// life decisions and choices //

Okay so here goes. I’m not really one to write down my thoughts, or even to share them on the internet. But I think potentially, it could help someone going through what I did.

My first year at university really wasn’t that great, and not at all like what everyone hypes it up to be like. I felt alone. As many people probably do. The summer before I started university, I had a car accident,  it was pretty bad and very traumatic for me. My anxiety was already tough on me, but after this accident it reached new highs, and normal everyday things seemed harder to cope with. I was so excited to start uni at Arts University Bournemouth, it was my top choice and at that point I’d already new I’d got my place since the December (2014) before, so I had a lot of time to think about everything and get things sorted to start my Fashion degree. For me having my accident when I did, really made uni a lot harder and going away to uni happened to soon, but I felt trapped as if I had to stay.

I didn’t get into student halls, its unfortunate, but luckily the guys I moved into a house with seemed nice enough. This was hard for me, a super shy girl, feeling like I had to try and make a big presence in a house full of strangers. It was lonely. I’ve never felt as alone as I did there in that house. I got my way through to christmas, with the help of my boyfriend Jake by my side, pushing me on, telling me that I could do it, he believed in me. I didn’t feel like I’d made any friends from my course at this point, its hard to be known when everyone around you is loud and trying too hard for their presence to be known by others, it is funny to watch, but that’s not who I am. My courses work load was full on with sessions starting at 9.30pm and finishing at 4.30pm, and then I’d be working up until the time I’d fall asleep back at “home”. It was hard work and drained so much energy from me. I wasn’t happy there, I wondered if I’d ever be.

After the christmas holidays (2015) I went back to uni, absolutely dreading it. Already counting down the months until I’d finish in the summer. I think this is where Beth comes into my life. Before christmas, we’d say hi to each other, but both of us were too shy to really start up a conversation. But we kind of just clicked. It was so nice to finally be able to talk to someone who deals with the same kind of things and problems as I do. We stuck together as a team, both struggling to keep our mind frames positive, but we got through the last part of our first year together. I don’t think I could of gotten through the rest of that year without her, a true best friend.

Then there was summer break, I went back to work, as you do, earning money to pay for your rent, for a house that you’re not living in whilst your back home (actual home). The thought of going back to start my second year of uni was constantly on my mind, I was scared. I had thoughts over the summer to not go back to uni, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should of been, it didn’t feel right pushing and telling myself to go back that following September.

But then September came, and it was time to move back into another student house, with Jodie who I lived with in my first student house. I really didn’t want to go back. I kept telling myself that I could do it, but I had another part of me telling me that I couldn’t. The first week passed, I managed the first week of lessons. The second week came and by the end of it I completely broke down whilst at uni. I had Beth by my side, telling me everything was going to be okay, but I didn’t believe that, I just wanted to go, I wanted to leave, I’d had enough of feeling the way I did. I spoke to her about the idea of me taking a year out, I felt bad, I didn’t want to leave her, we got through things together, I felt selfish, but it was a decision I needed to make for myself, and I had to believe in that.

Later that evening, I called Jake, to tell him my thoughts and what I had been going through over the summer, and what I was thinking at that moment in time. He understood. It was so nice to hear that he’d be by my side in whatever I chose to do, he’d be there for me. Strangely it was good to hear that me telling him my plans to take a year out, wasn’t a crazy surprise to him, it meant that he’d listened to my struggles and understands my reasons why I would want to do so. It’s hard because to others it may seemed as so I hadn’t thought about it a lot, but the thing is I thought about it so much, I just kept those thoughts to myself, because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t know of anyone who’d taken a year out, so my thoughts over the summer were that it wasn’t the right thing for me to do. It was a huge decision I had to make on my own, and I’m annoyingly an indecisive person which doesn’t help. I just couldn’t cope with the way that I was feeling, and the way my feelings were towards uni.

So I went into uni, to student report where I picked up my letter of “interruption”. The feeling was so surreal. I was actually doing it, making the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make on my own in life ever. It felt good. I needed my course leader to sign it before he gave to the next person in line, he was about to go into a meeting so I caught him just before to quickly explain that I’d left the letter on his desk. It was done. It was strange, I just felt super happy, I actually smiled for once. The walk back “home” was odd, knowing that I wouldn’t have to go back there for a year, it was a relief, I could finally breathe.

