In our latest blog about friends of Jill Milan we are very pleased to introduce you to Margaux Lushing, founder and editor of Well + Away, which publishes the Vital Guide series of guidebooks. Margaux has a wonderfully varied background – she studied at American University of Paris, Accademia Italiana of Florence and the Sotheby’s Institute on her way to a degree in Art History. Later she interned at Christie’s on a career path that took her to journalism and publishing. We met up with Margaux at the launch party for Vital Guide SF in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Congratulations on launching the VitalGuide. Could you tell us about it? Could you tell us a little bit about where you live and what you do?
“I live in the SoMa neighborhood in San Francisco, which is so vibrant with new restaurants opening every week, but am from Los Angeles and am an Angeleno at heart. I just launched the VitalGuide healthy guidebook series, which I’m so proud of. Our first guide is to San Francisco, and it covers ‘best of’ healthy living spots but also walking itineraries, a healthy-luxe escapes section and interviews with hip-healthy locals – like Jill Fraser of Jill Milan! The fashion connection of the guides is our designer who designed the VitalGuide guidebooks but spends her weekdays as an art director for Oscar de la Renta. The information in our guides is meticulously researched, but they’re also quite beautiful.”
Are you vegan?
“Yes, I’ve been fully vegan for a few years now, and before that was vegetarian/mostly vegan for just about all of my life. I grew up in Los Angeles, the Calabasas area actually like one of your prior interviewees, Kim(!), and found eating veg was not all that difficult based on where I was. I joined the AAVA [American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture] in 7th grade and started volunteering with the ASPCA, and one of my grandmothers took me to a glamorous PETA event that same year. That early on it was all about the animals for me, but now it’s as much about that as the environment and just feeling good.
“It makes me so happy that now there are destination restaurants that are vegan, with amazing plant-based entrees and desserts. My childhood self would have killed to taste the coconut-based peanut butter ice cream at Craig’s in L.A.!”
Do you have any favorite things to do in the Bay Area?
“I love to eat. Shizen is wonderful for vegan sushi and Seed + Salt for the best vegan and raw-vegan breakfast anywhere. I just returned from a yoga retreat in Calistoga and took the long way home to stop at the new-ish Amy’s Drive Thru. The Bay Area is so beautiful and there are great wine destinations within an hour or two in any direction from the city. On the weekends I really enjoy picking an under-the-radar wine region I’ve yet to visit, find a cute vegan dinner spot and a yoga studio and just go. Since the SF VitalGuide just launched I’ve been spending more time than normal in the City with partners and events, and it’s been such a blast to just hop in the car and explore.”
Could you tell us about Well+Away?
“Well+Away is the publishing name behind the VitalGuide series and also our website, www.wellandawaycom. It’s also my favorite way to live. I love traveling and traveling well by exploring local favorite yoga studios and gyms and cool juice bars where you can catch the local vibe and feel good. For me, wellness is something to always be mindful of, whether you’re home in your routine, on an airplane for 14 hours or at an endless work conference. There’s always a way to feel well while you’re away and that’s where these guides came from.
“Now that San Francisco is live and retailing at some of my favorite shopping destinations like Whole Foods, Legion, Omnivore Books and some amazing hotels, we’re focusing on L.A. for our next guide. L.A. should be live by end of summer!
“For anyone who does not have SF in their travel plans, our blog is full of healthy travel tips and interviews with cool healthy locals.”
Could you tell us about the charity work you do?
“There are some wonderful non-profits here in the Bay Area doing amazing work. I’ve worked with Animal Place, a sanctuary for rescued animals in Grass Valley that operates throughout the Bay Area. They do amazing amounts of advocacy work related to their sanctuary, but they also work with other animal-related nonprofits to help with things like transitioning event menus to be cruelty-free. I’ve also just started working with Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR) in Napa Valley, a newer no-kill rescue and sanctuary that has such a dedicated team and are doing important education work in the Napa Valley to advocate not just for pets, but for farm animals, too. They have an upcoming event called WineaPAWlooza whose auction naturally has the craziest wine lots.”