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"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!!

thank you...illyne! 


kai conversations with celebrity makeup artist: jeong hwa fonkalsrud

we are beyond excited to bring you this week's kai conversation with a dear friend & kai devotee, who is one of the most talented, hard working, humble, and loveliest celebrity makeup artists we know - jeong-hwa fonkalsrud. jeong is the woman behind the gorgeous faces of actresses including jean smart, salma hayek, chloe sevigny, sandra oh, jordana brewster, and ming-na wen - among so many others. jeong has recently been working tirelessly behind the scenes of a highly anticipated film called babylon starring brad pitt, jean smart, and margot robbie, which is set to come out in 2022. additionally, she served as the makeup department head for "the chair" on netflix starring sandra oh, where jeong had to artfully master the look of sandra oh's character "ji-yoon" - the first woman of color to become a department chair, while wearing double masks and a face shield in the thick of the covid-19 pandemic. jeong is extremely skilled and passionate about her work, and so modest and kind. she is also a devoted wife and loving mother of two boys. how does she do it all so well and keep such a cheery, upbeat spirit? jeong shares some wonderful insights and inspirational tips in her kai conversation below. we hope you enjoy her interview, and we encourage you to follow jeong's impressive work and beautiful life on instagram. sending very best wishes to jeong on her 20th wedding anniversary; she and her husband just flew this week to berlin, germany (where they met as university students) to celebrate! 

happy fall, and happy reading! 


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.

my motivation & inspiration are helping others and sharing love. during this pandemic, i was more motivated to help others like homeless, elder neighbors, lonely friends and family. i love the feeling of giving, helping and sharing. loving and kindness are my life inspiration and goal. 

how do you embody kai's "breath*life*flow" lifestyle? 

i admire nature! nature makes me relieve all my stress, breathe better, and make my life flow so much easier. luckily i live near the mountains and ocean. i enjoy hiking with my dog every morning (when i'm not working) and walking the beach amused by the ocean waves & breeze. and while walking, i often like to hum and sing.

what's the best advice you've ever received? 

enjoy and be grateful every day & every moment. 

do you have a mantra you live by? 

love & peace.

what's your beauty secret? or must have beauty product? 

my beauty secret is all about healthy skin. i do every night cleansing with a Kohgendo cleansing water cloth and wash my face with Lancer Skincare Method polish & cleanse

go-to lipstick color? 

what color nail polish are you wearing right now? 

usually i don't wear nail polish because i do hands-on makeup and special effects makeup to actors during filming days. for SFX makeup, i need to use lots of different makeup products, chemical products, and 99% alcohol which makes it challenging to wear nail polish. but i went to an art show last saturday night and i manicured my nails as a treat with Essie Wicked.

who is your role model? 

my father-in-law Dr. Eric Fonkalsrud. he was a pediatric surgeon at UCLA and has saved so many children's lives. he has operated on over 15,000 patients during his career, and i've met a few of his former patients through my children's schools and within my community. they are all healthy grown ups and parents now, and they make me feel so proud of him. also, he was a loving dad and a wonderful husband.

what do you love most about where you live? any secret spots you love to go to? 

i love nature! we have mountains and ocean nearby where we live. i can be on the hiking trails in 5 minutes, and i can be on the beach in 20 minutes. i also love to go to malibu beach to watch the sunset. 

describe your perfect day. 

my perfect day is going to work and having done my job successfully, then coming home and cooking dinner for my family.

favorite date spot?

i love going to Geoffrey's Malibu and also separately - i love being anywhere in Rome, Italy. 

ultimate getaway? 

i love europe, and that is my ultimate getaway. there is so much culture, which i really enjoy when visiting europe. 

favorite food? 

korean, japanese and french. 

guilty pleasure? 

wine & cheese. 

kai obsession? 

morning person or night owl? 

as an artist, i used to be a night owl definitely, but i became a morning person since i had my babies. 

currently craving? 

vacation! my husband and i are going to celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary soon in Berlin, Germany, where we met 25 years ago as university students. 

ideal way to relax/ unwind? 

after a long day, i take a warm shower and use kai shampoo, conditioner and body wash, which are a dream combination and really help me unwind! afterwards, i listen to classical music and light a kai skylight candle, which is so soothing and puts me into the ultimate relaxation mode. 

what books are you reading currently? 

i am currently reading Top Conditions Healed with Asian Medicine. 

what's the most adventurous thing you've done? 

scuba diving. 3 years ago, i went swimming through a deep under water forest with my husband and two young sons. it was the most terrifying experience of my life, but it was also the most amazing and beautiful nature that i've ever seen. i can't wait to do it again, lol! 

thank you...Jeong!


