• Featured Brands: Della

    Meet the LA line whose perfect prints — and inspiring mission statement — are fueling our latest design crush. Della was started by Tina Tangalakis, a former wardrobe stylist who was looking to mix her design sensibility with a heart for giving back. "I decided to take some time off and choose to volunteer for a month in Ghana," Tina explains. "While there I fell in love with the textiles and the people I met. I worked closely with a local seamstress to design a bag that I wanted to bring back...and as soon as I saw the finished product, the idea hit me to produce a clothing line there, combining the beautiful textiles and working with the local seamstresses in the community. It was the perfect fit."
    Photos by Angi Welsch

    How did you connect with the women in Ghana who you are working with — can you share more about the community there and how you work together?
    The first few years were a process. At first we began working with independent co-ops of seamstresses, but after a while we realized that things such as quality control, meeting deadlines, and even monitoring how much the employees were making wasn't happening. Our solution to this was to open our own factory where we train our team, made sure they were getting fair wages, and offer them educational opportunities such as literacy courses and money management training. We've been set up like this for four years now and it's a huge success. Most of our team has worked with us for several years, and it's very rewarding to see how this makes a direct impact on the lives of their children and community.

    Where did the name "Della" originate?
    Della is the name of the van driver that picked me up from the airport when I landed in Ghana. He was the first person I met in Ghana and he embodied everything that I wanted the company to portray, so kind and warm hearted. I wanted his essence to reflect in our company. 

    Can you walk us through your design process? 
    This is a very fun and interesting process. I try very hard to combine the native textiles of Ghana with modern trends. Both our clothing and the fabrics we use are made in Ghana.  
    To start, I research upcoming fashion trends, put together a mood board, and then source local textiles in Ghana according to what the U.S. market is looking for. Something I enjoy doing is working with the batik (fabric) makers and combining their traditional techniques with my ideas. The process is very collaborative and extremely rewarding.   

    As for the design of the silhouettes, my background is in costume design and I am very much drawn to classic, feminine curves of the mid-century. I often look to the past for inspiration and then work with a pattern maker in Los Angeles to finalize our designs.  

    What are some of the garments UO will be carrying that you’re most excited about — can you share any backstories behind particular pieces?
    This is a hard question! I truly love all of the designs  — one of our biggest hits is our Ballerina Dress.  This is a fun piece because from the front of it has a classic, ballerina-like style, yet the backside is open and very flirty with a tie-back design. 

    Something very unique about our styles is that they are not only made in Ghana, but the fabrics are all hand-dyed by our team by a batik process that has been passed down through generations. Every Della item is literally a unique piece of art that connects the buyer with traditional artisans.

    What are some of the biggest challenges that come with running the brand? 
    I think the biggest challenge is being a hands-on owner of a business that spans so many zones. For the first three years I used to joke that I didn’t sleep. Thankfully, things have changed, but it still is a challenge. The team in Ghana tends to wake up right when I’m going to bed, so often I need to stay awake long enough to give them proper feedback for their workday. We have a great team of managers in Ghana who are in constant communication with me, so things like the Internet and text messaging makes communication more efficient. The best part is seeing the business actually work, hearing success stories from our team in Ghana, and making partnership with brands.

    Where do you see the brand going in another 5-10 years? 
    Ultimately, in five years I hope that Della will be recognized as a well-known fashion line that bridges ethical fashion practices with modern designs. As for right now, the sky is the limit: One of the most exciting things on the horizon is that we are finally going to release a men's collection, which will be available exclusively at UO this summer.

    Shop Della