Damen + Hastings is a men’s accessory brand, but it wouldn’t be half of what it is today if it weren’t for the many women creatives and #girlboss figures behind the scenes. With International Women’s Day nearing celebration on March 8th, we dedicate this week’s journal post to our d+h female superstars. We sat down with three collective members in our New York Office to get the knitty gritty on what inspires them, what it’s like to be a woman working in menswear + of course, what's for lunch.
Meet Susan. As the marketing, advertising, and creative content lead for the brand she handles all website design, development and back-end maintenance. Susan is also the buyer for our site working hand in hand with product teams to finalize assortment selections for each season.
Meet Pam. As a Senior Graphic Designer for our team she is responsible for overseeing the production of all marketing materials ensuring the brand aesthetic is represented in terms of look and feel. Pam manages a team of designers and photographers that create and work on many of the photo + graphic design projects for d+h.
Meet Raida. As the creator of graphics and digital collateral for the brand, Raida develops playful illustrations and customer interfacing experiences used in email blasts, social media and the d+h journal.
d+h: How long have you all worked together?
Susan: About three years.
d+h: Anything funny to tell us about one another?
Susan: Raida, our graphic designer for the brand, is very sweet, talented and professional, and loves to give Pam a little bit of a hard time whenever she can.
Raida: Pam will burst into “song” every now and then. She might just have a calling to be a popstar.
Pam: Raida has an obsession with BTS that I will never understand. Susan dreams about Damen + Hasting sometimes, but I’m not quite certain that’s "funny".
d+h: Is it hard creating for a men’s brand as a woman?
Susan: No, not at all actually. My background is in men’s accessories and I love that we’re a well rounded, collaborative team. Our Collective consists of members based in Chicago + NY, male and female. We work together to take a solution-based approach to everything that we design for damen + hastings. And although, I personally am not our target male customer, I can still envision how to best reach and market to them.
Raida: Sometimes it is a challenge but for the most part I really enjoy the neutrality of the brand. There are certain products I can imagine myself carrying. Like the Limited Edition record tote bag.
d+h: Any other items in the collection you wear or would wear?
Pam: I’d definitely sport some of the slim wallets, the passport and cell phone case wallet.
Susan: I wear the Wolcott water resistant beanie in black. It’s lightweight, easily fits in my every day commuting bag, and is great for all types of weather. Especially this time of year when you never really know what you’re gonna get throughout the day with rain or snow.
d+h: Where do you all find inspiration?
Pam: Everywhere, as I’m fortunate to live in NYC. When I am home, I undergo a bit of research on Behance, Dribble and randomly look at Advertising/Marketing firms.
Raida: I look for inspiration by attending design talks whether it be IRL or Podcasts. Listening to them gives me a peek inside the minds of creatives.
Susan: Anywhere and everywhere. When it comes to damenandhastings.com I always try to keep my eyes open for new ideas. Scrolling through Instagram, editorial sites and magazines, other brands, fashion or non, other retailers, etc.
d+h: Who is your greatest female inspiration?
Pam: There are so many, I can’t name one…. there’s Serena Williams, Mrs. Obama and Tina Fey and many more. All amazing and powerful women who became successful by piercing through obstacles and not running around them.
Susan: Within the fashion industry, I’d say Stella McCartney. I love that she’s always stood for cruelty-free, animal-free products as well as eco-friendly practices, well before the masses started to follow suit. She was and is way ahead of the curve. She also recently branched out to menswear which I think was a really smart move.
Raida: My biggest inspiration comes from my mom. I know it’s a pretty common answer, but some of the main reasons I was able to study in the states, go to a design school and now work here is because of her. She was the one who persuaded my family. Trust me, she and I had our moments and fought some, mostly where my mom would come out victorious. I am here today because of her and I am super grateful. She is always fighting for me to pursue my dreams.
d+h: Any quotes you love?
Pam: “Work smarter, not harder.” Life’s all about simplicity.
Susan: “The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it”. It helps me to keep pushing forward, especially when the amount of work feels almost impossible to take on.
Raida: “Work hard, Snack often.” -Lauren Hom
d+h: What is your favorite part about working on this brand?
Raida: Definitely how inclusive we are. When we brainstorm, our voices are heard and often executed. I really feel open to voice my opinions. We are able to embrace creativity together. An idea can be bad or great, but knowing that there is a team who is open to such creativity feels very empowering and exciting.
d+h: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on for d+h?
Susan: This past summer we had our 1st pop up shop and brand event at Wicker Park Fest in Chicago, an outdoor street and music festival in a really cool section of Chicago. Designing and prepping our booth for our 1st customer facing event and selling product was nerve wracking but a great experience. The ability to introduce the brand to so many people in a laid back, fun, festival environment was amazing and getting 1st hand feedback from people interested in and excited about our brand was invaluable.
d+h: Best learned lesson you take to heart when it comes to work?
Pam: I’m my own worst critic and the hardest thing for me to accept is that nothing is perfect and permanent. There are endless opportunities to experiment, revamp something old and try something new.
Raida: “Create something today even if its crap.” This process helps me get out of a creative block.
d+h: Okay, we have to ask what’s on your desk?
Pam: I currently have random packaging on my desk, treats from Sugarwish and coffee cups from ChaCha Matcha and handcrafted greeting cards from my designers. I am a lover of color and my desk shows it.
Raida: A sombrero and cute illustration postcards.
Susan: My laptop and journal notebook. I take both everywhere. About a hundred mechanical pencils because I hate writing in pen. Plans and ideas change several times within a given meeting or brainstorm session and I hate crossing things out. Ongoing batches of top of production product samples that I have to sort though and send to our photographer for dh.com product image requests. My calculator, Nalgene bottle and a few snacks - because I’m 7 months pregnant ;)
d+h: You work in NY, so many places to eat. What’s for lunch?
Pam: I cannot last a week without poke. You can find me in Pokéworks for sure.
Raida: Xi’an’s Famous Foods. Their cumin lamb soups are just the right amount of spicy.
Susan: A grilled chicken salad with avocado, quinoa, and roasted sweet potatoes from Del Sur.
d+h: Any other behind the scenes stuff worth dishing about?
Pam: Our photographers in NY + Chicago are pretty amazing. They both manage to maintain the brands core principles despite the distance. Thanks Ricky + Katrina!
d+h: Can you give us a hint at anything cool coming our way with d+h?
Susan: We’re always wanting to introduce and test new, unique initiatives for the brand. From a product perspective, we’re going to be launching a sneaker-matcher belt collection that helps guys match a belt with almost every sneaker style imaginable. We’ve learned through consumer insights that this can be a daunting task for male shoppers so we’ve created an assortment and will provide a styling guide to help them select what’s best for their style. We’re also going to launch an all-season beanie and we’re very excited to launch an upcoming custom, made-to-order belt and wallet assortment (made in the USA) where customers can essentially design their own belt and wallet by selecting their preferred leather finish, color, style, stitching, etc, making it completely their own.
d+h: Lastly, where would you like to see d+h in 10 years?
Pam: I’d like to see pop up stands + kiosks throughout the nation solely dedicated to the brand. And within each unique location is a partnership with other brands, e.g. Casper, Wholefoods, etc.
Raida: I see D+H expand to other categories like clothing and shoes. Perhaps, even women’s.
Susan: Sold at several national retailers and with it’s own flagship store in Chicago where we would also promote and sell other, small fashion brands that are just getting started.