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Home to a Fashion and Lifestyle blog dedicated to helping you find Zen in New York City

Getting Polished Uptown - Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Anyone with curly hair will understand that, unless you're blow drying your curls into waves, "straight" is nearly impossible; that is if you don't like using chemicals or treatments. So when I heard about Julien Farel, the chic uptown hair and treatment salon, my first instinct was to feel bad. Here they were, like many, inviting me in to get my hair blow-dried and within an hour, my hair will have undone all their hard work, like many before them. Well, that feeling lasted all of three minutes, as the more I looked into the Julien Farel Group the more I realized that they weren't just a hair salon or spa, they were a lifestyle. A brand who's key focus was to relax, restore and rejuvenate everyone that walked through the door. I had to have this dose of zen they were serving up. 

 Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group

Images courtesy of Julien Farel Group


The Julien Farel Group sits tucked away within the Loews Regency New York Hotel, just below the Upper East Side. A lifestyle and wellness destination who's interior walls represent the most coveted emerging artists, and who's hair technicians and stylists live and breath the brand. Known for their Anti-Aging experience, the Julien Farel establishment puts the zen in hair and self-care and empowers its clients to feel their best every day. 

“My mission is to give everyone their ‘power hair’ or competitive edge to help them become the best version of who they are.” Julien

As I entered what looked like Narnia, to begin with, I realized that this was indeed a haven to escape to, and leave the city behind. I had the pleasure of meeting and having my hair treated by Elizabeth Mergler, who during our time together, educated me on how to use Anti-Aging products on your hair. Who knew! She delicately blow-dried my hair out into luscious waves, making sure to check in to see if I was alright, every so often. I, on the other hand, was in a semi-meditative state thanks to her gentle hands, a peppermint tea and simply sitting within one of the most beautiful salons I have ever laid my eyes on. 


If you have course, curly or frizzy hair, Elizabeth recommended the De-Frizz Restore to use in place of regular shampoo, and the De-Frizz Relaxing Balm, which can be used on wet, or dry hair. If every other hair salon you've tried is giving you anxiety or not leaving your locks happy, may I strongly advise that you book an appointment at the Julien Farel Salon, they will not disappoint, and they will make you fall in love. 

Julien Farel Salon

540 Park Ave

New York, NY 10065

Feeling at Home in SoHo - Jonathan Adler

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

In the heart of Soho, amongst the architectural haven of old New York and some new-age NYC resides a little slice of zen called Jonathan Adler. You may have heard the name many a time and may have even seen the store in other parts of the City, however, there is just something about the Soho location, apart from it being the first ever namesake store, and it's interior nirvana that makes your soul dance. 

Upon entering Jonathan Adler, aside from the itch of wanting every single objet d'art in sight, I was welcomed with a sense of calm and color. It was enough to make me feel as though I was anywhere but New York. Browsing through the lush furniture and smaller soft-accessories, I noticed that this was also a brand that was laced in a do-good ethos, with the fundamentals of pure fun. 

Starting off his career making clay pots and having Barney's as one of his stockists, Jonathan Adler vowed to never have a real job again. If I could work in a multi-tonal soft-furnishing paradise day in day out, I wouldn't consider it 'working' either. 

From large pieces of furniture to teeny, tiny accessories, Jonathan Adler has also had an impressive list of collaborations along the way. One of my favorites would have to be the RED collaboration which promises to donate 10% of the sales from the brand's Special Edition Tomato candle to someone living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Mr Adler has found a way to create a unique shopping experience that stretches farther from the day to day transaction. It feels special and unique. From the service you get in his store to the joyous feeling you get from making a purchase, he has managed to add experiential retailing to his resume, and I for one forgot I was in New York. Job well done Jonathan! 

Paradise in Chelsea - Smith + Brit

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Have you ever stumbled upon a place you never knew existed, and once found you couldn't stop thinking about it, almost like it was built to be found by only you! Well, yes the main purpose of this blog is to document these finds for all out there, but it doesn't make it any less exciting when I do find these havens.  

 Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

Introducing Smith + Brit, a holistic beauty and wellness boutique which offers menu-based and bespoke treatments in addition to cherry-picked products in a relaxing setting in Chelsea. Smith + Brith is the zen-like brainchild of Kristyn Smith and Claire Beevers, two industry veterans who have 40 years of beauty therapy experience combined. With the sole aim to help their clients and customers feel their best, Claire and Kristyn bring to the table their knowledge, love, and passion for good quality products and impeccable service, leaving every person who walks through the door with a lasting impression and the desire to come back. 

 Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

Upon walking into Smith + Brit, I was hit with a delicious scent, something that can only be described as the cross between a Parisienne perfumery and a beach spa. It was almost like I had stepped out of NYC and into paradise.

 Photo: Smith + Brit

Photo: Smith + Brit

The products within the store are all available to buy and span between home items such as candles, and beauty finds like makeup and skincare. Each and every bottle within Smith + Brit has been picked with the utmost attention and care. Kristyn and Claire take pride is offering brands that are ethically made and organic and they don't stop there. The beauty goddesses also take note of who makes the items and their background ensuring that passion and love have gone into every process before it hits the shelves. Taking such care in everything they stand for and sell, it is no wonder that Smith + Brit is quickly making a name for itself in the industry for being the go-to beauty and wellness destination. 

Jazz Hands Downtown - Van Court Nail Studio

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

The Financial District of Manhattan is one of the areas in NYC than can be described using the famous phrase; concrete jungle, and far from zen. Suits and swag are the usual views when walking down Wall Street but there's a new theme in town and it's making waves near the East River. Introducing Van Court Nail Studio; home to a toxic-free, holistic nail salon that takes pride in offering creative services without the nasties, and my new favorite escape spot! 

 Photo Credit:  Gilt Groupe

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

For anyone looking for a sun-drenched sanctuary where your manicure doesn’t make you feel like you’re on a customer service conveyer belt (which 9/10 I feel like I do), Van Court is the place for you. Upon arrival, you’re greeting by a beautiful wall of toxic-free nail polish in every color imaginable, brands like Deborah Lippmann, Jin Soon, and Floss Gloss, to name but a few, and friendly staff who genuinely want to know how you are! ( I'm a lot better now that I'm here, thanks!)

Ruth Kallens, the brains, and beauty behind this hidden downtown haven has a background in cosmetics and is somewhat of a beauty veteran. Upon trying to find a place that would offer a fun manicure/pedicure in an ethical environment she hit a dead end, and that's when Van Court was born. Priding herself in building a destination that people won't feel like leaving, she achieved her goal for Van Court being a nail salon that offers a range of services as well as seasonal/monthly nail art menus using organic, beauty products and a range of 5, 7 or 9-free nail polishes. 

Not only does the location on Water Street make for a peaceful beauty destination but the bright lighted interior and range of magazine and comfortable chairs makes you feel like you're in a real-life Pinterest home, you know the ones I mean. Moving away from the traditional pedicure baths with water taps, Van Court uses clean copper and metal bowls with every service, and organic oils and lotions ensuring that your treatment from start to finish is holistic and heavenly, and in turn being a true zen spot in the crazy city.  

  Photo Credit:   Gilt Groupe

Photo Credit: Gilt Groupe

Drive Up To Wind Down: The Graham & Co.

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes north of Manhattan is a quaint little town named Phoenicia. Home to fresh air, farm-to-table cuisine, painting-worth views and a real sense of zen. Now, Fashion Week is about to start so you may be wondering about the timing of this post. Well, I for one am already thinking about some R&R come October. For those of you who are not associated with NYFW, but still need a staycation, you can keep on reading as this little feature is for the masses. 

