By Nicole Frehsée | May 1, 2013 | People
No challenge is too daunting for this business powerhouse.
Justine Fedak lives by the words velle est posse—Latin for “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” “No mountain is too high,” says the 43-year-old senior vice president of BMO Financial Group, who’s dealt with her share of adversity: She lost her first love in a car accident at age 21, and she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 11 years ago. “I’m not saying I don’t go down for the count, but I rise quickly,” she adds. “When you experience extreme sorrow, you have a real appreciation for beauty and joy.”
Hero: My grandfather, who was head of Canada’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, saw the world through the most welcoming eyes. He taught me that you have to forgive everyone because if you don’t, you carry that burden in your heart.
Style philosophy: I gravitate toward simplicity. I’ll wear anything as long as I feel good in it, but I also love things that have an element of vivaciousness and passion.
If I weren’t a bank executive, I’d be: A motivational speaker. I’d go around speaking and connect with people looking for a place to share their thoughts. People say to me, “You’re so open. You don’t seem to hide things, and that’s refreshing.” It’s a privilege to share my experiences.
Cause closest to my heart: The Noah’s Arc Foundation, which I’m on the board of, provides outlets for kids to connect with society so they don’t turn to violence. That feeds into my life philosophy: helping people connect to happiness.
Trademark look: My glasses. When I started wearing them, they gave me a protective shield during moments of insecurity. They still give me confidence. In 20 years, I’ve amassed 42 pairs.
On aging gracefully: Every scar, crack, and affliction I have is a testament to the journey I’m on. I wake up every morning, and if I can feel all my limbs, I’m thankful.
BEAUTY: Lancôme Dual Finish Versatile Powder Makeup in Matte Beige Camee III ($38). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara in Olwonder Black ($25). Macy’s, see above. Tom Ford Lip Color in Flamingo ($48). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. Moroccanoil Volumizing Mousse ($28). Colette Salon & Spa, 100 E. Walton St., 312-944-1409.
FASHION: Pearl top, Viktor & Rolf ($2,455). Ikram, 15 E. Huron St., 312-587-1000. Pants, Margiela ($590). Ikram, see above. Glasses, bracelets, and watch, Fedak’s own. Chair courtesy of Walter E. Smithe.
JAN AND CINDY MELK
Love for the arts fuels this mother daughter pair.
When philanthropist Jan Melk, a longtime supporter of the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet, read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, it changed her life. “I realized you shouldn’t spend time thinking about what happened yesterday or tomorrow,” she says. “Live in the now.” That’s exactly what Jan—who says she’s been “65 for a quite a few years”—is doing. “I get accused of being overscheduled,” she says, “but I just want to get the most out of every day.” Jan’s philosophy inspires her daughter, Cindy. After selling her mega-successful skincare company H2O Plus five years ago, Cindy—who recently turned 50—is focusing on her artistic passions, among them designing her family’s homes in Chicago and Miami Beach. “I have lots of things I want to pursue in the future,” she says. “I feel youthful and on top of my game.”
Beauty philosophy (Jan): What makes a woman beautiful is something inside her that radiates. You feel her inner contentment, quiet confidence, and thoughtfulness. (Cindy): Beauty without substance is fleeting and boring. If there’s nothing inside, it’s not interesting.
Hero (Cindy): I h ave profound respect for my mom and her positive attitude. She’s also a knockout. That’s encouraged me to go above and beyond and take care of myself.
Signature look (Jan): I call my style “elegant simplicity.” I travel a lot, so I like clothes that you can wear during the day then dress up at night with a scarf or jewelry. (Cindy): I love to mix different elements, like couture with denim, vintage, and leather. My friends call me a mix-master.
Favorite travel spots (Cindy): London, Paris, Bali, and Germany, where my husband is from. Also, Tuscany. It’s a respite for your soul.
Major business success (Jan): The first Broadway play I invested in was August: Osage County, and that was a blazing success. Then Dolly Parton came along with 9 to 5. I invested in it, and it closed in two weeks.
