IN CONVERSATION WITH KIT KEENAN

Interview by Jana Letonja

Podcast Host, Fashion Designer, and self-taught Chef Kit Keenan has often been compared to the infamous Blair Waldorf, but certainly resonates more with Martha Stewart. Best known for being the daughter of fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, as well as her short time on ‘The Bachelor’ during Matt James’ season, Kit is no stranger to the spotlight.

Kit, you’re a fashion designer with a degree in fashion and business from NYU. How much has your mom, Cynthia Rowley, being a successful and famous fashion designer impacted your own love for fashion?
I feel so lucky to have grown up with a mother who is a successful entrepreneur because I learned the value of hard work at a very young age. I am very much inspired by my mom’s drive and love of fashion. Growing up seeing the behind-the-scenes of the industry has taught me to appreciate the end product, the clothes I get to wear everyday and so much more. 

In 2019 you created your own fashion line called ‘Keep It Together’, which is currently on hiatus. Do you plan to release any new collections in the future? How would your future designs be different from your initial designs?
‘Keep it Together’ was a project I created in college that brought together my love for art and fashion. We collaborated with artists like Richard Prince and Vaughn Spann, bringing their work to a younger audience in the form of streetwear or wearable art. In creating my own line of garments, I was able to learn more about the fashion industry, from graphic design to manufacturing, to shipping, to marketing, to customer service. As much as I loved that learning process and am proud of all that I was able to accomplish, I also know that chapter in my life is closed for now. 

You are often compared to the infamous Blair Waldorf, but you rather refer to yourself as ‘Martha Stewart stuck in Blair Waldorf’s plotline’. How did you get from being a fashion designer to being a chef?
I am definitely not a chef, but I have been sharing my home recipes for years on Instagram, and now TikTok, and have built a little community who share my love for cooking.

You recently started sharing mouthwatering recipes and your impressive culinary skills on your new social media series ‘What’s Kit Cooking?’. Tell us more about how this idea was born.
‘What’s Kit Cooking’ started as long-form videos a few years ago when IGTV was really taking off on Instagram. I would chat about life, relationships, and business while creating a recipe. The series has developed into short-form videos now, which are more digestible for my followers and can easily be shared on Reels and TikTok. 

How do you decide on what recipes to share with your followers?
The recipes I share are dependent on what is going on in the world. I cook based on what is in season, upcoming holidays, and the mood of my audience. I also try to ask my followers for recipe requests weekly so I can incorporate their specific needs into my next video. 

Who would you describe as your target audience on ‘What’s Kit Cooking?’
My ‘What’s Kit Cooking’ series is meant to be very approachable. Of course, I want regular home cooks to be able to try and enjoy my recipes, but I want young people who may be intimidated by cooking, who may live in apartments with smaller kitchens, or may have limited cooking appliances or skills, to feel comfortable recreating my meals. The expert in anything was once a beginner and I just want to give everyone the opportunity to fall in love with cooking the way I have.

I know that your goal for the future includes having your own cooking show, as well as writing a cookbook. How do you imagine your cooking show? And how would your cookbook look like?
My goal right now with ‘What’s Kit Cooking’ is to continue cultivating my community online. The process of creating a cookbook takes time, but it is something my team and I have started working on. I am beyond excited to see what is next for the series.

In 2021 we were able to see you on our screens in Matt James’ season of ‘The Bachelor’. Why did you decide to be on the show and would you ever do reality TV again?
When I was presented with the opportunity to be on ‘The Bachelor’ I was definitely hesitant. It was a lengthy conversation with my family, friends, and manager, but at the end of the day I decided to take the risk because I knew if I graduated college and began my career, I might not get the opportunity to do something like that again. Looking back, I can say it was very much worth it. Matt is a wonderful guy, I grew a lot personally and emotionally and I was able to walk away with lifelong girlfriends. 

Kit, you’re also known for being a daredevil. You jumped off a building and surfed in high heels. Is there any other really adventurous thing you want to experience?
I got the daredevil gene from my mom for sure. I was raised to value adventure over material things and have traveled all over the world on surf trips. I have definitely checked a lot off my bucket list already, but I think I would love race car driving, so that’s up next. 

Being a true New Yorker, could you ever imagine moving to any other city?
I lived in LA for a little over two years, but my heart drew me back to NYC. I love the east coast and being near my family. We are third-generation New Yorkers on my dad’s side of the family. I think if I were to live somewhere besides New York, it would have to be abroad. I grew up traveling to Tokyo a lot when I was young for my mom’s work and I always say I could live there, but I think I would have to drag my mom, dad, sister, and best friends with me if I were to move that far away.

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