Months back I noticed a friend wearing a lovely silk handkerchief in her hair. At the time, the city was in the thick of the “Longest Winter Ever” and in that moment, her kerchief seemed to encapsulate summer. It’s how I imagined I might look if I was riding a bicycle in Italy’s Umbria province, or hanging out in nearby Tuscany with Elio and Oliver from Call Me By Your Name. On closer inspection, I discovered her kerchief was a scrunchie that resembled a tie, made by the L.A. based lifestyle brand Donni. Designer Alyssa Wasko started working with scarves in 2009 to deal with the death of her own father, Don. Soon, friends were asking how they could get a scarf and Donni was born. Pieces started to move by word-of-mouth on college campuses across the US, and the line expanded to include capes, boob tubes, paper bag pants and the pretty scrunchie that started my obsession. Today, Donni is a festival favourite with made in America roots (downtown Los Angeles to be exact) and a do-good ethos. Every season, a portion of sales are donated to the charity of their choosing.
With summer finally here, we emailed Wasko to talk about Donni.
Can you tell me what item launched the line?
A bandana scarf! I sewed angel wing charms to the corners. This was shortly after my father passed away, and I found creativity to be my method of coping. I have always loved scarves, I find them to be essential for any outfit. They instantly make you look put together and also special. Scarves are frequently gifts and I always find that they carry a meaning and you keep them forever.
I love scrunchies but I’ve not seen a “chiquita” before. Tell me how that came to be?
Truly out of a need. We have so many scarves and are constantly tying them up in our hair, whether around the bun, pony, etc… We truly wanted to make something easy that everyone could do to achieve that same look.
There is a very fluid and easy breezy feel to your pieces…
I think the constant with Donni is comfort, versatility, and contrast or juxtaposition. This comes in the form of a scarf you can wear as a top, or something casual combined with something more elevated or luxe. There is certainly a California vibe to the brand, but our Fall collection has more of a chic Colorado mountain vibe. Regardless, the core components that I previously mentioned are always present.
Your brand was born out of a sad space: Grief. What can you say about that time in retrospect and where you are today?
Grief is a process and different for everyone. It’s certainly still something I deal with and I personally cope through creativity, which is how Donni was born.
What is this year’s charity of choice?
We are contributing to Lean In this year.
Where do you live now? Is it true you have a Canadian connection?
I currently live in LA, I moved here a year and a half ago after living in New York for six years. I am originally from Denver, Colorado but my mom’s entire family is from Toronto. I am actually a dual citizen and very proud of my Canadian passport. I’ve always wanted to live in Toronto and I definitely pretend to be more Canadian than I actually am.