Nina Faulhaber is a right brain left brainer, with a strong belief in abundance and a tendency to smile at strangers. Growing up in Germany, she gave up a promising career as a gymnast in favor of basketball. After stints in Montreal and Singapore, she later settled in London where she worked at Goldman Sachs then became the second female investor hired at international venture capital firm Index Ventures.
Nina is now New York based and the cofounder of ADAY, an innovative, stylish and sustainable brand that has quickly established itself as a pioneer in the use of performance fabrics for transitional purposes. Read on for a glimpse at this radiant essentialist's purposeful vision, as well as those rituals and resources that accompany her along the way.
INSIDE/OUT: Tell us about yourself.
Nina Faulhaber: Hey! I'm Nina. I believe in abundance. To me this starts with an abundance mindset where we strive for increasing the pie rather than competing for it. It’s all about the attitude and every micro-action can have positive impact. So in short this means I like to smile at strangers and strive to leave every person I touch feeling more positive than before our encounter.
I'm also passionate about a more conscious, minimal way of living. From the clothing I wear, to an essentialist attitude of planning my time.
I deeply care about making a contribution to a beautiful future in which we’re happy, live consciously and in symbiosis with planet Earth.
I’m equal left brain + right brain and love to stimulate the visual sense as much as numbers. With ADAY I'm doing what I'm here to do as an ex-gymnast with a passion for creating a brand that impacts people.
I/O: Tell us about your genesis story.
NF: I grew up in Germany, with stints in Montreal and Singapore, before I moved to London, then New York. My mum is a lawyer and my dad an engineer, growing up I loved writing, philosophy and art - but my strongest affinity was for math. I loved numbers and I excelled in sciences. My dad’s dad was an entrepreneur, and my mum’s dad was a mathematician and CEO. I didn’t know them super well as they both passed away when I was young but I was always inspired by the strong leadership figures. My only uncle and godfather is another one I admired.
So I think I stepped into a lot of my masculine early on. I dropped my very promising gymnast path when I was 12 to play basketball, I studied at a male-heavy university, worked at Goldman Sachs, then was the second female investor hired at Index Ventures.
It wasn’t until ADAY that I started to connect more with my feminine and creative traits. I’m into empathetic and uplifting leadership where achievements are celebrated and team achievements count more than individual ones. I enjoy creating and using my intuition. I’d like to create a company where people love to come to work and focus on positive impact as much as they do on profits.
I/O: Tell us about ADAY.
NF: ADAY is a fast growing direct-to-consumer brand creating a capsule wardrobe of consciously designed, versatile essentials. We are setting a new standard for clothing by fusing minimal, seasonless shapes with technical fabrics, all made with a huge focus on sustainability and conscious consumption.
We were named one of the Most Innovative Companies in the World 2018 by Fast Company in Style for 'transcending athleisure' and have been featured in Vogue, Forbes, Forbes 30 under 30, Refinery29, Conde Nast Traveler, Financial Times, Fast Company, Vogue, NYMag, Well+Good, WWD, Entrepreneur, Cool Hunting, etc.
My co-founder Meg and I started ADAY because we needed it in our lives. Completely separately of each other, we started exploring technical clothing when we were both working in tech in Silicon Valley and London. I was a competitive competitive gymnast in Germany and had grown up only wearing active clothing. During that time her wardrobe felt simple. It was an odd thing to find myself as a teenager + adult in the 2000s stuffing my wardrobe with trendy pieces and stuff that was meaningless.
I decided to take a Sportswear Design weekend course at Central St. Martin’s in London, to draw up what I imagined a simplified, technical wardrobe could look like. Meg had no interest in fitness until she ended up on the Stanford campus, which was filled with sunshine and students with 6-pack abs. It quickly dawned on her that networking was going to involve going to spin classes and runs and she went to her first yoga class…and soon signed up for yoga teacher training, ran her first marathon, camped in Yosemite and bought a road bike. She also bought her very first piece of activewear and it struck her how different it was to the rest of her wardrobe.
So we wondered if there was a world where the benefits of technical clothing and our favorite wardrobe staples could be combined into something that was simple yet versatile and a truly new standard of clothing. So when Meg was about to move back to London I took her out on a breakfast to convince her to just go for it together.
I hold Product and Brand close to my heart. I love thinking bigger, deepening our purpose and working on anything that’s creative.
I/O: Today's work and tomorrow's dream?
NF: We are currently pushing the envelopes on all things sustainable design. Right now we are launching a three piece capsule inspired by exploring different ways to be more sustainable from minimal waste design to a fabric we co-developed that’s made from recycled water bottles. In June we’re launching a three piece capsule inspired by the most classic of all prints. We’re in the business of re-imagining classics to be even better - and to create consciously designed, technical staples. So both launches speak to that so much.
This is really my dream come true.
In the further out future - I’m not sure. There’s so much more we can and have to do with ADAY. I’d love to see us grow very big and become an even bigger platform from which we can spread a message of conscious and thoughtful design and consumption.
I/O: What does your community consist of? Do you feel part of a tribe? Or more of a leader?
NF: With regards to ADAY I definitely feel like a leader but I also feel like I’m part of the tribe. Yes we’re founder-led but ADAY is a brand that Meg and I not only built for ourselves but also for the women around us. So we attracted so many amazing women who joined the movement by coming to work with us or supporting in other ways. We operate as one big family, or tribe, working towards the same mission.
