AS SHE EXPLAINS IT, KATHLEEN LEWIS had “no intention of going into the beauty business,” but here she is, eight years later, with an ever-growing stash of soaps, creams, lotions and candles now carried by more than 100 stores across the country.
Once upon a time, Lewis, a resident of Park Slope, opened the first emergency childcare agency in New York City, making her a Brooklyn-based entrepreneur for 22 years now.
However, when her daughter reached high school age, Lewis was ready to be done with childcare — and her story from there is one of circumstance and initiative.
One afternoon Lewis was in newly opened boutique Bird, on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, admiring the clothing by local, independent designers. She thought the shop was thoughtfully put together except for the basket of cheap Chinatown soaps by the door, and suggested to the owner that they should also have some nice local soap.
The owner responded, “No-one around here makes soap any more,” to which Lewis replied that she had been making soap for herself for 10 years, and had an extra case at home she could bring by Bird the next day.
“You can’t make just one bar of soap,” she says. “If you make soap, suddenly you have 100 bars everywhere.”
Like that, her first partnership was formed, although Lewis just thought it was “cute” that her goods were for sale. A few weeks later, though, when in a boutique called Auto in the West Village, Lewis overheard people talking about Bird, so she mentioned her soap for sale. Immediately she was commissioned to design a line of custom products for Auto. That’s when Lewis realized she was on to something.
“It’s kind of a New York story,” she said. “You turn right, turn left, your life could be different.” From her shop in DUMBO, Lewis makes all Kathleen Lewis Beauty products in seven scents. The line was most recently picked up by GRDN on Atlantic Avenue, rounding her Brooklyn store count to eight.
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IN OTHER NEWS:
BROOKLYN-BORN FILMMAKER AND GOLDEN GLOBE-WINNER JULIAN SCHNABEL has turned his 35-year love of Lou Reed’s third solo album, the tragic rock opera Berlin, into a live-concert tribute film called “Lou Reed’s Berlin.”
“This record meant a lot to me,” Schnabel told the Los Angeles Times. “I listened to it over and over again.”
The album, about a couple dealing with drugs and depression, earned native-Brooklynite Reed scathing criticism for being so dark. Over time the reviews turned into praise. According to the Times, it was Susan Feldman, artistic director of St. Ann’s Warehouse, who approached Reed to ask if he would perform the whole album live for the first time. Feldman has a similar love of “Berlin.” As quoted on Lou Reed’s web site, Feldman said, “I have been wanting to produce `Berlin’ ever since a cousin of mine first handed it to me on a cassette about 10 years ago!”
The film is 80 minutes of concert, performed over six nights in December 2006 in St. Ann’s Warehouse, while a seven-piece orchestra and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus provided backup. Schnabel designed the set, and a home video shot by Reed’s daughter, Lola, was superimposed over the stage.
The artists have been friends for 20 years, says the Times, and over the years, Schnabel has sent Reed drawings and paintings based on the album. “He touched something [in me]. I guess it was a sense of loss,” said Schnabel. “The album is something I listened to over all of these years, and it never seemed dated in any way.”
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VETERAN SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER NICK LAHAM of Williamsburg has been chosen as one of the official Getty Images photographers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The whole Getty troupe going to China consists of almost 80 staff members, including 27 editorial photographers, like Laham, who will have the opportunity to shoot different assignments each day.
A fiberoptic network will connect the 31 venues where Getty photographers will be working, which can deliver images of the games to their web site in less than two minutes.
Laham began his career as a photographer with Getty Images in Australia, where he was born and lived most of his life. He moved to New York City three and a half years ago, and within one year, moved to Williamsburg, which he says is a great balance of relaxation and proximity to the city. His sports photography has appeared in the New York Times, Sports lllustrated, Time, Newsweek and other top publications.
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THIS EVENING, JULY 25, veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and others who have served this country will be honored at a gala co-hosted by Brooklyn-based Black Veterans for Social Justice (BVSJ) and Boys High Guys & Friends. A few of the event’s eight honorees will be Sen. ERIC ADAMS, former VP of program development at BVSJ AYANA AJANUAKU-VASON, former NBA player MELVIN DAVIS, and WBLS and WLIB radio host ANN TRIPP.
VAUGHN HARPER, host of the Quiet Storm evening music program on WBLS, will lend his “velvet voice” as MC for the gala.
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SEVERAL BROOKLYN STUDENTS are among the winners of the NYC Civil Liberties Union Fifth Annual Freedom in Expression contest. Five of 13 winners hail from this borough.
Tied for second place in the essay category are FATIMA PETERSON, a ninth-grader at Institute for Collaborative Education (ICE), and TREVLOND MYRIE, a 12th grader at Brooklyn College Academy. The second place winner for poetry was KEITH JAMES ALEXANDER of El Puente Leadership Center, and two ICE ninth-grade students won in the new media category — LUCY HOLLIER took first place, and ANDRé GREENE received honorable mention.
Entries covered a wide range of issues, including the School to Prison Pipeline, racial profiling, the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the treatment of prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.
Dozens of Broadway’s finest — including musical director SETH RUDETSKY and leading actors from Jersey Boys, Wicked, the original cast of Rent and more — took to the stage to salute the students and the NYCLU.
Winning entries can be read at www.nyclu.org.