Tell us about yourself!
I have been an on-air fashion expert for over 16 years! I kind of can't believe it has been that long. I published my first book back in 2009 "101 Glam Girl Ways to an Ultra Chic Lifestyle' which was a kitschy play on a children's book for adults. I have loved fashion and styling since I was a child making clothes for my Barbies and dreamed of one day opening my own boutique. While attending college for Business Management I would sketch out designs of how I wanted the boutique to look. It came to reality in 2004 when I opened my brick-and-mortar storefront in New Jersey. As I was working there I started to find ways to market my brand and the items I was selling, which organically led to my TV career. I continued to evolve and pivot over the years as social media started to grow. I started building a platform on YouTube, Instagram and now TikTok to interact with my audience. My personal brand "Dawn Del Russo" has grown into so much more than I could have imagined. Consulting with brands on their start-ups, traveling for media TV segments, and working as a brand guest host for QVC with brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Marc Fisher. It has been an adventure with so much more to come.
What inspired you to start your businesses?
I grew up with 2 entrepreneurial parents, my dad built an incredible commercial construction business Del-Sano Contracting and my mom was an interior designer. The drive for me was always there. I loved fashion and as I got older I started to picture owning a boutique and making it super girly like you walked into someone's bedroom to play dress up. It is wild to see your dream come true in real life. I had it for about 9 years and closing the doors on that chapter to go full force into being a TV fashion expert was bittersweet but ultimately the right decision. It all comes full circle I am able to help brands build their businesses based on the knowledge I learned over the years. Just this year I was brought on as a buyer and curator for a local spa's Depasquale boutique area, this filled the piece I felt I left behind. I have truly been enjoying the experience.
How did your Italian roots inspire your passion for fashion?
My family and I travel to Italy every Summer, we have some family there still and love to visit our roots. There is truly no better feeling the arriving in Italy. The culture, the people, the fashion it is all so inspiring. I think Italians naturally have this instinctual flair for fashion, it just comes out of us. We want to look good, we want to feel good and out clothing expresses that. My parents were always dressed up growing up and my Mom always had my sister and I in head-to-toe matching outfits. There is not a picture you can find where we are not perfectly dressed shoes and all. I remember my mom had these satin floral high heels and matching clutch bad that I loved, I would go into her closet to try them on all the time. Both of my grandmothers were into fashion too. My grandmother Evelyn Del Russo had a few pieces I loved including a gold sequin top and fur coat which I eventually inherited. I even tailored 2 of her dresses one to wear for my rehearsal dinner and another to wear on vacation. My grandmother Rose Montesano would sit with me and flip through fashion magazines and say can I look young and dress like that. I miss them dearly but the passion remained.
Italian drink of choice?
Prossecco. No other words needed.
Favorite restaurant in Italy?
There are so many wow. Il Gato Nero in Lake Como, Marinella in Sorrento, Grano for Pizza in Rome, Hotel De Russie for an aperativo.. I can go on and on this is off the top of my head. Favorite town on the Italian Coast?
Favorite Italian saying?
Dolce far Niente, impossible to do here in the USA. I will add a song :) L'appuntamento/ornella Vanoni
Go-to gelato flavor?
Espresso or a shakerato
Any fashion style tips to live your best Dolce Vita?
You must feel it, the clothing should capture who you are and what makes you happy. Don't take it all so serious.
Advice for other women pursuing their passions?
Keep going, there will be many stones in the road but if you just keep going you will get there. Everything you can possibly dream will come true, sometimes you might have to pivot and make changes but trust the flow. When you do it and will eventually get there. Jump in, don't wait for the right time. Build relationships in all different fields you never know which one will take you to your nect stepping stone.