Casa Danu is a bright, bold, and colorful light for Kristen Chester at the end of a dark tunnel. After graduating from Vanderbilt with her MBA in 2014, Kristen had a successful six-year career at Deloitte. In January 2020, Kristen’s world changed forever when she was diagnosed with breast cancer while six and a half months pregnant with her son. Kristen was left drained mentally, physically, and emotionally during her ten rounds of chemo. She was a stranger to who she once was.
“I just looked at myself and said, ‘that’s not you,” Kristen recalls. “I have this vibrant, colorful, bold person inside me, and for so many reasons, she wasn’t there.”
Kristen recognized she couldn’t physically change her situation or how she was feeling, but she knew when you look good you feel good. She craved color and vibrance back in her life, so she began wearing caftans. She, once again, felt chic and fabulous while still comfortable and free during her constant cycle of hospital visits and bedridden days.
After months of joking around with friends and family about designing her own caftans, complications from her surgery landed Kristen in the hospital. She had ample time on her hands, laying in her hospital bed all day, so Kristen researched how to start a sustainable fashion brand, took classes on design sketching, and even got accepted into a sustainable fashion incubator. She began utilizing the breadth of business acumen she acquired at Owen to build Casa Danu once she was discharged.
About Casa Danu
Casa Danu is a slow fashion house that focuses on sustainable, eco-friendly, and localized production. Kristen localizes as much as possible in her hometown of Los Angeles, California. Additionally, localization has allowed Kristen to easily regulate the sustainability of production. Her designs are made from a Tencel-Cupro blend, an eco-friendly silk-like material, and produced in small sew shops throughout LA. Her goal is to consistently improve the sustainability of her brand and she intends to focus on a more natural dyeing method for her next line.
Casa Danu stemmed from more than a desire to support women in finding effervescence through clothes. The caftans she’s designed and the brand she’s created serve as artifacts from her personal journey. Kristen’s diagnosis opened a new chapter in her life. She discovered her creativity and her courage to build something of her own. Her biggest success has been creating a product that makes people feel bold and bright.
Casa Danu’s first line has recently closed pre-sale. Kristen is satisfied with sales and intends to launch her next line in late fall as a holiday resort wear line. For anyone who has a business idea or a passion, she said, “Just start talking to people about it, it fuels your energy and helps you to shape your product.”