I have known Danielle Bartlett, better known as Dani, for almost 10 years. We met at the Fashion Design program at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. I remember the first day we met, forced to work on a group project together within the first few weeks of school. We were both quiet and shy, not knowing anyone else in the program, let alone Toronto. We became fast friends, bonding over our love for fashion, music and art. We have stayed friends since that day at Ryerson, even if we don't see each other very often. That's why I was so excited when she told me about her newest venture: designing accessories. Dani is such a unique and talented person, I was so excited to share her work on my blog with my readers.
Check out her website for more photos and to purchase one of her uniquely hand-dyed pouches: https://danielle-bartlett.squarespace.com/
Tell me a bit about yourself:
I’m Dani! I’ve been living in Toronto for the past seven and a half years, but I’m originally from the east coast of Canada. I have a diploma in Textile and Apparel Design, and I attended Ryerson University for their Design program.
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Yes, I think so. I remember dressing up as a “designer” for Halloween when I was 8 years old (I wore a pant suit and had a floral briefcase, very trendy in the early 90s). There were a few years in my early twenties when I really thought I was finished with textiles and design because I felt it had let me down. I wasn't getting anywhere and I wasn't inspired by anything. Luckily, that eventually went away and I came to terms with the fact that I will always want to be doing this. The act of creating something brings me a lot of peace and the older I get, the more I realize how important that is. I struggle a lot with self doubt and I am slowly learning to shut up the little voice in my head that tells me I can’t do something.
Where do you find inspiration? Specifically for the colours and names you choose for each pouch?
I usually start with a gauche or watercolour study, just to see what kind of colour combinations look good together. Then I start building the dye recipes and do some testing to see how close I can get to the original painting. These most recent pouches were done in late December and January when I really needed something bright, and optimistic. The "Day Dream" pouches in particular are inspired by Toronto sunsets - there are some incredible skies here! The names are usually lyrics from whatever songs I’m listening to at the time. "Purple Rain" is obviously inspired by the late and great Prince. And, “Girl U Want” is a Devo song!
Do you have any favourite designers?
Definitely - I think there are so many designers out there right now who are doing really new and interesting things. Lydia Morrow who is a lingerie designer from England, she makes such fun and cute bras. Maryanne Moodie is an amazing weaver, I could literally scroll through her Instagram for hours. Tessa Perlow does incredible embroidery work, and Tuesday Bassen are some other big inspirations for me. Wow, it’s hard to pick just a few!
Do you have a favourite piece you've worked on?
Honestly, every time I dye something new, it becomes my favourite. I think one of my favourite things so far this year was a one-of-a-kind pouch I made for my 6 year old niece for her art supplies (she’s already using pastels and charcoal!). Any time I make something specific for a friend - that’s my favourite thing to do.
What's your next step? Are you planning on creating more and/or different accessories?
I am going back to school in September for Jewelry Design, so I am getting really, really excited to start that new adventure. I am currently working on some earrings and hand painted tote bags that I hope to have up in the next month or so. Also I am hopefully going to collaborate with the illustrator who did my logo, to do some screen printed pouches.
All photos courtesy of Danielle Bartlett.