We had the good fortune of connecting with Dynasty Casanova and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dynasty, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I first started my brand, it was really just a way to sell my school projects from FIT. I was working full time in the industry and it wasn’t fulfilling for me. So I started making youtube videos and selling my school projects on the side. I saw the immense amount of interest in my brand and my aesthetic. It was so gratifying for me because in fashion school, the cool NYC style was the all black, Alexander Wang vibe. In my job, we had to be commercial and design for customers that didn’t even care about fashion or style. I was constantly told “no” or had my designs and aesthetic rejected. My brand became a way for me to design and express myself freely. My brand became my part time job while I worked full time. During these fundamental years I was single and living at home. During Covid, I was freelancing full time and not only was I let go but I was now married and pregnant. My life totally changed. Balancing my full time job and my brand was much easier than balancing motherhood. What helps me is that my husband is super supportive and knew I wanted to do my brand full time. When Covid hit and I was home alone during the day and pregnant, I knew this was the time to invest in my brand. I saved my unemployment checks and used the money to invest in sample making at an ethical factory and also saved a “maternity leave” fund for our baby that was coming. Now as a new mom, my brand is flourishing and growing faster than before. It is hard to balance with my baby but my husband and mom are a great support. My mom comes and helps when she can while my husband is at work so I can sew. Other days I work while he naps, and try to be attentive as I can when he’s up. As NYFW is coming up and I’m preparing to show and launch a kickstarter for pre-orders , I leave my son with my mom twice this week from 8am-4pm so I can have full working days. It still hurts when I have to leave him, but I remind myself that I’m doing this for myself yes, but also for him and our family. It’s ironic that my brand would pick up when I just gave birth. However, I was working on it when I was pregnant and used my time off to cultivate this business. As a mom, it’s so easy to lose yourself and make your life totally about your kid. Don’t get me wrong, my son, Leo, is my whole life. I love this boy with a love I cannot even explain. I love him so much that I won’t let him be my excuse for not working towards my dreams. I can’t wait to teach him how to sew and how to run a small business. He’s going to be lightyears ahead of kids his age with all the real life knowledge and experience he’ll have from watching me run my brand. I can’t wait to travel with him, take him to factories, meet artisans, etc. My son has added to my life and to my business, he’s an extra drive for me to work hard.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is rooted in fixing problems I saw in the fashion industry. While working in the industry I saw it wasn’t racially diverse, I was often the only black or latina in the office. It was unethical, we would wholesale items fro $3-$5, making me think about how much the person making this was paid that the cost was so low. Lastly, I saw it was unsustainable as we would sit and throw away thousands of products and inventory away. I knew I wanted to create a better fashion eco-system and build a brand with values I cared about. Before I bought deadstock fabric and sewed all the clothing myself. Now for Spring, I found an ethical factory in India that is women founded and led. They create small batch production and have both full time and part time workers with insurance. Instead of exploiting people, I am employing them and celebrating their talents and craftsmanship. I source deadstock fabric still and natural fiber material like cotton and linen, that could decompose better. I also am building an ecosystem of customers that can resell and reuse their worn Dynasty George garments. I am a mixed black and Latina owner who aims to have a racially diverse team. I often have diverse models in my shoots so every girl could see models that look like them portrayed as beautiful. Our company values kindness and giving back. We hope to bring initiatives that help women of color in poverty or struggling neighborhoods resources and opportunities to advance. We are going to launch a kickstarter in late February, early March, after NYFW, to fund production. I hope people resonate with our brand story and aesthetic and the kickstarter goes well. You can follow my Instagram @dynastygeorge for updates on that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m from and still live in Brooklyn so, I would first take my friend to my grandma’s house to eat really good authentic Puerto Rican food. I love thrifting and NYC has great thrift-shops, especially along the L train line. I would shop in Williamsburg and lower manhattan at my fav thrift stores. We could then shop and brunch in Soho. We could eat at Laudree to have brunch and macaroons. We would have to get NYC pizza for lunch because it’s the best pizza ever. Soho have a lot of designer stores and restaurants exclusive to the neighborhood so we would eat at those as well. First time New Yorkers have to visit Time Square and Central Park. Although it’s very cliche, they are NYC landmarks. We would go to see broadway shows in the Evening and eat at midtown diners after. We could see an opera at Lincoln Center and go to a jazz cafe after for even more music. I would also take them to the MET, MOMA, and Whitney Museum during the day. We could spend a day in Chelsea, walking the highline and visiting local art galleries. I would then end the trip with dinner at my house, cooked by my husband who the best cook I know.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to dedicate my shoutout to my mom and working moms for all industries. Being a mom is a FULL TIME job that never ends. From morning to night, we are moms, whether our child is physically with us or not. If I’m away from my son, I am the first person called if anything happens to him or he needs something. I am so inspired by the strength and diligence of mothers. My mother was a single mom and nurse. I was blessed to also have my grandma and aunt living with us who took care of me when she was working. My mom financially held down a family of 7 for years. She took care of my siblings and I, while her parents, and my aunt were on disability. She is still working and taking care of her mom and sister. She takes them to their doctor appointments and runs their errands. She’s a superhero and now helps take care of my son. She was a working nurse all throughout COVID-19 and dealt with multiple covid patients. My mom always pushes me to do better. She would always tell me “you’re a minority but you’re going to be a smart minority and no one can take your knowledge from you.” She encouraged me to be studious and hardworking and led by example. When I’m overwhelmed, she is a source of comfort and voice of reason. I made it through college and I am able to run my brand because of her. My mom is my wonder woman and inspiration. I am the woman I am today because of her.