Interviews

Off Duty with Gloria Noto, Artist and Founder of Noto Botanics

Written By Tiana Gidley

Photography by: Zachary Gray

When I first heard of Gloria Noto — her background, the ethos of her company, everything she stands for personally — I knew I wanted to share a portion of her world with us here at Bleu. As a trained artist, Gloria didn’t so much trip into the world of consumer beauty as many founder stories often begin, but rather blazed a trail, leaving art, purpose, and mission in her wake. Today, the thirty-something, first-generation Italian-American opens up her airy, L.A. artist’s loft to talk style, listening to one’s body as the ultimate form of self-care, and why she purposefully markets her company Noto Botanics as gender-fluid, along with so much more. For book recommendations on sexuality and S&M, where to get the best matcha in Los Angeles, and tips on staying productive (hint: it has everything to do with meditation), this is one interview you’ll want to read through until the end.

Rosie La Jaguara button-down, Calvin Klein bodysuit. Vintage pants.
Rosie La Jaguara button-down, Calvin Klein bodysuit. Vintage pants.

How do you typically spend a day off when the work can wait?  “I try to go outside in the sun with my pup, cook, and have a drink with friends. It is also for me to have time with myself — be it reading, painting, etc.”

Do you sleep-in on your days off?  “Never, I can’t sleep in past 5:30 a.m., unless I have a special guest in my bed.”

How many times do you hit snooze?  “Never.”

What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?  “I attack my puppy with kisses.”

What’s on your bedside table?  “Books about S&M, poetry by James Baldwin and Eileen Myles, a camera, and a joint.”

What’s the story behind your home and how long have you lived there?  “It’s a commercial space loft that has two floors and very high ceilings, exposed brick, and a ton of plants. The top floor is where I live, and the bottom floor is where I run my business and do art. I found it just before launching my company, thinking I wanted a large space to do large-scale paintings that I was being commissioned for at the time, little did I realize that it was going to be growing into my full production space for my company Noto botanics. It was a gift from the universe for sure.”

What are few favorite things you cherish in your home?  “A painting by Mattea Perotta that was given to me. She is a friend as well, and I love her work so much. Whenever I look at it, I smile. My big window that give my upstairs so much light and has the strangest view of the freeway right outside of it, as well as the sunset. The window has a metal roll-up to cover it at night in case someone shoots at it from the freeway with a BB gun, which unfortunately has happened. In addition, I love the weird tiling in my bathroom. It’s a commercial space, so everyone who has lived there over the past few decades has left their mark. This floor has a bunch of weird almost terrazzo-like pieces that are random colors and very ’90s. Lastly, I really love my giant claw foot bath tub, need I explain?”

Tell us about the art in your home.  “A lot of the art in my house are gifts from either the artists themselves, friends, or past partners. I also have a lot of my own art up. With that said, I do have a lot of white on my walls; I like the negative, clean space. Getting a gift of art from a friend is so special. Looking at a piece of work that’s been made by a friend is the best work one can have. It feels so personal, so it’s so loved.”

Where do you find / shop for home decor?  “I don’t hunt for home decor too much, I generally let it find me. I do, however, love Night Palm. It used to be a store, but is now mainly an interior design studio. Or, I tend to find random pieces from ComingSoon NYC.”

Any must-read books you’d recommend? The Four Agreements, Queer Times Black Futures, and The Story of O.”

Favorite Netflix series / movies?  “I just started watching Pose and I am obsessed. I love seeing trans POC as main characters. The show also has incredible set designs, clothing, and fashion in the mix. I feel we need more of that. I am a fan of Ingmar Bergman, Agnes Varda, Derek Jarman, and Jim Jarmusch…I could honestly go on and on. I love film so much.”

Any good podcasts we should listen to?  “I have been really into weird true crime podcasts like Dark Putine. I love Vanguard (it discusses unique business models), and Still Processing by the New York — my dose of educated culture.”

