Mary Peffer is a Los Angeles-based writer and fashion executive. Following a decade in New York City, where she worked in-house for Saint Laurent's Communications team, she moved to the west coast to explore personal creative projects. Presently, Mary holds the title of Senior Global Director of Marketing and Communications at premium denim label, J Brand. We sat down with Mary to find out more about her life in LA, her career, and what inspires her.
You lived in NYC for ten years working as a writer and fashion executive. What path led you to living in LA?
I was at YSL for the majority of my life in New York. I worked under Stefano and then Hedi who is brilliant. When I decided to move to LA it was a visceral reaction to the thought that more must be out there. I knew I wanted to explore personal creative projects but wasn’t totally aware of what that meant yet. LA is an incredibly supportive community for art. Ultimately, I realized writing was what I need to do now. It’s a funny juxtaposition because I’m fiercely private but in writing you have to share a lot.
What does a typical day look like for you? Is there a typical day?
I have my personal rituals, but mostly I try to carve time to create.
In my storytelling —visual or through words— I’m obsessed with efficiency but I’m also a perfectionist, which I think you can only navigate simultaneously if you listen in a state of ongoing flexibility. I’m the first one to admit I’m wrong, throw out an idea, and start from scratch if it means better results. I try to surround myself with experts in areas where I’m not, so we can create the best work possible. I’ve been shooting a lot lately with my friend Libby who is incredibly talented. But working in teams isn’t always easy.
Largely people tend to subscribe to a belief that the opportunity for success is finite. “Only one of us can be good, the best.” It’s untrue I think. The potential for achieving is limitless. When you take that competition out of the equation there’s something beautiful. A support system.
When do you feel most creative & inspired?
I’ve been writing a book for the past year and creative bursts hit whenever. In the car listening to music, in my sleep, on a plane, eating breakfast, talking to friends, hiking. It’s carving the time to acknowledge those bursts and write them down that’s important. It’s far easier to dismiss them and not think your ideas have worth.
What woman or women do you admire the most?
Michelle Obama and Leah Remini. Both champion for those that cannot.
What does style & substance mean to you?
It’s all about what’s going on inside. If you like who you are it shows in the way you treat others and how you carry yourself. Ego is the biggest enemy to beauty and hinders honesty. The irony is we all have it.
Since moving from New York to LA, do you feel that your style has changed?
My style has been an evolutionary version of the same androgynous thing since I was 15. If I’m not wearing a leather jacket when I’m 60 then something’s gone terribly wrong.
What are you currently obsessed with?
My dog Blanket Jackson
And Ernest Hemingway’s quote:
“No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”
It’s something I come back to often when I think I’m done with a chapter. I sort of challenge myself to prove that I haven’t held back out of fear.
What are some of your favourite local spots in La?
The Getty Centre | Brentwood
Art, architecture, and gardens with incredible views of Los Angeles.
Little Next Door | West Hollywood
A French brasserie with a well shaded outdoor dining space should you need a break from the sun and want to take a quick trip to Paris —without the rain of course..
Erewhon Market | Beverly Hills
The one-stop shop for all your health food needs and the most extensive juice bar in town. Share your desired area for improvement with the juice masters and watch them whip up concoctions that will heal your mind and spirit. Try the green goddess ice cream or the golden latte to experience serious insanity levels.
Mohawk General Store | Silver Lake + Pasadena
Divide and conquer, time for you and your guy to split up, at least to peruse the racks and tables adorned with minimalist and perfected luxury clothing, apothecary, textiles, and home goods. The men’s and women’s outposts are conveniently located next door to each other, but with private entrances so you can shop in peace.
A + R | Hollywood + Venice
If Muji and DWR had a pop culture baby, this would be it. Check out their office furniture and home decor to fit most home and travel needs.
LA Flower District | DTLA
The downtown district sells flowers and fronds in bulk and at wholesale prices. Arrive early in the morning for the best selection, the good stuff can vanish by 9 or 10. We love to stock up when we are crafting centerpieces for a dinner party.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Someone’s going to do your dream job so it may as well be you.
All photos of Mary Peffer by the very talented photographer Libby Gray