HEAD TO TOE AND INSIDE OUT, WE WORE WHAT REVEALS ALL TO CATT

DANIELLE BERNSTEIN: ENTREPRENEUR

She twirls in a new sick designer outfit, not a single overlooked detail, often multiple times a day. She’s young, rich, and famous. But Danielle Bernstein is also one of the hardest working, most driven and intelligent females I’ve encountered. She’s unabashedly curious, fearless, and particularly unique in her aesthetic. In other words, she’s not just another Kardashian-looking Insta-star. In less than a decade, she’s grown WeWoreWhat into a thriving business, but like any good story, she’s not been immune to controversy. I am so grateful that Danielle sat down with me so we could get to know her in a way a lot of people do not. Here’s a portion of my chat with Danielle in her room at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles recently. BRB. I need to go shopping. Big Kiss, Catt.

 
WeWoreWhat.com

WeWoreWhat.com

 

Catt:
You’re an entrepreneur. (We don’t love the word blogger.) And wow,  you've accomplished so much at the ripe old age of twenty-six.

Danielle:
Yes. Almost twenty-seven.

C:
When do you feel you're strongest? When do you feel your most powerful?

D:
Ooh, that's a good question. Right now I feel really strong and powerful, at this current moment in my life, because I just went through a breakup. I feel like I just sort of regained my power and my strength, just as in the past few weeks. But when I feel, in general, my strongest is when I'm in a super sexy, cool outfit. All the hair and makeup. The outside is right. That's when the inside also feels really good. I'm super confident, and I'm loving what I'm doing and where I am, and I can just walk with my head held really high.

C:
How did you recover from that breakup? I mean, we can be in that low for awhile. You're saying you feel most powerful now. How'd you get there?

D:
I think I just realized my worth and I just had to rediscover that. 'Cause when you go through a breakup, it's kind of like, "Why? Why am I not good enough?" You ask all these reasons, and try and come up with these reasons of why it happened. I kind of just realized it wasn't really me, it was more him. I was able to just sort of come into my own again and love myself again. I think learning to love yourself and being alone, for me specifically, was really hard... the learning to be alone part. I don't like being alone. I love being surrounded by people. But I learned to love that alone time recently. I started reading, and meditating, and doing more self-care. That really helped me get through it.

C:
Did he break up with you?

D:
Yeah. Now he wants me back. It's kind of like once the guy sees that you're doing okay, that's when they come back again. We are talking, but I'm definitely trying to move on and do my own thing right now.

C:
Sounds straight out of "Thank U, Next" by Ariana Grande.

D:
Literally "Thank U, Next" came at the perfect time.

C:
I love that song because it does always come back to self love in the end.

D:
Yeah, it does.

 
Instagram @weworewhat

Instagram @weworewhat

 

C:
I want to dig a little into how you got to where you are. I know you're from Long Island. I know that you were in college for a little bit before you dropped out to-

D:
You want the spiel.

C:
I kind of want the spiel, but what kind of girl were you? Were you a young girl that this career was the obvious trajectory for you? Clothes, hair, makeup-

D:
No, I definitely always loved fashion, but I just thought I was nothing more than a mere shopping addict. I was in high school, and I always loved throwing parties. I was the connector between three groups of friends. I always thought I actually wanted to be an event planner, or do something in nightlife. I just really loved organizing events and setting the vibe for a place, a party, a dinner, whatever it was. That's kind of where I thought I would take my career.

I went to Wisconsin to get away from the city. I knew I was always gonna end up in the city. I grew up on Long Island. New York was always gonna be my home, and I really wanted to experience college like I'd seen it in the movies. I wanted to do the "rah rah" football thing, and be part of a sorority, and so I did that. I went to Wisconsin. I was a retail major. I was social chair of my sorority so I was throwing all the parties there.

Then about in the second semester, I was just kind of like, "Alright. Maybe I don't want to do this for that much longer. One year is kind of enough here." So I transferred back to the city to FIT, which is where I was an advertising, marketing, communications major. That's when I started my blog.

