the view from here     treasures     loving     musings     beauty     craving     spotlight     kai conversations                         


kai conversations with...cassandra kellogg, founder & ceo of minimale animale

we are beyond excited to bring you this week’s kai conversation with cassandra kellogg, the ceo/founder of the southern california-based minimale animale swimwear, who is not only a friend and long-time kai devotee but she is also a super fun, fearless, incredibly inspiring female entrepreneur. cassandra’s gorgeous swimwear line exudes confidence, and chic, sexy statements for women. with a-list celebrity figures like miley cyrus, kylie jenner, tyra banks, naomi campbell, kate bock, emily ratajkowski, and so many other hollywood stars and sports illustrated cover models sporting minimale animale in their professional shoots as well as their personal beach/pool time, it is no surprise that this swimwear line is in such high demand across the globe. cassandra’s extraordinary vision for her brand, incredible design talents, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion for living life to the fullest are contagious. she is one of the brightest stars in the fashion/swimwear industry, and we are thrilled to call her a friend and collaborator. we strongly encourage you to check out and follow minimale animale (website and instagram). please stay tuned for a very exciting giveaway between kai and minimale animale to be launching soon.


how did you start your career? and how did you end up with your current role?

i started off in styling after getting my design degree. i got really inspired watching a close friend create and launch her line and it gave me the motivation to push my ideas and cultivate my own brand.


what do you like most about what you do professionally?

i feel so grateful to be able to have an outlet for my creativity. i’ve always been more of a creative vs. the more traditional roles of being good at math, science, reading. creating in design (specifically clothing design) has always been my preferred outlet. it’s always been my belief that when you really love what you do, and have the passion and drive it doesn’t really feel like work.


please share a few key points about the mission of your brand.

though the brand has evolved over the years, my goal has always been to create products that help to elevate and bring the inner confidence that already lives in all of us. i have seen the way women feel when they try on our suits, and there is a spark that ignites. i have always strived to have really good fits, and going that extra mile to really fine tune your products before you launch them really goes a long way. i think when women wear our suits, they know it’s something special, we are the opposite of the fast fashion that has emerged so strongly over the past 4/5 years.

how did you first discover kai? please share a memory of your first-time using kai, which product it was, and anything special you noticed during your experience.

i first discovered kai, in one of our stores we sold the brand to. i was there dropping off an order in the early days of the brand's launch and found myself not being able to leave without buying the mini travel perfume they had. it has always reminded me of being in some of our tropical locations we have shot at over the years.


how do you embody kai’s “breath*life*flow” lifestyle?

i feel that the breath * life * flow* lifestyle is a way of life i have had myself for quite a few years now. i definitely work hard, but anyone who knows me well, knows that i also play hard, but also give myself those things that keep me feeling good and can keep the revolving circle of creativity going. sometimes that’s giving myself extra sleep, and passing on social gathering or it could be needing a musical escape, and i make time for a favorite festival or concert. i think part of knowing yourself is knowing what you need, when you need it and listening that.


go-to lipstick color?

it’s a combo of “make up forever artist pencil” in completely sepia & sephora tinted gloss #2.

what color nail polish are you wearing right now?

french manicure with creamy white tips, vs the bright white. my nail girl is a pro at giving me the most natural look with my nails which is my go-to.


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

i just relocated to paso robles, ca. i love that it’s a small town, quiet & quaint. i have birds and deer constantly in my back yard. i love taking friends out to the vineyards for lunch. it’s a great life.


favorite food?

sushi forever.


kai obsession?

body glow spray and the body buffer, impossible to decide between these two!


currently craving?

a bubble bath with kai bathing bubbles. :)

ideal way to relax/unwind?

definitely a day at the beach with my dog, watching her play in waves, while i’m bronzing on sand. followed by a late lunch. nice glass of wine and some oysters.


what book are you reading currently? 

already read it, but it has really stuck with me as an incredible book and i have bought a few copies to share with those very special to me. the book is called “ceremony” by brianna wiest.

thank you, cassandra!


retailer series: kai conversations with...franco wright, co-founder of luckyscent

in this next kai conversation highlighting our boutique retailers, we are thrilled to introduce you to franco wright, one of the founders of and the scent bar - with locations right near us here in los angeles and one in nyc. we have had the pleasure of working and, truly, growing with franco over the past 20 years! we started our boutique fragrance businesses around the same time -- he had the vison to believe in supporting independent fragrance brands “back in the day” and has continued to do so with kai ever since. we are so grateful to be a part of his beautiful website and stores! we encourage you to read his story in our conversation with franco below. you will be inspired not only by this creative and retail visionary, but also by his own personal strength and positive outlook. how “lucky” are we to count franco and luckyscent as one of our longtime, beloved retailers and friends…


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.

well, this is an interesting question, about me specifically… i had a health scare last month, a blood clot that came from a leg injury, and spread to my lungs. so i was in er for 3 days – and a couple weeks on bed rest.

that all being said (phew!).. i’ve been finding myself watching more standup comedy on netflix as of late; i think when we often sometimes take our health for granted, and then life throws you a curve ball.  having that joy of laughter is really a wonderful remedy.

how did you start your career? and how did you end up with your current role?

myself and my business partner, adam – we met about 22 years ago in venice, at a graphic design firm. during that time we knew we wanted to start our own agency – we did – and from there, we nurtured a few beauty clients, which then led to the idea of building our own website, solely focused on perfume. was born in the fall of 2002. back in the day, los angeles had a lot of unique independent perfumes brands (kai, child, sage, creative scentualization / sarah horowitz)… so these brands inspired us to introduce these perfumes via our website and sell them across the country… and world…

can you please share a few sentences about your retail business and what makes your platform unique and special to your community?

