WHAT DO YOU DO
I work for a small, independently-owned consulting firm (The Energy Group) in Des Moines. We specialize in energy efficiency (EE) and help businesses and utilities manage their energy costs either through design, renovation, or building/equipment upgrades. While our first goal is to deliver energy savings, the impact more significantly is reducing emissions. So much coal is still used to operate the built community in Iowa, the US and abroad (and the infrastructure won’t change quick enough); we need EE work to get our buildings performing optimally, using as little energy as possible. Energy efficiency isn’t the most sexy, but it’s the critical first-step to mitigating climate change. In the past seven years I’ve been able to grow quickly and learn a lot along the way. I’ve managed projects, performed energy analysis, improved our branding and online presence, reshaped our workflow… My role now primarily focuses on profitability and workflow. I work closely with the owner, a friend of mine, who will bring on new opportunities and I’m tasked with establishing the resources needed to deliver on our promises. That’s actually quite reductive- or maybe it’s succinct. But between the new work and keeping a close eye on our existing portfolio, I’ve got a lot going on at any given time.
I know I should just say I wear this moisturizer and that blush but I have to say I’m the most skeptical of the beauty industry. It's a multibillion-dollar industry that’s practically unregulated and it successfully convinces women they need to spend small fortunes without having to prove their products are effective (they mostly aren’t) or “green” (mostly not). So I don’t spend a lot of money at all on beauty products. What you eat and drink, how much you sleep, and your genetics have more of an impact so I keep things simple for my sensitive skin: moisturize, protect, hydrate. I wear sunscreen 365 days of the year; ColorScience has a great mineral SPF 50 brush that’s really good (like RAGBRAI-tested good). I use a homemade concoction of vitamin E and C, avocado oil, and rose water (it smells nice) when I remember in the evenings. I like Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics face wash and I’ve used Cetaphil as a moisturizer for years though now that I use avocado oil I use it less and less. I do love to try blush and lipstick for fancy times and the CLE melting cheek/lip color has been awesome; it’s subtle or bold depending on the application and it lasts. Glossier has a few products I’m using like the Boy Brow, concealer, and highlighter. I’ve been wanting to try the URB lip/stain Preservation carries! I don’t particularly like spending time on my hair so I recently visited Lindsey Mollenhauer for a laissez-faire style and she didn’t disappoint. (Curly-haired beauties: check her out.)
I’d describe our style at home as vintage/eclectic. Some spaces are really feminine and other spaces are really masculine,- there’s good balance and every area is cozy. Our mudroom at the back of the house has become one of my favorite rooms. It simultaneously feels open because of the windows and light and snug because of the wood walls/ceiling. It’s like a cabin. To me, home isn’t where the heart is it’s where your things are and those things can take over if you let them. We’ve curated our place so it holds things that are meaningful, functional and, in many cases, both. A favorite of mine is the pot rack in the kitchen, made from a cast iron steam trap from the Polk County Courthouse. A welder in Valley Junction made the custom hooks and this baby will last generations. If we have things that no longer serve us, I get rid of them. A majority of my things were found secondhand, all over the place, and I use them as is or modify them. I recently found this beautiful rug set at a garage sale for $10. I don’t know what makes me more happy, the deal or the fact that I now have this beautiful rug. Many of my boyfriend’s things are heirlooms or are from his travels. We have a couple trunks that were his grandparents, dating back to WWII. That’s pretty neat.
My closet is like my home: eclectic and vintage. My pieces range from the super feminine to utilitarian; modern and vintage sourced primarily secondhand. I certainly have a flare for the dramatic, - you’ll find fur, feathers, leather, sequins and other embellishments in there. I still play in my closet, trying on this after that, styling and restyling different pieces. I love stealing Ham’s (bf) clothes too. Getting dressed is my creative outlet [see “What You Do” section] and like any artist my mood can be reflected in my work. More and more I’m weeding out shapes that I don’t like on myself (A-line skirts, low-rise anything) but I wouldn’t say I’m any closer to pinning down one style. Oftentimes there’s a 70s vibe or a southwestern component but who knows, I’m all over the place. I like timeless shapes/pieces to mix with more modern or funky styles. A good jumpsuit or romper makes for a great base. And I tend to balance more sexy or hyper-feminine pieces with something casual or masculine. I like to experiment a bit with fashion but you won’t find me trying too many things at a time. If I could embrace a minimalistic style I would because I admire it. But as a friend once said, it would be like someone stole my soul. I’m minimalistic with a cherry on top (and sometimes also with sprinkles and whipped cream and nuts). I’m definitely over uncomfortable fashion though. I wear things that make me happy. The End. I love Man Repeller because they have the same spirit.
If I shop new I like to buy from conscientious businesses like Back Country Outfitters in Beaverdale or Preservation and I try to stick to high quality items made of natural fibers. Fast fashion is deplorable for so many reasons and I try hard to avoid it. I like to purchase things, new or used, that are lasting. I tailor my clothes a lot, changing hemlines, cuffs, or fit and that helps keep my wardrobe fresh. I also take my shoes to a cobbler so that they can live as long as possible. I won’t pretend that I have few things, but I feel good about the choices I make as a consumer- they align with my values.
- As told to Preservation
Emily Rice photographed at her home in Des Moines, Iowa by Nicole Lorenson