Introducing The Graham & Co., a charming, modern mini hotel, in the heart of the Catskills. Housing a handful of double and bunk-bed style living spaces, a common games room, outdoor pool, campfire site, friendly staff and their own take on a gift shop, this is one reason to stay in NY.  


Staying true to the Catskills heritage, The Graham & Co. has successfully built a zen-like haven in New York, where it only takes one lap of the grounds to forget the city noise, and melt into a bubble of crisp air and elation. A feeling every New Yorker strives for, but rarely finds.

The first action on the agenda was to slowly sip on the homemade lemonade, while slipping into a bikini and grabbing a book. An hour into sunbathing and an on-off pool dip, I looked around and decided I was never leaving. However, that dream was squashed by hunger pangs and off we cycled into the local town of Phoenicia for our evening meal. 

The two days that followed felt like a beautiful blur; we played a little badminton on the hotel's courts, relaxed in the common room and soaked up every bit of sun humanly possibly. 

Before leaving, I took some time to sit alone in the grounds and gather my thoughts. Appreciating the minimalistic decor, the addictive customer service, the greenery and sunshine, I realized that zen really does exist in New York, and if we ever finds ourselves in a tizzy, we just need to jump in a car and head north. Simple. 

Heaven On 10th: Amelia Toro

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Today marked Amelia Toro's SS16, New York Fashion Week presentation, and while the range was breathtaking as ever, I was more impressed by the whole brand and it's approach to fashion. Situated on 10th Avenue in Chelsea, Amelia Toro has carved herself not only a stunning location to showcase her brand, but is day by day, redefining what it means to be a womenswear brand. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, I am now able to notice a unique label, laced in ethics, when I see one, and it is this very idea that attracted me to Amelia Toro in the first place.

 A key look from the Amelia Toro AW15 collection

A key look from the Amelia Toro AW15 collection

Upon walking into her store, you instantaneously feel a sense of calm and kindness. Store stylists are present and approachable, and you're able to touch, feel and try any piece on display. After the understandably, mesmerizing feeling, you cannot help but wonder, what is the story behind this unique, and gorgeous brand. Whilst going through the AW15 pieces, an employee kindly took me through what Amelia's approach to fashion really is, and upon learning, I fell in love all over again.

 Strong monochrome pieces, with hints of navy in Amelia Toro's AW15 range

Strong monochrome pieces, with hints of navy in Amelia Toro's AW15 range

Based in Columbia where all the designing and most of the manufacturing is done, Amelia takes pride in every single thread and fabric that is used. She runs a factory which not only makes these vivacious clothes, but takes the time to train each and every artisan to the highest level. Each piece of her collection is handmade and on the inside label, you will find the name of the artisan behind it. She believes in giving back to the community and employes men and women who are single parents, and are in need of an income. Amelia is a strong advocate of putting the meaning back into fashion and is extremely headstrong with her ethical actions in achieving this. 

Amelia Toro3.jpg

Walking through the store gives you a sense of love, zen and admiration for a brand which takes pride in the process of design to display. The walls are painted in light, welcoming hues to compliment her collections, and her minimalist approach to furniture and fixtures, keeps your attention focussed on each, individual piece. A personal favourite is the black and grey palette above, fused with sharp prints, textures and holographic applique detail. 

 Strong blood reds on a backdrop of charcoal black will see you nicely through Fall

Strong blood reds on a backdrop of charcoal black will see you nicely through Fall

It doesn't get much more zen than that folks, if you get a chance, do visit the stunning heaven-like store in Chelsea, if you're looking for silk and a story. Prices range between $650 - $3,000.

Amelia Toro

229 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

The Only Type Of Sugar That Isn't Bad For You - Sugar Cookies

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

When it comes to genders, both males and females, each have a right to certain things. For ladies, one of those treasures is the right to good underwear. Situated on 19th Street, between the busy 7th and 8th Avenues, sits the intimate, lingerie, swimwear and nightwear haven, Sugar Cookies. 

