Life shrinks or expands in proportion with one’s courage. — Anaïs Nin
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Vogue. It is only right that this particular mecca (Vogue, that is) of fashion and culture and couture birthed the friendship of two inspiring and powerful creatives in New York City. Meet Kori and Kirsten, the dynamic brilliance behind DEAREST CREATIVE.
Dearest is a lady-led, independent, visually-driven creative studio devoted to delivering soulful solutions through brand identity, design and content creation. As entrepreneurs, this Brooklyn-based small business juggles many hats and various responsibilities from creative ideation to the administrative day to day. You see, building a company is not all high heels and lunches. It requires creating invoices, hiring interns, making the coffee and buying said coffee too.
But, after years of working with large-scale corporate brands, Kirsten and Kori wanted to shift their focus to small-to-medium brands whose ethos and mission aligned with theirs.
In an effort to collaborate with like-minded individuals and brands they believed in, this duo of fearless fempreneurs launched Dearest Creative. These ladies are individually talented and mutually laser-focused on building their empire. It takes an enormous amount of bravado to curate a company built on vision and a formidable amount of ambition. It comes as no surprise that when given the choice between staying within their comfort zone and flying—they chose to go all the way to the top and the best is yet to come.
The first edition of DSLB publication, “Inspired” would not have been possible without their expertise and creative execution.
During a trip to the concrete jungle, I had the pleasure of meeting Kori and Kirsten in their super eclectic, artsy Brooklyn safe haven. It came as no surprise that the culture, sights, and sounds of the borough birthed inspiration and serve as a catalyst for their work environment. In this moment, I was honored to be in the presence of these BOLD creatives. It is women like Kori and Kirsten that inspire me to fearlessly pursue my passion.
It is a pleasure to present, DEAREST CREATIVE.
DS: My initial reaction when I read your story and met you two in person was “Wow, these women are fearless.” They left an advertising agency to start their own company for creative control. How does it feel to now have independent creative control over your work?
DC: We are honestly still in awe that we took the leap. Back in March 2016 at the agency, we worked for previously, we launched a project for a major soda company that we were beyond proud of. We created a video series from location scouting and model casting to full storyboards and creative styling of supporting props. We chose the production team, worked on the post deliverables and launched our favorite series of our careers.
A few weeks later, we found out the messaging we had so eloquently branded was a complete lie. It shattered us and we knew there had to be another way.Fast forward to Dearest Creative where the ethos behind the brands we choose to work with is #1. We heavily rely on our gut feeling and often pass on work if it doesn’t feel in line with our mission.
DS: What motivated you to embrace this career path wholeheartedly and how does it feel to know you are motivating the masses to tap into their potential and take action towards achieving their dreams?
DC: Our goal is to do work we are proud of with teams and brands we admire. We 100% encourage people to take action to get where they want to be. You aren’t presented your dream job on a silver platter with champagne. You have to fight for it, submit to many “not-so- dreamy” roles and narrow it down until you figure out your path. It’s hard, you will be tired, but you can do it.
DS: What was your “ah ha moment?” This moment is defined as a time when you realized your purpose or a moment where you realized that you could make a living pursuing your passion.
DC: There was one night where we were traveling for work, sharing a hotel room, drinking cheap red wine where we looked at each other after years of collaboration and said “YTFnot” so we bought our URL, applied for an LLC and quit a month later.
DS: Your advice to young people (especially women) aspiring to achieve similar career and personal goals as yourself?
DC: Women in the workforce are constantly challenged with the politics of an office. We’ve worked for men who only promote you if you’re flirty. We’ve worked with women that are intimidated by you and instead of lifting you up, tear you down. You need to stay focused. Only you can determine your future. Only you can create your dream job. Don’t let anyone (including yourself) hold you back.
DS: What do you love most about working in NYC especially being in the culturally rich borough of Brooklyn?
DC: We are surrounded by wonderfully creative and forward- thinking people. Our studio is in the middle of giant artistic murals, vintage shops, a lovely coffee shop, trendy wine bars/ breweries, our FAVORITE Szechuan noodles and of course our office pals:
It’s easy to stay inspired when you’re entrenched in art every which way you turn.
DS: How do you define what it means to leave a legacy?
DC: Legacy isn’t something we typically think about. We know Dearest will succeed and grow over the next decade. What I’d love to leave behind is the ability to do what you love and still have time for yourself, your family, your mind. We start every day with an intention - whether it’s to do more yoga, time manage in a more reasonable way, eat healthier or even communicate ideas, it’s a crucial part of our studio culture. We used to dream of the day we could go for a walk on our lunch break and (strangely enough, now that we can) we sometimes have to force ourselves. Self-care is the most important thing. We often each forget that but try to keep ourselves accountable. Mind over matter is much easier said than done. But together, we can do it!
DS: What are some of your greatest successes and challenges with Dearest Creative? What words of wisdom would you provide to individuals that want to break barriers and achieve greatness?
DC: Neither of us ever worked for a proper design agency. We used to be self-conscious about that but now it feels like a superpower. Sure, we met at Vogue, and yes we met with Anna every Tuesday but nothing could prepare us for our jump into the entrepreneurial world. Our words of wisdom (take them as you may) is to not follow the guidelines of what you think may be right. Don’t doubt yourself. Ask questions and gather knowledge but don’t worry about not being “proper” enough or experienced enough. If you are dedicated, driven and refuse to fail you will succeed.