our backgrounds were marketing and design – so we really took that the heart in building our platform with the focus on content (creating stories around perfume), photography, and curation of unique brands. back then, really the community was forming on message boards and specialty groups such as make up alley. to bring the perfumes from online to customers’ homes, we created the idea of online sampling, essentially hand-making sample vials so customers could try all these unique, independent brands.

how did you first discover kai?

gosh.. now that’s a good question!  i believe we first found it in a small women’s boutique in los angeles. it was gaining traction, and of course popular amongst celebrities (and daily candy!) so somewhere along the journey, we reached out.

what is your favorite kai product?

i prefer the original in edp format.  it wears so well. 

can you please share a memory of a customer experience with kai?

one of my son’s teachers wore kai, so every time i would pick him up from school i would catch a whiff of gardenia!

what do you like to do for fun when you are not working?

lately i’ve been obsessed with pickleball.  other than that, tennis, biking, paddleboard.

what is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?

mostly all the above…  and drinking wine if that counts…ha!

can you share a little about where you live, and who you spend your leisure time with?

studio city, it’s a great town and near work, school and close enough to be in the city.

where do you look for inspiration for your business?  are there certain instagram pages or pinterest boards you follow? or are there podcasts you listen to?

well, as for podcasts.. and on the topic of comedy, i really only listen to smartless. but as for more business inspiration, i read a lot of the beauty industry publications online, and i do enjoy wallpaper magazine to get inspired from a more global design/retail/product perspective.


thank you, franco!


labor day recipes by gina homolka of skinnytaste

as this weekend marks the unofficial end to the summer season, we’re bringing you a few highly recommended labor day & back-to-school recipes from one of our most cherished cookbook authors and recipe developers, the brilliant gina homolka of, who we are honored to call a friend and kai devotee! gina is the author of 5 bestselling cookbooks with over one million copies sold in the u.s. and a new cookbook coming soon. gina’s food philosophy is to eat seasonal, whole foods and maintain good portion control (everything in moderation!). 

gina’s work has been featured as a #1 new york times best seller, wall street journal, and usa today bestseller; she’s been named an iacp award finalist and james beard finalist. not only is gina an extraordinarily well-accomplished female entrepreneur, she is also a wonderful human! in her personal life, she is known to be an amazing, busy mom of two girls who resides on long island, ny with her husband and children.

her newest cookbook, skinnytaste air fryer dinners, celebrates the use of the incredibly versatile air fryer - which results in the crispiest, crunchiest foods with juiciness still locked in, thanks to hot air convection cooking. please enjoy these delightful recipes, and we encourage you to follow gina of skinnytaste for ongoing cooking inspiration!

 bon appetit and happy labor day!


eggplant fries

serves 4

i can vividly remember the day when karina, my oldest daughter who was such a picky eater as a kid, told me she liked eggplant. eggplant? really?! she was eating dinner at a friend’s house, and they served fried breaded eggplant for dinner. she loved it. kids are always more willing to try new foods when they are eating away from home, right? i was so excited about this new vegetable she was eating that i made her these breaded eggplant fries at least once a month! this is one of the easiest, tastiest ways to eat eggplant as a side dish, snack, or appetizer.

12 ounces eggplant (about 1 medium)

1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons italian seasoned bread crumbs, wheat or gluten-free

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

olive oil spray

marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade), warmed, for dipping (optional)


cut the eggplant into 24 sticks, 4 to 5 inches long and 1⁄2 inch thick. place the sticks in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

in a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan. in another shallow bowl, beat the eggs.

spritz the air fryer basket with oil. working with a few pieces of eggplant at a time, dip the eggplant into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture.

use a fork to remove the eggplant from the bread crumb mixture and place the eggplant in the air fryer basket in a single layer. spritz the strips with oil. cook at 350°f until the eggplant is golden and crisp, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.

serve the eggplant with marinara sauce for dipping, if desired.

veggie french bread pizzas

serves 4

i created this recipe with the kiddos in mind, but to be honest, what adult wouldn’t want this delicious french bread pizza? growing up, french bread pizzas were a staple in our home. my mom always had a few boxes of stouffer’s stashed away in the freezer, and after school if we had friends over, we would pop them in the toaster oven and patiently wait for them to heat up. making these from scratch is quicker and so much healthier because you can control the ingredients you’re using. they take less than 5 minutes to cook in the air fryer and you can top them with whatever pizza toppings you love: mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, and more.

8 ounces whole wheat

french or italian bread

1 cup marinara sauce (store-bought or homemade)

1⁄3 cup sliced red onion

1⁄3 cup diced green bell pepper

1⁄3 cup finely chopped steamed broccoli florets (or thawed frozen)

1 cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese (4 ounces), such as polly-o, or mozzarellastyle nondairy cheese

1⁄4 cup freshly grated

parmesan cheese (or nondairy; see skinny scoop)


cut the bread in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 2 pieces to give you 4 pieces total.

spread 1⁄4 cup of the marinara sauce on each piece. distribute the onion, pepper, and broccoli evenly among the tops of the bread, then sprinkle with the mozzarella and parmesan.

working in batches if needed, place the pizzas in the air fryer basket in a single layer. cook at 370°f until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the bread is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

serve immediately.

skinny scoop: i’ve tested many brands of nondairy cheese and really love the taste of violife mozzarella-style cheese. if you don’t eat dairy, you can omit the parmesan and use a total of 11⁄4 cups vegan cheese.

credit line

“reprinted from skinnytaste air fryer dinners. copyright © 2021 gina homolka. photographs copyright © 2021 aubrie pick. published by clarkson potter, an imprint of random house.”

click here to purchase: