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DANCASSAB
VOICES

MEGAN
VEGA

Words: Megan Vega

Megan Adelaide Vega is a model lifestyle photo blogger who lives in Long Beach, California. Sharing her voice, we are happy and proud to have her at Dan Cassab.

Megan wears the Kitty jacket.
‘ Honestly every fashion show had epic moments, grateful to be a part of them all. ’ — MEGAN VEGA.

DC: You are the perfect description of a fresh relaxed California free soul girl, who manages at the same time to have the allure of a cosmopolitan city, how do you do it?

MV: Living near the beach helps me stay balanced. Work can get very busy and as much as I love the rush of things, I simply love to slow things down, go to the beach with a book in my hand and turn off my phone.

DC: When did you discover that you liked fashion and that it would be your way of life, and that you could write about it?

MV: I discovered my love for fashion at a very young age, I started modeling at the age of 11 and I was infatuated with the rush of it all, putting looks together and creating art. Ever since then I knew I would forever be involved in this industry.

DC: Sharing your blog with others, is also being a role model, what are your messages to your followers?

MV: Simply just by being yourself.

DC: Which spiritual coaches, writers or speakers have given you tools to transform something in your life?

MV: Joan Didion, always and forever.

‘ Just do you and stay true to yourself. ’ — MEGAN VEGA.

DC: Share with us at Dan Cassabs Voices, a mantra you like to live by, as your core values.

MV: Just do you and stay true to yourself.

DC: Describe a regular day in your home by the beach, where you love to sit in your backyard?

MV: I love to start my day off with a hot pilates class, followed by coffee and then working at my computer for a couple of hours normally lol. I’ll shoot any projects that I have coming up and then enjoy the rest of the day by playing with my pups in the backyard or down by the beach.

DC: Who influenced on you when growing up to love fashion?

MV: My Grandma Margaret, she used to model as well and I admired her deeply.

DC: Give us an epic moment that is always in your memory, from a fashion show:

MV: Honestly every fashion show had epic moments, grateful to be a part of them all.

ON LONG BEACH

Great coffee spot:
Stereoscope

Best place to watch the perfect sunset:
The beach, always.

Favorite spot for a healthy lunch:
Sushi On Fire
A good hike in LA: Griffith Park, Bronson Canyon, Runyon Canyon.

DANCASSAB
VOICES

ALEXIS
BADIYI

Entering the new year with excitement, we welcome Alexis Badiyi, to our Voices at Dan Cassab, proud to have this empowered woman, share her secrets and tools to achieve her goals. Alexis is currently living in Brooklyn, she was born into a family of talented and creative entrepreneurs, where she learned that everything is possible.

Her intuition and the way she works with energy, makes her a well known stylist, she can style a picture, a flower vase, a location and a model with the best eye in town.

This courageous artist, has embarked on a new adventure, and is now on a business of her own.

Alexis wears the Diana coat.

DC: You are proud of your heritage, what specific talents did you learn and inherit from your family?

AB: Fearless imagination and creativity

DC: Tell us about this new adventure of embarking as an entrepreneur?

AB: Its been about a decade of being a freelance creative. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, dating back generations. This was the example I grew up with and looked up to. This has always felt the most familiar and comfortable to me.

DC: Working with your dreams, and then bringing them to life, is a state of the art, how do you do that?

AB: Working on strengthening your imagination & visualizations. Once I see something in my mind’s eye, it’s as if it has already happened. This fuels me like nothing else to bring these things to life. I’ll think of something non stop until it is fully visualized. Sometimes i’ll fall asleep thinking about it and then dream about it all night. Then when I wake up I’m hit with a wave to create it. I grew up seeing my family do this. My grandmother would be dreaming about something until it clicked & then leap up to create it.

DC: How do you keep grounded in such a hectic city?

AB: I’m from LA where being in nature was always my form of grounding. This can be hard to find in the city. I have found a combination of things to help ground myself. Exercise, meditation, acupuncture, therapy and good friends help.

DC: What advice would you give our readers, as far as vibrating in abundance instead of scarcity?

AB: Abundance attracts abundance, nothing can be created in the paralyzing space of scarcity. Visualize the feeling of abundance, voice gratitude for the areas in your life that are already abundant & feel that warm light expand to all areas of your life. The abundance you seek is also seeking you.

DC: You are an amazing artist, share a mantra of yours for us to keep:

AB: Hold on to the images of your dreams and the illusion of your dreams becomes your reality.

ON BROOKLYN/ NYC

Favorite coffee shop
Abraco East Village, Bittersweet Fort Greene

Coolest vintage spot in town
Desert Vintage, Stella Dallas ,Tokyo 7,L train, 9th street, my favorite way to buy vintage however is online through ebay, etsy, auctions, depop & IG

Where to find perfect flowers
Floral District

Where do locals shop for good furniture?
I’m a big online vintage shopper for good furniture. Once you have keywords, take them to craigslist, facebook marketplace, ebay, etsy & auction sites. I also love thrifting Upstate & Pennsylvania.

DANCASSAB
VOICES

NICOLE
HUISMAN

Words: Nicole Huisman

Joining our Voices at Dan Cassab, is a wonderful young successful woman, big time influencer, by setting a great example of how to so simple and elegant styling.

Nicole Huisman, started in Elle doing what she loves, she now works free lance and inspires many that she dresses up with her styling.

Nicole also works with Vogue, L’Officiel and other big league editorials. The queen of Styling has the tools and knows how to play the game.

Nicole wears the Taylor jacket.

DC: What do you look for in a person when doing their styling?

NH: I try to figure out what their personality is all about and how and in what they feel like the best version of themselves – is that by wearing a sexy minidress, or a cool oversized suit, for example? When I know who they are and what they are looking for, I always try to push them a little bit out of their comfort zone, trying something new, so that my work really has added value 🙂

‘ I’m eclectic, always colorful, always comfortable. ’ — Nicole Huisman.

DC: In your personal wardrobe, what style do you prefer?

NH: I’m completely schizophrenic when it comes to my personal styling, haha! I believe I’m a little bit of everything, except a minimalist. I envy people with their 5-piece-french-wardrobe vibes, it looks so calming, but I will never be able to join their club, I’m afraid. I’m eclectic, always colorful, always comfortable.

DC: What advice would you give us for a simple and elegant look, yet at the same time original?

NH: You can never go wrong with a beautiful oversized suit, a great fitting (vintage) pair of jeans and a qualitatively basic T-shirt. Choose something bold and original to top it off with: a crazy cool coat, an outspoken colorful bag. Focus on 1 item to put in the spotlight, that’s always a good idea.

DC: In your combo looks when wearing leopard, denim, silk, how do you create the finishing look?

NH: I always look for balance, no matter how crazy my look is. When I wear silk for example, I make sure to combine it with a heavier fabric, like denim or leather. And when wearing something oversized, I look for something more slim to combine it with – like an oversized jeans + oversized T-shirt with a mini-bag. Surprise elements, I guess.

Nicole wears the Blob utility belt.
‘ I believe I’m a little bit of everything, except a minimalist. ’ — Nicole Huisman.

DC: What is your favorite phrase for these times?

NH: So much is happening, be open to the good

DC: How did 2020 add to your growth?

NH: I found more calmness, more thankfulness and even more enthusiasm to get the best out of this crazy life!

DC: Hearing you say: Life is better in a bikini…

NH: Does that mean less is more? I do believe less is more, but sometimes less can be so boring. With ‘life is better in bikini’, I’m referring to my favorite season & surroundings. I feel best in summer, or at sunny destinations – gives me so much positive vibes and energy.

‘ So much is happening, be open to the good. ’ — Nicole Huisman.

