Kerrin Smith

New York City

April 19th, 1991. Kerrin Smith meets the world. She is raised by love.

I grew up with a mom who never said no to me as a child-rearing technique. I grew up in so much love, and I grew up in so much goodness. And that’s probably less about Dover, Massachusetts as it is like this extraordinary Maverick of a mother and six Auntie’s that helped to raise me.

Riding horseback in Wyoming’s summer is her favorite memory. Smith is a big sister to one other child, Devon. They both love their calico cat, Lily. Her brother is like a best friend, her mother is her champion and a primary source, and her Dad is her inspiration for personal growth. She describes her childhood as that makes her thankful. Smith was raised in Dover, Massachusetts, a town 25 minutes outside of Boston and idyllic for anyone interested in the woods and small classrooms. Smith tells her mother in the sixth grade that she wants to attend a private school that is not a part of her family’s lexicon. There Smith meets a cross country coach that will accompany her mother’s wedding and send her book recommendations. After private school, Smith decides she’s ready to switch coasts.

Then I wanted to [air quotes] do something different, so I went to California for a year. I was in a phase of life where no place or situation would’ve been the right fit for me, so I came back to Boston, and I did the “anything but empty” gap year for my second year of school. That included everything from modeling, to driving for meals on wheels. To a project on Middle Eastern studies, the subject of what women were wearing in the Middle East, to going to all of Devon’s basketball games, to taking economics with my then step-dad who was an investment banker. I was doing so much, so the question became, “What’s the right environment for me to thrive next?”

Smith remembers growing up and seeing her Auntie Geri dressed in head to toe Chanel, and this intrigued her. It was in 2007 when she discovered Teen Vogue, and her interest in fashion ignited.

In 2012 she attended New York University’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study. The University’s program allows the individual to bring all their scattered ideas and align a path for them. Smith designs her curriculum and major. She states that Gallatin is perfect for someone who has initiative and creativity.

I wanted to study academics that were going to help me help the fashion industry expand in a culturally responsible way in parts of the Middle East. About six weeks into our studies, I was sitting in a seminar when I realized that the model of economic growth that I’m studying was one that I didn’t believe.

The model she was studying encourages more is better; more consumption equates to more well being. Smith became interested in bringing core values of integrity, transparency, and accountability to the fashion industry. The question was how. This question led her away from the production and consumption side of fashion. And towards what values were fashion industries championing. This notion birthed the site Smith founded, Cool and Thoughtful.

If we see a Calvin Klein billboard, what is that inferring or fashion brands like Supreme, what sets of values is that suggesting? Cool and Thoughtful is an initiative to redefine what cool means in the fashion industry. It’s really about an alternative way of being. It’s being empathetic, kind, oriented around solving problems rather than having a passive or standoffish approach to things.

Smith’s dream is to turn the momentum into a brand consultancy that embodies the ethos of Cool and Thoughtful. She recently got accepted into a program at the school of visual arts for a master’s in branding.

This program will teach me the discipline of branding. Right now, I’m experimenting with what kinds of consumer experiences can Cool and Thoughtful create that connects a value that a fashion or beauty brand has and a value that C.A.T. holds. What value, like mindfulness, for instance, we both share, and how will C.A.T. bring that to life for their brand and consumers?

The way Smith is doing this now is by hosting events. She has hosted a mindfulness workshop called “How to be Cool and Thoughtful”, that focuses on a moment of pause in which the attendee can be present with their reactions before they come out of their mouth. She ultimately wants to do this through brand strategy and identity. The whole spirit of the workshop is to feel like fashion, but it is mindfulness. Smith recently hosted one of these events at the Melody Ehsani Shop.

At the Melodi store, the walls were bright pink, the girls dressed to the nines, and I felt like I was at a magazine set. What we were talking about was, how do we be masterful with those reactions. How do we practice a moment of pause? What do you do as a strategy? The whole idea is to create an experience of community to give people at least four new tools that they can walk out and practice.

A regular day for Smith is filled with activity. Every morning her alarm wakes her up between 5:25 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. She feels like hell for about the first five minutes then comes to with excitement. She will make her morning cup of coffee and work on C.A.T. for an hour. An hour-long run follows this. When she returns from her run, she’ll listen to a French podcast while getting ready to be Chief of Staff at a boutique strategy and management consulting firm—where she learned the craft of entrepreneurship. After work, she will do something related to personal development, whether that be going to Landmark Education or taking a hot yoga class. When she arrives home, she’ll eat a quick dinner and work on Cool and Thoughtful for another hour or two. Smith finds herself waking up in the middle of the night, eager to start her day because she’s filled with so much love for her life.

I believe in standing for something possible rather than rebelling against something wrong. There’s a difference. It’s principle number five in the cool and thoughtful principles, but there’s a difference because if you’re coming from something’s wrong, then there’s anger. Versus ok things are the way they are, what else is possible? This is a different orientation. I think it’s a really important one. 

Check out what she’s listeng to ︎You can follow her on Instagram @coolandthoughtful and @kerrinms

© tell her stories 2020