Over time we’ve met so many wonderful people and were lucky to adopt them into the broader ADAY community, from our amazing ambassadors (we have nearly 50 now!), to many brands and people we partnered with, to wonderful writers and journalists, to the ladies at various mindful and workout communities. Thanks to them all for all being such a huge part of our community.
In my private life I’m lucky to have an awesome tribe of women many of whom are entrepreneurs themselves. To name just a few, friends like Emily Brooke (UK industrial designer and the founder of Blaze), Kate Unsworth (Vinaya founder), Courtney Boyd Myers (AKUA founder), Billie Whitehouse (Wearable X cofounder and CEO) are my sisters and we fuel each other’s energies no matter how close or far away we are from each other. There’s also a broader community I’m part of and none of us can really pinpoint where it starts and where it ends, probably somewhere between Summit Series, NYC, SF, LA, London and Technology, but I’m so grateful how rich and supportive that community is.
I/O: How much of your community is comprised of individuals who identify as female?
NF: Our team is comprised of 100% women. Our community of about 98% women.
I/O: What experts do you admire?
NF: Albert Einstein for being the most inspiring left brain right brain I know of. Patagonia founder Yves Choinard for being the ultimate activist. Al Gore for his relentless pursuit of a sustainable future. Emma Watson for her UN work. Paul Coelho for choosing wise words. Malala Yousafzai for empathy + wisdom deeper than Buddha himself. Sam Harris for his openly political stance + deep intellect.
I/O: Who are your teachers?
NF: All of the above + Buddha! Also, Pascal - my better half. Teaching, coaching, emotional assistance. He is a unicorn. Jessica Zemple - a coach par excellence I met on Powder Mountain. My friends Kate, Emily + Courtney. My parents - they always know best after all.
I/O: Who or what helped you get where you are today?
NF: Team ADAY. No question. And my friends Resal + Juliana: We’ve known each other for >20 years and even though we all live on different continents, it feels like they’ve been with me every day
I/O: Overall, who takes care of you? Who or what makes you stronger?
NF: I’m largely taking care of myself + finding strength from within. Meditation helps me, journaling helps me. Reading books written by great creatives or leaders helps me. Whenever I fail, Pascal is my rock.
I/O: What challenges have you faced and what obstacles might you be experiencing?
NF: I’m an ENFP - above average emotional and quite receptive to other people. So often I’m impacted by my own emotions and by emotions of those around me. This is just something I’m constantly battling with and my goal is to build more emotional resilience so I can be a better leader for my team.
I/O: What particular challenges do you find women are facing on a local or global level? How can this be improved?
NF: Globally I think the biggest issues we’re still facing are in countries and cultures where women are still not even remotely considered equal. We’re lucky over here in the US and Europe in that regard although there’s of course a long way for us to go here, too.
I/O: What are your thoughts on feminism and women empowerment?
NF: I’m very excited about the current climate where women support women and it feels very much like we’re all rising together. I’ve never felt something like it and I don’t think many of us have. It’s so inspiring to be a part of this time. I’m sure we in NYC may be over proportionally benefiting from this but I dearly hope women in all places are connecting and building communities designed to lift everyone up together.
At ADAY we’ve definitely taken a little bit more of a political stance than we used to - mainly because we are speaking from the heart. And there are some things that just need to be said. When we post women-supportive or political messages on our social media, we get a ton of positive feedback and we love having this kind of conversation with our audience. For International Women’s Day we asked our community to submit their favorite protest signs + to illustrate those. We then printed a selection as postcards to order on our website - with proceeds going to the Malala Fund. It has nothing to do with clothing, but we love to use our platform for women-supportive ideas.
I/O: A mantra, tagline or motto?
NF: One of my guiding principles is to always be curious and think bigger. My design philosophy is: Make it simple but significant. And I’m building a life I don’t need a vacation from.
I/O: Three words.
NF: Creativity. Sunshine (positivity). Minimalism.
I/O: Tell us about your rituals.
NF: I’m trying to meditate daily but then there are weeks where I’m completely out of synch. I love a good mind-body balance but working out less than I used to, about 3 times a week. I love The Class, yoga, running + SoulCycle.
My favorite ritual is to not schedule anything on weekend days - this is a hard rule I try to stick to! I love owning my own weekend time.
I/O: What tools and resources would you recommend to our community?
NF: Podcasts I listen to regularly include: Waking Up with Sam Harris, How I Built This, Dear Sugars, On Being, Intelligence Squared, BBC Global News Podcast.
Friends’ podcasts I love: Mentoring Moments, Hey Change, Role Models, Millennials Don’t Suck, Product Hunt.
A few books I love: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Let Your People Go Surfing by Yves Chouniard, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, The Upcycle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, Abundance by Steven Kotler + Peter Diamandis, Designing for the Bottom Two Billion, The Tao of Leadership, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and everything by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I/O: What role does travel play in your life? Where have you been and what’s next?
NF: Huge! I grew up in Germany with stints in Montreal and Singapore, then lived in London, now NYC. I’ve traveled to many countries and seen happiness and poverty. It has shaped me so much. Last been to: Cusco (Peru), Cartagena (Colombia) + Mexico City. Going to next: LA for ADAY, then various Europe trips.
I/O: What role does music play in your life?
NF: I love music, especially everything with a jungle vibe and drums. Daytime I love The Killers, The Kooks + Angus and Julia Stone.
I/O: What makes you happy?
NF: Positivity + working towards a common goal.
I/O: What do you do when something makes you unhappy?
NF: I meditate and either work on my attitude towards it - or let it go.
I/O: What inspires you more than anything else?
NF: The women around me, especially team ADAY.