What’s Her Secret: Dani Roche, Creative Director of Kastor & Pollux & Biannual Brand

This year has been a busy one for Toronto creative and all-round cool girl Dani Roche. Not only has she continued ringing in successes with her full-service creative agency Kastor & Pollux, she also launched her own clothing brand Biannual this past fall, which is all about ultra-chic outerwear and mercifully genderless silhouettes. Just to give you a sense of her rising-star status: Roche was named to Marketing Magazine’s 2016 round-up of young notables “30 Under 30”, and her Biannual Brand has been covered by The Coveteur, Fashionista and Vogue.com (among plenty of others). We’ve spent so long admiring her work ethic, style and aesthetic from afar that this time we decided to actually ask her about her personal style and how this creative multi-hyphenate manages to get it all done.

How did you land at your current job? Was this something you always had on your horizon?
I was 12 years old when I discovered the powers of the internet, and much to the dismay of my parents, I began to optimize online communities to make new friends. Since then, I haven’t really turned back. Keeping an open mind as the landscape shifts and evolves has really informed my career. Not only have I met some of my closest friends online, but I’ve also really advanced my skill-set because I’m constantly surrounded by information. The internet has provided so much access to everything.

I launched Kastor & Pollux in 2011 as a fashion blog and e-commerce store. At the time, I had a business partner, and we were getting a lot of recognition for our street style. Unfortunately, after a couple of years of blogging, I started to really crave an opportunity to flex my creative muscles. Even though I was also working full-time — first at MTV and then at The Creator Class — I was craving the opportunity to “make it” on my “own”. Needless to say, when I finally decided to go full-throttle with my own business in 2015, I was terrified. But ultimately, I was emboldened by the prospect of making it work.

While Kastor & Pollux’s brand trajectory is definitely unexpected, when I consider my history and experiences on the internet, it makes complete sense. Shortly after leaving my job in 2015, my business partner and I parted ways; in 2016, I relaunched [the site] as a contributor-based platform; and in 2017, I formally rebranded as an agency. 

From the outside in, it looks like Kastor & Pollux provides clients (and audiences) with a flow of constant creativity. How do you keep yourself on your toes in such a fast-paced industry?
I have an amazing team that keeps me motivated, inspired, and most of all — accountable. We have a great dynamic and through collaboration, we’re able to continuously pump out new work. As the owner of an agency, my scope of work varies from sales to creative direction; however, I’ve found that truly being invested in my team’s growth and progress motivates me to want to do more. I’m a big believer of shared victories, and I think that this mentality really shows in our work.
What is a piece of advice you’d give to anyone who wants to run their own agency?
Give yourself a break sometimes! In order to stay efficient, I’ve learned that it’s critical to step away from the computer sometimes. You’re always going to be your own worst critic, and no one is going to judge you for the minute details that you may view as imperfections.

Additionally, don’t be embarrassed of your past; there’s a lot of my old work on the internet that makes me cringe. However, I acknowledge and accept that these things were integral to who I am today. These are experiences that have only made me a stronger person, a better designer, and a less cringe-y stylist (lol).

In September, you launched Biannual. Can you tell us what this brand represents?
Biannual was my first real foray into fashion, and my approach to building the brand was really dependent on having really strong messaging that could be applied in the design process. In any creative field, I think it’s really easy to get caught up in one component of the process — but one of my main objectives as a creative director is to constantly explore and investigate. I want to be able to do more than drive projects and products forward — Biannual is a representation of these values; change, investigation, and continued consciousness.
Dani Roche wears Biannual Brand.

How would you describe your own style? Is it markedly different from the feel of Biannual?
My closet is super varied and these days, I feel like my style changes on a day-to-day basis. I recently did a huge closet purge to simplify my wardrobe — I have a pretty standard uniform of jeans and a t-shirt. Over the past few years, I’ve really built up my collection of higher-end accessories (my favourites are my Stella McCartney platform shoes, and my Gucci flame bag) to pair with these classic pieces. Statement coats are also integral to my closet; now I’ve got plenty thanks to Biannual.

What is one thing you wish more people would understand or have fun with in how they style themselves?
Being unconventional is good, but simplicity is also good. There’s no right answer to personal style, so long as it’s personal (lol). As long as you’re comfortable, you’ll feel confident; you don’t need to impress anyone. Working on a garment brand is no easy feat; doing so while managing a digital agency is so much harder! How do you keep yourself disciplined while handling multiple projects at one time?
Staying organized is really important — I like my Google Calendar a lot. Ensuring I don’t get overwhelmed is also really important. When there’s a lot of things going on it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle. However, to make sure you’re actually able to manage the things you take on, don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help.

Is there anything you’ve learned through Biannual or Kastor & Pollux that’s really shaping your direction moving forward?
I’m a big advocate for trying everything at least once. I really like being uncomfortable and I really like a challenge. I think being unafraid to fail is a huge part of why I can keep pushing forward in my career. I encourage people to only say no to projects when they can’t take them on — not because they don’t think they’re capable of doing them. 

Tags: dani roche, topstory

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