The Top 3 New Year’s Resolutions from Palm Springs Movers & Shakers!

For the last Spotlight of 2014, I invited some of my favorite interviewees from 2014—and it was difficult to choose as there are so many amazing people I had the pleasure to interview this year—to share their top three resolutions for 2015. They are a talented and diverse group—eclectic to say the least—and their answers were as varied as their authors. Some wrote in generalities, others in specifics; some a few sentences, others took a more…novel approach. I hope you enjoy reading them as much I did. Best Wishes for a Peaceful, Prosperous, Palm Springs-style 2015! XO Kate

Susan Stein / Photo: Jon Abeyta

Susan Stein

Susan Stein is the long-time fashion editor of Palm Springs Life and creative producer of Fashion Week El Paseo. For the last 9 years, under Susan’s stewardship as Fashion Editor of Palm Springs Life Magazine, Fashion Week El Paseo has grown consistently and exponentially, with its productions drawing a record-breaking attendance of 13,500 guests. As the “biggest fashion event on the west coast,” Fashion Week El Paseo showcases numerous acclaimed designers from all over, including collaborations with designers from the hit television show Project Runway.

1.  I’m convinced that creating resolutions sets me up to fail so I will explain them accordingly—Breathe: You know I can’t fail at this one…but my point is that I should stop and “breeeeeathe” more often to make a stressful time, well, less stressful.

2. Remember My Friends: I have so many wonderful friends and we seem to loose touch when we’re in the throes of our lives. I’m trying to assure that I connect with every one of them more often during the year. It took many years to cultivate them and I will continue to nurture those friendships.

3. Read a Book: Specifically, one book a month not related to work or obvious interests. A book that will teach me something new and broaden my horizons (This is in addition to all of the other reading that’s necessary to keep in step with the fast changing world….trends!!)


189326_4267983811419_536183718_nChristopher Kennedy

Since founding his firm in 2005, Christopher Kennedy has emerged as one of the nation’s freshest voices in home furnishings and interior design. His name and products are quickly becoming synonymous with modern luxury and vibrant California glamour, and have captured the attention of such leading publications as Architectural Digest, Dwell Magazine, Elle Decor, Luxe Magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. From his storefront and studio in Palm Springs, Christopher also creates an eponymous furniture line, lighting for Lamps Plus, and a forthcoming accessory collection for a major television shopping channel. 

1. Get My Health and Fitness in Check: I know it’s a total cliche, but it’s a “must” for me.  In 2014, I just stopped working out entirely.  I also spent a year eating whatever I wanted and drinking some delicious wine.  I blamed it on the stress of my growing business, but now I have less energy and my clothes don’t fit!  I’ve realized that if I going to perform at my peak work-wise, I need to take care of my body first.  I’m giving up most meat, bread, and sugar.  It’s also quite helpful that my new Studio & Showroom is right next door to The Basic Gym!

2. Connect with People Personally: My mom taught me to send hand-written thank you notes; she believed in manners, hospitality, and grace.  I do pretty well, but in this electronic age, I want to make an extra effort to connect with people on a personal level.  To send letters and birthday cards, instead of just of posting Facebook updates and writing on someone’s wall.  To pick up the phone and call a relative or friend, not just send a text.  I think we are at a critical juncture in our society, and if we don’t find a way to connect with those we care about—and also with those with whom we disagree—our culture is in real trouble.

3. Celebrate & Give Back: 2015 will mark the ten-year anniversary of my design business. Palm Springs has been great to me, and after ten years of building a business with my nose to the grindstone, it sort feels like I am just now coming up for air.  It is very important to me now to give back to the town that has given me so much.  That is one of the reasons I founded The Christopher Kennedy Compound: Modernism Week Show House, which will raise funds for Modernism’s education and preservation efforts this February.  I am also mentoring students and contributing to various architecture and design efforts, as well as animal causes.  And it is not just about check-writing.  It is important to show up.



Jaime Kowal

IMG_9678 2Jaime Kowal’s 14-year career as a freelancer photographer and multimedia producer has taken her to 23 countries spanning seven continents, providing travel and lifestyle imagery as a Creative Contributor for Getty Images, and to editorial magazines including Wallpaper, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and Jaime is also the proprietor of several new businesses in Palm Springs. The first is a new desert chic boutique accommodation concept that just opened in Palm Springs called The Amado. Her most recent projects are a coffee shop and adjacent tiki bar newly opened in the Uptown Design District—Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tiki.

1. A Lot of Travel This Year: Take a dip in a hot spring in Iceland; study Spanish in Uruguay.

2. Build My Art Collection: Mixing vintage family photos, my own photography and works of art from my incredibly talented friends.  Start working on a couple of personal photographic projects I have been thinking about for a long time…

3. Volunteer More: There are a few organizations I have my eye on. I’m particularly interested in mentoring young women in business.


IMG_0029-1Lee Morcus

Lee Morcus has devoted his life to the food and restaurant business on a corporate level, as a franchise owner, developer and entrepreneur, and as an independent restaurateur. Morcus and his father opened their first restaurant, Kaiser Grille Palm Desert in 1992 and have grown the family business to seven restaurants. The Kaiser Restaurant Group includes several brands: Kaiser Grille, Prime Chop House, The Grind, Jackalope Ranch and the Hog’s Breath Inn. Morcus’s latest venture is the La Quinta-based, Figue Mediterranean Restaurant and The New Chop House at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Lee was most recently inducted into the prestigious La Chaine des Rotisseurs and Les Amis d’Escoffier. Lee runs the Kaiser Restaurant Group with his father Kaiser and siblings Eric Morcus and Sue Morcus.

1.  Work Smarter: Strategically and train and develop people.  Work harder, smarter and less.

2.  Take Care of Me First: More downtime, travel, serenity, and the obvious diet and exercise.

3.  Balance and Perspective: Longer term focus…centered and focused.



Dann Foley

Dann Foley headshot 7[11]Designer Dann Foley 
has been in Palm Springs over 20 years and has worked in many of our local cities and throughout North America. He recently appeared on NBC’s American Dream Builders with Nate Berkus. Elle Decor picked Dann’s Room as their favorite of the week, saying: “The three judges were awed by designer Dann Foley’s creation, with Nate Berkus calling it, ‘universally appealing.’” Dann just launched multiple new lines of home products, including his outdoor furniture line and line of Loloi rugs called the “Palm Springs” Collection. He is also active with charitable causes in the Palm Springs community.

1. Take More Time for Myself: I work and enormous number of hours and take very little time just for myself so, this year I am dedicating an entire month to regenerating my creative batteries…in PARIS!

2. Do More Charity Work: I have been so fortunate in my life and I have always tried to give to worthwhile organizations but, this year I want to align myself with organizations where I can concentrate my efforts to make a real difference.

3. Go Organic: Being healthy, eating right and exercising has always been at the top of my priority list.  In 2015 I am making the commitment to go organic so that I always know what is in my food and the food I serve to family and friends.  I hope my choices will inspire those around me to be healthier and more aware.



Denise Wilson

Denise Headshot OfficeDenise Wilson is founder, CEO & President of Desert Jet. She was named one of the national winners of the 2013 EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program and was named one of 2013′s Enterprising Women of the Year. Denise was a finalist in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2010 contest, in the Emerging Entrepreneur category. She has been featured, published, and quoted in publications such as Inc. Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Business Jet Traveler, Forbes, Fox Business, Palm Springs Life, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal,  and Aviation for Women Magazine.  Denise is a member of Angel Flight West, Women in Aviation, Women in Corporate Aviation, Women Presidents’ Organization and the National Business Aviation Association.

1) Work: More ON my business and less IN my business.

2) Grow: My business by 33%.

3) Relax: Take a total of 8 weeks away from work to enjoy life outside of the business



Chris Pardo


Largely self-taught in the field of design, Chris Pardo is the principal of Chris Pardo Design: Elemental Architecture which has offices in Seattle and Palm Springs.  In 2007, Chris was honored with an AIA commendation award for the design of the Sterling Residence, and in 2009 was named to the “20 under 40 top architects” as well as honored as one of the “Top 25 innovators” by Seattle Business Magazine. Recently he was named in the “Worldwide Architecture: The Next Generation” as one of the top architects under 40 in the World, and was named as “Decades Best” by Seattle Magazine. In 2011, Pardo was honored as one of Seattle’s “Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Chris is also the co-founder and designer of a number of successful establishments in Seattle & Palm Springs. Recent projects in Coachella Valley include The Arrive Hotel, Coachella Music Festival restroom buildings, Il Corso Restaurant in Palm Desert, Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club, and Ernest Coffee and Bootlegger Tikki. 

1. Take Weekends Off: Or at least Sunday, and take a real vacation.

2. Be Present: Stop communicating with people in the same room via text or gchat.

3. Passion: Work on more of what I love.


About David J Castello

David J Castello is the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer for the Castello Cities Internet Network (,,, etc). His debut novel, The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) was published in 2016.

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