Culture-focused clothing brands are all the rage these days. Take Dnalsi, for instance…Founded by entrepreneurs and college classmates Rob Constant and Gladymir Leveille, the brand made its grand debut at the Small Boutique Fashion Week in Manhattan last fall. The fashion brand is not all flash and culture. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the line’s flagship tee go towards actor Jimmy Jean-Louis’ HUFH foundation. Here’s Gladymir telling us about where the brand has been and where he and his business partner hope to take it.
Kreyolicious: How did Dnalsi come about?
We’ve always loved fashion-we went to the same school (Long Island University) and use to produce fashion shows on campus. After we graduated college we both went on to intern for prominent fashion street-wear brands to learn about the fashion industry. After years of learning the business we decided to start our fashion company, but we wanted to do something different—celebrating our Caribbean roots and the Caribbean in general and felt there was a void that needed to be filled in the market and so we wanted to be that brand that produces dope cultural street-wear lifestyle clothing celebrating the Caribbean Culture and island life.
In the beginning we started wearing our Dnalsi shirts to Kompa parties but we weren’t getting the reaction and feedback that we were looking for. Nobody knew what Dnalsi was. Until one day we wore a shirt that had our Dnalsi Logo on the front and our Sak Pase logo on the back. As we were leaving the club, a guy who had a little too much to drink came up to us and said, “Yo, ya’ll need to stop playing and put that Sak Pase on the front.” And so we did just that–the next time we went out we had Sak Pase (which is a spoof off of the Snapple logo) on the front of our shirts and we were one of the last people to leave the club that night busy getting orders from people. From that time…that’s when our movement started going viral and that was the birth of the Sak Pase collection of tees by Dnalsi Clothing.
Kreyolicious: It’s a cute and unique name. Is there a story behind it?
We were at our friends house one day hanging out–Rob was scribbling something on a napkin–he came over and nudged me on the shoulder and showed me what he was doing. He said, “What do you think about this?” I then read out loud what he wrote on the napkin with a perplex look on my face I said, “Dnalsi? What does that mean?” He then replied, “Island—spelled backwards.” I was like “Wow, that’s it.” He didn’t have to say anything else to me. I automatically got it. The rest is history!
Kreyolicious: What are some obstacles that you had to face in order to make Dnalsi a reality?
Money and resources. There’s a lot of competition in the fashion industry, and it changes quickly so you have to be on top of all the trends. Once we started getting great feedback from the Haitian community who we were predominately targeting and learned how to manage our bottom line, it was all systems go from there.
Kreyolicious: Dnalsi was part of the Small Boutique Fashion Week in Manhattan this past fall. Can you tell us about that experience?
We pushed back our viewing and will showcase our line February 2017. We’re excited–there’ll be many international buyers who are looking for upcoming designers to have in their stores. We’re preparing for it now as we speak.
This concludes PART I of the interview with heritage clothing brand Dnalsi’s co-founder Gladymyr Leveille. Watch out for PART II.
CLICK HERE to purchase Dnalsi’s cultural wear!
Get immersed in the Dnalsi brand culture! CLICK HERE to visit the Dnalsi clothing brand’s website!