International Women’s Day: Interviews

Conversations with people who are reimagining the worlds of food, art, music, beauty and community

Women all over the world should be championed every day—not just once a year. At COOL HUNTING, we often speak with incredible women who shift boundaries and achieve remarkable feats with regularity. International Women’s Day is a great reason to shine a spotlight on them once again. Part of honoring women is also raising awareness about and taking action against inequality, and always engaging in intersectional feminism that includes all women everywhere. With that in mind, we encourage readers to consider donating to local mutual aid initiatives, as well as women-centered organizations like International Domestic Workers FederationBlack Girls CodeKWOEmpower FoundationGAATW and others. Here are some of our favorite conversations with creative, thoughtful and brilliant thinkers over the past year.

How POT Founder Mandy Kolahi is Democratizing the Ceramic Space

POT founder Mandy Kolahi’s collection of ceramics celebrating Persian New Year—a selection of blue-glazed pieces—perfectly represents the LA studio. Featuring delightfully snide Farsi phrases often uttered in Kolahi’s family (and in the wider Iranian community), this is the type of pottery that traditionally didn’t “belong” in the institution of art, made by an individual who felt out of place within the ceramics space. Kolahi (who found her love of pottery during high school) wanted to make the type of pottery she wanted, in spaces that were welcoming, comfortable and playful, so she created POT: a safe, beginners-oriented space run by, and intended for, people of color, the queer community and those who has ever felt they weren’t welcome in the oftentimes vanilla studios that abound… Read more.

TooD’s Biodegradable BioGlitter and Self-Love Ethos

Shari Siadat founded TooD—a beauty brand intended for people of all genders and ages—on the basis of self-love, self-expression, experimentation and celebration. Growing up an Iranian American in the United States, Siadat felt not only a lack of representation, but also immense pressure about one particular part of her body: her unibrow. After spending decades worrying about hair removal and altering her appearance, Siadat gave birth to her third daughter—a child that looked just like her—and everything changed… Read more.

Chef Nornie Bero Makes Australian Native Ingredients Accessible

A professional chef for more than 25 years, Nornie Bero—who is from the Komet People of Mer Island in the Torres Strait—has just released her first cookbook, Mabu Mabu. The book is named after her company Mabu Mabu, which comprises a catering service, small-batch products and two venues—Tuckshop and Big Esso—in Melbourne, Australia, but that name itself originates from a phrase in Meriam Mir (spoken in the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, and Bero’s first language) which means “help yourself.” Mabu Mabu’s overall mission is to make Indigenous food and Australian native ingredients accessible. More than that, Bero wants to change people’s perspectives and set an example for kids who grew up like her. “The easiest way to change people’s views is through food,” she tells us. “Food is the way forward. Everybody smiles when they eat. And it doesn’t matter what opinion you have, food brings everyone together. Food is multiculturalism. Food opens conversation. Food is an experience that brings cultures together”… Read more.

Bushwick Community Darkroom Rectifies Film Photography’s Exclusionary Past

When Lucia Rollow rolled her Volkswagen down New York’s Long Island Expressway back in 2010, she had no idea she was on the brink of founding a thriving film photography community and one of the only 24/7 darkrooms in the city. A recent college graduate with no spare change, Rollow longed for a place to continue developing film and honing the craft she loves. After scouring NYC for an affordable darkroom without success, she made one of her own… Read more.

Sound and Sorrow: Nite Jewel Discusses Her Album No Sun

Nite Jewel—aka singer-songwriter, producer and scholar, Ramona Gonzalez—is poised to release her first new album in four years. No Sun (out on her own Gloriette Records, 27 August) is a vehicle not only to express the impossible to express, but also to explore and experiment with genre and song creation. The LA-based artist set out to make the record with just a Moog synth and a keyboard, and the result is stunning. The rich but spare music on the record feels awash with both sorrow and strength, and Gonzalez’s featherweight vocals engulf listeners with emotion… Read more.

land to sea Diversifies NYC’s Cafe Culture and Creative Community

Another coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is par for the course, but that’s why the neighborhood’s latest addition, land to sea, stands out even more. Opening its doors in October 2021, Emily Shum and Eva Zhou’s land to sea fosters a creative and inclusive community, hosting food pop-ups, art exhibits and classes, especially designed to uplift artists of color. More than a cafe, this versatile venue reimagines the humble coffee shop’s role in supporting the community… Read more.