Coffee table books and magazines you love? Beauty Papers, Suited Magazine, The Face, and COLORS. All of them give a very unique point of view that feels very authentic to its content. Also, Madonna’s Sex book is a favorite.”

Helmut Lang top. Vintage pants.
Helmut Lang top. Vintage pants.

What are your hobbies?  “I have a lot of things I am curious about and learning at random times. Currently, I am really into body movement as a form of self-practice. I like to do this in front of a mirror in my underwear and move to music — see my reflection and feel my body as a way to connect with it. I have had many years of feeling disassociated to my physical form or my reflection, so this for me, is a way to connect with myself.”

Night in or night out? How do you spend it?  “Both! Sometimes I love to be alone and dive into my mind, or stay in with friends or a special friend and cook, smoke a little, and watch a movie. On the other hand, I also love to go out to drag nights, or dance in dive bars, go to art openings or lectures. I love it all.”

Song on repeat? Any Time, Any Place by Janet Jackson.”

Signature scent?  “My oil I make called Rooted Oil.”

Breakfast / brunch of choice?  “Brunch: baked eggs with leeks, greens, and herbs. Focaccia toasted with butter, a bloody Mary, and berries. Can you tell I haven’t eaten lunch?”

Coffee or tea? How do you take it?  “I love coffee so much, however I stopped drinking it. I switched over to coconut milk matcha.”

Favorite local cup?  “Amara Kitchen in Highland Park, Maru in the Arts District, Bloom and Plume in Echo Park — each one of these places is extremely special.”

Fave cookbooks?  “Salad For President by artist Julia Sherman.”

Your go-to dinner recipe when at home?  “Baked Japanese sweet potato with homemade pesto. Allow the sweet potato to candy a tiny bit, pour olive oil, heavy pesto on top, add Maldon salt, eat.”

Favorite local restaurant and your go-to order?  “I love going to Botanica in Silverlake, Amara Kitchen in Highland Park, Alta in West Adams, and Honey Hi in Echo Park.”

Any supplements you take / magic elixirs you make or swear by?  “I love adding mucuna pruriens to my matcha. It makes my dopamine levels increase. I also love adding hydrolyzed collagen to my matcha to protect my insides. I take an adrenal supplement called Cortrex by Thorne and Neem because I have Epstein-barr which compromises my liver and adrenals.”

Any most-loved kitchen gadgets?  “My Global Knife.”

How do you stay active? Do you work out?  “I take my pup on a mini a.m. hike-run almost daily in Elysian Park. She tries to race me because she knows she’ll always win. I like lifting weights and I do Muay Thai (not as much as I’d like though).”

What does self-care look like for you when you’re off duty?  “Doing whatever my soul is saying it needs. So, being able to have the ears to listen to yourself is truly self-care.”

You decide to treat yourself, how do you indulge?  “Sitting in a wood-burning sauna for three hours on Orcas Island outside of Washington in the middle of a 15-acre woods property.”

Describe your personal style / style philosophy.  “I am not totally sure I can describe my style. My style has never fit into any sort of box. I truly base it off of mood quite a bit. However, as a philosopher, I try to maintain a mindful sustainability practice. Be it in buying local or vintage or ethical brands. I really do love vintage, especially vintage designer — find me ’90s Jean Paul Gaultier and I am very happy.”

What’s the one thing in your closet you would save in a fire?  “I don’t know if I have anything in my closet that I am completely attached to, to be honest. To me, stuff is just stuff.”

Your first fashion splurge?  “My first fashion splurge was a pair of Margiela Tabi boots. I remember seeing these crazy hoofed shoes on the runway in the ’90s with their dark aesthetic that felt like total body armor transformation coolness. I wanted them for so long, then finally got to a point in my career where I could have them, so I gifted a pair to myself.”

What do you wear when you’re spending the day comfortable, at home, and off duty?  “I wear clothing similar to the photos. I always get ready in the morning, even if I am working from home. It helps me feel like I can start my day properly.”