This luxurious undergarment store has been in the charming neighbourhood of Chelsea since 2008. When I asked owner, Susanne Alvarado, why she chose this particular area, she smiled and said "I've lived here for many years, and saw a niche in the it's away from the main roads, which is a huge benefit as it makes for a more intimate and private shopping experience." I couldn't agree more! Underwear shopping can be a little daunting, much like trying to find the perfect jeans. It requires time, patience and help from an expert. With a background in underwear buying and retail, Susanne is the perfect host, and store manager. Her talents and experience shine through the visual merchandising, aesthetics and brands she offers in store. 

This hidden gem houses a range of price points and labels, starting from basics at $36 to silk robes at $500. She supports local talent and has a collection of beautiful silks and chiffons from New York based brand, Sapphire Bliss and digitally printed swimwear from NYC label, Graffinis, which embodies skylines of The Big Apple. Other collections include, Mimi Holiday, Huit, Chantelle and Simone Perele, to name a few.

Sugar Cookies offers you a relaxing and zen-like shopping experience, as well a complimentary bra-fitting service, and event space. From private corporate events, to bridal showers, bachelorette parties and even birthdays, Susanne is on hand as delivering a personal and fun-filled evening. What more could you ask for when it comes to underwear!

I've Seen The Future, And It Stared Back At Me - Rebecca Minkoff

Sabi Datoo-Lalji


To say the world is becoming a digital minefield is an understatement. However, when brands incorporate technology into a retail space, it can actually be more fun than daunting. I had the greatest of pleasure profiling the Rebecca Minkoff SoHo boutique, which is not only a tranquil shopping environment, but a store where you are encouraged to touch everything. 

The moment you walk in you are greeted with a light and airy atmosphere. There is a large mirror placed on your right, which with a simple touch, can interactively, take you through the SS15 Look Book and the Catwalk show. It is impressive that this large screen is placed near the entrance, as it instantaneously gives each customer the sense of luxury, as well as a peek into the future of shopping. 

The most impressive and digitally advanced part of this SoHo boutique, is the fitting room. Each item of clothing has an electronic tag, with all it's product information stored within. This nifty little micro chip is then picked up by a satellite in the ceiling, as you enter the changing room. Within seconds, the apparel you are trying on appears in the mirror in front of you, giving you the option to:


  • Change the lighting and ambience. 
  • Touch the item to reveal info, size availability and outfit suggestions. For example, a shoe, trouser and bag option to match your jacket.
  • Request another size or item from a stylist, who is alerted on his/hers personal iPad.
  • Remember your visit.
  • End session and start a new one.
  • Coated in a unique paint, the changing room will never read an item on the outside.

Described by one of the stylists assisting me; "it's like Uber for changing rooms!" I couldn't agree more. Stores like it make for a relaxing and zen, retail therapy session. Between the neon extravaganza for Rebecca Minkoff's SS15 collection, a range of stunning ready-to-wear pieces, and her futuristic fitting rooms, this is by far the best, interactive shopping haven, to date.

The Moon Lives On The West Coast - The Ritz Carlton

Sabi Datoo-Lalji

Have you ever been somewhere so awe-inspiring, that within an hour you are making plans to move in? Well I was definitely ready to unpack at The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Located 45 mins outside of San Francisco, we stopped off at this zen-filled hotel for lunch, with a side of sea. 

This magnificent hotel is set on a bluff, overlooking the big blue; its location is secluded, yet accessible. With a golf course, restaurants, luxury spa and a beach, this hotel is the epitome of zen and tranquility. They say, to live by water is a very therapeutic blessing, so before we got back onto Route 1, I escaped away to meditate for a while. Upon opening my eyes, I looked at the Pacific Ocean and felt elated, and as I got up, I bottled away that feeling of calmness and purity into my heart. 

For now, I have that feeling of elation tucked away in me, any time I need to feel, mmmm.... However, I will be going back to re-visit this beauty on the West Coast, as soon as I possibly can.