The Making of Amy Douglas + Joe Goddard’s HARD FEELINGS

A seemingly reticent but brilliant British producer, and a bawdy New York songstress, Joe Goddard of Hot Chip and Amy Douglas possess the underpinnings of a legendary pop duo. One is a master of electronic music; the other, a rock and jazz performer and a self-confessed “Brill-Building-nerd-level singer-songwriter.” But these two apparently disparate identities have plenty of overlap (a love of pop music and great songwriting being paramount) and they collide in a gloriously theatrical manner as HARD FEELINGSRead more.

3 Women Makes Unisex Garments From Upcycled Rice Sacks

For most people, rice is a household staple—the basic yet completely essential ingredient to a host of dishes enjoyed all around the world. But to Crystal Lee Early and Natalie Mumford, the founders of 3 Women, the grain is also synonymous with fashion. Early and Mumford’s Long Beach, California brick-and-mortar store opened in 2018 as a vintage shop, until the duo started transforming repurposed textiles into a nostalgic clothing line. Using rice, flour and feed sacks, they revitalized food fabric waste into patchwork jackets, whimsical halter tops and other garments—with an aesthetic situated at the crossroads of contemporary styles… Read more.

The Hole NYC Founder Kathy Grayson on Her Gallery’s New Tribeca Space

When The Hole NYC opened the doors to artist Eric Shaw‘s bright, balanced and optimistic show Pure Mode (the inaugural exhibit at their new Tribeca location), there was a line of people waiting to step in. More than 10 years after the debut of their beloved Bowery location, The Hole welcomed people to their Tribeca destination just two weeks after founder Kathy Grayson signed the lease. It wasn’t a mad dash, however; it was a path toward new ideas and explorations with the gallery’s roster of artists. And, in many ways, it was a remedy to a gallery culture that shrunk substantially under the pandemic… Read more.

Studio Visit: Ceramicist Michelle Im aka RATxCHICKS

In a sun-drenched studio in Ridgewood, Queens, ceramicist Michelle Im imagines breeding birds and rats together—which she achieves through RATxCHICKS, the play-on-words name for an art project that engrosses objects in a wacky and wonderful world of unexpected animals. Zebras and rainbows, hippopotamuses and UFOs, goats and lemons, poodles and beachballs: these surprising pairings and more imbue the NYC-based artist’s pottery with whimsy. At Im’s studio, where she and her puppy Inky work to a soundtrack of rare techno, her reality-defying aesthetic feels fitting… Read more.

Independent Beauty Brand EMILIE HEATHE Releases an Official “The Batman” Line

Emily Heath Rudman named the luxury beauty company she founded after her superhero alter ego, EMILIE HEATHE, a moniker she feels reflects minimalism and balance, with a nod to her love of comic books—which also infuses the independent brand’s surprising collaboration with the recently released feature film The Batman. It’s the realization of a longtime dream for the founder, who thinks of her brand as a series of “elevated essentials, little luxuries,” she tells us… Read more.

Chrissy Angliker’s Drip Paintings Make Peace With the Pandemic

In April 2008, Chrissy Angliker made a mistake that would go on to become the defining technique of her texturally luscious paintings. The accident—a glob of ink that was too thick and dripped down the canvas—sparked in Angliker an acquiescence to the unexpected. Striving to strike a balance between chaos and control, the Brooklyn-based Swiss American artist began dripping and dolloping paint onto the canvas—a process that expanded to spooning and smearing in her newest exhibition Crazy says the Daisy, on view now at New York’s Massey Klein GalleryRead more.

Suchi Reddy’s Interactive “me + you” Sculpture Inside the Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building

A spectacular display of art and technology, artist and architect Suchi Reddy‘s “me + you” sculpture bursts with light, color and collective emotion in the central rotunda of the Smithsonian Institution Arts and Industries Building. The architecturally significant museum—which opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC in 1881—closed in 2004. It now reopens with an awe-inspiring exhibition called FUTURES, where Reddy’s work plays a pivotal role. Underscoring the glowing, interactive artwork is the concept that our emotions contribute to the world around us… Read more.

Interview: Eat Offbeat Founder, Manal Kahi

In 2013—during the conflict that displaced millions of Syrian people, around a million of whom sought refuge in Lebanon—Manal Kahi left Beirut for NYC to attend graduate school. She planned to work in multilateral or environmental affairs, but her concern about the crisis back home and her dissatisfaction with grocery store hummus (clearly two very different issues) started her on a different journey. “You can only imagine the amount of discrimination that was ensuing,” Kahi tells us about the influx of refugees in her homeland. “And I had left, with a little bit of guilt in the back of my mind about not being able to do anything. But there it was,” she says, “when I started thinking…” Read more.

Hero image by Kelly Pau