Westport , CT May 2020

Page 1

MAY 2020

CityLifestyle.com/Westport



OUR BEST SAV SAVINGS A INGS PLAN EVER. AV

Part of banking well is doing good, and with hundreds of animals in local shelters, it’s time to do some serious saving. That’s why, with the support of local community partners, we launched the Bankwell Pet Adoption Project to boost awareness and collect supplies for all the special dogs and cats in need of a home.

Go to mybankwell.com/PleaseAdoptMe to see available dogs and cats and see how you can help.

mybankwell.com/PleaseAdoptMe 100 Post Road East, Westport | (203) 652-2710 Special thanks to our outstanding volunteer photographer, Mike Bagley, whose generosity and remarkable way with animals has played a vital role in this program. Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender




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LIFESTYLE LETTER

MAY 2020 PUBLISHER

Marisa MacLean | marisa.maclean@lifestylepubs.com EDITOR

Robin Moyer Chung | robin.chung@lifestylepubs.com

Staying Connected IN THE PUBLISHING WORLD, WE’RE ABOUT TWO MONTHS AHEAD OF OUR PRINT DATE. As I write this month’s letter, Westport and Weston is only a few days into the global crisis that is the Coronavirus. While I haven’t a clue how long this will last, or how we will all be personally affected, I do know that even in these first few days, the energy, spirit and generosity of our community, non-profits and individuals is truly remarkable. Even with social distancing we’ve helped one

AD DESIGNER

Kaylee Mitchell LAYOUT DESIGNER

Emily Stout CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Sophia Andersen, Anna Barnes, Robin Moyer Chung, Shamika Pandit CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Mindy Briar, Jerri Graham, John Videler

another and stayed connected. I’ve seen people band together on Instagram and Facebook groups offering to go to the grocery store for their neighbors. People have volunteered to donate food to hospital workers and shelters in need. I’ve also seen tremendous support for our local businesses. Now, more than ever, it is important to shop locally to preserve our town. May is our Women’s Issue. The women featured this month embody courage, creativity, generosity, and compassion. Working with them was inspiring to our whole team.

CORPORATE TEAM CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Steven Schowengerdt CHIEF SALES OFFICER Matthew Perry CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER DeLand Shore ART DIRECTOR Sara Minor OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Janeane Thompson

I am confident that when this issue is delivered to your home, these wonderful

AD MANAGER Chad Jensen

acts of kindness will not only continue, but also grow exponentially. The past few

REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR Eric Williams

days have made me extra proud to live here, as we have chosen to collectively

WEB APPLICATIONS Michael O’Connell

thrive during this time of crisis. Stay strong and stay healthy.

Marisa MacLean, Publisher

ARIZONA | CALIFORNIA | COLORADO | CONNECTICUT | FLORIDA | GEORGIA IDAHO | ILLINOIS | KANSAS | MARYLAND | MASSACHUSETTS | MICHIGAN MINNESOTA | MISSOURI | MONTANA | NEVADA | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK NORTH CAROLINA | OHIO | OKLAHOMA | OREGON | PENNSYLVANIA SOUTH CAROLINA | TENNESSEE | TEXAS | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON

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ON THE COVER Best selling author Jane Green at her Westport home.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MINDY BRIAR 8

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

Proverbs 3:5-6 Westport Lifestyle™ is published monthly by Lifestyle Publications LLC. It is distributed via the US Postal Service to some of the Westport areas’ most affluent neighborhoods. Articles and advertisements do not necessarily reflect Lifestyle Publications’ opinions. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Lifestyle Publications does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. Information in Westport Lifestyle™ is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed.


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INSIDE THE ISSUE MAY 2020

FEATURES 18 Empower Play Lindsay Czarniak Crushes Stereotypes On and Off the Field

28 Women of Westport Amazing Women in Our Community

42 The Power of a Portrait How AWARE CT Raised Awareness of Breast Cancer, Then Created a Community

28 54

54 Jemimah Jane An Extraordinary Woman Confronts Inadequacy

42

DEPARTMENTS

18

8

Lifestyle Letter

12

Good Times

16

Locals Only

18

Inspired By

20 Healthy Lifestyle 22 Locally Owned 36 Local Limelight 42 Giving Back 48 Our Town 54 Page Turners 58 Local’s Choice


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GOOD TIMES 1.

2.

3.

Hope Starts Here Photography Exhibition Raising AWAREness & Funds for Metastatic Breast Cancer: On March 7th a sold out crowd attended AWARE CT and The Cancer Couch Foundations photography exhibit in downtown Westport. Their mission is to raise funds for a cure for stage 4 breast cancer and to start a dialogue within our community about how breast cancer has impacted all of our lives.​PHOTOS BY MINDY BRIAR

4.

1. Nicole Gerber and Amy Saperstein | 2. Mo and Jen Tooker | 3. Michele and Paul Dowicz, Jennifer Efstatiou | 4. David Lorenz, Tom Pretty, Johnathan Davis, Larry Saperstein

1.

2.

3.

It's a Woman's world On March 2nd, over 150 women gathered at terrain for the first "It's A Woman's World" celebration, hosted by terrain and CTbites. Over 6,000 people voted for the "Most Influential Woman in CT's Culinary Industry." Adwards were handed out to five incredible ladies: Patti Popp, Winter Caplanson, Rosinne Chlala, Christy Colasurdo, and Sarah Bouissou. PHOTOS BY JOHN VIDELER

4.

5.

6.

