Fresh AMMO: Della LA’s Tina Tangalakis

Della LA - Tina
Images by Sequoia Ziff
Interview by Priscilla Ward

What’s your AMMO?
Ultimately, it is my friends in Ghana and the possibility of what more we can do that keeps me going. They are the reason I get up every morning, and they are an endless source of motivation for me.

What does Della mean?
Della is the name of the van driver that picked me up from the airport when I landed in Ghana. He was the first person I met in Ghana and he embodied everything that I wanted the company to portray, being that he was so kind and warm hearted. I wanted his essence to reflect in our company.

What inspired you to pursue art?
Art has always been an instrumental part of my life. I think, as any creative person understands, if you are not creatively stimulated you will never be satisfied. I always sought to mix my two biggest passions, art and humanitarian work. I’m thrilled that I found a way to pursue art with a heart.

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How are you merging your design work with humanitarian work?
Della is socially responsible because we are not just employing people. We feel a responsibility to help our team members achieve their dreams. At a base level, we have helped all of our employees open saving accounts, do monthly money management courses with them, and also offer weekly literacy courses. We work closely with our partners to help them achieve their goals. We are more than a business, we are a family.

How are you helping to bring people into important conversations in a concrete way?
Our products themselves act as a tool to spark important conversations, each piece holds a story. By purchasing a Della product, our customers are quite literally carrying change and as a brand we are actively working to shift conversations in the fashion industry as a whole. We hope to act as an example to those who want to create change through consumerism.

Why did you choose to launch your business in West Africa?
It happened organically. Pre-Della, I was a wardrobe stylist in Los Angeles. Working in the fashion industry had been my dream for as long as I could remember, but I was lacking a deeper purpose and began to feel a little un-inspired. I decided to take some time off and volunteer for a month in Ghana. While in Ghana, I fell in love with the textiles and the friendly people I met. I worked closely with a seamstress to design a bag (that I wanted to bring back as a souvenir). As soon as I saw the finished product, the idea hit me: why not produce in Ghana? They needed jobs, the products were beautiful, and I wanted to design on my own terms. It was the perfect fit.

What have you learned from your entrepreneurial work thus far?
I learn more and more every day about people, business, and freight shipping. There are so many hurdles and curveballs that I never see coming. I am constantly problem solving, everything about the business has been and will continue to be a growing/learning experience. One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned through Della has been not taking things personally and not taking no for an answer. Its corny, but it’s true that if you don’t give up you really can achieve anything you set your mind to.

What did you learn from your previous work experience that helped to propel your current work?
I started out styling costume design and worked as a stylist before starting Della. Having a background in fashion and understanding the industry definitely helped my journey with Della. It was great knowing how brands are run successfully and also having an understanding of where I saw room for improvement in the industry.

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How did your partnership with Urban Outfitters emerge?
It made sense, after having success with accessories we were ready to branch into what I have always had as my passion, designing clothing. Urban Outfitters was a natural fit, being that their customer is in line with our style and with our story, our products were the perfect fit for the young, hip Urban buyer. I describe every collaboration like a courtship – it takes a lot of “woo-ing,” meetings & discussions until all parties are on the same page and want to move forward. The process took over 7 months until we finally partnered together and I’m happy to report that it’s going great!

What’s next for Della?
The sky is the limit. We are continuing our partnership with Urban Outfitters and are looking forward to some other big collaborations that we have coming up this year, which will allow for big expansion in Ghana. We’re excited!

For more from Della LA go to, www.dellala.com.