On aging gracefully (Jan): Having a good attitude is the most important thing. Also, it’s important to keep active, both physically and in terms of engaging in your community.
If money were no object (Cindy): I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now—and I’d probably have a larger closet.
ON JAN—BEAUTY: AmazingCosmetics Velvet Mineral Liquid Custom Finish Foundation ($36). Sephora, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-9598. Dolce & Gabbana Smooth Eye Colour Duo in Cinammon ($42). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. Clinique Long Last Lipstick in All Heart ($15). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray Strong ($22). Colette Salon & Spa, 100 E. Walton St., 312-944-1409.
FASHION: Navy blazer and pants, Janet’s own. Scarf, Prova ($500). Ikram, 15 E. Huron St., 312-587-1000. Hoop earrings, Jan’s own.
ON CINDY—BEAUTY: Dior Capture Totale Foundation in Cameo ($80). Saks Fifth Avenue, see above. Laura Mercier Creme Cheek Colour in Rosebud ($24). Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan Ave., 312-642-5900. Bobbi Brown Kohl Cake Liner ($22). Saks Fifth Avenue, see above. Sumowax, Bumble and bumble ($27). Sephora, see above.
FASHION: Turtleneck dress, belt, and boots, Cindy’s own.
This top chef always finds a reason to smile.
As a contestant on Top Chef Season 9 in 2011, Beverly Kim had to get used to smiling a lot—even when she didn’t quite feel like it. “It can be hard when you’re stressed, but it makes you instantly more attractive,” says the 33-year-old veteran of Charlie Trotter’s and Aria, who plans to open a restaurant with her husband, fellow chef Johnny Clark, this summer. “The ability to show that I’m positive has gotten me far.”
Style signature: I have a really cool tattoo of a phoenix on my left arm. It’s almost a full sleeve, so it’s pretty dramatic. It almost shocked my mom to death, but I think it’s beautiful.
Proudest accomplishment: Getting the chef de cuisine job at [now-closed] Opera in 2007. I had to do a cook-off against a chef who was a shoo-in for the job. It proved that your work speaks for you, even if you may not look the part.
Beauty philosophy: Being a chef, I’m pretty simple when it comes to beauty routines. But I’ve been told that I radiate kindness. People are attracted to that inner glow; they see the passion and drive in your eyes.
Cause closest to my heart: Common Threads, which helps parents and kids in underserved communities learn how to cook nutritious meals affordably.
Inspiration: My mom was always in the kitchen— she’d cook American meals for my sisters and me, and Korean meals for my father. She didn’t believe in dishwashers, and she made her own pickles.
Favorite place to eat in Chicago: Lula Cafe in Logan Square. It’s casual, but the food is very innovative, and it’s humble, not pretentious. Being a chef is stressful, so I like to go someplace where people are relaxed.
BEAUTY: Peter Thomas Roth Clini-Matte All Day Oil-Control SPF 20 ($48). Bluemercury, 2208 N. Halsted St., 773-327-6900. Benefit Benetint in Rose ($30). Sephora, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-9598. Estée Lauder Pure Color High Gloss in Coral Chic ($19). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Serge Normant Meta Lush Volumizer ($23). Sephora, see above
FASHION: Nude silk-panel jacket, Kimberly Ovitz ($525). Space519, 900 Shops, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-751-1519. Pink pleated cascade top, Milly ($295). DNA2050, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-944-0040. Necklace, Roni Blanshay ($495). LuLu’s at the Belle Kay, 3862 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-404-5858.
This former airline executive spreads her wings as a stand-up comedian.
Anyone who describes her age with the words “good black don’t crack” clearly has a sense of humor—especially Sonya Jackson. She’s a budding stand-up comedian, a passion she’s pursuing more seriously since leaving her job as a United Airlines executive in March. “Getting on stage is a rush,” she says. “I’m a total ham.” Jackson is also taking time for her other hobbies, among them yoga and making ice cream. “I have an industrial ice-cream maker in my kitchen,” she says. “I even have my own label!”