1. Angela Pantalone, Lucia Gulbransen, Kim Pugh | 2. Lisa Finn, Terri Piekara, Liz Milwe, Lori Cochran | 3. Marysol Castro, Stephanie Webster | 4. Lisa Fierro, Christy Calasurdo, Meredith Haas | 5. Enjoying the party! | 6. Enjoying the party! 12

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


DR. MASHA KOGAN & DR. VIRGINIA ROMANO

WE

H AVE

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

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LOCALS ONLY

ARTICLE JENNIFER TOOKER | PHOTOGRAPHY MINDY BRIAR

Support O u r To w n

A MESSAGE FROM WESTPORT SECOND SELECTWOMAN JENNIFER TOOKER

DEAR WESTPORT RESIDENTS, As you may know, the deadline for Westport Lifestyle is almost two months before it lands in your mailbox. Between now (March 20) and the publication of this letter is the critical time for us as people and for our economy. We have no idea what Westport, or the world, will look like. All I can do is speak to today’s economic climate, faced with the uncertainty of tomorrow and its casualties, but with the hope they will be few and that we can re-ignite the vibrancy we had before the corona pandemic. We are blessed in Westport to have many smart, thoughtful and generous local business owners. The benefits of a strong local business community are numerous and positively affect all of us. Now, more than ever, they need us. If you can, please dedicate a certain number of nights per week to order from a local restaurant/deli. Buy gift cards from your local retailer. Help their marketing efforts by sharing and engaging with them on social media. Tell your friends when you have a great experience with a local business. As the saying goes, it takes a village. I wouldn’t want to be part of any other village. We are all in this together. So, please shop, eat, drink, promote, support local! If the time is not now, the time will be on the other side of all of this. I hope and pray we will all see that time. Jennifer Tooker Second Selectwoman, Westport WestportCT.gov

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


May this month be filled with

love, laughter and happy, healthy smiles! Dr. Hannah Ahn is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist Voted Fairfield County’s

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CityLifestyle.com/Westport

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INSPIRED BY ARTICLE SOPHIA ANDERSEN

EMPOWER PLAY LINDSAY CZARNIAK ACHIEVES HER GOALS AND CRUSHES STEREOTYPES ON AND OFF THE FIELD.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK IS AN ENERGETIC AND UNSTOPPABLE SPORTSCASTER AND PODCAST HOST WHO HAS DONE EVERYTHING FROM COVERING NFL GAMES FIELD-SIDE TO CONTRIBUTING TO NASCAR COVERAGE. Although Czarniak makes her job look effortless, she puts an intense amount of effort into her research and work off-screen. “It’s a job that is really a lot harder than it looks,” Czarniak says, “It’s exhilarating. It’s an adrenaline rush. But it’s also a lot of prep work.” She continues, “I’m so grateful. I love being there on the field on Sundays. But I love more than anything to be able to make athletes relatable.” It’s refreshing for many to see Lindsay as a public figure in the realm of sports. Although the industry is seemingly male-dominated, Czarniak breaks down barriers with her strong work ethic, determination and passion. “I feel like women still have a long way to go, in many ways, to be treated equal,” Czarniak states, “But I also see great opportunities that females are getting in sports. I think that women are continuing to break down doors.” She is thankful for female mentors who she worked with and learned from early in her career. Czarniak adds, “There are certainly a lot of women who paved the way for people like me to get the opportunities that I’ve gotten.” The sports industry may seem isolating at times due to its hyper-masculine stigma and stereotypes, but the industry is changing and does not have to be exclusionary. Czarniak hopes to make sports entertainment an enjoyable experience for everyone through relatability. She states, “The biggest compliment for me is when someone says ‘I love watching you or listening to what you did and my girlfriend really loves it too.’ It makes me excited to hear about women out there who care about sports. But even if a woman

Photo by Jerri Graham

LINDSAY CZARNIAK

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


doesn’t like sports, it’s fulfilling to me if I can interest or hook people into the storylines around sports. I really believe there is so much that is relatable.” She adds, “I still see that there are [instances] out there where women are not treated the same as men, in this and every industry; I want to see more change.” Her advice to young women hoping to break into the sports industry? “Be persistent. Follow up. Send thank you notes. And just show up and ask questions. I want the younger generation to continue to fight for all those opportunities and understand that there are so many different opportunities out there. But it’s key to make your voices heard. Empower women. Especially right now.”

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT! WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. IN THE MEANTIME, WE’LL KEEP FEEDING YOU.

Photo by Jerri Graham

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

19


HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

Nourishing Immunit y Broth

HEALTH AND FLAVOR IN ONE BOWL ARTICLE CHRISTINE BEAL DUNST, CO-FOUNDER OF EMBODY WELLNESS COMPANY

EATING NOURISHING FOODS AND DE-STRESSING YOUR

alkalinity. One tablespoon boasts 4 grams of protein, vitamins

BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT IS CRITICAL TO BUILDING IMMUNITY.

A, B and C, iron, and beyond. We use it in smoothies, salad

This vegan immunity-boosting broth is healing, repairing and bal-

dressings and soups.

ancing for your body. The broth takes less than 5 minutes to make

You can substitute the water in this broth and use bone broth for

in a blender. Each key ingredient contains anti-inflammatory immu-

additional gut healing benefits. My favorite local bone broth is Nit

nity-boosting properties that help your body stay resilient—garlic,

Noi Provisions.

ginger, cayenne, turmeric, spirulina and lemon.

Like tea, we also use sipping broth as a mindfulness practice to

Spirulina is a blue-green algae high in phytonutrients and chlorophyll to help detoxify your body and balance your

slow down. PAUSE, sip, and take in the vibrancy of your food and the experience. Your soul and immunity will appreciate that.

