The Most Powerful 20-Somethings in NYC

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header Everything in NYC is bigger, faster, and more intense. Its humble inhabitants don't just keep the pace; they set it. That’s why we’re proud to present Refinery29’s second annual 30 Under 30 list, as the ultimate homage to those extraordinary people whose knack for pushing boundaries and breaking rules, quite simply, blows our minds. And, though we stand for life, love, and the pursuit of personal style, this hot list goes far beyond influencers and starlets, focusing on true pioneers who are forging new paths for the future of their pursuits.

To wit, a political consultant who just happens to star on a controversial TV series, a design duo whose debut collection is already award-winning, and an athlete who KILLS it on the dance floor. Innovators, iconoclasts, and industry wunderkinds — they’re all here, with knowledge to drop, lessons to teach, and inspiration to share. It's true what they say — if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere. And if a group of actors reinventing live performance and a boundless chef blazing his own hyperunique trail can do it, we’ve got a feeling their fires might stoke yours, too.

Take a look at all of the awesome talent below, and click on any of the pics to get to know the superstars behind these gorgeous faces. Or, just click here to start the slideshow.
30 Under 30Elliott BreeceXianchuan XieTilda LindstamStevie DanceEmily WeissEdward SongVictor CruzIdil TabancaMelissa ButlerClaire DistenfeldEdward BessEmmett ShineLeandra MedineShaun RossChristelle De CastroAmanda KludtJustin WarrenJoana AvillezBellevanceSejal HathiCesar VegaZebra KatzElina AsantiPig PenAudrey GelmanPari DukovicSydney ReisingCaroline PolachekKellee Khalil
CarolinePolachek_v2
The Musician's Musician
If there’s one musician who never ceases to amaze us, it’s Chairlift’s 27-year-old Caroline Polachek. Something, her and bandmate Patrick Wimberly’s most recent album, is packed with inventive tracks aided by a stunning cacophony of unexpected sounds, making it one of the most hauntingly beautiful records of 2012. But, she’ll have no problem living up to (and exceeding) expectations with the duo’s next album, which is already proving to be majestic. Spending her days recording in a studio built inside an abandoned pharmaceutical factory — “I've been wearing scrubs, just to be in harmony with the building's original function” — she’s back at what she does best: forging originality through music (though her eclectic wardrobe — unitards, anyone? — doesn't hurt the process, either). “It's exciting to finally have enough experience that we can make recordings sound the way we want on our own terms,” she explained. Excuse us, while we begin counting down the days.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“After spending 2012 circling the planet twice, touring our second album, and a month or so holed up in Montreal over the winter to catch my breath, my bandmate, Patrick Wimberly and I are working on the third Chairlift record. Aside of Chairlift, I've been collaborating with a few other artists, which I can't announce just yet, doing both songwriting and contributing vocals. And then, on my own time, I've been working on an electronic solo album since last spring, which I'm fully producing myself and hoping to release before the end of 2013. I've been performing these songs under made-up names and incognito, so that I can try things out without it being connected to anything else I'm doing, but, eventually, I'll properly unleash it when it feels ready to publicly put my name on.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"Ate breakfast! It was fantastic: toast with ricotta, marmalade, and basil. A kiwi, sliced into four parts, eaten with the skin — washed, of course. And French-press coffee with half-and-half! It was completely awesome.”

Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
”Frankly, I'm really curious to see how long I can keep getting away with this. So far, it's been building very naturally — with intense dedication, of course, but also luck — and I suppose it'll naturally transition into things like art direction, songwriting, scoring — but really, everything about my ‘career’ till this point has been a surprise, so my only solid plan is to prepare to be surprised. And not make any compromises. Regardless, I will be making music and songs till I'm very, very old. I have that to look forward to.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
”Hmm, maybe Beyoncé and Jay-Z's baby, Blue Ivy Carter. Because I might be the youngest person to get an episode of Cribs.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
”I was a late bloomer, shrimpy with big ears, terrible time management, a propensity for staying up all night reading or listening to the radio under the covers, obsessed with cats and musicals, into solo sports like horseback riding, skiing, and ice-skating — things that were rhythmic and elegant, and where my own discipline and focus was the playing field. I don't have the time or money for those sports, anymore, but that love for rhythm and elegance will always be with me.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
”I imagined I'd be a biologist, or some kind of scientist. Of course, I was obsessed with art and music, but didn't imagine that there was any sort of life in it for me. Even while being in seven music ensembles my senior year of high school, I still assumed that I'd end up in science. Turned out, I ended up making pop music, where there are NO right or wrong answers, nobody gets a lab coat or even business cards, and where new ideas are the currency. Ha! Hi mom! If my childhood self could see me now though, I would be psyched out of my mind.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
"A taxi ride over the bridge into Manhattan — with windows down — some kind of discovery, and dinner with someone I love. Ugh, I'm such a cheese ball, but it's true.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Vintage orange crop sweater; Vintage green overalls; J.Crew black belt, $32.50, similar style available at J.Crew; Repetto camo T-strap shoe; Lady Grey silver cuff; Species by the Thousands ring. Look 2: Custom black catsuit; Milleneufcentquatrevingtquatre scarf; Jill Stuart Geraldine Suede Pumps, $436, available at Shopbop; Lady Grey silver cuff; Species by the Thousands ring.
Weiss
The Beauty Visionaire
Remember when beauty blogging was all makeup reviews and YouTube tutorials for beach waves? Since Emily Weiss, 28, popped up on the scene in 2010, she’s been steadfastly making up for lost time, pulling every nuanced notion we’d want to know about beauty together on one stunning, easy-to-consume website, Into the Gloss. Emily’s modelesque features and down-to-earth character make the site a cult favorite, while her cool-girl take on modern-beauty norms — like her hilarious diary of an over-the-top, week-long detox in Italy — solidifies her crazy-honest point of view. From trustworthy product recommendations and gorgeous tutorials to conversational first-person interviews with fashion’s top ladies, she’s got a little bit of everything from all ends of the girl-crush spectrum. (Seriously — there’s even a don’t-miss dossier rounding out Courtney Love’s beauty faves.)

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“Trying every beauty product under the sun, reading Lean In, and reshaping my eyebrows, which, apparently, have been ‘doing nothing’ for my face.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“I learned how to skateboard — and didn’t break an arm while doing so! I’d say that’s pretty awesome.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Done is better than perfect.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
"That’s a toss-up: either Rihanna, or Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I would venture to say I was equal parts endearing and annoying. I’d hope it’s what’s given me the no-risk-no-reward attitude I have now.”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Daniel Day-Lewis or Meryl Streep — best chance of being able to go to the Oscars. “

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Getting told 'no' is always humbling, and it happens all the time. But if you’re not getting shot down, I don’t think you’re pushing yourself enough.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“An Americano and a chocolate croissant from Cafe Cluny, an endless supply of available taxis, and a great Pandora station."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Theory black blazer, $213, similar style available at Theory; Theyskens' Theory tank; Theyskens' Theory oversized leather pant; Manolo Blahnik black-patent pump. Look 2: Derek Lam white draped top; Derek Lam white oversized pant; Manolo Blahnik black-patent pump.
vance
The Design Duo
Designer Nolan Bellavance, 27, says his favorite quote is a reminder by Oscar Wilde to "be yourself." And, indeed, it's this kind of intuition that's granted him immediate access into the competitive inner circles of New York Fashion Week (and our closets, if we can help it!). Cohelmed by partner Ava Hama, 23, brand-new, ready-to-wear line Bellavance is not only up-and-coming, it's already here. CFDA certified and winner of the MADE for Peroni Young Designer Award (by unanimous decision), the fresh crop of luxurious separates serves up flattering silhouettes with a downtown edge. Yes, like the designers' foray into the fashion world (to think, they just debuted for fall '13!), the clothes give off a deceptive ease, though they're intricate in design and meticulous in fabrication. Let's just say we're calling this one.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"After debuting at Milk during FW13 New York Fashion Week, we’ve been picked up by Opening Ceremony as our exclusive retailer for the coming season. Currently, we’re working on production of our FW13 collection and developing SS14. Right now, we’re focusing on building our business strategy and working on potential collaborations."

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
"Being CFDA-certified has always been the goal. Right now, we’re working on some potential collaborations for SS14, but we’re keeping that under wraps until everything’s solidified."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned, and who taught it?
"Go big or go home. My professor at Parsons, Steven Faerm, taught me that. There’s no room for mediocrity, and there’s an ostentatiousness that I feel is missing in New York fashion lately. Holding back in being creative is harder to manage in the end than editing."

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
"No one, I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to that."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"Quiet, introspective. I read a lot. I drew a lot; I taught myself how to draw by reading "X-Men" comics. That’s how I got interested in designing clothes. I think being the quiet, black sheep of the family definitely affects how I deal with the world, but it’s what fostered my creativity, and I still work a lot from that dynamic I have with the world."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Tilda Swinton. I think that speaks for itself."

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
"I was dead set on being a marine biologist; Jacques Cousteau was my very first idol. I think I’ve seen Free Willy about 3,000 times. Then I wanted to illustrate comic books, but I ended up going into journalism before fashion and hated it."

What’s your mantra?
"To quote Oscar Wilde: 'Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.'"

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Nolan Look 1: Uniqlo Black Sweat Long Sleeve Shirt, $19.90, available at Uniqlo; Bellavance black pant; Nike Free iD Running Shoe, $135, available at Nike; No label black hat. Look 2: Vintage Fendi T-shirt; Acne white denim; Nike Free iD Running Shoe, $135, available at Nike; No Label black hat. Ava Look 1: Vintage white silk shirt; Comme des Garçons white A-line skirt; Comme des Garçons college ring; Manolo Blahnik blue pump. Look 2: Limi Feu white buckle sleeve shirt; Vintage Levi’s denim; Prada black mule.
abanca
The EIC
If you think you had a busy day, try keeping up with Bullett's 28-year-old editor-in-chief, Idil Tabanca. Not only is she running a badass quarterly magazine, but she's also overseeing a monthly interactive platform, a daily website, a creative agency, online video and radio networks, and an e-commerce platform. Yep, Tabanca is right at home in the city that never sleeps. And, though she says her "career doesn't leave much time for life," we think that if her career is her life then it seems like it's a pretty stylish one. Tabanca is a style star in her own right, known for her mix of bright colors, prints, and effortlessness that screams both risk taker and boss. This aesthetic and philosophy is the same zany-but-thoughtful combination that makes Bullett one of our favorite mags and Tabanca a trove of knowledge for the up-and-coming journalist on the go. Now, can someone say "girl power"?

