Jill Zarin is, as expected, a fast-talking, multitasking force. When the former Real Housewife hops on the line to talk all things Jill & Ally, the face mask and accessories line she launched with her daughter this year, she is finishing making a batch of potato latkes, and using the steam from the pot for a quick side facial. Next up: a much-deserved rest from a 24-7 work year, as well as a mini-detective hunt for her favorite sunscreen.
Why this mask venture?
Back in April, when the pandemic started, my daughter and I started something called Noshes for Nurses, where we were donating money to buy meals and transportation for nurses across the country. Then, we realized what we all really needed were masks. We couldn’t get a mask anywhere! Who even heard the word N-95 a year ago? People were actually calling me saying, “Do you anyone who can get medical masks?” I am a connector, it’s kind of my nature, so I reached out to one of my sources overseas in Vietnam and I asked him if he was making masks. I got a call a few weeks later saying, “We can export to United States now.” I asked for a sample, they were amazing, and, at the same time, my daughter and I started doing the tie-dye thing. We started buying ink online and we were making tie-dye everything, and then we got the masks and we started tie-dying those. We started doing videos on Instagram, and then we started selling them on Instagram, and the company was born. Now, we’re in 4,000 stores—we’re in T.J. Maxx, all the HomeGoods, all the Marshalls.
What makes them special?
I got lucky. I can’t take the credit for saying, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” Honestly—and I’m very honest—I didn’t do anything. I just had a great resource and I turned that into a great product. So many nurses get maskne and they have written to us saying that they wear our mask first against their skin, and then they put the N-95 over it. The masks are so soft, and they don’t irritate your skin. The Today Show just did a story on us, and they said “the masks feel like butter” on your face—what a description! I didn’t make that up, they said it! But they really are beyond soft and comfortable.
It sounds like you’ve been busy with this new venture and work. What have you been doing for yourself?
Not enough. Definitely not enough. Before all this, I was playing tennis five, six days a week; I’d work out twice a week. I would do that in the mornings and then I would work in the afternoon. Now, my life is 24 hours a day of working, seven days a week. It’s not really work, when you love what you do. I’ve always said that. Would I love to go on vacation? Of course! I know a lot of people who travelled around the country this summer. They got in their car and did road trips. I drove to New York. I wouldn’t call it a vacation, but I drove to New York [from Florida]. I would love to go on a trip, but we can’t right now because of COVID. My health and wellness are both very much tied to me resting on vacation, so that hasn’t been happening. After we finish with Christmas, we’re going to close our business. We’ll still be open online, but we’ll close our business from Christmas through the New Year to give everyone, including our employees who work so hard, a much-needed rest.
You recently celebrated your 57th birthday. Care to share your anti-aging secrets?
I use a lot of different products. The important thing is that you actually use them. I wear sunscreen every day, even if I’m in the house. I just make sure that whatever I buy has sunscreen. You know what I’m annoyed with? I used to wear La Prairie SPF 20. They stopped making it. I can’t find it anymore. What happened? Why would they take SPF out of their product? Do you know? As far as products go…I like doing those masks that you throw away. There’s one particular product that I can’t remember the name of it. It comes in a capsule, you put it under your eyes and all the puffiness under your eyes goes away. It’s temporary, but it takes out the water so you don’t get that line, that bubble from eating salt. I just buy it on Amazon.
I also just takecare of my skin like everybody has to. You know what I did today? It’s very funny. The one thing that I love about getting a facial is when they do the steaming. You lay there and they have that hot steam on your face that feels so good. Today, Iwas making potato latkes. I had a whole big hot thing of potatoes in water. I’m pouring it over the sink and all this steam came up, so I said, “Slow down,” and I put my head over it, I slowed down, and I got the best facial for five minutes. My hot potatoes gave me a facial today.You can’t underestimate that hot water boiling—it’s probably the best thing for your skin.
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