Women in Business Q&A: Lani Lachica, CEO, Ella Danla

Ella Danla is a Luxury Lifestyle brand sourced and made in America. Ella Danla exudes elegance and style in addition to it's compelling inclusions, such as custom printing on leather and hardware and gaining the recognition with the utilization of actual dinosaur fossils, makes her designs unique and sought-after. It exemplifies the personal style of CEO and designer, Lani Lachica.

The handbag concept for the brand Ella Danla came into fruition in June 2012. After two years, Ella Danla launched its handbag collection in April 2014. That same year, in addition to the handbags, Lani Lachica expanded with an accessory line starting with the 100% Habotai silk scarves incorporating the Roma Affair design currently offering two designs. In September 2014, Lani made her debut during New York Fashion Week at the AMCONYC pop-up shop in SOHO. Highlighting their signature clutch handbag. Gaining recognition for it's exclusive designs and American based fashion designer behind Ella Danla.

Ella Danla products are crafted from the highest quality materials. Working diligently with American companies that supply fine quality leathers, authentic gemstones, hardware, and custom-designed metal fittings that are made to last. It is the result of a careful selection of top-quality ingredients combined with skill and a love for the craft, while always keeping in mind the expectation of the consumer. The handbags are tailored to last a lifetime. By producing small runs, it ensures that every aspect of the product is carefully monitored.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
When you go through certain situations in life, whether it be negative or positive experiences, it affects you in a way you live your life. Life experiences are embedded in your mind and soul for a lifetime. It is what you learn and want to do with these changes that will eventually lead your life in a certain path. I myself find this to be so true. As a young woman I was shy, passive and afraid to do things out of my comfort zone. I felt I held back on so many things. Today I am a different person due to two specific life altering and traumatic happenings in my life. One, was the death of my younger brother, Dante who passed away many years ago from a motorcycle traffic accident.

The other major life experience I endured was my divorce. After 23 years of being and also working together, I knew that no matter how devastated and hurt I was, life goes on. I am responsible for my direction life, there was no time for self pity. I want to be a role model for my son, Dante, 13. The unconditional love and support my family give me strives me to work hard for what I want. The idea of Ella Danla stemmed through my passion for high end fashion. Being a single mother, I decided that it was the right time to start my own business.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at the helm of Ella Danla?
Working for my former husband's company for many years as an office manager allowed me to establish great relationships and provide the utmost satisfaction through communication. Being in a business that is very detail oriented helped me to utilize those traits when it came to designing.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Ella Danla?
The highlights that put a smile on my face is when I see women carrying my clutches and wear my scarves. Knowing that these women admire the artisan craftsmanship is the best feeling, there is nothing better than that.

The challenges have been all related to designs, production and whatever else came your way. All the hustle and bustle makes it all worth while.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
I would say never to give up on your dreams! It is not easy to start your own business. There will always be obstacles in your way, and at times you will feel that you cannot not jump any higher to get over them, eventually you will have the strength. Having a great support system from family and friends makes things feel smooth, they are the little angels on your shoulder that strives you to do your best! The hard work will pay off because you are working for yourself and no one else. The success is the saving grace in the end.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Go with your gut instincts, they are usually right. Whether It be a deal, a design to name a few, go with what feels right, even if someone disagrees.

From my personal experience, if I did not pursue my passion, I knew I would have regretted it in the end.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Aside from my company, life isn't very hectic. My social life consist of lunch or dinner with friends but usually I'm a homebody. My son Dante, who is 13 years old is able to do a lot of things on his own except driving which is what I have to do often. I work when I can which is usually when my son is at school or whenever I am needed by my Publicist, Nikki Claudine that does so much work on behalf of the business. it makes being a working mother easy. I am very grateful for her. My son comes first but also understands that I have a commitment to my work and to the company

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The biggest issue in my opinion is the pay inequality for women who work the same level job as men. We have to work twice as hard if not more. I also feel that when women voice their opinion, we are not heard or taken seriously.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I am blessed to have an amazing family who supports me unconditionally along with friends that also have business's. They help with guidance and support whether it be business or personal. My Publicist, Nikki, as young as she is, has taught me valuable things.She gets things accomplished in a drop of a hat, Nikki's ambition and drive has pushed me to work harder.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My female role models are the ones who fiercely strive to make a difference in this world. In my heart, These are the leaders that I truly admire.

What do you want Ella Danla to accomplish in the next year?
In addition to my collection, I believe in producing top quality products that anyone can be proud of.I would like to include more to the line with more handbag designs and accessories such as more scarves, jewelry and wallets. I want Ella Danla to become the leading American made luxury lifestyle brand. And most importantly as the company expands I would like to add more trustworth, hardworking and innovative people to the team.