Since leaving uni I’ve moved back home, and I’m currently an editorial and operations intern for a company called JewelStreet. I feel like I’m slowly getting my life back on track again. It was hard leaving uni, but I needed to do it for myself. The option is there to go back in September and it’s only been 3 months since I left, so I still don’t need to think about going back, or if I want to go back at all. I’ve also started cognitive behavioural therapy to help with my car accident, so I’m hoping my head will become clearer and my anxiety will decrease. Yes, I don’t know what my future holds with uni, but I know I’ve made the right decision for myself in the long run, and so what it means I’m a year behind my study, it doesn’t matter, I’m only 20, I’m still young, I have my whole life ahead of me.

To anyone that is thinking about taking a year out, or leaving completely, try not to be scared about the future and being behind, or not having a degree if you leave fully. Yes it will set you back, and you’ll have to try and get your life on track, but you can do it. I mean, I still do overthink about life situations and wonder what I will be doing in a month, 3 months or even a years time, but I’m still learning that I’ve got to take this one step at a time. You can’t predict your future, just do what makes you happy. Focus on the good that you have in your life.

xx Alanis

// Niche Brand – Draft Report // Della //

Fashion Brand
Della
Tina Tangalakis, Founder of Della

Della is a Los Angeles based fashion line, which is helping to change the way people shop. They are a women owned and woman run business, running a socially responsible fashion line and working directly with a community in Ghana, West Africa, providing jobs, education and skills training for all of their employees. Della is driven by awareness of the need for a global market that provides socially responsible, quality products and believe in responsibility, not charity.

Tina Tangalakis is the founder of the brand, born and bred in Los Angeles, she has always sought to combine her love of art and humanitarian work. As a student she studied costume design at California Institute of the Arts and later went on to working as a wardrobe stylist for film and television. In September 2009 Tina participated in a volunteer programme abroad, which landed her in Hohoe, Ghana. Whilst there she quickly fell in love with the culture and warm hearts of the friends she made, with her background in business and design, Tina teamed up with a local entrepreneur to begin Della.

The passionate talented women and men who create the pieces are given an opportunity to build a foundation for a better life. Every dollar earned at Della goes towards providing employment, education and financial stability for women and men in Ghana. Employees receive a steady fair income and are empowered through education via micro-financing, savings and entrepreneur classes. They run programmes weekly, including weekly literacy classes, which Della employees participate in twice a week. Half of the women currently read at primary school level, whilst the other half tested are at year 7 and 8 grade levels. Della’s goal is to work with women to obtain a year 9 grade reading level. Upon successful completion of their literacy certificates, Della hope to develop a one-year study programme, so that their employees can obtain their secondary school degree.

As well as literacy classes, every Wednesday is their savings-training meeting, the women work in pairs to record their weekly spending. Tracking spending has allowed many of the women to see how they can save money. Della have also organised a Della savings account to further encourage employees to save their funds. Employees can elect to contribute money every month or week to this account. Della pays 10% interest on each contribution, with each savings cycle ending in December, those who participated will get their savings back and celebrate their success. In the future they hope to work with their employees to save for larger items, such as annual rent payments or even a home.

Della also ran three more programmes with them, another is running the Hohoe women’s volley ball league, who meet every Sunday after church. The league is open to any woman who wishes to play and about 20 members go regularly. Della believe that playing a sport is a great opportunity for women to get of the house, meet new friends, develop leadership skills and work some exercise into their weeks. Happy Kids is another programme; Della employees lead a sewing skills class twice a week at Happy Kids orphanage. Through this programme, children learn to build their math, motor and sewing abilities and Della employees develop their leadership skills. Although Della do not have the space at their current facilities for childcare, they hope to incorporate an after school childcare programme into their new production centre. Several of the women have young children and have difficulty managing this with their work schedules. Additionally, Della provides help with national social security and national health care benefits.

