
The idea to build a fashion brand that cared about people and the planet stemmed from my own experience working in the industry. But at the time all I had was the name. I set up an “office” in my parents basement and invested the rest of my savings to buy jewelry supplies, two mannequins, and business cards. I learned how to make jewelry, set up an Etsy shop, and started doing pop-ups throughout Rhode Island. One introduction led to another and now almost four years later, we’ve evolved from a jewelry line to an online market that represents over a dozen women-owned businesses.
What an accomplishment! So, its been four years and lots of hard work – now tell me about THE ART OF FATE.
THE ART OF FATE is an online market for eco-fashion, clean beauty, and wellness by emerging brands in social impact. We are passionate about sustainability and inclusivity, and aim to use our platform as a way to shed light on current issues in the fashion industry. We want to build a movement that brings environmental awareness and social change to the forefront.
We’re partnered with Vermont based non-profit ONE TREE PLANTED, and donate $1 from every product sale to help plant one tree. It’s important for brands to use business as a force for good, and to give back to the planet in a way that shows gratitude for all that it gives us. We want people to feel invested in what they purchase. It also offers us a scalable way to measure our social impact. Our #1 goal is to become the ultimate marketplace for conscious fashion, clean beauty, and wellness that supports women-owned and mission driven brands all over the country. As someone who started a business from nothing, I understand how important it is to help each other and to fill in the gaps for future generations.
Let me just say, you should feel VERY proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far and what you’re building. So, you touched on this a bit already, but why the desire to pursue this path?
I’ve always known I wanted to start my own business, but I never knew it would happen so quickly and even more so that it would happen in my home state. When I realized how unhappy I had become in NYC, I knew no amount of money would be enough to make me happy. I felt like I was compromising on my values and happiness. It was one of the darkest times of my life, but the best thing that came from it was feeling something inside pulling me in a different direction. The hardest decision was deciding to move back home because I promised myself I would never go back. I think it was mostly me putting pressure on myself. But it was the right decision because it gave me the confidence to start over.
It’s definitely hard to “go back” – some people feel like it shows weakness, but I think it’s quite the opposite. You took the time you needed and invested in yourself, which shows in your business. I commend you.
Pretty safe to say, you’re a disrupter – what’s a common misconception about the business you’re in?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that you can’t make money running a social enterprise. I had a lot of people in the beginning telling me to focus on profitability before giving money away to non-profits or social causes. But I never wavered because my mission was embedded in the heart of my brand. I had to test out different models in the beginning to ensure the business was still profitable and scalable. But over time, we’ve found a partnership that works and allows us to measure our social impact without sacrificing on profit.
Who does THE ART OF FATE cater to?
THE ART OF FATE caters to women who love fashion and the planet. They are travelers, activists, musicians, designers, mothers, and community builders. We love that our customers are incredibly diverse, but also share common values for individuality, empowerment, and compassion. We represent women of color, plus-size women, trans women, and older women because these groups are the least represented in the fashion and beauty industry. We’re also proud to not just cater to millennials, but women of all ages who want to be a part of this movement and learn ways they can live more consciously.
Switching gears just slightly – our values are often solidified when we’re young – kids even! What’s one thing that you learned when you were young that helped shape who you are today?
One thing I learned as a kid that has helped shape who I am today is to never ask permission to act on your ideas. I’ve always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur. When I was 10, my best friend and I created an art class in my Grandparents attic and taught my little sister and her friends how to make arts and crafts. I even started a health blog when I was working in NYC and created a penpal pairing that connected over 60 people from around the world who sent each other surprise gifts. I have millions of ideas running through my head at any given time, but the power is having the confidence to act on them.
Along those lines, if you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice – whether it be personally or professionally – what would it be?
I would tell myself to never be afraid to ask for help. There have been many times that I’ve been reluctant to reach out to people because I either didn’t feel qualified enough or was afraid I would be a bother. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve made an effort to own my vulnerabilities, and most of the time people are more than willing to help.
It’s clear that you have a lot going on. So tell us – what’s next!?
Personally, I’ve been building out a branding + social media marketing course to set aspiring and established entrepreneurs up for success in the digital world. I’m also wrapping up on my yoga teacher certification, and will be hosting group and private classes in the near future. I’m also working on an exciting new venture in the wellness food space that will be launching in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
THE ART OF FATE also has big plans for the next two quarters. We’re building out our website infrastructure so customers will be able to shop by location and support emerging brands all over the U.S. We’re so excited about this because it gives people the opportunity to connect with the artists and culture in other cities while also supporting local economies. Living in California and being able to shop emerging brands in Massachusetts or Rhode Island is an exciting way to support local entrepreneurs without having to travel thousands of miles. Our goal is to expand our reach to all 50 states by the end of next year. Finally, we’ll be unveiling a new social impact project for 2019. Aspiring female entrepreneurs take note!
Incredible! I see a part two to this story in the future…😊 Ok – final thoughts…if there’s one thing that want people to take away from your story and the mark you’re trying to make with THE ART OF FATE, what is it?
Following your passion is always worth the risk. It’s the scariest and most unpredictable journey you’ll ever take, but the experiences you have along the way will be the most rewarding moments of your life. I meet people all the time who are afraid to start their business because they don’t want to make the first step, or they think they need X amount of money, or they’re waiting for the right moment. Give yourself the grace to learn, to fail, and to start over again.
You can learn more about THE ART OF FATE by visiting theartoffate.us, hitting them up on social media @THEARTOFFATE or by popping by one of the many upcoming events they have coming up throughout the New England area.