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The Insider

The Insider Robb Chen-Ware


You know when you start working with someone, and you’re like, “How did we even do this before?!?” Robb Chen-Ware’s very much that person for Of a Kind right now. As a senior product architect at HappyFunCorp (yes, really!), he’s overseeing our very big, very exiting site redesign—which is coming to a computer near you soon! Below, a glimpse into what his life is like when we leave him alone for, like, five seconds. —mattie kahn

Q: What’s your favorite social media platform?

A: I’m actually still a Facebook user after nine years. I’ve never suspended my account. I’ve kept no more than 250 friends ,and that seems to be the right amount for Facebook as far as I’m concerned. It’s just a great way to stay in touch with family and friends you don’t see all the time. It’s not about meeting new people. It’s just keeping in touch with people you know. I think it does a pretty good job of that despite a lot of the changes that have happened over the past few years.

Q: How did you celebrate your last birthday?

A: I threw a party at Hot Bird on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and ordered barbecue for all my friends. It’s in February—so it’s super cold out—but I just had a bunch of friends over there and had barbecue. It was nice. 

Q: It’s 2:49 P.M. What are you snacking on? 

A: I have to say that I end up doing the granola bar. Like, whatever the closest granola bar is. That’s definitely my regular hook-up. At Brooklyn Roasting Company, around the corner from our office, they have a chocolate and peanut butter chia seed bar of some kind that’s just really good. That’s my preference.

Q: Ooh, that sounds good.

A: Yeah. It is. It goes from being a dessert to a snack because it has chia seeds in it.

Q: What is the most-underrated restaurant in your neighborhood?

A: That’s a little difficult to say because I feel like Fort Greene has a reputation for being quite good. But Brooklyn Public House achieves something that so few places do in that area—which is complete lack of pretension with pretty good food and great beers on-tap. It’s a comfortable place to go.

Q: We would all be a little happier and a bit more fun if we…?

A: Took some time to enjoy life.

Q: We have an afternoon to kill and a personal chauffeur at our beck and call. Where do we go? And what do we do?

A: I would say Jamaica Bay. There’s a really awesome bird sanctuary out there. There’s a beach. It’s secluded, but you can still see the city in the background. I just never make it out there, because it’s just a little too far for a small trip, but as long as I have a chauffeur… I’d definitely want to go out there.

Q: What was the last piece of advice you actually listened to?

A: The piece of advice that I just gave on how to be happier was the parting advice that Ben, our co-founder, gave this morning in our morning meeting. After this, I’m actually going to do it and go for a nice walk around the neighborhood.

More people we couldn’t live without, right here, right now.

The Insider Kevin Kearney


Later this fall, the Of a Kind site is getting a facelift—and we have this dude to thank. As CEO of Hard Candy Shell, Kevin Kearney has worked his design magic on the web homes of little publications like The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. But before you start thinking he’s all business, you should know this: His company’s also to thank for the fluff-ball heaven that is Cute Roulette. Here, get to know a guy we think is the bomb dot com. —mattie kahn

Q: What is the best part about your job?

A: I mean, I think it’s probably the fact that I get to pick who I spend all day with. All the employees that I’ve hired are people who I like spending time with, so being able to spend time with people who are smart, creative, and passionate all day is pretty good.

Q: What’s the last web redesign that really impressed you?

A: I think the New York Times’s most recent one. We do a lot in the media space, and that was one of the rare ones that we didn’t work on where I said, “That’s a great job.”

Q: What’s the worst piece of professional advice anyone has ever given you?

A: Don’t rock the boat.

Q: When’s the last time you went off the grid?

A: About two weeks ago.

Q: What was the occasion?

A: I went to Mozambique for sixteen days for diving. It was pretty great. It’s hard to be on the grid when you’re in the water with a humpback whale. On one of our dives, the whales were singing, which is a pretty amazing sound if you ever get to hear it.

Q: What restaurant in your neighborhood is underappreciated?

A: Everybody thinks Battersby and Dover are really great, but there’s a place called Bergen Hill in Carroll Gardens that I think is the most underrated.

