Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Root Beauty

Eye of the beholder: LA-based filmmaker/entrepreneur Kristin Ross Lauterbach's
newest venture is an organic skincare line called Root Beauty

If you can't find what you want, then take matters into your own hands. That's what my friend, filmmaker/budding entrepreneur and self-professed urban hippie, Kristin Ross Lauterbach did after scouring every drugstore, beauty counter and boutique for skincare products that wouldn't irritate her sensitive skin.

After inspecting labels, Kristin realized many of the ingredients in her so-called "natural" products contained chemicals she could barely pronounce (try saying propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate or isopropyl alcohol five times fast). So she began experimenting in her kitchen. Starting with deodorant.

"I thought, 'Maybe this will work if I make it,'" says the 37-year-old founder of Root Beauty, a homegrown, all-natural and organic skincare line. "I researched the healing power of essential oils and the benefit of natural oils. All things that have been used for centuries by women all over the world." 

The result? Powerful yet gentle products, including a delicious-smelling deodorant made with organic arrowroot powder, baking soda, organic virgin coconut oil and organic rosemary oil. This one is my fave and it works like nothing else I've tried. 

Root Beauty's best selling product, an organic virgin
coconut oil-infused deodorant, smells good enough to eat.

Satisfied with the success of her deodorant, Kristin, who studied  chemistry-biology in college, continued with other homemade products like facial moisturizers, a hand cream and body butter bar. "I would give them as gifts to friends," she says. "And they would tell me, 'You should really sell this!' At first, I didn't feel any compunction to open a business."

But after some soul searching and needing a hiatus from filmmaking (her most recent project was "Flesh," a documentary she wrote and directed about sex trafficking in the US), Kristin founded Root Beauty. Since launching in May, she's enjoyed positive feedback about her line. "I just wanted to let you know that I am completely enamored with your product," gushes Laura G. from Miami on Root Beauty's website. "You have a customer for life!" 

Being a one-woman business means juggling a lot of plates all at once. "I wear the chemist hat, the marketing hat, the accounting hat, the promotion hat, the design hat, the ordering and supplies hat, the party planning hat," she says, laughing. "Someone asked me today, 'Are you exhausted?' Yes, I am. But I'm having a great time."

She wears many hats: Root Beauty founder Kristin Ross Lauterbach labels products in her LA home.

For beauty junkies in the LA area, there's a Root Beauty Launch Party happening on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Send your RSVP to Kristin herself at kristin@rootbeauty.com for more details.

For more information, visit rootbeauty.com.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My annoying Starbucks order

I'll have a tall, but in a grande cup... 

I always feel a little bit like Sally Albright whenever I give the Starbucks barista my annoying-as-hell drink order. 

Barista: What can I get you today?
Me: OK. This is what I'd like. You ready for it?
Barista: (giving me a weird look). Uh-huh. 
Me: OK, I'll have a tall iced green tea latte with soy milk-- but can you please put it in a grande-sized cup with extra ice? And no sweetener. Classic, please.
Barista: So you want that extra ice in another cup?
Me: No, extra ice IN a grande cup. But a tall size, please.
Barista: So, you want a tall green tea latte but extra ice in it, and in a grande cup?
Me: Yes. And soy milk... And did I mention iced?
Barista: Yep (he/she writes my annoying-as-hell order on my grande-sized cup).

My husband and I were recently at a Starbucks drive-thru when he ordered my drink for me. Poor thing. I kept interjecting as he was telling the barista what I wanted--the soy, the extra ice, that damned grande cup--until finally, exasperated, he made me shout the order out the window. 

It was just like that scene in "When Harry Met Sally" when Sally Albright, Meg Ryan's character, orders at the diner. 

Sally: I'd like the chef salad please with the oil and vinegar on the side and the apple pie a la mode.
Waitress: (writing the order down) Chef and apple a la mode. 
Sally: But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top I'd like it on the side and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not, then no ice cream just the whipped cream but if it's out of the can then nothing. 
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally: No, just the pie but then not heated.
Waitress: Uh-huh (ready to punch Sally in the face).

I'm a bit like Sally, I admit. I know what I like and how I like it. As much as my husband teases me about my Sally-ish tendencies, I think, like Harry, he's grown to love this idiosyncrasy. Thank God he still stays married to this tall iced soy green tea latte with no sweetener extra ice in a grande cup-loving girl. 

I know what I like and how I like it. Don't judge. :)


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Can't stand it

These kids are so cute I can't stand it.
Seriously, they deserve a citation for adorableness.
(Photo taken Sept. 16, 2012)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Endeavor comes home

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Unfortunately, this one isn't worth much. It will never capture the
 awe and inspiration we felt seeing that magnificent spacecraft. 

We were lucky enough to catch the space shuttle Endeavor as it flew its last victory lap over California. The kids and I were driving up the 5 Freeway when we saw her coming straight toward us.

Traffic almost stood still as we all watched in awe. What a sight to behold. So inspiring.

