WHAT DO YOU DO?
By day, I work as a creative strategist in the marketing department at OPN Architects. My day-to-day can be varied, but the majority of the job is working with a project team to respond to requests for proposals. Outside of my formal job, I act as the managing editor for Iowa Architect magazine, as well as sporadically freelance writing for various publications. I studied journalism at Iowa State University, with a specific focus on magazines, so the production of printed materials is kind of where my heart lies. I like to dream about creating my own print project but haven’t made any real moves yet. I’m also working on opening my first business. It’s quite the undertaking that’s been in the works for the past few years, but it’s finally getting more real. Hopefully, we’ll be open by the end of this year!
I like to keep my beauty routine quick and simple. If I wear makeup, I’ll typically stick to a sheer layer of BareMinerals foundation, Boy Brow by Glossier, and a bit of highlighter and blush. Once I get enough sun, I get freckles, which I love, so in the summer I’ll typically skip the foundation to let those show better. I love trying new face masks and have recently been using a Dead Sea mud mask every Sunday, which makes my skin so soft. I’ve also been obsessed with rose water lately, and use it as a toner every night.
I tend to get bored with my hair and have had no fears when it comes to coloring it. I recently went platinum blonde. In college, I had a friend teach me how to bleach my own hair, and I’ve done it a few times since. Luckily, my hair is super tough so it’s been able to survive the repeated abuse. I use Olaplex and various hair masks to strengthen and repair it on a weekly basis. I also use Pureology Hydrate conditioner, which I’m obsessed with. It hydrates my hair like no other and smells so, so good.HOME
I take a lot of pride in decorating my home. It’s important for me to create a space that is comfortable, utilitarian, and shows my personality. I love to travel and have made a habit of collecting small items from nearly every place I visit. Scattering them about my home reminds me of the amazing places and cultures in this world, and inspires me to keep exploring. It’s also a way to create a space that is unique to me and my life experiences. For instance, I made this bench at my kitchen table. My uncle is a retired carpenter and has a barn full of old wood. One day two summers ago, he let me come out and pick the piece I wanted, we cut it to size, planed it, and I took it home to sand and coat it. I purchased the legs from Dendro & Co., bought myself a power drill, and went to work. With the exception of it being a bit off-balance (haven’t gotten around to adjusting it with the shims I bought two years ago…), I’d say it turned out alright.
In addition to my collection of trinkets, I’ve begun collecting and creating more art in recent years. I started playing around with acrylic paint on canvas last year, and my roommate Leah and I will play around with calligraphy ink every now and then. We have a few hand-lettered pieces scattered about the apartment. Both my sisters are artistic, and so recently I’ve been adding more of their work to my collection. My older sister did this awesome drawing of prayer hands and gave it to me for Christmas. I’m obsessed. I commissioned my younger sister to draw a botanical plate of some wildflowers native to my parents land, which I can’t wait to hang in the apartment.
I’ve recently become semi-obsessed with plants. Like, I was maybe a little bit crazy for a while. I think my collection has surpassed 40 by now. But hey, plants make people happy. There is evidence plants have a positive impact on mental health plus they rid toxins from the air. I’ve learned a lot and become decently OK at taking care of each individual plant, and have even been able to successfully propagate a few. They bring me joy and fill the apartment with life. What’s not to love?
Over the past few years, I’ve made more of an effort to reduce my footprint and be smarter about what I buy. I focus on buying quality for longevity rather than quantity for trendiness and try to purchase from companies that treat the environment and employees with respect. I used to shop more than I should have, but I’ve gotten to a nice balance now. Locally, my favorite place to shop is Preservation. When traveling, I love to check out local boutiques and hit up thrift stores. I prefer the smaller, locally owned stores to big fashion retailers. (I can’t resist Zara, though.)
My style is fairly simple. I like to keep it casual and comfortable. My go-to is a pair of vintage Levi’s, my black ankle booties, and a simple top tucked in. Working in an office every day, I’ve found keeping my outfits pretty basic allows my mornings to become much easier. That being said, I love playing around with my closet and finding new ways to wear my items, whether it’s tying a top a different way or playing with layers. (You’re never too old to play dress up, right?) I’m not big into jewelry, but I almost never leave the apartment without these three gold rings I bought from my favorite shop in Seattle called Glasswing. It’s perfectly curated and has a lovely mixture of beautiful clothes, affordable jewelry, and a corner dedicated to plants. I follow a few of my favorite shops and brands on Instagram and will scroll through their feeds when I’m lacking inspiration.
- As told to Preservation
Abby Gilman photographed at her home in Des Moines, Iowa by Nicole Lorenson