"Up until this year, I worked in political PR, and now I’m a business owner—and a cat owner. Yes, I’m mother to two well-adjusted cats in Brooklyn. [Laughs] Earlier this month, we opened up The Wing, which is a women’s workspace and social club in Flatiron. It was inspired by the women’s club movement, which was at its peak between 1890 and 1920. They were physical spaces where women could find solidarity, create community, mobilize on issues that they cared about…and also let off steam and have a good time. As a Brooklyn resident who was constantly traveling into Manhattan, running around all day, packing my whole apartment in my bag, I craved a space that I could use that was a home base in between all the different competing things in my life.
Obviously, we have a conscious bias towards giving women the opportunity to write their own narrative—whatever that may be. We literally have a freak out room for when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and your battery is at 1% and you don’t want anyone to see you. Then, we also have a beauty room that’s stocked with products and hair tools—and you can get a blowout or your makeup done. The decision to have that was very intentional because it's absolutely a reality that many women need to have a space to do those things. For a lot of women, part of being successful is not only making sure that you know everything that’s going on in the news and that you’ve responded to every single email in your inbox, and that nothing is on fire in your house, but also looking good because it is what’s expected of you and can make you feel more confident. So we wanted to accept the fact that it can be an enjoyable part of a woman’s day, instead of apologizing for it. We wanted to very intentionally allot real space for that and sort of honor that that is a real part of women’s lives and that we shouldn’t be expected to apologize for it or deny it or hide it. And I know that when I’m taking care of myself and engaging in self care, even if it’s just making sure to shower consistently, it actually has a real impact on my mood. That’s mainly the reason why I do it. [Laughs]
If I’m being honest, I probably wash my face every few days. It’s a really good day when I use the Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Face Wash. I got a Joanna Vargas facial before my wedding and it’s amazing. I felt like a princess. I also use her Forever Glow Anti Aging Face Masks because they feel substantial. I go to Heyday too, they are terrific. Usually I do the 30 minute and then every other six months, I’ll do the 50. They do a great job.
My favorite moisturizer is Olay Complete. It’s so good—I got it at a dollar store. The texture doesn’t feel like it’s too thick, but it also doesn’t feel watery and thin. Plus it has SPF and no scent. It’s so basic, I’ve been using it for years. Now I’m starting to use serums too—I’m obsessed with the Glossier ones. Super Pure is my favorite. The consistency is really light, it’s just not what I expected. I am not an experienced serum user, like at all, but it’s been fun. Beyond that, I mask every once in a while—I like things with clay, so the new L’Oréal Pure Clay Masks are great, and I have the Glossier mask too.
I have too much makeup—I don’t need eight mascaras obviously. Especially because all I do is concealer and blush most days. I use Clé de Peau Concealer in Ocher every day and Chanel Healthy Glow Sheer Color Stick in No. 22, which is a cream blush. And I use Glossier Boy Brow in Black. It’s so simple, it works so well. I look like a better person with it! On special occasions I will wear Cherry Lush by Tom Ford. Sometimes I'll add bronzer with Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Color in No. 50. For eyeshadow, I really like this Dior 5 Couleurs Palette in Nude Pink Design. I am not capable of doing a smoky eye, so I just usually use a light pink shadow and then I can contour the side a little bit with something darker. My grandmother taught me how to do that at the Trish McEvoy counter before my bat mitzvah.
My hair is curly—not crazy curly—but I'm working up the courage to wear it curly more and use the Devachan line for it. I'm a control freak and when my hair is straight, I know how it looks. When my hair is curly, it'll look good for 45 minutes because it changes. So I usually get it blown out—I have too much hair to do it myself. I grew up in Morningside Heights and there’s a big Dominican community with the best salons. I would go there and get my hair set and sit under the big conehead dryer and that was my first experience with getting blowouts. Now I do Drybar and Glamsquad and stuff like that. It gives me the ability to live my life—I’m always on my computer while it’s happening. Once I got my hair Japanese straightened when I was 14, it was a horrible decision, my hair fell off. I literally had hair just break off. And then I did keratin, which was not as bad, but it’s not great for your hair. I think that the best solution for me is to either have it be really curly or get it blown out and so I do one or the other. There is a lot of curl guilt for not wearing my hair natural more... There’s also a lot of curl denying shame that I get, but I do wear it curly sometimes and I do love how it looks. I just sometimes I don’t have to worry about it when it’s straight. I can think about 100 other things.
During the day, I wear either Mojave Ghost by Byredo or this Monocle perfume in Hinoki. It smells sort of cedar-y. I’m tan right now, but I get real dead-ghost pale in the winter, so I use Clarins Self Tanning Milk, which is really subtle. Beyond that, I’m obsessed with Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit. It’s actually the greatest. If I was on a desert island, I would just bring that. I also go to the Russian and Turkish Baths and I love it there. I always get the salt scrub.
I’m into nails! They were real at my wedding, but these are not real because lifting a lot of boxes and installing things have not been kind to my nails. I’ve been getting acrylic nails since I was 13. It was always just fun and I also really liked that Dolly Parton wrote an entire album on acrylic nails, that was very inspiring too. My favorite places to go are Vanity Projects and Valley and I get a lot of nail art. They can do things that I cannot believe are humanly possible. It’s amazing! The woman who did my nails the other day, she had these super crazy long nails of her own and she’s doing my nails while wearing them and I was just like 'Damn! You are a living miracle! How do you do that?!' It’s just a fun thing to have. Sometimes when you’re on your phone you can look down and take some delight in your nails. Why not?"
—as told to ITG
Audrey Gelman photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Brooklyn on September 30, 2016.