New York City-based Alex Daly has been a driving force behind some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns over the years, including three books from Standards Manual (here, here, and here), Today clock, TLC’s new album, Neil Young’s audio player, and Joan Didion’s documentary, earning herself the much-deserved nickname, Crowdsourceress, and a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 class of 2016. She is the founder of Vann Alexandra and DalyPR, which eventually morphed into Daly, a company that was spun from crowdfunding clients looking for guidance post-campaign. Now, Daly brings the knowledge learned from running these massive campaigns and offers PR, events, and crowdfunding consultation services. This month’s Where I Work goes behind the scenes to see the colorful offices where Alex Daly does her best work.
What is your typical work style?
Our company, Daly, just relaunched this year as a modern marketing and PR company that offers publicity, crowdfunding, and events services. Before that, I had founded a company that took a soup-to-nuts approach to launching and managing crowdfunding campaigns for designers worldwide. We were very successful, but it was high stakes, 24/7 work and team members were dropping like flies from burn out. Beyond that, our crowdfunding clients were asking for PR after their campaigns ended. Both factors ultimately forced me to rethink our goals, and I realized it was time to pivot.
When we managed crowdfunding campaigns full-time, it was about keeping up with the daily crises; now, our PR and marketing work is about planning ahead and ideating ongoing stories in a diverse, community-driven, untraditional way. This means that the work / life dynamic is inherently more balanced. It’s important to me that my team comes in and works hard, but can also turn off at the end of the day and live their lives. I’ve literally written this into our company handbook, to make sure this is an ingrained and observed part of our company culture.
Overall, our relaunch has allowed us to begin working with clients in a longer term capacity. It’s been a really exciting shift so far—and we are partnering some of the best creators in the world, like Pentagram, Freitag, Standards Manual, and Doberman. It’s a massive privilege to grow and evolve with them.
Personally, I feel like I am always working, and I like that! I get up early and send emails from home; after work, I have drinks or dinners with writers and potential collaborators. On weekends, I am constantly talking to my boyfriend (and frequent collaborator) about creative ideas or ways to make the company better. I meet with people I admire and try to learn from them (with the goal of working with them, too!). I don’t care for vacations, but enjoy traveling frequently to introduce myself to even more people and projects. Working provides me with motivation and direction. It makes me feel good.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
We worked with my brilliant boyfriend Hamish Smyth’s company, Order, to design our new office. While Order typically does branding jobs, they are beginning to offer interior design services.
Hamish and his excellent designer Nicholas Stover planned out the space to work as a beautiful office and showroom, picking out and arranging every single piece of furniture and all the decor––from the signage on the door to how the posters are positioned against the wall and our lamps are angled on our desks. We are such lucky ducks.
How is your space organized/arranged?
The layout of the space lends itself to exhibiting our client’s creations. Right when you walk in there is a cozy area in front of a towering Vitsoe 606 shelf that is efficiently filled with all types of special objects from our clients: Standards Manual books, a Today clock, Anicorn watches, Keap candles, Freitag bags, AIGA Eye on Design magazines, Greenery NYC plants, AstroReality planets, and Duane King’s Pioneer Plaque replicas.
Behind that is a Saarinen Tulip table for client and team meetings, and on the opposite side is our work area, where we spend most of our days. Hamish painted the back wall to match our branding’s dark gray color, and leaned our favorite posters against that wall.
The space has lots of natural light, and we have filled it with color, which represents Daly. We are an upbeat, sunny bunch, and collaborate with bold, exciting companies.
How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?
Only since January! Before that we were in Gowanus, Tribeca, and Greenpoint. We have moved around a lot, but are ready to park for awhile.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
I love the open office layout. It feels collaborative, and I get lonely quickly otherwise. While we have a cool phone booth tucked next to the kitchen for privacy, it’s still not possible to have private meetings, which is the only thing I would probably change. I wish I had some magic powers to conjure up a meeting room when necessary (*witch emoji*).
Is there an office pet?
No, but we love sharing doggy pics (especially Mr. Bubz!) on Slack constantly.
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
Music is a necessity for me, and we have an awesome teenage engineering OD-11 speaker that does the trick. I am obsessed with NYC rock from the early aughts, so there is a lot of Interpol and TV on the Radio, mixed with stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, and David Bowie. We are listening to The Strokes right now. Go figure.
How do you record ideas?
Our client and friend Aron Fay is both a wonderful designer and composition notebook obsessive. We kickstarted his elevated version of a composition notebook, comp, and that’s where you can find all my chicken scratch notes.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
Our inspiration comes from sitting together at the conference table talking through ideas, or discussing things on Slack. We don’t need a bunch of sticky notes all over the place to make things happen––just sayin’.
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
Last year, I brought on a stellar business consultant, Holly Howard, who was instrumental in helping us restructure and relaunch the business. In addition to putting company culture systems into place, we also created an employee handbook and operations manual. The manual documents everything from what we do from receiving new business inquiries to kicking off a new engagement, where we build a master database that houses all our contacts, agendas, call notes, and more. We have been able to take on many more projects because of this level of organization. There is no other way.
What kind of art/design/objects might you have scattered about the space?
Our Vitsoe 606 shelving houses a lot of our clients’ projects. Next to it, against the wall, we have also hung up a bunch of Freitag bags. We like to showcase work from pals of Daly, too, like our friend Aelfie’s rug and pillows.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
Just a bunch of Macs.
What tool(s) do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Luckily, Order does our design work. They use all the typical design tools—pen and paper, Adobe Suite—and newer tools optimized for digital that are emerging, like Figma.
Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.
I really am not tech savvy. I do love my iPhone 7, and use it for music, podcasts, emails, reading. I love the OD-11 speakers—we have some at home too!
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
Some of us use Adobe InDesign for proposals and presentations. Other than that most of our work is written. Does Apple Mail count!?
Is there a favorite project/piece you’ve worked on?
There are too many to pick a favorite, but I am proud of publishing The Crowdsourceress, which was a massive undertaking to accomplish on a tight timeline while also running a company.
Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?
I don’t know if I will ever feel like I have “made it”––and that’s what compels me to get up and keep working every single day. I do know that I wouldn’t be here without key people in my life: Hamish, my parents, my business consultant Holly, my team, my clients, and my therapist. It really does take a village.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
Our clients energize us every day.
We are currently working with a women-operated vanilla company, Heilala, that employs and empowers hundreds of women workers to cultivate the world’s most awarded vanilla, grown on the Vava’u islands of the Kingdom of Tonga. Amazing, right?
We also just began working with Pentagram in New York, which is an absolute dream.
What’s on your desk right now?
Some of our beautiful Daly pens. Otherwise, it’s nice and clean. Having a clean and organized office is incredibly important to me; so at the end of the day, all desks and surfaces are cleared. It makes for a clear head!
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
I am not a “creative,” even though I always wished I was. I compromised this desire by working to bring creators’ ideas to life, and promoting the shit out of them. (I do enjoy writing though! Can you tell?)
It makes sense that I live with a highly creative individual, and I am inspired by how he can sit down and actually make something. When we moved into our new home we had a bunch of empty walls, so he began painting. I am so jealous!
Photos by Julia Hembree.