Meet Kayla Tanenbaum

Kayla Tanenbaum is a freelance writer/dog walker. She was born, raised, and educated in New York City, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia University. She is the Editor at Large of Enchantress Magazine and runs a dog walking service called KTpups. She dabbles in photography and ukulele.
Jacket, JOIE ;    Jumpsuit, REIF HAUS

Jacket, JOIE ; Jumpsuit, REIF HAUS

Jacket, JOIE ;    Jumpsuit, REIF HAUS

Jacket, JOIE ; Jumpsuit, REIF HAUS

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.

Kayla's favorite books
Why be Happy When You Could be Normal is a memoir by Jeanette Winterson. I’m about to get my MFA in nonfiction writing, so I’ve been reading the best of the best in first-person writing and feeling jealous, inadequate, and inspired. Jeanette Winterson is an fucking genius. She wrote an autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit based on growing up a lesbian in a Pentecostal family in England. I loved the novel, but I’m partial to nonfiction. When I’m reading, I always underline the lines I wish I had written, and this book is basically black with pen underlinings because every single line is that good. She talks about her childhood in more detail here, but my favorite parts of are the sections on her writing life: what it took to write Oranges, her mother’s response, how she fell into books as a child and maintained that love. Her writing is so elegant and specific, not plainspoken at all, let entirely unpretentious. I had a very different childhood from her, but this book hit me in my inner most core. Plus, that title.
— on her favorite books
Kayla's favorite cameras

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. 


Top, Georgia Alice ; Pants, Vintage Levi's

Top, Georgia Alice ; Pants, Vintage Levi's

Tumbleweed Connection is Elton John’s third album. It’s his take on Americana and country western themes. I’m from a New York City Jewish family who can never be outdoors because of our confusion and allergies, but for some reason, I’ve always been really drawn to the West. I love how well Sir Elton captures the spirit while being so damn English. He feels like an outsider to the themes in the same way I do. I love to go record hunting with my parents because it reveals to me they actually have great taste in music even though growing up they played the same Crosby Still and Nash album in the car for about 10 years. They gave away their record collection but recently bought me a bunch of albums they loved when they were younger, including this one. I thought Elton John was only “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle in the Wind,” etc. but this album has totally changed my mind about him. I’ve practically worn it into oblivion by listening to it so much.
— on her favorite records
Kayla's favorite beauty products

Top, Georgia Alice ; Pants, Vintage Levi's

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.

Before I moved, I pinned everything I liked onto a Pinterest board I called “be my house plz,” (which you can check out) and went through it, looking for patterns. It turns out I liked midcentury modern furniture, an aggressively neural palette, oriental rugs, and lots of plants. If you had asked me what I wanted my apartment to look like, I would have said something way more ornate and bohemian. So my advice is: you might be wrong about what you think you want. Look for what you’re drawn to, not what you say you’re drawn to.
— on her home decor

Top, Creatures of Comfort ; Pants, Tibi

Top, Creatures of Comfort ; Pants, Tibi

Top, Georgia Alice ; Pants, Vintage Levi's

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

Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John, El Camino by The Black Keys, Walkin' This Road By Myself by Lightnin' Hopkins, Still Crazy After All This Years by Paul Simon

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. 

Top    &    Shoes, Zara    ;    Pants, Rachel Comey    ; Bag, Loeffler Randall

Top & Shoes, Zara ; Pants, Rachel Comey ; Bag, Loeffler Randall