When I first sat down with Danni Baird, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Many of us have seen her somewhere. We’re either one of her 90,000+ Instagram followers, or one of the millions who’ve watched her rubbing elbows with Charleston’s entertaining elite on Bravo’s Southern Charm.
I ran into Danni at an art event in Freshfields Village a couple of weeks ago. I saw her art before I recognized her face. I was drawn in by the explosions of color that reminded me of a confused sky, like how it gets when it can’t decide if it’s daylight or dusk…sunny or rainy…when it is often the most gorgeous. Then I saw smiling, Danni, so proud and humble, telling a prospect about her inspiration for the piece. And regardless of what she says about herself, I saw no resting bitch face…just a girl who seemed truly happy when standing next to her creation. We got to chatting, and after a few minutes, I realized I was talking to someone with an incredibly real passion for what they were doing; my favorite kind of woman to spend a little laptop time on. I had to find out more about Miss Danni Baird.
When we sat down at King Street Grille, Danni rushed in, worried about being no more than 5 minutes late. She was wearing jeans, boots, and a simple top. Her hair was thrown up rather whimsically, and she was still sporting paint smeared on her right hand. Though she can’t help but carry a certain refinement, to my delight she didn’t reek of caviar or newly minted hundreds like a lot of the Southern Charmers are often stereo-typed as. No, I met a down-to-earth girl who had a sense of loyalty about her. I use the word loyalty because of how she spoke of her friends, her city, her family, and her artistic medium. The more I got to know her, and listen to her introspective journey, the more I realized, this girl is always on a quest to be true to herself and her surroundings. Authenticity is what she is actually striving for, and this makes her easy to know. She’s on a sojourn we could all stand to go on, one that’s about loving herself, her atmosphere, and the things she spends her time doing.
When researching her I found other stories that want to harp on the sensationalism around her. They love that she supports Southern Charm’s “villain,” Kathryn (for the record, I happen to like Kathryn), that she called off her wedding two weeks prior to game day, or that she abruptly left her high-powered job for seemingly no reason. That’s what makes people gasp and roll their eyes while they gossip over fruity cocktails…anything the media can make sound ugly. However, what I see from all of that is a woman who stands by a friend, regardless of skepticism from outsiders, a person who made the toughest decision of her life in an effort to do the right thing, and an artist who said no to a safe job because something bigger pulled at her from the inside. I met a woman who didn’t have a bad word to say about her exes (not even the infamous Shep), a woman who uses art to stir up positive energy, and a woman who finds something beautiful in things that have come unraveled. I see someone who is willing to take a risk in the name of remaining true to herself…maybe the most loyal thing of all.
As Danni gushed about her love of painting, and exploring the external world, she also showed concern. Though the canvas can take her to places outside of the captivity that is sometimes her own circumstance, or emotional place, it isn’t a free therapist. She had to make major sacrifices on her route to liberation. She had to abandon the things we are all taught are the “smart” things, or “secure” things to do in life.
She raises her eyebrows and says “I go through moments where I’m like, oh my God, I don’t get health insurance. I pay Uncle Sam out of my pocket now…but, yeah, it’s worth it.”
How many of us out there have a dream that we keep on a shelf at home? You know the one I’m talking about…the one that you love, that calls to you all the time, but that you keep locked up because it doesn’t come with a 401k or good dental plan. I’d say three-quarters of us have some outlandish goal like that, which is why I wrote about Danni. She is the girl who quit the corporate job over a team of people who came with all the bells and whistles for the thing she really wanted to be. She is the girl who chose a blank canvas over a salary, and hasn’t turned back. She is the girl who came back to the city she loved, who followed that small voice speaking from the bowls of the ship, and did what made her feel alive again. She’s a trigger puller. That’s the thing that makes her such a writable woman. It isn’t her clout, or undeniable talent…it’s that she acted on something. She made a move. Sometimes that’s all any of us need to do…just take that first small step. Danni leaves us with this, “Sometimes it’s just about taking the risk.” So if you’re reading this today from behind a desk you don’t want to be at, a room you don’t want to be in, or clothes you don’t want to wear another day…take your risk. Work at it. Your happiness might be on the other side of that long bridge you’ve been too afraid to cross. Also, on your way…probably somehwere right in the middle with no land in sight, you’ll meet someone inside of yourself you didn’t know before…and you’re going to love her.~
by Lorna Hollifield
For more about Danni follow her on twitter and instagram! She does custom work too!