ON AMSTERDAM

Favorite coffee shop?
Uncommon

Favorite place to shop for vintage clothing?
Sabbatical Vintage

What place would you recommend to anyone who is visiting for the first time?
Come visit my favorite area, the place where I just moved to, Amsterdam Noord! So much is happening there, love the raw, original vibes.

What are you reading/listening to these days?
Back at ‘The Best of Sade’

Hobby or what is it that you like doing on you free time?
I’m busy renovation our new house, from scratch, so I’m, always working on interior and moodboards, my new obsession.

DANCASSAB
VOICES

FIA
HAMELIJNCK

Words: Fia Hamelijnck

Fia is our Voice at Dan Cassab, she is beautiful inside and out. Half Dutch and half Nigerian, she has an eclectic and playful style. Fia loves life, and is a very positive person, she now lives in Amsterdam, where she has found her base, and enjoys it.

Big time influencer, she enjoys doing mix and match with colors and styles. Also a philanthropist, helping many Cancer Foundations.

She is always positive, her mantra: you may rest, but never quit!

Fia wears the Loretta jacket.

DC: Fia, you remind us of the beautiful flowers that grow in the Netherlands, specially the sunflowers, how does your character relate to that?

FJ: Oh that’s a good one, to be honest I do see some similarities with a sunflower. The biggest one is that they always grow facing towards the sun. So they look forward to a bright and fun future. That’s exactly how I live my life. Not everything goes as planned, but when you look for the bright side of things, your life will fall into place.

DC: You were very young when you moved to the big city, how did you make that decision?

FJ: I grew up in a small village together with my mom and my sister. There are only seven thousand people living there. I knew from a very young age that my place in to world was not there.

As soon as I visited Amsterdam and especially when I met the people that where living there. I love Amsterdam, as well as the people who live in it. I get inspired by just walking on the street, my love for fashion and art awakens.

‘ I always had my own style when I grew up. ’ — Fia Hamelijnck.

DC: You have mentioned that you love your home land, what is that you like there?

FJ: I just love the Dutch mentality. Very down to earth, direct and honest. But the the thing that really keeps me here are my friends and family. Such a cliche, but can’t image my life without having them close to me.

DC: Instagram and Pinterest set the turning point for you to be an influencer, we love your style, what made you start this?

FJ: I always had my own style when I grew up. I started experimenting with fashion and styling in high school and never stopped pushing boundaries of what I believed is cool and what you can mix and match.

‘ ‘Do you ’ just always do you. ’ — Fia Hamelijnck.

DC: Being a role model carries responsibility, which is the message you give to your followers?

FJ: That’s it’s OK to be different, and that the most important thing is to express yourself. But most of all you should always stand for inclusiveness. And that’s something I want to stand for.

DC: This past year, what was your most important lesson?

FJ: “Do you” just always do you. Go for what feels best for you, wear what you want and look like you want. Don’t ever think you are not good enough, because you are. We all are good enough 💙💙💙

‘ I just love the Dutch mentality. Very down to earth, direct and honest. ’ — Fia Hamelijnck.

ON AMSTERDAM

Must place to visit if it’s your first time?
So many places to visit. But for me a visit to Amsterdam isn’t complete without visiting the “Noordermark”. This is a vintage clothing heaven every Monday. You can find vintage designer clothes, but also other eclectic vintage finds. Noordermarkt is a market / food place that you will find every Sunday. They have really nice organic snacks and great oysters!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love walking trough the city. I have a dog and since he’s part of our family we walk from one side of the city to the other. We usually stop for lunch, snacks and coffee.

Favorite Coffee Shop:
Yusu! It’s close to my home and they have THE BEST cappuccino oat and banana bread. Say Hi for me when you are there:P

Best Vintage Store:
Noordermark
Reveuse Vintage
Episode
Ijhallen

Loretta

DANCASSAB
VOICES

ANNA
WINCK

Words: Anna Winck

Anna Winck, is an American girl, now living in Copenhagen, she became popular in the Scandinavian Fashion Scene, and is now a big time Instagram influencer, her followers love her warmth, freshness and the way she plays with the outfits, wearing all mix and matching colors, structures and patterns.

She is a fan of vintage clothing as well as Jewelry, reason why Anna considers herself a collector, where her advice is to gather antique pieces from the family that could be amazing for wearing and keeping.

Winck had always fun with fashion as long as she remembers, today she is a freelance stylist, creating looks that are always trendy, her most important intention is to giving confidence with what her customers acquire.

Recently embarked on a collaboration with Apne, with a wonderful outcome of beautiful Jewlery, featuring blends like a chunky masculine bracelet, with a touch of a femenin diamonds. She wakes up every morning, and depending on her mood that day, wears all kinds of rings, that have each a special meaning.

Anna has raised her voice and has set an example. Now she joins our Dan Cassab Voices, where we embrace her courage.

Anna wears the Queen jacket.

DC: Your pictures have a sensation of free air, a breeze of colors and flavors that go from the Scandinavian look to the Mediterranean, what connects you to these places?

AW: I grew up next to the ocean. In a Small town called Helsingborg. I feel very at home whenever I am close to the sea and out in nature. And I definitely think that reflects in my Photos.

DC: Being a lover of vintage clothes and Jewlery, do you feel like an old and wise soul?

AW: I actually dont. Maybe wise but certinaly not an old soul haha.

DC: Your sister and family are very important to you, what advice would you give the young crowd about this values?

AW: They are. They mean everything to me. I lost my dad when I was only 8 years old and that really gave me a perspective of how fragile life is and how you never should take anything nor anyone for granted. Cliche but so fucking true. Losing a family member is something that I can’t put into words on how that feels.

DC: Swimming every day and power walking, keep you up and energetic all the time, what do you use your acupuncture mat for precisely?

AW: I use it for my sore back. I worked in grocery store for 5 years and that pretty much destroyed my back. My acupuncture mat really helps my muscles relax – trying to use it 20 mins everyday. I really recommend it.

‘ Her followers love her warmth, freshness and the way she plays with the outfits, wearing all mix and matching colors, structures and patterns. ’ — ANNA WINCK.

DC: Believing in yourself has made you raise your voice to set examples for others to do so, what would be a powerful message that you would like to transmit?

AW: Speak your mind and speak out against things that harm other humans. I would personally say it is a part of your job. I see it as a part of my job to make others aware of what I think is wrong. If you do not fight the problem, You are a part of the problem.

DC: Any cool vintage stores that you would recommend?

AW: All vintage stores in Tokyo.

DC: What place would you like to travel to?

AW: Sri Lanka

Anna wears the Queen jacket.
‘ Winck had always fun with fashion as long as she remembers. ’ — ANNA WINCK.

ON DENMARK

Favorite coffee shop?
Lille Bakery / Atelier September

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Going for a swim, working out, eat swedish ice cream ”SIA” (seriously the best) Scrolling on Vestiaire Collective and watching “How I met your mother”.

DANCASSAB
VOICES

ESTELLE
CHEMOUNY

Words: Estelle Chemouny

Estelle Chemouny was born in the South of France, she moved to London after her studies, and hard worked on many jobs, they gave her time to reflect upon what she wanted to do with her life.

She then took a good offer being a sales person, there she had the opportunity to meet many people, and knew in her heart she could style them. Besides that Estelle loved to buy clothes for herself, when put together the outfits were very original, she was asked where she found her clothes, and that’s when something clicked giving her the answer, her path was without a doubt styling.

Estelle moved to Paris, the city of Light and Glamour, she resides there today, being followed by several thousands of fans that love her advice. She now has her own business, and happy to do so. Bringing her example to our Voices at Dan Cassab, we are proud to share her story.

Estelle wears the Diana jacket.
‘ If you are not yourself, who else are you going to be? ’ — ESTELLE CHEMOUNY.

