Actress Blake Lively's latest endeavor is Preserve, a lifestyle website that is also a deeply personal venture. The site brings to life her passions—philanthropy, commerce for beautiful American-made discoveries, and the human story. T+L's Gabrielle Blitz talks to the star and learns about Lively's take on New Orleans, U.S. artisans, and family.

Q: Tell me about Preserve—where did the idea come from?

A: When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living—what kid does? But I knew that I wanted to do something like my mom. She is one of the most creative, innovative people that I’ve ever encountered. That opened up a possibility for me—there weren’t really any limitations [for my mom]. She would always make the impossible happen.

I fell into acting and ended up loving it, but it wasn’t what I felt I was best at in the way that my mom had passion for what she did. [Preserve] is something that I’m excited about—I’m not the best at it, I’m not even great at it. But I’ve been able to explore and I’m getting better at it each day.

Every time that I travel to a new place, or live and work in a new city, it’s such a short experience. For the same reason that people don’t go to the touristy places where they live, if I’m only able to live somewhere for a short period of time, I really try to explore, find those great vendors, and bring something back from my travels.

I want my home to be filled with things that have meaning—I get to share those [experiences] now.

Q: Is there a U.S. city that’s inspired the concept behind Preserve?

A: The city that's really inspired me is New Orleans. It captures…everything. My family is from Georgia and I’m the youngest of five kids—we’re a very close-knit group of Southerners. I feel like California was this amazing vacation, but New Orleans really resonates with me. There is something about New Orleans that embodies passion; I’ve never seen that before. There’s something tangible about the essence of the city. You can taste and smell it. The New York that Frank Sinatra sang about, people will never know that place. The New Orleans that Louis Armstrong sang about is the New Orleans that’s still there—it’s preserved.

Q: Where is Preserve going? Will it continue to focus on U.S. artisans and discoveries?

A: I have many different ideas for it now and things change. I would love for Preserve to have the same journeys [all over] the world that I have. When you’re surrounded by art and ingenuity, you appreciate it more. It’s important to me to continue to support U.S. brands. There are so many amazing discoveries here.

Q: Who is the Preserve audience?

A: Preserve is very personal for me. I remember when I first sat with the team they wanted me to dilute the idea for the brand down to one word. For me, that would be family. [The team] didn’t understand how family would be incorporated. If I could make this about the most important thing to me, it would be the most genuine—it would drive me the most. I want the site to be for anyone. I want to be able to sit down with my grandma and say "look what I found"; I want to take my niece and share things with her. I’m not trying to reach everyone at once, I’m just speaking to my passions. There’s part of me that’s very feminine and part of me that’s even masculine—those are all parts of me, as are my family and my husband. This is a place of passion, love, and creativity. That [passion] does reflect itself and come out in different forms—it’s not lacking in heart.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.