Signature diamond silhouettes, hand-stitched external seams, and a distinct sense that such simple beauty can only be created by an artisan in love with her craft — this is the Crow SLC experience. The brand’s aesthetic is “beautiful but not overstated, rugged and industrious, elegant and refined,” explains creator Danielle DeLucia. These qualities led Danielle to the namesake of her brand. As she writes on her website, the iconic black birds are “understated and industrious. [Crows] are elegant survivors thriving under any circumstances. They are both rugged and poised.”
Danielle, an east coast native, passed up an opportunity to study at Parson's School of Design in New York City and instead studied literature. This did not, however, stop her from pursuing design on her own terms. When she inspected the stitching on a designer leather satchel, she was not only dissatisfied, but also motivated to re-imagine it and improve the design. She began this creative adventure in September 2012, with YouTube videos teaching her the basic skills of the trade. Inexpensive leather and a test market of friends and family helped her refine her skills for nearly a year after that. The Craft Lake City DIY festival in August 2013 was the first public debut of her craftsmanship and the Crow SLC brand.
The instinct to improve upon existing design is nothing new to Danielle. At age 10, she and her sister applied a rudimentary knowledge of color theory to a custom nail polish concoction. Blending, stirring, and getting just the right color of red-orange kept them so focused they didn't realize the bottom of the bowl dissolved and the polish thoroughly soaked their white carpet. With more successful results, Danielle also took a DIY approach to decorating the downtown apartment she shares with her partner Nick. A lack of green velvet throw pillows in area shops simply meant Danielle created her own. She cites this practical approach as a guiding inspiration for her work . "I make things that I want to use," she says matter of factly. One way Danielle generates inspiration for new patterns is long hikes with Nick and their dog Ophelia. She returns home with original ideas that are not so much inspired by nature, but because of nature. "Not sitting at a computer and looking at other's work all day allows me to come up with my own ideas. The internet is crippling because the instinct is to compare yourself to other artists," she admits. Comparisons aside, Danielle does follow the same advice she gives to fellow creatives: "Just go for it! Odds are, there's not going to be a better time. If you have a talent, share it," she exclaims! "People are really interested in unique, well-crafted, locally-made things right now. Make it and work hard to get it out there. People will respond."
Danielle's love of the Craft Lake City community aligns with her experience of consumer trends. She reflects that "people are becoming more conscious of their purchases, spending their money with local companies that work in ethical, sustainable ways, and buying products that are made by artisans rather than machines." She enjoyed the summer festival because of the interaction not only between artists and customers, but among the artists themselves. She enjoyed having conversations with fellow creators and discovering everyone's unique processes. That experience led to trades and barters for each other's work and also talk of future collaborative projects. It's her dream to one day create the Crow Mercantile Collective, essentially individual artist studios within a larger communal space, complete with retail operations open to the public.
Another dream is to open a cafe. Danielle loves to cook and bake from scratch. She and Nick have spent a few Saturdays perfecting fresh bagels, a point of pride for these New Yorkers. Their favorite recipe for an indulgent weekend brunch is French toast fried in bacon fat, topped with a sunny side egg and Vermont maple syrup, and more bacon on the side. Yet another dream is to take the Crow SLC show on the road. Spending a year or more traveling by camper down the west coast, Danielle would set up her studio in the back, Nick would write his doctoral dissertation, and Ophelia would enjoy the ride. No matter what the future brings for Crow SLC, one thing is clear: Danielle's commitment to high-quality handmade products. Many skilled leather workers who visited her booth at the festival couldn't believe the quality she achieves without a sewing machine and by exclusively hand stitching. While many festival goers assumed that surely Nick had to be the artist behind the mallet and thread, one should never underestimate the drive of a woman who taught herself a trade in under a year, only to impressed lifelong craftsmen. Craft Lake City's festival was the just beginning for Crow SLC.