Miss America, Doub Hanshaw of Free People!
Share a moment with Doub Hanshaw and you'll want more instantly. She's the coolest mum you'll ever meet, a boss lady and an absolute power woman.
Doub, going on two decades with Free People you have really paved your own career within the business as both a creative and a mother… Tell us a little about the journey. How did you get started?
I started at Free People as design assistant and thought I would just get 2 years of experience under my belt. And now 20 years later, I am still getting some experience under my belt. The journey has been ever-changing and always challenging. Before Free People I was kind of always following the beat of my own drum, kind of unsure of where I belonged or what I should be doing. But when I met Free People, it was cool because everyone there got what I was putting down and they spoke “my speak”! And this really fuelled me, and I discovered a lot about myself that I didn’t know. At the same time, it was like I met a lot people obsessed with clothes, and it was okay to be obsessed with clothes! Not only were they obsessed with clothes, they had deep discussions and arguments and really analyzed fashion.
I can’t say exactly that I paved the way to my own career. My career kind of just happened as I went along. At certain times I ran into forks in the road, and I had to decide between design and image, and recognize that if I wore too many hats, the best hat wouldn’t be seen. And motherhood completely changed my career; most of my career had been on the go, traveling every month with the catalog team. I hadn’t exactly sat at a desk before, but still it was a big change when all of a sudden, I was pregnant and looking at Pinterest and Instagram! Then, the next thing I knew, I was traveling with two boys, a two-year-old and a newborn, across the United States to the Pacific Ocean and to California! This magical land has so much beauty to capture, and you can get to it all without even getting into a plane! So I started working on imagery again while being a Mom!
After many years in NYC and Philadelphia you now call Venice, California home with your hubby, two sons Asa and Cripper and your BIG puppy Gus.
I call Dada “Poppy”—not sure how it started, but it did even though my hubby’s name is John Mahaffey. Asa and Cribber are my sons names. “Cribber” is a nickname that has stuck. Austin Lee hated his crib, so he goes by Cribber. And Gus is our great big English bulldog who is the equivalent to Garfield the cat.
How would you say living in CA has influenced you and your families lifestyle?
I am still madly in love with California and still feel like we have much more to discover. As a family, we love the beaches and taking the boys to Vasquez Rocks and to Joshua Tree. Asa, my 4 year old, has a little suitcase that holds his collection of treasures. And his collection is a mix of crystals, silver dollars, sea shells, various pieces of sea glass, a big starfish, feathers, marbles, vintage coins and a kaleidoscope lens. It is a box that in a way represents our Venice lifestyle. And if I didn’t know this collection belonged to Asa, I would imagine it belonged to some tanned, soothsayer beauty that smelled of patchouli.
Sometimes I worry that this constant sunlight and warm weather will make us soft. I don’t take the great weather for granted, having spent so much time in the northeast. There is a grittiness in the northeast and bitter cold that makes you tough and your day by day life often needs a sense of humor. You have a more sense of past and future due to the seasons, but in LA, there is a “nowness” I really love. The East Coast will always be ahead 3 hours, and we will always seem delayed to them no matter what, but at the same time it’s pretty cool!
We just fell in love with your Californian love shack (complete with man-shed!) from where you both work and play – it’s a fantastic way of life. Your whole team must adore coming to work each day. What does your everyday entail?
Often our day is about shooting. We shoot every month on the beaches in Malibu. Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that I would be shooting on the beach so much! And when we are not shooting, we are all figuring who and where and with whom, we want to shoot! As a team, we feel best when shooting. And other days are all about concepts. Often my living room floor is covered with “inspiration”. We are always trying to decide the best way to get our point across to our east-coast headquarters. We strongly believe that a “picture can tell a thousand stories”. Our common goal is to send something back east that will excite them and explain how different the east and west coasts are!
You have some incredible trinkets and collectables (like those gorgeous children’s vintage bomber jackets). Where have you and your partner collected all these wonderful things?
