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Meet an Entertaining Empress

Style and business maven Claire Olshan is setting the standards for snacking (and throwing a party)

To say that entrepreneur Claire Olshan has accomplished a lot in her life would be an understatement. She was 24 years old when she launched her first company, the successful luxury retail space Fivestory, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2010. Nine years later, with both a marriage and baby under her belt, she is embarking on her latest endeavor, a surrealist-inspired snack and lifestyle brand called Dada Daily. “After I got married and life got quieter,” she recalls, “I was just kind of listening to myself and searching for what really excited me in the morning, and that was this fascination with food and health consciousness. So I got my degree in integrative nutrition, and I started building this lifelong-dream company that bridged all my passions.”

Those interests in food, art, and entertaining led to the formation of the idea behind the business. “To me, Dadaism is the most interesting art movement theoretically. I loved how they stripped down all the rules that came before them and created art that challenged people and made them think. I wanted Dada [Daily] to do that for the health food industry.” With snacks like crispy almond butter brussels sprouts, hot turmeric cabbage petals, and matcha latte– and Schisandra chocolate–flavored truffles, Olshan has created an elevated curation of edibles not only for the health-conscious customer, but also for the lover of a certain type of indulgent maximalism previously unknown to the casual noshing newbies. “We really wanted to change the culture around snacking; the word has this connotation of being taboo,” Olshan says. “At Dada, we think it is a choice, like any other in a day. It’s like picking out the clothes you wear, the shampoo you use, or the restaurant you go to at night. We feel you should be so proud of the snacks that you bring them to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine. That’s not a faux pas. If it’s so chic and so good for you, then serve it as an hors d’oeuvre or dessert.” The packaging itself plays a major factor in what enhances the brand from basic bites to ideal host gifts. The look is an expression original to Olshan, a mix of hyper-conceptual visuals and decadent accents that combine to create a distinctly unique finish that is sure to speak to her stylish clientele.

That is Olshan’s greatest gift: her ability to engage with the fashionable elite of Generation Y and give them the products that they want with an aesthetic to match. She recalls a moment recently when she was referred to as the millennial Martha Stewart and responded, “That’s what I want to be. I want to teach people that it’s really easy to create beauty in their life. I want to bring ease and joy into those daily moments.” Just like Stewart, Olshan is evolving Dada Daily into a full-service lifestyle brand. “We really wanted to create this whole dinner party moment, where you serve Dada as an hors d’oeuvre, you have our napkin rings, place cards, and candle. It’s called a dinner party hack set because it’s easy to create a beautiful and ceremonial moment around food, and I think people overthink that. So we wanted to create a really simple how-to experience.”

The appeal of Dada Daily is Olshan’s authenticity. One glance around her stunning home, and you see elements of the company’s style everywhere, from a gorgeous brass melting clock coffee-table accent to an eclectic wooden hand-shaped chair in the corner. Olshan lives and breathes the Dada lifestyle; she is the embodiment of her customer. Like a stylish best friend you always turn to for advice, the Dada patron turns to her.

A napkin ring from the Ta-Dada Dinner Party Set.

A napkin ring from the Ta-Dada Dinner Party Set.

Claire’s Party Tips:

• I always overbuy the ingredients for a dinner and then place them as the centerpiece of the table. For example, using artichokes or brussels sprouts in the meal as well as within the tablescape.

• It’s really fun to make centerpieces edible. I like to arrange dips around so that people are continuously eating. It creates a casual nature for the dinner party that is less formal and restrictive.

• I never serve one dessert course. I find that it feels like an abrupt end to a meal. I prefer things to last as long as possible. So I always buy a bunch of exotic dark chocolates and crack them up and put them in the middle of the table with nuts and dried fruit so that people can just sit, eat, and linger. Obviously, the Dada Daily chocolates are perfect for that.

• To get inspiration for decorating your home, I think you should look to places besides an interior magazine. If you just sit researching decor references all day long, you’ll end up being pulled in a hundred different directions. Find other things—like favorite songs, movies, or cultural areas—that you gravitate toward, and ask, “Why do I like it?” Once you discover that language, then you go down the design road and bring in the magazines.

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