Shop UO UO Blog

You're Gifted
in Many Ways

We gathered together a group of creatively gifted individuals—each part of the Urban Outfitters family past, present, and future—to celebrate the holiday season. Over dinner at Dimes (a Lower East Side café run by two very gifted female foodies) we talked about the presents they hope to give and receive, their festive traditions, and the people, places and things that inspire them.

Photographs by Jenny Hueston

Jason Woodside

Painter

Current location — NYC
Hometown — St. Augustine, Florida
Astrological sign — Taurus

What is your special talent?

Painting.

What do you love most about what you do?

Creating positive vibrations.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

It houses my socks of choice.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individuals, dead or alive?

Maybe Nikola Tesla? Groundbreaking people are cool. Or maybe even just mom and dad.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

Balancing my checkbook.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

Pizza.

Do you have a fail-safe gift you always like to give?

Flowers.

How do you like to wrap your gifts?

Terribly. Always with newspaper. I don't like it; the sides never match up and tape gets everywhere.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

I'm not so traditional.

Any plans for the holiday season?

Less work, more wine.

What are your current obsessions?

Coffee wins.

Jennifer Steele

Stylist & Writer

What is your special gift or talent?

Fortune telling, hula hooping, listening.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love challenging work and diverse work. Every day is different for me, and I dig that.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

I hang with the girls.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individuals, dead or alive?

Helen Gurley Brown, Johnny Cash, Amelia Earhart and my friend Tessa Matthias, a young designer and young mother.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

Guitar playing like my uncles.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

A pink stone from Ben.

Do you have a signature gift you always like to give?

Oddly, socks. Also notebooks.

Current location — New York
Hometown — Wisconsin Dells, WI
Astrological sign — Taurus

What are your current obsessions?

Plum lipstick, developing film, coconut meat, new books.

Is there an item of clothing you you currently have in high rotation?

BLK Denim black jeans.

What is your favorite festive snack?

Pickles and olives.

What is your special gift or talent?

Pattern and color.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love making things that become very personal to whomever is using or wearing them. It's very rewarding seeing people wearing my clothes.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

I've worked with Urban Outfitters for the last couple of years. I did a backpack collaboration a couple years ago that had a print of my dog's face on it!

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individual, dead or alive?

I have recently been fascinated by the work of Yaacov Agam. He has an amazing sense of color, dimension and shape.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

I wish I were good at ceramics. I took a class last winter and it was a disaster.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

A Tumblr I received for my birthday called Shark Melon. It's all images of my two favorite things—sharks and watermelons—and occasionally both of them in one image. It's continually updated, and I find it continually inspiring!

Ellen Van Dusen

Clothing Designer

Current location — Brooklyn, NY
Hometown — Washington D.C.
Astrological sign — Virgo

How do you like to wrap your gifts?

I have a LOT of black-and-white dotty tissue paper from Uline—everything gets covered in it.

Do you have a signature gift you always like to give?

I like knitting people hats.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

The day after Thanksgiving my parents have an oyster party where they get a ton of oysters and invite all their friends over. This year they got 500, and they also served gumbo.

Any plans for this coming holiday season?

I'm going down to DC with my dog Snips to spend the holidays with my family. I plan on spending a lot of time in pajamas!

What are your current obsessions?

Light pink, boucherouite rugs, stripes and garlic.

What is your favorite festive treat?

My brother makes a very funny Oreo pie—it's mostly cool whip. I look forward to it every year.

Jessica Barensfeld

Jewelry Designer, Jessica Barensfeld Adornment

Current location — Williamsburg
Hometown — Cincinnati & NYC
Astrological sign — Virgo

What is your special talent?

I used to be able to tie a cherry stem with my tongue... and I have an incredible sense of direction—I'm like a homing pigeon. Also, I'm a strong swimmer.

What do you love most about what you do?

It challenges me and employs my artistic side while also being wearable. I like how people take [my jewelry] with them and the pieces intertwine with their personalities.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

I'm a designer contributing to the UO boutiques in Brooklyn and L.A.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individuals, dead or alive?

I spent a month in Rwanda last year paired with a Co-op of artisan women to make jewelry. Watching them weave these insane, colorful baskets was one of the most peaceful and beautiful things to be around.

Do you have a signature gift you always like to give?

I make a hammered brass cuff that I can stamp with initials—it's a nice personal gift.

