Your Daily Greens with Claire Distenfeld Olshan
When Claire launched the magical, multi-story New York fashion store called Fivestory in 2010, she transformed the traditional shopping experience into something thoughtfully curated and delightfully immersive. Her treasure trove of designer finds inspired the women who flocked to her townhouse to dress up a little bit more each morning. Suddenly, at 23, she was living not only her own dream but also that of countless women around her.
However, her leap into the world of food eight years later is proof that there is no limit to the number of dreams one can pursue. In 2018, she launched DADA Daily, a line of beautifully packaged, good-for-you snacks (think crispy brussel sprout chips and cauliflower “popcorn”) sold everywhere from Neiman Marcus to The Ludlow Hotel in Lower Manhattan. As someone who was into health food way before it was cool, it’s a career path that was a long time in the making. With DADA, she’s set on chic-ing up snacking with her surrealist-inspired packaging and decadent (but nutritious and superfood-packed) treats. And though, on paper, her two paths (fashion and food) couldn’t appear further apart, it’s Claire’s long-held appreciation for art—and eye for great style—that connects the dots between both businesses. She’s an expert in bringing beauty into every area of life—and an inspiring example of what it looks like to follow one’s passions with a rather enviable authenticity.
Read on to discover what sets DADA apart from other health food brands, how she strikes that elusive work-life balance and more.
You’ve had quite the career shift. You went from working in fashion (where I bumped into you at several fashion shows and appointments), owning your own luxury boutique, Fivestory, to now owning a health food snack company, DADA. Can you tell us a little bit about the impetus to change?
I think a lot of the shift has to do with the passage of time both literally and figuratively. Literally 10 years have passed since I started Fivestory. I went from being a 23-year-old single girl living and breathing fashion, and everything that came with it, to a 33-year-old wife and mother who loves style, but has definitely pushed it lower down on the totem pole of priorities. Figuratively, the fashion retail world has changed so much in the past decade. My uphill battles became steeper, and my desire to climb them diminished. That being said, as we get older we become more transparent to ourselves on what truly excites us and makes us happy. I had ALWAYS been really into the health food world and only in my 30s did I give it the time, attention and respect that it deserved.
Can you tell us how DADA stands out from other health-focused foods?
I think most of the other health food brands subscribe to a laundry list of should’s, and do’s, and don’ts. To this whitewashed January-esque “new year, new me” lifestyle and image. And in my mind healthy snacks never had to scream and yell out I’M HEALTHY LOOK AT ME! If anything, that perfect image always gave me anxiety. DADA is more about elevating moments, inserting decadence into your daily life and feeling that glittery, jittery feeling when you actually indulge in something. But for us indulging and decadence is not about doing something naughty but rather putting yourself first, investing in high level snacks with great design and a great attitude and both feeling flirty, chic…and also healthy. And most importantly it’s about sharing that feeling with others. Hosting with DADA, like you would pour a bottle of wine, serve caviar, set the mood.
You’re now on your second career path. Any tips for budding entrepreneurs looking to change careers and start something new?
I would say walk, don’t run. I personally think I transitioned too quickly (being fearful of not having anything to “do”) and it really kicked me in the butt. If your idea is good, if your idea is unique and if you’re truly passionate about your next step, time will make your heart grow fonder and not fade-er. Cross every “T” and dot every “I”. Sometimes new roads look shiny and fresh, but you have to remember they are new for a reason and you have to do some research on them before you go head-first. You don’t have to be an expert at your next step, but you should definitely know a bunch of experts in that field and have them mentor you. My biggest mistake was that I had no mentors and no one telling me that some of the choices I was making were TERRIBLE.
As a new mother and entrepreneur, I’m sure you’re always juggling a million things. How do you maintain the balance between work and family?
I compartmentalize my two hats. When I’m at work, I try to be 100% at work and be extraordinarily efficient. When I’m at home I am 100% in mom mode. I don’t do bath time while on conference call or feed dinner half checked in. Pretty much without fail I come home at 5:15 and spend almost two hours with my son, uninterrupted. And then I either finish up some work when he’s asleep at 6:45pm or I end the day. But for me, the only way I really juggle is that I don’t juggle at all. I just set very clear boundaries between my time.
Do you incorporate plants into your daily wellness routine?
I mean, PLANTS ARE MY WELLNESS AND MY WELLNESS IS PLANTS! I start every morning with a green juice I make myself and I swear it invigorates my day, and makes me feel like the definition of wellness. I usually follow the same math equation: leafy greens (spinach, kale, rainbow chard) + green herb (parsley, cilantro, basil or mint) + green fruit (pear, green apple or pineapple ) + citrus (lemon or lime). I drink a huge tub of that as the first thing in my body and it gives me life like no other!
I also mostly subscribe to a plant-based diet (I eat animal protein 2-3x a week or as my body craves it). That same plant base mentality runs through to my daily wellness rituals like baths. I LOVE baths! And I love Vertly’s bath soak. I find that bathing is my one time to meditate, to shut the world out, to take off my two hats and just be me. I must say though that in order to practice what I preach and make decadence a ritual I add a vegan DADA, 0g of sugar, schisandra dark chocolate truffle to bath time and basque in guilt-free indulgence.