Meet The Team

Very Polite is led by three unique creatives from very different backgrounds, who came together to create an integrated agency with the purpose to help other businesses thrive and do big things. They are purposely selective, choosing to work with brands that are a fit, both culturally and creatively. This approach allows the partners to be intimately involved in each account, contributing their diverse skillsets to each unique client and project. Each partner guides the various departments from photography to graphic design and PR so the teams can fully immerse into the client’s brand and culture. Without further ado, Meet the Partners.

Andrea Mestrovic
Co-Founder | VP Brand Strategy

I come from over 15 years of experience in global marketing, communications strategy, luxury brand management, digital and social strategy, and media planning. My work spans a wide spectrum of industries, including publishing, advertising, hospitality, beverage, travel and tourism, technology, fashion and retail. In 2004, I was the founding partner of a global public relations firm, while also working as a lifestyle journalist, and International Editor for Olivia Palermo, a position I held for over six years. Between 2014 and 2016 I headed Global Public Relations for Kit and Ace, a technical apparel brand with record-breaking international growth. It was during my time at Kit and Ace that I met the other agency partners — and they haven’t left me alone since (but no real complaints). Before taking the leap to create the agency of my dreams, I was the Vice President of Marketing for Mark Anthony Group of Companies.

Very Polite is a special place. I love the culture we have built — one of integrity, debate, curiosity, and creativity. I’m surrounded by talented people who are passionate about what they do and who challenge me on the daily. I also appreciate that we operate across all verticals and that our clients come from various industries with different needs. This keeps us sharp. We’re forever innovating. I oversee Brand Strategy and PR, which means I ensure we are operating with a creative vision that supports the business goals of our clients and helps share their narrative with the public. I lead a team that regularly manages reputations, performs crisis audits, and crafts holding statements — and enjoys doing it. My strongest asset? My intuition. It has led me to where I am today, which is a very exciting place to be.

Editor’s note** Andrea was honored with the 2017 Top Forty Under 40 Award by Business in Vancouver Magazine. She has been quoted in The New York Times, and featured in several other publications. She’s still waiting for her Vogue cover, but stay tuned.

Alan Chan
Co-Founder | VP Photography & Production

I always knew that I didn’t want to work in a corporate office.  In fact, I was a licensed commercial pilot in my 20s.  However, life led me towards my passion for photography and I haven’t looked back (although, let’s be honest it would be cool to fly a plane again). Luckily my work calls for some time on planes, and although I’m based on the West Coast, I travel and split my time between Vancouver, New York and Hong Kong.

I started out my photography career working with established brands such as Wings & Horns and Reigning Champ, and eventually joined Kit and Ace, where I led Brand Visuals and Photo Direction.  After a few years at Kit and Ace, I joined another retailer, Aritzia, as their Brand Photography Production Director, before teaming up with Andrea, Dylan and JJ to launch Very Polite Agency. With our very diverse backgrounds and skillsets, we’re able to tap into various industries which keeps work fresh – I’m constantly creatively challenged which is essential to me. So, what’s a day to day? Never the same. But in simplest terms – when a client comes to us with a cool product and an interesting narrative, we find a way to bring that story to life visually. I get excited seeing a brand’s story evolve – from concepting to art direction, casting, production and finally capture. My general philosophy is that life is short, and it’s important to do what makes you happy with the people you love. That’s why I surround myself with an amazing team and partners who feel like family. I get to hang out with my *veeps all day, every day – and to me that’s winning in life.

*Very Polite People

Editor’s note** Alan’s work has been published in Vogue, GQ, NY Times Style, Nylon Magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar to name a few. 

Dylan Rekert
Co-Founder | VP Creative

Dylan did not write this bio. Dylan wants nothing to do with this bio. Nonetheless, here are a few things you should know about Dylan. 

