Each month, we offer our startup clients the opportunity to share their story and showcase their business in our Startup Newsletter. This month’s featured emerging company is the handmade leather designer, Daphne Benzaquen and her company, daph. LLC.
Name and company
Daphne Benzaquen of daph. LLC
When did you start your business?
I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and own something that was mine. This desire was only further fueled during my MBA journey at Olin Business School, while taking an entrepreneurship class. In December 2016 I started designing the original collection of backpacks, totes, clutches and purses. Being a proud Peruvian I always strived to advocate and showcase the high quality and durability of Peru’s leather craftsmanship and resources, with designs in hand I ventured to meet with multiple manufacturers in Arequipa, Peru in January of 2017. After many meetings, lessons and samples I received my first collection and launched my website in December of 2017. I also share stories and lessons I learned along my entrepreneurial journey on my blog.
What inspired you to start your business?
It started with a practical need. I needed a functional, fashionable backpack that I could use for graduate school. About a year ago I embarked on an adventure that led to a self-taught crash course in designing leather goods, meetings with many leather makers across Peru and a website that I designed from scratch. It was a struggle at times, but I am so proud of the final product and it was well worth the effort and patience.
What city are you based in?
What is your product or service?
Durable, authentic, polished and handmade leather goods for men and women.
What sets your product or service apart from the competition?
My products are designed in St. Louis, Missouri, where I created our signature pattern, which is found on the majority of our products, and hand crafted in the mountains of Arequipa, Peru. I was born in Peru and always wanted to showcase my unique background. Arequipa is known for its quality leather, access to alpaca fur and craftsmanship so it was the best place to look for my crafting partner. Each product is delicately crafted to my design specifications with high quality leather. One individual product can take over a week to make. Since resources can be scarce, there is a limited quantity of the products I design, so grab them while they last!
What is the best business advice you ever received?
Never be afraid to ask. Whether it be asking a manufacturer for a decreased minimum order, asking apps for a free trial or reaching out to future mentors for a meeting, there is never any harm in asking people for favors, their time and products. In most cases, others are more than happy to help you in any way they can and teach you something along the way. I would not be where I am now without asking for help, advice and favors.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your business?
A portion of every sale is donated to a nonprofit that helps the people of Peru. This quarter we are donating to the Peruvian American Medical Society Auxiliary Fund which is helping two special charities.
Casa Emanuel: When someone reports an incident of domestic violence in Tarapoto, Peru, the policeman may ask the caller, “Is there blood?” Unless there is blood, the abuse is not considered serious enough to merit a response! This is why we felt it was important to build a shelter for women in this growing city.
Rayo de Sol: Rayo de Sol is an association to help children in need in Peru that is supported by French students. The association builds and runs a children’s shelter in Tarapoto, Peru which is financed by a local French bakery and donations which are helping the construction of the shelter.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love cooking, blogging and pilates and yoga. Some of my best ideas for designs come from meditation during yoga!
If people want to learn more about your startup, where should they go?
Visit www.shopdaph.com to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and Facebook @shopdaph.
If you would like your startup company to be considered for an Anders Startup Client Spotlight, please complete our questionnaire.All Insights