Morning Rituals with Emily Eisen

Emily Eisen has spent her career on the visual side of fashion, music, food and design, helping translate stories into images, graphics and spaces. Originally from Toronto, her work has brought her around the world. She's lived in New York, Montreal, England, Ireland and—most recently—Los Angeles. Outside of the various people and organizations she's worked with (including Lady Gaga, Art + Commerce, and Bon Appétit, amongst others), Emily's passion and interests seem to generate a consistent line of projects. This year, she has applied her time and other assets at her disposal to help the people who need it most, creating and launching In Good Taste and Rustic Cafe LA to fundraise for organizations including Good Call, Nice For Workers and SUPRMRKT.
Having first met Emily when she was working with Healthyish a few years ago, we feel lucky to call her a friend these days, and were thus elated when she made the move out to Los Angeles! We recently went to have coffee with her in Silver Lake, with our friend Justin Chung joining to take photos. In our interview, we talked about traveling, creativity, her career, and her new projects. We hope you enjoy!
    
Emily Eisen drinking Canyon Coffee. Photo by Justin Chung.

   

Do you have a morning ritual?

When life was much more predictable my mornings were a lot different than they are now, but I like the challenge of new rituals and adapting to new places - but I'm definitely still feeling out the changes. I moved to LA several months ago, though I still work on East Coast time which means I get up quite early, make coffee in a very utilitarian fashion, and get straight to work. I work pretty solidly for a few hours, I then try to get out for a run or do a yoga class at home. Afterwards, I eat breakfast and make more coffee. I have been on a pretty solid toast kick as of late, and eat sourdough with peanut butter and jam almost every morning. Recently the jam has been one that my friend Bonnie and I made for our Rustic Cafe pop up, it's elephant plum jam and it is spectacular.

 

Emily Eisen making a pour over with Canyon Coffee in Silver Lake, California. Photo by Justin Chung.
     

   

What’s something new you’ve tried out or been learning about, lately? 

I started surfing this summer. It has been so challenging, and I am still very much in the process of learning but I appreciate how it forces me to be completely present in the moment. There are so few activities these days that give you that opportunity! No phone allowed in the sea!  

 

   

    

We love the ease with which it seems you move around the world—whether it’s driving across country, moving to a new town or even within a city. What are some of the things you enjoy most about traveling? About moving? 

I thrive in motion and adapt to change easily. I love new experiences - people, places. And the whole act of travel forces me to give up to the elements and reminds me that I cannot, even as much as I may try, plan out every moment of my life. Things happen and travelling has helped me learn to just roll with it. 

  

     

You’ve moved through different industries throughout your career, from fashion to music to food... What has that path been like? Was it difficult to jump between fields?

It's always funny to describe, or often justify, my career path. It's been a bit all over the place to say the least. I've always been quite good at listening to my gut, jumping into things at the right time as well as parting at the right time, too. Early on I had my heart set on working in the fashion industry and spent all of my free time doing it - from working retail to interning at a local fashion magazine in my hometown. As soon as I could, at 17, I moved to NYC to pursue my career further. I hit the ground running as soon as I arrived and worked nonstop.

At 19 I got my dream job, as first assistant to a fashion stylist named Nicola Formichetti. I ended up travelling the world with him and Lady Gaga, but by 23 I was starting to feel pretty burnt out. I needed to step back from what I was doing and where I was going - my interests no longer aligned with the world around me.

   
  

I took some time off, and ended up going to a cooking school in Ireland called Ballymaloe. I was in heaven. The school was on an organic farm by the sea, and I spent the next several months cooking and living in the Irish countryside (it was as idyllic as it sounds). My priorities shifted, my former life plan shattered. I was forced to reassess. I wanted to be back in New York but I wasn't sure what that looked like, though I knew I needed to make a living somehow.

Through my time in the fashion industry I was offered a job at a photo agency called Art + Commerce, where I ended up working for one of the founders of the company, Anne Kennedy, who turned out to be one of my greatest mentors in life and career. I'm so grateful to have had that opportunity as it helped me figure out how to bridge this gap between the world that I loved - food, agriculture - and the world that I knew - which was mainly fashion. The way this felt most natural to me was through the editorial world.

    
 
I was starting to hear more and more about this magazine called Bon Appétit but didn't really know much about it, and through a friend of a friend I got an introduction to the creative director. As luck would have it, there happened to be a photo editor position open when we met. Alex Grossman and I clicked pretty instantly, and I got the job. My time at BA was a complete whirlwind, but the absolute highlight was launching Healthyish, a website that focused on food & culture - in the way I wanted to consume it. We were a tiny team at Healtyish, and built the brand from nothing but it took off. That was my first experience working in more of a creative director role and I loved it. I loved the brand and am so proud of what we built.
Since BA I've been working as a creative consultant and photo editor and have most recently launched two nonprofit projects, Rustic Cafe and In Good Taste. Both very much in baby stages, but I am so excited to work on building brands that I feel completely aligned with and passionate about.
  

   

Did you always think you’d be doing what you’re doing?

Thankfully, no! I've been pretty surprised with how it's all unfolded.
    
    

Can you tell us the story about In Good Taste? What is it and how did it come about?

Yes, of course! I'd love to. One of my best friends, Natasha Pickoitz, and I had been talking about collaborating for as long as we've been friends, but nothing really stuck until the pandemic hit. We both had an intense drive to do something good, and decided to join forces with a couple other friends - Kelsey Shaw & Susan Alexandra. Together we conceptualized In Good Taste, and after months of planning we launched November 9, 2020. We were moved to act based on the reality of the current global pandemic, the ongoing civil rights movement, and impending US presidential election, which has shed even more light on the racial, economic and cultural injustices that face our underserved communities.
We started IGT as a platform to raise money for critical grassroots organizations that help immigrant and BIPOC communities. The first IGT is raising funds for NICE - New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a Queens-based non-profit that works to improve the lives of vulnerable immigrant workers in NYC, and Good Call, a free hotline that  provides legal services to all New Yorkers regardless of race, sex or income.
       
     

     

Similarly, can you tell us about Rustic Cafe? What sparked the idea?

Similarly to IGT, Rustic Cafe started as a collaboration between my dear friend Bonnie and I. It grew from our shared love for baking and cooking, and our innate desire to do good for others. Rustic Cafe is a pop-up cafe (with coffee by Canyon!), and all of the proceeds are donated to a local organization. The inaugural pop up was in support of SÜPRMARKT, which is a low cost organic grocery servicing low income communities in LA. It operates weekly, providing 100% organic produce to make great health and healing available to the communities which need it most.

  

   

 

All photos by Justin Chung.  

Read more

"Harvest" by Sameer Gadhia

"Harvest" by Sameer Gadhia