Ian Karr, who grew up in White Plains, always thought he’d live in Chappaqua. Lauren, his wife, was a city girl who was never leaving the city. One day in 1997 Ian came home to their 52nd Street apartment to find Lauren with the Real Estate section of The New York Times. “I’m looking for houses in Chappaqua,” she told him not long after they had visited some friends who had moved up from the city. “It was a nesting thing,” says Ian. “We had a baby. She was six months old and we felt like we needed more space and a nice place to live.”
The Karr’s story is like many who find themselves living in the town. “We liked the location. It’s close enough to the city. It’s sophisticated but country,” says Ian. “One of the big factors is the great school system,” adds Lauren. “We’ve seen the full cycle in Chappaqua from pre-school, playgroups to empty nests.”
Twenty-four years later they are empty nesters. Their baby Jayden is now 24 years old and living in the city pursuing a career in eCommerce. Their son Gregory is a Junior at Syracuse University majoring in Finance and Real Estate.
Ian is an award-winning producer and director and the founder of IKA Collective a production company that celebrated its 35th anniversary on March 11th. Ian began his career on country radio stations in New Orleans and New York, but storytelling, photography and filmmaking were in his system since his childhood. He got his first production job in 1986 with Merrill Lynch. From Merrill Lynch he took on commercial clients in the late 90s doing promos for TV clients and then in the late 2000s original content and commercials. The company has grown to include such clients as the Hallmark Channel. “We do a lot of work with Hallmark Channel,” says Ian. “We do promos, behind the scenes for a majority of their movies, bonus content with stars, and we originated the podcasts. Hallmark is near and dear, and they are incredibly nice people.” Ian kept up his radio work and joined comedian Jackie Martling for the “Joke Hunt” on SiriusXM Radio for eight years.
Lauren had a career as a Print Broker and opened her own printing business which she had for ten years. When she fell in love with Pilates after Gregory was born in 2000, she was encouraged by her instructor Lesly Levy to become an instructor herself. Lauren is now a certified Pilates Trainer and Pilates Teacher Trainer. She has worked in several studios in Westchester and has been with Breathe Pilates & Yoga in Chappaqua nearly ten years. Helping people gives Lauren great satisfaction. “Most of my clients have some issue with their back or their spine. I feel good making them feel better and strengthened.”
Once Lauren embraced the suburban life, she became involved in the PTA. She ran the Westorchard Spring Fair for many years and continued to be involved with PTA when her children were at Seven Bridges Middle School and Horace Greeley High School. She took to gardening and planted a vegetable garden. Raising chickens was always on Lauren’s bucket list so she and Ian found some Pullets on Craig’s List and set up a coop in their backyard for several years. “It was a learning experience,” says Lauren. “And they loved me because I fed them.”
Skiing bonded the Karrs and it became a favorite family activity. Since 2003 they have gone out to Utah with the family. “We really loved the feeling, the vibe of it, the people, and all the people coming from all over to be there,” says Lauren.
A love of cars created a bond for Ian and his son Gregory. “When Greg was nine years old we restored a 1965 Mustang. I wanted a fun father-son activity. Little did I know it would unlock the inner mechanic in me,” says Ian. Ian brought the car to the Auto Center at Reader’s Digest to mechanic Stu Silverman. “Stu would put it on the lift and check my work. He was very encouraging through the process–a great mentor and neighbor helping neighbor.”
The Pandemic has impacted both their careers. For Ian there is a lot less travel. “Production is a team sport, it’s a hive. So we had to develop new protocols which allowed for collaboration at a distance. Once those were in place, it’s amazing how quickly our crews adapted.”
Lauren does virtual Pilates training now. “For me it’s great because I still have the connection with the clients. It’s different in that I can’t be there with them,” says Lauren. “It’s making the best of whatever the situation is. I’m still getting that level of satisfaction of making people feel good.”
COVID-19 brought some other changes to their family. Jayden, their 24-year-old daughter was furloughed from her job at Bergdorf when NY Pause began. It was a challenging time for many young people who were without work. Not knowing what the future held Lauren encouraged Jayden’s creativity and Jayden launched ZIP’D Wear, a casual clothing line. “It took her mind off things, and fortunately in July Jayden was called back to Bergdorf,” says Lauren. Always the entrepreneur, Jayden still keeps up with her business.
The Karrs reflected on their 27-year marriage, their careers and their life in Chappaqua.
“Laughing is a huge part of our marriage,” says Ian. His advice: “Don’t take yourself too seriously and create circumstances for you to grow together.” Lauren adds, “The key is mutual respect and to be on the same page about parenting.”
“With the pace of things today, it’s easy to feel like we’re on a hamster wheel,” says Ian. “One day I watched a hamster in a pet store. You know how hamsters get off the wheel? They jump. I learned from that little rodent that if you want to get off the hamster wheel you have to take a leap, you can’t just slow it down.”
And has their life been like a Hallmark movie? “Typically, in a Hallmark movie one of the important themes is rediscovering yourself and what’s important in your life after you’ve been sidetracked or led astray. It becomes a tug of war and the characters always choose people over things,” Ian says. “The parallel for me in my life with Hallmark is I tend to choose relationships and the happiness of the people around me over almost everything else.”
As a friend once told Ian, “Marriage is like a great movie. Ninety percent of it is casting.” It looks like Ian and Lauren Karr are the stars of their own inspiring journey.