Tina came up with the brand name Della, after the first person she met in Ghana. He was the driver for the volunteer organisation she travelled with and he greeted her when she arrived at the airport with a warm, happy smile. The welcoming, caring person that Della is acts as the reflection of what she wants the business to be. Tina was already involved in the fashion industry, when setting up Della. She had freelanced with a company that manufactured accessories in China and distributed all over the US. Upon working with local seamstresses in Ghana, the idea hit her, why not manufacture in Africa. Local seamstresses were in the need of work and Tina wanted a career in design on her own terms, with a conscience Della was a way of combining both.

After a lot of research and debating if she should set up Della as a non-profit or a pro-profit business she opted for pro-profit, for the following reasons. Technically, Della does qualify for the non-profit status due to the programmes and good will incentives offered to their employees and to the community. However, these programmes for Tina are just an extension of human-decency and the way the business should be run. She wanted to take a stand and show the western world, especially the fashion world, that business can be both responsible and profitable. She wanted to prove that high-quality, fashionable products can come from Africa and be sold in the US market. Secondly after her research, it was clear that there were two things needed in order to have a lasting effect on a developing community; education and commerce, Della does both.

Between Ghana and the US about 60 people are involved with Della, with the team and operations manager and cofounder of Della, alongside two US employees, managing the overseas team in Ghana. This includes production, sourcing, product development, quality control and distribution. There are currently 35 full time, and between 10 and 25-part time employees working for Della in the Hohoe community, these numbers change depending on the production demand. Tina is in constant daily contact with the team overseas through emails, skype and phone calls, and she travels to Ghana on a regular basis to help manage and maintain a solid relationship with the team. In the US there is a modest team of three, with dedicated interns who work alongside them. Tina has expressed before that it can be challenging to manage a business across two continents, but key to success is finding solid employees who believe in your vision and are willing to work hard in order to make it happen.

Della is ethically made and responsibly sourced. With the fashion products consisting of dresses, tops, travel bags, headbands, hobo bags, iPad cases and MacBook cases. Tina’s main influences when designing are classic, vintage styles. Her love for design began when she fell in love with fashion history and how social trends reflect how people dress. She seeks to bridge modern design with classic style, while bringing traditional Ghanaian textiles into the mix, enriched with the culture and colours of Ghana’s Volta region, her bolder prints are used for handbags and shoes. The overall aesthetic is a laid back LA hipster style, mixed with beautiful Ghanaian batik. The results are unique, summery and carefree, with main selling points being that garments are fair trade, hand crafted and there is only a small scale production of each.

Della is sold in the following retailers Mod Cloth, Toms, Ruche, Vans, BC, Nordstrom, Apple and Orchid Boutique Bikinis, and has even created capsule collections with the likes of Urban Outfitters. The products in this collection are a marriage between traditional West African dutch wax cloth materials and modern day forms, like bomber jackets, track shorts and iPad cases. The materials used itself are 100% vegan and sustainable, and all of the proceeds from the collaboration goes back into the local Ghanaian community.

Della has also paired up with the shoe brand Vans to create a capsule collection which applies a bit of Ghana to casual footwear. Vans collaborated with Della to help raise awareness of the bran. The Vans x Della capsule collection consists of six different shoe styles for both men and women, with accessories offering to match, a large hobo bag and wristlet clutch. Della’s team of designers handcrafted each sheet of fabric used. A local batik technique lends a lively and radiant colour palette to the collection and carries inspiration drawn from the landscape. Vivid shades of blue, yellow, red and green mimic the riverbanks and tree lines found in Volta, while tri-tone heart print combines tints of pink, magenta and purple to reflect the heart and soul bound to the creation of the materials. The proceeds again like the other collection, with Urban Outfitters, will support Della’s efforts in offering programmes for jobs, education and skills training in the community.

Any major sales accomplishment for Tina with her brand Della, starts out like a courtship, and being able to create cases for Apple, came down to getting in touch with the correct person at Apple and pitching their products, and their story and then taking it from there. There were several meetings and a lot of correspondence that spanned almost one year until Della secured their first order with the company. The cases Della produce for Apple are custom fit for the 11”, 13” and 15” MacBook devices. They used authentic Ghanaian fabric to decorate the front and the protective inside lining is made from a Ghanaian-made high-density latex foam.