How do you like to wrap your gifts?

I like to use what's on hand, and googly eyes are one of my favorite accents. Wrapping and packaging is one of my favorite things!

Favorite holiday traditions?

Charlie Brown, hot toddies and Charades.

Simon Howell

Artist & Co-Owner of Lynn & Lawrence

What is your special gift or talent?

Clairvoyance. I see problems and deal with them before they get too big.

What do you love most about what you do?

Being free to choose how my day goes.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

I'm a designer contributing to the UO boutiques in Brooklyn and L.A.

How does Brooklyn inspire you as an artist and creative?

Its village life with no restrictions on big ideas.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

If I get a second round in life, I'd want to be a classical composer and write a meaningful symphony or two.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individuals, dead or alive?

I watched the film Ghandi again recently; it reminded me that not too long ago attitudes were very

Current location — Williamsburg
Hometown — NYC & Yorkshire, England
Astrological sign — Leo

different, but one idea paired with lots of determination can change the world.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

I inherited some money from my lovely grandmother when she passed away, which I used to buy my first surfboard, a beautiful pistachio green 9'2" Fineline. Best board I've ever had and it's named Gladys after my granny. R.I.P

Brian Paul Lamotte

Art Director & Publisher

Current location — Brooklyn
Hometown — San Francisco
Astrological sign — Cancer

What is your special gift or talents?

Being able to make a pretty decent meal out of very little—I'm highly resourceful at times.

What do you love most about what you do?

Getting to work with friends and people I admire and respect.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

Collaboratively in conversation.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individual, dead or alive?

James Franco?

Which gift would you most like to possess?

Teleportation, definitely.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

A three-in-one boombox I used to make mixtapes.

Do you have a fail-safe gift you like to give?

Always a book.

How do you like to wrap your gifts?

My family has a wrapping contest each year; it's a pretty serious affair and there's always a big build up.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Other than the wrapping contest, being by the fire, cooking in the kitchen with my family, and generally relaxing for a couple days.

Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Photographer & Co-owner of Pau Wau Publications

What is your special gift or talent?

Taking photos, folding paper, talking too much.

What do you love most about what you do?

Meeting people.

How are you related to Urban Outfitters?

Some creative projects in the pipeline.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individual, dead or alive?

Natas Kaupas.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

Slappy grinds.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

A Super Nintendo in the early '90s.

How do you like to wrap your gifts?

In newspaper. Russian or Chinese works best.

What are your current obsessions?

Frozen Planet, Long Way Round, Big Sur, shoelaces, Nabokov.

Current location — Greenpoint, BK
Hometown — Chorleywood, UK
Astrological sign — Aries

Is there an outfit you currently have in high rotation?

Thermal long johns, Santa Cruz hoodie.

What are your favorite festive treats?

Mum's fish pie, mince pies, Port, mashed celeriac.

What is your special gift or talent?

Jack of all trades, master of none.

What do you love most about what you do?

SALT SURF has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of creative people, and often to allow them to use SALT as a platform for their creative talents. I also love being my own boss and deciding when to take meetings and when to sneak out to Rockaway for a little afternoon sesh.

How does Brooklyn inspire you as an artist and creative?

The amount of drive and perseverance in this city is amazing. Most people here are transplants, so they moved to this city to accomplish something, and it's inspiring to see the sacrifices people make to be able to do something they believe in.

Who would you nominate as the most gifted individual, dead or alive?

Kim Kardashian.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

I wish I could be a whiz at playing the violin. I've never even touched one, but I think it would be so great to just casually pick one up and bring everyone to tears with my violin skills.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

My friend Daniel Jackson (who is one of the founders of the brand Surface to Air) once

Nabil Samadani

owner of salt surf

Current location — Brooklyn, NY
Hometown — los gatos, CA
Astrological sign — Scorpio

told me very early on when I started SALT, that as a business, you can always get bigger, but you can't always get smaller. It's a great reminder to grow at a pace that you're comfortable with, and to enjoy the process. It has changed a lot of the decisions I've made with SALT, always reminding me to steer my own path.

Do you have a fail-safe gift you always like to give?

I often like to give plants, but if they're the kind of friend that can't get it together enough to care for another living thing, then they get a SALT beanie.

Any favorite holiday traditions?

My family has always been pretty non-traditional. One Thanksgiving we went out for Japanese food.

