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Life & Work with Dara Firoozi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dara Firoozi.

Hi Dara, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started designing my line of functional jewelry for anxiety and stress relief, Adarabella Designs, while in school for Product Design and in therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was overwhelmed by my anxiety and remembering grounding techniques and was in need of a product that would help me self-soothe. During my senior thesis at the University of Michigan, I researched the relationship between the body and anxiety in order to inform the body placement and sensory function of our wellness wearables.

Adarabella Designs is a line of functional and fashionable jewelry that serves as an on-the-go mental health aid! These therapeutic wearables and fidget jewelry are designed to help ground the wearer and teach self-care! Sensory grounding elements are incorporated into the work so the wearer can cope with anxiety or other symptoms by distracting busy minds and hands with the kinetic jewelry, breathing in essential oils from the aromatherapy beads, or feeling protected by the self-defense rings!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I have been so fortunate to have the brand be consistently well received and supported by everyone I meet, though personally, as a solopreneur, who started a company fresh out of college, there has been a massive learning curve. While I studied product design in college and have a strong understanding of research and design, there are so many elements of being a small business owner that I have learned to incorporate over the last three years. I am not just the designer for Adarabella Designs, I am the head of PR, Social Media Manager, market sales attendant, Graphic Designer and so much more! Not having co-workers after coming from a design school that encourages collaboration was a struggle at first, but it prompted me to build my own community of other small business owners, makers, and accountability partners like my business coach! Having a business coach has been a complete game-changer for a creative like me who needs focus with achievable and attainable goals! Now that I have a strong grasp of these various roles, my new challenge, or rather exciting opportunity, is to grow the team with first hires to delegate tasks and help the company grow to help more people!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a Discursive Sensory Designer! I blend the five elements of Discursive Design with various therapeutic healing practices to develop fidget and sensory wearables that calm the wearer!

The five elements of Discursive Design are to inform, inspire, persuade, provoke and remind. Adarabella Designs aims to provoke positive conversation around mental health, inform people about the relationship between the physical body and anxiety while encouraging them to incorporate therapeutic healing practices, and inspiring individuals to share their story and remind them that they are not alone in their journey! I want people to feel seen, safe and heard and to provide a safe space for them to share their experiences! I think our Self Defense Rings are the most discursive piece of all, given that they reflect the societal need for a sense of security, provoke conversation around ways women are reclaiming “the walk” and providing a tool to help those feel in control.

The other focus of our wellness wearables are the healing practices inspired by Psychology and Naturopathy! While the Sensory Grounding and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy elements are a big part of what makes the work functional in terms of incorporating movement through touch with our fidget pieces, sound from the hum of the Calming Collar and smell from Aromatherapy Necklaces, there are also elements of coping and tracking which encourages Self Care and Self Awareness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques are also present with our Habit Hacker using the Rubber Band Technique to snap away unwanted thoughts or habits. In terms of Naturopathy, I believe Mindfulness is present in all the products, while elements of breathwork and meditation are heightened in certain pieces like our Counter Bead Bracelet.

On a professional level, I am so proud of seeing how the company and products have grown and to see how many people it has impacted, especially when reading the reviews of how the work has helps people self soothe from anxiety, provides a conversation tool to introduce their healing journey to loved ones, or feeling like they feel safe on walks with our rings! On a personal level, it has been a humbling experience taking my long journey of healing with PTSD and creating something greater than myself to help other heal and giving a new context to my experience!

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I have had such incredible mentors! If you are a solopreneur who is just getting started, get out there and make an effort to seek mentorship! My business coach, Jen Mattiola, has been an integral part of my growth, personally and professionally! In addition to her guidance, I have also learned from mentors in CPG from women-owned brands in industries like Superfoods and CBD that encourage an “education first, sales second” model when introducing the product.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

head shot of Dara Firoozi – Casey Eiland @mister.island product shots – Lucas Cartaxo @lucascrtx

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