NOURISHING IMMUNI T Y BRO T H Makes ~2.5 cups | *Use organic when possible

INGREDIENTS + 2.5 cups of hot water + 1 tablespoon of spirulina + 2 tablespoons miso + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + ½ teaspoon of ginger or ½ inch of fresh grated ginger + Pinch of cayenne or turmeric (or both!) + 2 garlic cloves + Juice of 2 lemons + Pinch of black pepper + Pinch of sea salt (optional) + Pinch of nori (edible seaweed) as garnish (optional) + For a heartier broth add: ½ cup of

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

al D

Christine Be

blend. Serve hot.

dy

ompany

Blend all ingredients in blender. Add the spirulina last for a quick

nd er of E m - F ou bo

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DIRECTIONS

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kale or spinach


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LOCALLY OWNED

Reinventing the Bagel Wheel THE STORY OF BANTAM BAGELS ARTICLE SHAMIKA PANDIT

22

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

LIVING THIS CLOSE TO NYC, EVERY-

amount of enthusiasm, describes Elyse and

ONE HAS AN OPINION ABOUT WHERE

Nick Oleksak.

TO GET THE BEST, MOST AUTHENTIC

The Oleksaks are the founders of Bantam

BAGEL. I like mine with a shmear of veg-

Bagels, a doughnut-hole sized bagel filled

etable cream cheese, my best friend likes

with cream cheese that you can find at their

hers scooped out and toasted. Whatever

shop in NYC, Starbucks and your local gro-

our personal preference is, we can spot a

cery store’s freezer section. When you ask

quality bagel from the very first bite. That

them how they came up with the idea, they’ll

same authenticity, mixed with a generous

tell you “it was all a dream”.


Nick and Elyse met at Columbia

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where they were both competitive student athletes. After graduating they both took jobs on Wall Street. They began watching Shark Tank together as a Friday night relaxation ritual. Like many couples, they dreamed of making their own pitch to the sharks one day. Nick came up with ideas and Elyse did the research to see if it existed already. Some ideas were taken, others required Elyse to tell her husband he was insane. One night Nick had a dream about a

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bite sized bagel. When he woke up he immediately told Elyse about the idea. She thought it was so crazy that it just might work! After extensive research they realized nothing like it existed. So they got to work. Neither had a background in baking or starting a business so they Googled “how to make a bagel”. They experimented with different recipes daily, letting it proof overnight in the laundry room of their building. Nick woke up early to boil and bake the bagels, leaving them for Elyse to taste. Finally, after countless attempts and tastings with friends and family, they landed on the perfect recipe. In Elyse’s words, “When you’re an entrepreneur and you find your idea, there is no rhyme or reason. You just believe in it with everything you have.” With the recipe in hand, they filed their provisional patents, put together a business plan and found the perfect Bleecker Street location to open up a NYC shop. During this time of hustle, Elyse also learned she was pregnant with the couple’s first child. The discerning NYC crowd loved their shop and a few weeks later they got a call from QVC asking if they could pro-

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it happen.” Even though they had never CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

23


LOCALLY OWNED (CONTINUED)

With "shark" and business partner, Lori Greiner after wrapping up a deal with Starbucks. In the "shark tank" while Elyse was 6 months pregnant.

fulfilled an order of this magnitude, they accepted. Once the initial excitement faded, panic set in. Elyse and Nick shut down their shop and began baking full time in order to meet the QVC order. Just when they thought they had completed the order and achieved the impossible, they realized they had not added the required nutrition facts to the packages of bagels, now frozen and waiting to be shipped. The Oleksaks donned full body snowsuits and stepped into the freezer. They had to repackage 30,000 bagels. They made their deadline by the skin of their teeth and went live on QVC. They sold out within five minutes. The bagels were a huge hit with the public and the media. The New York Daily news named them one of the top three bagels in NY. They were featured on The Chew, the Today Show and they even landed on Oprah’s Favorite Thing’s list. Not long after this success the couple got the chance they had been waiting for: a spot on Shark Tank. “A lot of people go on Shark Tank but they don’t make the most of it. We knew this was our shot. From Shark Tank to Food Truck.

We went in knowing who we wanted to get a deal with and developed our business in preparation for that deal.” While running a business and six months pregnant, the couple worked hard to prepare. “We studied harder than we have ever studied for anything else in our lives.” All of their preparation paid off and they struck a deal with their favorite shark, Lori Greiner. Once they got the Shark Tank deal, Nick and Elyse prepared their website and inventory for when their show would air on ABC. Despite their efforts, the demand for Bantam Bagels was so high that it crashed their website and orders couldn’t be placed. Again, quitting never occurred to them and they decided the most important thing for them was engaging with their prospective customers. They reached out to everyone who had tried to make an order, bringing people back to the site with honesty and enthusiasm. When the site went back online the orders rolled in. The morning after the show aired one of their employees called them into the shop.“You need to get down here immediately. There is a line down 6th avenue.” The response from the public

Where it all started. Elyse and Nick in their Brooklyn kitchen.

was amazing and the couple stayed busy keeping up with the overwhelming demand. The Shark Tank deal made Bantam Bagels a household name. With Lori Greiner’s help they were able to partner with Starbucks and national grocery chains. The Oleksaks are now the proud parents of two boys and reside in Westport. They eat bagels every morning.

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


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WHAT WE OFFER

A CUP OF COFFEE AND A SECOND OPINION The markets can seem volatile and confusing and even the most patient investors may question the wisdom of their plan. At Gold Family Wealth, we have seen a lot of markets come and go. And we can certainly empathize with people who find the current environment troublesome and disturbing. We’d like to help, if we can, and to that end, here is what we offer: A cup of coffee, and a second opinion By appointment we will visit with you, we will ask you to outline your financial goals and what your plan is intended to do for you. Then we will review your financial plan and portfolio strategy for you. If we think your overall plan and investment strategy continue to be well-suited to your long-term goals - despite the current market and political/geopolitical uncertainty- we will gladly tell you so and send you on your way. If, on the other hand, we think some of your planning no longer fits with your goal(s), we will explain why, in plain English, And, if you like, we will recommend some alternatives. Either way Coffee is on us: Please visit www.goldfamilywealth.com or call 646-844-2533 to schedule a time that works best for you Gold Family Wealth, LLC is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


