Hello! I’m Dona. I’m a software engineering leader at Microsoft, a fiction writer and a now fashion designer living in Seattle, Washington. I’m living out my life-long dream of building a fashion line that’s not evil. I attended New York Fashion Academy several years ago and was horrified to learn how destructive the fashion industry is. Did you know that fashion is the second biggest cause of pollution on earth? Our throwaway garments, especially from fast fashion, end up in landfills all over the world.
Behind Prima Dona
How did I become interested in fashion in the first place? I suppose it’s in my blood! My grandmother earned a living tailoring custom clothing for the women in her neighborhood from when she was thirty years old. As the community grew, her business did too and she formally opened The Ladies’ Shop. Being a woman business owner in the 1960s was unusual but she loved it and did it for 60 years. My grandmother created garments for women on the most important days of their lives and I want to do the same.
Armoire x Prima Dona Collaboration
This week, I’m launching Prima Dona, a fashion line for the ethical bad@ss who has a statement to make… and is not afraid to stand out in a crowd. I designed this collection specially for Armoire since the bosslady is exactly the target audience!
This has been my lifelong dream and it’s insane to see it becoming a reality through my partnership with Armoire! I plan to run this business as a side-hustle for the rest of my tech career and then full-time after that.
How She’s Redefining Women Who Work
I’m a firm believer in the side-hustle and encourage everyone to get one. I think it’s the way to ensure that we are continuing to expand our networks, learn new skills and find meaning by doing something that TRULY matters to us–no matter what our day job might be. Plus, it helps to distribute “emotional eggs.” Sure you have a bad day on the day job, but you forget about it once you kick @ss at your side-hustle. I’ve had a side-hustle my ENTIRE career and it’s been one of the key areas that I have grown across all of my industries. Being an expert at the intersection of multiple fields is a superpower!
The right time is NOW to go after what you want. You’ll learn everything you need to on the job. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get it–you already don’t have it, so what have you really lost?
Her Career Challenges and Wins
Currently I’m working to figure out how every person the planet can learn digital skills so they can improve their life and work. This is incredibly challenging as it’s a HUGE global problem and can seem quite daunting to take on. What inspires me to push through is meeting people all over the world (I live on planes pretty much!) and hearing about how learning coding skills has empowered them to build up economic power and change their entire family’s trajectory. These stories keep me going when the overall task seems impossible!
Her Secret to Work / Life Balance
Honestly, I’m quite terrible at this since I have 4 jobs! I do believe that’s its incredibly important to disconnect from tech and people who need you and take time to reflect and reenergize. I do this by hiding out in various corners of the cities with my phone in airplane mode and a blank journal.
What She Wished She Knew 5 Years Ago
I wish I’d done it sooner. It doesn’t matter what the “it” is, but I always thought I had to be more knowledgable, more qualified, more something to do what I wanted. This fashion line is no exception. I never felt “ready” and still don’t, but I realize the only way to do this is to DO IT.
Her Advice For Professional Women
Don’t wait for the right time. The right time is NOW to go after what you want. You’ll learn everything you need to on the job. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get it–you already don’t have it, so what have you really lost? I have no idea how to start a fashion line–I’m legitly figuring out things daily–how to do you take payments? How do you process returns? Until I need to do it, I’ll never know what I need to know. #DoTheThing TODAY.
Since it’s our mission to discover great female designers for you to try at Armoire, keep checking back. Prima Dona is just one of the many women founded brands you can try when you rent with us.
Plus ten reasons you should rent clothes here.