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"I’m running a quarterly magazine, monthly interactive publication, a website updated daily, a creative agency, online video and radio networks, and an e-commerce platform. With the magazine, I am currently working on the summer "Wild" issue with Kendrick Lamar, Jonah Hill and Sky Ferreira on the covers. We just published our ninth monthly tablet issue (each has exclusive content). The creative agency just completed an artist video series for Lincoln Motor Company and helped produce the first official music video for the band, Cable. We also just had our issue-release party for the spring, "Future" issue. I’ve also been pretty swamped with our e-commerce platform, which currently carries a few items but officially will have a hard launch this summer with a wide selection of inventory. Currently, it seems like my career doesn’t leave me much time for life."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"I have a few: One is that managing people is an art. If you can find the right people to work with and your key players are solid then the rest falls into place. That lesson was self-taught. If you are in an executive position, no one will care as much as you do. That was advice from my father to help me stop beating myself up. You can’t have unrealistic expectations from people, and you certainly can’t expect them to work as hard as you do. Because the reality is, for some people, it’s just a job. For me, it’s much more. Last, but not least, Damon Dash once advised me that among his endeavors — whether it be music, videos, blogging, producing — there has been one solid business that never failed him and supported all his other projects, and that was the business of T-shirts. That always stuck with me."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Brit Marling, she was actually my second (and the serious) choice for the 'people I would like to switch lives with’ question. I think she is one of the most talented writers/actors/directors working in film right now. I truly admire smart, fearless, self-made women. And, I would love my screen version to look like her obviously."

What's been your most humbling moment?
"Most recent one was our print publication being nominated by National Magazine Awards for excellence in design. We didn’t take home the ASME, but it was an honor for a two-year publication like us to be nominated in the same category as such established publications as Time and New York magazine. It was a very humbling experience to stand there with such experienced editors responsible for era-defining journalism."

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
"A visit to Opening Ceremony, losing my phone, and receiving good news about our traffic (via email, because I lost my phone)."

What’s your mantra?
"Everything is going to be okay in the end, and if it’s not then it’s not the end."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Chromat plastic metallic bra top, similar styles available at Chromat; Tableaux Vivants Mint Latex Skirt, custom orders available at Tablueax Vivants; Charlotte Ronson green plastic jacket; Christian Louboutin neon PVC shoe. Look 2: Christopher Kane pink plastic-ruffle, high-waisted skirt; Christopher Kane yellow plastic-ruffle crop top; SUNO Pink Cinched Waist Windbreaker, $795, available at SUNO; Rodarte multicolor chunky shoe; Tom Binns multicolored earring; Marc by Marc Jacobs pink plastic hairband, $68, similar styles available at Marc Jacobs.
rCruz
The Athlete
When you think "triple threat" we're not sure what comes to mind, but we're almost positive it's not football champion/salsa dancer/menswear designer. But it should be. Because Victor Cruz is killing it in each category. At 26 years old, the Giants' wide receiver is making plays both on and off the field. His clothing line Young Whales and potential reality show prove this guy's it factor transcends ducking tackles. Of course, there are the sports statistics (like his impressive 99-yard touchdown against the Jets and 100-receiving-yard season), but it's his heart and drive that really make us fans. He says he just wants to "be someone that [his] teammates can count on to make the play and lead." And lead he does. Cruz is exactly that kind of athlete-with-a-heart-of-gold type that parents want their kids to look up to. He says if he wasn't playing pro ball he'd be "advising kids to go to college." This, and a smile that can melt a room? We're calling him our all-time MVP.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to build something that can live as long as a lifetime as far as my brand and my family are concerned. I just want to take my career one year at a time. You only get a certain window to be a professional athlete, so I want to take it one game at a time. Working on my clothing line, I just wanted to have clothes for my friends and family, but it’s grown. People love the brand, and by the time the season ends, it will be something much bigger.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“An amazing moment in my life was I recently went to the science fair in the White House, and the president came out and gave a speech and mentioned my name in the speech two or three times. It was amazing to have the president know your name and recognize it as someone who helped out the community.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“It’s ‘always be prepared for anything’ no matter what it is. In this league, in this life, you always have to be in good health; you always need to be prepared when your name is called. Michael Strahan taught me that. At the time, I was a nobody — I was a rookie — I hadn’t proven anything. And for him to recognize me and see my potential, it really stuck with me, and I carry it around every single day.”

If you could switch lives with anyone under 30, who would it be?
“It’s funny, I wanted to be an actor. I wouldn’t mind being Jaden Smith for a day. He just looks like he’s always having fun, living his life, being with his dad, doing movies. He would be a good person to be.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
"When I was a kid, I always dreamed of being an athlete, but I thought I’d be a teacher in my community that I grew up in, advising kids to go to college, what it takes to go to college, what it takes to be an athlete and a student, too. I wanted to give kids guidelines on how to get there and what to do, time management, etc.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“When my daughter was born. To have a baby come into the world, not knowing what kind of family it's being born in, to depend on you to be fed, bathed, burped, everything. It was just a humbling experience, and it's something I will cherish till the day I die.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“An outdoor basketball game with some friends I grew up with playing basketball, a carnival — there's one in my town every year that people like to go to — and, lastly, a drop-top vehicle. My dad had a drop-top Mercedes-Benz, and we’d love to drive around and show off — you just want your friends to see you. And it's fun to drive around.”

Styled by Rachel Johnston. Look 1: Calvin Klein pink suit jacket; Calvin Klein pink suit trouser; Patrik Ervell printed short-sleeve button-down; Balenciaga white sneaker. Look 2: A.P.C. white simple sweatshirt, $165, available at A.P.C. 267 West 4th Street (at Hepburn Street); 212-755-2523; Isaia white pant; Balenciaga white sneakers; Michael Bastian clear-frame sunglasses.
AmandaKludt_v2
The Fooditrix
Rihanna's “Birthday Cake” could be an anthem for most of our favorite food obsessives, and Amanda Kludt is no different. As the editorial director of the locally inclined, food-blog network Eater, the 29-year-old oversees all 22 of Eater's U.S. sites. (Yep, 22.) Her day-to-day ranges from all the big, business stuff to planning the future of a massive, national entity, which die-hard foodies have been saving as their homepage for years. Oh, and that dessert inclination? Ends up, it's her long-held dream to be fully immersed into the world of ice cream. "Kludt Cones" sure would have a nice ring to it, but like everything else she's done a bang-up job with, we'll leave the big ideas to her.

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“In April, Eater’s cofounder and I went on a six-day road trip in Texas to visit our editors across the state. From Dallas to Austin to Lockhart to Houston, we had nonstop fantastic food. Not only barbecue and burgers and fried chicken and pie — of which we ate a lot — but also very exquisite and refined tasting menus, great experimental chefs’ counters, and wonderful, delicious, rustic food.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“I work at such a fun place for such fun people, so ideally I can continue to help Eater grow: more cities, more countries, more video content, more large-scale projects, more investment in our editorial team. Outside of work, I organize a female-food-writer-networking group, so I hope to take a more active role there by organizing more real-world meetings and activities. And I’m a member of another all-female group, this one for hospitality-industry professionals, so I hope to help with its editorial goals. Basically, I’m all aboard the Lean In train."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Don’t be afraid to talk about money and always ask for what you want, not what you think your company is willing to give you, whether it’s a raise or a promotion or a change in your responsibilities. That said, on the other end of things, I’ve also learned through hiring people that if an applicant’s demands are completely outside of the realm of my original offer, it signals that we are probably not on the same page. And even if they do accept my terms, they do so unhappily — not a great way to start a professional relationship. Also, just be nice to people. Don’t have an attitude. Don’t talk behind people’s backs. The food industry, like most industries, is small and interconnected."

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“I am very attracted to the idea of owning a bakery or an ice cream parlor, and ice cream sundaes have been a miniobsession of mine for a few years now. Whenever I think about the idea seriously I abandon it, because deep down, at my core, I know I don’t want to be a business owner. I just like cakes, pies, and sundaes, and the idea of owning something that is a central or core part of a neighborhood. And it’s just so damn wholesome. So, I suppose I would like to be Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar for a few days or Tyler and Kim Malek out in Portland, who own the wonderful and eccentric ice cream shop Salt & Straw."

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Breakfast with my husband at the greasy spoon in our neighborhood in Brooklyn, Garden Grill; drinks at my local wine bar, Tuffet, preferably rosé out in the backyard with a bunch of ladies from the neighborhood; and dinner at Bamonte’s, the 100-year-old, Italian red-sauce joint where the waiters wear tuxes, the cocktails are almost always terrible, and I’ve never once had a bad time.“

What’s your mantra?
“Never take yourself too seriously."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Club Monaco Gia Sweater, $69, available at Club Monaco; Tanya Taylor blue wool Turner skirt; Schutz nude heels; Giles & Brother Brass Ox with Crystal Metallic Blue; Auden Bailey Cuff; Lizzie Fortunato Desert Feather Earrings, $175, available at Lizzie Fortunato.
saButler
The Lipstick Pioneer
If you’ve ever found beauty counters to be kind of unhelpful, consider Melissa Butler, 27, your lipstick guidance counselor. Whether you’re assessing an array of purples or have waited till now to dive into the bright-lip trend, she’s got something just for you. As the founder and mixologist of The Lip Bar, a luxury cosmetic line, Melissa has made a business out of empowering pretty ladies by way of punchy, look-at-me colors, despite only being one year into production. Made from ultramoisturizing, all-natural formulas — none of that questionable, junky stuff here! — The Lip Bar’s handmade lippies are finished off in envy-inducing packaging, sure to make the rest of your reds and pinks pale in comparison. These aren’t your grandma’s lipsticks, sure, but if nana wanted to wear Lavender Mojito, we guarantee Melissa would be all for it.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“The Lip Bar launched a little over a year ago with the goal of providing lip products that are unsurpassed in quality, craftsmanship, and color. A lot of companies have fussy goals, but what it really boils down to is the fact that I create these colors; I created the formula, and I actually manufacture the lipstick. I don’t go to a showroom and pick out swatches. I completely get inspiration from anywhere, and everywhere, and decide to make it into a cocktail filled with avocado oil, shea butter, and vitamins A, E, C and F! And yes, my lippies are called cocktails. All of our shades are named after cocktails to create synergy between being a confident woman, having fun, and believing in the best of both worlds. I wanted women to be proud of being women! To explore new shades, to step out of the traditional makeup box, and to ultimately be bold enough to be who they were created to be!”