The reason I started my blog is because I was at Wisconsin, and we wore sweatpants and UGGs to school every single day. We did not dress up. We were just rolled out of bed in our pajamas basically. Then when I got to FIT, everyone was so well dressed for school. I was like, "Oh my god, I have to show my friends back at Wisconsin what they can be wearing to school everyday." So I picked up a camera, taught myself how to use it, and WeWoreWhat started as a street style blog.

It was just for fun. I was running around campus. I would run up to girls and ask them to take their picture, record on a little camcorder what they were wearing, and go back later that night, link to what they were wearing, find similar items, and post it to my blog, and then I'd send it off to my friends at school.

It really was just a hobby. It was definitely not something I could ever imagine being a business. Then a year into, or a few months into it, I started photographing my personal style, which is when Instagram started. It was kind of the perfect storm as far as the timing of things. Then it became a business.

 
Instagram @weworewhat

Instagram @weworewhat

 

C:
Did you have a clue how to transition that from a popular into a business?

D:
I was still doing the blog while I was in school, but there came a point where I would be sitting in class, and I was blogging the entire time and not even paying attention to what was happening. Then, I remember being in this Direct Internet Marketing class, and had known I taught myself all about search engine optimization, SEO, and all these other things that they were teaching in the class, that I ended up teaching part of the class myself. I was like, "Alright, I'm learning so much from my experiences in creating this blog, in creating these partnerships, and in optimizing this website that I've created, that I kind of need to feel this out and see if I can make it a business." I had just started getting a few paid jobs. Barely anything, but I eventually made this whole presentation. I showed my dad. I said, "Dad, you need to support me for a few months while I try and do this blog thing full time. If I can't support myself by the end of the time period ... I think it was like six months or less probably ... then I'll go back to school." So I ended up dropping out and never going back.

C:
Your dad helped? Like how?

D:
Helped support me financially. I said, "If I can't support myself by the end of this time period, then I'll go back to school." Then I was able to eventually say, "You know what, Dad? I don't need you anymore. I'm doing okay."

C:
Cut to - blogging, designing, and being this legit girl boss with an incredible following. You have 2 million instagram followers. Pretty massive milestone.

D:
Ya, I just hit two million in the last day of 2018.

C:
Why do you think you have two million followers? What is your special sauce?

D:
People ask me that all the time, like, "How did you gain such a big following?" First of all, I've been doing this for nine years, so a lot of time, a lot of organic growth. But why I think I have a lot of followers is, if I had to guess, I'm a very relatable, real New York girl. You've grown up with me if you've been following me for so long. You've watched me grown up. I've taken you through my eighteen to early twenties, into now twenty-six, and have really shared a huge part of my life. I like to think of my blog as the perfect mix of relatable and aspirational. I think that maybe that has helped me with my success because you feel like you're my best friend, but you can also look up to me.

That's been really important, too, for my relationship with my followers.

 
Instagram @weworewhat

Instagram @weworewhat

 

C:  
I look at your stories, and I'm like, there’s a lot on there.  Does it get tiring?

D:
Oh my god, of course. Always being on is one of the hardest parts of my job. I've let that go a little bit in the past few months, where I try and really take some days off, and relax, and not show everything, not talk about everything. Especially going through a breakup. I mean, I didn't share that for weeks, with my followers. Then eventually people kind of pick up on things, so you have to share some things. Always being on gets really exhausting.

C:
When you're your own personal brand, and sometimes the professional and the personal lines are very blurred, how do you draw that line? How have you gotten to determine that for yourself?

D:
It's hard. That's the first thing I'll say to that. I always say, my Instagram feed is like the editorial version of my feed, and my Instagram stories is where you really get to see a better look into my personality, my day to day, what I'm doing, who I'm with, where I am. I kind of think that my relationship with something that I chose to, with my partner, not share a lot of ... He was a very private person and not comfortable with it. My ex before him was very comfortable with it, so I did show him often. It really also depends on the other people in your life, and whether they're comfortable with it or not, 'cause you have to respect someone else's privacy.