Space Shuttle Endeavor home in Los Angeles after final flight

By Dana Feldman and Eric Kelsey, Sept. 21, 2012
(REUTERS) - The space shuttle Endeavour touched down in Los Angeles on Friday on the back of a jumbo jet, greeted by cheering crowds as it ended a celebratory final flight en route to its retirement home at a Southern California science museum.

The 75-ton winged spaceship, ferried by a modified Boeing 747, landed at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 1:00 p.m. after hop-scotching across the country from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and flying a victory lap over California.

Hundreds of office workers stood atop downtown skyscrapers, cheering as the shuttle banked low around the city as it arrived from its last stopover at Edwards Air Force Base, about 100 miles north of the city in the Mojave desert.

"Let me be the first to say, welcome to Los Angeles, Endeavour," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during a ceremony on the tarmac.

The shuttle's arrival brought two major freeways leading to the Los Angeles airport to a standstill as drivers got out of their cars to watch the spacecraft make its final approach.

Tens of thousands more spectators, armed with photo and video cameras, had jammed into Griffith Park and Observatory and the surrounding area to catch a glimpse of Endeavour as it soared over the landmark Hollywood sign.

"It's the end of an era," said John Norman, 45, a technical manager from Los Angeles, who visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to see Endeavour's final launch. "It's just one of those boyhood dreams."

Applause and cheers rolled through the hills when the orbiter and its escort roared past three times, each pass closer than the one before.

In San Francisco, people crowded the city's waterfront to catch a glimpse of the shuttle as it flew over the bay.

"There's a lot of nostalgia," said Anthony Falzone, a 40-year-old lawyer. "When I was a kid, Apollo was long gone, and this was the space program, this was my experience with manned spaceflight."

Endeavour's flight from Edwards to Los Angeles marked the shuttle's last ferry flight and the final airborne journey for any of NASA's three surviving shuttles.

NASA retired Endeavour and the rest of its shuttle fleet last year after completing the U.S. portion of the $100 billion International Space Station, a permanently staffed research complex orbiting 250 miles above Earth.

The arrival at Edwards was a homecoming of sorts for the California-made shuttle, built as a replacement for Challenger, which was lost in a 1986 accident that killed seven astronauts.

Endeavour went on to fly 25 missions, including 12 to help build and outfit the space station, and logged nearly 123 million miles (198 million km) in flight during 4,671 orbits.

"(Endeavour) was my first ride to space and it was in 2008. It was very special being a rookie with her and I look forward to seeing her when she's finally settled into her new home," former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman said.

"Though I do have a bone to pick with her. She had a few malfunctions and the alarms went off twice. But at the end of the day I'm here, she kept me safe. I forgive her," he said.

Endeavour is the second of NASA's three surviving shuttles to be sent to a museum. The oldest one surviving, Discovery, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington.

Endeavour will next undergo preparations to be moved through city streets to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, where it will be put on display starting October 30.
To make way for the mammoth orbiter along its 12-mile (19-km) route, crews are cutting down nearly 400 trees, raising overhead utility wires and temporarily removing hundreds of utility poles, street lights and traffic signals. The center has agreed to plant 1,000 new trees to replace those scheduled for removal.

This photo is waaaay better. (Photo: npr.org)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A village that dreams

The Breath of Heaven Children's Village sits on 10 acres outside of Zambia's capital, Lusaka.
(Photo: Chad Lauterbach)

Five years ago, I got the incredible opportunity to travel to Africa with a team of talented writers, photographers, a producer, filmmaker and teacher. Our assignment? Cover the AIDS/malaria crisis in Zambia and its affect on the staggering number of orphans and street children. We went in knowing it was a tough subject. I mean, how do write about, photograph and film poverty without being overly dramatic, condescending or highfalutin? What we didn't realize was just how much the kids we met would change us.

Everywhere we went-- schoolhouses, community centers, homes, churches, even on the streets-- we befriended the most beautiful of souls. 

Sisters Ireen and Loveness. (Photo: Chad Lauterbach)

During our trip, we met Ted Lawler, a pastor from Temecula, California. Ten years ago, while at a conference, Lawler listened to a man share about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Though he had heard the statistics before, for some reason it bothered him even more this time. Lawler's heart was burdened. "I instantly saw that God had indeed birthed a vision," his wife, Judy, remembers. The result of that vision is the Breath of Heaven Children's Village. The Children's Village sits on 10 acres of African bush outside Zambia's capital, Lusaka. Once finished, it will include a school, clinic, church and 14 homes which will house more than 150 orphans. Back in 2007, our team had the privilege of visiting the Children's Village, where one house had been built. Today, there are five houses and about 50 children living there.          

The bricks used to build the Children's Village are made from the red earth found on the land.
(Photo: Chad Lauterbach)

Check out this wonderful five-minute video about the Breath of Heaven Children's Village (produced by LA-based Empty City Films). It captures everyday life in this triumphant community of  Zambian children. These beautiful souls prove that love conquers all.


