On your next trip to a department store, take a stroll through the dinnerware section and you will see plates, glasses and silverware from some of the world’s most notable designers. Alongside, you will find the dinnerware collection of Darbie Angell - a rising star in the design industry and an entrepreneur whose fire for design was kindled at ACU.
Angell’s Cru Dinnerware collection can be found at national stores including Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dillard’s. She developed a love for entertaining as a child, but she learned the skills to create through ACU’s interior design program.
“Growing up, we would throw big parties for those in our community,” she said. “My mom taught us how to set a table to impress, and I think I missed seeing others wanting to keep that alive.”
Angell’s career as a dinnerware designer began while she was working at a large law firm in Austin. She was expecting her first child and was put on bed rest. During her time off, the inspiration for her dinnerware was born – along with a beautiful baby girl.
“I was 20 weeks pregnant with my little girl and working for Jackson Walker, a large law firm in Austin, and went into labor,” Angell said. “I was put on bed rest, and I truly think it was God giving me the chance to do what I was passionate about. I wanted to give my daughter something she would be proud of and be able to have her travel and learn so much about different cultures and business.”
A family affair
Angell was able to start her business with little startup cost due in part to the support of her family. Her husband, mom, dad, brother and sister all help with the business.
“I don’t look at things as they are happening. I lookat what I want them to be and what I see them as becoming. I think if I had stressed on the hurdles that would have to be crossed, perhaps I would never have started. If I have a dream I don’t
question it, I just do it,” Angell said.
Angell’s company offers numerous styles and designs. However, her dinnerware does far more than offer a unique place setting – her products help those in need. The sales of some of her products support orphanages in South America, and her plates are made at a factory in Bangladesh that feeds its employees three meals daily. The story of a 14-year-old leukemia victim prompted Angell to design a collection named after the victim and donate a portion of the sales to pediatric cancer research.
Design for a cause
“My brother Aaron and I met a lady who lost her daughter to leukemia at the age of 14. I cannot tell you how much Madison Arnold touched my life, and I never even knew her,” Angell said. “I wanted to help Madison’s mother spread the word about leukemia and try to help find a cure. So I designed Madison’s April in NY. We just teamed up with St. Jude, which we will donate part of the proceeds to Pediatric Cancer research.”
Like any successful entrepreneur, Angell hopes to see her company grow. Along the way, she intends to continue to be a light and help those in need. Angell believes her time at ACU helped shape her into the entrepreneur and person she is today.
“I think ACU gave me something that is not in a class: strength that is needed to make it over obstacles that look impassable, the drive to make a difference in the world and, most importantly, amazing Christian friends who support me and also keep me in line,” she said.
Angell is thinking outside the box again, designing a line of shoes to market, with profits dedicated to help bring electricity to third-world countries.
“When I went to Bangladesh, I noticed that when it got dark there weren’t street lights that turned on at dusk. It was the darkest dark that I have ever seen,” Angell said. “We hope to bring solar power to underdeveloped countries so that the residents can have a more comfortable life.”
The new line will focus on “very luxe designer shoes,” said Angell. She hopes to launch it by year’s end.
Angell has returned to ACU and served as a guest lecturer in several classes. Her message for young entrepreneurs is simple.
“I would say go for your dreams. Jump and don’t think about the ‘what ifs’ and ‘I can’ts.’ You must look deep within and honestly see what you are good at and what your passion is and combine those. If you are true to your passion you can go far.”
Angell’s collections can be viewed on her website cru-intl.com/