My first introduction to Fasil Debeb is that he’s a cool dad and that he's been an avid supporter of our brand since our beginning. Hence, showing up rocking the original PDX Airport Carpet socks. On our first meeting, I don’t know where to start exactly, so we start at his beginning.
Fas is originally from Walla Walla, Washington and it was a snowboarding company that he started which helped him find his way to Portland.
“I got here in 1995. It’s hard to imagine but that was before web sales. Most of my retail customers were here. It was an easy hub, you can easily get to all the snowboard shops and when you grow up in the Pacific Northwest, your options are Seattle or Portland. It was a very different city then and for me, Seattle was too happening.”
It’s funny to sit across from Fas Debab, a strikingly cool individual, and have him say a city was too happening.
Fas tells me about his snowboarding company —Dinner — and we talk about life before brand ambassadors and how your brand could make an impact on Mt. Hood simply being something that mattered. He talks about having to have a Japanese distributor and when the market changed, working at Bonfire before joining Columbia Sportswear and Mountain Hardware in apparel development. Eventually, he made his way back to snowboarding with Holden.
“Holden connected to streetwear, lifestyle. They knew that for a lot of people when you’re looking for a jacket, 90% of the time you are were wearing the jacket to be a jacket, they bridged that connection.”
In 2008, Fasil started at Nike, where he is now, to work with ACG, All Conditions Gear. We can’t help but get distracted talking about the new collection for a bit. When not at Nike, Fas is busy with two loves, his band, Mission Spotlight, and his twin daughters.
Ava and Vivian are 4 ½ years old. As we talk I realize just how different it is to be balancing two at the same time, Fas refers to himself as a father of "multiples." It feels like I’m getting a glimpse behind the scenes of an in-group that I’m not a part of — parents with multiples. The biggest change Fas mentions about becoming a parent: time management.
“It’s been a big reality check. Before, I spent a lot of time doing…I don’t even know, making posters and things. Now, I’m really clear on needing to figure out how I can maximize my time. It’s made me be more realistic about what I can do.”
And Vivian and Ava, what are they into, what do they like?
“They are very energetic; they feed off each other's energy. They both got the music bug. Vivian specifically really gets the rhythm. They are both really into vocals, which makes me feel good. They love playing guitars.”
“Melissa and I are just getting them actually trying stuff. They just started dance at a community-based ballet place. I took them by this weekend for a dance and tumbling class and they loved that. They’re getting into soccer but it’s still a little early for everything.”
“I feel like they’re about to blossom. They are so lucky to have each other, they don’t have any space issues, they are frenemies and I feel like without them life would be completely boring, they just brighten up my day. “
“They love playing dress up and having tea parties. I’m not invited to as many tea parties; they kind of do their own thing. They love nature and flowers, I look forward to seeing what really sticks out to them.”
“I got them bikes that are a little too big and that’s been funny. Ava is like, ‘No, thanks take me off.’ Vivan is all in, she’ll just go for it. That’s their personalities. Ava does the math. If they become snowboarders, Vivian will be the jump tester and Ava will check the trajectory. In soccer, Ava likes dribbling and Vivian is all about kicking goals.”
We talk about being outnumbered by the girls.
“I have to be calm and show no sign of weakness. I was at OMSI with them solo on Saturday and right at the end, they went into the shopping area. They looked at each other and then went flying off in opposite directions. They love to run full speed and look back at me. It’s a constant balance of control and chaos.”
Did you feel like you were ready?
“Nothing can really prepare you for having kids. It got real when we had them. I was ready emotionally and from a stability standpoint, I feel like I’ve been prepping for kids. I’ve always driven station wagons, people were like ‘You’re ready, for kids.’ But that doesn’t mean your ready. No one is ready to be woken every two hours or change an endless amount of diapers. I definitely feel like it rounds out my life experience, with a sense of responsibility and a healthy perspective in life.”
And what’s your favorite part?
My favorite part is coming home and having them 95% of the time being like “Daddy look!” They like to show me everything. It’s that connectivity that’s also so motivational. What you put in comes right back at you twice as hard, by just having those moments. I love taking them to the parks and playground and watching them just enjoy life, especially this time of year. Summertime gives perspective in everyday life in Oregon.”
We talk about his band Mission Spotlight, upcoming shows, music, and balance.
“As a parent you have to pick and choose your extracurriculars. Everyone has kids so they get it. You have to be very clear about timelines, windows of opportunities. Technology has helped. I fought google calendar so hard for awhile and now I’m all about it. Music has been an amazing outlet and opportunity to balance out life with kids.”
What about advice to other fathers?
“Baby bjorns are overrated. My kids’ baby weight was in the 98th percentile, I felt like my kids were never small enough for that. They were little butterballs literally, they were like these little blobs. “
This is an ongoing theme during our father’s day interview series, parents calling their children blobs.
Fas’s advice is really specific because he had two kids to handle. He talks about wistfully looking at other parents with one sleeping kid when the twins were young. They never really had that; if one was asleep the other was awake.
“The best advice is seeking advice from other parents. I had the luxury of a friend at work that had twins nine months before us. He gave me the advice of, with really young twins, feeding them using a dual seat with a spot to rest your arms so you can feed two kids at the same time. We also had a modular system where you had could take the car seat right out of the car and put it into the baby carriage. Game changer. I would also say stick with one brand for your really important safety baby stuff. Brand loyalty goes a long way there in that department.”
Fas rattles off a great chunk of advice:
“Less is more, figure out what really you need, they will grow out of it. I have so many fresh Jordan’s in the box that they never got to wear because I somehow missed that growth spurt. Now I have to give them to some other cool kid.”
“Support your local shops, there’s a lot of local resale in Portland, for maternity and kids clothes. I’m a big fan of passing it on too. I honestly feel like my experience with multiples has made me better at managing inventory.”
Big thank you to Amiri Rose, Phil Padilla and Fasil Debeb for being awesome dads and letting us delve into their lives for Father’s Day 2018.
And here's another shot of Fas's footwear just because it looks cool.