The "Gossip Girl" alum officially announced the project -- Preserve, which was two years in the making -- in the August issue of Vogue, which she covers for the third time. The blond bombshell, photographed by Mario Testino, goes country chic for the mag's Age Issue in a Native American-print inspired gown and heavily lined leather jacket, dialing down the va-va-voom factor she's displayed on previous Vogue covers.
The 26-year-old budding entrepreneur knows it's not novel for a celeb to launch a lifestyle brand, but said she hopes to carve out a niche with Preserve, which she expects will resonate with people seeking the small, batch-made products that appeal to those hoping to stay in touch with hand-crafted culture.
She said she's not trying to show people "the perfect life or the aspirational life."
"It's real life," the self-made fashionista told the mag's Jonathan Van Meter. "It's the thing that blindsides you on an idle Tuesday that's tragic but that also makes you who you are. It's not about me. And it's not about watching my journey of learning how-to, it's about me sharing that with you so we all sort of learn together."
The onetime farmhand has a foot-thick binder full of ideas -- a tactile sort of Pinterest developed before the inspiration-board site became a phenomenon -- and she's heavily involved with every aspect of the project.
Every decision she makes with Preserve comes from her heart, and if she wasn't acting, she said, this is what she'd be doing anyway. But stop making those Paltrow comparisons, because she's also the self-proclaimed "first person to defend" the polarizing Oscar winner.
"I've only ever found her to be completely generous and kind," Lively said. "She's one of those people who connect people with each other. She's there for you.... Our wedding was becoming a disaster, and we didn’t know what to do, so we called Martha! She said, 'Don't worry. I'll handle it.' She sent her team down to save us. And then she called her friends who have a home in South Carolina and set us up at the most amazing getaway. This is the day of our wedding!"
Her husband is also involved with the Preserve project "because everything we do in life we do together," Lively said.
His support, she believes, will also make him "a great father and leader and patriarch -- he's so meant to be all of those things. The fact that he lived so much before we got together, he's the exact realized person that he should be. And so I get to share my life with the person he's become, and we get to grow from there."
Next up for the actress is a starring role in Lee Toland Krieger's "The Age of Adaline," about a woman who stays 29 years old for 100 years. The role is a departure from the "sexually charged, drug addled young woman" she's often asked to play.
The "Gossip Girl" alum said she's always offered roles of prostitutes after that series and 2012's "Savages," and that's mainly why she took some time off after the CW series wrapped in 2012.
"I just needed time to regenerate," she said. "I was reading scripts that I liked, but I felt like I had atrophied in a way. We had to produce so many episodes so quickly. And when you're working 15-hour days, 10 months a year, the only time you have for real life is between takes. So you're not really acting anymore. You're reciting. I could have fought harder and made 'Gossip Girl' something different, but I also needed to have a life, you know? So I wanted a break to figure things out," she said, later adding, "I just wanted time to feel like I could be good again."
Blake Lively's giving Serena Van Der Woodsen a run for her money. Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.