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STYLELIKEU: Look Books

Dynamic mother-daughter duo, Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum have taken an idea of style and documentation to another level.

Words: Tatiana R. Johnson
Images: Courtesy of StyleLikeU.com

Walking into the headquarters of StyleLikeU, I had no idea what I was in for, but was extremely curious to find out. Being a frequent visitor of their website, I always wondered how the mother and daughter team (Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum) connect with each other and how their album came about… Seeing their staff working so diligently, it was quite obvious that something spectacular was in the making. “Plugged in,” as the actors would say in the Social Network, not even their huge Labrador retriever running around aimlessly could distract them… But before we move forward, let’s go back to 2008.

At the time Elisa was busy styling for Instyle, Vogue, Interview and countless other publications as well as contributing editorial posts for Glamour and Self.  Finding it unbearable to style anymore, she decided to let it go. “I felt like working in this industry was hypocritical and sort of like a depressing marriage and it wasn’t empowering anybody,” says Elisa.

Meanwhile Lily was experimenting with film.  She was way across the US in California and was undecided as to what major she should pursue in school. “I always thought the people in fashion were a little weird,” says Lily.  And seeing her mother work with clothing all the time just didn’t seem exciting to her. But there was more rumbling beneath the surface of their mother-daughter connection.

Coupling Elisa’s endless resume and love of fashion with Lily’s love of documentaries, editing and youthful spirit, together the pair conceived StyleLikeU.com, a website dedicated to the intimate look into the fashion closets of your not-so-average trendsetters that traditional mags often overlook. “I was very frustrated as a stylist because I felt that the industry and the business I had known and fallen in love with earlier on and especially in my twenties at Conde Naste and the fashion magazines, didn’t exist anymore. It was huge lack of creativity value and talent,” remarks Elisa. And that is exactly what keeps their readers on their toes.

But how exactly do they go about selecting people to be featured on the site? “These people open their homes out to us and at the same time create trends. It’s all organic,” says Elisa, “we both don’t have a special type.”

Sound simple? Elisa continues, “I would have been a failure not to take that leap and I really felt like I would have been a failure as a parent. Lily made the commitment earlier on, sacrificing to start this. I was still sort of treading the line for both which wasn’t realistic. Each entity takes 100 percent of your time.” Leaving the world of magazines seemed like a gift and a curse at the time, but love for the site from outsiders proved the enterprise fruitful.

This past March the team released StyleLikeU (Powerhouse books), a 221-page book dedicated to the production crew behind the scenes that makes it all happen. Browse through quotes from the trendsetters to the frantic thoughts of the interview-scheduling staff. Young, old, preppy or risqué, their pages cover the gamut.  “It’s definitely like a scrapbook of style,” Lily says.

Elise chimes in, “We’re always looking to do more, but to stay on task.” When asked would you ever go back to the magazine business, Elisa quickly says no, but Lily jumps in and says, “If we have our own, we will.” For now the focus is to take the project globally by rummaging through the closets of fashionistas outside the US.

Images courtesy of StyleLikeU.com

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