Mabel Liang

I was inspired to launch a company that combines the fervor and zeitgeist of two of my favorite cities in the US – the grand visions of optimistic futurism via tech in SF and the metropolitan sophistication of art and fashion in NYC.

Mabel Liang
New York
Creative Director
Rate per hour:  $250

I am the founder of Darkest Fox, an online boutique that features emerging lingerie designer brands. I have always been passionate about excellent design and elegant aesthetics. 

New York is a fascinating place which has ceaselessly captured my imagination, and since splitting my time between SF & NYC, I was inspired to launch a company that combines the fervor and zeitgeist of two of my favorite cities in the US – the grand visions of optimistic futurism via tech in SF and the metropolitan sophistication of art and fashion in NYC.

Our readers would love to get to know you more Mabel. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?

I am bilingual, bicultural, now bicoastal, so it’s interesting for me to consider various perspectives and the ponder the range of human experience.

My background is in graphic design and tech – I run a UX design studio, so I bring those disciplines into each project and photo shoot that I do.

Mabel, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Creative Director?

My passion and aspiration are to create beautiful things for myself and others, whether that is an app, a photo shoot, or a team dynamic.

I started as a Creative Director by working my way up as a graphic designer and then UX designer.

Who is your inspiration in life Mabel? How do you keep inspired?

The people who truly inspire me are the ones whom I know deeply and personally, for I can see how they handle positive and challenging situations – my family, my parter, and close friends. 

I draw tremendous inspiration from the evolutionary psychology, behavioral economics, zoology, and ecology. I keep by reading books on these various topics and talking to different people to try to understand their point of view.

And of course, travel. There is nothing like pure culture shock to reveal your preferences and assumptions about the way you perceive the world and approaches of interacting with it.

We all make mistakes Mabel; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about time being a Creative Director, you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.

I was working with an illustrator who was doing photo editing for me, and since he mentioned that he could code too, I hired him to code some custom features for the Darkest Fox e-commerce site. After multiple rounds of failed bug fixes, we parted ways. He was too junior for what I needed, and I should have let him go earlier when it was starting to become clear that he was not the right fit for the job.

I think at the end of the day; it’s better to hire people for the top skills and passions rather than their secondary skills.

Mabel , when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Creative Director, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?

It’s helpful to have a project lead for each project or client who can handle any questions or issues and to keep project traction.

If I am handling multiple clients, I find it helpful to have weekly status check-ins during different parts of the week – Client A on Tuesday mornings and Client B on Friday afternoons, for example – this helps me stay in sync with them, and helps break up the week and tasks can be more easily prioritized.

Please tell us, Mabel, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Creative Director?

I produced a fashion show in San Francisco earlier this year, and we had a crew of about 24 people, so it was a lot of logistics and emotions to manage. I wanted to make sure everyone got what they needed, and knew what they were doing so that the show would run smoothly.

Mabel, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.

Sometimes the client will have a specific vision in mind that works better in theory than in practice. When that happens, I often execute the vision they have in mind, and then create another design based on what I think it should be, and then show them both and walk them through the pros and cons of each. This way they can see how their vision turned out, and simultaneously get a better understanding of my approach. Often they will choose my design solution after a detailed discussion and be able to see both ideas side by side.

Mabel, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Creative Director. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?

I was interviewed for a story in April (for the Lingerie Journal), and they gave me very positive feedback on the lookbooks I have produced and the e-commerce site itself. It was very encouraging to hear that our work reminded them of how creative the lingerie industry is and how many wonderful creatives we have in our field. 

Mabel, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?

Starting an online boutique from scratch is very exciting because I am working with talented, independent designers who are making high-quality products. With great products on one side and my background and network in tech, it would be exhilarating to disrupt the lingerie industry. 

This is also a difficult enterprise because there are so many aspects of the company to manage, from the mundane necessities of business administration to the purely visual exercises of branding and look books.

What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Creative Director?

Be interested in and read up on other disciplines so that you have a broader range from which to draw inspiration and methodologies. 

Build and support a team that you trust. Collaboration is the key to success in any large scale project and given the appreciation the respect that they deserve; your team will often exceed your expectations and realize your vision in a way in the most pleasantly surprising ways.

Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?

Yes, I am. I am always looking for new designers whose work is edgy and elegant, that would go well with our Darkest Fox aesthetics. And looking to work with new photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists, and models to create the next photo shoot!

Art Directors:
Truc @truccurt
Katherine Derbyshire @derbydiscoproduction

Alexandra Bochkareva @alexandra_bochkareva_arts
Israel Perez @israel_perez_hortal

Daniel Rita @therealdanielrita

Tomomi Sano @tomomisano_makeup

Brooke Fleming @hushandshoot
Sarah Jain @sarahjain420
Katherine Derbyshire @derbydiscoproduction
Julie Silvero @julie.silvero
Alli Grimes @alligrimes
Azalea Jeanette @azaleajeanette
Michael Downs @theprincessmichala