Staying Creative Despite Noise: Interview with Dalia MacPhee
Dalia MacPhee is a fashion designer, accomplished equestrian and inspiring public speaker who uses design to stylishly solve problems. She’s been featured in numerous global outlets including Vogue, Allure, Marie Claire, and Entertainment Tonight anointed her, “Couture with a Conscious”. Being exposed to the retail fashion industry from a young age had a major influence on Dalia and her collections. Each Season her focus is on making beautiful pieces that are affordable, wearable, and available in all sizes. Most styles are available up to size 24W. In addition, 95% of her line is vegan friendly. She’s even used fashion technology to create life-saving pieces for horses. For this installment of #GemsxJoy, I asked Dalia to share how she navigates the demanding world of fashion, nurtures her grit and vision to make sure she’s staying creative despite noise.
You have a keen eye for finding the white space in design, as you’ve shown with equestrian design that can save lives and even collapsible heeled human shoes. How did you discover that you think differently about fashion and innovation?
I have as much passion for the arts as I do for science and technology, and I guess that is what makes me approach design differently. I’m constantly thinking about what I can create that solves a problem and has style.
Can better fashion innovation help us be safer and happier?
Absolutely. Fashion is experiencing a revolution right now.
With technology moving so quickly, many things are becoming a possibility and my vision is a world where clothing improves our lives. I dream of beautiful dress shirts that can detect tumors, women’s jackets that alleviate hot flashes, yoga pants that measure ph balance, and much more.
Functional AND fabulous. That’s the future.
Why does equestrian design fascinate you?
I have had a love affair with horses for many lifetimes. Incorporating hints of equestrianism in my design not only represents the great influence horses have had in my life, but also demonstrates the equine traits I hope my pieces can pass on: Beauty, Power, and Grace.
Fashion has changed dramatically over the past several years and is being affected by everything from social media to fast fashion. How do you nurture your creativity amid all this noise?
By blocking out the noise. Creativity is like a phone connection. The lines have to be clear for the ideas to be heard. In order to do this I’ve created a sort of “safe “ mental space for myself . I call that space Wonderland. In Wonderland creating is magical, just like it was when we were children.
There are no bad ideas, and there is no judgment. Every idea is encouraged, and anything is possible.
How do you know when you have a good idea?
I actually did a Tedx Talk titled: “Don’t give up, every good idea has its time.”
In general I feel if it’s something positive that belongs in the world, it’s always a good idea.
In the past year, I created at least 60 new products and inventions. I believe all of them are good ideas. The bigger question is, WHEN will they be good ideas?
Timing is everything.
What are some of your methods for maintaining resilience during research and development? And during life in general?
I used to study competitive Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing), and I always remember a story my teacher told me about the mango tree and the bamboo tree: “The wind came to take both trees down. The mango tree knew it was strong. It would not sway. It was too sure of itself. But finally its roots gave way, and it tumbled down. The bamboo tree was wiser. When wind blew, it bent its head gracefully. It made loud protests, but it let the wind have its way. When finally the wind got tired of blowing, the bamboo tree still stood in all its beauty and grace.” When things get tough, be like the bamboo tree. It is one of the most resilient creations on this planet.
How do you define success? What does it mean to you?
Success is happiness. Sounds easy, but it can take a lifetime to figure out what that is.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Recipes for sugar free elderflower syrup.
What’s something that you wish got more media attention and why?
Real people creating real solutions.
Our planet is fighting for its life. If we gave more credit and media attention to the game changers, perhaps we could create an insurmountable ocean of change.
What are 3 books you think everyone should read?
Rich Dad Poor Dad
**This interview is a part of the #gemsxjoy series of conversations with women leaders around design, wellbeing, and business.