Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Nov 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

In Style, In Love

ae 1-1Local ‘green’ fashion designer infuses Buddhist teachings into her clothing and bag line

Spirituality and fashion. They seem so … out of style. How often do you run across an article in Vogue about a leading designer who’s focused on putting a spiritual spin on the construction of his or her garments? Praise God and wear high heels? Follow Buddha and slip into something slinky? It seems like an unlikely pairing—as unlikely as wearing a trench coat in the dead heat of summer. But there are some fashion designers who are trying to make a difference with their creative work by way of constructing fashionable attire that offers a positive message. Case in point—Anastasia Keriotis, the 51-year-old founder of Dharma Love, a wildly successful local “green” design company whose wares can be seen in stores around the county and in numerous Whole Foods markets.

“Buddhism has helped me more than anything in life,” Keriotis says. “I try to live as close as I can to those teachings.”

And that was the impetus for naming her line, “Dharma Love.”

“My mother-in-law came up with the name,” Keriotis adds. “We were thinking of a name and filed a trademark for Baby Love but received a letter that another company owned that name. I didn’t want any negativity. Dharma Love had a positive message and was non-offensive with ‘dharma’ meaning ‘spiritual teachings,’ and [adding] ‘love.’ People often say they love the name.”

Keriotis didn’t discover this path to fashion design until later in life. Her story begins as an artist. She graduated from an arts and crafts college in Oakland in 1996 and during her studies there her emphasis was in mastering photography, printmaking and ceramics. Keriotis moved on to the Lake Tahoe area where she established herself as an artist and art teacher.

“When the economy went down, people weren’t buying art,” Keriotis says. “They were trying to hold onto their homes. I wanted to work for myself and wondered what could I come up with that people would buy, and I had to make it affordable. People buy baby clothes. I started exploring that and looked into what I could do to reproduce my artwork, but have a wearable, conscious product.”

With a few hundred dollars, she bought some materials, got a seller’s permit and started making reproductions of her paintings, prints and photographs and began transferring them to things like onesies and baby T-shirts. She discovered hemp companies that specialize in hemp-based products and she made purchases from American Apparel, a company that creates its clothing in the United States. She hunted down fair trade products and expanded her line to include adult clothing and an array of totes and messenger bags, all emblazoned with some form of her artwork.

ae 1-2Anastasia Keriotsis’ Dharma Love fashion line blends Buddhist vibes with eco-friendly hemp creations.There’s the $74.99 hemp traditional “Messenger Bag” in a chocolate color with a photo of a black and white bicycle on it; there’s the “Girly Tote” with its catchy oblong shape and utilitarian style, with an image placed on the side. There’s the “Beach/Market Tote,” the “Diaper Bag,” a variety of hemp purses, coin purses, city bags, exercise camisoles, and men’s T-shirts. She also makes greeting cards featuring her art, which is what helped her get her start locally.

“Before I came to Santa Cruz, there were a few stores carrying my cards,” Keriotis says. “New Leaf in Felton carried my cards so I went in there and showed the general manager my baby line and they decided to carry it. From there her line entered Greenspace, Way of Life, and other New Leaf stores. Nowadays, Dharma Love has a presence in 19 Whole Foods stores in California.

While the demand continues to increase, Keriotis keeps things minimal on the business side. She and an assistant handle everything from printing the products, pulling items, shipping, taking orders, managing accounts, and so forth.

“Our belief is that we want to put out a positive message,” Keriotis says. “I don’t want to contribute to the demise of the planet in our production. … We’re not contributing to a kid in a sweatshop. It’s an original piece of artwork, and a customer walks away with a good product. Our studio doesn’t contribute negatively to a person or to the planet.”

“A lot of people would think it’s a hip, artistic, groovy person [who buys Dharma Love products],” she says. And while that’s certainly the case, and she designs for “every kind of customer,” she admits that her creations definitely lean more toward the artistic nature of fashion.

“I do read fashion, but I don’t feel I follow the trends,” Keriotis says. And she’s proud of that. “The artwork comes from my soul. … When I hear a woman tell me how much she loves her bag, or what the image on it means to her, I love it.”

Dharma Love is located in a 1,000-square-foot space in the Rio Del Mar area. In the future, watch for the company to continue to boom, whilst keeping a focus on being green. “We are not going to put more things in the landfill,” Keriotis says.

To learn more about Anastasia Keriotis and her spiritually-inspired fashion line of T-shirts, baby clothes, men’s items, coin purses, messenger bags and totes, visit dharmalove.com.

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by Regan MacPherson, February 02, 2012
Anastasia is as good as it gets. She is an incredibly talented artist, an excellent business woman, and walks the walk of her social consciousness. She is a local gem.
...
written by Nic, February 02, 2012
Terrific products from an amazingly talented designer. We love our Dharma love gear! Nic & Lexi

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Jawing

Monterey Bay scientists are working to crack the mysteries of—and dispel the myths about—great whites. But in the highly contentious world of shark experts, there’s a fin line between love and hate

 

Altars of Remembrance, Forgiveness & Rapprochement

We’re in Scorpio now—things mysterious, ageless, hidden, sometimes scary. Friday is Halloween; Saturday, All Saints Day; Sunday, All Soul’s Day. Sunday morning at 2 a.m. (after midnight), Daylight Savings Time ends. Clocks are turned back. Tuesday is the General Election. Our vote is our voice. Each vote matters. Applying freedom of choice—Libra’s teachings. It’s time to build Halloween, All Saints and All Souls altars—with marigolds, pumpkins, sugar skeletons, copal (incense), pomegranates, persimmons, candy corn and cookies, orange and black. It’s so Saturn (now in Scorpio). Saturn is the dweller on the threshold (like St. Peter at the gates of heaven). Saturn can look like a Halloween creature—a gargoyle—a fantastic dragon-like creature protecting sacred sites. The dweller (Saturn) stands at the door or threshold of sacred mysteries, wisdom temples, inner sanctums of churches, offering protection, scaring evil away. The last day of October and first two days of November, when veils between worlds thin and spirits roam about, are times of remembrance, forgiveness, reconciliation and rapprochement. These actions liberate us. At death, when reviewing our lives and the consequences of our actions if we have forgiven, then we are free, less encumbered with grief and sadness. We place forgiveness on our altars. Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s good to dress up as what we’re afraid of. Or whom we would mentor. Then we become one with them. Note to readers: by Thanksgiving I will need a place to live (with purpose). Please contact me if you know of a place where I can rest for awhile. Teach and build community. [email protected] I will be leaving my mother’s home for the last time.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of October 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Nine Grill & Bar

The secrets of remodeling and juicy steak

 

What is Santa Cruz’s biggest eyesore?

David Finn, Santa Cruz, Graduate Student

 

Alberti Vineyards

Looking for some blood-red wine for your Halloween party? Then I have a recommendation for a new brew.

 

Turning Point

New revolving restaurant on the wharf, plus Cafe Ivéta and the last great Jack cheese