Tell us the true-­life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“I recently became the Hula-Hooping champion of the world! Or, of the YMCA in Bed-Stuy! Same difference. Last week, I took a class at the YMCA coined Total Body Fitness, thinking it was going to be one of those hard-core, get-you-ripped-with-heavy-weights classes. Turns out, it was a dance class that had a 15-minute Hula-Hoop warm-up. Luckily for me, my roommate and I have Hula-Hoops at home, and I was prepared for this. I pretty much had a Hula-Hoop-­off, where I defeated the entire class by not dropping one but two weighted Hula-Hoops! I don’t know if the rest of the class knew they were competing but, yeah. That happened, and I won!"

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“It’s imperative to me that we have something to offer for all women. My goal is to create a platform for women to enhance their beauty through whatever medium it is that they may be comfortable. We offer a wide range of cocktails, from flirty pinks to mysterious purples. And, in the very near future, I’ll be completely expanding our Top Shelf Beauty selection from just lipsticks to high-­pigmented lip gloss, colorful mascara, and matte lip pots!”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Make sure everyone on your team knows your vision and believes in it. When information and ideas are widely known and understood, you equip your team to make the best decisions for the company on their own. It cuts out a lot of dependence within an organization, and it gives people the tools needed to think for themselves. Everyone from Steve Jobs to my trailblazing cousin, Courtney, who initially inspired me to be an entrepreneur, has embedded these concepts in me.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was always the ringleader. I was the little girl who came up with the ideas. I would tell my little cousins and friends what trouble we should get into and come up with solutions on how to get out of it if, and when, we got caught. And, we always got caught! Even now, I find myself being the fire-­starter. I encourage all of my friends to pursue their passions. Sometimes, I even point out their passions when they’re too afraid to pull it out themselves.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Nasty Gal pink cutout dress.
huanXie
The Dancer
While a dancer’s career trajectory can be predictable — classes, company, performer, principal, retirement — Xiaochuan Xie refused to play it safe with hers, and boy did it pay off. The 26-year-old left her hometown of Nanjing, China, four years ago to fulfill a dream of modern dance and landed on her feet in the contemporary ensemble of her dreams, Martha Graham Dance Company. Easy in theory but difficult in practice, as the dancer came to New York knowing absolutely no one and had the singular goal of only wanting to be a part of the elite troupe. The classically trained Xie danced with the elite Qianxian Dance Troupe in China since she was 16. But, once exposed to Martha Graham’s expressive and endlessly artistic technique during a trip to Beijing, she set her sights on doing just that. We love her graceful demeanor and incredible talent, but also because Xie’s living proof that dreams do come true — no matter when they’re fully realized.

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Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“Keep enjoying performing on stage, and create interesting dance, theater, music, film projects with inspiring artists.”

What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“Exploring the world.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“It was a Graham-technique class taught by Yung-Yung Tsuai. In class, she said, ‘Keep doing the exercises every day in class, and don’t think too much; you will figure out how to contract’ — a signature movement in Graham technique. This has inspired me greatly in my life. Don’t think and analyze life too much. Sometimes, the life experience will give me the answer.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“The first day I moved to NYC, I went to Dunkin' Donuts trying to get a glazed doughnut, but I didn’t know how to say it at the time. I pointed at what I thought was a glazed doughnut to the clerk — I am nearsighted — and she said something back to me that I could not understand. I kept nodding my head and pointing to the ‘doughnut.’ Eventually, she handed it to me. I ate it on bus and found that the doughnut was so hard. Later, I learned that the ‘glazed doughnut’ I had bought was called a bagel.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Eating delicious food, watching a good movie, and chanting in a temple.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Camilla and Marc Purity Shirt, $399, available at Camilla and Marc; AllSaints Restrain Hot Pants, $255, available at AllSaints. Look 2: One-of-a-kind red leotard; One-of-a-kind nude tights; Penfield Casper Red Hat, $38, available at Penfield.
Ross
The Muse
With editorials, magazine covers, and music videos for both Beyoncé and Katy Perry under his belt, Shaun Ross, 22, has pulled a pile of plum gigs that would be impressive for anyone working in fashion. But, as the first albino male model, his successes are a testament to his skill, determination, and singular ability to make others challenge the norm. A constant reminder in an image-centric industry that our differences are what make us special, Ross also works to help others recognize their inherent beauty, regardless of appearance. With In My Skin I Win, his “inspirational outlet to help inspire others of difference to love themselves and much more,” Ross spreads the praise that he’s been given to those who might need it. (And when you're getting compliments from Queen Bee herself, you definitely have some to spare.)

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Working with Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model was just amazing, because I’ve wanted to do it for many years. I told myself that I would, so I asked Tyra and she allowed me on the show. The power of asking. She said 'You are on this show, because you asked, and that is the power of asking.' We had a great time, especially working with Zendaya Coleman — she is such a great girl, and she has so much coming for her in the future. It’s unreal. I also had my own movie trailer like the big dogs. I was so hyped!”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“My overall goal is to be iconic. I don’t want to change the way people think, but I want to change the way mankind views certain things, whether it’s in film, TV, or books. I want to be forever remembered and have my story told in a textbook versus my own autobiography.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I thank my grandfather a lot because, growing up, I did not have many friends, so I remembered my granddad having this room in his house filled with junk. Old computers, crazy clothing — everything you could imagine. It was almost like my ‘Barney bag,’ and I would go in this room every day after school and create anything I wanted. One day, I would be a nurse; the other day, I would be a dancer. I would just be who I wanted to be in this room. It allowed me to express myself. I remember this one time where I took a red tablecloth, equivalent to a red curtain in a theater, and nailed it to the ceiling. And then, I had a dresser, and I stood on it with a shining light, and I put on a Broadway play in this room for my granddad. Moments like this allowed me to know I was special.”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Well, being that I am albino, it would be kind of hard to cast, but as far as personality I would have to say Johnny Depp. He is a chameleon, who is forever changing, and has played in some amazing movies I wish to play in.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Sitting with Beyoncé in her car, as herself, and her telling me, “You are so beautiful.” That made me feel very whole.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Tommy Hilfiger stripe suit jacket; Tommy Hilfiger stripe suit pant; A.P.C. crew neck pullover, $280, available at A.P.C.; A.P.C. retro white tennis shoe, $330, available at A.P.C. 267 West 4th Street (at Perry Street); 212-755-2523. Look 2: H&M cobalt trouser; A.P.C. retro white tennis shoe, $330, available at A.P.C. 267 West 4th Street (at Perry Street); 212-755-2523.
eDistenfeld
The Boutique Queen
Going into biz with your old man may not sound glamorous and fun, but for Claire Distenfeld it's not only glamorous and fun, it's also stimulating, fulfilling, innovative, and totally fashionable. You see, the 27-year-old New Yorker co-owns and buys for Fivestory, an Upper East Side shopping destination that mixes wares from runway designers with on-the-rise jewelers and cozy, men's T-shirt labels with CFDA-designed, Swarovski-embellished oddities like cacti and New Balance sneakers. Yes, like Distenfeld herself, the converted space has vision. Fivestory is a place of discovery where labels are sure to be made household names, as the store becomes a New York fixture. Mostly, though, it's a place where, like Claire's world, "Anything is possible."

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"I am running and buying for Fivestory, a multilabel lifestyle store in New York. As our key target is to sell a unique world and experience, it’s very important to stay consistent to the vision and the brand. That being said, I like to have my hand in every cookie jar. My passion is the buying, which I have a great team and support system with, but all in all the streamlined vision is consistent through men's, women's, children, home, accessories, and jewelry. I work with my visuals team monthly, as to what the store should look, sound, and feel like each month of the year, as well as the digital team, as to make sure our persona in the World Wide Web is paralleled to our persona in the wide world of reality."

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"When my father and I decided to open Fivestory, it was a real eye-opener into the saying, “Anything is possible.” I really began to see and believe that if you put your mind to something, and truly believe its potential, you can and will make it a reality. Fast-forward a year, where I took that mindset and started realizing that creating something goes hand in hand with creating relationships. The fear a lot of people have is the first step, and I decided to start reaching out to people who I respect and have never met, and asking to meet and chat and learn from them. Just like with Fivestory, I went in with the mindset of naïveté and ignorance and thought the worst case scenario is they say no.

I took a senior editor of WWD to San Pietros (the only baller lunch spot i could think of), and we had such a wonderful time. It's very important to surround yourself with mentors that are older and wiser, and I think it's something everyone should do when they're young."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"Fear is fleeting. With survival, one grows stronger; with strength, one grows wiser. Always keep your head up and look forward, and create your own reality. The universe taught me that over the past two years."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"I was the kid that was hyperaware of everything around me. I was very, very into aesthetics, whether it was what I wore every single morning from the day I was three or having to retile and carpet my dollhouse, so that it looked perfect. I loved to create worlds that were all my own, whether it was with Barbies or make-believe. I think that what I'm doing now is just a big-girl version of my miniself."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Daniel Day-Lewis, because he’s really the greatest actor ever, and it would be so fun to really push his comfort zone with this one."

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
"I think I wanted to be a Knick City Dancer. I loved to dance as a kid and was really into their sparkly outfits. I'm not sure when that pipe dream died, but I'm pretty sure I also really wanted to be a princess and live in crazy castles and have gardens and flowers and, once again, sparkly dresses."

What’s your mantra?
"Fake it till you make it."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Carven red cutout dress; Jennifer Fisher cage bracelet; Delfina Delettrez ring; Annelise Michelson gold knuckle ring, Monica Sordo Mystique Cuff, available at Monica Sordo. Look 2: Peter Pilotto graphic dress; EK Thongprasert red beaded link necklace; Rochas plaid Mary Jane heel, all available at Fivestory, 18 East 69th Street (at Madison Avenue); 212-288-1338; Balenciaga gold knuckle rings.
Avillez
The Illustrator
For an artist, a pretty good indicator of success is how omnipresent his or her work is. Twenty-six-year-old illustrator Joana Avillez is...well...let’s just say she’s more places than a New York taxi on a Saturday night. Remember the hilarious, viral Eloise at The Wythe spread in New York magazine? Joana. Or Vogue's impeccable live drawings from this year's Met Ball? Yup, Joana. Even those memorable illustrations across our very own site in articles about fashion's biggest icons, music-festival fans, or famed editors were Joana, Joana, Joana. With clients like The New York Times, Paper, and Real Simple under her belt, the best is still to come, as the pen-clad success spills that she'll be doing the illustrations for Lena Dunham's forthcoming book, tentatively titled Not That Kind of Girl. "I can't imagine a more salivatory text to draw from!" she said. And, hey, neither can we.

