To know Kelly McIntosh is to know an individual who is ambitious, incredible at conversation (even if only through the click-clack of computer keys and a lengthy email chain, her acute knowledge of so many things makes her a dream to discuss just about any subject), and a fiercely kind heart. I specifically remember our team’s reaction when she so nonchalantly whipped up an entire website as a resume before Bleu even had the opportunity to take its place in the Internet stratosphere. The design and creativity shook us, as the kids say, no question. She is a web designer, and a damn good one, after all. But, her writing is what shifted our initial perception from “She’s great!” to “She’s got to be a part of our team.”
Based in the same Windy City that has born greats like Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, and Jeff Tweedy, we’d like to formally introduce you to Bleu’s Chicago Contributing Editor, Kelly McIntosh. When she’s not nose-deep in a good book or snuggling her main man — a furry four-legged friend nicknamed Beans — you can find her writing all about topics of the mind and heart here on Bleu. Some personal favorites include, “Is It Ever Okay To Comment On Someone’s Body?” and “Sex Over Sixty“, but to read any of Kelly’s pieces is to dive head-first into critical thinking on issues that maybe once seemed taboo, but certainly deserve a platform to be discussed more frequently. Kelly is one-of-a-kind, but don’t take our word for it. Read more on the 30-something web designer and seasoned writer, below.
Location: “Chicago, Illinois.”
Occupation: “Web designer, writer, part-time fashion designer.”
Tell us a bit about yourself. “I have absolutely no idea how to answer this. Certainly you’re not interested in knowing that I’m the youngest of four, obsess over ginger beer, or that I find people who put their cereal in the bowl before their milk horrific (it’ll get soggy, you monsters!). Majority of my life, I’ve focused on fashion design — teaching myself how to sew and make shoes even before college — but I’ve always been drawn to so many things. Writing and web design are two things I wanted to learn, so I taught myself — the saxophone and Mandarin are next. My goal in life is to do whatever makes me happy, even if it isn’t in a conventional, straight line. And right now, I’m pretty darn happy.”
How did you land your role at Bleu? “Well, I’m a stalker by nature (please don’t take this seriously) and after following James for years, she announced the impending launch of Bleu without giving any hints as to what it was, so naturally, I used my Blue’s Clues (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and deduced it was a lifestyle publication. Granted, I could have been way off the mark, but I felt pretty certain. So, I built a webpage pitching all the reasons I’d be great for Bleu with a few writing samples and sent it to James and Tiana and it worked! The moral is to always go for what you want. You’ll never regret trying, only not.”
Coffee or tea? How do you take it? “Definitely tea. I prefer a simple ginger tea with honey and cayenne pepper. It sounds odd, but after drinking it years ago to fight a cold, I got hooked.”
Favorite local cup? “At the Goddess and the Baker cafe there is this now discontinued (foreshadowing?) jalapeño watermelon tea that was maybe one of the oddest drinks I’ve ever had. After I drinking it, the only opinion I could muster was that I wasn’t thirsty anymore, but I definitely had no idea if I liked it. Days later, I was craving another cup — opinion solved.”
What’s your sign? “Scorpio, which pretty much perpetuates my love for fall and weeding out the truth.”
Breakfast or brunch? “Can I rebel and just say brinner? I don’t have any particular allegiance to meal times, but there’s something comforting about having breakfast for dinner.”
Fill in the blank: I can’t start my morning without _________. “Speaking kind words to myself. I pretty much hand out participation trophies to myself just for showing up. In recent years, I’ve learned the importance of being your own biggest cheerleader, so not a day goes by that I don’t throw mental confetti and congratulate myself on almost everything, even when I’m feeling crappy.”
Everyday uniform? “My style changes as often as my moods. The way I dress has always felt like an extension of myself, even in high school. My goal is to always feel confident in whatever I’m wearing then constancy, that’s the most important thing to me.”
One fall trend you’re looking forward to? “I’m loving repetitive layering. As in denim on denim, leather on leather, suede on suede, etc. I love looks that feel tailored or thoughtful. This is one that isn’t necessarily about buying new pieces, but styling those you already have in a more monochromatic way, which I’m really into for fall.”
Shop Kelly's Style
Fave online shop? “Etsy or eBay. I’m a hardcore vintage collector. Over the years, I’ve collected close to 250 pieces of vintage, which probably makes me fashion’s equivalent of a crazy cat lady. Etsy and eBay are great places to find some amazing vintage. Although, my collecting has morphed from an onslaught to a slight trickle, Etsy and eBay will always be my favorite online shops.”
Heels or flats? “Definitely heels. Having worn them almost everyday since high school, they always make me feel more put together.”
Strangest habit? “I love really, really, REALLY tight spaces. They’re extremely comforting to me, so I tend to gravitate toward small, cramped spaces. Reading under my desk, watching a movie with my niece in the closet or under a table are really relaxing to me. I started doing it as a kid, partially because I shared a room with my sisters and it made me feel like I had my own space. Always building forts or going under my bed or blankets. I guess it just stuck with me, luckily.”
