Interviews

Off Duty: Linda Rodin, Founder, Linda & Winks

Written By James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by: The Bleu

When I was developing the concept for Bleu, I compiled a short, but mighty list of women that I wanted to interview for the site. Linda Rodin was at the top of that list. If only you could have been there when I received her email reply to our inquiry with her cell number, asking our team to give her a quick call. There was most definitely screaming and jumping, and more screaming, a little sweating, and giant smiles all around. Long story short, now Linda and I are best friends and my life is complete. Okay, so maybe not best friend status quite yet, but I’m working on it, and I most definitely invited myself over to her apartment the next time I’m in the City to hang out in our pajamas on her wonderful, white vinyl couch. “I’ll bring the coffee”, I said. To which she replied, “Anytime!”

But in true James fashion, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s recap. We arrived to Linda’s building at 11 a.m. — right on time. The doorman took us up in the picturesque, New York City-style elevator, complete with sliding cage door. As we arrived to the 15th floor, the elevator opened to a long canary-colored hallway, which smelled delicious (Linda’s neighbors are quite the home cooks, so I’m told). I walked to the end of the hall, lifted my arm, and knocked gently on the yellow door. Linda greeted us with big smiles and a welcoming warmth that instantly calmed my nerves and made me feel like an old friend. Her home was a stunning hodgepodge of flea market finds and unique treasures that she has accumulated over the decades. Everything was placed into its setting with extreme thoughtfulness. The apartment felt like home and I wanted to stay for hours to take it all in, and that’s just what I ended up doing. There was no rush to our time together. We spent the next several hours talking about everything under the sun and listening to fascinating stories filled with life and passion. Linda has an extreme self-assuredness to her that I think so many of us strive for — I know that I do. I’m so grateful to know her and that I get to share a small part of our time with you all here. Until our pajama coffee date. Enjoy.

Vintage ribbed turtleneck, dress from Lazypoint in NYC, Lanvin leggings, Maison Margiela flats, TK Sunglasses.
Vintage ribbed turtleneck, dress from Lazypoint in NYC, Lanvin leggings, Maison Margiela flats, TK Sunglasses.

How do you typically spend a day off when the work can wait?  “I will go to a museum or have a nice leisurely lunch with a friend. Relax at home with Winks. I try and organize myself for the next busy day ahead.”

What do you wear when you’re spending the day at home, off duty?  “Sweatpants and sweatshirt.”

Is there a system for decorating your space? “No system at all. I’ve always been acquisitive and a collector of all things. Nothing is off limits. If I love it and I can afford it, I bring it home.”

Tell us about some of your most cherished collections or pieces in the house. “My shells. I am a Pisces and love anything and everything aquatic. I’ve traveled to many beaches all over the world and shell collecting is my yoga. I also love plants. I’ve discovered I have green thumb, and have 150 plants that I care for that are thriving. Then, there’s books. I love books, and I will buy a book for its cover. Some books are so beautiful, but unreadable.”

Linda's bedroom.
Linda's bedroom.

As a girl, what did you dream about being when you grew up?   “I wanted to be a waitress. I loved the little order pads with carbon paper in the middle.”

What was your very first job?   “I worked at an orphanage caring for babies that were anywhere from 1-3 years old. It got so sad that I had to quit.”

You worked in the fashion industry for 40 years. Tell us about it. “I did many, many things and traveled far and wide. My unforgettable moments have to be working with Cher for a Time Magazine cover, and with Bob Dylan in Venice for a television spot.”

Did you have any mentors when you first started out?  “My mentor was a wonderful photographer whom I worked for as an assistant. His name is Gosta Peterson. He passed away recently at 94. For me, he is the best fashion photographer there was. He was the first to photograph Twiggy in 1967 when she arrived in New York City.”

You created and sold a very successful, namesake beauty brand. What made you want to launch a skincare line?  “I had tried endlessly to find a product that was simple, easy and smelled good. I also wanted a natural product. It didn’t exist, so I mixed a combination myself with some of my favorite oils.”

What was your experience selling Rodin and transitioning out of the beauty industry?  “I’m so happy to be past that.”

Linda's beloved poodle Winky.
Linda's beloved poodle Winky.
Coffee table books.
Coffee table books.

How does it feel starting a brand new business at the age of 70?  “Brave and courageous. And, completely natural for me. I need to be working and I can’t bear not being creative.”

Tell us about Linda and Winks. “After I left my line, I decided that I couldn’t not be doing something creative. Winks was on my lap and I had that eureka moment — things for dogs! I could never find things I loved for him that possessed both style and utility. So, there it was: my Segue from Beauty to the Beast!”