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Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“To continue using drawing as a way to work and collaborate on as many interesting and exciting projects as possible! Live-drawing events, illustration, comics, fabric, books, stories, cartoons, and more. The ‘Eloise Moves to Brooklyn’ piece I did for New York magazine last month really affirmed that my loves of drawing and writing and satire could really come together as one.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"A few nights ago, I live-drew the Met Gala. It was like a Fellini dream sequence unfolding within an issue of Us Weekly.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
”My mom always says, ‘Good work comes from working’ — and it helps to see that everything you do is a thread that keeps building upon itself.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I remember my parents' friends always describing me as ‘precocious,’ but I think that's only natural for only children who want to hold their weight in the conversation at the dinner table! My childhood self has never been more present than in my twenties. Everything I loved to draw when I was a kid is what I love to draw now. I realized this recently when looking through stacks of old drawings — it was all crazy ladies with long, fake nails and pages and pages of shoes...except done by a six-year-old with a bowl cut.”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Gary Oldman because this could be the role that finally gets him an Oscar!”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
“I wanted to be an illustrator, an actress, and a interior designer and set decorator. Now, I feel I get to do all three. When I'm drawing someone, I like to get into their pose myself — so I can draw it by how it feels — and when drawing rooms, I love arranging what's on the night table, for example, or what books are on the shelf.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Bed, bed, bed.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Crybaby Presents one-of-a-kind crop top; Crybaby Presents one-of-a-kind skirt; Schutz blue strappy shoe, $190, available at Schutz, 655 Madison Avenue (between 60th and 61st streets); 212-257-4366; Bing Bang Brass Brave Arrowhead Bangle, $68, available at Bing Bang; Bing Bang Brass Tiny Skull Cuff, $88 available at Bing Bang; Bing Bang Square Crystal Bangle, $85, available at Bing Bang; Bing Bang Double Victorian Cross Cuff, $74, available at Bing Bang; Eddie Borgo Compass Cuff in Gunmetal; Bing Bang Black Label North South Spike Ring Trident Ring. Look 2: Agnes B. blue overalls; Vintage yellow shirt; Pierre Hardy SIlk & Leather Polka Dot Wedge Sandals, $795, available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
ttBreece
The Tune Techie
We’re all for inventions that make life easier — walkable wedges, anyone? — which is why Songza, the music-streaming phenomenon cofounded by tech-whiz Elliott Breece, 28, has become our latest obsession. The budding music mogul got his start with Amie Street, an independent online music store he cofounded and later sold to Amazon (yep, Amazon!) and has since received enough accolades to fill a Boy Scout vest and beyond. Like the Opening Ceremony of streaming services, his latest venture, Songza, is a curated playlist machine set to soundtrack your life by way of very, very tightly curated playlists you may not have listened to otherwise. “We built Songza to improve the normal — and abnormal — stuff people do on a daily basis by creating a perfect soundtrack for any situation,” he said. And from getting you amped to complete that spreadsheet you put off till the end of the day to calming music for quelling any pre-blind-date nerves, Songza’s got it all.

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What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Try your best to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. I’m not sure where I first learned this lesson, but I have never gone wrong by following it.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was quiet, curious, geeky, and very into computers and sports. Now that I'm older, I'm quiet, curious, geeky, and very into computers and sports. Not much has changed. I’ve always wanted to build cool, complex things.”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“The movie would have to be animated, and the voice actor would be H. Jon Benjamin. He is the main voice actor from Archer and Bob’s Burgers. I don’t sound like him at all, but I think he’d do a great job speaking for my animated self.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
“At some point, I wanted to be a professional chef and also an NBA player, probably at the same time. I think there was a phase where I wanted to be a firefighter as well. Alas, I was destined to be a nerd instead.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Close friends, a Sapphire and tonic, and the express trains running on schedule.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: J.Crew Slim Broken-in Tee, $24.50, available at J.Crew; Marc by Marc Jacobs red-denim pant; Keds sneakers, $65, similar styles available at Keds. Look 2: J.Crew Slim Japanese Chambray Shirt, $88, available at J.Crew; Marc by Marc Jacobs red denim pant; Keds sneakers, $65, similar styles available at Keds.
raMedine
The New-Age Author
If you're just waking up from a six-year slumber, it's 2013, and there's a new ringleader in town when it comes to fashion and writing and fashion writing. It's the quirkily lovable Leandra Medine, 24, a.k.a. The Man Repeller, a.k.a. (sure to be best-selling) author of the soon-to-be-in-stores-near-you book of essays Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. Yes, in an age when image is king, Medine has become the queen of the written word, reinstating its vitality on the web, and, now, in print. And to read her is to know her. Medine's working-through-things stream of consciousness has brought an honesty to the mostly high-walled world of blogging and fashion. She's cultivated one of the most well-honed (and well-followed) voices of our time, and she's done it through hard work, a relentless eye for style, and not talking herself out of executing her own ideas (advice she took from her father). As for staying power? Yep, she'll be here a while. No pretense, just tasteful, pantless pictures.

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"Well, yesterday I had a meeting in midtown and upon leaving an office building, I saw a blind woman trying to hail a cab. It is sufficiently difficult to hail a cab when you cannot see and heartbreaking to watch the process, so I offered to help her. After refusing for a solid eight minutes (she was super sassy and obviously quite independent), she finally let me help, and, because we were going in the same direction, I shared the cab with her. I learned she became blind 10 years earlier, and that it's not as bad as people with sight think it is."

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
"Honestly, I just want one thing and that is for women to come to Man Repeller and feel happier and more empowered, perhaps even slightly smarter than before their visit."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"All of the good business advice I have ever learned has come from my dad. These are three of my favorite pieces of advice that he gives: 1. It is easy to talk yourself out of executing your ideas. 2. The power of choice is an important one. You must make decisions, because if you don't they will be made for you. 3. Being 'smart' is not about how much you know — it's about the people you surround yourself with."

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
"I wouldn't switch my life with anyone, except for maybe the infant version of myself just to ensure that I can do this again."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"Loud , rambunctious, often obnoxious, and highly neurotic. I don't think I've changed all that much to be frank."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Drake — we both learned our haftorah portions in a timely manner."

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
"Honestly? I thought I'd be fact-checking at New York magazine. It was kind of my dream before I started Man Repeller."

What's been your most humbling moment?
"Short of a couple slight familial crises, which are, of course, always the most humbling moments in life, it's been surreal to see myself on Forbes, Adweek, Time, and Fast Company lists. I'm essentially in this perpetual state of waiting for everyone to finally call my bluff."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look1 : Hype Means Nothing Jay-Z T-shirt; Sally Lapointe yellow short; Golden Goose red sneaker; Monika Knutsson Cleo, available at Monika Knutsson; Khai Khai ring; Mark Henry ring; Alison Lou ring. Look 2: Chloé striped kimono top; Genetic Denim striped pant; Christian Louboutin striped mule; Khai Khai ring; Mark Henry ring; Alison Lou ring; DoDo necklace; Sara Harary necklace; Tiffany & Co. bracelet.
Vega
The Coffee King
Café Integral, César Vega’s vertical coffee company operating out of beyond-cool Soho boutique American Two Shot, aims to bring exceptional coffee from small Nicaraguan producers to the java-swilling, bean-obsessed land we call home — while serving as an example of how working directly with producers can lead to better-sustained practices. “My vision is that through quality, and not quantity, small coffee producers can find greater financial stability,” he explained. And, though retail was never a part of Café Integral’s original plan, it quickly allowed the 25-year-old to connect discerning customers with a more mindful product, all while becoming a cult favorite among the downtown-style set. What can we say, the coffee’s insanely good!

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“I just bought a case of star fruit from one of the corner vendors in Chinatown and made preserves from it. It's seriously delicious. We drink lots of pressed-star-fruit juice in Nicaragua when it's in season, and it's one of the tastiest, most mouthwatering fruits. It's also awesome-looking. Next stop? Dragon fruit. Awesome name!”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“I would like to see Nicaragua become a protagonist in the coffee world and be regarded as an origin of exceptional quality. Nicaragua has already become more of a destination for adventurous travelers, and I'd like to continue to see that grow. I'll start to work with cocoa and chocolate, in the hopes of reviving and cultivating native and heirloom cacao breeds in Nicaragua. We also find that there is a large number of cocoa plantations owned and operated by women, and capacitating them to produce their own rustic, artisan chocolates is an exciting goal. Ultimately, there are many long-term goals in bringing Nicaragua's finest natural resources into the scope of the gastronomic, so that we may continue to see these products produced and so that the general well-being and quality of life in Nicaragua is stimulated as a result.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Recently, someone passed along some sage advice: At the end of every day, we must believe that we did everything we could, that we've done a tremendous job, and that there is nothing to be done, until tomorrow, when we'll be able to try at it again. In the same vein, a great baker once said about his craft, ‘Every day we wake up and we get to make bread. Some days we make good bread; some days we make great bread. But, every day, we get to make bread.’”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was a curious kid, active, I guess. I played lots of sports, but was crazy about Legos. I was also really chubby, I love to eat. I was lucky enough to be raised with my grandmother, who was always in the kitchen. Most of my memories occur there on the other side of the counter, watching her cook, and eating everything all the time.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I was dead-set on being a marine biologist since about as far back as I can remember. I don't know when the idea faded. But I was crazy — still am —about marine life, whales and sharks especially, though I did go through a phase that was all about squids, and briefly, the Portuguese man-o-war. It seems less unique now, with Wes Anderson and The Life Aquatic, but I was a huge Jacques Cousteau fan and dreamt of submarine exploration and the like.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Perfect eggs with perfect coffee, sunshine, and a bike.”

What’s your mantra?
“‘Hay que reempujar, simper.’ Something my grandfather always says, which loosely translates to ‘You always need to be trying harder.’"

