Founder Profile: Melissa Mash

A Look at Dagne Dover

Melissa Mash, Founder of Dagne Dover

Tell us a bit about your company

Dagne Dover creates problem-solving bags — for all the badass, problem-solving humans out there. Bags that keep up, stay organized and look good doing it.

What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?

I saw that there was an opportunity for a bag brand that used performance materials that could weather the elements, while also being able to transition from gym to work to a night out. I also saw that there was an opportunity for this brand to have extremely functional and specific pockets built into the design to help people feel organized and prepared for their day.

What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?

We’ve had several huge milestones for our brand. We are extremely happy every time we see powerful and creative people carrying our products. People like Stacey Abrams, Michelle Obama, Carol Strayed, Anna Sitar, and the whole US Women’s Soccer Team carry Dagne! Another major milestone for us has been our extremely successful business with Nordstrom. As of this fall, we will be available in all Nordstrom locations across the US and Canada, as one of their top-selling bag brands.

What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?

I have always loved bags. I made my first one when I was in high school, and my first job out of college was with Coach. There I learned the ins and outs of the bag industry and saw that there were a lot of opportunities to build a successful company, especially if you use a more efficient capital structure with lower CapEx. In 2009 I was super interested in the emergence of digitally native brands like Bonobos and BaubleBar. My interests in consumer habits led to me go back to business school at Wharton the next year to pursue entrepreneurship and to prepare myself for what became Dagne Dover!

Source: Dagne Dover

What has been one or two of the biggest learnings so far?

Value people who are capable and who are a great cultural fit over having people who only have the exact experience that you’re looking for. Also, it would’ve been a very lonely journey for any of us co-founders to be doing this alone as a solo founder. Remember that you’re going to want someone to celebrate the wins with and someone to also lean on during the hard times!

What is an obstacle you anticipate grappling with as you continue to build this venture?

We have an amazing team. In order to achieve our goals, we’re going to need to hire more people, and we’re going to have even less time to spend with our existing team members. It will be challenging to keep close relationships with people and to feel connected as we grow beyond our 22 person team. I’m going to miss this stage that we’re currently in, but also each next stage is super exciting.

What are a surprise or two that you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?

I wouldn’t call it a surprise per se, but I will say that it is refreshing to know that despite how long I’ve been doing this — it’s been almost 11 years now — that it is still exciting and I’m still learning new skills and having to challenge my mind in new ways every day. It’s never boring!

Anything else you want to mention?

We’d love to offer the community 20% off full-price merchandise through 1/31/2022 for the first 50 purchases that use code “WAFFA2021”.

Follow Dagne Dover’s progress or Connect with Melissa!

Wharton Alumnae Founders & Funders Association (WAFFA) accelerates the success of women in the startup ecosystem. Join us: HelloWaffa.org