Los Angeles native Tina Tangalakis is the founder of Della, a socially responsible fashion line that provides jobs, education and skills training to the local women of Hohoe in Ghana.
Since its inception back in 2009, Della now employs over 30 full time workers.
How did the idea for Della come about?
I started my career as a wardrobe stylist, having always loved textiles & design. I went to Ghana to volunteer for a month, and while working on some custom designs with a local seamstress, the idea hit me: Ghana would be the perfect place to begin a fashion line. I would be able to design, and have the ability to work with the local textiles & employ talented women. It was the perfect situation.
You have a background in Costume design, how much role do you play the design of the Della pieces and what is involved in the design process?
That’s a good question. I love fashion history, so I believe that a lot of my designs call upon classic aesthetic & attention to detail that was very common in the past.
I’m really loving the incorporation of ‘Nyame biribi wo soro’ the Adinkra symbol for hope in the logo. Was there a reason to use that specific symbol in your branding?
Yes, definitely. I wanted our logo to link us back to Ghana. While on my first trip there I fell in love with Adinkra symbols and how their symbolism is such a part of life over there. “Nyame biribi wo soro” is special to me, because not only does it mean “hope” but it also represents “unity” which is one of the intentions behind Della.
Della seems to be more than a clothing line. The brand is very community-based both in the US and Ghana; You were recently part of Caines arcade and Coachella in the US and you are heavily involved in the Happy Kids orphanage in Ghana. What would you say the Della brand represents?
I believe that Della represents a global community and bridging of cultures. I love the fact that we are able to bridge worlds with native textiles, modern design & introduce them to mainstream causes & events in the US. It’s an amazing opportunity & a way to show that the world is smaller than we may think.
Browsing through the site I get a sense of family with the Della team. Tell us about your Team.
I love our team! And yes, I definitely see us all as a family. Many of our team members have worked with us for over two years, so we all know one another. I get exited to visit Ghana not just for Della’s sake, but because i get to spend time with all of the men & women I’ve made friends with over there. The teams in Ghana & Los Angeles communicate on a daily basis, often it doesn’t feel like we’re that far away. Two people in Ghana who are like family to me are Selorm Addotey our Head Production Manager who helped me start Della, and Rachael Curtin, our other Production Manager who lives & works out there. All three of us have faced a lot of obstacles together and it’s awesome to share in the experience & celebrate the victories together.
Were there any challenges you faced starting Della?
Absolutely, I literally built a company & opened a production facility in Hohoe from scratch. To say there were obstacles would be an understatement. But the key to success is never giving up, being creative in your problem solving & staying positive.
Does living in Los Angeles have an impact on your creativity?
Of course, I believe the LA is one of the centers for cutting edge art and fashion. I definitely believe living here and being exposed to so many people/cultures influences my creativity.
The ethical fashion market is growing at an alarming rate, but is still a niche market compared to the big retailers in malls across the US. What do you see for the future of ethical fashion?
One of my hopes is that ethical fashion will become a norm, not an exception. I think the future will be filled with more large companies listening to the consumer & introducing more ethical practices into their businesses.
Della is available through online retailers like Urban Outfitters, does the Internet play a large role in the success of Della?
Yes, absolutely. Partnerships with larger companies all us to provide steady employment for our entire team & also allows us to expand in ways that would not be possible otherwise.
So far we have seen Della in Urban Outfitters, Apple stores and most recently Modcloth. Where do you see Della in the next few years? Any new collaborations in the pipeline, any plans to take Della to other countries?
We have a lot of big dreams for Della in the next couple of years. Our main focus is to continue to grow and maintain strong relationships with our current partners, such as Urban Outfitters & ModCloth. Second, we do have new collaborations planned for 2014, which I am very excited about. So far as growth, this year we have begun to expand our work into different communities in the Volta Region & the ultimate goal is to expand into other Sub-Saharian countries, which will happen in the next few years.
Anything else that you’d like the Akatasia readers to know about Della?
Hmmm can’t think of anything right now! We’re just a fashion line with a heart & our ultimate goal is to combine modern styles with ethical business practices and to set an example for the rest of the fashion world.
Learn more about Della via the following links:
Photographs: Spring summer 2013 Collection//Della and Image of Tina Tangalakis from Dellala.com