Name: Asia David
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Founder & CCO of Die Free Studios
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Asia David started her creative journey at the young age of 10 with some of her natural talents. "I always leaned on my natural talents and never fully leaned into my creative curiosities UNTIL I moved to Seattle for college. That’s where I made the life-changing decision to go with my gut feeling to major in Art (every parent's dream lol)," Asia states. She received her BA in Visual Communications, double minored in Art History and New Media all while balancing a campus job and several internships. Talk about a phenomenal woman?
As she studied at Seattle Pacific University, she became passionate about visual storytelling through graphic design, art and creative direction. Her passion didn't stop there, she became enthralled with helping creatives build their brands and channeled that passion into a business she founded and currently runs called Die Free Studios.
We caught up with Asia to dive deep into her journey and here's what the multi-talented badass had to say:
What's the origin story of Die Free Studios?
It was my junior year of college where I was waist-deep in my art studies. I was taking SO MANY creative classes, interning for multiple female entrepreneurs and was exposed to so many different mediums of creativity that my mind was constantly exploding (and overwhelmed) with new ideas. During this time, I also admitted to myself that I REALLY loved fashion which I always thought was sooo cliche especially growing up in LA. I knew I wanted to build something…a brand, a business, or just a channel to create in. I started to think of names that would define this brand and after weeks and weeks of brain mapping and research I came up with Die Free Studios. The funny thing is, I HATED the name Die Free Studios for years and never could say it confidently out loud until about 2 years ago.
Die Free Studios stems from my personal growth up until my college years and became the mission statement of my life. That mission was to be free…to find freedom in truly being myself and building a life that resonated with my soul. To dress, say, feel, and act how I wanted too. I grew up in LA where I always felt the pressure to look a certain way, dress a certain way, know certain people, etc. and never felt comfortable just being my wild creative self to anyone that wasn’t in my very close friend group. I was also very shy and sensitive so I would soak a lot of other peoples truths in…oppose to learning and being in touch with my own.
When I got to college it was the first time I was making “real” money consistently and had full creative control over my life and how I wanted to present myself. I also was in a totally different environment (shout out to experiencing all four seasons) where I felt free from the bubble of LA and found pieces of myself that I fell in love with. The name Die Free stemmed out of that feeling of personal freedom. Free to be and do whatever I wanted which later translated to Die Free Studios where I have the freedom to build and grow my creativity and other people's businesses/dreams.
Prior to Die Free Studios, you were Creative Director of BUNCH Mag. How did that position prepare you for launching your own company?
In ways I never could have imagined. In full transparency, I use to feel super torn about loving BUNCH so much because I knew I wanted to build Die Free Studios for years prior to even knowing about BUNCH. I always felt like I was cheating on DFS by working so passionately on BUNCH and building that brand but it was so much fun and I met people I would’ve never met if it weren’t for my time at there. It definitely positioned me to launch my own company and build a network of people that I am now able to call on when I got into the nuts and bolts of launching Die Free Studios.
But aside from the network and positioning it provided, because of all the creative freedom I was given as Creative Director, I really got to explore crazy ideas I had and learned how to execute them for a specific audience in mind. I learned to manage teams, other creatives, and production sets. I developed my creative process, became skilled in how to talk to people (email is TRULY an art that so many people get wrong) and how to build a business from the inside out. It also exposed me to how talented I was in certain areas and where I struggled. Looking back, I was 1000% meant to focus on BUNCH at the time because I use something I learned from BUNCH every single day. THANKS LIZZY!
What are your goals for Die Free Studios moving forward?
Ahh goals. It’s crazy because in today’s world things happen so much faster than we can even plan for. It use to be a 3-year goal to hire people and move into an office space and I did that all within the first year of launching…so I guess my next goals are not as outwardly glamorous but more business-y. They are to build a solid infrastructure that doesn’t need me to be apart of every single moving part of the business. I want to get back to a place of solely doing innovative and creative work for clients and directing the business to new creative heights (think of DONDA and ACNE). I want to get into more experiential design where I can create human experiences that shape and impact us as mentally, physically and emotionally, and I want to shift cultural conversations and perspectives on race, the roles of men and women, etc. At the core, the goal is to use art and creativity to elevate our world. (Shoot for the moon right?)
