Meet Kavi Moltz

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Founder of the Brooklyn-based perfume company, D.S. & Durga, along with her husband David. After a career in architecture, Kavi shares her transition into starting a business and raising her two children in the city.
 
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  Dress: Heidi Merrick

Dress: Heidi Merrick

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

The kids wake up by 6 AM, and it is a rushed blur of getting them dressed, brushed, and fed. Tea is a big part of our mornings. My husband is really knowledgeable about tea and brews up his latest interest. That’s all I need for breakfast until lunchtime at 10:30-11am. Sometimes I’ll make Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie.

David and I are 50/50 in work and domestic life. We make sure to pack lunches the night before school. Mornings are tough enough. I don’t like when I keep saying, “Hurry up! We have to go now!” I imagine how it will affect their morning to feel so hurried. We are trying hard to maintain a calm environment for the kids these days. We are not the most chill people, but kids do what they see so we work on it. Raising them in the city is an uphill battle to keep calm!

on working in architecture post-college

I grew up in New Jersey and studied art history at Vassar. I worked in New York at an architecture firm and really lived up my twenties. It was a magical time. I was going out every night, jumping from apartment to apartment, working hard, and learning a lot. I did that for two years, got my Masters in Architecture at SCI-Arc in LA, then worked in architecture again for two years. I relied on the Vassar alumni office to help me make connections. Grad school was my goal and also expected in my family. My time in an architecture office is now my reference point for how a workplace runs and about the design process from concept to client meetings. David has never worked in an office a day in his life! I bring more of the “conventions” to the studio.

on meeting her husband and starting D.S. & Durga

David and I met on a hot New York night outside a bar. He impressed me with his references to Indian culture, and we discussed Russian novels. A few months later we started making tinctures and potions for friends as holiday gifts. They liked them, and I thought we could turn this into something. Then we started D.S. & Durga. This time in Brooklyn in the late noughties (that’s what they call the ‘00s in England) was full of people doing things themselves and making things previously left to large companies. We felt we had a place in the movement. As soon as I was able to, I left architecture to do this full time.

  Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
“The Golden Calf” is a funny political satire of the Soviet Union. I love that it is a snapshot of life in the 1920’s under communism, and it’s just a great caper story. The main character steals all this money from a secret millionaire who has stashed his money while waiting for the Soviet Union to fall so he can spend it again. Of course, the authors had to write this so carefully because it was criticizing the regime. The cast of characters is so rich and they all speak to the political climate in some subtle ways. We are a family of Russophiles.
— on her favorite books

on her transition from architecture to perfumery

I consider myself to have broad visual design skills. I learned the language of critique from grad school. I think being able to talk about why a design looks more this way or that is really important, especially when creating a brand. We want our products to have a subtle familiarity and resonance.

on being in business with her husband

It's mostly great. I love that we share the same main interests which are work and kids. Our lives are very blended. Sometimes arguments carry from the workplace into the house and vice versa, but they lessen as our roles grow more defined and discrete over the years. I think we’ve strengthened as a couple because of work. We are really growing as business people. It’s amusing to us because we started out with zero knowledge or interest in business. We both admire each other. I am amazed watching David handle so much!

on growing the company and a family

Our married life blends seamlessly, but I do shield my kids from having the feeling that all we do is work. I grew up with a mom who worked, and I was very much raised by my grandparents. My mom still found time to cook for us each night and attend school meetings. I see how hard that must have been. My Indian friends and I who complain about being so busy and overwhelmed have no idea how our moms did it. Immigrants, doctors, and moms who worked full-time while figuring out how to exist in this country without Seamless, Uber, or housekeepers with very little domestic help from the dads. Our generation is different. We have more at our disposal, but the bar is set so high. We are very lucky to have child-care help from my parents and amazing babysitters. They make it easier to focus on being a great mom when it’s time to put the computer and phone away to be present for them.

on the best part of being a mom

My favorite is watching them grow into amazing people. Their personalities blow me away. Krishna with his kindness has a heart of gold. Coco is a star and might just charm her way through life. I can see the people they might turn into and it’s nice to think about.

