Amy Kothari, Founder, Big City, Small Batches

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"I just turned 29, which means I’ve been in NYC for 11 years! I moved here from upstate New York when I was 17 to study journalism at NYU, and except for the year I spent writing for a newspaper in India, I’ve been here ever since. I just started my own artisan jams and jellies company—Big City, Small Batches. After working in journalism, I went to law school, and then I ended up going to culinary school in 2012. A few years ago, my parents bought a lake house that has an orchard, where they grow their own grapes, and make their own wine and everything. The previous homeowners showed my parents how to keep growing everything, so I started making my first jams with my parents’ grapes and produce.

When I’m in the kitchen, I never wear makeup, because I’m usually working by myself and it’s not great for my skin. But, if I so much as go to the market, I will put makeup on. That’s how I was raised—you didn’t even go to the end of the driveway to check the mail unless you were dressed and had your hair combed. I’ve never gone out in pajama pants—I don’t even own pajama pants, because that’s a slippery slope right there. My mom started letting me wear makeup in middle school, and once you start, how do you stop? I feel naked without it. The same with jewelry—I have to at least wear some rings.

I’ve always worn concealer under my eyes. I’m Indian—My mom is from India, and my dad is from Kenya, but they are both ethnically Indian—so, like a lot of Indian people, I have dark under-eye circles. We always joke that we were born needing a nap. [Laughs] My favorite is MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC42. It’s also great for spot concealing. To keep it from getting caked into faux wrinkles, I put on RoC Retinol Correxion Deep-Wrinkle Filler—it’s almost like a primer. My friend’s mom told me about it because she said she has the same problem. I don’t have crows feet yet or anything, but if I don’t moisturize properly, concealer will make me look wrinkly. For foundation, I’ve used MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation since 2004, but I just found out that I'd been using the wrong shade! Then, the first time I actually went into a MAC store, there was an Indian woman working and I was like, 'I want N-something,' or whatever the color was called, and she was like, 'That’s for you? That’s not your shade.' And she was absolutely right! So I use C6 now, and so do all of the women in my family. It was amazing. If I want something more lightweight for summer, I use MAC Face and Body Foundation in C5. It’s super, super sheer. And, in the dead of winter, when I’m my palest and my skin is super dry, I use Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer. It’s one color for everyone, and it goes on clear.

When my eyelids look grey, veiny, or purple-ish, Lemon-Aid from Benefit neutralizes that. It makes them look clean without putting concealer on. And, as an eyelid primer, I actually just use MAC Eye Paint in Bamboom. I’ve had that for like, ten years, please don’t judge me. [Laughs] If you put it on first, eyeshadow won’t move. And Bamboom is basically my skin shade, so it works. Almost every day, I line my eyes with MAC Eye Shadow in Brown Down. It gives a subtle smoky look for dinner or on the weekend. I love deep plum eyeshadows like MAC Sketch and Laura Mercier Plum, but my favorite eyeshadow is Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eyeshadow in Cement. It looks like grease on your eyes. I love eye gloss, but it’s not practical. This shadow looks just like eye gloss. The problem is that I end up getting little flecks of it everywhere—the lining of my handbag, my pants, everywhere. So I finally tracked down something to make it stick—Illamasqua Sealing Gel. It’s a liquid that will turn any of your powder or loose glitter shadows into a smudge-proof liner. And I never leave the house without filling in my brows with MAC Brun Eyeshadow, even if I don’t do any other makeup.

For my lips, I start with MAC Prep and Prime, because I almost always do a little bit of a lip pencil—it makes the lip pencil go on so much smoother and stay in place. I use Face Stockholm Lip Liner in Breath. The color is amazing and flatters basically every skin tone—I’ve recommended it to so many girlfriends. It’s also weightless, you don’t feel it at all. For lipstick, my go-to is Naked by Face Stockholm. I live for it. And I’ve used Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Color in Baby Lips since I was like 16. I read about it in a Cosmo story that said, “every girl should own this,” and they were right. Most of the time, I love a pink lip, or a bright matte red, but recently I’ve been searching for a dark brownish, very goth color. I was going around to all of these beauty counters being like, 'The Craft. Are you feeling me?' No one understood what I was talking about, but finally someone at Bloomingdale’s pointed me toward Illamasqua Growl lipstick. The texture is amazing. They actually had to special order it for me, because they said they can’t keep it on the shelves—it sells out in a day. I wear it with the MAC Sketch eyeshadow.

