Designer Interview: Alyssa Wasko of donni charm


Designer Interview: Alyssa Wasko of donni charm

After years of taking the backseat to the flashier shoe and bag, the scarf has been back in the limelight lately as the ‘it’ fashion accessory, (at times even venturing into hybrid ‘snood’ territory,) and donni charm is one of the newest brands leading the charge. Their comfortable jersey designs revamp the classic scarf by using one continuous loop of fabric in their ‘donni forever’ collection, tying ‘love knots’ in the fabric, and attaching charms to the scarf itself. After founder and designer Alyssa Wasko and her mother created their first scarves together, the idea quickly caught on and Wasko, along with friends at the University of Arizona, soon launched the first collection. donni charm is named after Alyssa’s father Donny; Wasko dedicated her designs in his honor to “remind [her] that his memory will forever be ingrained in each scarf [she] creates.” We caught up with Alyssa and she talked with us about balancing her two lives between work and school, her inspirations and fashion obsessions, and what she loves most about her job.

As a junior at the University of Arizona, how do you balance having your own business and going to school?

Balancing everything has certainly been a task but I think there is no better preparation for the real world than running your own business. Yes, sacrifices have been made, but all worth it in the end. I’ve learned so much, things that cant be taught in the classroom.

How would you describe the style of your designs?

Our current styles, the ‘donni together’  and the ‘donni forever’ are both very versatile. The ‘together’ has more of a funky feel with the dual colors and ragged edges. The “forever’  is a classic infinity-style scarf enhanced with a knot that is meant to hang on the side of the scarf. Both styles are touched with charms, added to give the scarves a fresh look, and most importantly a touch of good luck.

How does an idea go from inspiration to finished product? Can you explain a bit about your creative process?

Well considering that our first scarves were never intended to become what they have, there was never a specific creative process. I like to consider our product a happy accident. As we continue to get a positive response to our product, we are striving to develop fabulous upcoming lines. We start with charm combinations, and then we pair them with a complimentary color and fabric. The rest, as they say, is history…

Accessorizing your scarf is a unique idea- how did you come up with it?

Accessorizing the scarves with charms was practically habitual. They were the perfect addition to bring more good luck and positive energy to the scarves. A little embellishment to the scarves was the most natural way to complete the designs. The charms make our scarves a fashionable accessory, while contributing to the meaning of the scarves.

What’s it like working with your best friends(s)?

Working with my best friends and family has been the glue that holds donni charm together. Keeping those close to me involved has created such a positive atmosphere. The strong support system that is the donni charm team keeps me focused and excited about new seasons and styles.

How would you describe your style and why?

Ah, the classic question of labels or love? I choose both. I have an appreciation for the big names in the industry, but I only buy what I love. Whether it’s a classic investment piece I will have forever, or a trendy piece that will get me through 1 season from Forever21 or Zara. I am a big fan of mixing and matching the more expensive pieces with “cheaper” finds. Also, I always gravitate toward soft fabrics (similar to the fabrics used for our scarves.)I wear what I love, I wear what makes me happy.

What do you love most about your job?

Fashion and art have always been my passion. Being at the forefront of donni charm as the designer has allowed me to combine those two, practically my dream come true. Especially because it came about at such a crucial time, and has really assisted me in the grieving process. My dad is always apart of my everyday thoughts, but donni charm has given me a tangible piece of him everyday as well.

What is your latest fashion obsession?

Over-the-knee boots and ‘Pleasure Doing Business’  skirts. TOMS glitter flats. V-neck t-shirts from Target.

Who is your fashion icon and why?

Jackie O. Such timeless elegance.

What are your future plans for your brand?/How do you hope to expand your line in the future?

Our Spring 2010 line will be released in a few weeks, which is very exciting. From there, we will keep creating new designs from season to season, but we are still in the process of getting donni charm on the market. We are working to get our name out there and give our customers “a charming way to remember the people [they] love.”

How has the reception to your designs been?

The response to donni charm has been unlike anything I could have ever anticipated. It started as a scarf for my friend, and myself and has expanded from there to boutiques across the country, and even to international blogs. A level I never dreamt of. I am so thankful for all the continued support.

Click here to buy a donni charm scarf!

Keep your eyes out for donni charm scarves modeled in the next issue of The WALK!

-Iris You


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