EN / PT
The fashion world is in crisis. The main fashion designers of the most important fashion brands worldwide are quitting – or being waived from their functions – in less than a year. The designers puzzle became something so common that actually exposed the industry fragile momentum. Today, the leading companies of this market, that is both fascinating and inspiring, are driven like investment banks. Most of the actions are commercial and the return on investment is primordial in every decision.
Bureaucratic processes get in and creative professionals either get out or adapt, working like machines. Spreadsheets instead of drawing boards, trips to visit suppliers in China instead of inspiring trips to exotic places. That happens in Paris, Milan, as well as in São Paulo.
The pressure of the big corporations creates questions and, at the same time, new ways to think and to make fashion. Many talented professionals are giving up the comfort of a good job and diving into the freelancer world, searching for a new post-capitalist way of life that makes sense and accommodates creativity. Dany Von Atzingen is among these daring professionals. A familiar face in São Paulo’s fashion universe, Dany was the Head of Marketing & PR for almost five years of the British e-commerce Farfetch, the company that brought the most interesting international luxury brands to the Brazilian consumer and one of the main players of this sector worldwide. Passionate about her job, Dany decided to push the reset button of her own life and search for a new path.
It was a personal process. Dany disappeared from the fashion circuit, where she was always flawlessly dressed attending the (many) designers’ launch events, dinners, fashion magazine cocktails and fashion weeks. For her few – but good – Instagram followers, it felt like she went on extended holidays. Paradisiacal beaches, exotic waterfalls, street carnival and suddenly, an Italian summer in Capri, Florence and in the magical Mediterranean Islands.
When I met Dany in September in São Paulo, many questions were on my mind. In this interview, she talks about her emancipation of the corporate world, her move to Italy, where today she is responsible for the marketing and communication of the accessories brand Les Petits Joueurs and her process of embracing life in an organic, daring and original way, trying a lifestyle outside the common standards.
You left everything behind and moved to Italy. Is that right?
It was not actually a process of leaving everything behind. I matured and felt that I could not belong to one place only. It was a choice of life. I decided to search for new projects and new realities because I wanted to be part of the market in an integrated way, without being inside a corporation where you can only worry about the company’s goals and internal targets. I wanted connect with the outside, with the people, with the world. It was a personal process. I did not know what I really wanted to do. I think many people feel this way…I wanted to manage my own time and then I realized how hard it is. It was not an easy decision. Once I was part of a big company with big challenges, every day I had to feel motivated to deliver what was proposed to me and at the same time, I lived an internal struggle for my freedom of time. When you work for a big group, you do not have time to do anything! When you start having time, you look outside and think “what am I going to do now?” We are programmed for certain things. I realized how much our minds are programmed, it is like we were robots. It was not something I planned, it was instinctive.
This is the moment of the global market. Many professionals are becoming freelancers, starting independent agencies. Do you believe the Brazilian market is ready to absorb these professionals, or do you feel like you were a precursor of a movement?
What I felt, in my own experience, is that there is space, but not so many companies are prepared to implement and execute all of that. Specially here in Brazil. We are in a super-delicate moment. When you are working in the creative sector, you need money. Everyone told me about this crisis, but the feeling was something stronger than me. It was stronger than making money.
What was your turning point, the time you decided to leave the certain for the uncertain?
I could not stand the pressure of the fashion system anymore. I did not see a doctor, but I was about to have a panic attack. For being at events all the time and seeing the same people who need to be on top of everything all the time. I was beginning to develop a phobia of being at these places and having to explain what I was doing all the time. So I started realizing that people were asking the same thing over and over. “What have you been doing?” And I answered “Right now, nothing”. People were somewhat shocked, they did not understand or judged me. They simply did not understand. I think they thought “How can she do this?” That was when I decided to get away, to see things from the outside and discover a new truth. I had to stop, observe and search within me for other goals.
Can you number a couple things you have learned in the first six months of your new freedom?
The first thing I have learned is that you need a plan, even if it is a trip around the world. What do you want to do? A personal plan. I wanted to integrate in the reality and help with my creative and strategic side, applying it into new realities, using my knowledge. But the main plan was to manage my time and to make more time for myself. This is the hardest part: dedicate time to yourself. What is this? Read, study, breath. Getting involved in different realities. It may seem very subjective, but in fact, it is not. There is a greater plan, a long-term goal. I let things happen in the most organic way. I was in the corporate world for 15 years, always working with goals and deadlines. And furthermore, you have to be organized. The space in very important. Space is time, causality. Many things happen quickly, other more slowly and you have to know how to manage that.
I felt that you also wanted to explore Brazil and understand the authentic Brazilian lifestyle. Is that something you always looked for in your personal life and in your work?
It was a discovery. I knew more places in Europe than I knew in Brazil. I went to the Northeast of Brazil and spent a season in Rio. I went to Chapada dos Veadeiros. I had experiences with communities. It was an internal discovery, with a new way of seeing things. I have many foreign friends and I traveled a lot with them, which gave me the opportunity to see Brazil with the eyes of a foreigner. I could do it all with time, something that I did not have in the past few years. I programmed myself, everything happened so smoothly, without much money. When you have time, you can fly cheap and travel in the low season. I had time to live different experiences and experience the places that I visited.
How did you arrive in Italy?
It also happened very casually. This opportunity happened because of friends that own an accessories brand in Italy. They were in Brazil doing research for the new collection. I got involved in the research process, which is a big passion. The brand is Les Petits Jouers, which belongs to my friend Maria Sole Cecchi. A small familiar company, that is growing and wants to keep the familiar spirit. They are growing fast and needed someone with market experience, but at the same time someone that was close enough to the family to be inside their universe.
How long did it take from leaving Farfetch to starting at Les Petits Joueurs?
Do you think you managed to begin something new applying your new time, space and freedom values?
The most interesting part of this freedom process of mine was that I had a few opportunities to go back to the corporate world, but the challenges were still the same. The proposal was the same, only the address was different. To make money through processes and guidelines. What drew my attention at Les Petits Joueurs is that it is a new company and still has a lot to be done. I understand that my professional profile is more inclined for start up projects. I am motivated to create things from zero, that involves being strategic and creative. I already knew that, but I was not aware of my potential. I was already doing that but what I did not know that I have a predisposition to new projects. When I enter a reality, where everything has been done, it is not for me. I discovered that my professional reality does not fit where I only have to follow pre-established procedures.
And what do you see for the future?
Now I feel I have power in my hands. I control my time, how much I am going to invest of it in each activity of my day. I calculate how much time I have to dedicate to each thing I deliver. I know that if I decide to go to the gym in the middle of the afternoon and I have to deliver something in the day after, I take responsibility and do it my way. We are used to think that we should follow a pattern, to be in the office every day at 9AM and work like crazy until 8PM. If you stop in the middle of the afternoon for a coffee, you are out of the system. For me, what matters today is quality. Quality when I meet people, when I am working, to be 100% present.
Do you believe this freedom works for everyone?
I do not think so! This is not for everyone. Not even for me. However this is now becoming a reality.