How long have you had Winky? “I got Winks when he was three months old. He will be nine in January.”

Of all your roles past, present, and future, which has been the most challenging?   “Everything I’ve ever done has been challenging. That, of course, comes with the territory. To do something well and be fiercely proud of what you’ve done is alway my goal. And with this goal, the challenges abound.”

My favorite painting in Linda's home.
My favorite painting in Linda's home.

What does a typical work day look like for you? “I wake up, then go to the local matcha bar for my oat milk cappuccino and walk Winks at the same time. Then, I head back home to work. I am lucky. I work from home, so my schedule is my own. I spend the mornings answering emails and addressing whatever projects are at hand.”

Typical work lunch?  “On the phone with a banana and a yogurt.”

What’s your #1 secret to productivity?  “A lot of sleep, so I am fresh every morning.”

What are the benefits of working from home, in your opinion?  “I don’t have to put on lipstick!”

What’s your favorite Linda and Winks product you’ve designed so far?  “All of them.”

Who, what, where inspires your work most?  “I’m inspired by my past, my present, and looking to the future, too. Every day there is an inspiration to be had.”

In your opinion, what are the keys to success no matter what career field you’re in?  “Being passionate about what you’re involved in.”

Dream day off? “On a beach shelling.”

Linda and Winks.
Linda and Winks.
Linda and Winks dog leashes and collars.
Linda and Winks dog leashes and collars.
Dries Van Noten Faux Fur Coat, Vintage Levi's shirt, Vintage Levi's 501 Jeans, Dries Van Noten Sunglasses, Maison Margiela Flats.
Dries Van Noten Faux Fur Coat, Vintage Levi's shirt, Vintage Levi's 501 Jeans, Dries Van Noten Sunglasses, Maison Margiela Flats.

Your personal style is completely timeless. We know it’s stayed the same for decades. How did you nail it down in a sea of ever-evolving trends? “I think I know what suits me best, and I don’t stray from that. Never have since junior high school.”

What’s your signature look/go-to uniform?“Always a pair of jeans — be it 501 Levi’s or a pair of Ellery flare jeans — and a simple top.”

How did you tie your personal style into the Linda and Winks brand?  “I say ‘If I wouldn’t wear it, Winky wouldn’t either.’ Hence the denim-pleather collection. It’s simple and chic.”

What about beauty? Is it just sunglasses and a bold lip?  “Exactly. The sunglasses are prescription. I’m not trying to be mysterious. I just can’t see without them, and I prefer not changing from indoor to outdoor glasses.”

Cappuccino stop at Matcha Bar.
Cappuccino stop at Matcha Bar.

I think younger women look to older women as an example of how to age, what are your thoughts on that?  “I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the experience and the insight a woman has at a certain age.”

What do you love most about being where you are at in life?  “I love that I am independent and healthy.”

Is there a roadmap to staying fashionable and getting older?  “I think one has to sense who they are and how they feel. That combined with how comfortable they feel out in the world.”

What’s one crucial life lesson you can share with us? “One step informs the next.”

What’s your secret to happiness? “Health, a lot of sleep, a good diet, and of course, family and friends, which includes my darling Winky always by my side.”

What’s your go-to dinner recipe when dining at home?  “I don’t really cook. If friends come over, I usually have wonderful fresh fruits, dates, figs, olives, and delicious bread and cheese with cold white wine.”

What’s on the horizon for Linda and Winks? “Some more charming and useful dog lifestyle products. Woof!”

Written by: James Kicinski-McCoy

James Kicinski-McCoy is the 30-something Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Bleu. She likes tequila, picks fights with her husband so she can have the bed to herself, and is trying to figure out that work / life balance.

2 Comments

  1. Mathilda

    April 1, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    This site reminds me so much of Cup of Jo! F.e. I “met” Linda Rodin there and was in awe! And often I’m sad when I have read all content on CoJ and have to wait until the next day for more. So it will be nice to have a second place to go to!

    Reply
  2. Marisa

    April 3, 2019 at 11:18 am

    This is exactly why I devour a good interview. My soul is overflowing with yes! I know it may not be documented (as it should be) but Im dreaming about that PJ coffee hang out. Creatives have the best perspectives, most fun expressions, and are a dazzling brood. So good, I love the pup line, If Linda reads this (you never know) maybe a harness style leash can be added, my pug lacks neck real estate, but would look awesome in Audrey 2 or Johnny guitar.

    Reply

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