Fresh off a speaking engagement at Miami Swim Week about fashion and social media, Danielle Garno, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, sat down with INDULGE’s Evan S. Benn for lunch at Niu Kitchen downtown. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
EB: So, fashion law?
DG: “I started at Greenberg in 2005 in the Los Angeles office, practicing employment law. And they needed people to go on these anti-counterfeiting raids. We’d go in with the cops and take the counterfeit goods. I loved it. That’s how I got into fashion, working with global brands on these anti-counterfeiting efforts.”
Did you get to wear an FBI jacket?
“No, I got to wear jeans. But it was a really cool experience. It was kind of the moment I realized I could base my work around something I’m really passionate about, which is fashion.”
Thin-sliced octopus with smoky paprika is served. Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” plays in the restaurant.
You went to University of Miami and then Pepperdine Law. What pulled you back to Miami?
“My husband and I met when I was a freshman at UM and he was a first-year law student. I was dating his friend at the time, and he was dating someone else. We lived our separate lives and then reconnected years later at a wedding where I was a bridesmaid and he was best man. Greg is a partner in a firm here, and we did the whole cross-country thing for a while. Finally I moved back to Florida. Then we had four girls — 9, 5 and 3-year-old twins. It’s bananas.”
And the firm was cool with the move?
“Totally. I transferred from Greenberg L.A. to Miami in 2007. When I first brought the fashion-law thing to management, I was looking around the office at 40 other litigators and wondering how I could make myself stand out. They said, ‘Well, don’t you have to be in New York to do fashion work?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t. I can do it in Miami. Just look at what’s happening here.’”
Main dishes: Poached eggs with potato foam and truffle, steak tartare sandwich with grainy mustard. Music: Naughty by Nature, “Hip Hop Hooray.”
What’s a work day like?
“A lot of my practice is transactional work: contract review, IP and trademarks, licensing, labeling. What I’m doing in Miami is focusing on fashion startups and emerging brands and helping them navigate away from the pitfalls that could drain their investment capital. I may start a day meeting a new client in New York and end it holding up a light at a photoshoot for a client in Miami.”
What’s your goal as Chair-Elect of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council’s Creative Design Committee?
“I’m really hoping to build momentum toward bringing in more manufacturing. We have some great brands and designers here — Naeem Khan, Oscar Carvallo, Rene Ruiz — and some great design schools. For the Beacon Council, we want to keep that talent here and attract more of it. To do that, we need to give those designers the opportunity to produce here, so we have to support more manufacturing facilities and jobs.”
What are some brands you work with?
“I get really excited about my clients. Let me see. Pitusa. Bianca Coletti. Miansai. Peixoto, an up-and-coming swimwear company. They have Little Peixoto, too, for kids. Daniela Villegas, she’s a jeweler in L.A. who does one-of-a-kind bug pieces. Shhhowercap, which is a new, luxury shower cap. It’s very chic; you can wear it as a turban to the beach or out or wherever.”
What’s the Danielle Garno signature style?
“I tend to skew more classic. That’s just being a lawyer, it’s embedded in me. But I try to be as edgy yet put-together as I can be at 42 with four kids. Sometimes I’ll show up wearing something with a chocolate handprint on it, and it’s like, Oh, that’s just great.”
Does your personal style ever play into your work?
“I mean, I’m not a designer, I’m not an artist. I work with mostly young brands that are asking me my opinion on important things, looking for my vision and my counseling. This is my way of expressing my creativity, and I love it.”