Dylan is an award-winning (we don’t just keep him around for his good looks) creative director and filmmaker. In the last decade, he has led creative teams across numerous industries, ranging from tech and luxury apparel to mining, real estate, tourism, hospitality and beverage. His design approach is one part brief, one part humour and a heaping dose of natural talent (but don’t tell him we told you that). And it’s not just Very Polite that thinks he’s pretty great at what he does, his work has landed him in front of the likes of Vice, Dezeen, Cereal and Conde Nast Media to name a few. Not to mention, Dylan’s work has been featured in the New York Observer, Creativity Online, Harper’s Bazaar and Surface Magazine and he received the BIV 40 under Forty award. Since we’re already bragging, might as well keep it rolling. Dylan recently produced a short science-fiction film, Loop. Well, it was on loop at international film festivals such as a little event called Cannes Film Festival, maybe you’ve heard of it? The film had the first premiere in Canada in the past year and did we mention it also picked up some awards? It did: Berlin Sci-Fi Film Fest Official Selection, Special Selection Portland Film Festival and Finalist Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival, among others. As VP of Creative and founding partner at Very Polite, Dylan oversees all creative projects and leads the graphic and web design departments. His unique perspective brings that best out in the brands he works for.

Editor’s note** More important than anything mentioned above, Dylan has a DM thread with Lil Jon. That’s right, Lil Jon loves his t-shirt designs.

Ashiyana Somlai-Maharjan
Director of Brand Experience

In a nutshell, I’m a storyteller. Whether that’s concepting an experiential event for a brand, constructing a PR & marketing strategy, managing influencer relations, or leading core content development, I’m weaving a narrative and bringing forward tactical and creative storytelling on multiple platforms. My workplace MO is to get the job done in any given situation. I can also throw a *bleeeeeeping* good party (Excuse my French!). I was born in Canada, raised in Asia, and moved back at the age of 11. So, from an early age I’ve had a global perspective and keen curiosity about people, which led me to acquire a double major in Political Science and Cultural Anthropology, followed by PR and Marketing a few years later. After moving to Vancouver and working in a variety of sectors from NGOs to real estate development and retail, it was time for a fresh direction. Fashion has always been a passion of mine, so joining global retailer Kit and Ace was a dream come true. During my time on the brand team, we launched 60+ store locations worldwide from Tokyo to London. After a few years, I moved to Saje Natural Wellness for a PR and Marketing position during a time of exciting growth for the company. It was a full-circle moment when I had the opportunity to join Very Polite and reunite with my colleagues and friends from Kit and Ace. In the 4 years I have been with the agency, we’ve worked with a dynamic range of clients, traveled the world, and, perhaps most importantly, had some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a job. Being surrounded by exceptionally talented people that also know how to have a good time is a rare thing. And everyone mentions the famous snack drawer, but really, it’s all about the fully-stocked bar cart, IMO.

Editor’s Note** As the designated office beauty guru/junkie, you’re guaranteed to find the latest products on Ashiyana’s desk at all times. 

Dubravka Radoicic
Brand Ops Manager

I moved from Serbia with my parents when I was 5 and was raised in Vancouver. My parents had high hopes I would become a famous concert pianist, but I wanted to channel my creativity in the workplace. After earning my degree in Communications and Economics I worked at the BC Government for 7 years, which brought a wealth of experience in management, analytics, and client relations. However, I knew there was more out there. I sought to find a career that would allow me to exercise my creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. I eventually decided to step outside my comfort zone and pursue a job in the industry I was truly interested in and always wanted to be a part of. Enter Very Polite. I’ve been with VP for the last 2 years, working in Brand Ops, and never been happier. I’m inspired by the creativity and thought-provoking way in which work is approached at the agency. Every project is so different and unique, and I feel like I am always learning. I also love the seemingly bottomless snack drawer in the kitchen. My day-to-day varies. I manage team calendars, manage deliverables and project timelines, conduct research, and overall make sure the team is set up for success. I also ensure there is a robust supply of Key Lime flavoured La Croix and champagne at all times (it’s proven to be essential to employee happiness and productivity). I’m extremely organized – like multiple calendars, multi-colored pens, colour-coding and a million Post-it notes kind- of-organized. Though ironically, I have a memory so good that I rarely have to write things down, but still do for good measure. You can typically find me hopping from one task to the next, and always at a happy hour after 5pm – just making the most of each day you know?

