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IWD 2021

The Female Founders: Joanna Dai, Dai

Joanna Dai, founder of sustainable performance wear for women - and a former Brand of Tomorrow - Dai, is today's first Female Founder profile. Click the link below for a short interview with Joanna as she discusses why she swapped investment banking for fashion design, and how she succeeded in making workwear feel like yoga yet still look like a power suit.
12th Mar 2021
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IWD 2021 The Female Founders: Joanna Dai, Dai

Why did you choose to start your own luxury business?
After spending eight years in investment banking in London and NYC and working long days with frequent travel, I experienced first-hand the importance of looking smart to feeling confident and the importance of investing into my personal brand. However, workwear was not comfortable by any means and did not move at my speed. My 'a-ha' moment was in Stockholm on the tarmac of a return flight on a 16-hour work day. The waistband was digging in, my blazer was restrictive, and I wished I were in my yoga kit. I thought to myself, “could workwear feel like yoga and still look like a power suit?” I left finance, studied design and patternmaking at London College of Fashion, interned for luxury British designer Emilia Wickstead where I learned the craftsmanship of elegant tailoring and premium quality. Taking the intersection of the most innovative performance fabrics on the market and timeless, minimal design, I launched Dai in 2017.

What is it about British luxury that means new, female-led brands thrive?
Dai is a purpose-driven brand: the world is better when women succeed, and our mission is to deliver comfort-empowered performance. To extend to all female-led brands, I think women are generally more creative, natural problem solvers, and tend to take an unconventional approach as opposed to our counterparts who are more execution-driven. Women want to lead with purpose and want to make a difference in the world, so female-led brands tend be more creatively focused to solve today's problems. And solving a problem or painpoint for your customers is a key foundation to having a successful brand.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female founders looking to set up their own brands?
Know your purpose, your true why, for doing what you do. The journey is a rollercoaster, and your purpose is your north star to keep guiding you the hardest of times, to be resilient and keep going.