Do you have any other projects/collaborations on the books you'd like the readers to know about?
I recently (and silently) have opened up The Shop –For Creatives on my personal website asiamdav.com where I offer consultations based around building your creative career, finances as an entrepreneur, finding your niche, organizing your life as a multi-faceted person and how to tactfully achieve your goals while leaving room for magic.
Walk us through how you balance your personal and professional life.
This is a hard one because I firmly believe in the quote “there’s no such thing as balance, there’s just life and how we spend it”. This really resonates with me because I ABSOLUTELY love what I do. Building a business gets me out of bed, frustrates me, excites me, amazes me, challenges me, etc. Die Free Studios is truly my newborn baby right now. BUT, I have struggled with not taking my work with me EVERYWHERE. Or busting out my laptop when I have 5 minutes of downtime…and although I’ve calmed down on it a bit, I’m still a work in progress. The most helpful thing is putting EVERYTHING into my calendar and scheduling things down to grocery shopping, going to the post office, hanging with friends, creative time and client time.
Lastly, I do think a form of balance that’s really shifted how I handle my work is simply allowing myself to be ok with not finishing all the unreasonable tasks I set out to conquer each day. It’s literally just being ok with leaving things for the next day and telling myself that “IT CAN WAIT”. It’s about not living with this sense of urgency all the time but also 100% focusing when it’s time to work. It sounds simple, but so often I’d find myself checking my email every 2 minutes, or being on my computer for no real reason. Now I only open my computer if I know for sure what I need to do. If not, I either write out my tasks and do as much without electronics as possible.
Where is your favorite place to escape and clear your head?
My favorite place to escape is anywhere I have to get to by plane. I genuinely love the feeling of lifting into the air and only then, my brain is able to leave all the things from home behind, but I should probably find a local place lol.
But when that’s not an option I get a massage.
Discuss the importance of female friendships in your life.
I use to pride myself on how well I could navigate my life solo and even though I’m still proud of that independence, my female friends are my glue now. They teach me so much about myself and provide a space where I can be vulnerable, open and my crazy true self. I have been lucky enough to have female friends that I have grown up with as well as new friends, and both add so much to my life.
They are important to me because they really teach me how to cultivate a deep, meaningful, intentional friendships without the underlying current of romantic involvement or other motivating factors as different types of relationships can have. There’s a true camaraderie that is built out of female relationships and they allow you to focus and grow as an individual in ways other dynamics don’t really allow.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
In my personal life it’s my best friends (their amazing traits inspire me and help me grow into the person I want to be), my mom for being an amazing example of an ambitious career woman– always getting every job she set her sights on no matter how hard it seemed and her out of this world self-discipline.
Then there’s Pharrell…DUH! For every reason possible, but also for his personal career journey, craft, intentionality in the projects he’s apart of, his otherness and the longevity of his career.
Oprah, for being who she is on the inside and outside and finding a path by listening to her inner truth as guidance.
If you could have dinner with any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’m basic but…
Oprah - Ask how she knows what endeavors to pursue, how she balances her business-minded self with her meditative/peaceful self and if there’s a separation between the two.
Beyonce - To understand how she balances business and creative, what she spends her time doing, habits she’s had to overcome to have the discipline she does now, etc.
What are you grateful for?
A crazy supportive and fun family, the opportunity to build a business from the ground up as an African-American woman in her 20’s, and my love of books.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
“There’s no such thing as work/life balance. There’s just life and how you spend it.” -Unknown
“Why are you afraid to die, when you’re too afraid to live.” -Unknown
To dive further into Asia's world, you can find her adventures http://www.asiamdav.com or @asiamdav on Instagram.
Want to collaborate or learn more about Die Free Studios? Peep the Website and Instagram.