Friday, September 14, 2012

New York Fashion Week takeaways

Off to a good start: Jeanne Yang and Katie Holmes enjoying their first presentation
at New York Fashion Week. (Photo: Grazia Daily) 

Though the vibe at New York Fashion Week was mellower than usual (even fashion maven Suzy Menkes described it as "long [and] drawn out" in today's New York Times), there was no shortage of fairy-tale dreaming and inspired thinking. I especially took notice of the many Asian and Asian American designers. From veterans Anna Sui and Vera Wang to rising stars like Bibhu Mohapatra and Brandon Sun, there was plenty for the eyes to feast on.

Gorgeous tapestry-like prints, dainty dresses, billowy fabrics, glamorous sportswear, even crazy Willy Wonka-like technicolor have been on display since Fashion Week opened on September 5.

Some of my fave (and not fave) looks from the runway:

Mesh + lace = prep school steampunk.

Embroidered brocade tapestries, ripped fishnet, indigo denim, mesh, lace. What else does a girl need?

A little bit of thrift shop charm.

Anna Sui's first runway show premiered more than 20 years ago. She's always had an amazing ability to breathe new life into her ideas. For that, Ms. Sui, we thank you. 

Gorgeous, diaphanous, dreamy.

This was my absolute favorite dress in Mohapatra's Spring 2013 collection. I love the color, the delicate floral accents and the contrast the black straps provide. Order one for me, please!

Make no mistake: Brandon likes his fur!

Rising star Brandon Sun is one to watch. Last year, he made his mark by launching a signature collection of luxury fur accessories with retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Sun's quickly carving out a world for himself. 

Surprisingly, there's order despite the chaos. 

Concept Korea is a promising South Korean collaboration featuring the work of Son Jung Wan, Choi Bo Ko, Kim Hongbum, Kye Hanhee and Lie Sang Bong. Debuting their collection at NYFW, the quintet hopes to introduce Korean culture through fashion.

Orange sherbet deliciousness.

My favorite dress in Concept Korea's Spring 2013 collection. So feminine! I hope to see this number at next year's Academy Awards red carpet. 

Thinking outside the color box.

Lots and lots of color in Farah Angsana's Spring 2013 collection. The Indonesian-born designer isn't afraid to play with her palette. Love it! 

Electric lemon yellow.

Angsana loves to bring glamour to women all over the globe. We can tell.

Pretty. Subtle. Feminine. 

I would totally wear any of Katie Holmes and Jeanne Yang's creations to the office. I especially love their attention to tailoring, a Holmes & Yang trademark.

Ladylike with a touch of tomboy.

Elegant nonchalance. This sums up Monika Chiang's fashion fingerprint. I love her eclectic sensibilities and can't wait to see more next season!

Elegant and refined. Simply magnificent!

Naeem Khan dresses some of the most stylish women in the world (think Beyonce, Penelope Cruz and First Lady Michelle Obama). After looking at his Spring 2013 collection, it's no wonder why. My faves were the intricate beading and sequin work. Stunning!

South Korean-born Park Choonmoo's architectural style and
monotone palette have become a PARKCHOONMOO aesthetic.

While I appreciate Park Choonmoo's edgy yet wearable designs, I wasn't a total fan of her collection this season.

I'd love to see my husband rock this
suit-- minus the sandals.

Middle-class Chinese men love them some VLOV. Maybe because designer Qingqing Wu knows how to offer up chic, professional looks while still maintaining personality. I enjoyed the collection this season.

Oversized organza flower bursting
from her soul.

Son Jung Wan's Spring 2013 collection was one of my favorites. As a self-professed girly girl, my eyes were drawn in to the mix of eyelet, oversized organza flowers, the fantastic beadwork and gorgeous sheer overlays. The look on the right was my fave!

Chai's collection was sport-chic, minimalist and modern.

Richard Chai's body conscious Spring 2013 collection didn't leave much room for Spanx. You gotta be in pretty good shape to rock these looks (especially the cutout dresses). My favorite is the cocktail dress in the middle. Love the digital print with metallic details.  

Lace. Lots and lots of it.

Japanese designer Tadashi Shoji wanted to take his fashion travelers along a modern Silk Road. I personally think Shoji got a bit heavy handed with the lace.

The LBD is now the LLD (Little Lace Dress).

What's not to love about Vera Wang? She knows what makes a woman feel pretty. Her Spring 2013 collection featured a lot of skin-tight lace cocktail dresses. Wang's use of lace was executed better than Shoji, in my humble opinion. 

Geometry lesson #101: Bold shapes are cool!

I wish high school geometry was as fun as Vivienne Tam's Spring 2013 collection!

No shortage of elegance in Zang Toi's
Spring 2013 collection.

Inspired by the romance of the French Riviera, Malaysian-born Zang Toi offered up plenty of beautiful Red Carpet-ready looks on the runway. 

Wang's RTW Spring 2013 collection gave new meaning
to the word, "Dissection."

Slash, dissect, slice, suspend. Repeat. A rock star in the fashion world, Alexander Wang's Spring 2013 collection stayed true to his edgy, masculine womenswear aesthetic. Futuristic fabrics, laser-cut, rubber and mesh details. I love how Wang always thinks outside the fashion box.