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    a conversation with Vanessa Lee

    Full Name: Vanessa Lee 

    What is your current neighborhood? Manhattan, New York

    What city were you born in? London

    What do you do for a living? Model at New York Model Management 

    Social Media Handles: @vanessaleevl on Instagram and YouTube

    What is your favorite kind of bagel? Peanut butter and jelly!

    Please tell us more about your business: Aside from full-time modeling, I also have a side project which is a food series (Casey Neistat meets Martha Stewart) on Youtube where I film my friends cooking their signature dishes in their apartments. 

    What’s your favorite holiday? Christmas in New York.

    What do you think your best trait is? Hmmmm physically, I’m a lost cause so it would have to be…self deprecating humor?

    You’re treating a special someone to a romantic weekend away. What locale do you go to and what activities are you planning? This is very me! I love treating people. I would say either Yellow Treehouse in Auckland, Studio Padron Cabin in upstate New York or Teahouse Testu in Yamanashi, Japan.

    You have one night free in any hotel. Which one do you go to? The Plaza Hotel in New York or Le Bristol in Paris. Actually screw Paris, it would be The Plaza. I’m the biggest romantic and that’s easily the most romantic hotel of all…

    Name one tourist spot you break out your selfie stick for: The last place was on top of Elephant Mountain in Taipei, that was surreal and I’d do that any day. Zero shame.

    You’re looking at spots for your next vacation. Are you headed to a beach or to a city or to the mountains? I’m a city girl through and through, but if it’s a vacation, a beach adventure could be fun. 

    What goes into the perfect sandwich? I’m an avocado addict so there would be TONS of avocado. Maybe a fried egg, some leafy greens, a drizzle of lemon and fresh steamed lobster. I think I just described a hybrid between an egg sandwich and a lobster roll but yeah that’s the one. 

    Describe the best meal you’ve ever had and with whom: My mum is hands down the most incredible cook, so I’d say anything she has put in front of me. But if we’re talking eating out, I’m a sucker for sushi like a great raw sashimi selection would be heaven or lobster and sweet potato ravioli is delicious too. 

    What’s your comfort food? Peanut Butter straight from the jar! Or maybe an almond croissant. Clearly, I’m super health-conscious.

    Fuck, Marry, Kill: cheese, sushi, BBQ: REAL TALK. I love this question. Kill cheese, fuck BBQ and marry sushi.

    Fashion-wise, what season do you look forward to most? Summer. For the most part, I like to have easy and relaxed pieces that make the transition from day to night simple. So summer is all about backless and dangerously short dresses with playsuits.

    What’s one article of clothing you can’t live without? My A-line Veda leather skirt. It’s my go-to piece for days when I’m dressing for day and night.  I can wear it casually with an oversized jumper/T-shirt and sneakers or pair it with a black turtleneck and heels to make it more polished.

    You’re redecorating your home. What room are you most excited to furnish? The kitchen! I’m a foodie and love the idea of having all my mason jars, books and cooking utilities organized. I’m really into the look of a ‘bachelor’s pad’ so it would be super muted, navy and grey, very simple and modern think Restoration Hardware.

    What beauty or grooming product can you not live without? I travel a lot and apply my “less is more” approach to my beauty routine as well, so I always have my Sunday Riley facial oils with me. 

    What’s your signature scent? Up until recently I was a hardcore Daisy by Marc Jacobs girl but then a guy told me it reminded him of a schoolgirl…Now I’m figuring that out. I love Burberry Body, that’s gorgeous and smells of love but I have a Le Labo right down the block from me so I might try one of those. 

    Do you follow a particular diet regimen? Whilst everyone is aiming for thighs gaps and abs, I’m trying to be the queen of what I call “funny-friend-flab” so my diet regimen is pretty strict—I basically eat EVERYTHING until I’m in a food coma and my friends have to roll me on my side and push me all the way home lol! No, on a serious note, I’m the least pickiest eater. I eat most things. I love fresh and filling food, so a lot of seafood, dense vegetables or carbs. I guess in that respect I eat quite similarly to the Japanese. I love a matcha tea in the morning with a big bowl of my turmeric and raw honey porridge (I make Man vs. Food portions). But I am also a sucker for desserts and that’s where it all goes downhill from there… I would literally marry any man who can make a good dessert.

