One of the Babes: DanDannDesigns

Photo via DanDann Designs, Text by Ashlee J. Pryor

Photo via DanDann Designs, Text by Ashlee J. Pryor

Meet DanDann, the one-woman wonder behind DanDannDesigns and Beyond Salad. This babe uses her creative talents to pursue music, jewelry creation and the empowerment and education of others through nutrition. We were thankful to have her as a vendor at our last even and stoked to share our Q&A with her with you.

Q: What inspired you to start DanDannDesigns? Was it natural? Did you have any role models?

A: DanDannDesigns... I had fallen into a bit of an artistic drought, and in passing conversation a friend mentioned this book called "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.  On one of my artist dates, I went to the Blanton Art Museum. On another, I painted for the first time in 10 years. On another, I made the Dangling Babies Earrings [check 'em out on her website]. On another, I visited a laser-cutting place. 

Pretty early on, I opened an Etsy site, because I'd always wanted to but never had anything to put in it. I figured that this art is for my own healing, but if other people like it, too, they can buy it from me.  And then people started buying stuff from me!  So, that happened.  My role model was my own inner child, bound and gagged for over 10 years, finally breaking free and screaming, "I WANNA MAKE SUPER WEIRD AND FUNKY STUFF JUST BECAUSE!"

Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passion projects?

A: Holy moly. DO THEM! Do it for you. Do it authentically with your whole heart. Your creativity heals yourself and others... Julia [aforementioned author] says that, and frankly, it's true. Pursuing your passions gives others permission to pursue their own. Can you just imagine a world full of things created in passion? I mean, think about it!  Kids are created in passion and they're AWEsome! What other awesomeness could we be making?

Q: How do you stay inspired?

A: HA! That's one I've been working on actually. And I think Julia totally has it down. We have to allow ourselves to nurture our creative selves—even if that means something totally silly like wearing super fuzzy socks with giant stuffed monkey faces sewn on them and running around with a helium balloon like a crazy pers... No! Like a KID! 

When I stopped doing my artist dates and exploring super artistic or childish things, I started to freak out and block again. We're like water mammals trying to live on land. We have to make sure that we stay moist, taking periodic dips to stay fresh, or we'll suffocate out here. Music, dance, painting silly pictures, making really silly awesome jewelry, playing with actual children, learning how to say NO, eating popsicles... I eat a lot of popsicles.

Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity?

A: Hmm. Well, making those baby earrings resulted in a viable business, so that's something. I also did a pretty rad water fast a couple years ago that resulted in BeyondSalad being created. 

I keep my notebook by my bed for when I pop out of sleep to jot down ideas. It's kind of an ongoing thing. But as far as BIG, revolutionary bursts, I'm gearing up for my next one.  Frankly, my creative mind has been pumping nonstop from the beginning—I'm finally learning to let myself ACT on my ideas. 

Photo via DanDann

Photo via DanDann


Q: What have been the most challenging moments in your career thus far?

A: Ugh.  Breaking down the psychological walls of negative beliefs so that I can move forward has been an interesting challenge. It's astounding how deeply some of the roots of fear run.  

Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?

A: I am trying to create new safe zones. Currently, I tend to eat when I'm anxious, but I want to change that and create healthier outlets that I can pass down. 

I would love to turn anxiety into painting or dance. Yeah, dance would be a lovely expression. Often, when I get REALLY, really discouraged, I write music. Before starting my artist pages, the only way I knew how to journal was through lyrics.  If you listen to my music, you'll notice that it's basically me processing my emotions or talking to God. I tend to run to Him, too, at the first sign of any excessive emotion.

Your favorite band: Tough. Call. I reALLY love Tribe Called Red. Can't not move when they're on. 

I'm also loving James Blake. Lately, my playlists have either been the crooners (Ella, Billie, Bessie, Etta, Nina, Nat, Sachmo, etc) or James Blake, Anja Garbarek, Dave Crowder, Emiliana Torrini...

Your favorite book: Hehe. "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron, "The Willpower Instinct" by Kelly McGonigal, "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Leidloff. Also, not a book, but YNAB.com has loads of good reads. 

There are more; there is never one answer for these questions.

Your local Austin gem: CRAFT!!! It is/was on South 1st Street, but she's moving. That's where a lot of my creative endeavors sprouted.  It is my favorite hang out away from home. I mean, seriously... wine, and glitter. What else IS there?

Your social media handles: Mostly I can be found by @heydandann and @beyondsalad.