Interview: Dani Kreeft

Entrepreneur Dani Kreeft is the energetic, creative and straight-talking force behind Dani Press. She is the savvy one-woman show rolling all of her passions of photography, adventure, language and compassion into the humble medium of stationery with the aim of encouraging people to reach out and connect, be it overseas or just next door. Armed with a camera and a vintage typewriter, Dani creates striking cards and prints with resonating sentiments to inspire, empathize, unite, and celebrate in an authentic way that is often lacking in the vast sea of typical greeting cards and stationery.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted, it takes a certain amount of tenacity, dedication and gumption. We talked to Dani about her challenges, rewards and inspirations that have brought her to where she is now.

Dani Press is essentially a fusion of your greatest passions but largely features your photography, are you a photographer by trade?  
I’ve been taking pictures since I could hold a camera and point and click as a child. My parents always mentioned I had an eye for photography and saw things differently, whatever they noticed has carried forward in my life. I did apply to photography school and was accepted, but it just didn’t feel right. I knew that photography was going to be a part of my life in some way, but it wasn’t going to be the whole picture. So I turned it down to go traveling to South Africa. I went to journalism school a couple of years later, so by trade I’m more of a wordsmith than a photographer.
slide 4How would you define Dani Press?
If there is one word to describe Dani Press, it would be honest. Being true, being honest is really important because stationery isn’t exactly known for being little bolts of truth. They are known more for being general statements and sentiments, for exhibiting lofty affection and stuffy monologues. There’s a lot of stationary that feels very contrived.
I hope that people look at my product and see a very honest and real story being told. That when they look at the card, they laugh at the wit. When they look at a photo they know that it’s real. When they feel moved or inspired, when their eyes fill up with tears or they laugh about something, they know that it all comes from a very real place of emotion.

slide 2Living the entrepreneurial life full-time must be quite liberating, having the freedom to set your own schedule and travel at will, but what are the challenges you’ve faced since dedicating yourself solely to Dani Press?
Cash flow! You typically don’t have any and spend a lot of time wondering if you can pay your rent. It’s a fun little dance between whether you will pay rent, produce product or eat. Which sounds terrifying, and it is, but it’s also very motivating. When I was bartending or serving on the side, I had a safety net. I could always pick up an extra shift. As soon as that rug was pulled out from under me, I really had to work to make a living.

Discipline. If you don’t have a sturdy handle on what motivates you and what is required of you, I don’t know how you’re going to make it as an entrepreneur.  You have to be consistent. You have to stick to a schedule and be mindful of your goals and deadlines. If you let that lax then you are in trouble.

Solitude. Right now I’m working out of my apartment and at the beginning it was difficult going from a very sociable job to an isolated one. If you don’t work well alone, it is really hard to work as an entrepreneur. If you don’t know how to self motivate in a very solitary environment, working is very difficult. There is no one to bounce ideas off of or take a break with. You are on your own.
There are definitely some great perks to being self employed, but there are also some pretty big challenges.
slide 1

I feel like I’ve found the loophole of life, to have the privilege to do what I value, what I love.
If this is the work I get to dedicate my life to, you couldn’t suggest any sweeter reward than that.

With these challenges there must be some perks that keep you moving forward with Dani Press?
The lack of commute, complete reign over my time, working from the comfort of my own studio and other perks like them are extraordinary bonuses of an entrepreneurial job.
As soon as you get used to something, it becomes normal, so I continually resist being dulled to the perks list that comes with my version of a 9-5. But more than that, it is an astounding daily reward to actually sit at my desk and do what I feel called and motivated to do. The reward is the work.
I constantly think, “Gosh, who am I to be able to get to do this? For a living?”
Yes, there are completely crap days and terrifying financial woes, huge setbacks and high hurdles. There’s a whole entire sea of choppy waters waiting for me every morning.
But, it’s worth it because I feel like I’ve found the loophole of life, to have the privilege to do what I value, what I love.
If this is the work I get to dedicate my life to, you couldn’t suggest any sweeter reward than that.
In the last couple of years you have uprooted Dani Press from laid-back Vancouver to bustling Toronto, do you think the change of location has boosted the success of Dani Press?
Absolutely. It’s not the case that as soon as you land everything will blossom. Toronto has everything you need to succeed and go far but like every city, it’s how you approach it and what opportunities you take. Since moving here I have felt more invested and in community with a large pool of like-minded creative people. I felt it was time to give Dani Press my best shot and knew Toronto could give Dani Press the wings it deserved to succeed.

Who have you recently been inspired by?
Oh, I am really drawn to people that can tell an amazing story. There are several people I follow on Instagram that do this really well.
Jedidiah Jenkins@jedidiahjenkins
A great photographer and story teller.
@1924us
Christian Watson is probably one of the most well styled and amazing graphic designers. The imagery on his instagram is unreal in itself but then you read the caption and you become completely enveloped in the the way he describes the world. I think that is entirely beautiful.

@reallykindofamazing
I just love his photography and take on the world and his use of vibrant colours.

Ruthie Lindsey@ruthielindsey
I was initially drawn to her styling but after learning more about her and what she has been through, illness and divorce while still being so young, but has come out of it as this brave and stylish woman. She graciously met me for coffee a couple of months ago and it was just so lovely. Knowing someone’s story makes their work that much more beautiful and I think her work is wonderful.

What I like about all of these people is that they invite you into their story. They’re not just “cute images”, they are very candid and vulnerable. They show the ins and outs of their work, what’s amazing and victorious as well as what is really crap and unexpected about it. And I value that so much.

Follow Dani’s journey on instagram @danipress and visit her stationery shop online at danipress.com.

Top Five Tracks by Dani Kreeft

  1. Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson – it’s like audio butter. It puts me at ease, man.
  2. The River by Leon Bridges –  a perfectly chill, soul soothing tune. Go to bed to this one.
  3. Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin –  always on point when you need a little bit of “who gives a s***” in your step.
  4. The Obvious Child by Paul Simon –  you try waking up to this and not smiling.
  5. Walk of Life by Dire Straits –  probably one of my favourite songs of all time. Honestly, it makes me so happy.

dutil. fitted Dani in a pair of the dutil. Quintessential High-Rise Skinny, 1098 Wash. We’ll be following along with her travels and adventures with Dani Press and this classic high-waisted jean. Stay tuned!

Dutil Dani