Beauty philosophy: Take care of your insides first, in terms of what you put into your body, and treat others with compassion and kindness. All of that reflects outwardly.
Hero: My grandmother taught me how to dream. She’d take me to the airport in Des Moines, where I grew up, to watch the planes take off. We’d pretend we were on them and talk about where we were going.
Signature accessory: I love the Alexander McQueen scarves covered in skulls. I like skulls for their Tibetan meaning: All things, like life, come to an end, so we should live every day fully and mindfully.
Cause closest to my heart: Breast cancer has touched so many people in my life: My grandmother and college roommate died of it, and my aunt and mom are survivors. There’s tremendous work to be done in educating communities of color about awareness and treatment.
What’s one of your greatest passions? Food. I started cooking at age 8. At 16, my parents gave me a signed check, and instead of buying a Coach bag, I went to the grocery store to buy food so that I could make recipes out of Bon Apétit.
Definition of success: Having an impact. When I’m long gone, I want people to say, “She was here.”
BEAUTY: Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation in #7 ($60). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. Chanel Long Wear Luminous Eyeshadow in 81 Fantasme ($36). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Shiseido Shimmering Rouge in Pink Champagne ($99). Macy’s. see above. Ojon Rare Blend Oil Total Hair Therapy ($35). Sephora, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-9598.
FASHION: Roselle embroidered eyelet jacket, Biyan ($2,000). Blake, 212 W. Chicago Ave., 312-202-0047. Dress, David Szeto ($1,884). Blake, see above. Crystal medallion necklace ($375) and beaded necklace ($525), Roni Blanshay. LuLu’s at the Belle Kay, 3862 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-404-5858. Hoop earrings, Jackson’s own
MARION ELISBERG SIMON
At 94, Chicago’s spunkiest philanthropist has no plans to slow down.
Marion Elisberg Simon’s social calendar is packed—tickets to the Lyric Opera, dates to the Goodman Theatre, lunches with friends—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I hid during flu season, but otherwise I’m out and about,” says the Chicago native and philanthropist, who turns 95 in August and self-published the memoir The Show Must Go On last November. “ I’m grateful not to have slowed down. My mother, who lived until age 106, said, ‘As long as you’re healthy, you can do anything you want to.’”
Beauty philosophy: Do good things for people. Your glow comes from inner goodness.
On aging gracefully: Be flexible and ready to accept change. Also, be enthusiastic. A lot of people are crabby, and that’s no fun.
Favorite places to travel: I’ve been everywhere from Bora Bora to Israel to Africa. When my husband wasn’t well enough to travel, I’d go by myself, like I did to Russia and China. If I hadn’t gone alone, I wouldn’t have gone.
Greatest motivation: Wanting to make things better for people. When I was young, I decided to do something good for someone every day. I’ve really tried, whether it was helping someone with a career, getting them through something sad, or encouraging them to do something fun they’d never done before.
Cause closest to my heart: The KidneyMobile, which screens people for kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. I started it after losing my eldest daughter to complications from kidney disease. Also the Lincoln Park Zoo—I’m the longest-running board member. Life lesson: When I was young, I was offered a movie contract in Hollywood, but my father was protective and said no. I learned that no matter what happens, the show must go on.
BEAUTY: La Prairie Anti-Aging Day Cream SPF 30 ($215). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. M.A.C. Extra Dimension Eyeshadow ($21). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. LeClerc Satin Lipstick in Rouge Vibrant ($25). Bluemercury, 2208 N. Halsted St., 773-327-6900. Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask ($43). Colette Salon & Spa, 100 E. Walton St., 312-944-1409.
FASHION: Red jacket, turtleneck, pants, earrings, brooch, and necklace, Simon’s own.
The Chicago Sky star travels the world but loves coming home.