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Jack Spade Swamper Stripe Work Shirt in Blue Stripe, $195, available at Jack Spade; Uniqlo dark denim; Johnston & Murphy loafer.
ukovic
The Editorial Photographer
From his highly saturated, can’t-look-away magazine covers to shooting punk communities in Burma and Jakarta, the Greek-bred, Turkey-raised Pari Dukovic immerses himself fully in the subject. And the result? Well, it’s some of the most unbelievable, emotional photographs we’ve seen. The lensman contributes regularly to the Manhattan publishing trifecta — The New Yorker, New York magazine, and The New York Times — as well as Rolling Stone, Wired, and a handful of others. But regardless of which pages the 29-year-old’s work appears on, it’s different from the rest for its inherent artisticness and the instant-classic nature of its composition. (That killer Nicki Minaj cover of New York magazine’s now iconic fashion issue? All this guy.) Next on the horizon? Gallery and museum shows. And yep, you're invited.

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“I have been working very closely with the photo director at New York magazine, Jody Quon. She has been very inspirational to work with on many projects, as she has this never-ending passion and love for photography. When I first started shooting assignments for her, I was really moved with how much she supported creativity to an extent that she would just pick up the phone and say ‘open canvas, shoot what you see.' This has taught me so much in terms of making sure that I stay very true to what I respond to, and that it should be about that as I develop as a photographer and evolve in my own journey.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“I would like to switch lives with Claressa Shields. She very recently won the first Olympic gold medal in [women’s] boxing ever. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph her while on assignment for The New Yorker right before she left for the Olympic trials in China. She is 18 and has already accomplished so much. What inspires me the most is her dedication, discipline, and drive for boxing and following her dreams.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was always very curious. I was very good in science and math, and probably everybody expected I would pick a very different profession. I always had this deep appreciation for art, which came from my dad, as he was rushing me from museum to museum to see artwork. I think my curiosity has been essential to developing as a documentary photographer, too.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
“I always hoped I would be doing exactly this, but for a period when I was six, I really wanted to be an astronaut.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Delicious food, beautiful light, and a challenging shoot.”

What’s your mantra?
“Stay true to your instincts.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Zara Striped Flamé T-shirt, $35.90, available at Zara; Muji dark denim; Vintage leather shoe.
tShine
The Digital Dream-Maker
Emmett Shine is like a modern-day Midas, only instead of everything he touches turning to gold, it becomes a runaway success. As the founder of Gin Lane Media, a digital creative agency turning standard practices on their sides, Emmett, 29, leads a team in making incredibly clean, technologically savvy experiences in stores and online for a roster of brands like Opening Ceremony, J.Crew, Adidas, and Stella McCartney. And, because one company isn’t enough, the multitalented entrepreneur also created Pattern, a business solution to help with integrated-shopping experiences, and coruns LOLA New York, a T-shirt and skateboard company, with his childhood friends. (Yep — even projects from his teenage days are home runs.) With that laser-sharp focus on emerging ideas and advances in technology, we can’t wait to see what he thinks up next. (Just a hint: It’s going to be ah-mazing.)

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“I just went to Asia for the first time — Vietnam, with one of my best friends first, and then all over Japan with the Saturdays' guys and a few different friends.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“I'm happy. Passion and purpose. Just surrounding myself with creatively challenging projects and inspired people. I'm excited about doing more with combining the digital and physical worlds. It's a fun frontier. I like working in spaces that are less-known or defined.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Be humble and do apprenticeships, and learn from those with experience. I tried doing everything on my own for a long time. Recently, I've been getting advice and guidance, and it's been really helpful."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I've had the same friends since forever. Loyal, amazing friends. I value building relationships and being honest. Everything else is secondary.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Beach, barbecue, and a clam bake.”

What’s your mantra?
“I have a few, I guess. I like cliché phrases a lot: ‘Live in the risk.’ ‘Money is the shadow of passion.’ ‘Excellence begets more excellence.’ ‘Quality over quantity.’ ‘ Think fast, talk slow.’ All that stuff.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Gin Lane sweatshirt; A.P.C. pant; Common Projects sneaker; Baron von Fancy sock. Look 2: Gin Lane white T-shirt; Thomas Mason Slim Thomas Mason for J.Crew Shirt in Pinpoint Oxford, $148, available at J.Crew; A.P.C. pant; Common Projects sneaker; Baron von Fancy sock; Mitchell & Ness hat.
yGelman
The Political Problem-Solver
Audrey Gelman is a morning person, but not just in the mornings. She goes hard. All. Day. Long. How else can you explain a 26-year-old that's already lived several dreams multiple times over? First and foremost, Gelman is a skilled and trusted public relations consultant, having just left her three-year post as press secretary and deputy director of communications for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to take on a senior associate role at SKDKnickerbocker NYC where she focuses on political and technology clients. And, though, you may recognize her from her role as Audrey on Girls or Terry Richardson's (her boyfriend) Tumblr feed, she doesn't need the guest-starring spots on television or social media to make serious waves. No, she's already left a lasting mark on NYC's political landscape by taking leadership of Stringer's press operation after working to re-launch Downtown for Democracy and as a press aid on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. It seems that Gelman's is a rare kind of go-get-'em attitude that emblematizes New York as a city. So, maybe this is why when Gelman said her good-byes at City Hall, Scott Stringer declared April 12, 2013 "Audrey Gelman Appreciation Day" (yes, seriously). Parade or not, our fan flags are flying high.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"After working in government for three years as press secretary and deputy director of communications for Scott Stringer, I recently started work as a senior associate at the political and public-affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker in New York, working on clients in politics, education, real estate, and creative industries."

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"At my good-bye party, Borough President Stringer declared April 12, 2013 to be 'Audrey Gelman Appreciation Day' in the borough of Manhattan in an official proclamation. It’s now hanging in my new office and my prized possession."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"Early bird gets the worm — I have always been a morning person, but the importance of waking up before the sun rises cannot be overstated, especially if you work in the intersection of media and politics. On the Clinton campaign, we would commute into Virginia to arrive at our desks before 8 a.m. While working for Borough President Stringer, we did a daily 7:30 a.m. call. I try to be up by 6 a.m. to read the morning’s stories and get to the gym before the office."

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
"I guess Nick D'Aloisi, the 17-year-old tech genius who just sold his Summly start-up for a reported $30 million to Yahoo! Wouldn’t hurt to have $30 million before you’re even close to turning 30."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"I was a very outgoing and bossy kid. As a young adult, I tried to moderate those tendencies, because too many girls know what it feels like to be belittled for being too aggressive. But Sheryl Sandberg recently said something on 60 Minutes that I love. She said, 'I want every little girl who someone says they're bossy to be told instead, you have leadership skills.'"

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
"A productive morning, a mixed class at Physique 57, and weather above 60 degrees."

What’s your mantra?
“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Lyn Devon white terry blazer; Lyn Devon white terry pant; Jill Stuart black floral bustier, $358, available at Jill Stuart, 100 Greene Street (between Prince and Spring streets); 212-343-2300; Saint Laurent black pumps; Bing Bang Brass Tiny Skull Cuff, $88 each, available at Bing Bang; Bing Bang Mixed Rings, Set of 3, $78, available at Bing Bang; Bing Bang Eternity Skull Ring / Yellow Gold, $68, available at Bing Bang.
dSong
The Food-Truck King
We know that whole “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” mantra is credited to Jay-Z, but we think there’s a bit of wiggle room in having it cater to this food-truck phenomenon, too. Queens native Edward Song, 27, dove into business with Korilla BBQ back in 2010. And with offerings like bulgogi burritos and bacon-and-kimchee fried rice, his switched-up take on Korean food has since grown to be one of the most recognizable brands in the city. At the forefront of the mobile-meal game, he also runs an agency that assists budding-food-truck royalty and gathers trucks for large-scale events, is in the process of giving Korilla BBQ a brick-and-mortar home, and has a second truck concept in the mix. Spoiler alert: It involves sausage!

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“I find myself thinking of how the evolution of Korilla is reflective of my personal growth. As an upstart in the food-truck industry, we skyrocketed quickly, coming from nowhere, armed only with a healthy dose of 'shoot first, ask questions later.' It worked. The money started coming in and as the saying goes, so did more problems. The Korilla shop, hopefully, will convey the raw ambition of 20-something Queens' kids trying to make it in NYC — no — the world by sharing what we grow up eating and loving.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“The day started out like most at the Korilla office. One call, however, is all it took to turn a great day to an exceptional day. At first, I thought it was prank. The high-pitched voice and the anxious, giggly outbursts did not leave me much faith. The pieces I got were the person’s name was Elmo and the person was having a block party on a block that everyone knew, but no one knew where. Long story short, when Elmo calls you, you don’t ask questions, and that is how the Korilla truck and I ended up on Sesame Street, except it was in Brooklyn, naturally. I felt like a billion bucks after that. I knew I made an impression on my great-grandkids.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Second mouse gets the cheese,’ from Tony Stark. This encapsulates our turning point. Normally, I would be quick on the draw and first to pull the trigger, like I said, but fear has a hand in peeling back ignorance which may simultaneously paralyze you. It drives me mad when, in my dueling mind, I think about the money – the restaurant biz offers shitty odds and shittier margins — and the uncharted path of commercializing Korean cuisine. In the case of Korilla, which is trying to trailblaze a whole new cuisine for mainstream America, I’m curious more on how others fail, because we know why we succeed."

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Being accused of cheating on national television. Contracts are a bitch.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Hot bagels from Utopia Bagels of Whitestone, Queens, charcoal-grilled Korean BBQ at San Soo Kap San, and karaoke in K-town.”

What’s your mantra?
“Push it to the limit.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Zara Blazer with Piping and Pockets, $99.90, available at Zara; Black Scale white graphic T-shirt; Rag & Bone printed pant; Cole Haan brown belt; Y-3 black sneaker; Alexander Olch black/beige cotton plaid pocket round.
dBess
The Makeup Maestro
Edward Bess knows a rare feeling: What it's like for your product to be called one of Oprah's favorite things. The cosmetics designer took an unconventional road into the beauty biz — attending a prestigious theater school, which later turned into a modeling career. But there’s no denying Bess has since become a beauty powerhouse, all at the young age of 27. His famed Lipstick Box, a collection of 10 wear-forever lipsticks, sold out when it debuted at Bergdorf Goodman in 2006 and received tons of beauty-magazine accolades, while his phenomenal anti-aging makeup can be found on QVC (sign us up!). His eponymous line creates products that flatter all women and never go out of style, and the new Black Sea Collection pairs nature’s inherent-anti-aging properties with the line’s traditional, straightforward approach. Take that, Oprah, it's our favorite, too.

