Meet the brand making sure you remain comfortable in the chaos: Alyssa Wasko, Los-Angeles based designer and founder of DONNI. She has been an integral part of the industry for as long as it’s been cool.
DONNI is an important line of essentials, meant to be worn everyday. Alyssa started making scarves in 2009 out of her college dorm room to cope with the death of her dad. The line of scarves has since expanded to include ready-to-wear, jewelry, hair accessories and handbags. The best part? DONNI is completely made in Los Angeles by local women-owned factories.
Every season, DONNI partners with a different charity by donating a portion of sales. Selected charities support causes close to Alyssa and the DONNI team’s hearts, including the Downtown Women’s Center, Star Girl, Freedom Service Dogs of America and the Adoption Exchange. For Spring/Summer 2020, DONNI has partnered with The Bail Project, a non-profit organization that works to prevent incarceration and combat racial and economic disparities in the bail system. Alyssa is also heavily involved with an art therapy outreach center in New York.
COOLS caught up with Alyssa to pick her brain about what it’s like to be her and run a brand that changes the way we feel about comfort and style.
Talk to us a little bit about how you got started with your brand…
It was truly an accident. I was in college and had just lost my father and turned to creativity as a coping mechanism (as per usual). Made a couple of scarves and attached an angel wing charm to them and gave them to my friends. As we started wearing them, more people wanted them. It slowly evolved and I named the brand after my dad, Donald. This was 10 years ago.
What’s your background and how does that play a role in what you do?
Since I was young, I interned and worked in all different sectors of the fashion industry, all of which played a role in running DONNI. I worked for Chanel in New York for 6 years and I believe that experience in a corporate luxury environment taught me so much–both what to do and what not to do.
What does a day of work look like for you?
Right now it’s a little different, but here is a typical WFH day right now:
6:30am– Wake up. Hot water with lemon, sit by the fire if it’s chilly out and catch up on emails.
7:00am- Take my dog Olive for a long walk
8:15am- Shower and get “dressed” for work
8:45am- Make coffee and walk to the office
9-12:30pm- Zoom calls, emails, etc…
12:30pm- Make lunch
1-3pm- More calls and emails
3pm- Take olive for a walk/fresh air break/baking break
4-6pm- Finish up work
6pm- Go for a run or do a workout class video
7pm- Make dinner and Facetime my friends and family
What do you think about influencer culture and how does it affect your brand?
We only work with influencers that have a genuine affinity for our brand. We don’t do any sponsored work as I want all of our relationships to be organic and authentic. Over time, these relationships have turned into friendships where we can support each other. Always!
What role does sustainability play in your business?
We practice sustainability wherever we can. That can be anything from the threads/yarn we use, washing and dyeing practices, utilizing old fabrics, to reusing plastic poly bags to pick up our dogs poo.
What are you working on right now?
Besides pivoting pretty much every aspect of our business given what is going on in the world right now, I am also working on our Pre-Spring and Spring/Summer 2021 collections.
What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?
Supporting people. Whether giving our customers a level of confidence by making them feel good, or supporting other businesses within our supply that give people jobs.