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Behind The Dream With Della LA

Behind The Dream

WFTR Interviews Tina Tangalakis of DellaLA


This past week I had the privilege of interviewing Tina Tangalakis, founder and head designer of Della LA. Della is an amazing company with a wonderful story. In brief, Della was started in late 2009 in a small village in Ghana, (Hohoe) pronounced, (Ho-Way.) The company makes beautifully simple handbags from gorgeous textiles sourced in Ghana. The village of Hohoe, is largely benefitting from one woman’s vision. Under the over cast sky at Akasha, a local restaurant in Culver City, we chatted and talked all things, Della and a few other things. (Off the record) sorry fashionistas, some things are not for the runway. However here is what was said:


Dana Elizabeth: First, if you could just tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you decide to volunteer in Ghana?


Tina Tangalakis:  Well, I was born and raised here in Culver City. I am a native of Los Angeles. I come from a big Greek and Italian family. I was raised going to Catholic school; we did a lot of volunteering. In college, I went and volunteered in Mexico and that really sparked my interest. I studied costume design, and I became pretty successful but I got a bit burnt out on the industry and decided to start freelancing for other companies. I did design for a belt company in China, and decided I wanted to get into design more so.


D.E: When did you start Della?


T.T: It was November 2009; we haven’t hit our third year yet. It’s almost our birthday!


D:Happy almost, birthday! (laughing) so, you went to Ghana and you Volunteered at Happy Kids Orphanage, where you met your first seamstress for Della, Beatrice? How did you two get involved really?


T: She was a seamstress who volunteered near the organization. I kind of reached out to her, to design a bag that I originally was going to bring back to the U.S. as a present for one of my sisters. Then after seeing how great it was, with the more American design it all clicked. I was like wait a minute they need jobs and I want a career in design. I just kind of ran with it. 


               (Left: Tina Tangalakis, Dana Elizabeth @ Akasha restaurant April, 23 2012) 


D: How are the fabrics and textiles sourced?


T: Its from the capitol city, we go to the capitol city and find the fabrics we want. It is a one print run so once it sells out its gone. So lately we’ve had to buy huge bulks of fabric.


D: I read that you just launched in Nordstroms? How is that going?


T: We just launched. (Smiling) Yes, I think it went well. We’re actually just looking at sales reports right now. It’s fun to look at the regions that are responding well to our bags. Its actually nationwide, we are in 36 stores. It’s kind of crazy like, wow I think we are doing this. I think we are in business. (laughing) I know we are not in all doors yet but in 36 stores and that feels pretty amazing.


D:Any stores in LA?


T: They are more in the South Bay, or in the Valley. Like Irvine spectrum, Brea Mall, The Topanaga Mall.


D:Are they on some sort of a display? Is it a pop-up shop?


T: They are. I have photos that people have taken for me. Things are on display pretty prominently. Locally we have been making sure that all the sales people really know our story so that they know how to talk to the customer and really talk about the history of our company and what we do. 


                      (Della, in the early beginning some of the woman learning how to sew.) 


D:At what point did you branch out to do the Ipad cases and the Mac book cases?


T: we started it pretty early on. I had bought my first Macbook, which I needed for the company and I was like I need a case for this. At the time at the Apple store they only had like, black or pink cases and so when I was out in Ghana I had them make me a case. I thought, that’s something that people genuinely need. Its like, people need something to protect there computers and it’s something they look at and use everyday. So I thought it would be a good combo.


D:Are those also being sold in Nordstroms?


T: No, it’s just the hobos and headbands.


D:You also sell jewelry, and make jewelry for the line as well?


T: Yes. We, I mean, when I was freelancing for the belt company I was also selling and designing my own jewelry. I became really good friends with the town jeweler in Ghana. He makes every single piece by hand. He refines all the silver himself by hand. It’s so ancient and primitive and rustic. We have a very nice relationship with him.


D:Are you wearing any of the pieces right now?


T: (Looks down, laughs) Ummm, just these. (Pointing to three beautifully simple rings on her ring finger.)


D: Those are beautiful! I love them, love em! (Laughing) So can you tell us how you came up with the name, Della?


T: I volunteered with a volunteer organization, and when choosing the name for the business, Della, I wanted something that would connect us with Ghana but that wouldn’t sound too ethnic that it would pigeonhole the business. So um, Della is the first person I met off the plan in Ghana. He was the driver for the volunteer organization. He is the sweetest soul, with the kindest smile. The energy you feel from him, it was like just being a good open warm person. It was like oh; I want my brand to have the essence of him. His name is Della, I felt even though it was a man’s name it sounded still feminine and thought it would resonate with the fashion community.


         (Left: Tina Tangalakis and Dana Elizabeth, enjoying a small reprieve from the interview)

To read more of the interview click below: 

and as always, keep it here for more: WORDSFROMTHERUNWAY

xo- Dana Elizabeth 

Read more

Delivering Change To Ghana - Della Los Angeles

Della, a Los Angeles born company is delivering a lot of change to Hohoe, a poverty stricken village in Ghana. Ghana, where 1 out of every 3 individuals live below the poverty line. Della is bringing more then monetary funding to the village, they are providing education and jobs to the community that so desperately needs it. 


     (Above, Tina Tangalakis - Founder and designer of Della poses with the women of Hohoe.) 

Della, was formed when two women from two very different backgrounds met by chance. Tina Tangalakis, a Los Angeles native traveled to Ghana where she volunteered at The Happy Kids orphanage. There, in the surrounding village of Hohoe, is where she met local seamstress Beatrice Agabe. The two formed a connection almost instantly. It was through their shared love for design and textiles, that the first, Classic Hobo bag came to life. 


       (Pictured above, the Classic Hobo bag. Made from local fabric in Ghana) 

Beatrice and Tina knew they were on to something amazing. The two decided under the direction of Beatrice, that they would teach the local women of Hohoe, how to sew and construct the bags. Not only would this provide them with jobs and education but hope as well. 


(Above, the local women of Hohoe, creating and crafting the one of a kind bags.)

The Classic Hobo bag has done so well that Della has designed a full line of bags, including clutches, (available fall 2012) Ipad cases, headbands, and even jewelry. Each bag or garment is constructed from one individual, with a special tag sewn into each one and signed by the woman who beautifully made it. 


     (Model pictured above, sporting one of the Classic Hobo bags.) 

We are so inspired by this amazing company and wish for our readers to help support this great cause. The bags are completely affordable and are perfect for spring. Heading to the beach? The Extra Large Hobo bag is perfect for all your “beachy ” necessities. This is one bag you can’t live without. Plus, you can feel good about giving back. 


       (Pink Guava Jelly Bag pictured above, one lucky reader will get her chance to win it. Click Here.

      Maybe you aren’t the beachy-type. You can totally still help, everyone these days has an ipad, macbook, or laptop, Della’s got you covered there as well. They are lightweight beautiful and one-of-a-kind. Who wouldn’t want to sport one? 


(Songbird Ipad case is beautiful. One of our favorites. The colors go lovely together.) 

In today’s economy we know everyone is struggling. But can you possibly imagine how others around the world are struggling too? Some like, the village of Hohoe are struggling far worse then we are. So I ask you, my lovely fashionable and giving readers—Can you spare a little to help change the lives of an entire village? 

For more information on Della or to visit their online store click HERE.  Also, you can follow Della on Twitter, and Facebook,.

Head over to our gift giveaways and guides tab, or CLICK HERE to see how you can win one of the PINK GUAVA JELLY BAGS. 

And as always keep it here for more: wordsfromtherunway 

xo - Dana Elizabeth