DC: Where do you like to live better, in London or Paris, since each city has a different type of life style?

PT: It is hard to pick, London is where I actually grew up, built my career. It is the city that made me who I am today. And in London you can be whoever you want to be!

Paris is more grown up for me, if I can say that. Thats where I decided to settle, get married, open my store. Do grown up stuff!

Let’s say Paris is more beautiful but London has the best energy!

DC: You have started your own business very young, and in times where people are hesitant about retail, what gave you courage to do so?

PT: When I moved to Paris 4 years ago, I wanted to go shopping and I had not much to buy. It was all pretty classic and neutral, not my taste at all. In London, shopping was my passion and also my job, not because I love spending money but because I found pieces that I needed to own!

That is what was missing in Paris, a place where you desire pieces and realize you might not be able to live without them!

I know retail is difficult, and fashion has changed. But, I also believe people need to not only buy clothes they need to invest in very rare pieces, made by talented upcoming designers, made in very tiny quantities with the best quality.

That is what is missing! The retail experience from back in the days. When you were going to one store and knew you will only find one of a kind pieces, those pieces that will make the difference and make you feel special!

This is what we do at Paradise Garage 🙂

DC: YAs an advice to your readers at Dan Cassab, give us a phrase to keep:

PT: If you are not yourself, who else are you going to be?

DC: Share with us the lessons 2020 brought to your life:

PT: That my own happiness was my responsibility. Life is what you make it.

Estelle wears the Alanis jacket.
Estelle wears the Kitty jacket.
‘ That my own happiness was my responsibility. Life is what you make it. ’ — ESTELLE CHEMOUNY.

DC: In such a hectic work, do you practice mediation or any sports?

PT: Sports are not really my thing but during the first lockdown I have been working out watching Melissa Wood Health videos and it helped a lot. I have also started meditation to focus on the essential, and taking care of my mind. It has helped a lot!

DC: We’ve seen your style is very eclectic, even wearing men’s clothes is a signature of yours. Give us some tips on how to truly find out what our individual style is:

PT: I started wearing men’s clothes pretty young as I could get very oversized pieces (I am very tall!) My style is all about being comfortable, that is what I think first when I dress up. I hate tight clothes, it is my worst nightmare! I don’t have a particular style, I just wear what makes me happy and confident and that is what people should think of when they dress. Wear what you feel beautiful in, don’t follow the trends, just be you!

Estelle wears the Diana jacket.
‘ I don’t have a particular style, I just wear what makes me happy and confident and that is what people should think of when they dress. ’ — ESTELLE CHEMOUNY.
Estelle wears the Rimon jacket.
Estelle wears the Jane jacket.

ON PARIS

Favorite vintage shop?
Pretty box

Perfect coffee and patisserie?
Le moulin de la vierge

Most fashionable arrondissement?
I think 10/11

Favorite picks from Paradise Garage store:
Everything!!!

DANCASSAB
VOICES

PAMELA
TICK

Words: Pamela Tick, Interview: Kristom Parson

Pamela Tick, New York-based DJ, model, and eternally positive thinker, spoke to us about her personal style, making dreams come true, and her immense love for human connection.

After enduring the histrionics of east coast weather for over a decade, it is still astonishing to witness the first thunderstorm of the year. On a Mid-April afternoon, this one was complete with gale-force winds and marble-sized hail, which bounced from cherry blossoms onto car hoods while garnishing the plates of sidewalk lunch-goers. Thankfully, it was followed promptly by radiant sunshine and blue skies – all in an (eight hour) day’s work. As city-dwellers, we tend to have amnesia when it comes to our scale in nature until a humbling series of events like this come around again. We tend to find comfort ensconced in conducting the orchestra of our own thoughts, busy directing the theatrics of unknowns to remember or notice when the biggest comedian in the solar system, the sun, pops back in for a quick finale after a chaotic storm.

It is safe to say most people on earth have heard of New York City, and chances are they have some understanding of its grandeur and madness, both found in its iconic landscape and characters personified in the media alike. Indeed, there are a few “theories” about what New Yorkers are like. While some of them may prove true from personal experience or a cousin’s sister who visited that one time, the only sure bet about the people of New York City is that just like the weather, they, too, will always surprise you.

I first met Pamela Tick in 2015. At the time, she was well on her way down a multi-hyphenate creative path, having already assumed the roles of stylist, model, and brand muse for emerging cool-girl brands from far and wide. Her personal style embraces a beachy boho-meets-gamine energy sitting somewhere along the intersection of Birkin, Bardot, Fawcett, and 90s Moss. Thinking back, it took mere seconds to discover that while she is objectively gorgeous, what really stuck with me was her character. This anomaly of a New Yorker with long, blonde locks and a golden tan just breezed in with bubbling energy and a genuine warmth that was undeniably contagious. If you presume encountering this type of personality here is somewhat atypical, slightly off-brand, or even potentially extinct by some standards, you are not wrong. But for someone who naturally lives by the ‘work hard and be nice to people’ mindset, she proves it possible to unsubscribe to this stereotype, revealing that “…the culture, the energy, it’s different every day. You can be whoever you want in New York. No one cares. As long as you are confident, it’s your world!”

Being the renaissance woman Pamela is with her good-hearted nature and knack for bringing sunshine to any room is what sets her apart and makes her so sought after – particularly a bonus for DJing. As she recalls, “When I moved to NY and wanted to pursue all the lanes that I love; fashion, music, and lifestyle entertainment – DJing encompassed them all.” Naming Carl Cox, DJ AM, and Funkmaster Flex as influential pioneers of the New York DJ scene, she also recalls a genre that inspired her from formative years, “My dad would always play best of the ’50s as well as lots of Motown. I am always inspired to find remixes that tie in my childhood tunes with current vibes.”

Perhaps it’s too obvious, or not complicated enough for our overloaded, modern minds, but Pamela’s self-prescribed mantra, leading with kindness, is a valuable reminder often taken for granted. But when paired with patience and grace, kindness allows us to show up for ourselves first so we can do the same for others. In her wise words, “We are all human – we can’t ALWAYS 100% of the time be happy. But we can be positive. I feel being positive is the decision you can make based on your feelings. To me, positivity encourages hope and puts out good energy. Why wouldn’t we choose that? Something that has stuck with me forever is ‘you can either make yourself miserable, or you can make yourself happy – the amount of work is the same.’ It’s true.”

What Pamela hopes to be most remembered for is “Making people feel good,” and with our short existence on earth, what is more important than that?

Pamela wears the Queen jacket.
‘ We are all human – we can’t ALWAYS 100% of the time be happy. But we can be positive. I feel being positive is the decision you can make based on your feelings. To me, positivity encourages hope and puts out good energy. Why wouldn’t we choose that? Something that has stuck with me forever is “you can either make yourself miserable, or you can make yourself happy – the amount of work is the same.” It’s true. In order to preserve my positivity, I try to put life into perspective and share quality time with people who bring out the best in me. ’ — PAMELA TICK.

DC: You’re a New Yorker through and through, but with this incredibly warm personality that is so contagious and also a bit atypical of the city stereotype. It’s such genuine, refreshing energy to be around. Is this the general outlook you’ve had on life for as long as you can remember?

PT: I’ve always grown up with the notion “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” For as long as I can remember, being nice to everyone has always been so important but also natural to/for me. In my favorite tips of life, “Be Kind” is at the top. And in New York, it’s especially refreshing and doesn’t go unnoticed.

DC: Are there times when it’s challenging to maintain such generous positivity – especially after such a trying year? What do you do to preserve enough for yourself and those close to you?