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E N WO M OF

HELEN MCALINDEN PRESIDENT & CEO HOMES WITH HOPE

ON HER UPBRINGING IN IRELAND: “I went with my father, a coal-miner, to bring food to elderly villagers who couldn’t get out. We were often the only people they’d see because they were in remote areas of the village. They relied on the groceries and the chat until the next week.” ABOUT HER UNCLE PATRICK: “He came to the Bronx from Ireland, like myself, at 17. He was killed in action in the Korean war when he was 21. I spent years wrangling and lobbying to get a law passed that allowed 28 Irish immigrants who died fighting in the U.S. armed forces to be awarded citizenship posthumously. He was eventually awarded US citizenship, a Purple Heart, and Bronze Star.” AFTER MOVING TO AMERICA: “I came to America after high school and eventually joined the Irish Volunteers for the Homeless in New York. I began feeding the homeless in Manhattan. Initially I thought it might be scary but I just loved it. I learned, very fast, that people aren’t different just because they can’t afford a house or food. We are all the same but facing different circumstances.” “Up until 9/11 I worked at 7 World Trade Center. After that day I

Photo: Mindy Briar, Location Courtesy of Office Evolution.

decided I wanted to work in social services. I was fortunate to be led to this field and have never looked back since I began working in the nonprofit housing sector almost two decades ago.” REGARDING HER CLIENTS: “Our residents never ask for a penny from anyone, they live quietly in our community, and are so thankful to their new neighbors for the heartfelt welcome.” https://www.hwhct.org

E W S TP

R O

ARTICLE ROBIN MOYER CHUNG

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

T


Photo: Mindy Briar, Location Courtesy of Office Evolution.

ROSIE JON ARTIST OF HER DAD: “My dad would say, ‘Look at the Venus de Milo. Do you think she would be as beautiful if she had arms?’” ABOUT HER THREE KIDS: “None of them see me as having a disability. Sometimes when they want me to do something I have to remind them, ‘I don’t have hands, you have to do it yourself!’” HER FIRST JOB: “My first job was at Pinewood studios in London - where they filmed some Harry Potter scenes and all of the James Bond movies - in computer animation. I worked 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the first six months. “While I worked nights I became interested in 3D character animation. So I self-taught myself by watching the 3D character team, copying their files and re-creating what they were doing. After a few months I went to the head producer and said, ‘I really want to move into the 3D characters team.’ He said I need more experience and I didn’t even have an art portfolio. He was also very busy at the time. So I’d linger outside of his office when I knew he was about to leave for the day and try to get his attention. One day I did! I ran to him and said, ‘I know you’re busy but just give me one week!’ He told me to start in the morning. So I worked my night shift and kept working through the next day with the 3D team. I stayed there for an entire year.” WHEN SHE DRAWS FOR KIDS IN WESTPORT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: “I had kids draw a star with their toes. I asked, ‘Do any of these stars look alike? We may have differences and uniqueness, but it’s all about how our stars shine.’” ABOUT DIFFERENCES: “We all have differences. Some of them we can see, some of them we can’t.”

CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

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WOMEN OF WESTPORT (CONTINUED)

ANGEL A BENZ AN HIGGINS GROUP PRIVATE BROKERAGE

ON HER INSPIRATION FOR SELLING REAL ESTATE: “I have always had a passion for interior design and architecture. My family invested in real estate so I grew up surrounded by it. I’d spend weekends looking at houses with my mom. So when I moved to Westport with two young kids from NYC and was looking for a career change that would keep me closer to home I knew right away that it would be selling real estate. There was no hesitation.” ABOUT TODAY’S REAL ESTATE MARKET: “Our real estate market certainly has its challenges right now and has since 2008. I have to constantly be open to change and make adjustments. I constantly strive to be better at what I do, marketing at a higher level with more creativity and customization and then, of course, setting realistic expectations. We are lucky to be in a highly desirable town like Westport with so much to offer, as it sets us apart from other towns and keeps our values strong. ABOUT HER OWN HOME: “I live in the same house that I bought when I first moved to Westport 14 years ago. Back then people still wanted houses that were a project and I was really excited to find a house that had a great floor plan and good proportions that I could totally renovate. I bought a quintessential CT colonial, painted it white (my favorite house color!) and modernized the interior. We’ve had many great years here but I think it’s time for a change. I think I will do something completely different this time and go for more of a West Coast contemporary style home.” benzanhomes.com

CHEERS TO YOU!

Thank you for supporting small. Thank you for supporting local.

westport

southport

203.557.4789

203.292.8543

203.557.4789 @blowdry_sw blowdrysouthport.com

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


HELEN KLISSER DURING ART ADVISOR/ CURATOR /AWARD WINNING PHOTOJOURNALIST/FORMER ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF WAC

ON HER FATHER: “My father, Johan, was a Dutch holocaust survivor. As a teenager he was separated from his parents and younger brother Leo(7) and hid with neighbors in Amsterdam. The Dutch underground had arranged for his parents and brother to be hidden in another town, however they were discovered, arrested and transported… to Auschwitz where they were exterminated.” ON HER PARENTS: “They created Klisser’s Farmhouse Bakeries and were ‘put on the map’ for introducing Vogel’s Bread - a New Zealand icon.” WHILE SHE WAS AT WAC: “One of the highlights during my time at WAC was founding the Artist Collective, organizing exhibitions, monthly Artist Collective meetings, and creating a home base for artists. The Pop Up exhibitions’ attendance would soar to 300 plus people: artists, art lovers, family. Those were happy times.” HOW SHE BECAME AN ART ADVISOR: “I asked if I could broker limited edition prints from Tyler Graphics. I placed a small ad in Westport News of Roy Lichenstein’s screaming baby - I figured people are moving to Westport because they were having kids. Then I added my name. I got a few clients from it and that’s how I started my art advisory business.” ABOUT HER PHOTO OF THE TAKSIM PROTEST/RIOTS IN ISTANBUL: “We were stopped in traffic for a very long time and it looked to be a parade. I got out of the car to take photos. Next thing I know people are running toward me and there’s tear gas, cobblestones being pulled out of the pavement and being hurled - the parade became a protester riot. I continued taking video and shooting stills and sent them immediately to Gordon Joseloff at WestportNow. One of my images - a protestor, a woman - reminds me things can change at the drop of a hat.”

CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

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WOMEN OF WESTPORT (CONTINUED)

Photo: Gary Lewis

JILL D. BICKS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY PULLMAN & COMLEY

K E L LY A . S C O T T FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY PULLMAN & COMLEY

ANNE C. DRANGINIS RETIRED JUDGE PULLMAN & COMLEY JILL D. BICKS WHY SHE BECAME A LAWYER: “I was terrible at math, but loved to read, play games and solve puzzles. Plus, I wanted to save the world. Law seemed liked the only option.” WHAT MAKES HER SUCCESSFUL: “I bring empathy, problem-solving, creativity and nuance to my work. I see myself as a counselor/advocate, rather than a warrior, who partners with clients to help them achieve the best outcome possible for themselves and their children.” KELLY A. SCOTT WHAT MAKES HER GOOD AT WHAT SHE DOES: “I am good at what I do because I am authentic in my practice. That authenticity resonates with fellow attorneys, clients, judges and other professionals with whom I interact on my cases. The family law bar is a small one, statewide, so you will have multiple cases with the same attorneys – your reputation matters. I am always transparent and treat each client as my partner in the resolution of his or her matter. It helps establish a rapport of trust between us and assures them that I will always keep their best interests at the forefront. That does not mean I will think they are always right, or reasonable, but the ability to have a candid discussion in those instances is crucial.” ANNE C. DRANGINIS ON HER LEGACY: “I am not sure that I am any better than most at insight into my own behavior so as to declare a legacy, but I hope I have helped a few people survive an experience they dreaded, that I moved the needle ever so slightly in the arc of justice, and that my existence was a positive for my larger community.” pullcom.com 32

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


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CityLifestyle.com/Westport 33


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LOCAL LIMELIGHT

L I S A W E X L E R PROBATE JUDGE, RADIO PERSONALITY, AND JEWISH MOTHER

ARTICLE ROBIN MOYER CHUNG

36

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


IN JUNE 2011, A BEAUTIFUL SUMMER EVENING FOUND ME PLASTERED TO MY COUCH WITH A GLASS OF CHARDONNAY, WATCHING SEASON FOUR OF REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK. In this episode, Sonja Morgan was readying herself to watch a dermatologist inject Jill Zarin’s face full of dermal filler when Jill’s sister, Lisa Wexler, appeared and counseled Sonja on bankruptcy because Sonja had just lost a boatload of dough on a bad movie deal. Or something like that. The storyline isn’t my point. This is my point: Lisa Wexler. There Lisa sat discussing bankruptcy law, unencumbered by monster diamonds, age-inappropriate clothing or back-stabbing histrionics. What was it about her that made me put down my wine and listen? Bravo’s goal with the Housewives is not to win a slew of McCarthy genius grants, so we rarely see glimpses of unadulterated intelligence. Was that why Lisa made such an impression? Yes, but there was something else. While speaking with Sonja, Lisa never got annoyed at her sister for constantly interrupting her. Aha! Lisa displayed kindness, Bravo TV’s second most vilified and untelevised trait. Lisa Wexler

If you recognize her name it’s because you watch RHONY, you know she’s been the Westport-Weston probate judge since 2013, and/or you’re familiar with her

Will Haskell, Lisa Wexler, and Tony Hwang. Lisa was in Hartford advocating for the probate court system.

award-winning radio talk show, now on WICC-600. (Of personal note, I was thrilled when I learned we lived in the same town.) Or maybe you read her book, written with Jill and their mother, Gloria Kamen, Secrets of a Jewish Mother. It’s on the pages of this tome I discovered the secret of her appeal: Lisa, like the matriarch illustrated in her book, is guided by the power of kindness and wants others to succeed. Lisa grew up surrounded by a loving, supportive, loud family in Long Island. After graduating Johns Hopkins University (were she met her husband, Bill) she attended New York University law school and was an award-winning student. Her life was shaped by strong Jewish mothers and, eventually, she became one herself. In her book, she alludes to the talkative nature of her tribe, “a Jewish mother’s wisdom isn’t reserved for her children… it is spread around to anyone who will listen.” Well, Lisa loves to talk. And talk. And many people, like myself, hang on every word. So when she heard Rush Limbaugh she thought, “I have something to say that’s better!” Despite a full slate of legal clients and a family of four, she attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting for a crash course in radio. Then she called the local radio station and brokered an hour of CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

37


LOCAL LIMELIGHT (CONTINUED)

talk time on Saturday morning. Within months her show rocketed to the top and she was promoted to the coveted evening commute time, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. And, of course, won awards. The beauty of her show is her respect for people, both callers and in news stories. Her tone is straightforward and her opinions are compassionate and thoughtful as she transitions from toilets to the democratic primaries to the administering of Narcan by children of over-dosing parents. While her empathy and logical assessment of facts make her a great attorney, she claims “As a judge, one of the most important gifts you can give is to really listen to people. Even if you make a decision they don’t agree with Lisa Wexler interviewing Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson.

