Simplifying Fabulous! with Dana Buchman
ABOUT: Since leaving the designer world, Dana has dedicated her life to a helping underserved LD children. Dana wrote A Special Education, a book about her experience as a parent of an LD child. Recognizing that her family was lucky to have the wherewithal to advocate for Charlotte, Dana founded PROMISE PROJECT to make sure that all families have the same opportunity. Dana’s passion for PROMISE PROJECT’s mission bore fruit this July with the launch of PROMISE Program at Columbia. PROMISE Program seeks to give children with LD access to a quality education, and to research effective interventions for learning disabilities so that one day all parents may watch their children thrive.
Robin Baron: Tell me about what you have been up to since leaving the fashion industry?
Dana Buchman: I founded and chair PROMISE PROJECT, a non-profit that changes the lives of impoverished children with learning disabilities. We created a breakthrough program with Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and are looking to build it into the imminent center for learning disabilities—treatment and research– in the country.
RB: What was your motivation to start a non-profit?
DB: My daughter, Charlotte, struggled with learning disabilities and I have seen how important it is that they be treated early. So many cases are undiagnosed–sometimes the children are seen as stupid or lazy. They are intelligent, but they just learn differently. The prisons are filled with people who grew up unable to succeed in the real world because of untreated LD.
RB: What are some ways people can help support your organization?
DB: Visit promise-project.org. We need to raise the awareness of learning disabilities and most importantly raise funds to support this critical work.
RB: How would you describe your home décor?
DB: My home décor was adapted from my fashion aesthetic: clean lines, right proportions, few accessories, good quality, “underdesigned”, simple yet strong.
RB: Do you have any special tips/tricks that help keep you organized?
DB: Number 1, 2 and 3 tip: Don’t be afraid to let things go! I am constantly getting rid of things I haven’t used in awhile. Sometimes it’s hard, go but I remind myself that only 3 times in my whole life have I wished I had kept something I said goodbye to. And even those I didn’t miss for longer than a couple of minutes! When I have don’t have a lot of “stuff” around, I feel spacious and calm and optimistic. I think more clearly and take such pleasure in just sitting in the space. Moving things from one closet to the next or taking out fall clothes and putting them away for the summer—unworn– is such a waste of precious time! Better to pass those things along to someone who might value them. I live in a loft in Tribeca and the old tradition in the neighborhood was to put things on the loading dock out front for passersby to pick from.
RB: What do you love most about your home and why?
DB: I feel peace whenever I step into the loft. It is filled with light from windows all across the front and feels like an oasis to me. Even though I can feel the presence of New York outside, the noises are muffled through the therma-pane windows. The back of the loft faces the buildings on the next street so it is eerily quiet. Just a soft hum of the city at night.
RB: What is the one thing in your home everyone comments on?
DB: I have a huge color field painting by an artist named Zakanich hanging over a long Chinese cabinet. Everyone thinks it’s a flat screen TV. Really it is the opposite—very quiet and subtle.
RB: What do you put on your shelves? On your dresser?
DB: On my dresser, I have a gold and zebra trays filled with chunky bracelets that I love—always in pairs, one for each arm. I like having them laid out where I can choose and enjoy the texture and color. I rotate them every few years and pull out ones that have been put away so there is newness. I have only books on my shelves. I am constantly giving old ones away to make room for new ones. I have a section for poetry, one for Buddhist thought and one for my husband’s motorcycle maintenance binders. No nicknacks. In my walk-in closet, I have a floor to ceiling wall of black and white family photos, from great grandmothers on both sides to my children as 3 year olds in Central Park.