What’s In Your Bag: Style Blogger Elisabeth-Jones Hennessy
Travel is life for Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy, a former beauty buyer at Bergdorf Goodman and later CEO for luxury fragrance brand By Kilian. She splits her time equally between New York and Paris (with a few more trips in between) with seemingly never a hair—or outfit—out of place. How does she do it? Here, she spills her secrets to balancing it all, including the top seven carry-on items she never flies without.
Tell us about you! Where are you from, how did you fall into the business you are in now, and where do you get your style inspiration?
I grew up in Westchester County, New York. After college, I moved to the city to start a career in fashion as a buyer. I initially worked for an Italian fashion house called GFT before transferring to Saks Fifth Avenue, where I was accepted into their Executive Training Program. After six years spent moving up the ranks, I was recruited by Bergdorf Goodman, where I launched a new fragrance brand from Paris called By Kilian. The founder, Kilian Hennessy, ended up hiring me to open the U.S. subsidiary for the company and become the CEO for North America. It was one of those moments in life where you see a train passing and have to decide whether or not to get on! I never want to live with regret, so I spent the next eight incredible years helping build that brand.
Two years ago, By Kilian was acquired by Estée Lauder. I felt like I had just sent my child to college—both extremely emotional and excited! It also meant it was time for me to start something new, so I returned to my passion of discovering and sharing new brands. I launched a blog and am also working on an e-commerce site, which will debut in Spring 2019.
By the looks of your Instagram and blog, you’re almost always traveling. How do you balance life between New York and Paris?
YES! I ended up falling in love with the man I was working with, Kilian. We got married four years ago and, because we have children from our past marriages based in NYC and Paris, now live between both cities. I am with my son every other week in New York and Kilian has his kids for two weeks in a row in Paris. It’s a bit complicated and can be tiring, but it’s the only way we can spend time with—and help co-parent—each of our kids, who are our number one priority. It works because we can each do our jobs remotely and, most importantly, we are both extremely organized. Our agendas are set through June 2019, which is totally crazy but necessary to make sure we get the best airfares, since we fly so often.
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What other sorts of places have you traveled to recently?
I’m grateful to come from a family who instilled in me the importance of travel, as well as to be married to someone who loves to travel as much as I do. (I’m a Sagittarius, after all!) Our big trip this past summer was to Peru and Costa Rica. We ate some of the best food of our lives in Lima and traveling to Machu Picchu was a complete bucket-list moment! Afterwards, we flew to Costa Rica, where we spent two nights in the jungle followed by five nights by the beach in the Papagayo Peninsula. The kids had a total blast white-water rafting and zip-lining, which was both frightening and exhilarating at the same time!
Now for the burning question: what are the seven items you always pack in your carry-on?
- Binchotan Charcoal Eye Mask (top left): A friend gave this silk sleep mask to me as a gift. The charcoal is supposed to be calming and purifying, but honestly, I just love the silky texture against my face!
- Susanne Kaufmann Flight Kit (top middle): I love to spritz myself mid-flight with a mist and again before we land to keep my skin hydrated and fresh. I just have to be careful not to get the person next to me—unless it’s my husband, of course, who always appreciates a good spritz himself!
- Loro Piana Cashmere Fringe-Trim Opera Stole (top right): It’s always cold on the plane so this is always in my bag, even in the summer!
- Snacks: Typically almonds or a KIND bar, just in case I missed the meal because I was sleeping.
- Magazines: Call me old-school but I still love turning real pages and the airplane is the only time I get to catch up with my favorites including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Departures and AS IF. And, ok, maybe I’ll throw a trashy gossip magazine in there too, just for fun!
- Computer: I never work on a night flight but day flights are a great time to catch-up on emails and work without being interrupted!
- Jewelry: I never pack my jewelry in my checked bag for obvious reasons! I’ve never had anything stolen from my luggage (knock on wood) but it’s not worth the risk. My favorite jewelry designers are Paige Novick and Ranjana Khan. I like wearing these small ear climbers from Paige during the day-to-day.
What is your biggest packing tip when it comes to flying?
I typically have two carry-ons. One tote bag contains the most essential items (my passport, wallet, both U.S. and French phones) and anything I might need once I’m in my seat, while the other is a small duffle on wheels that contains heavier items (all those magazines!) and things I want close by but may not necessarily need easily accessible. For me, it’s important to be organized before getting on the plane, so I’m not fumbling through bags looking for something once I’m settled.
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Where are you headed next?
Paris, as that’s my “norm,” and then Amsterdam for a weekend to visit some friends. After that, our next big family trip will be to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic for Christmas. We are already dreaming about the beach!
You can follow Elisabeth on Instagram at @elisabethjoneshennesy. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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