Editor’s Note** Dubravka is a classically trained musician who can play three instruments. The best time to request a performance is after a few glasses of wine.

Casandra Parto
Photographer

As most creatives start out, I didn’t know how I should use my talents in trade for commerce. So I went to design school and graduated as a Graphic Designer. After years in the field, I found my interest veering towards photography which was more creatively fulfilling, and found a position doing in-house graphic design and photography with a local women’s apparel retailer. Soon after I was presented with an opportunity working at Kit and Ace as a Brand Photography Retoucher, further developing my skillset and cementing my passion for this industry. Things came full circle when I joined Victory Creative and returned to my graphic design roots while still building on my photography experience. I had opportunities to work with Nike in San Francisco, LA, Chicago, New York and Portland. A highlight was shooting the Nike x Revolve Festival and seeing my work on the Nike landing page. As a fan of the brand, this was a very cool moment. These experiences only inspired me to dive deeper into the world of photography. I have an unwavering persistence to reach my goals, it’s my strongest skill and has served me well. As luck would have it, my old boss from Kit and Ace, Alan Chan, brought me on to the Very Polite team as Junior Photographer – and I haven’t looked back. I would describe my role here as the “low-angle-money- shot-specialist” (not an official title) and assist Alan with everything from production to editing and castings. I love the group of people I get to work with and how everyone at the agency has their own unique skillset and personalities. If we were a reality show, I would watch it. Also, the snack game here is pretty tight.

Editor’s note** Cas is often spotted in her favourite Balenciaga sneakers, eating a bowl of ramen at her desk. Her style? Tomboy, but classy, but also cute. Kind of like Cas.

Emily Brumwell
Graphic Designer

Before I knew about my passion for fonts (try explaining that one to your grandparents) I went to university to get a “real job” in psychology. That didn’t quite work out, however graphic design did. To me graphic design is kind of like ‘visual psychology’ (yes, that’s a term I made up). It’s the theory that something visual and artistic can subconsciously convey a complex concept and make you feel some type of way. After ~*art school*~ I did some cool stuff. I designed for RIDE CYCLE CLUB, a variety of breweries, restaurants, small businesses, and charities. I also got a dog, his name is Sir Arthur Wellesley (Welly for short). Then, I was adopted by Very Polite! As a Graphic Designer here, I make things make sense and look good. My approach to life and work is pretty simple – just get started and don’t be so hard on yourself. In the words of Kris Jenner, “You’re doing amazing sweetie.”

*Emily recently made a TikTok video that has garnered 10 million views to date. We could try to explain it but we’re too old to get it.

Brenden Mersey
Lead Developer & Digital Strategist

“Never won.” That’s a personal idiom that I try to apply to my day-to-day. To me, it means to approach things in life as if you’ve never had success. The idea keeps me humble and focused. It also encourages me to stay self-motivated, and this has taken me far. Once the sole proprietor at Daymarker Digital, I set out to build beautiful, long-lasting websites. My modus operandi was developing custom digital solutions for clients without sacrificing timeline, detail and quality. Before life as a digital contractor, you could find me outside working construction on various projects along the majestic coastlines and waterfront properties of the Southern Gulf Islands in BC. During my time as a builder, I grew to understand, appreciate and admire both the complications and intricacies of making something out of nothing. I have since applied some of the lessons I learned from construction into developing elegant, detail-oriented, custom-tailored digital solutions for clients.

