For Alyssa Wasko, scarves were a lifeline.
The Denver-born daughter of a jewelry store owner and a foppish lawyer—known for his flashy bow ties—was always entrepreneurial and passionate about style. In fact, she launched her first handbag line at 9 years old.
But it was after her father had a life-altering accident and ultimately succumbed to his injuries that she threw herself full-fledged into what would become Donni Charm, an at once chic and cozy scarf line—named for her father—that tests the boundaries of that traditional accessory. Since then, Wasko has also worked as a visual consultant for lines like Chanel and the line has expanded to include everything from capes to neckerchiefs.
Here, Wasko shares why a desire to spread goodness in her father’s honor continues to be a driving force:
Live The Process: What drove you to begin creating scarves?
Alyssa Wasko: I’ve always loved scarves. Truthfully, I feel that scarves are so special. When someone gives one to you, you always remember who it came from and why. I have also always loved fashion, and I wanted to make something that I knew I wanted to wear myself. It turned out that other people wanted to wear them, as well.
LTP: What separates Donni Charm pieces from other lines?
AW: Our scarves are just different. The majority of scarves out there are lightweight, printed or solid cashmere. But we combine any and all of those elements, and in between, to create a new product category: The 2-in-1 style.
LTP: Can you explain the symbolism of the angel wing?
AW: My biggest inspiration behind Donni Charm is my dad. The line is also named after him. His name was Donald; people called him “Donny”—and everyone used to call me his “lucky charm.” So, after his passing, I was motivated to make him proud and do something creative that, in the end, really became my coping mechanism. As a reminder of protection, luck and love, we also added a hidden angel wing charm on each scarf, so in some ways I still think he is watching over me.
LTP: Is your hope that the scarves can be comforting or healing to other wearers too?
AW: We get such moving emails, and we’re always so touched by how our scarves and our brand story affect other people. Because of this, we also give back as a company: Every season, we choose a foundation that the team is passionate about and contribute to it.
LTP: Life can be difficult, especially when you’ve suffered great loss. Do you have wellness practices or rituals that keep you feeling healthy, balanced and connected?
AW: Hot water with lemon is a big ritual for me. I have it every morning and night. It’s my daily dose of me time. Also, on the weekends, I love to go to the animal shelter and walk the dogs there. If I didn’t work in fashion, I would definitely have a dog rescue, because I’m pup obsessed!
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AW: To me, it’s quite simple: I just like to know that my loved ones are happy and healthy.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
AW: Feel good, do good. Not only does our product have a feel good message, but we try to practice doing good every day.