Dana Veraldi has spent the last decade in New York City, but she’s still a Philly girl at heart. The designer and founder of DeerDana, a brand known for its t-shirts with hand-drawn sketches of celebrities and cultural icons, has amassed a cult following. Her designs have been worn by celebrities including Jay Z, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, and have been featured in numerous publications like Vogue, the New York Times and Rolling Stone.
Veraldi, along with her sister Amanda, who is the manager of corporate development for J. Crew, will be the featured speakers at Career Wardrobe’s Empowering Tea and Fashion Show on Nov. 12. We caught up with Perry prior to her return to the Main Line next week.
MLT: So you’re a graduate of Shipley School?
DV: Yes, I started going to Shipley in sixth grade. My mom was a teacher there. I really loved school. I was always an art kid and I especially loved my art teachers at Shipley. After high school, I went to Syracuse University. I spent two years at Syracuse and then I transferred to Maryland Institute College of Art.
MLT: When did you start making t-shirts?
DV: In 2007, my senior year of college. It became a proper company in 2010. I took a screen-printing class my senior year and that’s when I started making t-shirts. I drew from my photos, which were primarily of my friends. That’s how I started the portrait drawing. I printed on t-shirts because I thought it was a fun item to give away. T-shirts are a fun medium to print on because people will wear them to the gym or dress them up. Once I was in New York, a friend started printing for me in Brooklyn so I could focus on sales, marketing and design.
MLT: How is it running your own business?
DV: It’s incredibly liberating being my own boss. If I want to go on vacation for 10 days, I can. There’s a sense of freedom, but on the other hand, I’m the decision maker and there’s a lot of responsibility. I never had a proper 9-to-5 job so it’s like I don’t know any different way of doing it. It’s fun, but it’s also stressful at times.
MLT: Where did your passion for fashion come from?
DV: I straddle more art and fashion and my sister straddles more business and fashion. We definitely didn’t grow up thinking about fashion. It’s not like we were looking at Vogue constantly. I didn’t think of it as a career path. When my sister was in college, she studied economics, and her first couple internships came through relationships of mine, which happened to be in the fashion world. She interned with Zac Posen, Tory Burch and Teen Vogue. She always liked the business side of fashion.
MLT: Why was it important to you to come back to the area for the Career Wardrobe brunch?
DV: It’s the way we were raised. My mom has always been very into community service. Even now when we go home she’ll say, “We’re getting up at 8 a.m. tomorrow to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House.” We just grew up doing service for others. For me, one way I’ve been able to help others through my business is to donate some profits of specific projects or donate t-shirts. It’s really important for me to give back in any way I can.
Career Wardrobe will host its annual Empowering Tea and Fashion Show on Nov. 12 from 12-3 p.m. at the Merion Cricket Club. For more information visit www.careerwardrobe.org.