PT: We are all human – we can’t ALWAYS 100% of the time be happy. But we can be positive. I feel being positive is the decision you can make based on your feelings. To me, positivity encourages hope and puts out good energy. Why wouldn’t we choose that? Something that has stuck with me forever is “you can either make yourself miserable, or you can make yourself happy – the amount of work is the same.” It’s true. In order to preserve my positivity, I try to put life into perspective and share quality time with people who bring out the best in me.

DC: Your style mirrors your personality as well – it’s adventurous and down to earth. How do you determine what is right for you and what isn’t? Are there specific risks you’re unwilling to take?

PT: To me, style is a sense of expression and identity. Like anything else, if I’m passionate about something or if it feels right, it probably is. I have a strong sense of confidence and independence, and I think it shows in what I wear and how I wear it. I usually determine if something is right for me based on if it falls into the “timeless” category.

DC: How did you get into DJing initially? How long did it take you to develop your own style? Are there things you’re still learning?

PT: When I moved to NY and wanted to pursue all the lanes that I love; fashion, music, and lifestyle entertainment – DJing encompassed them all. When I first learned how to DJ, I picked it up quickly and was so excited…It was like my own instrument. I am always learning and endlessly creating myself.

Pamela wears the Alanis jacket.
Pamela wears the Kitty jacket.
‘ When I moved to NY and wanted to pursue all the lanes that I love; fashion, music, and lifestyle entertainment – DJing encompassed them all. ’ — PAMELA TICK.

DC: When you think of the legendary DJ talent coming out of New York over the years, what are some of the names that come to mind who have impacted you most?

PT: Carl Cox, DJ AM, Funkmaster Flex

DC: Before streaming services made music infinitely accessible for the world to discover, most people grew up with more regionally limited influences that shaped their early tastes. What were some of your favorites in terms of genres, artists, or particular records you still think about today?

PT: My dad would always play best of the ’50s as well as lots of Motown. I am always inspired to find remixes that tie in my childhood tunes with current vibes.

DC: Does living in New York impact you creatively?

PT: Living in New York gets my creative juices flowing just by simply walking the streets. The culture, the energy, it’s different every day. You can be whoever you want in New York. No one cares. As long as you are confident, it’s your world!

Pamela wears the Queen jacket.
‘ Living in New York gets my creative juices flowing just by simply walking the streets. The culture, the energy, it’s different every day. You can be whoever you want in New York. No one cares. As long as you are confident, it’s your world! ’ — PAMELA TICK.

DC: Are there people close to you – in your family, friends, mentors – you look up to for guidance that helped sharpen your creative intuition?

PT: I look to friends and family often to help sharpen or support my creative intuitions. My husband is my better half here, though. He says he’s the brains behind the beauty, but I say he’s the brains and the beauty.

DC: If you were to give one solid piece of advice to anyone wanting to learn how to DJ, what would it be?

PT: Have fun with it. Don’t take yourself too seriously. There is no better feeling than letting go when you are DJing and being part of the dance fest and high-energy atmosphere that you’ve created.

DC: What keeps you motivated in your daily life? Do you have set regimens, healthy habits, self-care routines you can’t do without?

PT: I love my “me time.” Whether it’s a morning drive with a new playlist, stretching and pilates, hair masking, hot baths, making my own nut milk, cooking, or making my nightly lemon honey water – these little things bring me so much joy and comfort in my own home and skin.

DC: Can you share something about yourself people may not know?

PT: Love THC

DC: All things aside, what has been your favorite moment of this year?

PT: By the time this article is published, I’ll be skiing in Colorado, which will be a nice change of scenery.

DC: What do you hope to be remembered for most?

PT: Making people feel good

Pamela wears the Rimon jacket.
Pamela wears the Jane jacket.

On New York:

Favorite coffee shop:
Birch UES, Abraćo, and Bluestone Lane

Best conversation with a stranger:
Taxi Drivers

What you’re listening to:
Moby, Petit Biscuit, Damian Marley

In your free time you:
I try and keep a pulse on the things I love – music, art, decor, and sitting on the couch with my bulldog

A secret to living in New York:
If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere

Best weekend getaway:
The mountains are calling…

Home is:
where my dog is

DANCASSAB
VOICES

MÓNICA
SORDO

Monica Sordo was well on her way to becoming a designer long before she knew the journey had begun. Although this path may have been unsurprising to those close to her given Monica’s precise eye and affinity for curating scale, purpose, and comfort in her surroundings – from creative output to personal style and decor choices. These talents that come so naturally for her are precisely what led to manifesting the eponymous jewelry collection she first launched in 2012 following a return home to her birthplace.

Born in Caracas, she left to study abroad at an early age in Milan at the Istituto Marangoni. After university, she initially settled in Madrid, where her first fashion industry role began at Marie Claire magazine before taking a teaching position at the Instituto Europeo di Design. Throughout her stay in Madrid, she began to question this trajectory, believing her purpose might be on the other side of the fashion styling and merchandising coursework she studied. On a voyage back to her native Venezuela, Monica found herself re-immersed in the influences of her father’s industrial design workshop and her mother’s creative sensibility while becoming reacquainted with the breathtaking scenery that now finds its way into every collection she conceives. This auspicious timing at home is what cemented Monica’s desire to shift direction and pursue what is now clear to be her lifelong calling: to create timeless, collectible objects that pay homage to the heritage, landscape, and craftsmanship of Latin America.

“When I was a baby and growing up, we had a weekend home an hour away from the city on the coast of central Venezuela. The house was at the very tip of a mountain and overviewed the majestic open Caribbean sea. This house was handmade from scratch by my father and grandfather, who became my biggest influences. That view is part of who I am is a memory that is part of my hard drive; the way the mountains drop into the sea and draw a sharp yet organic line in between a green and blue block is just so powerful.”

Moving to New York City in 2009 to take a position with Christian Louboutin, she simultaneously studied Jewelry Design at the Gemological Institute of America. The influence of the city’s Art Deco architecture shaped her work, adding another layer to the collective elements – both naturally occurring and man made – that shape her renowned designs. Monica’s signature, oversized pieces occupy equal space between sculpture and sophisticated statement accessories.

Monica is committed to sustainably crafting jewelry alongside a team of artisans in Peru – specifically from San Juan de Lurigancho, one of Lima’s most underprivileged districts. As a firm believer in contributing to a more equitable society, Monica works with a Fair-trade International-certified atelier to ensure a safe work environment exists to foster younger talent in their pursuit to master valuable crafts such as these. In merging her innovative design practice with ancestral crafting techniques, she infuses new purpose into ancient traditions for future generations to cherish.

With a new venture into designing home decor on the horizon, Monica is determined to continue working with Latin American artisans to guarantee the same craftsmanship is upheld. “I’ve been so attracted to lighting and have been studying about it over the past months, so the first collectible objects we will be launching are wall lamps as we introduce glass as our newest medium. I’m very excited as this project gives me the opportunity, or better said, has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me explore new territories. These first objects are currently being developed in Mexico City and Oaxaca.”

As a Latin American brand committed to the same ethical and sustainable practices, Dan Cassab is honored to present Monica Sordo for our Voices series.

Mónica wears the Floyd jacket in Brooklyn, NYC.
‘ When I was a baby and growing up, we had a weekend home an hour away from the city on the coast of central Venezuela. The house was at the very tip of a mountain and overviewed the majestic open Caribbean sea. This house was handmade from scratch by my father and grandfather, who became my biggest influences. That view is part of who I am is a memory that is part of my hard drive; the way the mountains drop into the sea and draw a sharp yet organic line in between a green and blue block is just so powerful. ’ — MÓNICA SORDO.

DC: Could you tell us a bit about your early creative influences and your journey to where you are today?