Who, what, where inspires your style the most?  “My mood for sure, and music.”

What are three things on your want list?  “To buy a house, to open NOTO stores internationally, and a woman president.”

Your wardrobe staples, go…  “A good belt, a good shoe, great lingerie, and a nice smile.”

Favorite designers or brands?  “Dries Van Noten for colors and texture. ’90s Helmut Lang; minimalism at its finest. And, Jil Sander; minimalism at its finest with a twist.”

If you could raid one person’s closet (dead or alive), who’s would it be and why?  “Cher — need I explain? [laughs].”

Your favorite vintage clothing stores in L.A.?  “Sisterwife, Squaresville, and Sleeper.”

Dresses or jeans?  “Jeans.”

Heels or flats?  “Heels, but thick ones.”

Vintage or new?  “Vintage always over new.”

Vintage top. Pants by Norma Kamali.
Vintage top. Pants by Norma Kamali.

Tell us a bit about what you do.  “I am a fine artist, generally in the painting and writing world of things. I was an editor at a conceptual art magazine I created called The Work Magazine for about six years, during which I have also been a makeup artist for 12 years now. I launched my minimal, natural, gender-fluid line called Noto botanics, about three and a half years ago.”

Was it always art and beauty?  “Yes, it was. Since day one, all I wanted to do was create art and beauty.”

Who / what has been your biggest inspiration?  “Synesthesia.”

Your company, Noto Botanics, is gender-fluid. Can you speak a bit more about this decision and why it was important to you?  “Generally speaking, all cosmetics are gender free, but we try to sell them to the demographic who spends money on cosmetics — women. That’s not right. I feel that when you do this, you are lying to your customer by targeting what you think this demographic’s insecurities are. Which then feeds this weird cycle of capitalism that makes women feel incomplete if we do not abide by these ideals of what women should be. Everyone wants beautiful skin and to feel good using their products. That has no gender.”

Tell us a bit about your background.  “I am a first-generation American with parents from Sicily, Italy. I am the youngest of five, and have three brothers and one sister. My sister was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and the coolest person I knew when I was a kid. We are 16 years apart.”

What does a typical work day look like?  “I wake up out of some weird dream that I try to remember, but then can’t — instantly. I get out of bed after playing with my dog and feed her breakfast, while I make my matcha. I take her out to pee and then start a meditation or pull a tarot card to help set my intention for the day. Intention setting is a powerful part of my day. You have to connect with yourself first before you can connect with anyone else in a kind, calm, and protected way. I then lay out my main goals, take the dog for a run or some movement, get ready, start taking meetings with my team, go out for a lunch meeting, interview someone for our blog, work on collaborations or connection with whatever charity we are working with at the time, etc. I wind down with either a friend or my pup. Sometimes, later at night, I get some inspiration to paint or draw or play music. That to me is a pretty successful day.”

Typical work lunch?  “I forget to eat lunch a lot, but if I do, it’s quick and easy like feta cheese, olives, cucumber or fennel, olive oil, and sometimes a protein like smoked salmon.”

In such a competitive industry, how do you keep up with the Jonses?  “I don’t try to. I keep up with my own authenticity. Though, of course, it’s always nice to be aware of what’s going on in your culture. So, it’s a balance of admiration and self-discovery.”

Keys to productivity?  “Meditation. Making lists. Staying off Instagram.”

When in a creative funk, what puts you back on track?  “Mediation again — getting your mind to clear out, so it opens space to get in flow.”

What advice would you give your younger self?  “Go on with ya’ bad self.”

Any exciting news or projects on the horizon?  “We are opening a flagship store in Highland Park this fall. This will be a huge shift for the direction of Noto that I am so excited to share with everyone.”

Written by: Tiana Gidley

Tiana Gidley is a 20-something Contributing Editor at The Bleu. She binge-watches reality TV on Bravo, throws a mean murder mystery party, and makes her bed every morning.

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