[dropcap letter=”L”]ike most any Maine millennial or Gen-Xer worth her salt, Piera Gelardi can still sing the jingle, note for note: “The great American family comes to play at Funtown Splashtown . . . USA!” Today, she calls Brooklyn home, but when the 39-year-old cofounder and creative director of women’s media company Refinery29 was a kid in Cape Porpoise, Maine’s largest — and most garish — amusement park seemed like a straight-up fantasy land.
“Where I grew up, there wasn’t always a lot to do,” Gelardi says, “but my family went to Funtown once a year and let me bring one friend. I have the best memories there.” Among other things, she remembers the sensory overload: the park’s vivid colors, cacophonous music, and dancing lights. The place helped inform her evolving aesthetic — today, Gelardi is known in New York fashion and media circles for her kaleidoscopic tastes.
She honed her creativity studying art at New York University, then as an intern and, eventually, an award-winning photo director at NYC’s CITY magazine. When she and three colleagues cofounded Refinery29 in 2005, it was a discovery platform for designers and fashion sorts — these days, the focus has expanded to beauty, health, finance, social issues, and just about any other topic that might interest millennial women.
But Gelardi credits Maine with sparking her imagination — then and now. Growing up, she says, she learned to make her own fun, writing stories, exploring the coast, and transforming the environments around her into playgrounds. When she visits these days, she recharges at spots like Arrowsic’s Squirrel Point Light, Georgetown’s Reid State Park, and Phippsburg’s Morse Mountain. “I love New York now,” she says, “but the nature in Maine is grounding for me.” Of course, it’s not all about nature, as she has also introduced a few New York pals to Funtown, where her favorite rides, Gelardi says, are as spellbinding as ever: “The music on Dragon’s Descent, the wooden track of Excalibur — there’s nothing else like it.”
Honors (Among Others)
One of Ad Age’s “most creative people” of the year; one of Entrepreneur’s “most daring entrepreneurs”; at CITY, the youngest photo director to win an American Society of Magazine Editors award
Achievements (Among Others)
Is a new parent, with husband and Refinery29 cofounder Philippe von Borries
Insta Handle @pieraluisa, where she regularly shares shots from Maine visits