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“My dear friend Betty Halbreich taught me early on you can't be all things to all people. Her wise words remind me to march to the beat of my own drum and follow my instinct with everything I do. Even if I can't make everybody happy. You can't get very far trying to be anything but yourself.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Lena Dunham in a second. Is there anything that girl can't do? I wasn't even a TV person until Girls came out. She's a total genius.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Very, very talkative. Every report card included notes about my constant chattiness. Not much has changed, I'll still talk to a wall.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at 30?
“I didn't care what I'd be doing as long as I was doing it in New York City. I didn't give much thought to anything other than how I can get to NYC and convince my parents this grand plan made sense.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Selling out quickly on my debut appearance on QVC. Knowing that my passion for my product resonated with women across the country was awe-inspiring to say the least. Those few minutes flew by, but, as soon as I stepped off camera, it hit me how many people my message had reached.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“A stroll through the Chelsea flea market, catching an indie film at the Angelika, and two scoops of raw vanilla-mint-chip ice cream at Pure Food and Wine.”

What’s your mantra?
“Whatever you are, be a good one."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Anto one-of-a-kind white button-down; Givenchy black suit pant; Brioni socks; Ferragamo black leather shoes.
Lindstam
The Model
Trust us on this one, folks — Cara Delevingne isn’t the only badass stomping down the world’s catwalks. Tilda Lindstam, 20, is such a powerhouse that New York magazine dubbed her the top model of fall 2013, walking for 29 different designers in NYC and 76 in total (!) by the time the season was through. All in a (fashion) week’s work? Perhaps, but Tilda has become a ubiquitously popular face for good reason. Deftly changing from Alexander McQueen to Phillip Lim and beyond, the Swedish model’s chameleon tendencies will fool you into thinking you suffer from facial blindness. Don’t believe us? Even her off-duty street snaps are impressively varied, channeling beachy, free-spirited vibes one day and ultimate-gamine style the next. With the magical ability to channel any look and master every role, this East Village beauty is putting in the time and reaping the rewards. Now if only she could teach us how to smize...

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Any child prodigy. Or the cool Scrabble master in Washington Square Park.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Gambled my savings away in Monaco.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“A very curious tomboy. I think I’m still pretty much the same as when I was eight.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
“Be an astronaut. There is still time for that.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Sharing an elevator with Prince.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Penfield boyfriend chambray shirt, $80, available at Penfield; Sandro Piquant Stone Washed Denim, $285, available at Sandro; Tibi Daria Heel Blush $261, available at Tibi. Look 2: Vintage navy-dot shirt; Acne black pant; Vintage brown belt.
ZebraKatz_v2
The Entertainer
Everyone, meet Zebra Katz. Zebra Katz, meet everyone. Good. Now that you're formally introduced, it's safe to say we have the license to gush over the effortless cool that this guy omits on the daily. Just beginning work on his debut album, the 27-year-old Mr. Katz (offstage name: Ojay Morgan) has just released his mix tape "DRKLING," is embarking on his second European tour already, and has had his breakout song "Ima Read" played for the entire length of Rick Owens' latest runway show in Paris. It's the same song whose YouTube video has over 1.3 million views, and the same song Diplo and Busta Rhymes just remixed. Yes, it's safe to say Zebra Katz's career is taking off with a sprint, but it isn't going to tire anytime soon. Always the artist (he studied at Eugene Lang, among other schools), Morgan is thoughtful about the dark, often-confrontational material that he puts out ("Ima Read," for instance, was inspired by Paris Is Burning). And, though his work may be more mellow, more moody, and less-production heavy than that of his peers, it's all encompassing and supremely addictive, just like good music should be. So, tons of talent, loads of style, no sugary stuff? This one's a bandwagon worth jumping on.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"I'm about to go on my second European tour and then beginning work on my debut album. I never thought I would be doing either."

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"Jack Pinkney was my theater professor when I was in the seventh grade at BAK Middle School of the Arts in South Florida. You know, there’s one moment in your life when someone tells you something, and you have that awakening. I was sitting in a black-box theater with him, auditioning to get into a high school, and we were working on a piece. I was getting a lot of opinions from people, and I just didn't know how to take it, and he was the one guy that said, 'Fuck that! Do you! Push boundaries. Yeah, people are going to talk about you – so what?' I don’t know if he’ll read this, but I will always remember him for that."

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
"Kevin Deo from Sierra Leone. Kevin is a young genius who works with what's at his disposal. He does/builds mind-blowing things."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"I was an overachieving, art-school-thespian geek. Going to art school taught me that it was okay to make mistakes, which helped me feel secure in any of my artistic endeavors."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"The movie would have to be animated, and James Earl Jones would play my character, because he's an incredible actor with the best voice in the industry."

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
"Friends, music, and good vibes."

What’s your mantra?
"Take that bitch to college – give that bitch some knowledge"

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Oak silver-and-black bomber jacket; Sir New York Diamond Tank Blk/White, $113, available at Oak; Oak silver shorts; CA by Cinzia Araia Cut Out High Top Sneaker, $515, available at Oak; Oak Motocross Leggings, $72, similar style available at Oak; Oak black hat, $42, similar style available at Oak. Look 2: Benaiah Matheson graphic top; Benaiah Matheson graphic legging; Feltraiger black jacket; Nike black shoe.
yReising
The Brand Consultant
You can't try to create buzz. You either do it, or you don't. It's a natural talent reserved for the best party-throwers, brand reps, and consultants in the biz, and, luckily, Sydney Reising's got it. At just 25 years old, Reising's already launched her own boutique creative agency, Sydney Reising Creative (duh), which approaches clients with a unique blend of marketing, cultural-strategy campaigns, PR, events, and straight-up #SWAG — a hashtag so fitting she almost used it for her company's name. That's why brands like Supreme, Hood by Air, Genevieve Jones, ODD, and FRANK151 trust her to take their reps to the next level. Whether it's putting together a conceptual installation in L.A., throwing a rager in NYC, or organizing skateboarding lessons and music videos for clients, Reising is on her grind 24/7. As she puts it, "I mean, it's that hustle. Always." And, well, it looks like it's paying off.

What are you doing with your life and career right now?
"I finally made myself official in January 2013 by launching the agency. Putting “Sydney Reising Creative” on paper, opening up the bank account...it was a big step, but sometimes you just have to jump. So, I jumped. It is not easy for me to wrap my head around what I do, or how I do it. I didn’t want to call it PR, because I feel like 1. I honestly cannot stand most PR people, and 2. I feel like what I do is bigger than that. (There was a lot of debate around naming the company #SWAG)."

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"On the fun side, I rented a crazy-sick house for the second week of Coachella where the #Been#Trill boys and SRC girls threw down. This house was definitely not within my budget, but I figured we all deserved a little fun. I brought the whole SRC team out there for the weekend as a way of saying thank you for working like maniacs over the past few months as the company was getting on its feet. On the work side, I am still in L.A., having just held the opening-night party for the Hood by Air pop-up at the Scion A/V Installation space. HBA is rad. The Scion A/V Installation is rad. The two of them together is 100 percent, completely awesome."

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
"I keep thinking about that Tina Turner song "Simply the Best," but for reaI, I'm working hard to get there. In terms of what's next, I’ll be launching a few sick chapters of the FRANK book, the first one will be curated by Edison Chen and be a sort of an underground-culture guide to China; Diamond Supply Co. and #BEEN #TRILL books are coming down the road as well. Stoked to do September shows with my man Judson Harmon and his label ODD as well as HBA — lots in the works. It's best to follow that Instagram for the updates."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"I was always at the barn. My first horse was named Versace (age 10) if that helps paint the picture. My first fashion job was actually as the in-house PR assistant for Versace back in 2007. Full-circle style! Miss the barn (and Donatella) every day. I'm still rocking the horse-girl nameplate bracelets (as shown in photos), and I still make the trip home to the farm each spring to be right there with my mares each season when they give birth to their foals. I am still that person; she’s not going anywhere."

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Anna Paquin in Fly Away Home meets Parker Posey in Party Girl meets Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance. Completely."

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
"A lawyer/large-animal vet. I am all about that slash. Always have been. I definitely plan on doing the whole vet slash SRC thing sooner than later. My little sister is in vet school right now, and I am mad jealous. (So proud of her!)"

What's been your most humbling moment?
"Getting fired from receptionist position at Alexander Wang, because I wasn't “downtown” enough to be that person who greets guests off the elevator. I remember, and this was back before his CFDA win years ago, walking into that office wearing an orange-silk-taffeta Oscar de la Renta skirt and a white Ralph Lauren oxford shirt and having girls say, 'Um, do you own any lacy bras? Anything black!?!?' And I would go home to my apartment and look through my closet (full of Lilly Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren pastels), feeling like a total idiot. Needless to say, it didn't work out. I got schooled on downtown though, losing that job changed my aesthetic hardcore."

What’s your mantra?
"Stay classy…ish."

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Forever 21 white silk blouse; J Brand black skinny denim; Jean-Michel Cazabat Emma snakeskin pump; Versace x H&M collar; Gucci bracelet; Versace bracelet; Kieselstein-Cord bracelet; Genevieve Jones bracelet; Cartier bracelet; Grey Area Fake Roley Shelter Serra Watch, $40, available at Shop Grey Area; Genevieve Jones ring; Art Youth Society ring; Shaill ring.
Pigpen
The Thespian Group
Take seven strangers and put them in a house, and someone who goes by Puck will become a household name. Lob the same amount of incredibly creative men together in one town, and you’ll get something phenomenal, such as PigPen Theatre Co. The hilarious, creative, and endlessly inventive gaggle of gentlemen got their start at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, where their backgrounds as actors, musicians, and storytellers came together to form the multifaceted, unprecedented troupe they perform as today. With incredible songs, heartfelt stories and, okay fine, crazy-cute looks, this may be the closest we’ll get to a boy band for the thinking girl — which, clearly, we’re totally cool with.

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What are you doing with your life and career right now?
“We're waking up and writing stories over breakfast. We're waking up everyone else in the neighborhood playing new songs over breakfast. We're building new puppets. We're memorizing our lines. We're exploring New York. We're meeting with investors. We're checking Facebook and Twitter. We're playing with flashlights. We're revising scripts. We're reading children's books. We're in the studio late at night recording our new record. We’re comparing distribution models. We're planning our next tour. We're planning our next play. We're clearing our calendars. We are, at this very moment, typing.”

