Since 2015, Danner-Okotie has grown the brand by hosting in-person events — allowing customers to see, feel, and experience her products first-hand. In keeping with this business practice, Danner-Okotie had a multi-city pop-up tour planned for Fall of 2020. But, when COVID-19 hit, Danner-Okotie had to get creative to keep her brand afloat. She started using her leftover fabrics to make face masks and matching headbands and headwraps — turning what could have been a tragedy, into a fashion triumph.
“[Before COVID-19] we were usually importing 200-500 lbs. of clothes. With the new restrictions, that was no longer possible through air cargo,” she said. “But because the masks are lighter, they were able to fly. I found a way. I keep connections with people and my network really pulled through for me.”
Relationships and community are something that has been critical to Besida’s success as a business. Danner-Okotie says that her relationships with other fashion designers and business owners has helped her grow her brand and take advantage of new opportunities.
“We keep in contact with each other and we help each other, “Danner-Okotie said of her designer friends. “I’ll have shows and invite other designers to be there and it really helps. Being able to provide a place for women to come and shop and have other clothing there for them to buy, helps me understand my customers better. It also makes the sale more than a transaction. It gives it more heart.”
Right now, Danner-Okotie is focusing on the sales of her masks as a way to not only generate revenue, but to help communities in need. Since launching the masks, she has donated one mask for each sold.
“We created these masks initially to donate. We did a small batch and it was a big hit. In the end, we donated about 2000 masks, she said. “Giving is my love language. I have to give.”
Until Jan 2, 2021, she’s now offering a free mask to all customers who make a mask purchase.
While she doesn’t know when she will be able to hit the road on tour again, Danner-Okotie is continuing to invest in the growth of her business. Next year, she plans to bring in outside designers who will help her create more multifunctional items like her best-selling “FourMidable” garment that can be worn four ways.
Shop Besida here.