MS: I grew up surrounded by metals, woods, and tools in my father’s industrial workshop… Well, workshops! The workshop would move with us from home to home and kept growing ….it has always been his hobby. I was the girl and the boy in the house, and as much I liked fashion since I was little, I did spend more time with him fixing something or putting a super cool project together for school than with dolls, shopping, or in dance classes. A decade after I left home to study in Milano, I realized what a big impact this experience had on me, and I began to suspect that my calling lay elsewhere, returning south to the heartland.

I started developing my first pieces in collaboration with him and my mom, who has developed a new career as a silversmith after her retirement. Surrounded by their creative sensibility, I embarked on this quest of forging collectible pieces that explore the pursuit of permanence through design, heritage, and craftsmanship.

DC: Growing up in Venezuela, you were surrounded by beautiful landscapes which still inspire the MS collections today. What are some of your earliest memories of these places? How did you approach the initial transformation of such poignant visuals into designed objects and jewelry?

MS: When I was a baby and growing up, we had a weekend home an hour away from the city on the coast of central Venezuela. The house was at the very tip of a mountain and overlooked the majestic open Caribbean sea. This house was handmade from scratch by my father and grandfather, who became my biggest influences. That view is part of who I am is a memory that is part of my hard disk, the way the mountains drop into the sea and draw a sharp yet organic line in between a green and blue block is just so powerful.

I could go on and on about visual memories from when I grew up. But I always like to mention that the arrival of modernism to Latin American happened through Venezuela. Caracas was the Mecca of Mid Century Architecture and Design and played a fundamental role in the Kinetic Art Movement. Jesus Soto’s public penetrable sculptures were my playground; Calder decorated the ceilings of the theater hall we frequented on Sundays. I met Bruno Munari as a kid and played with him and his mobile sculptures when he visited as part of a cultural program at a bank where my mom used to work in marketing. There is a video of this! I have to share it with you!

DC: Your personal style is always effortless, structural, and timeless… Much of the imagery in your campaigns and content you share – both personal and inspiration – comes from the same place…rooted in your creativity. What can you share about this?

MS: I like being comfortable. I’m comfortable if I look elegant, I’m comfortable if I’m not wearing makeup, but my skin looks and feels great. I’m comfortable when I’m wearing great fabrics, I’m comfortable wearing clothes that fit my body right, I’m comfortable wearing light yet bold jewelry…this is the definition of being timeless and effortless; to be comfortable in your own skin. No time or era defines my style because it is very personal as my day to day inspiration lies in my roots and my own experiences. Even though there are many many layers of how this influences my work and my style…what can be more effortless and timeless than our roots?

DC: Does design run in your family? Who might you credit with playing a significant role in shaping your creative disciplines?

MS: I have mentioned my parents already a few times! Even though they dedicated their careers to more corporate yet creative and successful positions, they always loved design. They were autodidacts in the new fields and passions they wanted to explore, which I find fascinating. As a matter of fact, I didn’t go to design school either; I did economics and fashion merchandising…so I guess it runs in our blood! They are my biggest mentors and role models. From my dad, I learned about precision, manufacturing processes, quality, and team management… from my mom, I learned to develop my sensibility and find beauty even in the most unexpected places.

Mónica wears the Patsy jacket in Brooklyn, NYC.

DC: You have mentioned a potential venture into sculpture and home. Can you share a bit about the direction you are taking? When and where will you show your work?

MS: I am happy to announce that we are finally working in full on this project very organically and taking the time to really understand how to scale up from our tiny pieces of jewelry. I am learning how to transition into a more multifaceted creator and detach naturally from the jewelry designer persona without losing our DNA and making sure to get our current Peruvian artisans involved. Keeping the craftsmanship from the region is one of the main focuses. I’ve been so attracted to lighting and have been studying about it for the past months, so the first collectible objects we will be launching are wall lamps as we introduce glass as our newest medium. I’m very excited as this project gives me the opportunity, or better said, has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me explore new territories. These first objects are currently being developed in Mexico City and Oaxaca.

DC: What have you learned about your process through your more recent work? How has your approach from concept to creation changed?

MS: These past 10 months have been extremely challenging. I always thought: What would I do the day I can not visit my artisans and workshops in Lima? As I develop hand in hand with them. Unfortunately, that day arrived due to a global pandemic that paralyzed yet awakened the world in many ways.

I did realize I was so dependent on being there and micromanaging to develop new ideas, which kept me away from new projects and evolving. It was time to develop new communications tools with the team and profit from the creative flow and outstanding quality and trust we have developed in the past 5 years working together. So I will say I have learned to delegate, trust my team, and work with more time in smaller collections.

DC: What is the most important thing you consider before introducing something new into the world of your own creation?

MS: Volume, Weight, and Functionality

Mónica wears the Taylor jacket in Paris, France.
‘ Being more mindful has become my main motivation. It is not an easy task, but it is so refreshing to nurture yourself with this practice. ’ — MÓNICA SORDO.

DC: Does living in New York play a major role in your creative process? How has your time in Miami impacted your approach to work differently?

MS: It definitely has! You can see in my first collections a strong Art Deco influence. With time though, I understood that the Art Deco movement was born through the composition of earlier ones such as cubism, futurism, De Stijil, and many others… So to that point, New York allowed me to not just have access to some of the most amazing art collections in the world, keep training my eye and my own style, but it also gave me that energy and mojo that is hard to explain but makes you so creative and strong.

On the other hand, Miami has helped me be more eloquent in the more organic discourses that characterize my latest work. There is that Caribbean vibe and the feeling of being closer to home. The mesmerizing and dramatic sunsets have even made us evolve into a new core color palette.

DC: How do you stay motivated? What is the most important part of your day?

MS: Being more mindful has become my main motivation. It is not an easy task, but it is so refreshing to nurture yourself with this practice.

Mónica wears the Floyd jacket in Brooklyn, NYC.

On New York and Miami:

Favorite local coffee shop or restaurant:
La Natural (Mia)

Your signature drink order:
Fresh orange juice with a splash of Campari

What you’re reading:
Wherever you go, there you are. by Jon Kabat-Zinn

What you’re listening to:
CLASSIXX

Favorite museum or gallery:
Spinello Projects (Miami)

In your free time you:
Let the Martha Stewart inside me cook for my family and friends.

Where you find peace:
Home.

Home is:
Where I find peace.

Floyd

DANCASSAB
VOICES

LETA
SOBIERAJSKI

Words: Leta Sobierajski, Interview: Kristom Parson

We are pleased to introduce Leta Sobierajski, artist and co-designer of the Dan Cassab x Leta Sobierajski collection – our first leather accessories range done in collaboration with creative director and founder Daniela Cassab.

An independent designer and art director based in New York City, Leta’s multi-media practice explores visual journeys through combining traditional graphic design elements with photography, art, and styling to produce viscerally stunning tableaus. As one-half of the creative studio, Wade and Leta, a style they have dubbed ‘Music To Your Eyes,’ comes alive, where speculative design converges with colorful mediums forming a familiar personality throughout their work. Counting in her arsenal of inspiration are such lauded visionaries as Rei Kawakuba and Arakawa and Gins, the latter to whom she attributes, “Their work has made us consider the physical effect of the work that we make and has even encouraged us to create our own work philosophies such as “design as performance,” to give a greater understanding to the physical activity we strive for in the work we create, whether through a brand, a sculpture, or an ad.”

To fully grasp the breadth of Leta’s imagination, it is essential to understand that her artistic process begins with considering the holistic experience as both the creator and the beholder. This practice is one she began to hone from a young age growing up in a small rural town in upstate New York. It was among the vast acreage surrounding her childhood home, filled with trees and beautiful stillness, that the curiosity she approaches her work with today began to take shape. She recalls, “With a surplus of nature at my disposal and no siblings to play with, my imagination would run wild as I traversed streams and climbed trees, imagining that I was running alongside fantastical creatures with batons in my hands (sticks, of course) and inspecting a world untouched by human hands. I’d write, draw pictures, and write stories about my discoveries and record myself on a tape recorder interviewing these creatures that I found (I wish I had these tapes still!). It sounds like it was a very lonely existence, but I can’t imagine an alternative.”