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“In February, we hit the road as a band for the first time. We've been performing in front of audiences for nearly six years now, but these shows were awesome in a way we could never have anticipated. The experience of showing up in a town we've never been to and playing our music to people we've never met, and then to hear these strangers singing our lyrics — and laughing at our awkward banter – it's a great, warm, electric feeling. Plus, one of the venues had a button in the green room that you could press to summon booze.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“We've got all kinds of ideas for places we want the company to go in the future, but there's enough happening in the next few months to keep our minds plenty busy. We’re about to take The Old Man and The Old Moon to Chicago. We’re also in the process of writing our first novel and are currently writing and recording songs for an upcoming EP to be followed by our sophomore album. As for career goals – there are seven of us, so there are a lot of them. We love animation, and so we'd love to adapt one of our stories for the screen, voice the roles, write the score. We'd like to make a video game. We'd like to see the world. We'd like to experiment with the Internet – specifically ways of translating the experience of live performance to the digital realm. Then we’d like to run as the first collective candidate for president of the United States of America. Legally, companies are people, too.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Create your own work.’ We heard this over and over again from every visiting artist during our time at CMU. We were being trained as actors, and, from an actor’s point of view, it can sometimes feel as if you have zero control over your creative life. You show up somewhere, someone says go, and you say the words somebody wrote for you. If they liked the way you said it, you get to come back and say it again. Of course, this doesn't have to be the life of an actor. In fact, there are very few people who could survive under that frame of mind for very long. The best thing you can do for yourself as an artist, and a professional, is to follow your own interests, discover and nurture your own worldview, and then go out and find people to share it with. If you do this, you will find doors opening for you that you never even knew existed.”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Oh, we’ve had this thing cast — and double cast — for years now. Dan: John Cusack; Alex: Orlando Bloom; Ben: Timothy Dalton or Paul Rudd; Ryan: Benedict Cumberbatch or Ron Weasley; Curtis: Jake Gyllenhaal or a Jonas brother; Matt: Alan Tudyk; Arya: Tony Shalhoub or Dev Patel. Of course, this list doesn't really take age into account, so that would be one weird movie.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“Arya wanted to be a firefighter. Ben wanted to be a construction worker. Dan wanted to be a cop. Ryan wanted to be an Indian – wait a minute...”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“True story: Dan and Arya once had a huge debate over the word ‘humbling.' Dan insisted that Arya was using it incorrectly when he said that being selected for a festival we had applied to was ‘humbling.’ Dan's usually right about this kind of thing. Dan was wrong. For Dan, that was the most humbling moment. For everyone else, it was when they tried to play basketball at the court on West 4th Street.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“A sandwich, music, a second sandwich.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. L.L. Bean Blue Wrinkle-Resistant Classic Oxford Shirts, $39.95, available at L.L. Bean; Gap medium-wash denim; AllSaints brown boot; Kenneth Cole brown belt.
eKhalil
The Wedding Whiz
Weddings are known for being an expensive source of love-tinged stress — but, thanks to 28-year-old entrepreneurial genius Kellee Khalil, that’s all about to change. As founder and CEO of Loverly, the world’s first bridal search engine, she’s found a way to take the stress out of planning an epic soirée. Whether searching by color scheme, theme, or even wedding location, brides-to-be can find anything and everything they need for their big day, all on one convenient, photo-packed site. Want a Gatsby-esque wedding, complete with gilded cups and feathery fascinators? Looking for the perfect DIY-inspired place cards? Just one scroll through Loverly’s meticulously organized collection of shopable photos will get anyone with a ring around their finger (or not!) that much more stoked for her celebration (and extravagant fondant cakes).

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Last month, I attended a small conference hosted by Steelcase in Chicago with 15 other female CEOs from across the country in a broad range of industries. While I was younger than most attendees, and the only one in tech, I instantly bonded with them. We quickly learned that as female business owners we face similar challenges. I was inspired by these brilliant, kick-ass women, who are driving innovation in their own respective industries. Meeting awesome people is one of the best things about my job!”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“As a young girl, I always knew I wanted to ‘build an empire.’ My career and life goal is to build something bigger than myself, which can impact millions of people. I love working in technology and especially building a product for women! As Loverly grows, we hope to continue to bring innovation, simplicity, and awesomeness to the world of weddings. We always have something new in development, which keeps my life and my job very exciting!”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“The best advice I ever received was from one of my personal mentors, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Gilt Groupe. She taught me a lot about building a team and the ever-changing roles within a start-up organization. Specifically, that at most early-stage start-ups, all team members must wear a number of hats; roles are constantly evolving; and, that there will be tons of ambiguity. When you are creating something from scratch, these changes are typically indications of progress and success. She emphasized building a team of agile, creative self-starters who thrive in such environments.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“I really admire Lena Dunham of Girls. I think she is a badass, creative, hilarious, brilliant entrepreneur who is shaking up the media industry. I love that she is unapologetically and authentically herself. The world needs more women like her.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Growing up in a close-knit family of five kids, I learned to talk fast to get my points out — still do! — pick things up quickly to keep up with my older siblings, and be scrappy. My parents would likely tell you about my limitless energy and my willingness to talk to anybody, anywhere. I was also extremely competitive. I played soccer as a kid and would always get the ‘yellow’ card. I always wanted to win! Luckily, as I’ve grown up, these traits have come in handy in starting my company. Fierce competitiveness, a love for learning and people, and a strong desire to build a network have helped me tremendously in starting Loverly.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“A run on the West Side Highway, a delicious meal, and an opportunity to move Loverly forward — a meeting, a dinner, a great conversation. I like to make every day count.”

What’s your mantra?
“See the good in everyone and everything.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Zara Pale Blue Tuxedo-Style Blazer, $129, available at Zara; J.Crew White Linen V-Neck Pocket Tee, $39.50, available at J.Crew; Camilla and Marc Color-Block Gankplank Skirt, $350, available at Camilla and Marc; Sigerson Morrison Open-Toe Mixed Material Sandal, $475, available a Sigerson Morrison; BaubleBar gold necklace; David Yurman earrings.
Asanti
The Art Director
We’ve often wished we had a bit of fairy dust to make our newsfeeds, our living rooms — hell, the inside of our purses — instantly look cleaner, and with her eye for uncluttered design, Elina Asanti, 27, may be our one hope. The Helsinki-born, Switzerland-bred creative works as the art director for NR2154, a multidisciplinary design studio focused on inventive design with a crisp, modern aesthetic. With an ability to transfer her vision to everything from album artwork to coffee-table books, she’s put her signature touch on websites, campaigns, and covers for massive, international clients like Louis Vuitton, New Museum, LOVE magazine, and The New York Times. Typography nerds — and, well, people with eyes — prepare yourselves, because her fonts will blow you away, and each project’s brilliantly sleek aesthetic will draw you in, no matter if it’s for the arty aura of an Loeffler Randall campaign or model Liberty Ross’ visually stimulating site. Yep, she just might be magic.

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“I fed a miniature goat. It's the little things.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“I hope to keep doing what I've been doing and continue to expand the scope of the projects and range of clients that we are working with. Exciting projects keep coming up, and each one is an opportunity to try something new. I'm very interested in pushing the boundaries of the design and art direction that I've been doing into new areas and mediums.”

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was always drawing, or painting, or making something. I think that creative impulse has definitely informed who I am now and what I do. I always like having a project, which lately has involved building furniture, and I'm about to start a ceramics class.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“Sometimes things can get stressful, but there's always that moment when you are reminded that at the end of the day we are just making design — however, passionately we are working on it — not curing deadly diseases.”

What´s your mantra?
“Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: J.Crew leopard shift dress; ASOS black espadrille shoe; SAMMA gold ring; Etsy one-of-a-kind ring; Madewell bracelet; J.Crew black belt, $32.50, similar style available at J.Crew. Look 2: J.Crew White Linen V-Neck Pocket Tee, $39.50, available at J.Crew; Zara leopard pant; Rebecca Minkoff Ragini shoe in black; SAMMA gold ring; Etsy one-of-a-kind ring; Madewell bracelet; Vintage gold necklace.
eDance
The Stylist
We’ve met our fair share of stylists. But, when it comes to Stevie Dance, there’s no denying she’s really something special. From a throwback editorial fusing Liya Kebede into artwork by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe to styling hometown-treasure Naomi Watts for a Vogue cover down under, the Australia-born stylist and creative director has put her fashionable mark on some incredible spreads, which have since become timeless favorites. Best part? That’s not even her entire job. On Shop Ghost, her self-created online zine, she flexes her curatorial muscle with a focus on of-the-moment everything across the fashion spectrum. With model and muse interviews, a shopable collection of this season’s dopest finds, and a nifty photoblog interface topped with colorful commentary, it’s a scrollful of inspiration — and a too-cool hub for all things “it." And, considering her before-the-curve eye for fashion, it's a great place to see what everyone will be wearing six months from now.

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“My last trip to L.A. was pretty great. I met one of my favorite artists at the Beverly Hills Hotel for POP. He was swimming laps, and we drank iced tea. I danced to Soul Train with new friends up in Laurel Canyon, went running in the woods, and met CDFA-winner Greg Chait of The Elder Statesman for Shop Ghost, who had some really inspiring things to say about unique business models, cashmere as gold, and working for oneself.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“My goals are more life goals. I just want to be inspired, and propelling forward, and enjoy the path that takes me there. I want to collaborate with those whose work I adore, and try new things all the time, and share what I learn along the way.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“To meditate, via David Lynch.”

"What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“As a kid, I felt pretty fearless. I was obsessed with the underdog. I liked creative writing. I went to an all-girls’ school, and I wore a uniform that I struggled with. I couldn’t draw to save myself, but I danced everywhere I went. I wanted to be a choreographer or a ballerina or in C+C Music Factory or a Fly Girl. I thought Elaine from Seinfeld was the ultimate. I liked to swim after school and eat fish and chips out of newspaper, and I was crazy about The Beatles way more than the Stones. I guess all of this comes through now somehow. I don’t know if much has changed, except now, I only get to go dancing in my spare time.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I was going to be a dancer at first, then a writer, then, ultimately, my dream job was a film critic.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“I climbed Machu Picchu in Peru when I graduated from university. I hiked up that mountain for four days, and the whole time there were these kids carrying the tents for the group. They had cut-up car tires taped to their feet as makeshift shoes, and I really don’t know how they managed. I had on Nikes, and it nearly killed me. Plus, they ran. They ran up that hill. They never complained. They were brilliant.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“A run over Williamsburg Bridge to Paul Simon’s Graceland, a meal at Lovely Day — for the company mostly, I love those guys — and lying on the couch at Centre Street and talking nonstop about what we are going to do to make life really sing or how we will fly to the moon.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Look 1: Hernández Cornet overalls. Look 2: Vintage T-shirt; Acne black pant; Maison Martin Margiela vintage belt.
telleDeCastro
The Fashion Photographer
Forget the EGOT, Justin Timberlake, and the talent of any character on Bunheads, because Christelle de Castro is our favorite kind of triple threat. The artist, photographer, and art director has mastered everything from color-soaked, K-pop editorials for Complex and fashion spreads for VICE to top-notch concert shots and moody musician portraits, but that’s not enough for this 28-year-old powerhouse. In between creating stunning artwork for publications as well as for herself, she handles video production, image development, and consulting for brands like SUNO and Norma Kamali through her self-created agency, Stoneman. With a skill for melding artistic vision with traditional needs, we can’t keep our eyes off the impeccable work Christelle’s churning out. (And, sometimes, even feeling immediately charged with buying whatever’s featured in it.)