Q: Tell us something we don’t know about the nuts and bolts of Of a Kind.

A: Well, maybe this is obvious, but I think the real key to the success of Of a Kind is just the taste of Claire and Erica. Everything else is sort of secondary. To me, when I think of the one thing that matters about Of a Kind, it is that.

Meet more serious STARS right here.

The Insider Jo Piazza


Jo Piazza’s business cards might say she’s the managing editor of Yahoo Travel, but, really, girl is a professional adventurer. Her latest expedition: Bopping around the U.S. to promote If Nuns Ruled the World, her book profiling ten nuns that hit shelves in September. Here, some intel on where she goes and what she does on those rare occasions when she’s not out there playing explorer. —mattie kahn

Q: Where did you go on your last big trip?

A: I just got back from the Western Balkans, so I was in Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. They were all awesome for different reasons, but Kosovo and Albania stood out. In Albania, I met the Albanian Indiana Jones, who essentially showed me all of these uncovered ruins and then took me on a crazy gonzo scuba wreck dive off this tiny little bay in Albania. And in Kosovo, the people were so warm and wonderful and inviting and just so excited to have Americans there that I just completely fell in love with the whole country. 

Q: Where have you eaten the best street food?

A: Malaysia! On the island of Langkawi. At a night market. I pigged-out for about four hours. They had the best fried noodles. They did amazing things with durian, which is the smelliest fruit ever, but it was completely delicious.

Q: Ok, so tell us about your favorite dish at a restaurant in NYC.

A: My favorite burger is still—and has been for about ten years now—the burger at The Spotted Pig. April Bloomfield—she knows what she’s doing! She does good things with meat. And with cheese and the combination of the two. I have it at least twice a month.

Q: If you could stuff a carry-on bag full of Of a Kind goodies, what would you pack?

A: I just saw these, and I think I am going to order them RIGHT NOW. Plus the Nikki Chasin Skinny Sweatpants—I am obsessed with them—the 7115 Gathered Trouser in black, and the Wren Black Kimono Dress.

Q: Which apps do you use compulsively when you travel, roaming fees, be damned?

A: I am a complete freak, but I love this stargazing app that shows you what constellations you’re staring at in any given country. I mean, I use it more than WhatsApp. On the iPhone, it is called the Starmap, and, for Android, it is Sky Map.

I use Endomondo a lot because I’m badly training for a half marathon right now. I’m a terrible runner, and I force myself to run in every country that I’m in—which is actually a wonderful, wonderful way to see a city. So I use Endomondo to tell me that I’ve gone way less far than I think I’ve run.

Oh, and I also use the Buddhify app when I travel because it forces me to meditate. Although using the words “forces” and “meditate” together probably isn’t a good indicator of how zen I currently am.

Q: What’s chilling out on your bedside table right now?

A: I have a copy of the biography of Jane Digby, who I just discovered. She was this nineteenth-century adventuress and world traveler, and I’m a little obsessed with her. I have a budding idea for a novel in my head about her. I ordered it from Amazon while I was on this coastguard ship off the coast of Albania. Technology blew my mind. 

Oh, you probably want to meet these other people, too.

The Insider Kristin Sloan


Let’s put it this way: Kristin Sloan is on pointe. The onetime dancer moved from Boston to New York as a teenager and joined the New York City Ballet three years later. After an injury forced her to hang up her toe shoes, Sloan started producing short films for her former employer and, soon enough, opened the creative agency JaegerSloan with her business-slash-romantic partner Doug Jaeger—they’ve done hugely cool projects for the likes of Christie’s, Samsung, and Bloomberg. And in her spare time? Kristin sells “supplies for modern humans” over at JrnlStr. Clearly, you need to know a whole lot more about her. —mattie kahn

Q: In three words, good design is…?

A: A simple solution.

Q: Besides your own for the iPhone back in 2007, what’s the most memorable commercial you’ve seen recently?