Leta’s work explores the space between more conventional identities and pushing boundaries into bizarre compositions. The color-charged, overarching optimism conveyed in both her artwork and personal style is what captivated us at first sight. When the opportunity to collaborate became possible, it was a refreshing and motivating reward to learn her creativity was even more boundless than we expected. In our first virtual meetings last year, there were shared sentiments of relief to co-create again during one of the most isolating and troubling times in history. As creators, the interaction between tangible things – whether tools, materials, or individual people – is an essential requirement and great privilege. So, perhaps conjuring the strength on behalf of every creative mind feeling the weight of a future then unknown, Daniela and Leta set forth with shared determination to bring something entirely new into the world for both of them.

For the initial collaboration, Daniela and Leta designed a limited-edition t-shirt benefitting Project Paz’s COVID at the Border initiative, with 50% of the proceeds donated to support communities in need on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border. Leta interpreted her signature bold graphic and text‐based work into empowering motifs featuring the phrases ‘We Are What We Think’ and’ ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ to show the solidarity and respect Americans have for their Mexican neighbors.

Not unlike her early ventures into the unknown, throughout her artistic evolution, Leta continues to challenge herself and her collaborators to not only make something appear but to ensure the impact of its presence is everlasting once discovered. As the duo embarked on designing leather accessories, equally important were shared values to preserve the product and design integrity while using the most sustainable production methods, from utilizing leather scraps from the brand’s cutting room floor, leftover from previous collections to selecting packaging and shipping materials. Combining Leta’s postmodernist/maximalist influences with Dan Cassab’s 60s rock n roll aesthetic, the resulting range brings Leta’s bold graphics to life over handcrafted leather to form a unisex, utilitarian assortment of handbags and accessories.

After what became a nearly year-long process from the first brainstorm to launch, this particular joining of art and fashion functioned as a source of catharsis and hope for the two creatives navigating uncharted territory. Taking comfort in problem-solving together effectively wrought a sense of peace and gave purpose to what seemed like, at times, a loop of endless chaos and uncertainty.

We are so grateful for the unforgettable experience of working with Leta. Looking back at the year behind us and looking forward at much to come, we hope these two mantras will guide you as swiftly as they did us, to believe that “We Are What We Think,” and remember to “Love Thy Neighbor.”

The Dan Cassab x Leta Sobierajski collection will be available on Monday, March 22, exclusively on Dancassab.com.

Leta wears the Blob collection in Brooklyn, NYC.
‘With a surplus of nature at my disposal and no siblings to play with, my imagination would run wild as I traversed streams and climbed trees, imagining that I was running alongside fantastical creatures with batons in my hands (sticks, of course) and inspecting a world untouched by human hands. I’d write, draw pictures, and write stories about my discoveries and record myself on a tape recorder interviewing these creatures that I found (I wish I had these tapes still!). It sounds like it was a very lonely existence, but I can’t imagine an alternative…’ — Leta SOBIERAJSKI.

DC: Where did you grow up? Can you remember your earliest form of creative output as a child?

LS: I’m from a very tiny town and grew up in a deciduous forest area in upstate New York where the changing of the seasons was probably the biggest event of the year. Outside of school activities, there wasn’t much to do; aside from studying, I spent my free time drawing and exploring the outskirts of our backyard (all 20 acres of it). With a surplus of nature at my disposal and no siblings to play with, my imagination would run wild as I traversed streams and climbed trees, imagining that I was running alongside fantastical creatures with batons in my hands (sticks, of course) and inspecting a world untouched by human hands. I’d write, draw pictures, and write stories about my discoveries and record myself on a tape recorder interviewing these creatures that I found (I wish I had these tapes still!). It sounds like it was a very lonely existence, but I can’t imagine an alternative.

DC: Where did you go to college? How did you decide to study graphic design?

LS: Once we got internet access (a difficult acquisition when you happen to live in the woods), I learned that there was more to drawing than just a pen and paper. I asked my parents for a licensed copy of Photoshop 7.0 for my 12th birthday, which I planned to use to color and improve my artworks. I spent more and more time indoors patiently waiting for my access to the outside world to load, pixel by pixel. I used DeviantArt as a portal to share my work and visited chat rooms to connect with other people who felt as estranged as I did. From drawing, I began to design posters, study technical drawing, and eventually signed up for classes in desktop publishing. By my final year of high school, I felt design was an industry that could help me tie all of these interests together.

I went to college at SUNY Purchase College, a school about an hour outside of New York City and four hours from my hometown. At that time, I was still so unaware of the world of art and design and schools like the SVA and RISD simply weren’t on my radar. Thanks to already being a New York State resident and my mother working for another SUNY school, my education was heavily discounted. I’d say that Purchase was a gentle introduction for me to the outside world and a suitable transition between my tiny town and my current “big city” living.

DC: Are there particular artists, cultures, movements, periods, or otherwise that you are influenced by?

LS: Arakawa and Gins – The ultimate working couple, Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins were visual artists, conceptual writers, self-taught architects who believed that, through a radical recalibration of the built environment, humans could solve the ultimate design flaw: death. Their work has made us consider the physical effect of the work that we make and has even encouraged us to create our own work philosophies such as “design as performance,” to give a greater understanding to the physical activity we strive for in the work we create, whether through a brand, a sculpture, or an ad.

Despite how incredible, insightful, and batshit crazy their work has been, Arakawa and Gins have created very few architectural sites together, though they had originally planned for many more. Wade and I have taken it upon ourselves to visit as many of their sites as we can in hopes of further learning and understanding the brilliance that their work conveys. Ever since we discovered their work in 2016, we’ve been infatuated with their idea for growing backward in age by designing environments that become “interactive laboratories of everyday life” whose terrain and walls are deliberately realized in unexpected ways to keep a person ‘tentative’ so that they must actively negotiate even the simplest tasks. This heightened body awareness and the challenging of senses can, they believed, allow the body to constantly re-configure itself and with time become a means to strengthen the immune system. Bioscleave House fundamentally proposes an architecture of viability that helps to sustain one throughout life, and even extend human lifespan indefinitely.

Rei Kawakubo – The evolution of her brand, Comme Des Garcons, over the course of several decades has been forever inspiring to me. Her work challenges the shape and idea of the human body and interchangeability of femininity / masculinity and makes me reconsider the functionality and utilitarianism of everyday clothing. She also gives me the motivation to be a successful woman without having to exude the typical tropes of womanhood.

I’m also heavily inspired by the fantastical storytelling of the Final Fantasy game series, and find that the games that I played in my younger years still contribute to the ambitious storytelling and positivity that I carry with me today. Plus, the stylistic choices of the main characters are likely what gave me an inherent curiosity about fashion in my more current years. These stories give me this otherworldly superhero-esque feeling of purpose in the work that I make, encouraging me to succumb to ideas of escapism and the grandiose dream and desire for building an alternative world to offset our daily lives.

DC: To what extent do they infiltrate your world as an artist, in your home, or personal style?

LS: I don’t see a separation between work and life, and nor do I see a separation between the persona of myself and the persona of me as a designer. Both go hand in hand, and therefore I surround myself with the work and writing of those who inspire me. Our home is painted in many bright colors with accented trimmings—most of which are leftover from set design and sculpture projects and are a testament to the many colors we have used in our work. The artwork on our walls and shelves is made by many of our friends and role models. My personal style can sometimes be a little less colorful than the work I make, but what it lacks in chromatic joy it makes up for in silhouette and structure. Wade and I have also taken up the interest of collecting figures from games and anime that have impacted us (like Akira, Final Fantasy, Evangelion, etc.), so our shelves have gotten a lot more playful.

