Melissa Mash

Melissa Mash: Co-Founder and CEO of Dagne Dover

Q: Melissa Shin croppedWhat is your current job?

A: I am the co-founder and CEO of Dagne Dover. Dagne Dover is a luxury handbag company that solves women’s handbag problems. We have a growing collection of products to help keep you organized and looking great. Our bags have a place for your metro card, work ID, wallet, water bottle, and laptop. I work on the business development side of Dagne Dover.

Q: What is the significance of the name Dagne Dover?

A: Dagne means “new dawn” and Dover is the last name of Jessy, one of my co-founders and our Creative Director. Dagne Dover stands for a new dawn for handbags – changing the status quo of what women should expect out of their handbags.

Q: What was your background before founding Dagne Dover?

A: I started my career as a Coach where I helped launch the brand’s wholesale e-commerce channel, and later at 25, I led the turnaround of Coach’s first EU location. That is where I learned that women had a lot of handbag problems, but that there was also an easy solution to this problem – smartly-designed handbags.

Q: What inspired you to start your own business?

A: I always wanted to start my own business, but in my mid-20s I felt that I needed a MBA at Wharton to help prepare me do so. During the Dedicated Interview Period of my first year at business school, I saw my classmates carrying handbags that didn’t fit their daily essentials – laptop, iPad, resumes, heels, water bottle, etc.. Deepa (co-founder and COO), Jessy (co-founder and Creative Director), and I joined forces to create a handbag brand that solved the needs of the on-the-go woman.

Q: What advice do you have for girls that want to start their own businesses?

A: It’s really important to test your idea and hypothesis in a very low-cost way. We did focus groups with our Wharton classmates to gain a better understanding of their handbag problems. It was an inexpensive way of testing the concept. We then raised money as students, set up a website to collect orders, and got nearly $40,000 worth of sales in our first three months. It’s important to test your assumptions before investing significant amounts of both time and money in your business!

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