Meet Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

Meet Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

There are so many cool, creative moms in Westchester like Melissa Levine. As the founder of Masha Dasha Designs, Melissa makes “art out of art supplies” by using  recycled and up-cycled crayons, pencils, colored pencils, vintage and up-cycled toys, wine corks, and rulers as her medium. This results in super creative and personalized gifts that all started when she made a crayon monogram for daughters’ preschool teacher. Read on to learn more about Melissa, her classes, and her awesome customizable wall art and gifts.

Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

Westchester Family: How did the idea for Masha Dasha Designs come about?

Melissa Levine: My beautiful twin daughters Meredith and Danielle began their lives as Masha and Dasha in a Russian orphanage. At 15 months old, we finally brought them home forever. From the moment we met them they have inspired me to create and make beautiful things. They are the inspiration behind Masha Dasha Designs.

As soon as my daughters came home I started crafting for them and eventually with them. Once they started elementary school all day long I began to craft and create on my own again. They are now in High School at Greeley, and besides a bit of afternoon schlepping, I have a lot of time in my studio and now for teaching art classes.

Westchester Family: Tell us more about your background before Masha Dasha Designs.

Melissa Levine: I’ve always been an artist. I studied art history and fine art in school at American University in Washington DC. I’ve painted in acrylic, oils and love working in pastels since my high school art class days. I spent many years in my original career of Museum and art gallery retail operations and visitor services, but always continued to make art for myself. When I got married I created my own Ketubah, which is a decorative Jewish wedding contract that you hang in your home as a piece of art. I began making custom Ketubahs in my spare time.

My art and work were put on hold while we were starting our family. On March 3, 2008 (after a few years of fertility treatments) My husband and I lost our biological twins Eli and Sam at 24 weeks when they were still born as a result of a ruptured uterus. While I recovered we immersed ourselves in adoption and almost a year to the day of our loss we welcomed our twin girls home. I spent 40 days in Russia, both sets of parents came and helped and my husband traveled back and forth for work but the twins finally came home on March 12, 2009. We moved from the city to our home on Candlewood Lake and finally purchased our home in Millwood a year later.

Once we finally settled in as a family of four, The first art piece I made was a crayon monogram for my daughters’ preschool teacher. Every teacher gift I made turned into at least one if not more orders from teachers and fellow parents that saw the pieces I made. Then, I knew there was a market for my art.

Meet Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

Westchester Family: What services/products do you offer?

Melissa Levine: I make fully customizable wall art and table top gifts, monograms and a variety of shapes that are perfect as baby and teacher gifts. My first client was the first preschool teacher I made a monogram for.

She loved the piece I made her and ordered a piece for her daughters new apartment. She had just graduated college and I made her a colorful button monogram. Not long after she received the gift from her mom, the daughter called and ordered another one for one of her friends. Word of mouth has been amazing. Over 50% of my baby gift recipients call to order one for a friend or for another child. The teachers gifts have been my best sellers since the beginning.

My slogan is “art out of art supplies” because I use mostly recycled and up-cycled crayons, pencils, colored pencils, and rulers as my medium. I cut them up into the shapes for a very unique one of a kind gift. I have also been known to use vintage and up-cycled toys, wine corks and a variety of customer requested items like pez candy and golf tees to make special order pieces.

You can see all of my products on my Etsy shop mashadashadesigns.Etsy.com. Most recently I began to create fun colorful quotes out of melted crayon letters and framed as a new customizable art piece. The customer picks the quote, size and colors and I create a really unique wall art. I have also turned my entire alphabet of crayon letters into small vinyl water bottle stickers. They have been great sellers.

Westchester Family: What is your process like before you create?

Melissa Levine: I have a very messy art studio. Before I create I like to clear my work table and pull all necessary pieces for the art work. Sometimes I need to make a new template, free hand draw a shape, or use my circuit to plan out the letter. I cut my pieces with a sharp exacto knife and have a number of saws in the studio for cutting pencils, golf tees and corks. All my works are on canvas board, sealed with mod podge and I do all my framing in house.

Westchester Family: Tell us about your custom pieces and what you offer.

Melissa Levine: While I have stickers, and a range of ready to purchase crayon or pencil frames, and shapes, the majority of my work is custom. I have done some really cool custom pieces in the past years. From “B” is for Brush and “F” is for Floss that hang in the waiting room of a pediatric dental office, to my most recent 14 individual hanging letters for Le Bonheur Cares, a children’s hospital in Memphis. I truly enjoy talking to customers and creating very special commissions from a single idea to completion.

Westchester Family: What are some of your favorite things to do in Westchester?

Melissa Levine: I love living in Westchester@ When my kids were little we tried to explore all the different playgrounds and parks and farms we could. Now, as teenagers, my daughters and I love to go to farmers markets, flea markets, craft fairs and to find vintage and antique stores. There are so many amazing makers and creative places in Westchester.

We love to explore new towns and our favorite is finding new ice cream places. Nothing beats King Kone, Big Foot Creamery and Blue Pig. I walk my dog on the north county trail way daily and am grateful for an entrance right across the street from my community. My daughter Dani and I enjoy biking on the trail. Now that it has been paved and connected we have been trying to go farther and farther, our goal for next summer is to ride from Millwood to the city and back.

Melissa Levine of Masha Dasha Designs

Westchester Family: Anything else to add?

Melissa Levine: I offer craft classes and arts and craftsy birthday parties. When my girls were young I loved to host creative artsy play dates with the moms group I belonged to. We picked a few crafts we found on Pintrest and did them with our children. Fun seasonal type things like painting with vegetables, decorating with flowers, Thanksgiving thankful trees etc.

As my business was first starting out I was asked to do some birthday parties by friends and local neighbors that had seen my work. Mostly melted crayon art. Though, as with many of my momprenuer friends, once COVID came, pivoting was necessary. Sales on my etsy site slowed and we were trying to find fun creative activites to do outdoors. It wasn’t really a true pivot as much as a big addition to my business. I took on a daily craft classes for all age ranges and ran evening moms night in backyard workshops like paint pouring and reverse tie dye clothes. These classes became extremely popular and have remained even once the world started to open back up.

I am currently teaching numerous classes indoors at The Collective by JABFIT in Chappaqua as well as continuing backyard classes in Chappaqua, Armonk and other local areas, as well as workshops and birthday parties. Unlike some companies that have specific offerings, (i.e. book here and make pottery, book here and paint a canvas) I am an open creative crafting option. Come to me with the age range and your theme idea and I can create a full fun and creative project just for you. I come to your location, bring everything, set up, lead a project and clean up. Every party is special and unique.

This past year I’ve expanded to toddler sensory art classes which have been such a joy to create and host. I love them even more because they are introducing me to a whole new generation of kids and local parents.

Meanwhile, throughout the pandemic our school teachers, as they well deserve all the time, have been praised for their tireless work for our children and my original cut crayon art teacher gifts have continued to be best sellers, I cannot make them fast enough.

Find Melissa at Masha Dasha Design at Mashadashadesigns.com