Leta wears the Blob tote bag with handle and Bolt crossbody in Brooklyn, NYC.

DC: How did you hone your signature style? How has it evolved over the years – both pre-Wade and Leta and post?

LS: Saying it’s a signature style is so kind! I honestly still feel like it’s something I’m figuring out, so I’m flattered that it has some sort of distinction. I’ve always been attracted to sculpture and landscapes and architecture, and so I naturally gravitated towards exploring the physicality of design. While I was taught that graphic design, at its essence, was focused on logos, typography, posters, and books, these elements weren’t enough to keep my attention in university. I always wanted to do what I wasn’t being taught in the classroom. Hence, I was often found in the woodshop working with sculpture majors’ offcuts or barricading myself in the basement for a photoshoot with whatever I could find. This hands-on approach led to a fascination with the materiality of design and how I didn’t need to be confined to one aspect of an industry to make it feel like my own.

My personal projects were born from ideas that I couldn’t make on the computer, and incorporating my own physicality with my photography was the solution that would help make my concepts sing. Incorporating myself and my body into my work felt like a natural evolution because of a very unglamorous reason—I didn’t have the money to hire someone else to do it. Vanity is not the intention here; it’s simply to save a few bucks. When I met Wade, he very quickly adapted this technique, and we began to make work together using these principles. We both grew up playing sports and being active, and so using our bodies to conquer our conceptual challenges felt like a natural evolution of our skillset as designers.

DC: Do you and Wade create balance through opposites or do you find yourselves aligned on most projects?

LS: As individuals, we are much different from one another, and that is quite apparent in our work. I love the smaller details and really refining things, whereas Wade is more gestural with his work and likes to iterate to define a feeling. It really works out because we openly collaborate and share files to make sure we can catch each other when we are going a little too crazy. Everything is about balance and harmony and how we can attain it through dialogue and collaboration.

DC: What is most important to you when considering a new project?

LS: For me, it’s most important to find new opportunities and novel solutions. I love being able to work with brands and people who see merit in what we do and help us push our own boundaries within our offerings as a studio. There’s beauty in someone being able to see our work and recontextualize it in a way that might offer a solution in a way we could not previously imagine. I consider each project to be a stepping stone for us to expand our skillset, and truly, we wouldn’t be able to do this without the trust and support of those who choose to work with us. Our values are simple, and our biggest ambitions are always to make something we’ve never made before.

Leta wears the Leta collection in Brooklyn, NYC.
‘ Their work has made us consider the physical effect of the work that we make and has even encouraged us to create our own work philosophies such as “design as performance,” to give a greater understanding to the physical activity we strive for in the work we create, whether through a brand, a sculpture, or an ad. ’ — Leta SOBIERAJSKI.

DC: You have worked with a range of brands from design to fragrance and beyond. Was there anything particularly appealing or different about working in the fashion space with Dan Cassab?

LS: I really appreciate what Daniela has created and was already a big-time admirer—Dancassab feels like it is designed for the unapologetically ambitious woman (or person) who has great dreams and even greater goals. I’ve never worked in the fashion space before but have been extremely keen to explore it, and Daniela’s positive energy and endless ambition felt like the perfect invitation. I’ve learned so much from every person I have collaborated with, and I feel like working with DanCassab has been one of the greatest learning experiences thus far.

DC: What would you say your greatest challenge was when approaching the collaboration from a design perspective?

LS: Having no limits is always going to be my greatest challenge. As a person who thrives on constraints and self-proclaimed rules, being given an open floor to construct ideas is intimidating, nerve-wracking, and liberating, all at once! Originally we discussed designing a t-shirt and some patterns, and I’m grateful that Daniela was enthusiastic when I presented page upon page of ideas for how to take this collaboration to the next level, taking me way out of my comfort zone as I thought about silhouettes, hardware, functionality, and wearability. I honestly never thought that we would make everything we discussed, and I keep on pinching myself when I look at the lookbook because I still can’t believe it’s all real.

DC: What is the greatest risk you’ve taken so far as an artist?

LS: Acknowledging that sometimes our initial dreams aren’t always the right dreams. Before I began working individually, I was truly set on working my way to the top of the ladder at a studio, but was soon disenchanted when I understood the realities of those studios I worked for. I wanted to build a safe space for myself that did not depend on titles to define what I do, so I could freely explore mediums and materials without having to justify the reason.

‘ I don’t see a separation between work and life, and nor do I see a separation between the persona of myself and the persona of me as a designer. Both go hand in hand, and therefore I surround myself with the work and writing of those who inspire me. ’ — Leta SOBIERAJSKI.

DC: Assuming public health and travel restrictions were not a factor, what would be your dream project?

LS: For years now, we’ve wanted to design a playground that could appeal to both children and adults. There’s something so extraordinary about seeing people interact with our work, and thankfully for us, color and pattern tend to attract people of all ages. We’d love to build a site that can be appreciated at any time of day without exclusivity.

When we created our Party for All in 2019, it really opened our eyes to the idea of how, despite us loving museums and galleries, our favorite artworks were experiences that promoted interactivity. We hope that at some point, somewhere around the world, we’ll be able to create a space (or series of spaces!) that can encourage people to be themselves, love one another, and embrace their sense of child-like wonder.

DC: Do you see the Wade and Leta studio expanding into other areas of design or creating materials or products?

LS: We’ve already started to explore the possibilities of public sculpture, intricate installations, and in 2021 we’re designing an entire factory space, so I think that our evolution into materials and products is only a matter of time. I’m fortunate that our educations could teach us such broad principles because I feel like they can be applied to every possible facet of our field.

On New York:

Your favorite…
Local small business:

Kettl Tea, Winson Bakery, Nick and Sons Bakery.

Restaurant:
Cerveceria Havemeyer, Rule of Thirds, Ten Bells.

Museum:
Rather than a museum, go to Chelsea and spend a day weaving in and out of galleries. It’s my favorite way to gather inspiration and was Wade’s and my weekend regimen pre-pandemic.

Book store:
Karma Books, Dashwood Books.

Art supply store:
Artist & Craftsman Supply on Metropolitan.

Park:
Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Clothing store:
Dover Street Market, Comme des Garcons.

Furniture finds:
Bi-Rite, Home Union, and Lichen, and our friend Francois Chambard who designed our most extraordinary credenza.

Where you feel most at peace:x
In the comforts of my home with my headphones on.

Leta Collection

DANCASSAB
VOICES

SAMANTHA
TAMS

Words: Samantha Tams, Interview: Kristom Parson

Samantha Tams is the co-founder of the Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS). Born in Mexico City and raised in a small town outside the city, she took an interest in traveling and learning languages from an early age. Upon returning home from studies in an entirely different direction, it was by chance that she stepped into her first fashion role at Saks Fifth Avenue as the store was just opening in Mexico City.

After holding numerous roles in the industry, it was a conversation with Nicaraguan-born Estefania Lacayo about creating a platform for uniting and amplifying Latin American talent that inspired her own journey into entrepreneurship. Launching its first summit in 2018, LAFS began with a clear mission to promote and foster Latin American brands and businesses through educational programs and access to industry leaders. One of the few design events that focuses on Latin America as a region, LAFS promotes emerging designers and the fashion business as a whole. Over several days of programming, attendees have access to workshops and panels covering everything from brand positioning and visibility in a saturated market to current industry affairs and insightful perspectives on the future of fashion.

