+ What inspired you to start Pizza Loves Emily + Emmy Squared?
I helped found the organization as a career-changer. I was incredibly unhappy working as an educator in the public school system during some major bureaucratic shifts; I was in yoga teacher training on the weekends-- the messaging of the training gave me the courage to take the leap and create space for something new to emerge. Thus, Emily and Emmy Squared are part of a dream for me that has unfolded in amazing, challenging, and hopeful ways -- it has changed everything about my life, and I am excited to see where it leads me.
+ How do you think your background in education and yoga has contributed to Pizza Loves Emily’s massive success?
I have always loved helping bring people together in community-- whether in the academic classroom as a teacher, in the yoga studio as an instructor, and now-- I have that chance in the hospitality sector. For me, it has always been about making genuine connections with people, being nice, and affording them space to have a meaningful experience. For me, relationship-building is one of the most important pillars of success. I have guests that have gone from strangers to family and employees who have become friends-- this is where the heart of success lives--in abundance of real human connection.
+ What is the most challenging part of being a woman in the male-dominated food industry?
I think being a woman in any industry proves challenging. There are a lot of latent social norms that make it difficult to assert ourselves as women with the same tone and authority as men. I, like other female leaders, have struggled with "sounding like a bitch" when being direct and declarative. I am also interested in the idea that skills of emotional intelligence, which are often equated with the feminine, are sometimes sidelined by other values as a result of the emotive being defined by our culture as something separate from the workplace. Nonetheless, I truly do think great strides are being taken in the hospitality world and in many other industries to be proactive in redefining what values are important foundational assets to support all different types of human beings who go to work with each other every day. I am grateful to have a voice in the conversation, to be a model for how to lead an organization, and be coming up in a time where change is happening and there is a huge movement of inclusivity and empowerment in the industry!
+ If you could share a pie with anyone, alive or dead from any period in history.. who would it be and why?
Honestly, I’d like to share a meal with Larry David. He makes me belly laugh; Curb Your Enthusiasm has brightened my spirits on so many sad days that I think it would be an absolute treat to eat pizza with him.
+ What is your favorite item on your menu and why?
Oof, this is such a tough question. I am a real pizza gal, obviously, and I love it so much, but lately, I have been all about the Huge Hot Chicken Wedge. It is an enormous salad with delicious dark meat chicken and lots of veggies, so I feel like I am making a healthier decision than eating pizza everyday, which I could do, easily, lol. And it tastes just so damn good. Spicy chicken, creamy dressing, crisp lettuce-- what a trifecta!
To me, self-care is about actively creating time and space for myself to be-- in whatever capacity it is I need. And our human needs vary; sometimes self-care is taking yoga then getting acupuncture, sometimes it is cooking a nourishing meal for me and my boyfriend, other times it is lying around on the couch for a lazy afternoon away from technology and doing absolutely nothing. It is about choosing to listen to the messages my physical and emotional body are sending.
+ 5 things that are always in your bag?
++ De Mamiel Altitude Oil — a breath of calm accessible with ease at any moment
++ My Poketo object notebook. I always have my journal on me, always
++ My Yeti mug — The bag can really accommodate a lot of asymmetrical objects, and I try and avoid one-use cups as much as possible, so this comes in handy throughout the day
++ My pink Sam Edelman flats — Like so many New Yorkers, I wear sneakers to hustle around the city and up and down those subways stairs, so I have my flats to switch into when I need cuter footwear for work or photoshoots like this!
++ Business cards — I am notoriously bad at remembering to have these on me, so I am making a conscious effort to stock them well!
+ What is your all-time favorite book?
This is a really tough question. I think House of Light, by Mary Oliver. It has some of the most impactful lines of poetry: "Each of us is given / only so many mornings to do it-- / to look around and love / the oily fur of our lives.”
+ What is your favorite way to escape and relax?
On a day to day basis, it’s moving my body, so my Caraa always has sweaty clothes stuffed in there. I take The Class 2-3 times a week with the amazing instructor Mallory Meeks and practice yoga at Yogamaya where I also teach. Come visit me Monday mornings to stretch and elongate! On a larger scale, I attend an annual writing-through-grief healing retreat in the desert in New Mexico each winter with Mirabai Starr and Jaime Grechika. My Caraa bag comes along and gets dusty in the desert while I write and cry and sit in community with these amazing women.”
+ How does your Caraa bag transition with you between all of your busy days?
I love how many little pockets and unique spaces there are in the bag; it helps me stay organized over the course of the day. As I wind up shoving more and more random stuff into pockets, there is at least some semblance of organization! And I like that bag is relatively compact but at the same time can hold a lot!