That 20-second video, shot spontaneously in her Melbourne living room, was the start of what would soon become a thriving international business.
Less than two years later, Dani Regan’s career – and life – has completely changed.
She worked in a corporate 9-5 job, but is now the president of a fast-growing six-figure company that sells to customers around the world.
Hundreds of people wear her designs as tattoos or on jewelry, while companies, such as a construction company in the Middle East, have adopted her designs for their branding.
Clients have also had her designs printed on clothing and packaging, they have used them in specialty nail art, and someone has had her design made into a branding iron for livestock.
Even Dani herself finds it hard to understand how Danibydsgn has become what it is.
“It’s just crazy to me how it all turned out,” she told 9news.com.au.
“It sounds too good to be true, to be honest.
“Every morning I think, ‘This is just so surreal’.
“I don’t like to say it fell into my lap – because obviously I’ve worked really hard and put in long hours and learned how to make a website and learned how to do so many things – but it’s just kind of start living your own life on the internet.”
Dani was bored at home during a COVID-19 lockdown in June 2020 when she decided to download the TikTok social media app.
She saw a video encouraging people to write their names with the letters overlapping and decided to use the name of her anonymous account “Harlo and Rei.”
She was shocked by what followed after she posted the video where she quickly monogrammed.
“I don’t know what happened. The video got 8,000 views very quickly and I got comments and comments and comments from people asking for their own name to be put into a symbol,” she said.
“I was inundated with requests – DMs, followers, comments.
TikTok users wanted Dani to use her skills to create monograms of a similar design with their name.
Amazed by the unexpected attention, Dani agreed to comply with her fans’ requests and started posting videos of her monogramming their names on the app.
“For two weeks I was making TikToks on my days off and on weekends, and after work, without really thinking about it.”
The fun began to turn into a business venture when Dani’s friend suggested she create an Etsy account to charge for her designs.
Dani taught herself to create and manage the website, and from then on, when she wasn’t working for her full-time job, she filmed herself monogramming and sharing the videos on TikTok.
Her following grew so quickly that she quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of followers.
Today, she has 1.4 million followers on TikTok and 154,000 Instagram followers.
After a few weeks of taking orders, Dani developed her design style and shifted from simply monograming people’s names to using meaningful dates, numbers, and sayings.
It wasn’t long before a woman sent Dani a photo of a tattoo she had done with Dani’s design.
“I just thought it was insane,” Dani said.
“I never thought people would start tattooing these designs.”
Now hundreds of people have sent her pictures of their tattoos of her designs.
“And the coolest thing is they’re different, like people get them really big, or really small with color added.”
Dani embraced the idea that she had suddenly become a business owner and then decided she wanted to come up with a way for the average person to enjoy her job beyond getting tattooed.
“I looked at it something like, ‘If I were to advertise my mother, as a consumer, she would have little to no interest in tattoos,’ Dani said.
In April of this year, Dani started offering jewelry engraved with her designs.
Dani bought her own materials, engraving machine and learned to engrave the jewelry herself.
She also started offering a business package where she creates logos for companies, and has done so for businesses ranging from cocktail bars to a skin care label to industrial companies.
In June of this year, Dani discovered that it was no longer tenable to continue working in her office job while running her business – which is now a business by definition – and left the corporate world.
The power of social media
Dani says she has social media to thank for drastically changing her life.
“I thought 9 to 5 would be everything to me, and I would work my way up the corporate ladder,” she said.
“But social media, it literally changed my whole life.”
Dani said she never thought she would make a meaningful impact in people’s lives as she is with her designs.
For many customers, the custom monograms are much more than just symbols.
They are often images of and connections to deeply emotional events and concepts, such as the death of a loved one or a wedding anniversary.
“It’s an honor to be able to design something like that for someone.”
Dani is also amazed and excited at how far the world has gone with her designs thanks to social media, with many clients reaching out to her from places like Ecuador, California and Hong Kong.
It was also through a social media group that she made contact with a friendly stranger and “master engraver” from Echuca, in regional Victoria, who offered to teach her to engrave.
“He’s been on the phone with me for hours and taught me everything I know. I ended up driving to Echuca and he taught me for a few days,” she said.
The man also helped her find her engraving machine.
“I just think it’s crazy how it all turned out because I had no idea where to start engraving,” she said.
In fact, Dani is amazed at how her social media critics have helped her get to where she is today, as have her admirers.
“I remember getting hate comments like, why put so many words in one symbol? Why not put it in three symbols?” And I thought, how did I not think of that?”
Dani is excited to see where Danibydsgn can go now that it has her full attention.
The company generated well above six figures for the past fiscal year — her first full year in business, when she was only doing it part-time.
“I’m definitely looking to grow and see what else I can offer, whether that’s clothing or other custom goods.”
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