by Maddy Zollo Rusbosin | April 8, 2024

From Medical Tools to Runway Jewels: The Journey of Dannijo’s Sister Duo

Sunshine State sisters who turned their love of making jewelry into a global brand

Model Isabella Gonzalez twirls in the Cerulean Lace Applique Midi Slip Dress while wearing the Sicily Earrings and Isabel Bracelet Set, all designed by Dannijo. Photographed by Sonya Revell.

When your dad’s a doctor, many kids grow up playing checkup on their siblings or stuffed animals, but for Jodie Snyder Morel and Danielle Snyder Shorenstein, they were a little more creative with their father’s medical tools: they used his forceps and other items to make jewelry.  

Mali Wood earrings, $170. Photography courtesy of Dannijo.

“My sister did the wire work because when you’d put beads on the wire to make earrings, you had to wrap it very tight and finely,” Jodie recalls of how she and Danielle, her younger sister of three years, first got into jewelry making. “We were self-taught, and it was something the two of us loved doing together. It was a creative outlet.” 

Born and raised in Jacksonville, the girls always had a penchant for fashion, thanks to their mother’s cool vintage jewelry collection and frequent visits to see family in New York City. “I was mesmerized by the fashion industry and knew it was something I wanted to do in the future,” says Jodie. In high school, she began working at local boutiques, and while she was at one in Ponte Vedra, she and Danielle began making jewelry to complement the clothing. 

The Dannijo founders, Jodie Snyder Morel and Danielle Snyder Shorenstein took a selfie wearing their brand’s jewelry. Photograph courtesy of Jodie Snyder Morel and Danielle Snyder Shorenstein.

“At the time, fashion jewelry wasn’t that popular, and stores didn’t carry it that much,” she explains, but her boss let them sell their styles alongside the other merchandise. The duo continued designing when Jodie attended the University of Florida, where she’d even set up jewelry pop-ups in her sorority house. Due to the excitement around the pieces, she and Danielle initially founded Dannijo in 2003 and then opened their standalone shop in Jacksonville.

Danielle went on to attend Vanderbilt, and their brick-and-mortar enterprise continued to thrive until they closed its doors when Jodie graduated and then subsequently moved to New York City, working in sales for fashion companies like Sam Edelman. Danielle eventually followed her to the Big Apple, also working in the style realm, but when the 2008 recession hit, both sisters lost their jobs. “We decided we wanted to restart Dannijo again, so we began making jewelry out of our apartment in the East Village,” explains Jodie. 

“We were self-taught, and it was something the two of us loved doing together. It was a creative outlet.”
–Jodie Snyder Morel

Ziggy Necklace, $265. Photography courtesy of Dannijo.

Realizing they needed sales, they cold-called Bergdorf Goodman, and with a little serendipity, landed a meeting with an assistant buyer. While she loved the collection, she told the sisters it was a bit too edgy and suggested a few changes. Within days they presented new pieces, leading Dannijo to be picked up on consignment. And their luck didn’t stop there: a month later, Beyoncé bought one of their necklaces. The statement design was called Ruth Celia and was the opposite of dainty, with layers and layers of gold chains, and it didn’t hurt that she wore it everywhere, including on tour with Jay-Z in New York. 

From day one, they had a website—even before the advent of social media—a move that was relatively unheard of at the time. As the brand continued to get press, including a segment on the “Today” show, their name recognition snowballed. It didn’t hurt either that their pieces kept getting scooped up by celebrities and were a favorite among the wave of rising style bloggers who were reinventing how people shopped. Dannijo also built buzz with fun partnerships, including a capsule collection with actress Rashida Jones and a collab with Man Repeller. 

Beyonce wore the Ruth Celia necklace, designed by Dannijo, while on tour with her husband and rapper Jay-Z. Photography courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo.

While the sisters continued designing together, Jodie organically fell into handling the business side of the brand, now serving as CEO, whereas Danielle became the creative director and is known for making their big ideas and concepts come to fruition. 

“The brand has evolved with us and is so much our personal story of what we want, what we love and what we are inspired by,” says Jodie. When the company first started, its focus was statement jewelry, but over time, it’s grown to include clothes, other accessories and even bridal dresses and jewelry. The foray into apparel came organically when they realized customers wanted to see how to style their pieces—so Dannijo began to sell silk slip dresses to serve as the canvas for the jewelry. Now, they are a cornerstone of the business, coming in a variety of colors, prints, appliques and cuts. 

Dannijo X Lorna Murray Hat, $125. Photography courtesy of Dannijo.

Their designs and styles have shifted over time to reflect Jodie’s and Danielle’s life experiences. In its formative years, Dannijo’s essence exuded the excitement of being young in New York City, where you get dressed up every night. And now that the sisters have settled down with families, Jodie residing in Ponte Vedra Beach and Danielle outside of San Francisco, it’s much less trend focused. “Moving to a slower pace of life made us slow down and focus on quality not quantity,” explains Jodie. “It’s about having the right pieces that are more timeless.” However, they still know how to have fun, too. Be on the lookout for their new venture inspired by their love of sports—where fashion meets fandom—later this year.

“I feel like we got into fashion because you kind of create the world you want to live in,” she adds, which is a fitting reminder to all Floridians to have fun with fashion and that it’s OK to exude a little extra pop of sunshine.