Camilla Marcus, Founder, West-bourne


“I’ve always loved to cook. I was an artist growing up, but I was also into science and I think cooking mixes those. My parents struggled to understand my path—my mom’s family is from New York City, and her mom was the economist for the city of New York at age 18. She was a jean-wearing, super progressive, amazing woman. She was a little bit older than my grandfather and their families didn’t like that, so they moved to another state. My grandfather was a heart researcher and surgeon, and when his hospital burned down after he and my grandmother moved to Missouri, they got a call from The City of Hope in Los Angeles. That’s what brought them out west to LA, where I’m from.

I started cooking pretty heavily in college, just for friends. I was living in Philadelphia and it was cool because the restaurant scene was starting to percolate. Probably halfway through college I knew that I wanted to go to culinary school, so after graduation, I enrolled at the French Culinary Institution in SoHo. I’m a very high-adrenaline person—I love extreme sports and things like that—and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved the intensity, I loved the pressure. After culinary school, I did a little detour and got my JD/MBA from NYU, which is a law degree and a business degree. My mom and a bunch of mentors had really encouraged it as a foundation, and my mom always said, ‘I don’t care whether you ever practice but I think it’s important.’

After my JD/MBA, I moved back to LA for a short time to work for a real estate private equity fund. I knew I wanted to stay on the restaurant side, but I thought it was important to understand the landlord perspective. I learned so much. Then I moved back to New York to become head of business development for Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group. And then, I left and started West-bourne.

West-bourne is inspired by really great food that’s well-sourced and treated respectfully—it’s not trying to be anything else, and it’s not triple-crusted-fried-rolled-in-something to make it taste good. It blends the two things I’m most passionate about—hospitality and taking care of others. One percent of every purchase goes through the Robin Hood Foundation to a local organization called The Door. We’re investing in hospitality retraining for youth in the neighborhood, and then we hire right from the program. Not only are we mission-driven, but we’re also zero waste—I’m from LA, I’m very into that stuff! I totally believe in the slogan ‘everything in moderation,’ even moderation in moderation. I love food, I definitely don’t count calories, I don’t believe in diets or any of that stuff. I do believe in how things are sourced, but I’m not fanatical—I love to eat out. I think you’ve got to have a balanced life. I buy organic when I can at home, but I’m not obsessive about it. I want to live a happy life, and food’s such a vehicle for that for me. I’m not a bar or a smoothie or a power drink person—I want to eat my feelings, really big.

I indulge in massage—I’ve had two knee surgeries, so since then I definitely need it. A friend does them for me, but I also love the spa at The Greenwich Hotel. I feel like in LA there are more places that are approachable and more affordable. This place in LA called Tomoko is the most spectacular spa that was ever invented and I’m dying for them to come here. It’s in Beverly Hills. A girl that went to high school with me designed it with her mom, and it’s so spectacular—so understated and gorgeous, and one of the best massages I’ve ever had. I’m very big on self-care and...manicures. I love Tenoverten, obviously being eco-friendly, female-owned and in our neighborhood—it’s one of my favorites. Sundays is a new one that just opened in NoMad and it’s really cute. When I was a kid I was a crazy nail-biter—like, so bad. The one nail polish name I do remember, because it’s very hard to find a good nude, is Topless & Barefoot by Essie. And I have a really cool peacock colored one from Chanel called Peridot. It’s like gold-green that’s a little bit crazy.

My colorist is amazing. She’s at Marie Robinson, and her name is Nikki Chick—she’s an identical twin, and her twin sister works at the salon, and they’re best friends. She’s amazing—she’s always like, ‘Just tell people it’s natural,’ and I’m like, ‘No. You deserve the credit.’ I am naturally kind of a mousy, very simple brown. One of my best friends in LA cuts it—no one else is allowed to touch it. Her name is Clariss Rubenstein and she owns the salon, Gloss. I don’t wash [my hair] very often—probably once a week. For whatever reason, I feel like my hair doesn’t hold [the smell of food]. Or maybe I’m just blissfully ignorant of it. When I’m on vacation and I’m swimming in the ocean, I still won’t wash it. I don’t know—I feel like as you stop doing it, it starts to adjust and just isn’t as oily. I definitely think it’s healthier. I am a big hot rollers lover—I have turned all of my friends onto them. They fight humidity and I do them in the morning. I have a very sensitive scalp—I can’t even put my hair up or in a bun. So this is pretty much how my hair is 24/7. I really like the Living Proof Dry Shampoo—my hair doesn’t get overly dried out or crunchy or dandruffed. I love this 7 Seconds leave-in conditioner by Unite, and it’s also good to travel with because it comes in a little spray bottle. I have very knotty, tangled hair. I like Oribe Impermeable a lot. It’s the anti-humidity spray, and it’s like a pomade and a hairspray had a baby. Very light, so it doesn’t make my hair crunchy the way that hairspray does.

