Even before she won Cycle 6 of America’s Next Top Model and embarked on a now 15-year modeling career, Dani Evans always knew her future was in the modeling industry. When she sat down for a discussion on the Ghidotti Podcast, she described seeing her first runway show at age 12 and how she instantly started working from that point to establish and build a personal brand.
“I was completely enamored by the art of it all,” Evans said. “I really studied the culture of models back then and that was when I truly fell in love with and identified with wanting to become a model.”
Born and raised in Little Rock, Evans believed her best chance to reach her dream was by getting outside of Arkansas and in front of agents in bigger markets such as Atlanta or New York City. After graduating from Little Rock Central High School, Evans got the opportunity she was looking for with America’s Next Top Model, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“It was very stressful and there were moments where I was thinking what am I doing and what have I gotten myself into,” said Evans. “I knew if I left, they would portray me as the girl that left in the middle of the night and I didn’t want that. So, I stayed and ended up winning, which I never thought would happen going into it.”
Growing a Personal Brand Takes Hard Work
To those on the outside looking in, winning America’s Next Top Model was seemingly Evans’ golden ticket to a long and successful career as a model. However, even with the boost in fame and recognition, the Little Rock native still had to do the hard work to grow a personal brand and earn new opportunities within the industry.
“Winning opened the door for me to get to New York City, but it definitely didn’t launch my career like most people think,” she said. “There was still a lot of me having to prove myself because reality TV and the modeling industry are two polar opposite ends. It’s a story filled with resilience and a lot of teary nights.”
Through her resiliency, Evans has been able to chart her own path in the Big Apple, achieving success in print work, on the runway and in commercials. She’s been featured in ELLE and Cover Magazine, walked the runway during New York Fashion Week and appeared in commercials for Covergirl and Target.
“I definitely have longevity and that’s something that I always said I wanted, even before I became a professional model,” Evans said. “I feel like it’s played out differently than what I wanted, but I’m now starting to gain agency over my own career as opposed to being told what I can and cannot do.”
Taking Control and Defining Your Brand Identity
For Evans, a key component of defining her personal brand identity and taking control of her own career was the launch of her company Monrowe, a unisex line of ready-to-wear hats. Named after her jazz musician grandfather, the brims blend trends from Jazz Era styles with classic Western shapes and contemporary elements for a fresh interpretation of a past vibe.
“I often say Monrowe is my love child,” said Evans. “I eventually want to expand into other niche home items, but most importantly I want Monrowe to just reflect me as an individual, what I feel like my authentic code is and what I love.”
We interview the influencers, culture changers and disruptors across the country to find out what makes them so successful. Join our eNews for the latest episode sent straight to your inbox.Subscribe Now
While it may seem that Evans has reached the pinnacle of modeling with nothing left to prove, she claims she’s just getting started. With a new phase of her life on the horizon, Evans is pushing forward with the same priorities of building a personal brand and navigating her own journey.
“There’s a large road ahead of me and I feel like I’m literally standing in the doorway to it,” she said. “Anytime you leave your safety net or your comfort zone, you feel a lot of uncertainty and you begin to question yourself, but I know in my spirit that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
To hear more of Dani Evans’ story and learn from other leaders, thinkers and innovators from across the country, subscribe to The Ghidotti Podcast and stay tuned for more stories, strategies and new ideas to set your organization apart.