Abigail Muir is the queen of web design, working on sites like Our Place, Blume, Clare, and this one– Inka! As she lightly munches on a sandwich and slaw at her dining table in Williamsburg (yes, some people have dining tables in NYC), she talks about reaching a place of stability and the role food has played in her life throughout.
Today I’m eating a sandwich with wholewheat bread, tofurky, which I love, Oaxaca cheese, pickled pepperoncini, and dijon mustard. My side is broccoli slaw with lemon, garlic dressing. I’m pretty healthy but chill. I don’t eat mushrooms, which is frustrating because if you run a restaurant, you automatically believe vegetarians love mushrooms. Portobello burgers, ramen with mushrooms, mushroom tacos. Everything’s mushrooms and I hate mushrooms so much.
If you run a restaurant, you automatically believe vegetarians love mushrooms. Everything’s mushrooms and I hate mushrooms so much.
I’ve been a vegetarian for twenty years, since I was eight or nine, so it feels like it’s always been this way. I have an older sister who became a vegan and I was constantly trying to get her to think I was cool. So, one day, I was like, “Oh, cool, I’m a vegetarian too.” And she was like, “I literally don’t care, get out of my face, get out of my room,” haha but I kept it up and it just became a part of my life.
I have an older sister who became a vegan and I was constantly trying to get her to think I was cool.
I’m picky about weird things but I like to eat a lot of really flavorful stuff. I love mustards and vinegars and hot sauces. I love cheese. I eat a lot of cheese, maybe too much. And a ton of crunchy stuff. Carrots, broccoli, like this slaw that I’m eating now, this is my freaking jam. I probably eat this every day.
Growing up in Florida, my family didn't really have a lot of money. That definitely affects the way you view yourself and the way you think about the world. Food has always been complicated. I mean, we were fine, and many people have it a lot worse, but there just wasn’t always a ton of it around.
I guess it just wasn’t ever an overwhelming cornucopia kind of vibe. Because of all that, food became something I respect.
Then, I would go to some of my friend’s houses and you’d open the fridge or pantry and it would just be full of stuff. Name brand snacks and Oreos and I don’t know, just stuff, all the varieties, all the time. At my house, things were more limited, and we often just did without. But, every now and then I would get Lucky Charms, which was my favorite. I guess it just wasn’t ever an overwhelming cornucopia kind of vibe. So, because of all that, food became something I respect.
My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. To her, it didn’t matter if you didn’t want to eat vegetables—too bad. That’s what’s on the table tonight, you can’t skip it. She had a chandelier above her table and there was a decorative bird's nest in it —she was very kitschy, you know, cute old stuff. So, when I was really little, if I didn’t finish whatever food was in front of me, like if I didn’t wanna eat my broccoli, she used to tell me, “If you don’t finish it, the bird’s eggs are all going to fall out of their nests.” And I’d be so worried about the little birds, and finish my dinner. But now I love broccoli, so thanks, grandma!
My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. To her, it didn’t matter if you didn’t want to eat vegetables—too bad.
Every single time I go to the grocery store and can just fill up a basket with food and afford to buy it, I can’t tell you how excited I am. This is something that did not happen for me until very recently. I’ll go grocery shopping and spend seventy-five bucks and I’m like, “Wow I’m so lucky, this is the best.” That freedom, just being able to have so many options, it’s amazing.
Freelancing is hard because your job, your skillset, your talents, they’re all directly tied to your value. So, you constantly have to be assessing yourself. How much am I worth in this project? And it's hard to separate that from how much I am worth as a person, as Abby. You have to stay vigilant, make sure you’re not devaluing yourself, underselling yourself or harming your own confidence (especially as a woman). Other people aren’t necessarily the driving factor, I often do it to myself. From what I’ve experienced, that’s a tendency my female counterparts are more likely to have— to second-guess their decisions and abilities. For me, it’s been a long road to try and notice when I’m doing that and ask myself: should I have genuine doubts in this situation? Or am I just doing it subconsciously and automatically?
How much am I worth in this project? And it's hard to separate that from how much I am worth as a person, as Abby.
Most exciting aspect of my work… Often, I get to work with people who are the founders of companies, and it’s so amazing to see them watch their vision come to life. Whether I’m doing the branding or the website or a photoshoot, it will usually be the first time these teams—who have been working for so long on something they're really passionate about—are getting to see it all come together. It’s a great feeling to be part of that and to support them.
Lunch is my break time. A time where I’m standing up, making something with my hands.
Because I’m freelance, I get to set my own schedule, which makes it easy to get wound up and in the zone and forget to walk away from working for a few minutes. But lunch is my break time. My time to not look at a screen. It’s a reminder in the middle of the day to eat, be with myself for a second, check-in, lower my stress levels. A time where I’m standing up, making something with my hands. It’s really nice and I try to be good about doing that every day.
Words by Nayla Al-Mamlouk and Photography by Elena Mudd