  Top: Monogram Studio

Top: Monogram Studio

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We started out not knowing anything, but we are resourceful people. Our generation was very much about figuring things out. The perfume industry is very opaque and top down...very European. This is all changing, and our brand is as American as it gets. We have a “my way” attitude to what we do. We never had the money to do things in a more polished and formal way. Our early decisions formed who we are now and brought us to this point, for better or worse.
— on what it takes to be in the perfume industry
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on raising children in the city

We can do a lot being in the city. We try showing the kids all the benefits. When they visit family in the suburbs, they say they’d rather live there! But they do enjoy museums, trips, restaurants, and the convenience of city life. Our neighbor has a child the same age as our son and they play so well together. It’s very unplanned and casual. Social things come up all the time that involve friends with kids, and I think they love that. Maybe because they are half-Indian, they love being around people all the time!

on what keeps her inspired

Growth keeps me motivated. D.S. & Durga was the tiniest seed and we have watched it grow. It is now taking on a life of its own with more people depending on it and nurturing it. It’s so inspiring. There are still opportunities for me to learn and grow, and that will never end. We’re always adapting and filling new roles.

on her style and shopping habits

My style is pretty functional and dark. Most of what I wear is from my twenties. I don’t enjoy shopping but I enjoy splurging a few times a year on a well-made item, usually from Matches or some online shop. I also love coats. In most places I go, I don’t take it off. My coat is the outfit, so it has to be good. I also have a dozen pairs of high waisted black jeans. I don’t wear leather, so my shoes and bags are Stella McCartney. Comfort is so important. I never know what situation I’ll be in throughout the day. I always need to feel like I’m wearing my clothes instead of vice versa. As far as shopping, I look on 1stdibs for crazy design pieces. A girl can dream.

kavi’s favorite books

Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties by Lev Rubinstein, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, Ornament and Crime by Adolf Loos, The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore

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I read design and architecture magazines in the kitchen while the kids are playing. I like keeping one finger on that pulse. I also always get a chair massage while my nails are drying at the nail salon. It’s good time management. I love cooking so much, and though it’s for family and guests, it’s really for me.
— on her self-care rituals
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on her beauty routine

It focuses on exfoliation. I use Peter Thomas Roth acid pads or Dennis Gross pads. I don’t have great skin but good exfoliation and a light retinol help makeup go on better. That’s all I can ask for. I love Jordan Samuel face oil, the blue cocoon by May Lindstrom, Elta MD sunscreen, and refillable Surratt liquid eyeliner. I use about twenty different red and pink lipsticks like MAC Pink Lipstick and Clé De Peau Beauté. I also recommend NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Liquid Foundation, Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil, The Browgal Skinny Eyebrow Pencil, Teddie Rose Water, La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser, Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant, Paula's Choice Radiance Renewal Mask, Eve Lom TLC Cream, Garden of Life Raw Calcium Supplement, Kimberly Snyder Beauty Detox SBO Probiotics, and Garden of Life B12 Vitamin.

kavi’s favorite records

Buckingham Nicks, Electric Cafe, With Sympathy, Standing on a Beach: The Singles

kavi’s favorite movies

Beetlejuice, Interstellar, Chinatown, On The Waterfront, Lemon

kavi’s favorite places IN new york city

I love Golda in our neighborhood. We often hold morning meetings there. My favorite restaurants are abcV, Balthazar, Lilia, and Via Carota.

I love the Whitney. It’s fun for kids too. The Carpenters Workshop Gallery is always full of beautiful things, and also the Friedman Benda Gallery and R & Company.

I am really into Fort Pilates in Fort Greene. I’m super into using pilates machinery.

I’ve been dancing at the Pyramid on Thursdays since 1995.

Movie and drinks at the Alamo, or bust.

  Jeans: Khaite

Jeans: Khaite