For this edition of Creative Corner we spoke with Dani Corso, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and social marketing guru for several local organizations. Wearer of many professional hats, Dani is the founder of Volatile Media Management, Digital Marketing and Event Consultant for Jetty, and Communication Director for David’s Dream & Believe – all while organizing the the much-anticipated local arts festival The Makers Fest. With The Makers Fest just a few days away, we’re thrilled to have gotten to speak with Dani about how the festival came to be, how the LBI region has impacted her career, and her desire to make a positive change in the community.
Is your career path one you expected to take, or is marketing something you fell into and discovered you loved later?
My first “business” was a family bank that I ran out of a 3-drawer organizer in my bedroom, so I like to believe that my entrepreneurial drive is an innate characteristic. While I was pursuing my college degrees, I utilized social to promote for independent musicians through my first official endeavor Abstrakt Productions, and fell in love with the unlimited possibilities of it as a new tool. Social media as a non-traditional means of marketing is one of my passions – I love making new connections and fostering valuable relationships through social platforms.
You’re involved with several nonprofits in our area, what inspired you to take an interest in philanthropy?
I was always inclined to participate in groups & organizations that made a positive difference in the community, but a quote often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson inspired me to make a dedicated effort towards this type of impact. Working alongside the people behind David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and the Jetty Rock Foundation is daily motivation to hold true this decision.
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Photo: Leanna Theresa
How has the Long Beach Island community influenced your career?
The LBI Region is unique in its magnetism – once you are pulled in, you find a way to stay as close to its embrace as possible, which has resulted in a community full of passion. Those that have worked towards leadership positions, or have found themselves thereby strange twists of fate, are a constant source of inspiration. It’s hard not to strive towards being the best version of yourself when you are surrounded by individuals who are living the life that they love & supporting themselves by doing so.
How did Makers Fest come to be?
Makers is the lovechild of my MakeShift Union partners Erin Buterick and Jeannine Errico. During their tenure as School of Vintage, they realized they had an extremely talented group of friends & considered having a block party to highlight their talents. Some time after in May of 2014, they shared their big idea of a juried arts festival with their social following & the response was tremendous. In November, our friendship forged by my sister’s purchase of a beautiful vintage wedding dress evolved into the beginning of a business relationship as they became more familiar with Volatile’s mission and we officially began curating a festival with the help of Brie Fagan of The Wandering Gypsea, Jessie Temple of Bunkerfish Design and Dawn Simon of Swing Graphics. Dana Zeck was the first Maker to invest her trust in us, and every single Maker since has reinforced its existence.
Photo: Paul Buterick
How did you first get involved with Jetty?
I’ve known Jeremy DeFilippis and Cory Higgins since our days bartending in Beach Haven. When Cory shared the first mockup of the “Unite + Rebuild” t-shirt on his now defunct Facebook account, I immediately sent him a text asking how I could help. The next day, I was helping at the old warehouse in Little Egg Harbor, fulfilling orders, shipping packages and occasionally trying my hand at screenprinting. When the last of the thousands of orders left the premises, the boys offered me a more permanent, yet not defined, position with the crew which has since developed in Marketing & Event Consultant through Volatile.
Photo: Ryan Johnson
How do you motivate your teams at each of your jobs to think creatively?
The creative dynamic is most successful when it evolves organically. When working with teams through Jetty, Volatile, MakeShift & DDBCF, an open forum for discussion is our modus operandi – we share ideas, drink lots of coffee, open ourselves up to constructive criticism. Luckily we all truly appreciate & value each other, and these meetings of the minds are some of my favorite hours spent.
One of your many skill sets is in event planning – if you had an unlimited budget, what would be your ideal star-studded event to plan?
I can’t even fathom an unlimited budget! We take such care in creating monstrous events within financial constraints that thinking of stacks of cash makes me slightly anxious. However, if I was given said cash, I would, without a doubt, hold a massive, all-inclusive party of the movers, shakers & changemakers in our community. The philanthropists, the volunteers, the charitable businesses that are the heart of this place are the stars, and deserve to be celebrated. It would be so good to make this happen…
What is your personal mantra?
Make the choice. Make yourself.
If someone made a movie about your life, what should the title be?
I had to enlist the help of my sisters for this one. They suggested “Movers & Shakers” since its one of Volatile’s regular hashtags, and I think it works. The story of my life can really only be told in the context of the amazing people who help to give it meaning.
If you could have any talent in the world, what would it be and why?
I would love to have even a fraction of artistic talent possessed by our Makers, including our Creative Team. The caliber of work that our lineup has is unbelievable. I’m glad you didn’t ask about superpowers – there’s a few that I would have a hard time choosing between.
What would be your ideal way to spend a week completely disconnected from work?
I would love to set up a killer campsite on Assateague Island with Kyle, my sisters & their husbands. Waking up on the beach, taking in the local scenery, eating fresh caught seafood & sitting around a fire under the stars is super tempting after an intense summer.
What piece of advice has followed you throughout your career?
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint a piece of advice that has followed me through all the twists and turns. However if we’re thinking of career as the full journey – school, life, employment changes, influential relationships – I would say that “advice” is personified in my sixth grade teacher Mr. James DiGiulio. His presence in my life has been a guiding light since I was eleven years old, and I am so grateful for his existence. My parents also allowed me to make my own decisions from a very young age, which was empowering – I knew that my future was my own to design.
What’s coming up next for you?
The Makers Fest!
Photo by Diana Van Horn
Featured Image: Jesse Tomasello
To see Dani and the rest of the MakeShift Union in action, be sure to check out The Makers Fest on Saturday, September 17 from 10am to 6pm at Manahawkin Lake Park. For more information, please visit themakersfest.com. We’ll see you there!