Luckily, John loves flea markets and vintage shops as much a I do! But, of course, our kids are not as interested. I saw these 2 amazing 1940s, Japanese, souvenir jackets on AnnaCorina’s Instagram. AnnaCorina’s is a little vintage store in Williamsburg. Both souvenir jackets fit Asa and Cribber beautifully, but of course they want nothing to do with these. I think I showed too much excitement, and anyhow, they are more interested in being super heroes than fashionistas. John and I frequent Animal House and Gotta Have It down near the Venice boardwalk close to our favourite coffee place, Menotti’s. Of course, I love to walk to General Store to drool over their curated vintage and often, I give in and just buy the amazing piece I want!
We love to go to the Long Beach flea market too. Now, having children, I am a sucker for vintage kids Wrangler and Levi’s jean jackets and jeans! Foxhole on Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake has great vintage denim. John is an avid eBay shopper. I think Portland Oregon is a goldmine of Vintage and the best Voodoo donuts ever!! Good food and vintage clothing, what else is there??
There is a tremendous vibe of new creativity oozing from the seams of LA – would you agree?
Yes. I feel like more and more people are moving to LA. LA has so much opportunity. It isn’t an intimating city—it welcomes art. People are able to exist in this city completely living by their art. LA has this feeling of “if you seek, you shall find”. And nothing seems impossible because LA has been such a place where filming takes place that there are endless cool vintage cars, amazing locations, and endless props to rent. LA kind of gives off this amazing hope for absolute grandeur. And for a photographer, the light here is beautiful and in the summer the days are so long!
Which photographers & creators are you working with in 2016-2017?
We work almost every month with Graham Dunn. Not only is he immensely talented, he has a kind and gentle soul. We also love Henrik Purrienne’s work. His photos have an elegant sensuality and his whole life and everything he touches is quite beautiful. And Jason Lee Parry is a favorite. He really knows how to shoot clothes and bring out a raw sex vibe that feels fast and furious. Jason’s work is about getting laid and living the fast life. And Purrienne is more about the adoration of a woman. While Graham’s work is more about the innocence and silent moments of the purity of femininity which is quite powerful. I also love Zoey Grossman. Not only does she have these crazy beautiful turquoise eyes, she is a joy to be around. We love her perspective, and the light quality and the mood she captures are just beyond gorgeous. Other photographers we love are Olivia Malone— she is the real thing!! And Harper Lee Smith is a character so cool and passionate. I love all the photos she is doing of the lovely Alyssa Miller! I hope in the future to use Magdalena Wosinska. She is as rad as they come!
As well as constantly making content in LA – We know you recently took the team to shoot in Mystical Morocco including the stunning Blue City of Chefchaouen. Tell us about the highlights of this trip…
Morocco was an experience. We traveled from the Chefchaouen, which is in the north, all the way across the country and south to the Sahara. I have been to Morocco many times and it never ceases to amaze me with its absolute beauty, from the blue-hued walls that line the city as a color that represents the divinity to the vastness of the Sahara! I think everyone needs to put on their bucket lists to sleep just once on the endless sheets of the Sahara. We pulled out our mattresses from our tents and slept under the stars and it was the most peaceful sleep I had the entire journey.
& Can you reveal any plans or hopes for your next destination?
As a team we all love New Mexico and White Sands is a favorite! We want to do something inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s lifestyle and embrace her pure simplicity. But not in the USA. Bali seems like it would be such a dream. We love shooting in Mexico because it is like a hop skip and a jump from LA. And we are very inspired by all these amazing women living in Texas. We are always drawn to Texas!!
Finally, any words of advice for young women who would love to follow in your footsteps?
Stay true to what you believe in and don’t be afraid to take a risk. And if you find something or someone that moves you, dive right in don’t be afraid. It is all for the experience!
All images for The Vista shot by Magdalena Wosinska
Thank you to gorgeous Doub and her awesome team at Free People