“As a kid I was extremely into fashion and writing and I loved magazines. One of my seminal summer camp memories is that I used to beg our counselors to smuggle back magazines for me after they returned from CVS. In high school I was student council president, I was track captain, and I was writing for the Philly paper. I definitely see it as a time in my life where I had a ton of support and privilege, and was able to thrive and figure out what could make me happy.
During my senior year of high school I volunteered for Obama’s primary campaign in Pennsylvania—I ended up running college outreach for the state. That was an early seed to me feeling a little more entrepreneurial. I was able to see that if I showed up every day and proved myself and worked my way up, that I could be very much rewarded for that and given a lot of say. That was a formative experience for me. But when I graduated high school I went to school at Northwestern and studied journalism and gender studies. I love to read women’s magazines not just for the visuals, but to also figure out how they are talking about how to be a woman and what that looks like. At the time, I was very curious about what that meant.
I think I was always, for better or worse, eager to get to the next stage of my life. I was always in a hurry. In college I interned at Teen Vogue and it was a really great experience. I remember they told me to run ‘the Twitter’—it was that sort of time. On my last day I knocked on Naomi Nevitt’s door, who was the web editor at the time, and I was like, ‘Hey, there’s an election coming up. Our median age is 22, we don’t cover anything political, and I’d like to write something here.’ She told me that they were thinking of hiring a features editor for the site, and even though I was still finishing up my senior year of college, I applied for the job and I got it. It was 2008 but I got to be a one woman show. I was writing, I was producing, I was editing.
I moved to New York for that job after I graduated, and I ended up finding a tiny apartment on MacDougal Street. Eating meals there felt pretty depressing, so I decided to get to know the city through food. At the same time I was reading about all these male chefs. To me it was kind of odd that we were in this peak moment of the celebrity chef and they were all men. The gender studies student in me became really interested in that and ultimately it led me to thinking that [food writing] was actually a career path. I sent a couple cold emails, one of which was to New York Magazine, and a couple months later I ended up getting called in for a role there. At Grub Street I profiled chefs and did lots of food roundups. I felt like I had a key to the city. One time I did a story on the best birthday cakes and ate cake for a week straight. I also got to figure out who we shined a light on: I did a lot of work profiling pastry chefs, who are predominantly women. I was there for just over five years and it felt like food exploded as this cultural force during that time. And it was fun to feel like I had my finger on the pulse of that.
After a while I started to think, ‘What’s next?’ I wanted to take my home cooking more seriously. The first step for that was getting new pots and pans, but even though I had access to chefs and cookbook authors, I still found it to be so confusing and unpleasant. I also wanted something that spoke to my sense of design and style and couldn’t find anything.
It felt like food exploded as this cultural force.
Maddy [Moelis] is my [Great Jones] co-founder and we’ve known each for years—we met at summer camp. I told her about some of the issues I was having and she got really excited. She was working at Zola at the time and she’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur in the way I always wanted to be a journalist. We had a lot of privilege in our network. Maddy had worked at Zola and Warby Parker, I had interviewed entrepreneurs for New York, so I sat down with Nick [Jammet] from Sweetgreen and a bunch of other founders to figure out our first steps. We met a husband and wife design team and we really clicked, and I was able to show our vision that they interpreted to design the pieces. We raised money with a friends and family round, and having a couple of those commitments made me feel OK to leave New York mag. I left at the end of January 2018 and Great Jones launched in November. Beyond our products, we’re really trying to break down barriers to cooking. One of those is figuring out what you need in your kitchen and why, and we launched a tech service this year that gives recipe advice and inspiration.
I’ve been saying that I have ‘startup face,’ which is just a deep level of exhaustion. In the mornings I’m very protective of my routine, and I wake up and look forward to doing it, but at night I have been guilty of just falling asleep. I will fall asleep everywhere now—friends’ parties, inopportune places in my own home. Even just washing my face feels like a hurdle at night now. I cut my hair recently—one, don’t cut your hair and see Little Women! I just started to feel like I was a ghost in my own body, that my body was something to shepherd me from place to place. I wanted to cut my hair to shake things up, to feel more aware of myself.
In the morning I wash my face with only water. I have dry skin and I occasionally get hormonal breakouts. I would also get a lot of stress breakouts when we launched—the startup pimple. After I wash my face I use Biologique Recherche’s P50 1970—I don’t know what it actually does, I just know that my skin is better since I started using it. And then I usually put on one of these Cosrx essences, the Galactomyces or the Advanced Snail. Then I use a vitamin C serum from either Drunk Elephant or Timeless Skincare, which I read was a good dupe. I also like this La Prairie Crystal Serum that I got as a free sample from my New York mag days, and I use Dior Redness Soother Serum all over my face because I definitely get red. Then this Protini cream from Drunk Elephant I love. I’ve experimented the most with face creams, and some of them break me out, but this one definitely does not. It brightens and it’s the right amount of moisturizer without being too heavy. Then I put Futuredew on my whole face—I definitely like that wet look. I usually try to put on sunscreen. Or I put on Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF. This Eve Lom Dynaspot is what I use to treat my startup pimples, it’s amazing. My biggest skincare issue is that I have dark circles. I use Elensilia CPP eye cream because I read about it on the internet, although truthfully I oscillate between eye creams and I haven’t found one that’s super great.