A: Well, I really do love the Apple commercials. The latest round focuses on what you can do with their products—as opposed to just listing features—which I think is really important. You don’t need to over-explain. You can leave room for people to discover. The recent spot they did with Esa-Pekka Salonen, the classical composer, is real, it’s smart, and it’s super-respectful of his talent. It even got a great review from Alex Ross of The New Yorker.

Q: What’s a start-up you’re super-excited about these days?

A: Well, I’ll tell you about one that we actually use at the company. There’s this software called Xero, and it’s New Zealand-based. They basically took on QuickBooks head-on. It’s amazing. They just give you what you need and not a whole bunch of other stuff that you’re not going to use.

Q: What lines are making the clothes you want to wear this fall?

A: I actually don’t do a lot of shopping. But I did recently go shopping at Maison Martin Margiela—I don’t even know how to say the name properly. But I just bought some stuff from there. I’d never tried the clothes on before, and I really loved them. The silhouettes are just very cool. I really like the angles and the structure.

Q: Which competitive reality show do you think you’d have a pretty serious shot at winning?

A: Hmm…I would actually not say So You Think You Can Dance. The funny thing about ballet is it’s very structured, and it’s really specific. There’s something about the more freestyle dance that they do there that is totally not my thing, so I definitely would not excel at that one. I would love to say The Amazing Race, because I feel like I really love problem-solving and trying to find the most efficient solution. 

Q: Where’s your favorite place to go to just chill out?

A: The Standard in Miami—and it sounds funny, because if you think of the Standard, you immediately think of, like, a party hotel—but the Standard in Miami is the opposite. It’s not on the strip. It’s on one of those little islands before you get to South Beach. It takes like three hours to get to Miami from New York, and then you can literally just take a cab there and park it. You sit at the pool all day. They’ll serve you food and drinks. And then there’s the spa if you want it. We don’t take a lot of breaks, but that is a place we like to go if we have a day or two, and we’re just like, “Hey! Let’s get out.”

Want to meet more ridiculously impressive people? Of course you do.

The Insider Ben Walsh


The last time Ben Walsh checked, he had almost 3,000 tabs open. (Thanks, OneTab!) But hold up, guys: That’s is kind of his job. As a money and finance reporter at Huffington Post, Ben has to know everything that’s happening in the $ world (or is that $$$ world?) so he can boil it down for you and me. He’s a real smarty-pants who loves some weird facts, good menswear, and the best cup of coffee in close proximity. —mattie kahn

Q: Tell us about the last time you were totally star-struck.

A: I was in Brazil—I was covering the World Cup—and I went to this Nike event that LeBron James was at. I was actually totally shocked at how LeBron James held himself and how he acted in this crazy swarm of people. He was just super-composed as forty photographers were around him. I’m not a huge basketball fan—I’m way more of a soccer fan. So I was surprised by the extent to which I was impressed. Yeah—I was star-struck a little bit.

Q: Speaking of MVPs, whose Twitter feeds do you rely on?

A: I actually just started a new Twitter list called “Tweets I Read” that has writers and reporters who I like. If they tweet something, I know it’s important, and I know it’s smart. One of the people on it who I think is super, super smart is this woman who writes for the Financial Times, Izabella Kaminska. She is the best person writing right now at what I would call the intersection of science fiction and finance.

Q: How do you keep track of your to-do list?

A: I use notecards. When the notecard is full, I either transfer it to a new notecard or I finish everything on the notecard and then tear it up and throw it away. I really feel like your to-do list should be separate from, you know, your email, a spreadsheet, whatever. Having it be tactile really helps me.

Q: It’s 4 P.M. What’s your in-office snack of choice?

A: A combination of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and iced coffee or espresso depending on the temperature.

Q: Who makes the best cup of coffee in Brooklyn?

A: This is sort of a lame answer, but I think the best cup of coffee is the highest quality cup that is a three-minute walk from where you live.

Q: And for you that would be…?

A: For me, that would be Budin for espresso and Homecoming for iced coffee. 

Q: What’s in your Netflix queue right now?

