Forensics Meets Fashion: Real-life CSI’s Apparel Line Hits Two-Year Mark
For Crime Scene Investigator Erika Di Palma, fingerprints have long been a staple in her everyday life; now the Los Angeles-based 30-year old has successfully parlayed her forensic background into a venture that puts the fun in functional, with a fashionable twist; In March 2011, Erika launched My Own Fingerprint, an apparel/accessories collection featuring individuals’ fingerprints imprinted on customized items. Over two years later, the cutting-edge company continues to evolve, marked by a successful partnership with entrepreneur Mark Cuban and a national ad campaign on the airline magazine, SkyMall.
After receiving her Master’s Degree in Forensic Science from the George Washington University, Erika began her career as a Forensic Identification Specialist and has since lifted hundreds of fingerprints from actual crime scenes. After responding to a high number of murders one summer, she would unwind with long hikes, in an attempt to clear her mind from what most of us only see on our prime-time lineup. Noticing the conventional workout gear of her fellow hikers, it dawned on her, “What better way to show off your individuality than with a fingerprint on your clothes!” From there the concept was born, followed by the first prototype: a track jacket bearing a fingerprint on the back; now, in addition to t-shirts and sweatshirts, the collection includes watches and acrylic art pieces. They have also added a "Standard Fingerprint Line" that ships within 48 hours. “Fingerprints are my life,” Erika explains. “I not only lift them from crime scenes and compare them to individuals but also think they are fascinating works of art. They are, in essence, our physiological autographs.”
As with any innovative idea, there are plenty of naysayers, in this case those who aren’t comfortable with having their fingerprint displayed for the world to see. Erika downplays the overzealous concerns with some good-natured humor: “Many of them watch too much crime TV!” Fortunately, fanatical fans of forensic shows are not the only target audience of MOF’s progressive President; her wide-range demographic includes everyone from kids and parents to members of the law enforcement community, with an emphasis on Crime Scene Investigators, Forensic Specialists and Latent Print Examiners. She’s also tapping into the tech-savvy 18-34 year old sects, who dominate the viral vortex via continuous browsing and up-to-the-minute trending. In a world full of trend-setters, Erika says, it’s time to “Identify Yourself.”