Meet Kayla Tanenbaum
on her morning routine
If I let myself, I would sleep until noon every day. I need to ease into mornings, so I set my alarm for two hours before I want to be out of bed, spend an hour pressing snooze, and 40 minutes watching TV. Back before Stewart left and Colbert moved on, that meant watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report every morning. I’m still reeling from that loss and figuring out my morning shows.
on getting her start
In college, I interned for a couple of magazines and at a literary agency and loved it. But I didn’t have the guts to pursue my own writing so I thought I would encourage it in others: I wanted to be an agent for a while, then I worked as a high school English teacher. I realize if I don’t try now, I will always wonder what could have been, so I left my teaching gig (which was very difficult to do) and applied to graduate school. I’m thrilled to say I’ll be going to Columbia for my MFA. I’m beginning to work on a book about people who live off the grid in various ways for various reasons (religion, anti-technology, etc.) and form alternative communities. I also write regularly for Man Repeller and Interview Magazine.
on being a dog walker
I have a dog whom I adopted after fostering him through Social Tees Animal Rescue. I still work with them, taking photos of dogs who need forever homes, but I realized I could make money doing something I love, hanging out with dogs and getting outside, so I launched KT Pups. More importantly, if I write all day, I’ll either get nothing done or spend the entire day in my own head, which is overwhelming and exhausting. Being responsible for other people’s pets gives me a way to break up my day and get outside. I don’t think I could write if I didn’t do something physical and not so introspective. I hate going to the gym, so I ride my bike to the clients’ houses and walk or jog for an hour. Nothing clears my head for writing like cleaning poop off the street.
on her shopping habits and style
I really love minimalism in interesting proportions. I tend to wear neutrals or earth tones (except bright red; I love bright red). I very much want to be a Maryam Nassir Zadeh girl. I also love Rachel Comey and Creatures of Comfort. I prefer to shop at independent boutiques (though I don’t think I’ve ever exited a Zara empty-handed). Two of my favorite stores in NYC are The Rising States and American Two Shot. They don’t really fit into this minimal aesthetic, but where I always go if I want something no one else will have, which is obnoxiously important to me sometimes. I also love the stores Sincerely, Tommy in Bed-Stuy and Otherwild in the LES. Online, I love Staud and Needsupply.
on taking the time for herself
I learned to surf in Rincon, Puerto Rico. I signed up for a women’s-only retreat at Samatahiti and we lived in tents (actually, more like yurts) and surfed for four hours/day. I feel in love with the physicality of surfing. I’m so in my head, by nature and by virtue of my day job, but while surfing, especially while learning to surf, there’s no room for rumination or neuroses. I think it’s really important to have a hobby you do only for you, not for any sense of recognition or ambition. For me, that used to be photography, but now I'm working towards getting some stuff shown, so my photography is kind of wrought with ambition as well. I’m a decent surfer, but I’ll never be actually good. That's the best part. It’s really just for me, just for fun. I’m going to the Rockaways to surf in a few weeks, then I’m heading to Panama for another women’s retreat.
on her beauty routine
I wash my face at night with a white washcloth. I bought a pack of 20 for maybe $5 dollars. They’re kind of rough on my face, which feels exfoliating, and are much cheaper (and more hygienic) than a clarisonic brush. Plus, because they’re white, you can really see when the makeup/city pollution is totally gone. A friend introduced me to Vintner’s Daughter. I bought the Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum, which is by far the most expensive beauty product I’ve ever purchased. I use two drops/night mixed with moisturizer so it really lasts and my skin feels great. I used to be a product junkie — and such a sucker for packaging — but I started reading Paula’s Choice makeup blog and more articles about the beauty industry, and realized that most products are just gimmicks. I love trying new red lipsticks but when it comes to skin products, I don’t really believe the hype.
I love red lipstick on a bare face. It’s such a strange blend of trying really hard and not trying at all. I do a bold lip, fill in my eyebrows with Glossier Boy Brow and Benefit Gimme Brow, and if I’m going out at night, add some RMS Beauty Living Luminizer or Hourglass Bronzer in a C shape around my brow bones. Maybe I’ll still inspired by those Juergen Teller for Celine ads with Daria Werbowy, or maybe i’m just so sick of photoshop and Facetune on everyone’s selfies, but I think under-eye circles and freckles are so chic. I want my skin to look like skin. I really want to have a Signature Look, so I’m trying to only be photographed in lipstick, like Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek or Glossier Generation G Lip. I also recommend YSL Touche Eclat.
kayla's favorite books
Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer, Teaching A Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard, The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, Sex and Landscapes by Helmut Newton
kayla's favorite records
kayla's favorite places in nyc
Mill Korean: tiny restaurant near Columbia, every time I go it's mostly Korean people, which I take as a great sign.
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas has the best films and baked goods.