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Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Earlier this month, I had the privilege of photographing Brian Eno after his lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy. His management team gave me only three minutes to shoot his portrait. I spent a good hour before our shoot testing different angles and treatments on my assistant. When I finally found my shot, Brian burst through the door and immediately said, ‘You're gonna shoot me in a dark room? I'll look dead in a dark room!’ Essentially, my three minutes had already been ticking, and it kicked off with his disdain. I sat him down and said, ‘Brian, I promise you won't look dead.’ I quickly and nervously took some tests, purely to show him a lighting reference. He put on his glasses, looked at my camera, then said, ‘He looks alive!’ At that point, he loosened up. I walked over to my setup, snapped about seven consecutive frames, and called it a wrap.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“I'm focused on producing and shooting more major campaigns, directing more films, and traveling more for work. Ultimately, I'd like to live bicoastally, between my New York home and L.A.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Musician Malcolm Cecil told me, ‘There are three people who don't succeed: People who can't give direction, people who won't take direction, and people with no direction.’ I interpret this as three rules to live by: One, be assertive; two, remain humble; three, know your voice. In other words, it's important to be a boss bitch and know exactly what you want, but if you aren't open to criticism or new ideas, you will stunt your potential for creative growth.”

If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“The singer Future, because I'm really supposed to be dating Ciara. OKAYYYYY!”

Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Maddox Jolie-Pitt — too easy!”

When you were a kid, what did you think you'd be doing at this age?
“My fantasies about being a grown-up had more to do with what I thought I should have, rather than what I wanted to be specifically. For instance, I definitely wanted a cool car. In the fourth grade, I drew myself with a green Mustang 5.0. It had a tan top down and a license plate that read ‘T-BOZ.’ Ha! I wanted the fantasy basics — to be rich, find love, and have a family. Career-wise I wasn't super rigid — I was always an artist, so I understood that to be my path. Whatever my medium was, I just wanted to be ‘successful’ at it. As a child, I measured success in being able to afford the future car, the future house, and to support my future family. Right now, as a 28-year-old, I’m none of those things. But, I'm also hip to the fact that acquiring such things doesn't necessarily equate success. As a queer woman of color living in New York City, success is in being able to thrive from creative work, expand my photo studio, live independently, happily, and maintain loving relationships with my family and supportive friends.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“Good company, great food, plenty of time.”

What’s your mantra?
“Insert every Smashing Pumpkins and Tupac lyric ever made here.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Patrik Ervell jacket; Tulliano vintage purple top; Vintage khaki short; FUBU sneaker.
Hathi

The Girl Empowerer
Incredible, brilliant, virtuous — there are not enough praiseworthy adjectives to throw Sejal Hathi’s way, partially considering we’re still picking our jaws up off the floor. The recent Yale graduate — as in, a few weeks ago — has implemented a new medical system in Cairo, helped girls around the world strive for change, and blazed her own trail to make future service possible. Two years ago, as a sophomore, Sejal cofounded two organizations primed to change the face of international health care and expand upon the impact of young, female game changers worldwide. The first, Girltank, offers support and training to forward female thinkers, while S2 Capital is an early-stage venture fund, which invests in young, social entrepreneurs in the developing world. (Amazed yet? Just wait.) While incredible in its own right, it’s even more impressive when you consider that this 21-year-old is en route to Stanford University’s School of Medicine, a necessary part of her plan to enact change through global health, medicine, and social entrepreneurship. And we can’t wait to see her do it.

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“In the summer of 2010, I undertook a yearlong effort to build the management capacity of Cairo hospitals to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease, Egypt’s leading cause of mortality. As a lower-middle-income economy with a health profile resembling more affluent nations’, Egypt is a dynamic case study in health-systems reform. Though the country devotes 7 percent of its GDP to health and boasts a robust corps of health professionals, the surge in average life expectancy and associated chronic disease have dramatically strained public health-care facilities. To begin to address this issue, in partnership with the National Bank of Egypt and Ministry of Health, I worked within a team from Yale to design, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based, hospital-strengthening initiative that integrated key-management systems into partner hospitals.

In the course of this work, I met patients who had been waiting for months for a consultation in smoldering heat and sweaty air, children who had suffered from botched operations and contaminated instruments, destitutes who returned day after day simply for the possibility of convincing administrators that their case was pressing enough to warrant government subsidy. But, I realized therefore the tremendous potential for a systems-based, quality-improvement model that could palpably transform patients’ lives. That year, my team and I partnered with local staff to develop a data-driven, patient-flow-management system, build the district’s first electronic database for logging and analyzing system-wide patient data, design a clinical inventory control model, and generate an outpatient clinical follow-up protocol. And since 2011, despite the turmoil of the revolution, our interventions have maintained impact, attesting that sustainable quality care is attainable once an efficient health system is built to support it.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“It remains my quest to demonstrate the exponential social change we can catalyze if we listen, trust, and empower their own ideas for confronting community challenges. Yet, for all this promise that girls possess, my own story and journey has reaffirmed for me that no person can achieve her full potential — no social transformation is sustainable — without access to life’s most fundamental good: quality health care. And, yet for girls and women worldwide, from birth to motherhood, health is the most frequently violated human right. For this reason, I seek to nurture girls’ potential as social innovators by also first enriching the soil in which it must root — working as a physician, policy advisor, and social entrepreneur to build locally grounded health systems that deliver quality, cost-effective, gender-sensitive care to even the most marginalized women.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Failure always is possible, but it becomes certain only when you don’t try. Whenever I feel like giving up or giving in — whenever I fear accepting a new responsibility, launching an audacious project, demanding my fair due — I hear the voice of my mother, urging me to 'just go for it' and focus only on my dreams. So much of what I have done, I would never have endeavored were it not for my mom and dad goading me to believe in myself and just try."

What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Intense, singularly driven, vibrant, assertive, lively, passionate and impassioned, ambitious, loving, tireless, fiercely loyal, assiduous, hardworking, and earnest. It is these qualities and values that define me to this day."

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
”I did not so much choose medicine, as it chose me. For the longest period of time, I was convinced I would become a lawyer and, like my mom, try to use the law as an instrument for achieving social justice. It was only in my first two years of high school that I became seriously interested in medicine as a foundation for assuring all people their basic human rights.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
"Every time I meet a young woman bold enough to stand in her own power, to embrace her passions and pursue her dreams fiercely — no matter what the critics say — I am humbled and inspired anew. From the 17-year-old in Florida who built a novel app to diagnose breast cancer to the 24-year-old in Mumbai who recast her own aborted education into a call to action to educate all slum girls, these young women’s tenacity and unabashed ambition humble, overwhelm, and invigorate me all at once.”

Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Camilla and Marc In the Balance Dress, $480, available at Camilla and Marc; Enzo Angiolini pump; Pamela Love Antique Silver Triple Branch Cuff, $550, available at Pamela Love.
nWarner
The Culinary Wunderkind
Where does the genius end and the crazed lunatic begin? We’ll never know, and that’s precisely why we can’t stop loving (or laughing with) Justin M. Warner. The restaurateur, chef, and TV star has his hands in more projects than an over-ambitious high schooler, but always finds a way to infuse his signature cheeky charm into all of them. As the chef/owner at Do or Dine, a one-of-a-kind culinary gem in Bed-Stuy, the 29-year-old sensation churns out curious dishes (like A Fish and Some Chips), which are amusing on the menu and even better as your meal. If you don’t know him as the guy who invented a foie-gras doughnut or banana-split-pea soup, perhaps you’ve seen him as the notably unique winner of Food Network Star’s eighth season or on his own off-the-wall show, Rebel Eats. Throw in his occasional foodie fashions (his pizza tee’s to die for) and the Kewpie-mayonnaise tattoo on his arm, and this guy’s the real deal. And — dare we say? — changing the face of an age-old industry has never looked so good.

Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“The other day I was pushing 50 mph down Park Avenue on my moped dressed as Captain America. I got pulled over, but they let me go, because they could only charge me with being completely awesome, which is not yet a ticketable offense.”

Any creative endeavors on the horizon?
“Mostly I just want to make an easier life for everyone I care about, but if you want the gritty details, well, there isn't much to say. I want to do everything. I'd really like to go for the P-BEGOT by the time I'm dead. That's either a Peabody or Pulitzer, along with a Beard, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. This may sound silly or overly ambitious, but I think that my love of food, cooking, educating, and — most importantly — entertaining could lead me to attempting excellence in any of the fields in which those trophies are awarded. In the short term, I'm really stoked about making TV and dreaming up concepts.”

What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Bill Eichelberger, formerly of Bentleys Bagels in Hagerstown, MD, always said that he was in business to make friends not money. I try to practice this in all aspects of my life and have been met with positive results, so I'll keep on doing that.”

What's been your most humbling moment?
“When Alton Brown told me he believed in me and my abilities. My dad passed when I was in my teens, and it had been a long time since I felt a ‘paternal push,’ let alone from someone who has seen and done so much.”

A perfect day in your town always includes these three things...
“My gf, my dog, and a beer.”

What’s your mantra?
“The rising tide lifts all boats. I stole that from Danny Meyer.”


Styled by Laura Pritchard, Hair by Bethany Brill, Makeup by Tiffany Patton. Mossimo for Target teal ombre hoodie; One-of-a-kind, air-brushed T-shirt; H&M purple pant; Nooka Strip Grey Belt, $49, available at Nooka; Dansko Narrow Pro Black Oiled Clog, available at Dansko.



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