For morning, sunscreen is the big thing. I’m obsessed with Anthelios sunscreen from La Roche-Posay. It goes on very dry and it’s not oily. At night, I start with Proactiv cleanser—I have very bad skin by nature, which sucks—or the True Botanicals cleanser. I was on Accutane twice when I was a kid—my skin heals very quickly, luckily, but it’s bad. And I’m sensitive, so it’s hard to counterbalance. I do like to be quick—two, three products, and then we’re out. I like the natural base of the Tata Harper moisturizer, but the reason I don’t use it every night is because it’s very scented, and it’s very hard to fall asleep when there’s so much scent on my face. The True Botanicals serum feels very light, and I feel the same about Glossier’s Super Glow. I don’t have a daily routine—I sort of amp it up or amp it down based on my skin. If my skin is bad, I’m going to use less moisturizer and more things for blemishes, and then it’ll get a little dry and I’ll start moving towards moisturizer. I’m obsessed with Hanacure. I like that it’s all natural, and it just works. Your skin feels so soft, so clean, and it’s not irritated. There is another good mask from this old LA place, Aida Grey. She does these ginseng masks, and it’s almost like oatmeal. It’s less intense than the Hanacure—like, this one I could see someone using every week. I always tell people Hanacure once a month is probably good. I also love Clientele’s Firming Eye Cream—I got it from my mom. My mom is 68 and looks 55, if not 50, and she has the most amazing skin.

I’m really bad at makeup—I have one look. My high school best friend bought me all of my makeup to start, and all of the stuff I use is still from that original loot. Another one of my friends, who runs a cool yoga studio in Chelsea called 216, is I think one of the first people who told me about natural makeup. She was like, ‘Think about it, the product you use most is foundation, so even if you just switch a couple of your products to being natural it’s a good step in the right direction.’ Now I’m addicted to Bare Minerals. Their Complexion Rescue is amazing—it has SPF, it’s super thin, and I apply it with my hands. And then I use their Complete Coverage Serum Concealer for under eyes and stuff. I have a little bit of melasma, so I put a little bit there, a little bit on my forehead and on any blemishes, and that’s it. My breakouts can be cystic—it’s not fun—and this covers them completely. I usually try and let [a pimple] be—those are the days I’ll wear less makeup and let it chill. The only powder I use is Clinique Stay Matte. I use it every day, usually at the end of the day to take away a bit of the shine.

My latest acquisition, which I’m actually very excited about, is Pat McGrath’s Mothership Palette. Her stuff is expensive, but so little goes such a long way that I feel like it’ll actually last a million times longer. I feel like when I started wearing eyeliner in college, everyone was wearing pencil—liquid was not really a thing—but it always smudged. It was so complicated. I was an artist—I don’t have trouble drawing a straight line—I just need something that will stay. The Lancôme Artliner, with its bendy foam applicator, is amazing—I even got my mom using it. I have black, navy, and brown. The same friend from high school also got me into Diorshow Iconic. I have a regular mascara, and I have a purple one, and people really like the purple. The mascara’s fun because you can’t really tell it’s colored, and then it catches the light and you’re like, ‘Wait, is she wearing…?’ So, that’s my trick.

I have a lot of lipsticks, but I don’t wear them that much. Cruising from Nars is a really nice pinky nude. And then this one also came from my friend at Violet Grey, Abandon from Tom Ford. When it goes on it’s a little bit glossy, so it’s a little bit translucent, which is nice. It reads just very natural. Nars Audacious lipstick in Julie is as pumped up as I can go. I’ll put that in my bag if I’m going somewhere for my day to night switch, which is not often.

The only fragrance I have is from my high school best friend. It’s Vanille Abricot by Sud Pacifique, and it smells like cake. I have little ones in my travel bags and I’ve been wearing it since high school. I like sweet, and as I said I’m very smell-sensitive so I still haven’t found one I like better. I am also a candle lover—I have them all over the house. I have some Otherland candles, and actually Miansai has really good ones. I love the Salt Flats—I buy that for a lot of people. It lasts a really long time, and it comes with one of their friendship bracelets. My other favorite is from Photogenics and Co.—it comes in a concrete base. I give it out as a gift too, because I think the concrete base is just so nice. Also, a female-run company from Los Angeles. They’re awesome.

I’m definitely the kind of person who takes products from friends. All my friends who work in beauty are like, ‘You should do this,’ and I’m like, ‘Great!’ I don’t know enough about makeup. I have a lot of these Serge Lutens makeup wipes because I’m worried they’re gonna discontinue them. Here’s my gripe—you really only need half of the sheet. It’s annoying! Are you really gonna sit there and cut them and put them back in the bag?”

—as told to ITG

Camilla Marcus photographed in New York by Tom Newton on July 10, 2018.