    Name a favorite music artist: It varies depending on what I’m doing or feeling. I love this kid called Maxwell Young that I discovered online recently, he makes really chilled electronic music. I mix it up all the time so t’s SUPER varied. Most people can’t wrap their heads around it. It’s all music I stumbled across over the years and love to listen to like Joakim Kurud, Flume, Eastside Band, Kanye West, King Krule, Black Coast, RL Grime, Whats So Not.

    What album or mix is on repeat? Kanye West ‘Late Registration”.

    What music festival(s) do you look forward to attending? I would love to go to Burning Man! Anywhere I can dance my ass off.

    Describe the best party you’ve ever been to and why: My friends and I went to a random “student” night in this four-story warehouse in Peckham Rye—the equivalent of Bushwick in London—in sneakers. We were so tired of all the “model” clubs and just wanted good music, a low-key crowd and cheap drinks. It was old school RnB and we danced all night, it was so much fun. 

    You get to the bar, you immediately order: I’m not a big drinker! I can honestly survive a night out without drinking, I just love being around my friends and dancing. But if I’m ordering, it’s a Jack Daniels and Coke. I can dance aaaaaaaall night long.

    What’s your dream job? Antony Bourdain has it. Essentially it’s traveling around the world, meeting new people, having fulfilling experiences and making the most out of the time we have here. 

    Do you have any career ‘mistakes’ you can tell us about and what the upside was? I was an A student and had the grades to go to some pretty amazing schools. Looking back, I wish I’d known what I know now and pursued that further because I love learning and I think that my degree (which I’d also change to Economics) would have helped me now. That being said, things worked out great regardless and I think—one way or another—I’d have ended up where I am meant to.

    What was your first job and what do you think it taught you? I had a Saturday job working at The Royal Academy of Art in London where my colleagues ranged from 17 to 70 years old. My boss Inger took a chance on me despite my young age and taught me that everyone, across all ages, has the right to work wherever they want. It was the first time I truly grasped how prevalent and appalling age discrimination is and also that having older friends is just as valuable as friends your age.

    If you could teach anything to someone, what would it be?Two things, both of which I make an active effort to remind myself of every day.  The first is to have a relentless, sickening and bold work ethic. When everyone else is relaxing or partying, keep your head down and work hard. While we don’t have a lot of time, we do have enough timeAnd all those distractions will always be there. Work hard while you’ve got the stamina, energy and appetite to do so and your future self will thank you for it. 

    The second thing is to be unapologetically you. It’s human nature to succumb to social standards and peer pressure—I know I do at times (!) but when I can find it in me to not, that’s when I’m the happiest and most successful. I’m a go-getter and I’ve learnt that to achieve the uncomfortable you have to do the uncomfortable. While 1/10 times it doesn’t work out, 9/10 times it does and I’ve come to the conclusion that those are numbers I can work with but yes it’s going to be embarrassing and awkward. Embrace both. 

    Is there anyone you admire right now who you think is doing great things? Tell me about them! Yes. My friend Joe Gebbias, who founded Airbnb, for launching their latest project The Yoshiko Cedar House.

    Do you support any non-profits or charities? New York CaresWhen I first got to New York I signed up with them and I’ve had some incredible volunteering opportunities through them. If you have ever wondered where all the good people are, they are there. Volunteering. 

    What are your favorite social media accounts to follow on any platform? Insta! @jjjjound for athleisure aesthetics that make me want to cry.

    Relationship Status? Tell me why we shouldn’t. 

    Any dating deal breakers? If you can’t communicate! I get it, we’re human and instinctively shy from confrontation or awkward conversations, but it’s so unbelievably attractive when a guy can just tell what he wants or feels. That and just owning who you are. I once dated a guy who was terrified of growing up, it was like the third person in our relationship and he would use every excuse to justify “having his life together” as if buying stocks on the side meant he wasn’t young. Ironically, that was the most appealing thing about him.

    What’s the best time of day to have sex: Post dessert… Nothing sexier than having a food baby 😉

    stevie benanty

    stevie benanty

    Founder of a conversation.
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