With fostering brands and connecting people at the heart of their mission, the duo had the fortitude to act swiftly and evolve once it became clear that the unforeseen circumstances surrounding the pandemic would ultimately halt the in-person summit in 2020. Initially, they found a successful alternative in providing free webinars wherein the LAFS community could tune in for strategic advice on carrying their businesses forward. Once this format proved to be a successful alternative, they had the confidence to migrate the physical event into an optimized online version. Their final answer is TRIBU, a members-only, professional social networking platform that engages users in the worlds of fashion and design to share, collaborate, and connect with top talent across various disciplines.

We are grateful to fellow female entrepreneurs like Samantha, who are dedicated to discovering new ways to grow and support the Latin American design communities.

Samantha wears the Kitty jacket in Salon Gallos, Merida, Mexico.
Photos by Jose Manuel Rodriguez for DANCASSAB.
‘Before LAFS, I had never been an entrepreneur, so it was very challenging for me to develop a thick skin for all the rejection in the early stages. Back then, the idea of a fashion summit was somewhat foreign to a lot of people in Latin America. It was very challenging to pitch the project to sponsors as our company was new, and we had no proven concept up until then. Regardless of this, we moved forward. We had a very strong mission to help Latin American brands and businesses, educate them, and give them access to leaders of the fashion industry. We saw a white space and were willing to address it.’ — SAMANTHA TAMS.

DC: Where did you grow up? Did your surroundings have an impact on what you ultimately decided to pursue in your academic or career choices?

ST: I was born in Mexico City but grew up in Cuernavaca, a small town outside the city. From an early age, I was very interested in traveling, learning languages, and growing up in a small town with limited things to do fueled my desire to live in a big city. So when I chose my career, I decided I wanted to study Diplomacy and left for my studies in London and Paris.

DC: How did you initially start in the industry?

ST: So obviously, I didn’t become a diplomat. As soon as I finished my studies and went back to Mexico City to look for a job, a very good friend told me that Saks Fifth Avenue was going to open soon. I showed up for an interview without knowing what I was applying for, and I got the job as Assistant Buyer for Shoes and Handbags. That was my first job in the fashion industry.

DC: Do you recall any specific bosses, mentors, or peers who helped shape you in the early stages?

ST: Absolutely, I have plenty. My first boss Cynthia Alonso hired me and taught me about retail math and buying. Our GM Martha Balcarcel was a great friend and mentor with awesome style, and Mr. Carlos Hajj (CEO) taught us how to carry out a retail business. During Carlos’ and Martha’s tenure, I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Carlos Slim Sr. he’s been to date the most influential mentor I’ve had, not only as a businessman but as a human.

DC: When did the idea to launch the Latin American Fashion Summit come about?

ST: The idea was born in the summer of 2017. I was vacationing in Nicaragua with my sister-in-law, Estefania. We both had strong retail backgrounds and shared the idea that there was a lot of talent in the region, but something was missing. We started talking about creating a summit for emerging Latin American brands and businesses, and the next thing we knew, our first summit happened in November 2018 with 350 attendees from all across the region.

DC: What were the most important things to consider about this joint venture? What were some of the challenges you faced?

ST: Before LAFS, I had never been an entrepreneur, so it was very challenging for me to develop a thick skin for all the rejection in the early stages. Back then, the idea of a fashion summit was somewhat foreign to a lot of people in Latin America. It was very challenging to pitch the project to sponsors as our company was new, and we had no proven concept up until then. Regardless of this, we moved forward. We had a very strong mission to help Latin American brands and businesses, educate them, and give them access to leaders of the fashion industry. We saw a white space and were willing to address it.

DC: You have helped shed a spotlight on talented designers and united the Latin American fashion community on a deeper level through networking and educational workshop offerings which cover brand building, marketing, resources, and consumer insights, and beyond. Is there a measurable impact – in the form of brand success stories or perhaps growth in manufacturing or supply chains in particular regions – that you have seen?

ST: A lot of cool things happen in our community; people connect and opportunities arise. The two most tangible ones that I could think of are Colombian designers Kika Vargas and Maygel Coronel as examples. They were the winners of our Pitch to LAFS 2018 and 2019 contest (The Pitch to LAFS is a yearly competition that rewards Latin American Talent and exposes it to more than 20 international industry leaders, including buyers, luxury consultants, CEOs, showroom owners, publishers, and investors). Kika now sells in Bergdorf’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom, and Maygel Coronel has had 4 successful trunk shows in Moda Operandi and escalated her business to another level.

DC: Much has changed since your inaugural LAFS summit. How have you remained agile through the limitations over the past year? Was TRIBU the answer to this?

ST: As soon as the pandemic hit, we knew that our community was suffering, and we needed to help them navigate those troubled times. For that, we started to create free webinars where they could be advised on how to move forward and the strategies they should implement in their businesses. The successful outcome of these webinars gave us the confidence to migrate the once physical event into an online one. Furthermore, we launched Tribu, an app and desktop version of a professional networking platform for everyone in the fashion and design industries.

The past year introduced our business to an exciting digital landscape that never ceases to grow and amaze us.

‘ I’d love to see a Sloane dress paired up with an Aurelia belt and a Dan Cassab Jacket. ’ — SAMANTHA TAMS.

DC: Can you share a bit about the Tribu platform and its offerings?

ST: TRIBU is a new, members-only networking desktop and mobile app platform providing a connection between users and others in the fashion and design worlds. We are a professional social network that allows you to share, collaborate, and connect with the industry’s most talented people. Its most exciting features are a valuable directory organized by industries and occupation and GPS reactive. Like this, we create opportunities to connect with other users to expand members’ networks. We offer different ways to showcase projects, post and apply for career opportunities, and share events. We produce educational content from leading industry experts such as webinars, talks, and roundtables. Moreover, our members enjoy exclusive benefits from our sponsors and partners all over the world.

DC: Who are some designers to watch in 2021?

ST: I’d love to see a Sloane dress paired up with an Aurelia belt and a Dan Cassab Jacket.

DC: What has been the most rewarding moment for you so far?

ST: Every time I get an email from a brand or entrepreneur saying that LAFS has helped them with their business makes our countless hours of work worthwhile.

‘ The industry is saturated; stick to your mission, develop a strong brand DNA, find your voice, leave a positive mark in the world and tell your story. ’ — SAMANTHA TAMS.

DC: What is a typical workday like for you?

ST: My day starts very early. I work out, and then I get to my to-do list for the day. I have two young kids (2 and 5), so while they are at school (home school for the past year), I have roughly 4.5 hours to be very focused and work. I typically work on the computer during the first part of the day, and I try to schedule all my calls for the latter part that I am multitasking between kids and work. I try to dedicate 4 hours a week to jump on calls or meet with designers.

DC: Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone looking to enter the industry or brands who might be curious about LAFS or Tribu?

ST: The industry is saturated; stick to your mission, develop a strong brand DNA, find your voice, leave a positive mark in the world and tell your story.

DC: What are you personally looking forward to in the year ahead?

ST: Planning for a LAFS 2021 physical event where we can meet again!

On Mexico / Yucatan:

Your favorite restaurant:
Ixi’Im restaurant inside Chable Resort, Yucatán.

Museum or gallery to visit:
Galeria OMR (Mexico City)

Best place to be outdoors:
The beach, I have been discovering amazing places in the Yucatán Peninsula

Top retail/shopping experiences:
Coqui Coqui, they do an outstanding job attacking all of your senses from decadent aromas, luscious oils, delicious honey and chocolates, amazing fashion and décor, and relaxing stays on all of their properties.

In your free time, you enjoy:
Riding a bike with my family.

How you maintain balance:
I was lucky to move to Yucatán, where I have had a better quality of life that helps me balance work and time with my family and myself.

Where you find peace:
At night, I go out to my terrace and lie down on my hammock, trying to wind down the day.

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