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Mary Daniels’ Journey From Adversity To Purposeful Creation

Feb 20, 2024 | Interviews | 0 comments


A Look into the CEO and Founder of ChokeHer Skins, Mary Daniels

In a world where every creation tells a story, Mary Daniels, CEO and Founder of ChokeHer Skins, has a narrative that transcends the boundaries of fashion. Having faced the challenges of lupus and early retirement, Mary’s journey is not just about leather art; it’s a testament to resilience, inner beauty, and the unbreakable spirit of sisterhood.

Who We Are

ChokeHer Skins is a unique leather design experience. All my ChokeHERs are made using leather and faux skins. My journey is very personal and my creativity is expressed with each of my ChokeHERs. My HipHER and ChestHERs, ShirtHERs are also part of my one of a kind handmade leather design creations.

A Vision Born Out Of Adversity

In 2015, Mary Daniels was diagnosed with lupus, leading to early retirement. Undeterred by adversity, she turned this chapter of her life into an opportunity to create something meaningful. ChokeHer Skins emerged as a brand with a purpose – to promote the idea that inner beauty can prevail, even in the face of emotional and mental challenges.

Holding Up Dignity Through Chokers

For Mary, the neck became the focal point of her designs, symbolizing the strength to uphold dignity. As a female CEO, she believes that the chokers she designs have the power to brighten anyone’s wardrobe, contributing not just to fashion but to a sense of self and empowerment.

A Tapestry Of Creativity

Mary’s creative journey began at age five, inspired by her mother, who recognized her artistic flair and enrolled her in sewing classes. Reflecting on her influences, Mary finds inspiration in everyone she encounters, learning and growing from the diverse voices and experiences that shape her creativity daily.

Sisterhood And Empowerment

Mary’s commitment to women supporting and empowering each other is deeply rooted. She emphasizes the importance of an unbreakable sisterhood and encourages women to be “#ThatGirl.” Her core values align with the celebration and elevation of each other through shared voices, crafts, skill sets, wisdom, and, most importantly, agape love.

Mary Daniels’ story is more than a journey in fashion; it’s a celebration of resilience, creativity, and the transformative power of embracing one’s inner beauty.

Interview Questions for Mary Daniels’:

Q. How has your journey with lupus influenced the creative direction of ChokeHer Skins?

Mary: Lupus has an unpredictable appearance. Therefore trying to foresee any flares or flaws due to my condition can be challenging. Part of my reason for creating all my handcrafted designs with straps (excluding my cuffs) would allow an easy attachment of my pieces even if one’s hands were tender from inflammation. Sometimes trying to open or close an accessory such as a necklace can be a challenge and even painful because of the size of the clip and having to maneuver its closure. Also my strap system allows each of my clients to adjust my leather accessories for sizing and comfort. Lupus is a condition that feeds off of undue stress so creatively my ChokeHerSkins brand is managed with thoughtful time frames and scheduling which allows me to rest when necessary and not take on the demand of custom pieces which can become time consuming and creatively restrictive. Sticking to my plan is important as I navigate along my journey.

Q. Can you share a specific instance where the symbolism of the neck in your designs resonated with someone on a personal level?

Mary: Oh yes certainly on many occasions. The neck symbolizes a brace, or solid pillar, the form that holds up the crown of beauty and individuality. It holds up the head that stores the core of our natural senses. This is how we’re able to perceive our feelings and what we see in the mirror. Without the neck we can’t hold our heads up. The neck carries the very part of our body that shows our daily emotions whether we’re feeling sad , detached, blah or whatever; so I say let’s wrap something beautiful around it and change the mood. For example I’ve had women reach out to me and ask for a piece from one of my collections. Unknowingly to me this person is having a difficult time in their life. Few days later I got a text from someone saying how they felt after wrapping my unique leather ChokeHer around her neck. It was said that the experience was totally unpredictable but surprisingly satisfying with a smile and photo attached. This is what ChokeHerSkins is doing for so many people on a personal level. It’s truly heartwarming to know I’m making leather jewelry art that changes people’s perception of beauty and uniqueness.

Q. In what ways do you believe your designs contribute to promoting inner beauty and confidence?

Mary: One of my favorite subjects to highlight is the beauty that my leather art contributes towards feeling good and confident in oneself. Some feel that beauty defines happiness and success. Far from the truth! We’re familiar with the saying that beauty is only skin deep. Well the skin is very thick and cutting through all the layers isn’t an easy task even for a literal surgeon. In order to reach the inner area where the answers are found the right tools must be acquired. My vision when creating is to design something different that moves the soul, push buttons and wake up confidence. Outer beauty is a wonderful gift but in everyone’s eyes it isn’t the same. When you’re confident within it shows outwardly. Even when you’re in doubt about putting on one of my ChokeHers, maybe for the first time I truly believe your confidence in seeing something unique and just for you will boost the power of what beauty really means to each individual. I want my leather jewelry to wrap perfectly around the neck (ChokeHer) chest (ChestHer)and waist(HipHer) and change the mood vibe energy for the day! I When you look and feel good it’s a good source of energy.

