PROFILE : Gabi Prohn

Gabi is a long time friend of both Christie and mine and an absolute favorite visitor. This photograph perfectly exemplifies the sense of adventure that she carries around with her. We all met at the ol’ Louisiana State Universtity; I am sure over way too many beers. Since then, Gabi has moved to Durham, North Carolina where she is the PR Manager of Burt’s Bees.(Yes, she gets to play with beauty potions ALL day long.) She is basically an all-around wonderful person who is full of amazing information and refreshing views on life. So of course, we were thrilled when she agreed to photograph her home, answer our questions and, bonus, list some pretty great-looking places to visit in Durham. I wish I was sharing a piece of pie with her at Scratch (see link below) right now. Thanks Gabi!

How did you end up working for Mr. Burt?
I let life take me for a ride, and it always does. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Asian Studies, I spent a year in New Zealand working on farms and climbing mountains. I found myself in North Carolina afterwards looking for humanities work in education or non-profits. I got a wild hair that working for an interesting and sustainable business could be a good idea and shortly after discovered that Burt’s Bees, the maker of my favorite lip balm, was right in my backyard. I applied for an entry level position, and the rest is history. I discovered a passion for marketing – which happens to include my passions for good ideas, writing, art, persuasion, cultural studies and parties☺. Viola!

You have always been so creative. How have you kept that a part of your life?
Curiosity. It’s what connects you to all the crazy things around you that could compel you to create something. I’ve chosen a creative profession, which keeps me thinking all the time, but because I’m not physically making things, I find I still need to make a space and time to create actual things with my hands. Having a little workshop helps and surrounding yourself with other creative folks really helps. Spending time in nature or in a really big city always gets my juices flowing – there’s so much to discover.


What is in your refrigerator right now?
Well, lots of stuff – I like eating! Notably, whole grain mustard, which I add to nearly every salad dressing I make. Lucky dog stew for Zasha (home made by her best friend). Most of the time I have plain yogurt, apples, olives, cheese, a few hot sauces and something pickled. This is North Carolina, after all.

What did you have for dinner last night?
Last night was pizza – a delicious veggie number – from Pop’s, beloved in Durham for its pies. I believe it included a mix of mushrooms and olives, bell peppers, goat cheese, onions and all the other stuff pizza is made of. Yum.

Favorite modern convenience?
This is a tough one. The obvious choice would be the smart phone, in that it’s probably revolutionized my life the most, although I’m not always sure it’s for the better. I do often wonder how we were ever able to explore a new city without them. A close second is held by two things: seeing eye glasses (I’m with Katie on this one) and airplanes. I relish in the sensory realm – so seeing clearly and traveling are very dear to me. Admittedly, I have a love-hate relationship with each of these conveniences – so is the double-edged sword of progress…

avorite activities in Durham? Why is it such a great place to live?
Let’s see…I’m constantly bragging about Durham and trying to find the right words to express its character. It’s an old tobacco/textiles area, so there are some great old warehouses throughout town – I used to live in one and still work in one. Also a rich history of agriculture, the blues, and early African-American owned businesses/education institutions. The Eno woods and river carve their way through the area offering a beautiful natural space that’s steeped with history. Old mill ruins and grave sites can be found along the river and what was one time an old trading route called Fish Dam Road. Enough history, but what it has become is a great place to live a life spent enjoying the outdoors, great agricultural abundance and amazing food and a place where culture, first class education and art are blossoming – that and food trucks! It still feels like a raw canvas – a place where artists and entrepreneurs can dream big and find a diverse group of welcoming patrons. We’re also home to the American Dance Festival and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and if you plan you can make a Yum Yum Supper – a big community meal outside I throw with friends a couple times a year. If you’re in Durham, be sure to check out:
– Fullsteam Brewery
– Geer Street Garden
– Food Trucks!
– Scratch
– The Scrap Exchange
– Duke Gardens and Duke Performances
– The Eno River State Park


Favorite piece of furniture in your home?
My moss lawn at the edge of the Eno woods behind my house. If I have to choose something inside, it would be a turn of the century hallway sofa I found at a consignment shop. It has such a beautiful shape and someone lovingly recovered it in a crocheted wool (probably in the 60s), which is so unusual and cozy.


Daily rituals?
My morning ablutions. Cleansing rituals go way back, and being immersed nearly 24/7 in the stuff of lotions and washes and understanding the skin – I’ve come to appreciate my shower and the time I take to care for my skin each day. I just don’t feel the same if it doesn’t happen.

Favorite kitchen utensil?
My Sodastream soda maker, if you can call that a utensil. A product very worth the investment if you like bubbly water all the time. More traditionally speaking, a good cast iron skillet is crucial. (We agree!)


What did you dream of being as a child?
A veterinarian and a hair stylist, no joke. I do cut hair incidentally and I still love animals, but new dreams have come over the years. I still dream of being an elegant jazz singer. You know, with pin curls, red lips, and a ball gown; all strewn on a baby grand and belting soulful and sultry tunes. This may be a fantasy, rather.

Also, my great grandmother was a master seamstress and since high school I’ve loved to sew and make costumes. My time in Louisiana attuned me to the ritual of costume and masks, and today I’ve found that I love making headdresses, so I’m going to keep that up and see where it takes me.


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