Working alongside such big names and huge companies based in the US, means that Della’s name and brand can reach out too many more potential consumers, than it would without them. Social media can have a huge impact for brands that may not be as well-known or as talked about. Facebook dominates the social landscape, along-side Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter with 18-29 year olds being the most active users on these sites. For smaller businesses such as Della, social media sites are a good way to communicate and connect with their consumers, on a more personal level, whether that is through liking their company page on Facebook, or following their page on Instagram, everyone is connected. The target market for Della, is in the 18-34-year old bracket, so for them being connected on social media sites is a must. Especially on sites such as Instagram which is being used by 74 million 18-29 year olds, so companies who use Instagram, get a higher percentage of views from younger users. This is where you will find young fashion bloggers, and companies who reach out to them to promote their brand if they have the same ideals, Della has been known to do this, with young vegans, who love the sustainable life.

Della’s company goal is to be competitive in the US market and for them to do so, the brand will need to hold to high expectations. Their long term goals include expanding the clothing line, continuing growth with their current retail partners, such as Apple, and expanding Ghana’s Volta region. 100% of the company’s profits go towards providing employment, education and financial stability for poverty stricken women in Ghana. Online on their blog is where you can witness how their lives are changing for the better. One of the women wouldn’t be able to put her children through school without this opportunity and another woman would still be working as a cleaner and making only a third of what she is making right now.

Della is a successful brand within the Niche brand category, with not being too specific on their target market, they are able to attract many consumers who are interested in what they offer. Over the years the brand has increased their consumers, with one of the main reasons being that of the capsule collections, made with bigger more well-known brands, but whilst keeping to their beliefs, and being a socially responsible fashion line. They want to carry change, and have shown that through the programmes they can help the Hohoe community. You can rely on their products to always be ethically made and responsibly sourced, and that they will always believe in responsibility, not charity.

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Bibliography

DellaLosAngeles(2012). Della — A day with our ladies in Hohoe, Ghana

Gather. (2016). Gather&See ethical fashion. [online]. Available from: https://www.gatherandsee.com/designers/della/ [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Katzenell, M. (2016). Della | Carry Change. [online]. Available from: http://www.dellala.com/ [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Maritz, J. (2013). How a US company is selling fashion accessories manufactured in Ghana. [online]. Available from: http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/how-a-us-company-is-selling-fashion-accessories-manufactured-in-ghana/25108/ [Accessed 16 September 2016].

* N. (2014). Della Soul: LA Eco fashion in Ghana. [online]. Available from: http://eluxemagazine.com/fashion/della/ [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Tina Tangalakis(2013). Meet the Della Team

Vans. (n.d.). Vans x Della. [online]. Available from: http://www.vans.com/article_detail/della.html [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Wang, C. (2013). Della Urban Outfitters- Ghana fashion brands. [online]. Available from: http://www.refinery29.com/della [Accessed 16 September 2016].

Wilson, J. (2012). PHOTOS: African artisans team up with apple. Huffington Post. [online] . July 15, 2012. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/della-african-apple-computer-cases_n_1672241.html [Accessed 16 September 2016].

// interning #4 //

Friday 29th April

On Friday I interned again for Teena, I spent most of the day unpicking, sewing and embellishing. Teena had sewn a lining in one of her final dresses, but when she had her review, the lining hung down under the dress lower than the actual dress so she needed to change this. I first unpicked the lining hem which took a lot longer than expected. Once I had done this she wanted me to pin the lining to the dress in order for it to be bagged out inside the dress. Before I did this I had to make a small hole in the side seam in order for the dress to bag out of that hole. I sewed the hem with a 1cm seam allowance along the facing of the dress, then bagged the dress the correct way round through the small hole I created, after this I had to re sew the seam back up as shown below.

Teena then got me to unpick her skirt that she sewed but it had stretched a lot with a doubled turn stitch, so she needed this unpicking so that she could steam to hem of the skirt to shrink it back down to size and then re sew the edge as a pin hem. I also used the embellisher to embellish another top of Teena’s again like in my previous post chiffon onto chiffon, once this was completed I was done for the day, I’ll be seeing Teena again next Tuesday.