Q. Tell us about the significance of the neck as a canvas and why it became the focal point of your creations.

Mary: Necklaces are my favorite accessory. The necklace is the focal point of a person. When looking at someone my eye immediately goes to their adorned neck. So I knew I wanted to create art for the neck area first. When I would shop for jewelry I always looked for unique pieces. So usually when shopping the vintage store is my first selection of the day . Jewelry pieces like broaches and good quality links from purses or accessories provide extra touches and details on my collections. Being unique for me meant finding something that I felt no one else deemed worthy or pretty. My goal was to create a conversation piece that would capture the eye and cause inquiries about its existence. I love working with leather. The smell and texture are exciting to me. Directing the flow of the skin and wrapping it around my mannequin knowing it’s evolving into a one of a kind handcrafted piece that embraces the neck is satisfying. Sometimes I start off in one direction and the skin directs my vision into a new design. Starting at the neck is always the guide for creating the extension of my ChestHer and HipHers. My ChokeHers are my first creative love.

Q. How do you envision ChokeHer Skins positively impacting individuals facing emotional and mental challenges?

Mary: The message that my brand conveys is positivity. My craft only enhances a person’s individuality. I know how it feels to be or go through emotional and mental challenges not just living with a chronic lung disease and Lupus but daily life. Living in times that are full of ups and downs and turnarounds can cause distress, sadness and doubts about how we feel about ourselves. I get to talk to my clients beyond the purchase of my brand. Taking a personal interest shows that I care about human feelings. Of course once I hear about the energy that’s expressed after wearing one of my pieces it turns these challenges into conquers!

Q. Could you elaborate on your mother’s role in nurturing your creativity and guiding you towards sewing at a young age?

Mary: Dear Mom was so nurturing with all her children. She always took a personal interest in what we were taking an interest in at home. I was the one who took an interest in what she was learning for her own enjoyment. While she was enhancing her knowledge in sewing and creating it peaked my natural instincts to learn as well. She tapped into my interest and allowed me to join her during Singer sewing classes. During my school years she made sure my classes and teachers were satisfactory in my sewing courses. Fashion shows and events were always welcomed by my moms time and financial support . This built my confidence to continue sewing and learning a craft that would allow me to start designing and creating handcrafted items from various fabrics. Eventually I learned to create visually and independently as a designer. My mom continues to encourage my Art and commend my accomplishments as a Leather jewelry designer today.

Q. Why do you think women must support and empower each other, and how does ChokeHer Skins contribute to this mission?

Mary: My question is always why not? What will I lose or will deplete my business as a woman if I support someone doing the same thing I’m doing but on a different platform? Personally I’ve never been competitive or uncomfortable around other women. The business world can cause someone to jump ship! We forget that no matter how well we’re doing business wise it’s always someone on the other side of the room. ChokeHerSkins was initially started for women empowerment and to support our natural womanhood. It’s a simple process to say something positive to our fellow sisters in business. I like to comment on the talent, art and skills that are inspiring even if it’s not my subject it still should be respected. A bragger who boasts alone will never be heard ; but when we praise one another together it’s an uproar of celebration. Let’s celebrate our sisters in the business world. We all win!

Q. As a CEO who strongly emphasizes sisterhood, what advice do you have for women looking to build genuine connections and lift each other up in their respective fields?

Mary: Good question. We all need personal advice periodically if not we can Google ourselves to death Lol. I know I’m very knowledgeable about my craft I’ve learned from my studies, experience and mistakes. Yet connecting with other CEOs and organizations I’ve learned so much about unity and purpose. ThatGirl ,Natasha Lee is an organization that I’ve connected with and I haven’t regretted my decision to open my weaknesses, concerns or times of doubt in discussion. I feel encouraged, empowered and confident that my purpose and vision is moving forward with a mighty force. We need to connect with one another without competitiveness or feeling that we are compromising our purpose to be successful in business. I try not to ever be critical or critique someone else’s vision or art. That’s the unique quality that we all exhibit just like our genetic DNA. An unexpected text or Dm just to say keep going SiS is an interchange of encouragement and emotion. Finally reposting and giving a share on our social media platforms are also a great way to show support and lift one another up as we pursue our respective fields of business. My brand ChokeHerSkins fully encourages genuinely supporting all businesses, especially my Sisters in Business !

Connect With Mary Daniels And Explore Her Creations:

Website: chokeherskins
Instagram: @chokeherskins

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