A Day in the Life of Cory Ohlendorf: Co-founder of Valet MagWritten by Tigre Haller
After working at The Washington Post Cory Ohlendorf and his partner started Valet Mag (“Your concierge to a well-styled life”) in the summer of 2008 “to create the kind of magazine that we wanted to see, but couldn’t find. One that was stylish and celebrated living well but was also inclusive,” said Cory.
Since then the site has gained a loyal following for its broad-range of topics such as “The Modern Man’s Guide to Staying Chill”, “The Best Cutting Board” and “Gym Anxiety.” Valet Mag’s series of interviews with subjects as varied as actors, chefs, pro-skateboarders and a bodyguard to the stars offer unique perspectives on what makes up a morning routine.
Here, we put Cory in the hot-seat to get a glimpse into his own daily routine, and to better understand how someone so busy holds it all together:
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I turn off my sound machine (I couldn’t sleep without it), pet my dog (who is usually curled up right beside me) and then get dressed for the gym. I always have my gym clothes already out and stacked up ready to go, making it a little easier to hit the gym at 6:30 am.
I’ll glance at my phone, but only VIP contacts make the lock screen, so if there’s nothing there, I don’t even open my inbox or check social media until after breakfast.
What do you have for breakfast?
Lately, it’s oatmeal with cinnamon and a little peanut butter. Sometimes I toss a banana or some berries in for a little extra sweetness and energy.
How do you map out your day?
I’m a big believer in To-Do lists. I keep a digital version in the Notes app on my phone, so it syncs with my computer at the office and my laptop and iPad at home. That way, I can access it and add to it wherever I am throughout the day and night.
Once I get to the office, I spend the first 30 minutes going through emails and responding to anything urgent from the team or sources we’re working with for upcoming stories. Then I scan social media (for longer than necessary, I’m sure). Then I try to tackle a few small tasks so I can remove them from my To-Do list before lunch.
Do you have a morning routine?
I’m not a morning person, so my morning routine is pretty simple. I shower after the gym and apply AO’s Peak Strength AM Serum-Shot before finishing with an SPF moisturizer. Right now, I’m loving the lightweight Anti-Pollution moisturizer from KOA, a really clean line of products with roots in Hawaii.
I use Port Products texturizing hair putty to tame my naturally curly hair. I finish with some cologne—usually something new we’re testing or reviewing for Valet.
Where do you have meetings?
My co-founder and I share an office, so we’ll often turn to each other and have quick meetings right there. But if we really want to think outside the box and get the creative juices flowing, we always go for a meandering walk through a park or the beach to shake things up. It’s somehow easier to think when you’re walking and talking.
How do you handle stress?
Working out has become a great stress reliever for me. I notice it in myself, if I miss a few days of working out, that I’m much more aggravated and stressed. So starting my day with a solid workout gets a lot of bad energy out and preps me for the day. Plus, it keeps my pants fitting properly.
What do you do for lunch?
I love cooking and tend to make dinner at home Sunday through Thursday for my partner and myself. I always cook more than we need and then make two lunches from the left-overs. So my typical lunch is whatever I had for dinner last night.
How do you prepare for the next day?
I’m a big believer in making my To-Do list the night before. There’s less pressure, so I seem to remember more of what I need to do. And once I get it written down, I can release it from my mind and sleep well.
How do you wind down?
This is an important part of my night. Even if I work late or come back late from an event, I need some time by myself to wind down and decompress. I like staying up, pouring myself a glass of wine and either relaxing in a hot bath with some music playing or catching up on TV. Right now, my favorite is HBO’s Succession.
Any pre-sleep routine?
I take my grooming pretty seriously. I floss, brush my teeth (I love my Quip) and rinse with Crest’s Pro-Health mouthwash. Then I cleanse my face with Exuviance’s clarifying cleanser and apply a toner by Triumph & Disaster. I finish up with a rich night cream like West Skincare’s Recovery Cream and a dab of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye cream. After all that, I’m worn out and ready for bed.
Thanks Cory for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us some new insights and tips.
As you can see, reader, it is possible to manage a full life and still take care of yourself. Leave a comment below and let us know how you handle your routine.
More from Cory…
How would you describe your style?
It’s casual but considered. And I’ve definitely developed more of a uniform in terms of color: Almost everything in my closet is either navy blue, grey or olive green.
Why is men’s fashion important?
What you wear says so much about how you feel about yourself and what you want others to see in you. I think men’s fashion is becoming increasingly more important because we’ve entered into this “choose-your-own-adventure” era. Right now, guys are embracing style like never before. And I think that’s because they’re finally free to mix and match different styles.
There’s an overall acceptance of experimentation that is allowing men to take more risks and this, in turn, is changing how brands and designers are creating clothes for the future.
Non-fiction or Fiction?
Why pick just one? I like to alternate between the two… I’ll read a non-fiction book or memoir, then switch to a novel.
I’m a lover of essayists. James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Flannery O'Connor, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs and Zadie Smith are among my favorites.
The most interesting book you’ve read lately?
I just read Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday. It’s essentially two very different stories about life choices and free will that eventually intertwine but it’s the kind of simple prose you can easily get lost within.
What do you indulge in?
An indulgence, to me, is something you spend money on that others might deem unnecessary. For me, that’s usually candles. I love burning them, both in the office and at home and I haven’t met a designer candle that I haven’t wanted to light up.
What keeps you up at night?
Right now, the environment is something that’s been worrying me more and more. To see the Amazon burning like this and hear that July was the hottest month ever recorded globally. I was actually just up late looking for organizations focused on combating climate change and wildlife conservation.
I decided to give to 350.org (dedicated to reducing the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration) and get involved with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (which safeguards Africa’s wildlife and works to preserve wild habitats).