Box Babe: René Graham


You live in the Austin area, what keeps you there? What makes the city special?

I’ve lived and done business all over Texas, but Austin is my personal mecca.  Its the perfect blend of metropolitan+suburban, outdoor adventuring, cultural vibrancy, musical genius, political balance, architectural quirkiness, foodie heaven, national relevance yet downhome Texas goodness...its such a weird melting pot of things I crave. I can always find something in Austin that makes me smile and chill out about life.

What is the story of how you started Renzoe Box?

Its an idea I had back in grad school. I had to work to put myself through school, so I was always going from the office to class or vice versa. During grad school I interned for a large architecture firm in Downtown Houston, so dressing professionally and being put-together was essential. I always carried a change of clothes and my makeup bag with me. But no matter what I did, inevitably my makeup bag would become a disorganized mess. I’d have to dump it out on the car seat or bathroom counter. It was one of those daily annoyances that really irked me. One day I sketched out this idea for modular pods, like Legos for makeup. That was almost 10 years ago now, but I could never shake the idea. I didn’t pursue it back then because I was focused on dreams of designing big important buildings that helped revitalize a city and building up a reputable architecture firm. Then one day as I was lecturing my students on scale, and I realized I wasn’t practicing the exact thing I was standing there preaching: design is design regardless of scale. So I went back to the office and got to work.

How do you overcome day-to-day obstacles in your life and business?

Strategically. With any problem that arises I think of at least 3 solutions, I put them in order of priority, and then I try them one by one. Eventually one will work. Its a statistical certainty.

Say a reader wanted to start their own business, what advice would you give them?

Everything--and I mean everything--starts and ends with you. At the end of the day, there is no one to hold responsible but yourself.  Its simultaneously daunting and freeing. But as long as you can accept that, you’ll be fine.

Name a book everybody should read right now.

Astrophysics for People in A Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Where do you go to relax?

Lady Bird Lake trail run or Santa Monica beach swim or on the couch cuddled with my dog Oliver. These are hands down my go-to happy places.

Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas.

Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas.

Whats your drink of choice?

Gin & tonic, two limes, splash of Sprite. Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire.

Who is the coolest woman you can think of right now? What makes her so cool?

Okay its impossible for me to narrow this to one...

I’m currently slightly obsessed with Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh. She’s so talented and young and hip. She has a creative eye thats setting the pace and defining a lot of the graphic content you see out there right now.

Ires Van Herpen is my fashion goddess right now. She’s experimenting with form, process, material and technology like nobody else, and I think her work will have implications on all kinds of objects--from skyscrapers to rocketships to you name it. You know her work from some of Lady Gaga’s outrageous outfits.

I’m in total awe of Jenny Wu. Her mastery of work-life curation and balance is like something I’ve only dreamed about but wasn’t certain was achievable. She’s a professor at Sci-Arc, has an architecture practice thats blowing up and doing excellent work, she designed a super cool jewelry line, she’s married with two gorgeous kids...and only in her early 40s. My hats off to her for figuring it all out. She’s killing it right now.

My niece Elise. She’s only 5 and the smartest sweetest kid with the sassiest personality. God she’s gorgeous too. I’m excited to be a part of her life and see who she’ll grow into.

Also and forever: Beyoncé.

Jessica Walsh, Sagmeister & Walsh

Jessica Walsh, Sagmeister & Walsh

Whats your ideal way to start Monday morning?

3-mile run, hottest shower I can stand, 15 minutes of towel-text time (this is where I lay in bed butt naked with my hair in a towel and answer emails/text messages), 2 lattes, NY Times.

What's the last purchase you made that simplified your day-to-day life the most?

Samsung Note 8

What do you believe to be true that almost no one else agrees with you on?  

Puns are the absolute best. Also whiteboards are remarkable!

If you had a Renzoe Box right now, what will we find in yours?  

I’m actually the only person on the planet that has one right now (but not for long!), so I’ll tell you exactly whats in it right this second:

Top tray:

  • Luminous Silk Powder Foundation by Georgio Armani

  • Contour Blush Duo by Nars

  • Eyeshadows in Shroom, Carbon Intense, Bronze Gold and Gesso Vivid by M.A.C.

Everything Else compartment:

  • Streamlined Eyeliner in black by Kismet

  • Matte Lip Stain by Yves Saint Laurent

  • Bio-tint SPF30 moisturizer by W3ll People

  • Lip balm by Burts Bee’s

  • Eyelash curler by Japonesque

  • 3 business cards

  • LUXIE brush cleaner towelette

Hidden storage:

  • RENZOExLUXIE Starter Kit brush set (#160, #211, #215, #604)