In light of women’s history month, I wanted to shed light on an amazing individual who created a platform for women to lives their best social life. Danielle Fontus is the creator of She Dares, a women’s adventure community, where she helps women step outside of their comfort zones through experiences, from happy hour to horseback riding. Let’s find out more about Dani!
Tell me about yourself
I may have also been spotted in a few adventures myself like Carnival in Trinidad and jet skiing in Tobago. I love to travel, eat, dance, play and indulge in whatever tickles my fancy.
Since graduating from Emory University in 2007, I have found a home in hospitality. I am now transitioning into the area of retreat planning while building my personal brand as an adventure influence.
Where were you 6 months after graduation?
I graduated on May 14, 2007 and started a job at a tutoring center in September thanks to a friend. It seemed like a good idea – I went to school with the intention of being a child psychologist. So the position made sense. For my first job, it was decent. I lived at home with my mom, and my loans were in deferment, so bills were minimal. In some ways, I was living my own piece of the post college dream. Yet there was a little piece inside of me that was restless and unsatisfied. I didn’t LOVE what I was doing, and I was craving more and starting to feel stifled. Come November 2007 (6 months after graduation), I was trying to figure out how to get out of my job and didn’t have a plan for what was next.
Fast forward to December 2007, I was laid off because the company downsized, which was such a serendipitous blessing for me. At the beginning of 2008 I spent 6 weeks in Trinidad that absolutely changed my life.
What prompted you to start She Dares?
During my time in Trinidad, I was so awestruck that I really wanted to share it with those who had never experienced anything like it. That year I started Her Journey travel magazine, which was an enhanced rebirth of the newsletter I used to send to my college friends to motivate us through those days when college life got real.
After doing that for a while, I wanted to CREATE these experiences instead of just writing about them. After doing a lot of these experiences alone, I realized that I wanted to find more daring women like me, I created She Dares to help form genuine connections in the best way I know how through fun and adventure. I LOVE meeting new people and finding out about them and I LOVE a good adventure. Putting those two things together, She Dares was born.
What is about She Dares that excites you?
Serendipity. I LOVE planning an adventure. I can nail down the details of where we’ll meet and what we’ll do minute by minute. Yet, the magic happens when I get to see a woman open up and do something she has never done before. Seeing the liberation light up on her face. I love seeing a connection happen and friendships blossom. Those are the things I cannot plan but happen as a result of the pieces I put together and the intentions I set for each experience..
What does my Freshman Year of Life means to you?
Freshman Year of Life means the next chapter. The opportunity to start “real life.”
I vividly remember dreading being on the other side of graduation. And I remember being on that other side feeling like “now what?” There’s so much guidance and support for every transition up until and through college. Right after, I honestly felt a little abandoned. The world felt so vast, like there was so much I didn’t know. The phrase “fish out of water” felt very real. It’s amazing to know that the possibilities are endless but it can also be overwhelming. Having no real plan, I felt a bit lost.
Yet post college felt like a new level of learning – in the School of Life! There were (and continue to be) some very hard and very real lessons. Now that I have been playing this “adulting” game for a little bit longer, I sometimes still feel a little lost or alone about something, not knowing what the next step is, but I have learned how to better navigate it. It has become more interesting to become a student of life, ever learning from each experience.
What are some events you’ve participated in with your She Dares community?
We have done things from Sex and the City trivia and karaoke to pole dancing, flying trapeze. We’ve gone horseback riding and wine tasting, been to the Bethany show, Katie Couric show and visited a monastery with a meditative hike.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I used to be really shy, like cry on the first day of school and have panic attacks before school presentations shy. Thankfully, going through college and waitressing has helped break me out of that shell. I’ll admit I still have some moments, but it is way easier for me to push myself out of it when necessary.
What is your favorite quote you live by?
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” People think I’m fearless, which is not true at all. While I do love adventure, I’m usually nervous right before, yet I just choose to do it anyway, and I believe that to be the most important part. Sometimes the tickles of fear can be exciting and when you use them as adrenaline, it makes the activity way more rewarding.
If you were to write a letter to your younger self about pursuing your dream what would you tell her?
Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way (and continue to learn):
There is no RIGHT or “perfect” answer. There is only what is right for YOU. And even that can change as you grow.
Really feel what feels best and use that a guide.
Write out your dreams and plan exactly as you wish for it to be. Then just go for it wholeheartedly without thinking TOO much, without editing and second guessing.
Be open to the fact that it may look different from the plan. AND THAT IS OKAY!
This is the time for fun and exploration, and it will lead somewhere great. It’ll be fun, if you let yourself enjoy the ride.
Serendipity is your best friend!
What’s funny is that I’m actually telling myself the same thing right now as well.