A: The fourth season of The Killing. I’m on episode three—three of six. I guess it got cancelled by AMC, and then Netflix picked up the fourth season—so that’s the thing that I’m currently working through. 

Q: Tell me the three apps that are currently eating away at your iPhone battery.

A: Twitter, Mailbox, and Instapaper. The thing about Instapaper that’s really awesome is it’s just a really good way to read things. It downloads them so that they’re there if you’re offline, and the format of the text is really good and easy to read. It’s nice.

Meet more people you really should know right here.

The Insider Andrea Linett


If you ever meet Andrea Linett, chances are you’ll want to single-white-female, oh, everything about her. Thankfully, she doesn’t think that sentiment’s creepy: She named her blog I Want to Be Her to celebrate that girl-crushing we all do. Why else is she just the coolest? She co-founded Lucky, has consulted for eBay, and most recently joined forces with her childhood best friend—designer Anne Johnston Albert—on Jolie Laide, a line of bags and (perfect) tees. Plenty more reasons to sweat her below. —mattie kahn

Q: So, who was the first woman who made you think: I want to be her? 

A: My babysitter Francine. She was French, she had hair down to her ass, and she probably wore hip-huggers and, like, a little scoop-neck, cap-sleeve tee in my mind. She drove a convertible. I was really little, but I remember thinking, “Wow, she is one cool chick.”

Q: Since you work with your best friend: What is the secret to a great partnership, would you say?

A: I think that we respect each other. We’ve been like sisters since we were fourteen. I just think you have to have mutual respect and understanding. I think that’s really the key. Plus, we have the same taste, so that helps.

Q: Who is the most glamorous woman you know?

A: The most glamorous woman I know is Linda Dresner. She doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks and always looks super cool in her leather hot pants—she’s got legs!—and her signature head bandana. And her house and everything she owns is incredible.

Q: Walk us through your weekend uniform.

A: My weekend uniform is one of my Jolie Laide T-shirts. Of course I have to plug Jolie Laide, but it’s true. They only come in black and white, so I’ll wear one of those and either my black Trash and Vaudeville plain jeans or a pair of AG Jeans that I’ve had to patch several thousand times and, in the summer, No.6 platform clogs. I have three pairs. I wear them so much they’re actually disgusting. And in the winter, I always, always, always wear a pair of ankle boots. It’s either Rick Owens or Ann Demuelemeester or Acne or Martin Margiela.

Q: Good collection!

A: Yeah, I know, right? Then once it gets a little colder usually I’ll wear a vintage Wrangler denim jacket. And I don’t leave home without a scarf ever—even in the summer. Air conditioning is an assault when you least expect it. I always have a scarf in my bag. Always.  

Q: What is your favorite indulgence?  

A: Reflexology. I’m obsessed with it. If I’m feeling flush, I’ll go to Angel Feet, which is like the Rolls Royce of reflexology places. Otherwise, I go to a place called Tell Mama on East 6th Street—it’s totally bare bones, but it’s like $40 for an hour. You lie on a table, and I have a special mix on my iPod. I just put it on—it relaxes me—and I kind of pass out listening to that while I get my reflexology. I’m telling you, there’s nothing more relaxing. It’s my favorite thing in the world. If I were a rock star, I would do it every day.

Meet more unreasonably awesome people over here.

The Insider Ashley Granata


Ashley Granata loves a project. She co-founded Fashism.com, delivered the Style.com app to your iPhone, and spearheaded a crowd-funding campaign to gift scarves of her own design to women undergoing chemotherapy at Brooklyn Hospital. Her latest undertaking: bringing her marketing savvy to Stylight, a new-to-the-U.S. multi-retailer shopping site. Oh, and, if you read on, you’ll find out why she’s also the CEO of Charming the Pants off of Us. —mattie kahn

Q: What’s the best gift you got recently?

A: I don’t know if you could classify this as a gift or not, but Betsey Johnson just held this yard sale in East Hampton of her entire vintage archive. I sort of feel like being able to shop that was a gift. I remember seeing her on House of Style in the nineties, and she was going through her archive—just all these amazing vintage dresses that she had bought as inspiration. I don’t know how old I was. I think I was a teenager and I was like: This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Q: Name the app that we should have downloaded, like, yesterday.

