Santa Cruz Good Times

Dec 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

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


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

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


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location