This Fashion Exec Turned Philanthropist Will Inspire You To Change Your Life

Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
No matter your profession, a work trip usually looks a little something like this: back-to-back meetings over coffee and assorted mini muffins, parking-lot views from a generic hotel room, and little to no time to take in the local culture. But, for Jess Teutonico, whose career spans two roles and two continents, her work trips are quite the opposite, consisting of multi-month adventures to Kenya, where her entire job is getting immersed in remote communities to help them become self-sustainable.
As founder of her own Kenya-based nonprofit, Under The Acacia, Teutonico has made it her mission to provide the Loita and Esoit communities with basic human needs — like water, health care, and employment opportunities — through income-generating activities. And, when she’s back at her home base in NYC, she also serves as the executive director of We Are Family Foundation, mega-musician Nile Rodgers’ global-development enterprise.
Not only has Teutonico managed to kick-start two successful, passion-driven careers, but she embarked on her philanthropic path after a decade as a fashion-event director for the likes of Betsey Johnson and Vogue — a leap of faith (and locations) to do what she loves. Inspired by her gutsy career change to better the world, we met with Teutonico in her ethnic-meets-modern Manhattan apartment, which she shares with her husband and 2-year-old son Luca, to learn more about her decision to switch gears and glean her insights on maxing out her packed days. From time management to streamlining her style with home and fashion finds from T.J.Maxx, she’s become an expert at balance and efficiency. (And, with half her time spent living out of a suitcase, you better bet she’s a pro at packing, too.) Click on to get Teutonico's inspiring story and must-know tips. Even if your next work trip doesn't involve an exotic escape, your newfound packing skills will surely warrant an around-the-world ticket.

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