For the amount that I share, I've grown my business on sharing a lot. I almost feel obligated to my followers to share that. I keep it very real. WeWoreWhat is Danielle Bernstein, Danielle Bernstein is WeWoreWhat, but there definitely is a part of me, or some parts of me, that you don't see on social media. Whether it's my sensitive side, because people always think I'm pretty hard emotionally, but I am a Gemini, so I'm kind of a little bit of everything.

 
Instagram @weworewhat

Instagram @weworewhat

 

C:
Everybody experiences highs and lows in their career. We've all been in the valley and in the trenches. What has been your lowest low, would you say?

D:
Ooh, I hate talking about this. I will 'cause it's you. I did a jewelry collaboration that was inspired by vintage and high-end jewelry pieces that existed. I wasn't as educated in how much has to be changed for it to not be seen as a copy. Even though everything, in my eyes, was just inspired by it and none of it was a direct copy, it was called out and some of the jewelry designers got upset about it. It was a big sort of scandal almost, and something that I really have not talked about since. There were attorneys involved, and it was pretty rough to go through. I was crying for four days straight. Didn't leave my bed, didn't post on social media. I just was subject to so much hate and scrutiny because of it when I was just so innocently inspired, and wanted to create jewelry at an affordable price point for my followers. My intentions were so pure, but it was taken so negatively and was just really hard to go through. SO I'll never do a jewelry collaboration again.

C:
Oh, really? That's the lesson?

D:
Yeah. I just am so turned off by it now. Everything that I design now, whether it's my overalls, my swim, or the jeans that I just designed, are all so original and so unique. I make sure that they cannot be mistaken for anything.

C:
You say you were crying in bed for four days straight. Why do you think you were crying the most? What was the reason for your pain?

D:
I was getting hate mail. I was getting death threats and hate mail. Like we talked about on my podcast, how do you deal with the hate? I always say, "Haters mean you're doing something right," but it was to another extent. It was older women, that were these jewelry designers, that were really bringing it on the most. Instead of bringing it up with professionally behind the scenes, they were posting about it. It was really dirty, and I really couldn't understand it. I've had Forever 21 and another company, Fashion Nova, copy my overalls before. Rather than post about it, I reached out to them directly, said, "This is really not cool," and they took them down. I would've handled it way differently than these women that I looked up to did, and it was just really a sad time.

C:
Beyond that, did you think your livelihood was threatened?

D:
100 percent. I was like, "This is my livelihood. WeWoreWhat is my business, and you're targeting and coming after me on the one thing that I make a living off of." It was really scary.

C:
Did you lose followers?

D:
No, I gained.

C:
Shut up.

D:
It blew over.

C:
What was the takeaway from that experience, your lowest low? What can you now use from that as you move forward?

D:
I think to always handle things with grace and class, and to take the high road.

 
Instagram @weworewhat

Instagram @weworewhat

 

C:
Your latest venture is a collaboration with Joe’s Jeans. What’s the genesis of that?

D:
So Joe's reached out to me and said they wanted to do a collaboration, and I said, "Well, I don't want to create a whole line of jeans. I want to create the perfect pair of jeans." My ideal pair of jeans was a mix of ... I kind of like the way vintage Levi's fit, or my Wranglers in the butt, but like this pair in the leg. I had liked so many different parts of all these pairs of jeans, but none of them were really perfect. I love a good high-waisted jean, so I said, "If you guys really let me create my perfect pair of high-waisted jeans, I'll do it." They said yes, and we created the Danielle jean. It's super high-waisted, really slimming, kind of rigid, but a little stretchy. It's just the best.

C:
How do you define success? What is it for you?

D:
I don't know if I've reached my personal level of success that I want to reach yet. Whether that's with more career goals and things like Forbes "30 Under 30," (Danielle was on this list before she was even 25) or a financial amount. I actually don't really know what that is for me. I'm sure I'll feel it eventually. I'll probably never feel fully successful. I think I'll always want more.


WeWoreWhat.com
Danielle’s Instagram: @weworewhat

To hear my entire interview with Danielle you can listen to my NAKED podcast coming soon! 

To watch her answer my rapid-fire round of questions, check out The Dozen from YouTube! Are you subscribed to my new channel?

Catt Sadler