3 Questions with Rachelle Bergstein, Writer and Editor

I first met Rachelle about 5 years ago while she was researching and writing her first book “Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us“.  She’s super knowledgeable about pop culture, fashion, women’s issues, food, and New York. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Awl, Slice, Bloomberg View, WSJ, and Slate among others.  She’s appeared on NPR and has traveled around the country giving presentations on the subject of women and shoes.  She is currently working on a book about diamonds.

Read on below for Rachelle’s sources for what’s new (e.g. TheSkimm), brands she can’t live without (Shea Moisture Hair Products!) and some of her favorite spots in Brooklyn (Meat Hook Sandwich Shop is definitely on my radar now!).

YOUR 3 FAVORITE SOURCES FOR WHAT’S NEW

A former coworker introduced me to the TheSkimm, which is a morning newsletter featuring “skimmed” summaries of the day’s headline stories. It’s written in a snappy, accessible voice that probably won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s been so useful for me. Like almost everyone else I know, I have a tight schedule that doesn’t always leave me with time to read the news every day. I also write about fashion and style – the social and cultural complexities of pretty and fancy things – which interests me immensely, but doesn’t always feel like the most down-to-earth pursuit. Getting an email each morning that summarizes the current political landscape or offers updates on the situation in Yemen is a great way to feel more widely informed.

the-skimm-logo-ladiesEven though I don’t read it as consistently as I’d like, I love the New Yorker. Like many actual New Yorkers, I have a sky-high pile of back issues on my coffee table just waiting for me to read them “one day.” However, as a writer, nothing jumpstarts the creative process like reading great writing: the kind that makes me inspired and envious all at once. I really respond to the general style, which is lyrical but also incredibly precise. On the mornings when I’m having trouble getting into gear, I find that reading a New Yorker article can help create the right headspace for doing my own work.

Is it dorky to admit I love Instagram? It’s like Facebook without the noise; a visual collection of beautiful, funny and entertaining things. Generally speaking, I like seeing what my friends are eating and where they’re traveling because it gives me ideas for my own to-do list. Sure, we’ve all become shameless oversharers, but there is something nice about vicariously enjoying other people’s lives. And Instagram – a few nicely shot pictures here is there – is better than the alternative: being forced to sit through hundreds of your friends’ and families’ vacation photos.

3 BRANDS/ STORES/ SERVICES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

I must admit I’m not too brand-oriented; I tend to buy whatever fits/works/is on sale. However, there are a few products that have most definitely earned my loyalty. My current obsession is Spotify Premium: it has totally revitalized my relationship with new music. I don’t think I’ve listened to this many new albums since the Napster days! (Whoops –showing my age.) I love that my husband and I can co-author playlists and my little sister – who follows more bands than anyone else I know – can recommend music and it’s so easy for me to find.

For better or worse, it would take something major for me to end my relationship with Apple. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll never see me waiting in line for the latest rollout or shelling out for a new iPhone if I don’t have the upgrade. My husband, who works in technology, teases me for being a late adopter. I don’t understand the appeal of the Apple watch (famous last words). ALL of that said, Apple is my absolute go-to for my workhorse items. I happily upgrade my phone every two years and my MacBook Air is pretty much the best thing ever.

I discovered Shea Moisture hair and skin products a few years ago and I’m a complete convert. They’re natural; they’re affordable; and they’re sold in drugstores. What more could you want? Oh wait – they smell like the beach and they tame my wavy/curly/dry/thick hair. And as my friends know, anything that makes my hair look better gets very high marks in my book.

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WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WE SHOULD CHECK OUT

I have lived on the Southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the past decade and this neighborhood is constantly in transition. It feels like every week something new opens – and something else closes. These spots aren’t the absolute newest – they’ve all opened within the past few years, not months or weeks – but they’ve proven to have real staying power. Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, owned by the people at the much-adored Meat Hook butcher, is decadent and amazing. If you don’t believe me, just know this: it’s a deli counter with a few bar tables and no bathroom, yet Pete Wells at the New York Times gave it one star.

meat-hook

The most famous cheese shop in Williamsburg is The Bedford Cheese Shop, but Campbell Cheese & Grocery is a terrific East side alternative. It’s the kind of artisanal corner market that people associate with this area, and the service is awesome – just like at Bedford Cheese, you can walk in without an idea of what you want and the staff will patiently walk you through their products. They also carry produce from Brooklyn Grange, which earns them my patronage since those guys are my buddies.

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If my husband and I are regulars anywhere, it’s at Lighthouse restaurant: a gorgeous, airy spot on an unusual triangular lot. The menu is seasonal, and it’s a place where you can share lots of small plates and eat them in courses without feeling rushed – my favorite kind of meal. They have oysters, weird pickled vegetables, and some pretty insane pie. I thought this restaurant was our neighborhood’s hidden gem until a friend who lives on the Upper East Side told me he celebrated his last birthday there. So I guess I don’t have to protect the secret…

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