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Light Bites with the Upper East Side’s Best Hostess—and Sharpest Businesswoman

Under her signature bouffant, Laura Slatkin has quite a savvy head on her shoulders

At any given moment, Laura Slatkin looks ready for her close-up. That’s because the fragrance maven, who founded the luxury home and fine fragrances brand NEST Fragrances, takes cues from beauty icons Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Grace Kelly. “Women should go to the ends of the earth to look as beautiful as possible when they walk out the door,” she says. “It makes you feel good, and those around you think you went out of your way for them.” 

Beautiful, indeed. We’re sitting inside the living room of Slatkin’s seven-story Upper East Side townhouse she shares with her husband, Blyth, Inc. CEO Harry Slatkin, and 16-year-old twins. Slatkin, dressed in a form-fitting black dress paired with black pointed-toe pumps, looks poised as ever, gracefully shifting into a comfortable position atop a plush grey sofa. Her skin is still glistening from her morning rubdown of NEST’s Indigo body crème—her husband’s current favorite—and her hair, a trademark bouffant, has no strays. The space—which has entertained the likes of Deeda Blair, Jason Wu and Leonard Lauder—is studded with antique furnishings, and the aroma of the brand’s Sicilian Tangerine candle wafts through the air.

“I always make sure to fragrance my entertaining spaces with citrusy scents that are uplifting and rejuvenating, a crowd-pleaser,” Slatkin says in between sips of Oban scotch. “You never want to burn a fragrance that might cause your man to leave the room.”

Full of tips and tricks, this isn’t her first time at the rodeo. She and her husband formerly owned Slatkin & Co., a luxury home fragrance company, which they sold in 2005. NEST Fragrances launched in 2008, with master perfumers mixing up the perfect combinations of notes, and products have been flying off shelves at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and more high-end retailers ever since.

NEST’s Birchwood Pine, Holiday, and Hearth candles

As we nosh on bites of truffle grilled cheese and spinach puff pastries, Slatkin details her busy schedule, which begins at 6am when she cooks breakfast for her daughter. She has a choice between fresh blueberry, chocolate chip or banana pancakes, French toast or (ever a teenager) Lucky Charms. “I burn Pumpkin Chai in the kitchen because it smells like wonderful things are happening,” she says with a laugh. “Even if they’re not.”

At 7am, Slatkin’s hairdresser arrives at her doorstep, ready to sculpt her infamous ‘do, and within a half hour, she’s out the door and headed to the office. A typical day includes juggling a medley of meetings on top of her philanthropic efforts, which date back to when her son, David, was diagnosed with severe autism. Slatkin sits on the board of Autism Speaks and is co-founder of non-profit organization New York Collaborates for Autism. “There will either be a conference I have to attend to, a lunch that I put together to discuss a new initiative or a board meeting,” she says. “Whether it’s for Autism Speaks, New York Collaborates for Autism, Columbia University, New York Presbyterian Hospital, our charter school or one of our Hunter College initiatives, there are a lot of programs we’re working on.” 

Her day ends around 6pm, when she looks forward to unwinding at home with her family and, if she’s lucky, squeezing in a quick bubble bath. “Even if I can just get into a Midnight Fleur bubble bath for five minutes, that’s really important,” she says. “It rejuvenates me for the rest of the evening.” The downtime is surely merited. “Anyone who is successful in business will tell you that if you work really, really hard, you get lucky,” she says. “It’s all about dedication, perseverance, believing in your brand and giving it everything you’ve got.” 

It’s an ethos Slatkin holds dear to her heart, especially when she reflects back on her journey. “I didn’t wake up one morning and think, I want to do a fragrance collection,” she admits. “I never thought I could ever do this on my own.”

But she did—and without a single hair out of place.