Photography courtesy DEERDANA
We can all remember the elementary school art projects we did for Earth Day. Often drawing lobsided planets in crayon or a happy woodland forest with a slogan like “Save the Earth” and then suddenly forgetting about it by recess. But as headlines of endangered species becoming extinct become more commonplace and debate surrounding climate change and a New Green Deal run rampant, it is vital that we truly make every day Earth Day.
Dana Veraldi of DEERDANA has been a long environmental activist and lover of the Earth. Her mother, a science teacher exposed her to recycling and the environment as a child. If you haven’t picked up one of DEERDANA’s sought after illustrated tees, you have probably picked up one of their products done in collaboration with La Mer, Reformation or Madewell. And for this Earth Day, DEERDANA has created a 100% recycled cotton hoodie and a tote bag made of recycled canvas) to celebrate mothers, and the original “MUTHA”, Mother Earth.
L’Officiel USA spoke with Veraldi about her impending collection and her environmental roots.
TREY GASKIN: When did you start illustrating?
DANA VERALDI: I started drawing as a child but I got more interested in drawing in high school, The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. I had really encouraging art teachers—Mr. Baris and Ms. Wagner—who gave me confidence and inspired my journey to be an artist.
TG: As a design collective, what challenges did you face starting out?
DV: I started DEERDANA as a hobby after graduating from college and always had side jobs so I never put too much pressure on my company but instead let it grow organically. Through my side jobs (as a stylist assistant, event planner, creative consultant to large fashion houses) I learned a lot that I was able to then apply to my own company. The biggest challenge was time management and learning to trust other people to print my work once the sales became large enough that I couldn't print everything myself!
TG: Growing up were you very much one with nature?
DV: Growing up with a science teacher for a mother we learned about recycling, farming, and animals as young children. I loved to play outside, go to parks and visit nearby farm animals regularly.
TG: Do you have any favorite parks, retreats, gardens, etc…?
DV: My favorite farm to visit outside of NYC is Alstede Farm in Chester, NJ. I went last weekend and they had newborn baby black ducks which were the cutest thing I've ever seen. I also had the honor of naming a newborn baby goat and sheep! In LA I love the Westridge Trailhead Mandeville Canyon hike in Brentwood—once you reach the peak there are beautiful views of the west side, Santa Monica mountains, and the ocean! I also recently visited The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, CA which provides retired or abused farm animals with the most caring home. I highly recommend visiting!
TG: This isn’t your first time doing a piece of clothing dedicated to Mother Nature.
DV: Can you tell me a little bit about the design? The drawing of the earth was inspired by a photo on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog from 1968 showing the earth as seen from outer space. The text on the sleeves (LOVE YOUR MOTHER / RESPECT YOUR MOTHER) is meant to be for all mothers out there including mother earth.
DEERDANA'S MOTHER EARTH HOODIE $180, CANVAS BAG $75
TG: We’ve seen brands make efforts recently to include their activism in their messaging. Has this always been important to you?
DV: Yes, I often tie in charitable components in my designs and I love the idea of a message being spread through apparel.
TG: What do you next want to achieve with DEERDANA?
DV: I would love to do a project with a home brand and expand my children's clothes!