When Donna Mizani started her eponymous womenswear label in 2008, she was designing clothing for juniors by day and working on her brand by night. Then 21 years old, the New York-bred designer decided to quit her full-time job to focus on her side hustle — and it just so happened to be during the recession. Oh, and this was after she left the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising — the reason that she moved to LA — after attending for just two years. (It's safe to say that Mizani is comfortable taking career-making risks.)
It's now been a decade since Mizani launched her brand, which became known for its sexy silhouettes and cut-out designs. Today, her clothing is stocked at cool girl-faved e-tailer Revolve.com and has been seen by It models like Kendall Jenner, Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Kaia Gerber, to name just a few.
"I've always been fashion obsessed," Mizani tells us. "Ever since I could remember my escape from reality would be to fantasize about clothes. The obsession never went away and eventually it turned into drive and passion."
Ahead of her label's 10-year anniversary, we caught up with Mizani to find out which celebrity wore her designs first, why it's important to her to manufacture in Los Angeles, where she shops in LA, and what we can expect from her brand in the future. Read on below, then shop her line on DonnaMizani.com and Revolve.com.
You've been designing under your own name for nearly a decade — how has your brand evolved since then?
The line started with just a few body-con dresses and with the help of some IT girls supporting my brand early on, I was able to grow the brand and build my collection out. I started offering more than just dresses, eventually moving into more categories like sweaters, outerwear, swim and hopefully will continue to grow into handbags and accessories in the near future.
How did you link up with Revolve, and how did that retail relationship come about?
When I first launched my line, Revolve was just getting started. There was a lot of opportunity to grow with them at that time. They discovered my line at the same time I discovered their store. The partnership came naturally since we cater to the same customer and have maintained a great partnership for almost 10 years.
Who was the first celebrity to wear your clothing, and what was your reaction?
I remember like it was just yesterday! It was at the height of [MTV reality show] Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and Kristin Cavallari stepped out in my one-shoulder cut-out dress for a movie premiere! It was amazing, those were very exciting times for me and my brand.
What's the inspiration behind your spring collection; did LA influence any of the designs?
Every time I design a collection my mission is to create wearable clothing that stands out. For this collection, I took silhouettes that have done really well for me and developed spring versions of them by using lighter weight fabrics in romantic colors like ivory, blush and periwinkle.
What do you love about producing your entire line in LA? Why was that important to you?
I'm a very hands-on designer, being able to produce in Los Angeles gives me the opportunity to make sure the quality meets my expectations. Being involved in this process is what has helped my brand maintain its success.
Given that you're based in LA, where are a free of your favorite spots to shop, eat, and play?
My favorite places to shop are on Sundays at the farmers market at Melrose Place. I love to cook and really enjoy getting fresh produce there. I love eating at Sugarfish, it's a must for any sushi lover visiting LA and I also love hiking on the weekend with my dog!