Story by Lia Aprile and Photography by Claudia Lucia
Kelly Furano is a powerhouse. No matter what she does—whether that’s as a businesswoman, as a mother, or as a friend—she does it all the way. She has this contagious energy...just being around her makes me feel superhuman!
But what I find most inspiring—besides the fact that she helped build True Religion into a $400 million business, and has been a consultant to some of the most exciting brands in our industry—is that Kelly makes things happen. She doesn’t just talk about wanting something, she follows through. That’s something I think we can all learn from.
- Rachel Pally
[Words and story by Lia Aprile]
How did you and Rachel meet?
We had met on several occasions, but we really fell in love when we were both pregnant.
I saw her at a gathering when I was two or three months pregnant with my daughter, Everly, and I said, “We need to get lunch.” It was under the context that I would offer her some advisory support on her brands, because that's what I do, I'm an executive advisor for brands. We got lunch at the Soho House and I sat across from her, and within minutes, I said, “You're pregnant.”
And she said, “Oh my god, no one knows. Yes, I am. You have a sixth sense!”
What clued you in?
I just felt it. And sure enough, she was pregnant with [her older son] Tao. He and Everly were born within weeks of each other. I went on to consult for her at Rachel Pally, and we were just instant buds. Our husbands became close...we even ended up on our Babymoon together.
We shared a lot of the same outlook on becoming a mother and not sacrificing ourselves in the process. I felt connected to her because of that. We were both working hard up until the very last minute of our pregnancies. There was a mutual admiration there, because she's a badass...and so am I. Don't quote me on that!
Why not? That's a great quote!
What I’ll say is: “One badass can always find another.”
I’m sure you have a lot of Rachel Pally in your closet, being a brand “insider.” Where is your favorite place to wear her line?
The amazing thing about Pally is you can wear it to an event, around the house or to a business meeting. The product is so versatile and beyond comfortable. It’s like the Jack-of-all-trades!
You’re working on a passion project currently, Forrest. Can you tell me about that?
I have long wanted to bring all my favorite people to a beautiful place in the woods: to own a bunch of land, and raise our kids together. That pipe dream became a reality when I found 500 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains that was zoned “Resort and Recreation.” I got the property under contract, and I built the business model around this idea of a conscious community that was part nature, part luxury. Centered on the idea that it takes a village to raise a family.
I got my favorite people involved on the strategic partnership side, and launched this project called Forrest, with two R's. It's a private members community for families. I am doing that 98% of the time now. I can't seem to shake one or two fashion clients because they need me. But that’s my main focus.
And I'm a momma!
In one of the descriptions of Forrest you described it as a “second home in the third space.” How do you define the “third space?”
The home is your first space. The second space is your work. And there's a movement happening around this idea of a “third space.” We need more than these insular urban cities that we live in. We need nature. We need to spread out. We need access to life as it should be lived.
In Los Angeles, because we have the ocean, there's this expectation that that's going to check all of our boxes. But we aren't satisfying this need to actually get outside and go to the outdoors. And if we do, it's a haul, you know, it's a mission.
I want my kids to grow up with dirt under their fingernails, and a sense of adventure. I need that too, and I want my community to have access to that. So Forrest became a solution to that need.
I describe it as a second home in the third space because people can own a cabin on the land if they want to. And it's very affordable. If they don't, they can sleep in one of the cabins that aren’t owned by a member. And if a member owns a cabin, and they are travelling and don't want to use it, it can go into a hotel pool. It becomes a way of sharing this community with the membership.
It sounds very innovative, very of our time. And you clearly seem like a doer. I read a description of your typical schedule somewhere, and it was intense!
I'm definitely a lunatic. I don't recommend that anyone do this!
I think the procrastinators among us assume that highly productive people are just born that way. Were you born that way?
I was definitely born this way. For as long as I can remember I have been in a rush. I went through puberty when I was nine! My body was just ready. When people tell me I’m an old soul, I think, “You have no idea!” I'm actually 75 years old.
I have always—my friends and family can attest to this—I just have a fire in my belly that is insatiable, and I have really big dreams. I thank my mother and father for always encouraging me to dream big. “Announce your dream from a mountaintop,” they told me, “and it will come to fruition.” So I really go for it. I make mistakes. I think I’ve finally reached a point in my life—I turned 36 yesterday—
Thank you. I'm happy. I'm really happy. And I want to slow down.
Forrest seems like the perfect project for you at this moment then. It's a melding of having a really big idea, and an opportunity to slow down...
That was the impetus behind it. My vision for my life is to be surrounded by the people that I love and care about most. Including my children, and my friends' children. The setting for that lies in nature. I can spin my wheels all day long trying to build and grow, to sell these products that I've been trained to distribute globally, but my core purpose is to bring people together in a meaningful way. That's my calling.
A lot of successful people attribute their success to early rising, I know you're an early-riser...do you think it has an impact?
I have always gone to bed early and risen early. My parents always encouraged me to sleep when it was dark and get after it when the sun is up. I need eight to nine hours of sleep, so rising early means I’m in bed by nine o’clock most nights. It’s not the rising early that I attribute success to; it’s being well rested, clear and intentional.
Okay, last question. You have two young kids. If there were one thing you hope you are modeling for them, what would it be?
Well, it’s not patience! I’m impatient, so I’m not even going to pretend I’m modeling that!
I don’t even know if these are the right words, but kindness and respect. I want my kids to see that when I pay the guy at the toll bridge, I notice him and ask how his day is going. I want them to care about other people, to have a genuine respect for our differences and our diversity. I want them to stop and acknowledge what’s around them.