Dani Simone is a custom wedding dress designer, entrepreneur, and Hartford advocate. She recently spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about her business, By Dani Simone Studio, and her plans to open a bridal shop called The Hartford Bride LLC.

NAN PRICE: Why Hartford?

DANI SIMONE: When I decided to start my own business. I knew two things: It needed to be wedding dresses and it needed to be in Hartford. To me, Hartford has always been home. I’m from here, originally. We went to church in Hartford. We have a lot of family here. My aunt used to own a hair salon in Hartford for about 30 years. So, I have deep roots here and I always wanted to settle here.

I would love to see Hartford become a destination for weddings. We have beautiful historic architecture and landmarks. We’re perfectly situated between Boston and New York City, where wedding industry professionals come to attend Bridal Market week , which is like Fashion Week for wedding dress designers. Why not bring people here to Hartford and make ourselves known as the bridal destination?

NAN: Why did you join the Hartford Chamber of Commerce?

DANI: My business is By Dani Simone Studio. The Hartford Bride will be the name of the bridal shop I plan to open. I joined the Hartford Chamber of Commerce after I had a conversation with Executive Director Julio Concepción, who told me about the Hart Lift program. I had identified a space but it recently fell through so we’re looking for other options.

NAN: In what other ways are you involved in the Hartford community?

DANI: I have a part-time job as the communications Advocacy Coordinator for the Healthy Hartford Hub’s Community Action Task Force (HHH/CATF), which is a community group focused on building a grocery store at the intersections of Albany Avenue and Main Street. We’re also working on other health-promoting services in the Arrowhead area of Hartford, which is across the street from Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

We’re also supporting the creation of a Puerto Rican diaspora museum in that area, which is going to be the first national museum for the Puerto Rican diaspora. And, we’re working on building an entrepreneurship hub or a way to serve entrepreneurs, provide them with space.

I’m committed to helping empower the community through economic development and entrepreneurship. And I feel like this is the best way I can serve. I can use my talents and show others that fashion can be lucrative and fulfilling.

Read the entire interview at Innovation Destination Hartford

By Dani Simone Studio Founder Dani Simone (seated) with models Jasmine Betts and Elle Morgan. Photo courtesy Jeff Lamothe Photography with art direction from Hartford-based designers Ocion Mollison and Kalonji Daley.