celebrating freshly picked blueberries two ways

similar to myself, our pr & marketing director, sara, has a major sweet tooth and is always looking for a good excuse to bake. please enjoy the below post with two delicious recipes that she has made recently using freshly picked blueberries in vermont! they sound so amazing, i might spend this entire weekend in the kitchen trying them out! hope you enjoy and happy baking!


every summer, my family is fortunate to spend a few weeks working remotely and vacationing up in northern vermont, where i grew up spending my childhood summers at a place called willoughby lake. vermont is known as the green mountain state and our time up here is always filled with a lot of fun quality time with extended family all staying under one roof (cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, parents, grandparents, etc.). besides soaking up time enjoying all of the super awesome outdoor and water activities including waterskiing, water-biking, tubing, boating, swimming, fishing etc. - we also tend to do a lot of cooking and baking! this year, we went blueberry picking a few times at a nearby organic blueberry patch, and we picked over 20 pounds of blueberries that inspired the baking of some wonderful recipes like blueberry buckle along with the classic all-time favorite, blueberry pie! the key to making the blueberry piece extra mouth-watering delicious is my grandmother's special recipe for homemade crust. please see below for these two delightful dessert recipes that can be made with fresh blueberries whether store-bought or hand-picked! 


1. blueberry pie 

pie dough for top and bottom 9-inch pie: 
  • 2 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 3/4 cup shortening 
  • 2/3 cup to 3/4 cup (130 - 150 grams) granulated sugar, adjusted according to sweetness of berries
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch 
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest 
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) fresh blueberries (about 6 cups) 
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small squares 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream 
  • 1 tbsp coarse sugar, for garnish 
making the pie crust from scratch: 
cut in shortening until well mixed and grainy. add 5 tbsp ice cold water. mix well. 5 tbsp should be enough but if you need to add more, do it very gradually. separate dough into 2 balls, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerator for a while before making pie. 

preparing the bottom crust: 
roll out half of the pie dough to fit an 8 or 9-inch pie dish. to prevent the dough from sticking and to ensure uniform thickness, roll from the center of the dough outwards and keep lifting up and turning the dough a quarter turn as you roll. 

check for the correct size by inverting the pie dish over the dough. the dough should be about 2 inches larger than the dish. 

being careful not to stretch the dough, fit into pie dish then trim dough to within 3/4-inch of the edge of the dish. refrigerate while you make the pie filling. 

making the pie filling: 
stir sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, allspice, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. add blueberries and gently toss to combine. transfer the blueberry filling to the prepared pie crust. refrigerate while you prepare the lattice crust.

assembling and adding the lattice crust: 
roll out the second half of dough to a similar size as before. cut into 3/4-inch strips. lay five strips over filled pie, parallel and equally spaced from one another. 

carefully fold back the second and fourth strips then lay another strip of dough perpendicular to them. unfold second and fourth strips over new strip. fold back the first, third and fifth strips then lay another strip of dough perpendicular to them. unfold the first, third and fifth strips over the new strip. repeat until pie has been covered with a lattice crust.

trim dough strips to 3/4-inch of the edge of the dish. fold edges of strips and bottom dough underneath itself, creating a thicker border that rests on the lip of the dish. crimp edges.

dot the butter over the open areas of the lattice. make egg wash by whisking egg yolk and cream together then brush over pie dough. sprinkle tablespoon of coarse sugar over crust. refrigerate pie 20 minutes or freeze for 5 minutes before baking. 

to finish: 
heat oven to 400 degrees F. position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven then place a baking sheet on rack. (the baking sheet will catch any drips from the pie while baking). 

bake chilled pie on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F then continue to bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and juices in the filling are bubbling eagerly. if, while baking, the crust begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake until done.

cool 2 to 3 hours before cutting to allow filling to set. enjoy! 

2. blueberry buckle
for the cake: 
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 3/4 cup whole milk 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen) 
  • additional shortening and flour to prepare the baking pan 
for the topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/3 cup flour 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup butter
for the glaze: 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon add more if needed
  • 2 tbsp honey or vanilla-flavored greek yogurt optional 
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
  1. preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. in a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. add the egg and mix until blended. then add the milk and mix again until blended. 
  3. in a separate bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture slowly until blended. fold in the blueberries.
  4. grease and flour a 9x9 or 8x10 pan. spread the blueberry batter evenly into the prepared pan. 
  5. to make the topping, combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. with a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. sprinkle over the cake mixture in the pan. 
  6. bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes for an 8x10 pan or 45-50 minutes for a 9x9 pan (until cake tested comes out clean). other size baking pans may be used - just adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
  7. make the lemon glaze while the cake is baking, whisk the powdered sugar with the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. 
  8. cut the buckle into squares and drizzle with the lemon glaze.
  9. serve warm or cold, plain or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.