Erin Kleinberg on the Power of Cold Showers and Good Home Scents

The Sidia founder shares how her brand’s new candles were inspired by her days raiding people’s closets at Coveteur.

by Eleonore Condo

a portrait of Erin Kleinberg
Erin Kleinberg photographed by Norman Wong

Erin Kleinberg wants to own the bathroom. The co-founder of Coveteur and Métier Creative (and former W intern) launched her lifestyle brand, Sidia, named for her late grandmother, in 2020. “She passed away right when COVID hit us all in the face. She’d had a three-year battle with stomach cancer. She was 79, a Holocaust survivor, an immigrant, and just a total matriarch,” explains Kleinberg, “I built this brand in her honor.” The brand began with caftans, an homage to Sidia’s favorite garment. It quickly extended to include loungewear sets, a luxe towel wrap, and a plush headband perfect for keeping stray hairs out of your face while applying skincare and makeup. This week, Sidia is launching its first candles, named ‘Braless’ and ‘Wired,’ both hand-poured and formulated with a non-toxic blend of vegetable and coconut wax and a lead-free cotton wick. “I have two kids, I run two businesses. That time for me alone in the bathroom is like the only solace I have,” Kleinberg says. “So that’s kind of the impetus for Sidia, creating products that help us in our oasis—that’s what I like to call my bathroom.”

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Tell me about creating your brand. What’s your process like?

It’s been a labor of love, and it's the first time I don’t have any co-founders or partners. There is this real connection to my roots and story and my ancestors. When I launched the brand, I didn’t realize it, but I just was pouring my heart into this thing to handle that extreme loss in my life. I love Sidia because it’s my most personal project so far. This one is about me, and it’s about my family, and it’s about multi-generational wisdom. It’s kind of vulnerable to share with the world, in a way. But I love that. I feel like I’m learning so much. Creating the candles was a really new process for me. I’d never done that before.

What made you want to make candles?

They came about because I had spent so many years, during my Coveteur days, in like, 500 of the world’s best tastemaker’s homes—their bathrooms, their bedrooms, smelling these incredible mixes of scents. After our photoshoots, they’d be like, “So, do you just want to like stick around for dinner and have some wine and smoke a joint?” That’s when the real stuff went down, and we learned more about them, their space, and the ambience they would create using personal scents and style. I became really fascinated with that, and I knew when we started Sidia that fragrance and candles would be something we would explore, but I really wanted to take my time with it. To me, scent and memory go hand-in-hand. They can just conjure up so much nostalgia and really take you back to a specific time and place. So we spent a good nine, ten months developing the fragrances and really honing in on what it was that we wanted to evoke for people.

The names alone are so evocative, Braless and Wired. Did you come up with the scent first or the names?

It was really the feeling and the emotion first. I woke up one day, and I called Alex [Assaraf, Director of Production], my right hand, and said, “Alex! The candle is going to be called Braless, and the other one is gonna be called Wired!” And then we worked to really tap into the little nostalgic moments of our past. The smokiness of Braless reminds me of camp and campfire and how we used to have times with no technology. Wired was all about the time I spent in Palm Springs growing up with my grandmother, and that fresh, amazing, non-polluted air and how that made me feel.

What’s your morning routine like?

Okay, so my days are a little bit different because I’m in the desert, which is my happy place and part of the inspiration for these candles from the get-go. I have two human alarm clocks that wake me up. One is two and a half, one is six, and I don't ever need to set an alarm because they're always there and ready to rumble. I spend some time with them. I like to cuddle with them, I like to get that good, good stuff for my soul in. And then I start my whole routine; the first thing I do is I take a cold shower because I feel like that just wakes me up and makes me feel fresh and amazing, and like I’m going to be successful no matter what. I’ll light my Wired candle, which has eucalyptus, matcha tea leaves, and citrus—all things that wake you up. One of the things I’m really focused on in the shower is exfoliation. If you don’t exfoliate, you’re not going to have any success with applying skincare, so that’s a big part of my routine. And then I will go into a little breath work series, just five minutes, because that's kind of all I have the luxury for. I met a wonderful woman named Erika Polsinelli, who is the first person who really got me to do breath work consistently. When I do it, I find that it makes me less angry during the day. I have more patience for bad drivers or my kids. And then my big thing is walking. If I can go for a brisk, one-hour walk by myself with my thoughts and creativity without technology, then that’s the best medicine. I will sneak in a few emails or DMs in the morning, but it’s really just about this ritual, this routine. I’ll have tea, take my supplements. I don’t do all of these things every day because I’m not that perfect, but these are the things that I like to do.

What exfoliators do you use?

If I want to be like super, super, super exfoliated, I’ll use the GOOPGLOW because it has AHAs and little scrubby, pumice-type things in it, so she's attacking you from all angles. She wants you to be like, glowy AF. I’ll use the Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads for really smooth skin for my makeup to go on. And then sometimes I’ll do the Origins Retexturizing Clay Mask. It just depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and how glowy do I really want to get?

What are your makeup must-haves?

I was already pretty good at the five-minute face before the pandemic, but now it's a literal two-minute face, because when you spend so much time on your skincare, with all the serums and exfoliators, you don’t need it, and you don’t have any more time for makeup. So for me like, desert island, I would have my Saie mascara, brow pencil, and a slight swipe of bronzer if there’s any time, or blush. I like a pop of color on the lid, just to make my eye color pop. I’ve started to love Ilia’s eyeshadow palettes; the colors are so well-thought-out. As I get older, I’m starting to think more about only using clean makeup. And I love the Chanel mist, I can't get enough of that. Doing makeup is a form of artistry, you know? Listen, I’m not a makeup artist by any stretch, but it’s just, like, a brush of creativity for me. I think every moment of my being is dedicated to creativity. That’s what fuels me. So, if I can have a moment of that in my makeup routine, that’s what I strive for.

Okay, so you lay the base for a productive day in the morning. What do you do in the evening to wind down?

What’s nice is that it changed due to the pandemic. I used to be at work until 6:30, and then I'd come home, and my kids were going to bed. Now my husband and I both finish work at 5:30, and we take the opportunity to cook together. That is a huge luxury. We’ll have dinner with the kids, and then I’ll put them to bed. And then once seven o’clock hits, I’m washing my face. That is the best way for me to just get the day off. And taking out my contacts. I feel like with Zoom my eyes have just become so dry. I light my Braless candle, which has patchouli, cedar, guaiac wood, and all these amazing smoky vibes. And sometimes I’ll take another shower, which is kind of crazy. It’s a hot one this time, a very hot one, and I love to put on either the Sidia towel or caftan or one of our sets and just like, debrief. Sometimes I’ll just go right into bed. I like to have that time to myself, and I’m a total bedroom gal. I love being cozy. I wish I could tell you that I don't have my phone near my bed, but I’d be lying.

I have to ask, any fun W Magazine memories?

Working for [former Fashion Director] Alex White was when I really started to understand that styling, design, and architecture could elevate mood. That’s a huge inspiration for me with Sidia. I always remember the detail that she went into to make a story great. I remember one time she was like, “Erin, can you please go to the film shop on St. Mark's and get A Clockwork Orange? And I'd like to see minute 5 and 51 seconds, please, and we’ll laminate that page for the mood.” Like, what? She was such a genius with references and those moments of detail. That’s lived on with me forever.