they understand why you made it and don’t feel left out of the process - that’s part of justice.” Lisa brings this process of justice and her cuddly pooch, Shaina, into the probate courtroom (Room 100 in Town Hall) almost every afternoon. While Shaina minimizes stress levels, Lisa carefully untangles sad, sticky knots of lives and problems that most of us never witness. Children of addiction faced with incompetent parents and caught in guardianship struggles, young adults at St. Vincent’s Medical Center with severe mental afflictions who want to return home, elderly people abandoned by their families, living in squalor and unable to take care of themselves. Lisa advocates for these incapacitated or neglected residents. Law may be reason free of passion but, as a Judge, Lisa gives it humanity, enabling law to elevate and safeguard. “Every single day I feel like I’m helping and protecting people who can’t protect themselves,” she states. She’s their Jewish Fairy Godmother. During a meeting in her office this March, Lisa asked me if I wanted to hear her favorite song: Westport songwriter David Friedman’s 1994 hit “We Can Be Kind” sung by Nancy Lamott. I listened to the song while I sat among notebooks Lisa had filled with unintelligible research and opinions. Across from me was a table fluffed with a cloud of tissues Shaina had recently mauled and Lisa had patiently tidied. Lisa herself had run out and returned with packets of cashews, in case I was hungry. As we munched nuts, Nancy sang “So much pain that won’t ever go away/How do we make it better?/We can be kind.” Though they didn’t know each other at the time, David could have written it for Lisa. Without artifice or ulterior motive, she is kind. And

Westport

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

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GIVING BACK

ARTICLE ROBIN MOYER CHUNG | PHOTOGRAPHY JERRI GRAHAM

THE POWER OF A PORTRAIT HOW AWARE CT RAISED AWARENESS OF BREAST CANCER, THEN CREATED A COMMUNITY 42

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


+ Sarah Weiland “This disease took my grandmother, it stole the childhood from a dear friend, and recently took the strongest fighter I’ve ever known.”

IN SICKNESS WE LOOK FOR STRENGTH, IN OURSELVES AND IN OUR COMMUNITY. And it’s a beautiful thing when we find it. On March 7, AWARE CT hosted a sold-out fundraiser, “Hope Starts Here: Photography Exhibition,” at Pop’t Art Gallery in Westport (formerly Calypso) to benefit The Cancer Couch Foundation. Hung in the Gallery were portraits, many of which were displayed in stores and restaurants around town: portraits of breast cancer survivors and those affected by breast cancer. Accompanying each portrait were narratives of survival, loss, endurance and above all, love. “When you put a face to the story it makes it real and personal,” says Amy Saperstein, co-director of AWARE CT. While Amy and her co-director, Nicole Gerber, worked tirelessly to manage the initiative, portraiture was the brainchild of Jerri Graham, who donated her talent to shoot these photos. Jerri’s portraits are intentionally raw, the unfiltered image reflective of each subject’s emotion.

CONTINUED >

Guests at AWARE CT’s Cancer Couch event in March (photo: Mindy Briar)

Amy Saperstein and Nicole Gerber. (photo: Jerri Graham)

The Aware CT Ladies (photo: Mindy Briar) CityLifestyle.com/Westport

43


GIVING BACK (CONTINUED)

+

Bill Taibe (photo: Jerri Graham)

Dan Woog

Gerald and Irene Friedman. Irene was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in 1979. (photo: Jerri Graham)

“I am honored to join this courageous fight, with some of the most courageous warriors I know.”

Sarah Weiland (photo: Jerri Graham) 44

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

Dan Woog (photo: Jerri Graham)


+ Bill Taibe Illness is isolating. Friends and neighbors may retreat because

“Cancer has taken my aunts, uncles,

they don’t know what to say or do. If a loved one is sick, you may

and close friends. I want to do what-

put their needs above your own. Unfortunately, when we are forced

ever I can to help prevent others from

into solitude is when we crave togetherness. The times we can’t

suffering this type of loss.”

take our support system for granted are the times we need it most. Sorrow is diminished when shared with others. The portraits

+

gave people a medium to express their grief in a unique and relatable manner. The unexpected popularity of AWARE CT’s campaign revealed an underswell of residents affected by cancer and their need to tell their story. Although AWARE CT’s goals were to

William and Wilson Herrera

increase awareness and raise funds for the Cancer Couch, they

“Our mother is a warrior. She fought

did much more: They enabled people to speak up and advocate for themselves and their loved ones. They celebrated people who are helpless to a ravaging disease. They created a community. While an awareness campaign created a community of healing

breast cancer three times. It is her strength as a survivor that gives us hope for a cure.”

bereavement, the COVID pandemic threatens to dismantle it with fear and disbelief. Four days after “Hope Starts Here” our schools closed due to the deadly global pandemic. Town health officials condemned social interaction and families self-quarantined. Westport residents are now tested by the myriad of emotions that accompany debilitating illness. Small business owners are weighing insurmountable financial losses against the health of their employees and community.

When you read this you’ll have much more information than when I wrote this, as our publication is completed two months in advance.

+

Already, though, we see glimpses of connectivity. On Facebook we inform but don’t deride those afflicted with corona virus. We find ways to patronize and support local business

Irene Friedman

and restaurants while our health professionals warn us against

“I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast

walks with teenaged family members who would otherwise never be

cancer in 1979. It has been an ongoing

seen with us in public.

battle for all these years.”

social interactions. We’re surrounded by family. We even take long

To paraphrase an AWARE CT narrative by breast cancer “survivor” Michelle Didner, Westport can be whole in our brokenness. We are not survivors, we are warriors. And we are humble and grateful.

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

45


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OUR TOWN ARTICLE ANNA BARNES

GET

Involved! LOCAL WOMEN’S GROUPS AND WHY YOU SHOULD JOIN THEM

1

Photo by Mindy Briar 48

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


“GET INVOLVED!” is usually the first piece of advice offered when moving to a new city. It was for me when I moved to the area a few years ago. Whether you’re new to town, want to meet some local girlfriends or are looking to get more involved in the community, there are several women’s groups that serve our region. Some are geared toward women who want to broaden their professional network and learn from fellow girl-bosses while others focus more on philanthropic ventures and giving back to the community. One thing is for certain, all of them are great ways to form bonds with other local ladies.

