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DANIELA STOLFI-TOW

Owner, BOSS Hawaii LLC

Success:

Contracted by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center as a marketing instructor

Daniela “Dani” Stolfi-Tow is a veteran digital media specialist based on the windward side of Oahu. She formed her company BOSS Hawaii LLC in 2009 and began building websites for clients. As social media began to take off, Dani found additional opportunities to incorporate new media services into her business and has since managed the online presence of over 250 nonprofit organizations, businesses, government officials, and public figures. She’s also the creator of 808 Viral, which features content from Hawaii digital creators and influencers.

“I have the responsibility of helping people with everything that happens online,” Dani explained of her work. “I, personally, was using social media. I was a photojournalism major and technical communications minor, and I was doing photo and video since college. When social media came around, an opportunity came around to post all the stuff that I love to do. I communicated better online than in person. I had social anxiety and understood that people communicated differently. This resonated with others, and I just kept creating content that kept going viral.”

Dani has used her personal social media accounts, including her YouTube channel with over 100,000 subscribers, to highlight causes that are important to her, particularly her work with animal rescue and community-building.

One of Dani’s most notable projects was working with her fellow windward Oahu residents to help a local homeless veteran. John Cruise, known as “Mango Man,” was a fixture in the Kailua and Kaneohe communities. In 2015, he had an infection that required the amputation of one of his legs. While he was in the hospital, Dani and others came to his aid, raising $25,000 through a GoFundMe which—combined with his VA benefits—have kept him off the streets and allowed him to stay in his own apartment with a caregiver in the town that he grew up in.

With BOSS Hawaii LLC, Dani knows there are many individuals and companies operating within the digital media landscape and that it’s her years of experience and platform that set her apart from others. “You have to have been using social media for a long time to have a deep understanding because it has lots of components,” she said. “I not only make content but can actually get it out for the client too. I can reach 2 million people in less than half a day, so I can amplify their content organically on my own platform rather than have them pay for ads and influencers.”

Not only is the digital world incredibly fast-paced and ever-changing, it’s also male-dominated. “I used to feel like I wasn’t taken very seriously,” Dani recalled. “I had to prove myself a lot more than others did. I didn’t see a lot of women there. I had to figure these things out for myself and work it out on my own.”

Beyond the challenges of being a woman small business owner, Dani is quick to acknowledge the many positives of her work. “Social media has given me an option to give back in ways I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own,” she said. “We’ve raised hundreds of thousands for charities, helped passed important legislation, brought awareness to important community issues, and helped find missing children.”

Dani continues to use her knowledge and expertise to uplift others by instructing participants of the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center’s Small Business Marketing Bootcamp and the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership’s Open for Business program. She helps clients by learning where they are and helping them focus on what they need to work on. “The digital landscape has gotten so overwhelming,” she admits. “They know they need to be on social, but cannot afford to hire people to do it for them.” These challenges are remedied by Dani’s approach, which involves auditing each client’s digital presence, providing a list of small business must-haves, and giving tips on saving time and money on content creation—all of which help small business owners simplify complex and overwhelming necessities, making social media more digestible and manageable.

“There’s something really satisfying about helping these businesses,” Dani shared. “You see them making changes and you know it’s benefitting them. Two of the businesses I worked with went viral. One video hit half a million views in two days. In a climate where people are really struggling, we’re helping them make money and that’s so amazing.”

Dani also plans to enroll in the Center’s Business Certification Training and has several projects she wants to focus on, including merchandising and her own platform to build herself up. She plans to continue teaching on the side and travel.

To fellow women entrepreneurs and small business owners, Dani offers the following advice: “Collaboration is key in this time—working together and supporting other people. It takes giant leaps of faith and it’s very easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. When you start collaborating and networking with others like you, you find others feel the same way and you’re not alone in it, then you keep going. Look at each other’s businesses and see how you might be able to work together. Find people who will climb a ladder and help you up; not pull it up after them.”