It takes one to know one. Samantha S. Berngard is one publicist I love working with. She is bubbly, happy, fun with a great enthusiasm for life and enviably ever so good at her job. She recommended that I chat with her best friend for a local spotlight feature and considering that I am always on the hunt for savvy, dynamic locals. Knowing Samantha, her recommendations are usually spot on and I always came out of a (recommended) meeting inspired and energised. I park my car and turn up for a blind chat-date with Graham, only to be surprised that he was probably one of my favourite people to feature.
After a few minutes talking and shooting, I realised that this man truly knows how to portray the primordial definition of ‘passion for life’. Intriguing, witty, funny, handsome and high on life, Graham Kostic is truly one of Chicago’s best soul representation with his undoubted loyalty to the city, a refined and defined appearance, a sense of confidence through artistry and creativity and most importantly- the chap really knows how to have fun. If you’ve heard about him, spotted him in national glossy magazines or bumped into him at a chic private event, we’ve had a drink with Mr. Kostic and here’s more to know about the head of creative behind Glossed + Found– (a local Chicago blog, vlog and well curated e-commerce establishment.)
Who Is Graham Kostic?
I stumbled upon Glossed + Found by chance and now, a loyal follower. How did you develop the creative idea behind the vlog?
I was holding post as Style Editor for Modern Luxury Magazines, working with the Creative Director on creating pages of fashion content for the cross-country glossy magazines, including Chicago Social in town. I was approached by Stacey Roney of Beauty on Call who was developing a blog for her artist’s to show off their work and industry news. With a catchy name in her back pocket, I was hooked and stepped in front of the G&F lens at the host for the first time by booking an interview with Zac Posen. We talked his Fall collection, bad tube tops and champagne. It felt natural. As the site grew, I became more involved in the direction of the interviews and eventually kept pushing the content to be more dynamic and more fun. After a short stint as the Art Director for RueLaLa.com, I decided to pour full-time energy into G&F. I redesigned and relaunched the site in January 2012, adding events, fashion editorials, holiday DIYs, an e-market place and more. Our motto is: “It’s Beauty. It’s Fashion. It’s Fun.” The fun part is the most important. Without it, we’d be like everyone else.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t beat yourself up. Some things work and some things don’t. But the important thing is to always keep moving.
Growing up, what were your fondest memories?
I’m a sentimental person. Actually, I take that back. I’m a super sentimental person. I have many fond memories of growing up as my mom and dad had so much energy for their children.
One of my favorite memories—if I can name just one, would have to be an adventure that my mom and I took when I was about ten years old. I was playing the role of Louis in The King & I and we were on a U.S. tour. My mom was my chaperone. While in Atlanta, the cast stayed at a hotel very near the Fox Theatre where we were playing. On the first night that we were there, we exchanged goodnights and turned off the lights. Moments later, we heard lots of scurrying. My mom turned the light back on and cockroaches were running up the walls. We both screamed. I jumped into her bed and my mom threw a scarf over the lamp and we slept wrapped around each other with the light on—I don’t know who wouldn’t let go first!
Uff, that’s more like a scary movie! What about your grandmother, what did she make best?
My grandmother’s spaghetti was the best.
You have an air of east-coast chic about you (Jack Spade, etc.)…Who inspired your general aesthetic and fashion sense?
The funny thing about my job is that fashion is hardly my passion. Whenever I get asked this question, I really have to think about it. And I never have an answer that is good. What inspires my style? It’s just simple and comfortable. If I like it and it makes my eyes more blue—I wear it. My G&F world is constantly surrounded by color and energy that my own personal style remains somewhat sedate. Except for a cheetah print shoe here and there.
What makes Chicago special for you?
I grew up here. I bought my first place here. I sold my first place here. I had my first boyfriend here. I got dumped by my first boyfriend here. I met my husband here. I fell in love here. I started my career here. I have my mom and dad here. I produce G&F with some of the most talented people in the industry here. I have a party store that knows me by name and gives me discounts on helium here. That’s a lot of roots in one beautiful city.
