Danielle Brief, 27, is a member of the 2019 cohort of Tribe12 Fellows, an educational leadership program that allows the Drexel University graduate to pursue a Jewishly focused venture alongside her full-time job working in the corporate office of Five Below.
Brief spoke about her venture, HamsaMade, and what success would look like to her.
Q: How did HamsaMade come to be?
It was the week of my twin sister’s wedding, and I was having trouble sleeping. I was also conflicted with what to get her and her husband as a wedding gift. I felt that writing a check to my own sister, after being so involved in the wedding planning process, would be a little bit impersonal. And everything on her registry had already been purchased, and I didn’t want to just get her a set of dishes.
So I came up with this idea of when she has all this shattered glass following her chuppah ceremony, to then turn it into a mosaic so she could then cherish that moment forever.
Mosaic is a hobby that my family has shared since I was a really young girl. My dad’s a mosaic artist, and it kind of just trickled down to everyone in my family. Like, literally everything in our home is covered in tile and glass and other three-dimensional objects.
So I thought it’d be a cool way to incorporate a passion of mine with solving the problem of, I don’t wanna buy something just off a registry, I don’t wanna write a check and I want to get her something that will be really memorable and meaningful.
At about the same time, the Tribe12 Fellowship application went live, and I thought, ‘I always wanted to have my own brand.’
Q: How did that fit in with the application process?
The Tribe12 application asked a lot of really deep questions on describing yourself, just giving a little blurb about who you are, what is your venture, why do you want to launch it now, of all times. And I actually wrote everything out in a notebook. I didn’t even type it out because I just felt like my ideas were flowing, and I was really inspired. And I was on a plane, so I didn’t have my laptop with me.
So the application process actually just solidified that I had an idea that I was passionate about and wanted to pursue.
Right off the bat in my application, it was clear that I had a strong idea, and then there was an interview process. It was kind of like lightning speed dating, where you’re in a room with 10 different tables, each with two interviewers, and you have five minutes per table, roughly, to really pitch your idea, like you have an elevator pitch.
And that was intense, and the first two rounds were really my practice, but by the third interviewer I knew exactly what my goal was — I knew how to express it. And it’s hard when you have an idea that’s really just in the initial concept stage to make people understand how it could be a viable business and how it’s unique.
So that interview process kind of confirmed that I had an idea that’s not just in my own head — I said it out loud to 20 people who all seemed really excited by it, and understood what I was trying to do. That just confirmed even further that I wanted to go through this fellowship process.
Q: What are your hopes for HamsaMade?
My hope is that I can one day just be, you know, scrolling through Instagram and see a stranger that I never met post a picture of my work, and be like, “Oh my gosh, I just found this awesome mosaic that showcases my friend’s glass from their chuppah ceremony, how cool is this?” If I could see one person who’s not my mom or my sister or my coworkers that have one of my custom pieces in their home that they’re enjoying — that would be really meaningful to me.
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