I’m a native of Los Angeles and have spent the better part of my life following two passions: design and humanitarian work. In 2009 I founded Della, a fashion accessory line handmade by women in West Africa.
As a teenager I had the dream of becoming a famous costume designer. Naturally, in my head, this dream culminated with me elegantly accepting an Oscar for Best Costume Design. By the age of 20, I was fortunate enough to begin working towards this dream. I worked in the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures on films, television shows and commercials. This time in my life was exhilarating, but through it all I felt like something was missing.
After 3 years of designer clothes, corsets and space-age outfits, I made the decision to stop. Yes, this had been my dream, but I wanted more. I began volunteering on a weekly basis and worked independently as a jewelry designer.
In 2009 I made the decision to sign up with a volunteer-tourism group and traveled to Ghana. Even before I arrived, I knew that something special was about to begin. I just had no idea what it was. Once in Ghana, I was blown away. The landscapes, the hospitality, the smiling faces, everything was so beautiful and full of life.
Having an eye for design, I quickly noticed the exotic fabrics being sold on the side of the road. I became obsessed. My brain couldn’t stop thinking of all the designs I could create with these textiles. My first project was to design a handbag that I could bring home as a gift for my close friends.
I commissioned Beatrice, a local seamstress, to create my design. Once complete, I was taken aback by how fashionable it was. I began to think of how easily it would sell in Los Angeles, and how, if I began a business out of Ghana, it would provide work to dozens of women. This idea hit me like an epiphany, and Della was born. Immediately I went to the local market, bought over 50 yards of fabric and set up shop with Beatrice.
Once I returned to Los Angeles I began publicizing my new business. Within 2 weeks I called Beatrice with an order for 100 more bags! The rest…you might say…is history. The past year has been a wild ride, I have self-taught myself the ins and outs of the business, flown back and forth to Ghana three times and expanded our employment to twelve women in the village of Hohoe. We have also introduced a skills-training and educational program to our staff, which I hope to expand to the entire village within the year.
In Los Angeles, I am supported by an amazing team of interns who work tireless to bring the message of socially responsible products to the forefront of the retail market. We have formed partnerships with Bloomingdale’s and Fred Segal, being sold exclusively at Zero Minus Plus at their famous Santa Monica store. This year Della works to spread our message and build more partnerships with businesses around the nation.
Please visit www.DellaLA.com for more information or to find out how you can get involved.