So what do I do at Very Polite? I make sure the BLT drive on your Hoth System doesn’t crap out in the middle of a Cylons disobedience.* Additionally, and far less excitingly, I oversee web-related endeavours from start to finish. While participating in digital strategy and data modelling, my real moneymaker is in the ability to scaleup beautifully robust, custom Shopify and WordPress solutions that cater to unique client challenges. This is why I get paid the big bucks. No, but really, what makes working here great is the people and the projects. A close second is a seemingly infinite supply of garlic parmesan pretzels. When I’m not daydreaming of Beggar’s Canyon, you can either find me in the Gluten-free aisle of Whole Foods, spring skiing on Blackcomb or chair-dancing to my favourite tunes.

*There is an 88.9% chance this is a made-up term.

Editor’s Note** Brenden also leads a double life as a DJ and compiles the Very Polite Agency soundtracks available on Spotify. We dare you to listen and not get lit.

Kirsten Geekie
Copy & Content Strategist

My mum always said I was good with words. In rebellion of her pointing out something that I thought was too hard to pursue, I decided to try and be good with my hands (nice one Geekie). I went to Emily Carr and got my Fine Arts degree in drawing (now, that pursuit is a real slice of pie), saw some weird stuff there and figured something out — I’m not that good with my hands. But you know what else my mum always said: “if you’re going to do something, do it right.” So, I went and tried my mitts at fashion, farming (it was a weird time, okay?) and about a million other things (hyperbole — it’s a writer thing). Eventually, I’d run so far from writing that I ended up in Amsterdam, where I ran right into the loving arms of an MFA in design writing from the Design Academy Eindhoven. From there, I wrote for Frame Magazine and then ended up doing creative strategy and copywriting at Futurebrand UXUS, typing up concepts for brands like Shell and McDonalds. Finally, I came home to Vancouver and found my place at Very Polite, where I’m surrounded by the coolest people, and I’ve never been so happy to slap out words and ideas on my keyboard.

Tommy Cole
Business Development Strategist

I have always chosen to immerse myself in the arts. Coming from a background in film production, I feel most at home around people who express themselves in creative ways. While I loved the excitement of movie magic, I chose to pivot to a role where I could still be creative, but also get a good night’s sleep (and maintain a social life). I was thrilled to join Very Polite, where everyone on the team brings something unique to the table. We all have something to contribute and learn from one another.

Experience & Growth Strategy is just a fancy way of saying business development, which means I create business objectives for the agency and then hustle to bring it all to life. In order to accomplish this, I forge relationships with all sorts of different people, which is great, because I really like people. My goal is always to find common ground with the individuals I meet and enrich their lives one smile at a time. This can mean being a source of positivity and motivation while teaching a class at RIDE Cycle Club or making people laugh through comedy sketches on social media, which I do from time to time. I’ve also been a part-time bartender for the better part of a decade – which has resulted in friends asking for a drink when I’m technically “off shift”.

 

Jiaan Co
Senior Graphic Designer

I came to Canada ten years ago from The Philippines with zero living-abroad experience and zero design experience. After getting a degree in IT, I quickly realized that it wasn’t the right fit for me – I needed to fulfill my desire to create! My passion led me to pursue a career in design and I was fortunate enough to get a pretty big break early on, leading the design collateral for an international legal conference. As soon as I got the ball rolling, I knew there was no looking back.

Joining the VP team as a Senior Graphic Designer was a dream come true. Being able to work with amazingly talented and open-minded people is such a plus. It also helps that the team has a pretty high-calibre sense of humour. My approach to work and life is maybe a little pessimistic, but I see it more as a way of being prepared for anything. Plus, it feels that much more rewarding when things do go the right way. My superpowers are 1) being able to read people really well and 2) absolutely killing it at Jurassic Park trivia night. Despite having an affinity for bold, eye-catching design, my personal style is pretty low-key. I like to keep things simple and timeless with subtle nods to the 80s, 90s, and 00s, back when fashion was at its best (IMO).