(Originally published Feb. 26, 2020)
Three women over three business days completely changed Danielle Hosker’s life.
Hosker AB ’01 had founded two successful luxury linen and home good lines, Antage Bleu and Baby Bleu, but she was waking up in the middle of the night thinking of dresses.
“I told my husband I’ve just got to flesh this out,” Hosker says. “I know it’s going to be a failure, but I just need to do it and put it to bed so I can get back to work.”
Except she didn’t fail.
Still unsure of herself, Hosker packed up the small collection of evening wear she produced under the label Mason Hosker and headed to a store in Raleigh, North Carolina, on a Friday. One of the store’s buyers happened to be there—a rarity in the fashion world—so Hosker showed her the line. The buyer’s compliments gave Hosker the confidence she needed to go big.
The following Monday, she flew to Washington, D.C., to try and sell her line to Saks Jandel, an iconic high-end boutique in Maryland that clothed everyone from secretaries of state to first ladies before closing in 2016.
“I had been trying to contact the buyer, and of course she never responded,” Hosker says. “I was so ignorant to not realize that it’s very rare to get in front of a buyer, but I just walked in.”
Again Hosker lucked out. The buyer was there, and when Hosker showed her the lookbook, the buyer wanted to see more. “She said, ‘You can show me three pieces,’ but three pieces turned into the whole collection. And she loved it.”
The buyer told Hosker she needed to go to New York. She drove there the next day and was signed to a showroom by its owner, bypassing the route most new lines have to make it through—market, stores, and then showroom.
Mason Hosker was picked up by Rent the Runway, an online designer clothing rental service, almost immediately, along with a string of what Hosker calls “amazing, die-if-I-could-get-in-there” boutiques.
After opening her flagship store in Charleston, Hosker’s line began getting rave reviews from Self to Martha Stewart Weddings, which said her gowns “empower the wearer with a radiant sense of elegance—and absolutely captivate everyone within eyesight.” Hosker herself was named one of Southern Living’s 50 Most Stylish Southerners.
“I never dreamed of being a fashion designer,” Hosker says. “It was never on my radar. But looking back at how my life lined up to put me in the right place at the right time with the right people, all these building blocks of life added up to exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”