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 3 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. My general approach to life? Be bold. Be purposeful. Be kind.
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. She describes her current style as “mood dependant.”
Dubravka Radoicic Brand Ops
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.
Mark Bulford Art Director
What do I do at Very Polite? I ask myself this every day. Just kidding, not every day. The way I see it, my job is making things look good, and using graphic design as the medium. There’s a nice range of creative client work that keeps things fresh and challenging. Along with some interesting agency-initiated projects in the mix (top secret, tho) the variety of work is engaging. Ok, now for a speed round. Personal style? I call it trying, but not trying. Approach to life? Take it one day at a time. Strongest skill? I’m constantly in pursuit of creative growth, which to me is a good quality to have in anyone — but especially as a “creative person”. I also think I’m better at work than I am at life – so that’s a plus. Brief bio or life story? Very sorry, but N/A.
Emily Brumwell Junior 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 Junior Graphic Designer here, I make things make sense and look good. Other responsibilities include kerning on repeat, and existing as the Official Office Source on Youth Culture.* 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 is the youngest hire at the office. She recently made a TikTok video that has garnered 7.6 million views to date. We could try to explain it but we’re too old to get it.
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.
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.