Making Their Mark: Sasha Shor

By Anna Tutty
July 15, 2020

Sasha’s small batch, spicy, crispy, addictive Holy Tshili, as featured  in @the.qt.digest on Instagram. Photo by Paul Quitoriano.

Long before lockdown, WATG and Wimberly Interiors’ global network of designers, makers and creators have looked beyond their every day to inspire ideas and innovations. In this new series, Making Their Mark, we shine a spotlight on our team members and creative associates, and the passion projects they pursue outside of 9–5 – not only for their personal mental health, well-being and growth, but for the benefit of their clients, projects and colleagues. Fostering a spirit of creativity, innovation, individualism and imagination among our ‘ohana’ (family) has been central to our firm since its founding seventy-five years ago, and we are proud to support one another not only at work, but externally as well.

Today, we interview Sasha Shor – creative director, storyteller, brand builder and Wimberly Interiors collaborator. With a CV that spans McCann Erickson, FCB, Sundance, Xbox and Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Production, Sasha is a master of cult and culture – which is why it comes as no surprise that her isolation ‘a-ha’ moment is taking the internet – and people’s taste buds – by storm.

Sasha has a storied career that spans everything from marketing blockbuster films to coveted tacos

Sasha, tell us a little bit about your career and what a ‘normal’ day looks like for you.

I am a creative director, storyteller and brand builder. My true passion is creating cult and culture through products and experiences that people will fall in love with, wait in lines for and obsess over, whether that’s a blockbuster film, breakthrough tech or a smoked brisket taco! My work has taken me from the transportive and escapist worlds of first person and massive multiplayer gaming, and Hollywood film marketing all the way into consumer lifestyle, culinary and hospitality worlds. I have worked in-house at agencies like McCann Erickson and FCB as well as more niche entertainment companies like Sundance, XBox, and Dwayne Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions, creating virtual worlds, directing shoots, creating apps, social strategies, content, games, and everything in between!

The last 4 months have been super hard because I love to travel, to be on production, and most of all, I love the collaborative energy of working with other creative people – I miss all of those things terribly. Luckily, I have a few really amazing clients that have kept me busy during lockdown but everything is delayed and getting new and amazing things out in the world is taking way too long! I’m a restless creative and have to always be making something, so I’ve had to redirect some of my creative energy into personal projects and lots of cooking. Both for my family, for my Instagram and for some fun editorials like a piece I wrote on Russian pickles for British Vogue.

Chinese dim sum turnip cake with Holy Tshili by @davekatz

In isolation we’ve been forced to find new outlets for entertainment and inspiration. Talk us through your side project(s). What is it and how did it begin?

I’ve always had a hand (or two!) in the food world. Food is craft and art and culture and history. It excites us, connects us and tugs at our roots. For me, telling beautiful stories and building killer brands around food is so personal and gratifying. Isolation has really allowed me to rethink how I approach my work and the power that food has to create culture. Isolation has also cleared my head a bit and allowed me to have some fun with my food too… That’s how Holy Tshili was born. Watching my pod mates drown everything in everything bagel seeds and spicy chili crisp gave me that lightbulb moment: The world needs even more crisp, crunch, flavor and searing spice to obsess over! So, alongside consulting for my entertainment branding clients on their new social strategies and marketing campaigns, I launched a new line of very special, very addictive condiments: Holy Tshili Jewish-Chinese Everything Chili Crisp and Holy Tshili Jewish-Japanese Everything Chili Furikake. After a few posts on Instagram, people went nuts for them and a handful of food influencers were hooked and posting about them nonstop! So we did several small test runs, sold out both times and are now ramping up for a much bigger run with pre-orders already piling up! Follow @holytshili on Instagram… You’re going to want some!

Avo toast, dill, mortadella and Holy Tshili on rye

Have you found this new creative process to be cathartic or challenging? Has anything about it surprised you?

I love change. Change always means a new opportunity to see and do things differently. Even as we navigate a world that feels raw, fragile and unforgiving most days, those days are all still full of moments to be inspired and find a place for all of our creative energy. Starting a condiment line almost entirely on Instagram with a cult following was definitely not on the list of things I was planning on for 2020, so the process has definitely surprised me, but mostly it’s been cathartic and a lot of fun – launching new brands is what I know best and love the most, so Holy Tshili has hit that sweet spot for me and allowed me to connect with people around food, learn a ton and keep my gears turning in every direction imaginable!

Follow @holytshili on Instagram for updates on pre-orders, opening soon.

How has being creative outside of work positively impacted your outcomes at work?

Before COVID, my answer to being creative outside of work would have almost always involved travel, art, live events and food, or all of those together. But, our current world has put a screeching halt to moving about the globe, so I’ve leaned heavily into art and food content. Both are grounding, authentic, powerful and expressive. I have a vast collection of both art and food books and have spent a lot of time looking at art, reading food stories, testing recipes and documenting my own food. Cooking is a very meditative process for me and frees up my mind to think and explore ideas in all the areas of work that I do.

Ground turkey and bacon manti topped with Jewish-Chinese Everything Chili Crisp, as featured on the @foodloversdiary Instagram.

Tell us a little bit about a maker or creator who has inspired you, and why.

I’m inspired by so many, but Japan is the one area of the world that has had the most influence on me and my work than anywhere else. Artists like Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, and multimedia icons like Hayao Miyazaki and Daito Manabe are some of the most heavy-hitting culture creators. They have shaped art, music, technology and live experiences in ways very few others have. I am always in awe at how far the reach of their influence goes and how many genres and worlds they transcend. I am most inspired by their ability to surprise, shift paradigms, and leave an indelible mark on culture. To me, that’s the magic formula.

You can follow Sasha’s personal account here on Instagram, or Holy Tshili here.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, detail, 2016. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama via ICA Miami

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