To wash my makeup off, the only cleanser I use is Sumadan Wash, which I get from the dermatologist. It’s a sulfur-based wash, which is great for all kinds of skin, especially if you have rosacea or acne-prone skin. I’ve just started to think about anti-aging, because my girlfriends have been like, 'You need to start.' I have Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector and Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, because I’ve been using Lancôme creams since I was in high school. I liked their packaging. [Laughs] Visionnaire is amazing because it really did change my dark spots and even my skin tone dramatically after two months. I didn’t need nearly as much concealer.

To moisturize my face, I found a really subtle, non-greasy moisturizer that helps your skin retain H20. Twinlab Na-Pca Natural Moisturizing Factor in Human Skin. I put it all over my face and neck as soon as I get out of the shower and let it sink in. It’s also really great on my split ends. I don’t know... it works!

I get my hair cut in Queens at an Aveda salon near my kitchen called Gigi. I’m very obedient, so whatever they tell me to use, I use. I wash my hair with Elucence Beauty and Wellness Shampoo and Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner. It has been a lifesaver for my hair. It’s heavy, so you can’t really tell, but it’s been thinning a lot. My hair is usually crazy thick, but this is half of what I used to have. To get volume now, I spray a little Eufora Volume Fusion Spray at the roots before I blow dry it. You won’t feel it in your hair at all. And my doctor recently gave me prenatal vitamins, which are apparently great for your hair, skin, and nails.

I think about my nails a lot. I wish I could paint my own, but instead I get them done maybe twice a week—manicure once a week, and polish in between that. I like glittery polishes because they stay on kind of like a Shellac, but they don’t destroy your nails. I buy probably three or four new shades of nail polish every week! My nail shop used to dread me coming in, because I like to layer these crazy combinations that I come up with at home. I test out little swatches on white post-it notes while I’m watching TV! That’s super embarrassing. [Laughs] And I’m always trying to talk them into giving me three coats instead of two. I mean just paint it! I will tip you good money! [Laughs]

As far as fragrance is concerned, when it’s just me, I’m a one-scent girl: Tom Ford Black Orchid. But I’ve also got a softer scent for the boys, because they don’t want to be all up in Black Orchid. So for them, it’s Giorgio Armani Si. My brother gave it to me. When you’re dating, things like perfume matter even more. I’m a sucker for body splash, and let me tell you that boys love Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy. It’s undeniable, it works. If I wear it on a date with someone, I know I’m going to be making out or something afterwards. They go nuts for it. I know my audience, and I cater to it. [Laughs]

I barely have time for anything, but I work out three or four times a week, and see a trainer twice a week at David Barton Gym. The trainers make you go at least twice a week, but that’s why you pay them, right? My goal for training is that I want to live. That’s literally it. I just want to live a good lifestyle. I work on my feet for up to 12 hours a day—it takes a toll on your back. I’m the only person on my loading dock every morning at 5am lifting boxes and crates of produce that can weigh up to 90 pounds. When I work out, I really do start to notice that I can carry my groceries home without even thinking about it. That’s my big thing."

—as told to ITG

Amy Kothari photographed by Emily Weiss on December 10, 2013 in New York.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://genuineglow.com/ Lilly

    Brow envy. Actually, everything-envy, she's gorgeous!

    • Viola

      Dear Lilly, if that is your picture in that avatar, you have nothing to be jelous about.

      • http://genuineglow.com/ Lilly

        You're very kind Viola! Thank you so much.

  • Yassira

    Gorgeous. The emerald green against her complexion just makes me jump of joy and long for spring.

    http://www.sablebeauty.com

  • olivia

    "I don't even own pajama pants, because that's a slippery slope right there." so true!

  • Marie

    LOVE reading about small female business owners or entrepreneurs who are living proof that beauty and taking care of yourself does not make you an airhead.
    She is gorgeous and now I want to try the lemon aid thing from Benefit!

  • http://lilyonfillmore.com/ Valerie

    Intelligent, talented and stunning. Major triple-treat!

  • Jessica

    Those jade-green earrings...wow, they look fantastic in that photo.

    I love this Top Shelf. Love the photos, love the interview. Love.

  • Shawna

    She so cute and funny! And I, too, won't even answer the door without a little makeup on. Fun Top Shelf! Loved the Craft reference.

  • Restless Blonde

    I have similar approach to beauty regime :) But sometimes I don't wear make up and I am ok with it....

    http://restlessblonde.blogspot.com/

  • brittany

    love her sweater! anyone know where it's from?

  • A

    I LOVED this article, I love seeing women of color on here, especially someone closer to my skin tone! And gosh, she has BEAUTIFUL hair. And those brows. Seriously, I can't get enough.

  • Bella

    Beauty with brains, and a great product suggestion.