Growing up on a farm in Indiana, Ruth Riley’s world was pretty small. Then she became a WNBA player. By the time she joined the Chicago Sky in 2012, Riley, who turns 34 in August, had played basketball in Spain, Poland, and Greece—and visited everywhere from Panama to Mali to do outreach work in the off-season. But there’s no place like Chicago. “It gives me a little bit of my Midwest upbringing,” she says. “And, of course, that good old Midwestern hospitality.”
Beauty philosophy: A woman is beautiful when she’s comfortable and confident in herself, her body, and her own style.
Hero: My mom made incredible personal sacrifices to raise my brother, sister, and me on her own. She gave me my creative spirit, love for travel, and open-mindedness.
Favorite basketball movie: Hoosiers. It mirrors my story of growing up on an Indiana farm and playing high-school basketball. I used to watch it before every playoff game in high school!
Cause closest to my heart: I’m passionate about women’s and children’s issues, especially when it comes to global health. I’m a spokesperson for Nothing But Nets, the UN Foundation’s malaria initiative, and I work with No Kid Hungry on eliminating childhood hunger in the US.
Trademark look: Simple and chic. I love the classic look of black and red paired with elegant accessories, natural makeup, and a sophisticated ponytail.
Definition of success: Utilizing your talents to the b est of your ability, positively influencing others, and living out your priorities every day. I’m not driven by perfection—that’s a lonely journey.
BEAUTY: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in St. Moritz ($42). Sephora, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-9598. Clinique Soft- Pressed Powder Blusher in Honey Blush ($21). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Guerlain Cils d’Enfer Maxi Lash ($30). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. Moroccanoil Treatment Light ($43). Colette Salon & Spa, 100 E. Walton St., 312-944-1409.
FASHION: Geometric color-block dress, Karen Millen ($380). 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-867-1760. Hoop earrings and bracelet, Riley’s own.
The forecast is bright for this NBC-5 meteorologist.
Alicia Roman has lived in five different states, so when she landed a job as the weekday meteorologist for NBC 5’s noon news in 2011, she was thrilled. “I had a magnet of the Chicago skyline on my fridge, and I’d look at it every day,” says Roman, 32, who hails from a small town in western Pennsylvania and has also lived in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Ohio. “Now that I’m here, I’m never going back.”
Trademark look: I’ve gone through four tubes of M.A.C. Pink Poodle lip gloss in the past year. Even if you’re wearing sweats, it makes you look glam.
Proudest accomplishment: Becoming a meteorologist, which I’ve wanted to do since age 4. My dad worked in construction, so he’d watch The Weather Channel every morning at 4 am—if it was raining, he wasn’t able to work. I’d get up to watch with him, and he’d make me breakfast and explain weather elements to me.
Best weather movie: I love The Day After Tomorrow because it’s just so crazy. There are tornadoes in California, floods in Manhattan. It’s very extreme and totally nuts.
Style icon: Gwen Stefani. She’s so daring. Where I grew up, if you wore leggings and high heels people would look at you [weirdly].
Cause closest to my heart: I work with three different organizations—Bright Pink, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Brain Injury Association of Illinois. I got into the last one in particular because I’ve had two semiconcussions, so I do prevention work.
Heroes: My parents. My mother battled two kinds of cancer and survived, and my father left Puerto Rico at a young age and started his life over in the US. His passion and drive are amazing.
BEAUTY: Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation in 175 Cake ($42). Sephora, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-9598. Chantecaille Le Stylo Liquid Eyeliner in Black ($30). Saks Fifth Avenue, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-799-5211. M.A.C. Tinted Lipglass in Pink Poodle ($15). Macy’s, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312-335-7700. Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream ($34). The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel, 120 E. Delaware Pl., 312-280-8800.
FASHION: Yellow dress, Giambattista Valli ($2,692). Blake, 212 W. Chicago Ave., 312-202-0047. Necklace, Shay ($645). Space 519, 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-751-1519. Bracelet, Roman’s own. Chair courtesy of Walter E. Smithe.
Photography by Billy Rood; STYLING BY MICHAEL FAVIA; HAIR AND MAKEUP BY MAYA PUENTES; SET STYLING BY MARK DAL PRA