Cult beauty product? “I never really wear makeup, but you’d be hard-pressed to find me leaving the house without a red lip. My favorite go-to Fenty’s Stunna.”
Shop Kelly's Favorites
Favorite books you’ve read to date? It’s always so hard to pick favorites, they change so often. I’ll just go from today’s mood and name something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. For something old, I’ll say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s one of the first classics I’ve ever read and fallen in love with. For something new I chose Three Women by Lisa Toledo. I’ve always been into the psychology of sex and this book, although from a very narrowed viewpoint, is unabashedly candid and worth the read. Something borrowed is Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Neitzche. Received as a gift from an ex, it was almost a depressive read, but opens up a lot of internal dialogue. Last but certainly not least, House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski as my something blue. Definitely an interesting read. It can’t be converted to digital format because of all the psychological elements that sometimes have you deciphering mazes, reading the book through a mirror, etc. I read it over ten years ago and the strong opinions when I recommend it are what I love most. Love it or hate it, it’s definitely one of the heaviest novels I’ve ever read at over 700 pages.”
Kelly's Recommended Reads
Last purchase? “Haribo gummy bears. I know, I’m so fancy. I get suckered at the checkout lane every time. And, since I couldn’t just choose one flavor — the sweet and sour snakes will never not be an option — I got a few bags.”
Signature scent? “I’ve always been drawn to earthy / clean scents. I’ve never been a fan of any sweet scents, especially vanilla. My all time favorite scent I’ve been wearing since I was younger is this lemon / basil scent. It has a very clean, fresh smell. I typically make it myself or purchase it from a family-owned company in Georgia.”
What’re you watching this fall? “Truth be told, I make it a habit to watch almost every new series at least once, just to give it a chance — movies, too. I keep a list of new releases and upcoming shows, so I’ll watch almost anything (especially indie), but I’ve always been drawn to darker, serious movies and series. As of now, my patience and I have seemingly been waiting 300 years for the second season of Jack Ryan, Mr. Inbetween (just premiered), and Castle Rock. Lately, I’ve been really impressed with British shows, so Luther, Killing Eve, Fleabag and This Way Up have really blown me away. None have new shows for fall, but all definitely worth the binge.”
In Kelly's Queue
Best meal you’ve ever had? “No contest, this tempura roll from this tiny, tiny sushi place I stumbled across years ago. It’s similar to a dragon roll, but it’s completely tempura battered and comes topped with unagi sauce and spicy mayo. Every bite is hot and just a burst of flavor. I have dreams about this roll.”
Fill in the blank: Aging is __________. “A privilege.”
Guilty pleasure? “M&M’s. Doesn’t sound like much of a guilty pleasure, but after developing a peanut allergy a few years ago — apparently developing allergies as an adult is this big secret no one told me about — eating M&M’s feels like an act of rebellion. So, you know, small victories.”
Saturday or Sunday? “Sunday. Solely in the interest of not hurting its feelings at being second best.”
One place in Chicago everyone must visit? “I feel like everyone expects to hear places like The Bean, Sears Tower (because it will never be Willis Tower), or the lakefront, and while, yes, all those places are great, my pick is The Art Institute. I have a friend who studied at The School of the Art Institute in the ’70s, and we’ve created this tradition of going to museums whenever we meet up. We’ve gone to almost every museum, but our favorite is The Art Institute. We go through and he tells me the history of almost every painter, which I think is beyond amazing. So, now it holds a special place in my heart. Although, our tradition is to focus on paintings, my favorite is the Thorne Miniature Room. Sometimes, I go by myself just so I can admire all the miniature rooms unhurried. They’re so detailed and small it almost feels like magic. And bonus, since it’s directly across the street from Millenium Park (The Bean) and the lakefront, it’s like two birds with one stone.”
How do you spend a day off duty? “Reading. I read about two to three books a week. Honestly, I’m trying to get to my mom’s status. Growing up, she’d read two to three books at the same time, so sometimes five to six books a week, which I always thought was pretty impressive. I could never, my focus isn’t set up like that. If I ever wanted to read multiple books at the same time, the only option I have is to read my current one faster. Everywhere she went her purse was packed to the brim with books, while my back and I prefer digital books. Now, she’s more of a one at a time reader like me. I love that we share our love for books, even if we’ve NEVER read the same ones.”
KaitlinNovember 13, 2019 at 9:59 pm
Tiny little typo! Lisa Taddeo* wrote Three Women, which, I agree, is a phenomenal book.
KellyNovember 14, 2019 at 7:26 pm
MicaelaNovember 14, 2019 at 4:35 am
Love all Kelly’s favs, and can’t believe I didn’t know about a second season of Jack Ryan! I’m exactly the same way with TV. I have a list of shows currently airing on a weekly basis, and a list of shows to remember year-round. I love reading blogs about best upcoming TV and movies, or best of the year, and making sure I’m familiar with them. It’s a second full-time job in terms of time spent, and makes me wonder frequently what else I could be doing with that time to produce, rather than consume, so much.
But it just tastes so good.
KellyNovember 14, 2019 at 7:29 pm
Couldn’t agree more, Micaela. Definitely feels like a second job! Worth it though.