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Agents of Change

BY Phebe Wahl | August 25, 2017 | Feature Features National

These local luminaries are disrupting the beauty and fashion industries, offering both style and substance.

Ali MacGraw
When actress Ali McGraw first heard about Ibu, a movement of women around the world creating artisanal goods to sell in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency, she was captivated by their spirit. As a result, McGraw came to serve as an ambassador and a designer for the brand. Her own Ibu collection is called ali4ibu. “I love knowing that generations of mostly women have made the textiles... [they’ve] wrapped their babies in it, turned it into a tablecloth, finally sold it at a flea market. It has history and connection.” The Ibu movement currently works with 71 artisan groups in 34 countries. “I love everything about it and I’m honored to be a part of it,” she says. As for being back out East, the Bedford, N.Y.-bred MacGraw recalls a quieter time here. “When I lived in the Hamptons, it was a very different place from what it is now,” she reflects. “There were endless open spaces.” But McGraw still enjoys her time here. “I love the flowers and the endless green and big fat trees, and that killer beach,” she says. “And the emptier that beach is, the more I love it.”

Photo by Rob Brinson

Renee Tavoularis
“It’s indicative of and inspired by where we are right now in our lives and our wellness journeys,” says Renee Tavoularis of Well Within, the line she launched with business partner Lynne Florio earlier this year. The pair worked side by side at La Prairie for more than 20 years, gaining great success—but at the price of undue stress. “We lacked balance; we lacked time for self-care and well-being—ironic considering we were in the beauty industry!” says Tavoularis. “Lynne and I strongly believe that beauty, nutrition and lifestyle wellness is a multifaceted journey—a continuum—that constantly shifts and evolves,” she explains. Despite her bustling new beauty business, Tavoularis still calls the East End home. “I grew up on Montauk—back when it was a quiet, sleepy town that felt like a million miles from the city,” she says. “The Hamptons bring me home... quite literally.”

Jarret Willis & Crystal Smith Willis
“Crystal and I have both been obsessed with fashion since we can remember,” says Former Ford model Jarret Willis. He and fashion industry veteran Crystal Smith Willis make quite the sartorial pair—in both business and life. The chic couple founded Bridgehampton’s Blue One Boutique (2397 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton) in 2007 and have been outfitting the East End’s style set ever since. Sourcing the latest looks by of-the-moment designers like Alexis, Amo Denim, Del Toro, H.L. James, Petersyn and Tim Coppens, their stock is always trending. Unique exclusives, and one-of-a-kind surfboards and accessories round out the mix of artful offerings.

Photo by Doug Young

Anne Nelson Sanford
“I was a serious beauty junkie at a young age, and I fell in love with skincare and makeup more from a scientific and functional aspect,” says Sag Harbor-based Lurk organic perfume founder Anne Nelson Sanford. “I started realizing [not only that there was] a complete disconnect between these products and health, but also that so many of these ingredients were downright dangerous and harmful.” Today, Sanford helms the bustling e-commerce site as well as offering Hamptons home delivery for her stock of everything from ayurvedic skincare to flower remedies, supplements, homeopathy and luxury detox aides. “It has become more spiritual for me in the past few years,” she explains of her wellness journey, which today includes everything from a clean, plant-based diet to a meditation practice. “The impact has been profound, and it has made me a better person, a better mother and a better partner. Less is more, without a doubt.”

Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss
“I started my line out of my love of and frustration with fashion,” says East End-based designer Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss of her story, now the stuff of fashion lore. Working to fill a void in the market, Lonstein Gruss sought to create more inclusive designs for different body types. “My needs were not being addressed, and I knew there must be better options,” says the brunette beauty. Now helming an eponymous empire that includes collections of ready-to-wear, swim and a children’s line, Lonstein Gruss still manages to spend the season enjoying the splendor of the East End. “The Hamptons have always been my favorite place in the world,” she says. “There is nowhere you can experience the raw beauty of nature and also have every creature comfort at your fingertips. Each hamlet has its own little personality, and it’s nice to pop around and get a little flavor of each one.”

Photo by Doug Holt Photography

Sarah Kugelman
Skyn Iceland’s Sarah Kugelman became chronically ill in her 30s due to stress. “I was working all the time, traveling a lot, not sleeping enough and eating all of the wrong things,” she explains. “It wore my immune system down until I became very sick.” As part of her healing process, she took a trip to Iceland, where the pure environment, local longevity and glowing skin of the people inspired her to found Skyn Iceland, a vegan, cruelty-free, natural line of skincare that counts celebrity fans ranging from the Kardashians to Catherine Zeta Jones and Chrissy Teigen. Today, the Hamptons homeowner has learned to de-stress when out East with Meadow Lane bike rides, tennis at Triangle Tennis and sunset beach walks. “I’m a bit obsessed with Tracey Anderson and AKT,” she says, also counting Ananda Wellness and Yoga Center and One Ocean Yoga as regular haunts. “They are an amazing balance to TA and really go hand in hand with unplugging and relaxing.”

Barbara Close
“When I founded Naturopathica, I wanted to define well-being as a realistic approach to living a healthy, rewarding life,” explains CEO Barbara Close. In 1995, Close also founded the Naturopathica East Hampton Healing Arts Center & Spa (Red Horse Plaza, 74 Montauk Highway, East Hampton), establishing the brand as a leading authority on wellness. In addition to consulting with thought leaders around the world, Close also counts a master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism and will soon launch a holistic facial as well as travel kits. “We’re continuing to find ways to address the whole person support outer beauty from within,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Naturopathica

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