< Blake Lively brings her unerring eye, Southern roots, and love of storytelling to her latest venture—a Web site called Preserve. Jonathan Van Meter heads West to meet up with the Gossip Girl turned Internet entrepreneur.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is one of those startling American places where “purple mountain majesties” becomes gloriously real, no longer a patriotic abstraction from a song learned in grade school. But it is also home to some of the most expensive real estate imaginable—great, logged-up monuments to show-business wealth and fame. Oh, give me a twelve-bedroom, fourteen-bath home, where the buffalo still sort of occasionally roam!
Blake Lively has never been here until today, but when I meet her in the soaring lobby of the Amangani resort one evening in late May she is dressed as if she has taken the landscape into consideration. Not many women can wear denim overalls, strappy Louboutin stilettos, and a Navajo-blanket poncho and get away with it, but Blake Lively can. When I compliment her, she describes the look as “if Sling Blade and Pocahontas had a baby.” Lively has a tendency toward deadpan humor, often delivered with a laconic stare that can make it difficult to figure out whether she is joking or not. “When I say something funny, I don’t laugh,” she says, “so my friends are always like, ‘Hahahahaaaa!’ so people know. When I’m not with them, I always think, This person doesn’t know I’m funny; they just think I’m a jerk.”
Lively, who is back from Cannes, where she was obliged to make appearances as a L’Oréal “ambassador,” as well as stroll the red carpet with her husband, Ryan Reynolds, for the premiere of his film The Captive, is both jet-lagged and feeling unwell. “I ate some mystery meat on the plane, and I feel poisoned,” she says. As we head out to the car that will take us to dinner in town, she says, “Do you mind if I sit in the front? I get motion sickness.” Pause. “God, I’m like a toddler. I hope you have Cheerios in your bag.” And then, once in the car: “Now, to be triply annoying, I have to make a work-related call. I’m so sorry.”
Sitting down to write this editor’s letter has been the hardest thing I’ve done yet on my Preserve journey. I’m more intimidated than I should probably admit. I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat.
I am hungry, though… not just for enchiladas.
I’m hungry for experience.
I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I’m not a teacher, but rather, a student. I don’t do any one thing perfectly. I do a lot of things though. Some well, some not-so-well.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel. I’ve been all over the world and all over this country. There’s so much life teeming out of every pocket of this nation. There are people creating magic with their bare hands. Creating things which land at that amazing intersection between art and function.
I’ve found that when approached with a curious spirit, people are kind, they’re generous, they answer, if asked. They’ll often open their doors and hearts and let you in. Because people with wisdom have stories to tell, and want them heard.
America is full of tales waiting to be told. There are beautiful stories hiding in small towns and big cities, on suburban streets and rural roads. Great wisdom lives in the well-worked hands of aging craftspeople and in the eager words of young artisans. Our very history is whispered into the materials they use to make exquisite goods according to timeless standards of quality and care. That is the tradition we aim to preserve.
How wonderful it is to discover something that has been cast aside, to pick it up and restore it to its original beauty. Maybe it’s sentimental of us, but we hold fast to memories and moments, to relics from bygone eras. Our goal is to support the America we’ve always known, and the one we haven’t yet met. We hope to achieve this in small but meaningful ways, through the stories we tell, the treasures we share and our genuine desire to give back to those with fewer opportunities but just as much heart and soul as anyone else. We believe that nurturing a better tomorrow upholds the yesterday we cherish, for all of us.
Sometimes we walk proudly. Other times we stumble gracelessly. Yet we take each step with a generous measure of never-ending curiosity and wonder. We remain in awe of the folks and folkways existing around us. We want to learn about them, embrace them…preserve them.
PRESERVE is all of us, together, championing the goods, makers and legends that instill meaning inside the moments of our lives. The curios that cozy our homes, the threads that define our silhouettes, the foods that leave our bellies happy, the projects that mean everything to us—we want to share all of this with you; we know we have so much to learn from you. In our ongoing quest for knowledge, these are our PRESERVE passions…
Photoshoots: 2014: Latest Additions x025