"shop small, shop local" retailer series: kai conversations with... illyne ganley, owner of beauty lounge
kai has always been supportive of our small boutique retailers. they gave us our start, are still with us, and we are forever grateful! for this "shop local, shop small" feature, we are proud to introduce you to illyne ganley, owner and curator of beautylounge. i would describe this amazing boutique as a unique jewel box, filled with all the good things in life; in illyne's own words: "a very eclectic mix of all of the things i love - jewelry, art, home and personal fragrance and beauty services with some of the most elite and best people in the beauty business." while beauty lounge is such a lovely, inspiring store we are proud to retail kai (for 15 years!) i have also had the true pleasure of working with illyne over the years and getting to know her - like her "home away from home" boutique she, too, is lovely and inspiring! you will love getting to know her and her story...
how are you taking care of yourself and your business during this time? are there certain things that are proving to be sources of motivation/inspiration? if so, please feel free to share.
when the pandemic began and my shop was closed, i started the comforting and grounding ritual of a candle and tea. i light a beautiful candle when i wake up so that my home smells divine and i brew some healing loose leaf tea. it's usually very hard for me to sit still so this has been a really nice change for me. it's still part of my daily routine. that ritual, a daily 'nature bath' (aka a walk outside) and connecting with my friends is my go to of how to take care of myself. connecting with my clients and making people feel good is 100% of what motivates me in my business. i get joy from giving joy. my shop is my home away from home and i want everyone that walks into my space to feel like they are coming over to my house to spend time with a friend. we only see what's on the outside and never know what someone is going through on the inside. i want to be certain that when they come into my space they feel peace, love + happiness.
how did you start your career? and how did you end up with your current role?
i've been working since i was 12 years old. babysitting, lots + lots of retail, a few glorious years with Scandinavian Airlines (which sparked my need for and obsession with international travel) and thirteen fun and fabulous years with the magnificent and talented Federic Fekkai in a managerial role. it was there that my taste for finer things and talent was elevated, my entrepreneurial spirit grew and eventually blossomed into the idea of my boutique. i took a risk and took a dive straight into my dream. it was the best gift i ever gave myself.
can you please share a few sentences about your retail business and what makes your platform unique and special to your community?
beautylounge is a very eclectic mix of all the things i love - jewelry, art, home, personal fragrance and beauty services with some of the most elite and best people in the beauty business. it has changed so much since i opened my doors more than fifteen years ago and continues to evolve as i do. i think that's what makes it so much fun for me - because it is a real extension of me. my shop has truly rooted me in the unique community that i live in and has introduced me to some of the most special and important people in my life. my life philosophy is the same as my business philosophy. it's about connecting with people and sparking joy. in my shop we laugh together and we cry together. we may not be able to solve the problems of the world but we can connect with others and love and support each other. it's that simple. that's what small business is.
how did you first discover kai?
i read about kai in a magazine more than 16 years ago and happily stumbled upon it in a small boutique when i was traveling on the west coast. i'm so sensitive to fragrances, most sadly give me a headache. kai was everything i hoped for in a fragrance. fresh, clean, floral and the packaging was clean and simple. perfect. kai was the VERY FIRST thing that i ordered for the shop when i opened. kai perfume oil is the OG of beautylounge and is SKU #1!
what is your favorite kai product?
i love everything about kai but my absolute tippy top of the list and number one favorite is the room diffuser. it's truly the scent of my shop! i swear if the door is open, the smell wafts out onto the street and lures people in asking "what's that beautiful smell?" it's my secret weapon.
can you please share a memory of a customer experience with kai?
before i even opened my doors in 2006, a client found out that i was going to carry kai. i believe at that time it was harder to find in New Jersey. she tracked me down and found me. beautylounge was still under construction but i had some of my inventory and all of my kai. we did the transaction in the alley behind the shop in the dark with flashlights. she stocked up and took everything that i had. that was the beginning of my beautiful 15+ year relationship with kai!
what do you like to do for fun when you are not working?
when i'm not working, i'm either rearranging and redecorating my house, taking long walks while having deep real talks with a good friend, or i'm planning my next great adventure. three things that fill my soul.
what is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
my perfect weekend would include: a road trip to the mountains of upstate New York where i spent many of my childhood weekends with my best friend and her family. it would start with a two hour hike up to the top of Overlook Mountain, a visit to the tibetan buddhist monastery, a yummy brunch and people watching, some antiquing and flea market searching for treasures, possibly a visit to a swimming hole, hanging out in a drum circle, checking out some art by local artists, a dinner that would include truffle fries (be still my heart) with a spicy margarita and ending the weekend with some live music.
can you share a little about where you live, and who you spend your leisure time with?
i live in a small urban/ suburban town called Summit, NJ. we are about 30 minutes from NYC (where i am from). i spend my leisure time with the best tribe of fierce women, my weimaraner Beau who requires a lot of exercise and keeps me on my toes, and my family. i have two sassy and glorious girls who are now both grown and out of my house. they are my favorite and most fun people to spend my time with.
where do you look for inspiration for your business? are there certain instagram pages or pinterest boards you follow? are there podcasts you listen to?
travel is my #1 inspiration. i'm a wanderluster at heart and i always find inspiration for life and for my business on my world travels. it really helps to see things from a new perspective and i always come back more motivated and excited to work with new products and new ideas. ALWAYS!! i also surround myself with strong, positive, smart women who inspire me and make me want to do better and keep reaching for the stars. we feed off of each other, encourage each other, and lift each other UP. surround yourself with good people and you can do anything!!