In an ideal night routine I would double cleanse with the Living Cleansing Balm and then Milky Jelly—but that is aspirational. Usually I just pick one or the other. Then I use Drunk Elephant’s glycolic night serum, followed by Tatcha’s Silk Cream. I love that the Drunk Elephant serum has active ingredients—it feels like it’s exfoliating. The Silk Cream is a little heavier. And then I use the Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil—it just seals everything in. It’s funny, I hate the word detox for anything culinary, but for some reason the marketing on this really works for me. It makes me feel like I’m detoxing New York out of my pores. Or, sometimes I use the Drunk Elephant facial oil. I also love the Goop exfoliating mask—it gets my blackheads and the dry skin off my face—as well as Biologique Recherche’s Masque Vivant. I actually love that smell, it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It really feels brightening and it takes out that tightness feeling, my skin feels more elastic. There’s a strong mental element to all of this. And for facials I go to Rescue about every four months and see whoever is available.
I’ve been saying that I have ‘startup face,’ which is just a deep level of exhaustion.
For haircuts I go to Whittemore House, which is conveniently located near my apartment, but I’ve been going since before I lived here. I see Larry the owner now, who I love. He just did this chop and held my hand through it. I’ve been straightening my hair forever and it was only the past few years where I started to wear it naturally curly more often. I remember meeting my now-husband and he saw me the first couple of times with straight hair, and one day I showed up without straightening it and he really liked it, and I sort of have never looked back. I mean, I blew it out today but I very rarely do it.
I wash my hair every other day. I use Christophe Robin—I’m trying to get more volume so I bought their volumizing shampoo, although sometimes I also use Oribe’s volume shampoo and I’ve been using the Olaplex conditioner because I had pretty dry ends. When I get out of the shower I put my hair in one of those little towels with the twist. And then I take a bunch of Iles Formula serum and scrunch it all around to form some waves. I let it dry naturally, and then when I wake up in the morning I put more serum in to give it some texture. I’m trying to get better about washing my hair less often, but I like the feeling of squeaky clean.
I really don’t like the feeling of makeup on my face. Even if my skin’s not perfect, I’d rather spot correct than put on a lot of makeup. I started using Clé de Peau to spot correct after I bought it at the Barneys sale recently. It covers unlike anything else I ever had, and it doesn’t pill.
For brows I go to Sania’s Brow Bar every three months—I think she’s amazing. And I also use her pencil. I use that and Boy Brow, and then I try to put on a little bit of blush—Chanel’s Pink Explosion or Nars’ Sexual Content [Ed note: discontinued]—or a little bit of bronzer. I alternate between Chanel’s bronzer and Nars Laguna. For lips I alternate between Nars lip oil in Orgasm—it’s very hydrating—and there’s a Chanel lip gloss color called Énergie that I love. It’s very moisturizing and light, and it gives me a little color. It’s sheer enough that I don’t have to look in the mirror to apply it. Sometimes at night I do a full on red lip with Nars’ Mysterious Red lip pencil, but I eat so much that a red lip is very hard to maintain.
BODY + FRAGRANCE
There’s this company based in Hudson called 2 Note that makes body washes and scrubs and oils, and they do the most beautiful job. They make everything there and I love the two women who own it. I use their sugar polish, their body wash, and their oil, and I love that I get to go in and pick the essential oil that I like. It’s a very personal experience. And for fragrance I love Wendy Nichol’s Potion No 1. It’s a little unusual. I also like Diptyque’s Dans L’eau. I usually alternate between those, but I don’t wear fragrance every day.
One thing I’m trying to do is to take care of my cuticles and my hands. I kind of pick at my fingers—that is one of my stress mechanisms. I use Jurlique’s cuticle oil and I’m trying to have that be a part of my routine no matter what.
Another thing I like to do is get jaw massages, because I clench my jaw. I go to this place called Body Mechanics on 34th Street. Every time I go I think I should go every week, but I probably do it every three months. It is the best thing in the entire world.
My fitness routine was the first thing that got cut when I started to get busy, so I very recently bought The Mirror. It just takes the barrier out of not wanting to walk to the gym when it’s cold. I try to do it every day for at least 15 minutes. I know people get energized by having people work out near them, but I never really liked that. I’m sensitive to what people scream at me.”
—as told to ITG
Sierra Tishgart photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on February 12, 2020.