Daveia Odoi, the creative behind TheDynaSmiles.com, owns an online based business that represents women of color in refreshingly delightful ways.
In 2008, while planning for her wedding, she looked through hundreds of stationery designs for celebratory, relatable images and found nothing.
“I couldn’t find anything that looked like me or expressed the sense of joy I was feeling when I went searching for bridal shower invitations. After browsing in store and online proved to be unsuccessful, I decided to make my own” she said.
Daveia, who is skilled in design & illustration decided that it was time to use her gift to help others going through similar situations.
We caught up with Daveia Odoi to discuss her graphic design & illustration background, the process of launching her own online marketplace and the risks/challenges that she faced along the way.
1) How did you first become involved with graphic design and illustration?
I’ve always loved art and drawing as a child and my parents encouraged me greatly in this area as they saw I had a gift. So my fascination grew with me as I grew. Still, it wasn’t until I was a student in college that I realized being an artist/designer was a viable path.
2) What went into the process of building your online marketplace and officially launching it?
Along with having a creative side, I enjoyed the technical side of design and learned how to code. With the knowledge I learned how to build my first website(s) that looked visually appealing enough to lure buyers.
It was definitely trial by fire as I learned a lot by just diving in. I also tried the existing online marketplaces out there for artists but didn’t like the low commissions and lack of creative control my stores had so venturing out on my own was more rewarding.
3) Were there any risks that you had to take and/or challenges that you faced during the planning process?
Looking back, my greatest risks have been in marketing my products and services as I haven’t always received a return on my investment. Also, like most creatives I do my best work when I’m off on my own.
Having to surface and engage others in order to sell and promote what I do is so out of my element/comfort zone that it remains a constant challenge in successfully running my own business.
4) What are your thoughts on diversity and the representation of black women in the media?
Over the years I’ve seen great improvements on the representation of black women in the media however we still have a long way to go as certain stereotypes are still being pushed to this day.
As a person who contributes to the visual landscape of our culture, it’s an honor to present women of color who are strikingly beautiful and diverse in such a positive light. We’re happy, life-loving individuals as well and seeing more of that in media is needed.
5) What is the most rewarding part of running TheDynaSmiles?
The most rewarding part of running TheDynaSmiles is receiving the happy feedback from our customers. The majority of black women are still not used to seeing their faces on tangible products (other than hair products) so to own a phone case, mug or bag that looks like them is beyond empowering. It literally brings a smile to their face and I love it!
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