Dana Roski and Joyce Binneboese, co-founders of Berlin concept store turned into e-commerce site, WALD, have become go-to girls for fashion and travel advice. They can be found anywhere, spread across continents from Africa to America, travelling in style, picking up little treasures later stocked on their site.
The seven-year age gap between the two means nothing to them, because they’re so in-sync. You could call them soul sisters, and perhaps in a previous life were sat shucking oysters, living their best lives shore-side (like Ariel when she had legs). Allow us The Little Mermaid reference, because what Dana and Joyce have in common is a love of the sea, building a collection of opalescent clam and puka-shell jewellery, embellished with Swarovski crystals.
It’s a covetable line of Insta-friendly accessories that has seen them accumulate a number of influencer fans: Aimee Song, Camille Charriere and Chiara Ferragni.
ELLE UK spoke on the phone to hear what the cool Berliners have to say about discovering new talent, local hotspots and future projects.
Tell us about how you met. Where were you, what were you doing?
Joyce Binneboese: We met when I was modelling. I was in school and Dana’s friend told me that she was looking for an intern at her celebrity styling agency — and here we are.
Dana Roski: That was a while ago – almost ten years now. We are actually more like family [than friends now]; partners who make decisions for each other. Sometimes not being too close is healthy for a work relationship because you just need an honest argument.
Joyce: Yeah, Dana is not only a friend, but an inspiration for me. It’s nice to have someone to conquer the world with. We just want to build a small universe together and make products that we can be proud of.
What made you decide to work together? Was there a particular moment when you decided, ‘we should do this?’
Dana: Joyce has such a powerful heart, and we don’t come from wealthy backgrounds, so we were hustling. We started working together every Saturday, doing personal styling in this small shop, and then we had the chance to take it over. We had the shop for five years and we were buying lots of brands.
How did the concept of WALD come together?
Dana: WALD Berlin was already a small concept boutique. It was open for six years in the centre of Berlin. It was about introducing new design talent to Germany — Saks Potts, Sandy Liang and Petar Petrov. We had a two-year hiatus, where we decided come back with a jewellery collection showcased during Berlin Fashion Week in January.
Joyce: We needed to make it more edgy. As I’ve gotten older it’s become more minimalistic. We wanted to have brands from as far away as possible. We picked the best stuff from Paris, Finland, Australia and New York — and that was the shift.
What about the name WALD - does it mean anything?
Joyce: WALD means forest in German. If you go into a big concept or department store, it is super stressful. We did a lot of private shopping appointments in the store and I wanted to de-stress our customer. I would bring them the best tea and cake, ask if she was vegan; I treated her like an Hermès customer. I already knew what she wanted next season. We’d already started buying for her. Spending money on clothes is a big decision and if I want to do it, I want to feel good.
Tell us about the store and the vibe — what kinds of things would we find there?
Dana: We were always very brave — maybe because we took over the store and weren’t the founders from the very beginning. We had nothing to lose and redeveloped our concept constantly. When we wanted the store to be pink, we just painted the walls. When we fell in love with an expensive brand from New York, previously unknown to the German market, we just ordered it. We enjoyed cooking dinners in the store for over 50 people. We were quite ahead of our time, concept-wise, I think.
You describe yourselves as discoverers of new talent. How do you find the brands you stock at WALD? And what makes you want to stock them?
Joyce: First rule is that we try everything on.
Dana: Fashion is actually a lot about storytelling. It’s not just about a beautiful skirt. All of us have 20 or more beautiful skirts already, and no one needs another one. But we need to dream – constantly move on and develop our style, that’s actually how we find new talents: listening to their stories first and asking if we want to be that kind of girl.
You stock designers from all over the world, what are your favourite cities, and which cities have surprised you?
Dana: I think we both share a love for New York, because our first buying business trip together was there. In New York everything is possible. I love Rio de Janeiro too — the sound of music there, the ocean, the language.
Joyce: I love Carmel Beach, which is a super small village in California. It is super artistic and has three thousand inhabitants. My sister used to live there with my father’s family.
You reference the sea often. What is it about the sea and shells that you love so much?
Dana: During our two-year break, we often travelled to the sea. It’s connected to freedom, that’s why shells mean so much to us.
Joyce: My favourite beach is actually in Greece on a small island called Lakota. Don’t write that down because everyone will go! (Ed note: Sorry!). Okay, I’ll share my secret tips with you and the readers. I like the south of Germany. It’s not fancy or anything, but it’s beautiful. I have images with my mum there wearing the same swimsuits we wear now: striped blue and white. It relates to childhood memory, playing in the ocean and running around sometimes collecting shells half-naked.