DAMES COLLECTIVE + WHAT IT IS: Networking Group + WHO IT’S GOOD FOR: Female leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators + WHERE IT IS: Fairfield County If you’re looking to gain inspiration from other women who are creating and innovating, Dames Collective is the perfect group for you. Simply put, this is the ultimate networking group for this generation’s female leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The Dames Collective envisioned a group where all women, when taking the leap into entrepreneurship, could feel confident and welcomed by an encouraging community; that’s how this group was born. This membership-based organization offers a myriad of programming. For example, their Monthly Morning MindFUEL meetings con-

2

WESTON WOMEN’S LEAGUE + WHAT IT IS: Philanthropic Organization + WHO IT’S GOOD FOR: Women who want to support charitable, educational and community needs + WHERE IT IS: Weston

sist of a small panel of experts in a specified field. Attendees

The Weston Women’s League was founded in 1972 as the

are able to ask questions and network. The overarching goal

Weston Young Women’s Club and has been a long-standing

is growth for all! These morning events are also available to

fixture in the community. To better reflect the group’s member-

non-members as well at $30 a ticket.

ship and mission, the organization rebranded in 2003 to how

Evening Mixers are a great way to unwind and make mean-

we know it today: the Weston Women’s League (or to some, the

ingful connections with other like-minded women and learn

“League”). The League consists of a diverse group of women who

from different women-owned business. Think of this as a “How

share the same organizational values and goals: volunteering

I Built This” podcast episode but with in-person connections

and supporting community needs. Due to the variety of ways the

and cocktails! These events are a great way to gain inspira-

Weston Women’s League serves the community, members have

tion & network without the awkward “Hello, My Name Is..”

many interests and talents and utilize them to make a difference

nametags, especially if mornings don’t work for you.

for those in need. Involvement in the League can truly fit any

The Dames Collective prides themselves on not just

schedule! The League holds monthly meetings to discuss and

talking about business, but getting it done! And while busi-

plan social and charitable activities. A great way to get involved

ness can feel daunting, members are open, honest, friendly

while also building bonds with other local women. On May 6th,

and believe in the most important Dames sentiment: col-

the League will be hosting their spring fundraiser to benefit Tiny

laboration over competition.

Miracles at Redding Beer Co. from 7-10pm.

For more information visit DamesCollective.com/

For more information visit WestonWomensLeague.org

Fairfield-County-CT

CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

49


OUR TOWN (CONTINUED)

3

WESTPORT WOMAN’S CLUB + WHAT IT IS: Philanthropic Organization + WHO IT’S GOOD FOR: Women who want to make a positive contribution + WHERE IT IS: 44 Imperial Avenue, Westport If you’ve attended the Yankee Doodle Fair, Westport’s largest annual family event, or the Curio Cottage Thrift Shop, you have probably already heard of the Westport Woman’s Club. These events are just two of many that are supported by the group. The Westport Woman’s Club is one of Westport’s most respected and esteemed institutions dating all the way back to 1907. The WWC is a non-profit, philanthropic organization dedicated to volunteerism and raising funds in support of the charitable, educational, cultural and public health services in Westport and surrounding towns. Members contribute their talents, time, and energy and their efforts have benefitted

President Christina McVaney

hundreds of organizations and local children through various grants and scholarships distributed every year. While the club meets in Westport, there is no residency requirement for membership; all women who live or work in

WESTPORT YOUNG WOMAN’S LEAGUE + WHAT IT IS: Philanthropic Organization + WHO IT’S GOOD FOR: Women who want to build community + WHERE IT IS: Westport Between

volunteering,

social

activities

and

fundraising, the Westport Young Woman’s League (WYWL) keeps a busy schedule. But don’t worry if you have a full agenda, there is truly something for everyone at WYWL. Between meetings, fundraisers, grants, social and community service, you can sign up for what works best for you. Since the organization’s inception in 1956 the league has distributed over $4.3 million in grants to local and/or education based charities in lower Fairfield County. This year alone these women will be distributing $90k in grants largely thanks to their major fundraisers, CraftWestport and the Minute Man Road Race. While those two events are more widely publicized, the WYWL works closely with the Community Kitchen, Westport Clean Up Day and the Westport Senior Center, just to name a few. If there is a local cause you’re passionate about, it’s likely WYWL is involved. For more information visit www.WYWL.com 50

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020

Westport or surrounding areas are welcome. Westport Woman’s Club is one of two women’s organizations in Connecticut with a clubhouse. “We take great pride in our beautiful and historic clubhouse which is even available to

4

rent for special events” says President Christina McVaney. For more information visit WestportWomansClub.org


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PAGE TURNERS

h a m i m e J AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN CONFRONTS INADEQUACY

e n Ja

ARTICLE ROBIN MOYER CHUNG PHOTOGRAPHY MINDY BRIAR

IN INFERNO, DANTË DISCUSSES NINE CIRCLES OF HELL - LUST, GREED, VIOLENCE, ETC. But I propose there is a more insidious tenth circle: insecurity and inadequacy. It’s a hell constructed over a lifetime, an emotional prison from which release or pardon seems impossible. We’ve all felt it. Women, especially. But publicly admitting to feelings of inadequacy would make us feel weak or unlikable. This February, New York Times best-selling author Jane Green penned an article about insecurity. In it, she exits an elevator into a sea of toned, wealthy, Birkin-bagged women in New York City. She writes, “Everything about these women intimidated me. One look from them and I felt, instantly, the way I have felt all my life: inadequate.” 54