// interning #3 //

Tuesday 19th April

I started today’s interning later in the day and worked until late evening. I met Teena as she was receiving the prints she had made and bought  and she told me about the kind of things I will be doing today.

We began buy rolling out her chiffon print across the two tables to see if her skirt pattern pieces would fit, and the placed each pattern piece along the fold, pinned in place and then cut out each piece, I then cut of her two facing pieces for the skirt out of the same material.

After I had created the pattern pieces, Teena asked me if I could do some more embellishing like I did last time, but this time it was for the front collar that went around the neck and down the front. I used chiffon on chiffon again to create the piece she wanted, this takes a lot longer than expected so I can totally see why giving me this job will help her with time. I will be doing more interning for Teena sometime next week.

 

// the true cost //

Globalisation takes an affect on the fashion industry, the clothes we wear, the people who make them, the impact on our world. Understanding the cultural impact and consumption patterns is important for global retailers, when these aspects are taken into consideration, global consumers are active and retailers are making money, but as the price of clothing decreases, as it has done for decades, the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically, so who really pays the price for our clothing?

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We are increasingly disconnected from the people who make our clothing as 97% of items are now made overseas. In the world today there are about 40 million garment workers, and a countless number do not share the same rights or protections that many people in the West do. They are some of the lowest paid workers in the world, roughly 85% of all garment workers are women. The human factor of the garment industry can not be ignored, we consistently see the exploration of cheap labour and the violation of workers’, women’s, and human rights in so many developing countries across the globe.

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The fashion industry is one of the biggest connection points for millions of people across the world, from agriculture and manufacturing to retail. It has been one of the leading industries to capitalise on the new globalised world of the 21st century. Today we have some of the highest levels of inequality and environmental destruction the world has ever seen. We need to find a way to continue in our globalised world that also values the people and the planet, these are essential to this growth.

The world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago. As new clothing comes into our lives, we also discard it at such a fast pace. Historically, clothing has been something we have held onto for a long time, but with cheap clothing now immensely available we are beginning to see the things we wear as disposable.

Below are some links to buying better, The True Cost and Fashion Revolution –

http://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/buying-better/

http://truecostmovie.com/

http://fashionrevolution.org/

 

Bibliography –

(2012). Globalization and its impact on the fashion industry. [online]. Available from: https://whiteunt01.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/globalization-and-its-impact-on-the-fashion-industry/ [Accessed 19 April 2016].

(n.d.). Environmental impact | the true cost | learn more. [online]. Available from: http://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/environmental-impact/ [Accessed 19 April 2016].

(n.d.). Human rights | the true cost | learn more. [online]. Available from: http://truecostmovie.com/learn-more/human-rights/ [Accessed 19 April 2016].

// interning #2 //

Friday 15th April

So Easter break’s over, I’m back at University and interning starts again, I met Teena in the morning and spoke about what she has done since we last met, and we spoke about her review too, and what she will get me to do over the next and last few weeks.

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I started off with unpicking the lining from her dress, Teena had sewn in her sleeve lining wrong and overlocked the edges, so to begin with I unpicked both the overlocked stitches and the line stitches of both sleeves, a small job, but very time consuming for Teena if she were to do it.

Once this was done, she wanted me to create pattern pieces from her part drafts for an organza top she was making, the front and back top pattern pieces were to be cut out on the fold, and because she would be using a french seam, I added a 1.5cm seam allowance around the edges, and also the same seam allowance for the sleeve pattern piece too. I then cut these pieces out and went back to Teena in search for her organza.

Black organza is what the pattern pieces needed to be cut out from, but only the front and back, so I placed these along the folded line and pinned in place with help from a weight because organza is a very slippy material and moves a lot. I then cut out the front and back pieces and went back to Teena to see what was next.

She put me onto embellishing duty, which was cutting up strips of organza of different colours, sliver, grey and gold, and using these to embellish into the black organza front piece that I previously cut out. This machine made the different colours of organza sort of mash into one another and create a really cool effortless effect, Teena was pleased with my result, so I was done for the day and looking forward to embellishing some more organza within next week.