  • ak

    its supposed to be victoria's secret sexy touch. you can get it in any of the vs stores.

    • Nina R.

      It does seem to be discontinued from what I can see on-line. Anyone know what's up? Is "Very Sexy" the same as "Very Sexy Touch"?

      • k

        they are NOT the same... very sexy touch is different...it may not be available online but is available in stores.

  • Guest

    Beautiful. Business owner. Woman of color. Trifecta! Also loves makeup. I may faint.

  • http://www.travelpennies.com/ Nicola

    That reminds me, I definitely need to pick up Lemon Aid. It always seems like such a weird purchase when it's in my hands, but I tried it once and it does make such a difference. The next time I'm at a counter, for sure.

  • Lana

    How is the Laura Mercier Oil Free Supreme Foundation? Has anyone tried it?

  • Jinna

    Wow! I can't believe she goes to GIGI. My old neighborhood! I don't do this anymore after reading all the scary research on the chemicals used, but they *did* have the most reasonably priced and super effective Keratin blowout...

  • Sabina

    I spy an old-school stila all over shimmer, in the star-flecked blue aluminum tube - remnant of the days when stila was still what j.lobell created it to be. ugh, makes me nostalgic.

    anyway, amy is lovely. and ditto on feeling naked without at least a little bit of makeup and some rings.

  • Adrienne Angelos

    Loved this article so much. Everyone else summed it all up though - great to see someone reppin' the smart-girls-who-love-beauty clan. She seems like the kind of girl I want as my best friend.

    Also, "I was going around to all of these beauty counters being like, 'The Craft. Are you feeling me?'" had me dyyyying

  • Mademoiselle nature

    Really looking gorgeous! And love her blue sweater! :-)
    http://www.mademoisellenature.blogspot.com

  • Amy Mills

    God she's gorgeous, made me wish my pale, pink-toned skin could pull of plum shades of eyeshadow or lipstick. Sigh. She was so comprehensive too, loved reading this one.

  • tashie

    Yea! Finally a brown skin girls beauty advice. Thanks ITG

  • conni boykins

    No pants are the best pants.

  • pamb

    So excited to try the Na-PCA moisturizer! Love finding cheap thrills, not everyone can throw down $100 for a cream...

  • Katy

    If she's still looking for a goth lipstick, I think Revlon's Black Cherry would look absolutely gorgeous on her.

  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    Gorgeous!

  • Leesha

    Oh goodness! What a facially beautiful woman. Wish she had more than one picture so I could mesmerize. She's blessed. Very smart. I love all her choices too.

  • Jessie

    Does anyone know where she got those earrings? I want them ASAP

  • Marlenne

    She's really pretty! Love her jewerelly storage!

    marlennebeauty.blogspot.com

  • Melissa

    What a brilliant interview :) Laughed along with Amy throughout the article and will definitely be trying some of her product recommendations.

  • Claire Olsson

    loved:
    1. "i want to live"
    2. not being able to wear pjs out of the house....tottttallllllly brings back childhood memories

  • Lolauren

    I just went to VS today and its 75% off! I like the fragrance a lot- it starts out super sweet but has a lovely drydown. So far it doesn't last to long, but when its $10 (on sale) you can buy another bottle to stash in your purse.

  • KAREN CARTER

    YOUR FACE IS LIKE INNOCENT BEAUTY ! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIPS FOR SKIN WITH SOME COLOR . FROM YOUR ARTICLE IT IS EVIDENT THAT THEY ARE TESTED OVER A LONG TIME, AND THAT HAS WORKED FOR REAL PEOPLE.

  • Verdun

    She's so charming; great interview! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • kim

    Love the Salux.

  • Isabel

    So cute! NEED that sweater. What is it??

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

MAC
MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer Nc42
RoC
RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler
MAC
MAC 'Studio Fix' Fluid Foundation
MAC
MAC Face & Body Foundation
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier ‘Oil Free Supreme’ Foundation
Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics Lemon-Aid Lemon-Aid
MAC
MAC Paint Bamboom
MAC
MAC Eyeshadow Sketch
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier Sequin Eye Color Shimmer Plum
Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown 'Sparkle' Eyeshadow Cement
Illamasqua
Illamasqua Sealing Gel
MAC
MAC Eyeshadow Brun
MAC
MAC Prep + Prime Skin Smoother
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Color Baby Lips
Illamasqua
Illamasqua Lipstick
Lancôme
Lancome New Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate
Lancôme
Lancome Visionnaire Corrector
Eufora
Eufora Volume Fusion Spray
Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani Si
Victoria's Secret
Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Fragrance
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