An Inside Look At The Creative Life Of Dasha Faires
New York Creative Director, Dasha Faires, is known for her daring talent in projects like Canal Street Market and Hotel Man Repeller, though she currently resides as the Director of Product Development for well-known fashion + lifestyle media platform, Man Repeller [*cue applause.*] Our Editor-In-Chief, Anna, studied fashion alongside our woman of the hour, connecting through their like-minded fascination for creative thought x design — the two reconnected in an interview-style catch up. As an explorer of innovative thought, a mother of two, and Arkansas native, Dasha is setting down her many hats to share her life, experience, and some products that thrill an on-the-go woman like herself.
Anna: Let’s talk. Remember daydreaming about life goals over drinks in LA many moons ago? We’ve now known one another for over a d-e-c-a-d-e and it has been so incredible to watch your career unfold. You’ve managed to make some major waves as a Freelance Creative Director — any lessons learned that you could share with us, and that may help other aspiring freelancers?
Dasha: OMG yes, of course I remember that and I’m so thankful to have known you for all these years. First, never stop believing that you can do anything you set your mind to. It took some time + encouragement from a few friends to realize the jobs I was putting myself up for or projects I was pitching weren’t out of my reach. Second, if you decide to go freelance and you’re just starting out — don’t turn down any jobs. Work your ass off to build up your portfolio, then once it’s built, know your worth and don’t compromise unless it’s a project that you love [for me, that was FFFest]. Lastly, no matter what project I am working on, there is no one task that is beneath me. You will usually still catch me cleaning, taking out trash, or just in the trenches with everyone else. Everything is a team effort and I work best with people who share that same belief.
AC: Tell us a little bit about your career path leading to your role as Director of Product Development at Man Repeller?
DF: My background is in fashion, an industry I worked in for over a decade. Then, I decided to take a big leap and make a career switch to creative direction. For my first big project, I pitched and opened a place called Canal Street Market, a 12,000 square foot retail/art/food market in downtown NYC. I listened to my gut and it was almost unbelievable how quickly everything came together. Once the project launched, I stayed on at Canal Street Market as the Creative Director for a little over a year and then decided to go off on my own as a freelance creative director. I started out with a freelance gig at Refinery29 with the creative direction team. I had never worked in media before, so that was an experience I’ll never forget. Then, Man Repeller invited me to lead the creative on a project called Hotel Man Repeller, which was such an amazing experience and led to nearly every job I landed in 2018.
AC: You’ve always had a great eye. What ultimately sparked your curiosity in the editorial world?
DF: I love working in media + editorial because it feels like there is boundless creativity — everything from pitching fresh ideas for partnerships, to leading campaigns, and all the in between. I’ve always been interested in a lot of different things: fashion, interiors, graphic design, so an editorial platform can be a great place to let it all out.
AC: You recently led the charge on Man Repeller’s latest product collection. Where did you derive your inspiration? That was wild and so fun.
DF: Oh, thank you! I design the collection with Leandra and really try to bring her creative vision to life, keeping the production process running smoothly and efficiently. Then, she lets me lead the creative surrounding the product, which is really fun for me. So the packaging, editorial campaign, and website were really where I was able to spill my creative guts. It’s been such a fun process, and as a creative, there is nothing I appreciate more than someone who lets me run wild with really off-the-wall ideas that sometimes seem completely impractical.
AC: Where do you find your inspiration?
DF: I always love this question. Inspiration is all around me. It’s important to me to always be looking at the tiniest little details of everything that moves me whether that be a small graphic detail on a flyer or the kind of tile someone used on their bathroom wall. Two things that are really important for generating new ideas are one, being with nature to pull out fresh ideas, and two, being alone. 95% of all creative work I do [concepting + inspiration image compilation] is done out of the office.
AC: You and Dan opened a venue that’s near and dear to our Arkansas team’s heart — Fairlane Station. Tell us a little bit about your experience starting a business with family.
DF: Oh, that was such a fun time. We bought that building for “not a lot of money” — it was originally a late 1800s blacksmith shop so we knew it had potential and could be charming. Plus, it was right down the street from Springdale High School where we first started dating at 15 and 16 years old. We had Fairlane Station for five years and sold the business last year. I love working with my husband, Dan — we actually work pretty well together and usually only fight about the final look I want not matching the overall budget. I’m so thankful for Dan’s incredible skillset — he deserves so much credit for actually bringing Fairlane and many other projects to life.
AC: Your two little dudes are the absolute cutest. Tell us about the joys and challenges of balancing career and motherhood… how the hell do you do it?
DF: I wish more people would talk about this and just tell the truth, so here it is: if one area of your life, or anyone’s life, appears in balance or seems to be excelling, I think 99% of the time, other areas are failing. For example, I focus a lot of time and energy on my career, which means most of the time my house is really messy, my closet is disorganized, takeout + groceries are being delivered, and I don’t really know what is happening in the news with the exception of random iPhone notifications. At the same time, kids can oftentimes stop you in your tracks and make you realize what matters most. There is no perfect balance, and nobody has it all. I always say “when I am at my keyboard, I’m on vacation” — staying home with the kids is harder than going to work, so hats off to all the stay-at-home moms. They deserve all the praise in the world because that is the harder job by far!
AC: Share with us a little bit about your involvement in the launch of FFFest? It seems like it was a real passion project for you.
DF: Oh, it sure was a passion project. I have a major interest in film — my mind thinks in emotional moving images, so I’ve had this urge to dabble with it and hope to eventually direct a film or two one day. It wasn’t unlike many of the past projects I’ve done — trying to explain a concept to people that didn’t exist and building things from the ground up is kind a sweet spot for me. Thankfully, we had Glossier come on as a sponsor and that helped build things out from there. I got to work with Alma Har’el and Crystal Moselle, two incredible film directors whose work I admire, so that was a huge deal for me.
AC: Gotta know. What’s one product you can’t live without?
DF: Currently, probably Klorane dry shampoo powder. I have a lot of hair and washing it every day is not realistic, so this stuff saves my life. It’s also gentle and made with oat milk, so it doesn’t cause breakage like other dry shampoos.
AC: What trends are you loving right now?
DF: For home, even though everything I own is so neutral and actually kind of classic, I love Post Modernist furniture and the colorful interiors movement that has followed it. Not sure I will ever be able to invest in doing this in my own space, but I hope to be able to infuse it into a project in the near future. As far as fashion, I’m into everything. If something is a major trend, [like when everybody and their mother starts wearing it,] I usually stop wearing it. Over time, I have found things that have to remain a staple in my wardrobe such as black high-waisted wide leg pants, bias cut slip dresses, and wrap dresses.
AC: You’ve been a key player in bringing several companies and organizations to life. What’s one piece of advice you’d give other visionaries working to bring their projects to reality?
DF: Don’t give up. If you have a vision or a dream and you can see it clearly in your mind, it is going to be really, really difficult to explain to other people. I have found that sometimes even the most creative people I have had the privilege of knowing had trouble believing in something that they cannot see or that doesn’t exist yet. Keep working. You may have to work the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life, but just don’t give up. Find a few crazy people who believe in you and everyone else will believe it when they see it.
About Dasha: Dasha Faires is a freelance creative director, living and working in downtown New York City with her high school sweetheart, Dan, and her two boys, Boone and Jed. Dasha received her bachelor’s degree in apparel studies from the University of Arkansas, roots that eventually led her and Dan to start well-known event venue, Fairlane Station in Northwest Arkansas. She currently resides as Director of Product Development at Man Repeller. Follow Dasha Faires on Instagram [@dashofairy] and visit her website here. — photography source 01, 02, 03