A: Imoji. Do you know this one? Basically, you can make emojis out of any photo. You can make emojis out of your own face or your friends faces. It’s out-of-this-world.

Q: Stylight is coming to America! What are your otherfavorite imports?

A: My great-grandparents and their Norwegian curiosity and impeccable manners.

Q: When you’re shopping IRL, where do you go?

A: I love the Showplace Antique + Design Center on 25th Street. Endless inspiration, tons of great vintage, and antiques in beautiful condition. I always have my breath taken away there.

Q: What’s on your Kindle right now?

A: I’m reading great books. I’m reading Breaking Open the Head by Daniel Pinchbeck. It’s about psychedelics. And what else is on here? Oh, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which is by Ben Horowitz. He’s one of the partners of Andreessen Horowitz. I also am re-reading Bossypants by Tina Fey because it’s so funny. And I’m rereading The Giver, one of my favorite books still—my dog is named Jonas—and getting nervous-slash-excited to see the movie this summer.

Q: What do you wear when you want to feel like a total #girlboss?

A: I have this pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes. They’re just basic black pumps, but I bought them with my first paycheck from my first real job, which was an assistant buyer at Bloomingdale’s. I just had such a great feeling when I bought them. Whenever I wear them, I have that feeling again, so I always wear them to really important meetings. They’re sort of like my lucky shoes.

Meet more way-impressive peeps!

The Insider Brian Stelter

We have this one on good authority: Brian Stelter is tuned-in. If you need proof, just watch him one Sunday morning as he hosts Reliable Sources on CNN—he serves as the network’s senior media correspondent and has one of the most informative twitter feeds in existence, too. Brian’s other claim to fame: He’s married to the couldn’t-be-more-adorable Jamie Stelter (and sometimes gets recognized for his presence on her blog as B). More on all of that below. —mattie kahn

Q: Your job is all about soliciting the expert opinion. When you want advice, who do you trust to tell it to you like it is?

A: My wife.

Q: And out there in the virtual world? Whom should we turn to on Twitter?

A: Some of my current favorites right now are Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold at Politco—they’re the two media reporters, and I just find them to be on top of most media news. I really like @MoneyRies—Brian Ries. He’s the real-time news editor for Mashable. He’s a machine, and I like machines.

Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten?

A: When I was new at The New York Times—I was 21 and 22 years old, and I was kind of petrified—a couple people instilled in me to take it slow. I don’t know if those were the words they used, but that was my takeaway. I think the reason why I survived and then thrived at the Times is because I took my time and kept my head down and wrote a lot of stories without trying to make a name for myself or get attention.

Q: You’re kind of an open book. Tell us something we don’t know about you.

A: I had never eaten eggs until I was in my mid-twenties—I mean, scrambled eggs or omelets or a fried egg. It wasn’t until Jamie started making them at home that I discovered “the egg.” I guess my dad just made really bad eggs as kid, so I feared them! I’m over it now.

Q: Who brews the best cup of coffee in your zip code?

A: I’ve got to go with Jack’s on Tenth Street. I’m thinking about the iced coffee because I’m a ten-months-a-year-iced-coffee guy, which I know is not very sophisticated. But there’s something about their iced coffee that…I can’t describe it, but it’s different than anything else I’ve had.

Q: Describe your ideal vacation.

A: Easy to get to but feels far away. I’ll tell you what I’m picturing. I’m picturing a beach. I’m picturing a town nearby. I’m picturing a stack of books. I’m picturing good waves—boogie-board-able waves. That’s important. You need some action. I’m picturing Jamie and, you know, it would be helpful if it had cell-phone reception—but, on the other hand, I’ve lately enjoyed putting my phone on airplane mood for the whole day on vacation.

Q: Radical!

A: Big step. Big step. I’m growing up.

There are some other people you should totally meet…

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