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


For perspective, Jane Green is lauded as a “global leader in commercial women’s fiction.” She’s written 21 novels including 18 NYT bestsellers. She’s sold over 10 million books, translated into 31 languages. (I’m not even aware of 31 languages.) A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in NYC, a fabulous interior designer, mother of 6 kids, and - the list goes on but I’m stopping now. How is it possible for such an accomplished woman to feel intimidation or inadequacy? “We all carry this secret shame that we’re not good enough,” she explains, “We armor up” with clothes, dyed hair, cars - whatever we think will make people believe our narrative. Growing up, Jane felt overshadowed by her younger brother. “I didn’t feel celebrated or loved when I was a child, I was invisible.” While her brother attended boarding school, her parents often spent time at their second home in the south of France, leaving Jane with a caregiver or all alone when she was as young as 14. “The culture in my family was one of shame and blame and, with my brother away, I was the target… it was very clear to me that I wasn’t the daughter my parents wanted,” she admits. At the same time, Jane was savvy enough to take advantage of her independence. “Ours was the party house,” she says. Though she never felt comfortable among her party-minded peers, as her upbringing taught her she was an outsider. Unfortunately, it may not sound like a difficult childhood - she didn’t grow up in South LA selling used syringes to buy dinner - it doesn’t matter. None of us did, either, and we still have self-doubt. Our emotional triggers are formed not by our experiences so much as our reactions to them. There are many good reasons to feel inadequate (writing about a woman famous for her writing among them) and these emotions manifest themselves in different ways. For Jane, feelings of inadequacy motivated her to succeed and become one of the most beloved contemporary authors in America. Jane among her bestsellers.

CONTINUED >

CityLifestyle.com/Westport

55


PAGE TURNERS (CONTINUED)

Yet achievement is ephemeral and inadequacy is a tenacious b@stard. When writing, Jane pulls from personal experiences. In her second book, Jemima J, which established Jane as the “Queen of Chick Lit,” an overweight, unhappy Jemima transforms herself into what she believes the world wants to see. Jane, too, deprecates her youthful weight. “I’d be a size 8 or 10 and I’d look in the mirror and see a size 22. I was also 5’9 and towered above everyone. As a little girl all the adults would say, ‘You’re enormous!’ They meant tall, but that’s not what I heard…” Well into her thirties and throughout her first marriage she filled her closet with the appropriate costumes for her role, “I wore Chanel suits, had designer handbags. I felt like I was playing hard to be the perfect trophy wife.” Then came the crumbling of her first marriage, a bout of lyme disease and malignant melanoma (she is now, thankfully, in remission).“Life whacks you over the head when you’re in your 40’s and you realize life is not as charmed as [you] thought.” Snickers, one of her four cats.

Then there’s the 11th circle of hell… well, not an entire circle but a a fire pit or two: being a parent at elementary school parties. Standing among crowds of unknown people conjured Jane’s feelings of self-doubt. She retreated to corners and fidgeted with her phone to mask her discomfort. Even the enviable success of her books wasn’t fulfilling. “I told myself, if I had a bestseller then I’d be happy. Then if I’m top 10, then if I’m number 1. But none of it did [make me happy]. If you look for happiness outside of yourself,” she states, “you’ll keep moving the goal post.” Then Jane celebrated her 50th birthday. Whether age softened the sting of childhood wounds or gifted her wisdom, for Jane, “Everything changed. …I realized I could continue living a life that didn’t feel authentic… or I could figure out who I really am, start dressing the way I want to rather than to fit in.” She dyed her carefully blonded locks bubble-gum pink. It was a lark, but the eclecticism of her reflection, she realized, was her true self. She consigned her designer apparel and jewelry, the ones purchased to ward off insecurity which only reinforced her misguided attempts to fit in. Her hours scrolling through amazon.com yielded python-print cotton pants and cocoon cardigans colored to complement her pink hair. “I realized only recently that happiness comes in the form of peace.” Should peace prove elusive Jane says, “I focus on three things for which I’m grateful, on things that are good in my life.” Among them are 6 children, a beloved husband, true friends, and a herd of cats and dogs. At this point during our talk, Jane glances down at her curly-furred clogs and laughs, “I don’t think anyone in Westport aspires to look like me today!” Realistically, though, I think most of us do. Editor’s note: Jane is currently writing her first biography, working title #Liberated. We at Westport Lifestyle can’t wait to read it. JaneGreen.com

56

Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


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LOCAL’S CHOICE

ARTICLE ROBIN MOYER CHUNG | PHOTOGRAPHY KITT SHAPIRO

KITT SHAPIRO NEVER WEARS ANYTHING LOUDER THAN SHE LAUGHS

S U N DAY S E L F I E S “THERE’S SO MUCH SERIOUSNESS IN LIFE, HAVE FUN WITH WHAT YOU WEAR!” exclaims Kitt, owner of clothing store West. West is the clothing equivalent of Izzo singing “Piano Man” with 16 of her favorite girlfriends. It’s grounded in the classic with an unexpected twist, volume turned way up, impossible not to feel happy when you experience it. “Clothes are the skin we choose to show the world,” Kitt explains. “They’re about how we’re perceived. I want to look in the mirror and smile.” Comfort and a range of price points is key, and taking a fashion risk or two can prove transformative (just ask Jane Green). Though sometimes a risk may backfire. While Kitt is buyer for her boutique, she admits, “I usually go with one of my managers. If I go by myself they get nervous.” Melissa Gladstone, sales associate for West, looks up and nods, “Want to see?” Yes I do! From the rack she pulls a blue and black tiger print blouse, short-sleeved, with a faux fur collar and red flame-print pocket. A moment of visual processing ticks by before we laugh. Melissa turns to Kitt, “I hope you got them all in your size.” Though, secretly, I thought the shirt was pretty cool. WEST2Westport.com

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Westport Lifestyle | May 2020


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