Seeing that you’re a Chicago celebrity, do you plan on moving to the west coast as they all do?
You’re really stretching the definition of “celebrity” by calling me one! We like Chicago.
You can easily find guides for parents, foodies, art or nightlife visitors to Chicago. What tips would you have for the stylish and trendy LGBT visitor?
My Chicago hot spots list isn’t much different for the gays and the straights. I love exploring Andersonville—an extremely LGBT-friendly neighborhood with the best antique shops and bars to perch at for a mid-afternoon cocktail. I always recommend Davenport’s, a piano bar tucked away in Wicker Park that is totally unassuming—and go ahead and grab the stage on Open Mic night, no one will judge you one bit! And I’d add Berlin in Boystown to the LGBT list. Forget it, I’d add it to the straight list, too! In fact, everyone should go to Berlin. It’s dirty. It’s loud. And goddamnit, it’s a lot of fun.
Right, I’m stalking you at Berlin. But besides out & about, you have impeccable taste for everything and anything (especially event planning)- how did you develop or acquire it?
My mother is a pro. She has always enjoyed entertaining and I always liked watching her do it. And I’ve also always liked the theatrics of entertaining. It’s all about creating new experiences for people. Everyone is constantly surrounded with so much noise in life—Facebook! The News! Gossip! Hashtags!—that the challenge is how to create an environment for people to stop the mill for a second and really take notice of the moment. You have to make things special for people. And it doesn’t have to always be on a big scale. The most thoughtful touches can come from the smallest things. And if that doesn’t work: hire a man to wear a stork costume for your best friend’s baby shower.
What’s your preferred journalism of choice and what do you think of journalism today- is it too biased or do you think there’s some truth in it?
In the car, it’s NPR. At home, it’s whatever comes through my news feed. I think every outlet of journalism has some bias to it. It’s about cross-reading and not taking every written and spoken word for truth. Be your own journalist and dig around to fill in the blanks. And read up on the things that really interest you. All of the new discoveries at Stonehenge—fascinating!
Nice, balanced response. But what do you think of all this Ice-Bucket banter. Yay or Nay?
It’s a fascinating phenomenon to think of how many people poured ice water over their heads. For the very vocal naysayer, I’d much rather spend time on Facebook watching a friend do that with the hopes that donations will be made to a good cause than click through to waste twenty minutes scrolling through “25 Ways to Tell You’re A Kid of the 90’s.”
Too bad you’re married, otherwise I would flirt with you some more… tell us about your experience with getting married in Chicago- any tips?
You make me blush! We took our sweet time. Fran and I got engaged—very nonchalantly—while sitting lawnside at the Atlantic Inn on Block Island. Our waitress brought us champagne and oysters and some of the other hotel guests around us stood up and clapped. We had a big engagement party in Chicago and then … we just didn’t know what to do. After renovating our West Town house a few years later, we decided to get married in our courtyard with a small group of family and friends. Par for the course, the challenge was to make the event special and meaningful. What ended up unraveling was a night that was one big thank you to those in our lives who helped make us the successful couple we are today. Beautiful flowers are beautiful. Chiavari chairs are classic. Wedding registries are fun. But what you’re left with, after all that stuff, is the genuine feeling of total euphoria. No matter what you do—make sure you remember how you feel. It’s your best medicine on gloomy days.
My mantra: If you can’t laugh about it, you’re missing out.
My #1 discipline: Get up early on vacation. Life is too short to sleep away a new location.
A few habits off the top of my head: Baths in the wintertime with Stephen Sondheim on the playlist. Take polaroid camera + film most anywhere I go. Fix my bed every morning. And don’t forget to show those pearly whites whenever you get the chance.
What values do you hold close to heart that no one can shake off?
Being nice and genuine goes a real long way. And I don’t like wasting people’s time. We shoot a lot of stories at G&F. I want people to get in, do excellent work and be able to make the tail end of happy hour.
A quote you live by?
I’ll make one up: “You should always just be YOU. Who else would you rather be, anyway?!”