What are your plans for this coming holiday season?

There will be a launch party for the release of our magazine, WAYFARER. Then I'm heading back home to California to spend time with family and friends.

What are your current obsessions?

My dog. His name is Doggy. He recently died and came back to life after a medical "incident".

Alissa Wagner and Sabrina DeSousa opened Dimes earlier this year in a no man's land nook of New York's Lower East Side. They serve acai bowls for breakfast, organic goodness for lunch, and will even put on a private dinner for you if you ask them nicely (thanks, girls!). Here, the duo shares their story, plus a recipe they created especially for our dinner.

What brought you to
the wonderful world of food?

Sabrina: I used to always help my mom cook as a kid. In college I worked in restaurants and I never stopped.

Alissa: My older sister, Suzanne, is a great cook and amazing baker. Growing up, I always wanted to be like her. I started working in restaurants after college, which eventually led me to culinary school.

What was the impetus
for opening Dimes?

S: Alissa and I travelled to Patagonia a few years ago and I remember one day talking about our dream restaurant, creating clean, healthy food that we love to eat day-to-day, with beautiful, simple designs. The symbiotic drive we shared, then and now, is what makes Dimes so special to us.

A: We wanted to create the type of place where we would love to both eat and hang out everyday. The more Sabrina and I talked about our individual dreams, the more we realized we were on the same path. We both live in Chinatown and saw a great opportunity to create something unique in a neighborhood with very few options. A space became available so we jumped on it.

How would you
describe your customer?

S: Our customers are generally young creatives and their ilk. It's amazing to see the energy in Dimes at times. It's a great community of friends that support us and have made it what it is.

A: We have had amazing support from the neighborhood. The locals are all very creative, talented and friendly downtown folks who all seem to know one another. It makes for a very warm and welcoming atmosphere.

What's the ethos
and vibes of Dimes?

S: We tried to keep things simple with the aesthetic. It's great to hear what customers reference with our design—we've gotten every continent! It's ambiguous, yet cozy and simple, which are all great elements to intrigue the customer.

A: A secret oasis in the streets of Chinatown.

Sabrina DeSousa

Alissa Wagner

What are some of your
favorite dishes on the menu?

S: I love that we have three different acai bowls—I grew up eating those in Brazil. Our quinoa bowl is the perfect balanced meal for lunch. It's jam-packed with veggies and wonderful flavors from the roasted peppers and spiced chickpeas.

A: I'm really into our vegetarian hash that we're doing for brunch: Roasted squash with baby Brussels sprouts, scallion, ginger, chili and a sunny up egg. So cozy on a cold morning! For lunch I'd say the Winter Bowl to get you through the afternoon. Flageolet beans, roasted winter veggies, kale hazelnut pesto, and pickled carrots.

What do you like to
cook when you're at home?

S: I love to make a fish stew with coconut milk that my mother has perfected. One-pot meals are my thing—the simpler the better.

A: I have to be honest: I cook all day [at Dimes] so not much goes on at home.

Where are your favorite places
to go out to dinner in New York?

S: Northern Spy Food Co., Lovely Day, and Casa Mono are all dear to me.

A: Five Leaves, Lovely Day, The Smile

How will you be spending
this holiday season?

S: With family on Christmas Eve and heading to the movies on Christmas Day is tradition at this point.

A: Last Christmas Eve I went to the Oyster Bar at Grand Central and had an amazing time. Might have to make it a repeat. Christmas day I will be with my family and very excited nieces and nephew.

What is your favorite
gift to give and to receive?

S: I love to gift plants and tea. And both are gladly received!

A: Homemade gifts are always amazing. Someone made me a folding leather camp chair one year—quite impressive! I'm not as talented as that person, so I like finding weird things on eBay. I gave Sabrina a xylophone once.

Recipe — Roasted Buttercup Squash with Pear and Pistachio

2lbs buttercup squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp salt
3 bartlett pears, sliced into ½" wedges
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped pistachio
2 tbsp chopped sage
Black pepper to taste
Maldon's Salt to taste

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 In a large bowl, toss squash with olive oil, cardamom and salt.
3 Place squash in a roasted pan in a single layer and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
4 Toss pears in lemon juice to prevent oxidization.
5 To serve, layer a platter with the pear. Top with squash. Garnish with pistachio and sage.
6 Finish with black pepper and Maldon's Salt.