Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Garcia.
Danielle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story has taken me all over the place, haha. I was born in Peoria, Illinois, but landed in California shortly after. I was raised by a single mother with three sisters (I’m the third out of four girls), but my Mom often opened our home to others who were struggling, so I grew up with a very different sense of what family is. Moving all over the state and being around many different people gave me an open mind and a lot of inspiration for my creative side.
I was a very shy child growing up and found that the best way to express myself was through creativity. We didn’t always live in the best neighborhoods, so I looked to many creative outlets to get me through the hard times, but it wasn’t until I was about 12 years old that I realized I loved design. I started off sketching graphic t-shirts, swimwear, and activewear, influenced by my love for the ocean and my new home, in Venice Beach/Santa Monica (I lived in an RV during this time, so home was wherever we were parked that day).
My love for design stayed with me and led me to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Fast forward ten years since graduating and I’m married with two daughters, juggling a full-time job, getting my Bachelors degree in e-Marketing, and recently launched my e-commerce business, Soultree City.
Has it been a smooth road?
It was definitely not a smooth road getting here, but I honestly appreciate everything I’ve learned along the way. I was 17 when I started at FIDM, and I had no idea what I was doing, but, I knew that I wanted to have my own fashion/retail business someday. I was lucky enough to share the experience with one of my older sisters, who was at FIDM studying Visual Communications. During my time there, I interned at Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent and L.A. Mart, which were some of the most valuable experiences I had.
I graduated just short of two years after I started and was so excited to dive into the industry, but life didn’t exactly take me on that path. I went through a big move and ended up doing everything except utilizing my creative skills. I’ve been a janitor, a retail associate, customer service and social media associate, and eventually landed in compliance, where I am currently at my full-time job.
God has a way of leading you where you need to be, just when you need to be there, so I don’t regret not staying in fashion. I know in my heart that if I were meant to be there during those years, I would have been. But, it did make me realize that I needed to decide to work toward my dreams and stop wishing for someday. I’ve always struggled to give myself permission to just live life. I was the kid that didn’t take risks and learned from everyone else making mistakes, instead of allowing myself to make my own.
I went through a period in my early twenties of having some relationships that weren’t great for me, and I felt like I wasn’t worth the love that I was giving to others. Thinking back now, I was in a terrible place, and it took being pregnant with my oldest daughter to snap me out of it and start fighting to make a life that I could be proud of. Even still, it wasn’t until about five years after, that I really focused on launching my business and taking control of what I had been dreaming of since I was a kid.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Soultree City story. Tell us more about the business.
Having spent years dreaming of making Soultree City a reality, I had a lot of time to think about what kind of business I wanted to create. Soultree City launched in November 2018, and we’re still really small, but we dream big. I don’t want to stop at just women’s fashion, but I knew it’s where I wanted to start. I felt like I could make the most impact starting in women’s clothing because women have a lot of influence not just in the industry, but at home.
Being the center of the household is what pushed me to just go for it. Not being happy with my career path inspired me to jump in because it was starting to affect my family. I always knew I wanted to have a size-inclusive company because the industry lacks inclusive sizing. I’m most proud to say that we started with a broader range of sizes (Small through 3X) because I wasn’t sure we’d be able to financially. We were initially planning to start with just plus sizes, but that didn’t feel right.
As we continue to grow, we’ll always strive to find brands that have a wider size range. A lot of brands cater to just straight sizes or just plus sizes, so it’s a challenge to find brands that carry both. I’ve been every size between a 4 and an 18, so having a range of sizes is so important to me. I also grew up with a house full of women who are all different heights, skin tones, and body types, so diversity is something I want to weave into every aspect of the business.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the fashion industry being more open to plus size fashion. It is a very underserved market, and although there are brands who are already paving the way, there is still a long way to go. I hope to see every major retailer carrying a wide range of sizes, and I am excited to be part of that change. In marketing trends, I think people want authenticity.
We’re bombarded with oversaturated images and the idea that everyone is living “their best life,” but most people only include the highlight reel. I think by brands focusing on the customer’s experience-from their service, their product, to marketing, to shopping, the industry as a whole will start to see a lot of brand loyalty and growth.
- Website: https://soultreecity.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/soultreecity/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soultreecity/