Luck and Love With Alyssa Wasko of Donni Charm
When it comes to launching a successful fashion brand, designer Alyssa Wasko proves that there is positive power in storytelling. As she shared in our interview below, "As our story developed, so did our designs and as a brand we flourished. They work together. You can’t have one without the other." We wholeheartedly agree, but if we've learned anything from our designers so far, it's that there is always more to the story - which brings us to today's studio visit...
Alyssa Wasko has carved out a unique niche for herself in the contemporary space. The young, stylish, and passionate designer's "glass half full" mentality has resulted in the success of her scarf-line, Donni Charm - a brand that pays tribute to her father Donny, who always referred to Alyssa as his good luck charm. Alyssa contends that these scarves truly have a story as each piece is adorned with an angel wing charm to bring the wearer a little luck and love throughout their day. In the same vein, philanthropy also plays a significant role in the brand as certain collections were designed with a specific cause or charitable organization in mind.
From a functionality standpoint, Alyssa's approach to design truly caters to personalization. From the 2-in-1 styles to monogramming options the designer contends that Donni Charm is a one-stop shop for all scarf lovers. "Scarves are a special accessory in multiple senses, " Alyssa explained below, "When given as gifts, they often become sentimental and also can single handedly upgrade any outfit." We were affirmed of this firsthand during our recent visit with Alyssa at her charming design studio in the equally charming Noho neighborhood. There, she brought us up to speed on the latest happenings inside the Donni Charm office and shared her thoughts on finding your brand's story and having fun. Enjoy our conversation with Alyssa below and check out an exclusive second part of this feature over on The Style Line.
Please introduce yourself!
As a business and brand, we really came into our own over the past 2 years. All the momentum we had been experiencing was a driving force which allowed us to spread our wings and lay down new roots. Our small office in Colorado relocated to LA and is now Donni Charm’s HQ. We made West Hollywood our home base – just close enough to our factory in downtown LA. Since 2014, we also opened a showroom/office in NYC. With these new homes, we have really been able to expand the brand and distribution through additional channels.
How would you characterize your relationship to Brand Assembly and what role do people play in Donni Charm?
We participate in the tradeshows, the concept is unique to the industry and quite refreshing. Brand Assembly is the leader in change in the way fashion tradeshows should operate. They are a great company to work with!
How would you describe the Donni Charm community? Who is your girl?
Not one specific type. That’s what I love.
When talking about the contemporary fashion scene where do you think accessories (and more specifically scarves) fit into the mix? What has been one of the most interesting takeaways you’ve experienced as a designer as Donni Charm has grown?
That scarves are a special accessory in multiple senses. When given as gifts, they often become sentimental and also can single handedly upgrade any outfit.
Donni Charm’s story really pays such an incredible and thoughtful tribute - it also inspires hope. While the initial story was focused on the memory of your father how else would you say the brand’s story has evolved? What advice do you have for emerging designers who may be struggling to find the story their brand is trying to tell?
That any means of creativity has the power to heal and help cope with any obstacle. As our story developed, so did our designs and as a brand we flourished. They work together. You can’t have one without the other.
At Brand Assembly we really try to infuse a sense of fun in all that we do! Donni Charm’s tagline #anotherhappyneck really embodies this. How did you first come up with this and generally how do you keep things fun and interesting around the Donni Charm HQ?
Another happy neck first stemmed from warm neck and happy heart, then we realized this was interchangeable and another happy neck was born. It encapsulates everything we do. We work hard, but we play hard too. We try to incorporate puppies as much as possible and throw in sweets as often as we can!
It’s hard to imagine that one day is always the same. What part of the job excites you the most and how have you learned to overcome the challenges that a growing fashion brand faces?
I am usually up around 6:30AM every day. If I’m not spinning, I am drinking hot water with lemon and reading WWD or watching The Today Show. When I am at the office, I like to be present and not leave for meetings during the day so I schedule all my meetings over coffee in the AM or after work. Generally, both are at The Marlton. Sometimes I feel like I should be paying rent there.
When I am at the office I am generally emailing or on calls for most of the day, unless I am designing. On those days, I close everyone out and put my headphones on. Sampling a collection for the first time is the most exciting part for me. Seeing the designs come to life is such a surreal feeling. Things that I don’t enjoy as much are more operational, like payroll taxes and spreadsheets, but it’s gotta be done!
Is there any one scarf style or design element that really captures what you’re trying to do with the brand or as a designer? If so, what is it and why?
The versatility of our scarves allows everyone to wear them. We have our "ways to wear it lookbook" but our clients are always showing us ways we never thought of and we love that everyone can make it their own; there is no wrong way.
What do you assemble daily?
A few elements that always remain the same include the versatility of our styles and continuing to give back.