Sewing is stitched deep into the fabric of Danielle Romero’s family. Her father’s Italian ancestors made their way in America as tailors, and she followed in their footsteps with pocket squares and other accessories made from reclaimed fabric for her burgeoning business, New York To Nashville. And while she comes by the trade honestly, she didn’t come to it naturally.
“I started New York To Nashville in February 2013,” said Romero, 28. “I learned to sew about two weeks before that.”
The shotgun wedding between Romero and a sewing machine is a byproduct of her love affair with the South. She grew up in upstate New York and graduated from SUNY-Albany in 2007. Romero joined Teach For America and taught on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico for a year. But her then-boyfriend Daniel (now her husband) was giving it a go in Nashville as a musician, and Romero had the opportunity to get a graduate degree at Vanderbilt. So she made the move … reluctantly.
“I used to be dead set against moving south,” Romero said. “But once I got here, I fell hard and fast.”
She got her degree at Vandy and spent a year teaching in East Nashville, but felt the call to do her own thing and work for herself. Inspired by day trips to small towns around Tennessee, where she’d treasure hunt old cowboy shirts and other vintage fabrics, Romero decided to teach herself to sew.
She began New York To Nashville with pocket squares and found the market overcrowded. “You type ‘pocket square’ on Etsy and 17,000 show up,” Romero said. Needing a way to set her wares apart, the Russian literature and American history major began weaving stories into her product descriptions.
“Americana, folk stories—I’m a huge history buff,” Romero said. “My first sale was a blue paisley pocket square. The guy who bought it mentioned he liked the writeup, so I knew that was the direction I wanted to take it.”
As Romero sold more pocket squares, she moved New York To Nashville off Etsy and onto her own site. She also expanded her offerings, including cufflinks, tie tacks and earrings. Lately, Romero has been busy rolling out a bow tie collection and handcrafted suspenders.
The product she’s most proud of, however, is her 3-month-old daughter Ruby. Balancing motherhood and New York To Nashville hasn’t been easy, but Romero is finding her rhythm.
“My husband sat me down, made sure I was taking care of myself and reminded me that the business isn’t going to go anywhere,” Romero said. “I’ve been trying to balance taking care of Ruby, taking care of myself and then taking care of my business third. It’s nice to care about my work so much I don’t mind sacrificing some sleep.”
Romero feels blessed to work from home and take care of her daughter, but says neither job is easy.
“A really common misperception that I hear about what I’m doing is, You’re so lucky. And really, luck has had nothing to do with it,” Romero said. “I’ve worked my tail off, spending endless hours educating myself on social media and the sewing machine, getting frustrated and not wanting to do it.
“You come to a point where you either get frustrated and quit, or you get frustrated and try it one more time.”
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Jeans & Ties is thrilled to give readers the opportunity to win a set of New York To Nashville products: the Rhett Butler II pocket square and the Tennessee Rose cufflinks. These accessories complement each other perfectly and will be a great addition to a suit for a summer wedding or any number of functions where you want to subtly stand out.
There are four ways to enter the giveaway. One entry will be earned for doing each of the following (four total entries max):
1. Leave a comment below with where you’d wear the items. Be sure to leave a legit email address (it won’t be published) so we can contact you if you win.
2. Follow @JeansAndTies on Twitter.
3. Follow @NYtoNash on Twitter.
Deadline to enter will be Tuesday, April 29, at 9 a.m. PT. The winner will be announced on Twitter at noon PT on Wednesday, April 30.