Editor-in-Chief, Marie Claire
Sally, you were made Editor in Chief of Marie Claire in September 2020, which was a very difficult time to take over the helm of a magazine, I’m sure. What did you learn about your audience and the magazine business as a result of the timing of your ascendance into the EIC role?
I think stepping into a leadership role always comes with challenges–and this is especially true when the team is working remotely as we were in September 2020. But I had led the digital arm of Marie Claire for over two years and had been the number two at the magazine before becoming EIC, so I was already part of the team, all of whom were so incredibly supportive. Running a team, creating a magazine, pivoting our signature in-person Power Trip event to a virtual event and just doing the day-to-day work during a pandemic all required a lot of creative and collaborative thinking, but I am so lucky to work with an amazing group of people who were up for the challenge and able to make magic together.
This time also allowed us to think about the format of our print magazine and how our audience consumes media. During the height of the pandemic people were traveling less, going to stores less frequently, which meant they might not be seeing a magazine the same month it was published. At the same time it forced everyone to slow down and evaluate how they spent their time. We recently moved away from our monthly print model and instead are publishing themed special issues throughout the year–a combination of print and digital–that focus more on evergreen content that feels as relevant if you picked up the issue in May as it would in August. I’m excited that we’ve really been able to lean into the rich storytelling and timeless fashion and beauty coverage we’re known for at Marie Claire.
What is the most fun or important story you’ve published in the last year? Why?
There are SO many I’ve loved (some of my very favorites live here), but one incredible project we published in the last year was a video series called On the Record: seven mini documentaries that brought to life investigative features we’d worked on. The stories themselves are incredibly compelling from the unbelievable twists of the Hollywood Con Queen (a con artist hoodwinking some of LA’s most powerful players) to the wrenching fight of the Bakersfield Three (three mothers united in their goal to find justice for their children–even though the deaths might be related) and seeing them in video form was the stuff of a true crime junkie and journalist’s dreams.
Does the democratization of content make it easier for Marie Claire to do its job or harder?
It’s never been easier for someone to create content or consume it–and for the most part, I think that’s an amazing thing. Marie Claire has always had a strong brand identity and at a time when we have the opportunity to reach so many people but are also competing more for their attention, it’s made us lean into who we are and the kinds of stories we tell. Celebrating creators and storytellers is core to our DNA – in January we published our Creators Issue starring Jenny Slate which included a list of the 2022 Creators to Watch, highlighting the artists, activists, founders, and influencers making a mark right now.
How does Marie Claire approach politics and where does the brand stand on wading in on topics that are quite political?
When it comes to politics, Marie Claire is pro-women and pro policies that support women. That means we’re for equal pay, paid parental leave, gun reform, and equitable access to the full spectrum of reproductive care.
Last year we interviewed the conservative women trying to redefine the GOP party post-Trump. In May, Elizabeth Warren wrote an op-ed for us after a leaked draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade. Stacey Abrams, whose name was on everyone’s lips thanks to her efforts to increase voter turnout in Georgia, was the cover of our Changemakers 2021 issue—a true career highlight for me. We want our readers to be informed and armed with all of the information so they can make decisions about candidates, policies, and issues themselves. Ahead of the 2020 elections, we partnered with DoSomething.org to encourage women to register to vote and go to the polls–resulting in thousands of new registered voters. We published a huge guide to voter deadlines by state and breakdown of how to vote by mail. It wasn’t about which party or candidate to vote for, but about voting, period. One of the best ways to advocate for yourself and your rights is by voting — and especially at a moment when women’s rights are being threatened, knowing the facts and exercising your right to vote is more crucial than ever.
Do you expect motherhood will influence your choices and POV as Editor-In-Chief?
Yes, it already has! A lot of our story ideas come from topics that are in the ether–what friends, coworkers, people at the bar next you are talking about. When I was out on maternity leave I was experiencing firsthand the formula shortage. A lot of people I talked to asked me “is this a real thing?” and yes, it’s a very real (and still ongoing!) thing that is terrifying and makes me so angry about yet another way this country fails to adequately support women. But so many people also reached out to me asking if I needed help getting formula, pointing me in the direction of groups of moms who were banding together to try to get each other the products their babies needed. It was so moving to me. I sent a note to my team and we commissioned this incredible feature about it.
How did you approach fashion and dressing while pregnant? And as a new mother? Are you doing anything differently?
Almost my entire pregnancy was spent working from home, so I will admit that the majority of my time was spent in maternity leggings and a Zoom-friendly top. I would say I’ve always aimed for a “put-together but comfortable” look, but that became even more essential during my pregnancy, especially when I attended events. More and more I’m also trying to be very intentional when I shop, opting for pieces that I will come back to again and again, season after season instead of jumping on a trendy item that will just sit in my closet untouched after a few wears. Obviously that’s a rule that can’t always be followed with pregnancy, but almost everything I bought is something that could either accommodate my fluctuating body like my favorite oversized Tibi sweater or a smocked dress like this Frances Hart version I’m wearing in these photos. Anything that was traditional maternity wear–like maternity jeans that can’t really be reworn– was either a hand-me-down from a chic friend or a purchase that I then passed on to another expecting mom in my circle. My approach now that my babies are here is much the same with the added caveat that anything I’m wearing when I’m actually with them is, ideally, machine-washable.
What has most surprised you about motherhood?
So many things! Everything? One very big surprise for me early on was learning that I was having identical twins. The logistical gymnastics of dealing with twins sometimes makes me feel like the Zach Galifianakis meme, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Another surprise is how very true all the parenthood cliches are: “it takes a village!” “ the days are long but the years are short!” I could not not not have gotten through my pregnancy or these first months without my amazing partner–who had to do literally everything in the hospital times two because we didn’t realize just how much a C-section would render me completely useless when it came to changing diapers or doing basically anything that required me to get out of bed–or my friends who have been amazing sounding boards for all the advice you can’t find in a book or the wonderful caregivers we’ve had including our mothers and nanny. Also, there’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.
What is one part of your upbringing that you’d like to replicate for your children? An experience, tradition or way of doing things that you reflect on fondly?
There are so many traditions my family had growing up that I want to bring to my own new family, from big things like attending a Christmas pageant we’ve gone to every year on Christmas Eve for as long as I remember to little things like our Saturday night family dinners and movie night. But the one that really sticks out to me is reading to my kids: My dad used to read to me every night before bed, even after I learned to read myself. I vividly remember sitting curled up on the couch next to him as he read The Trumpet of the Swan and I followed along, reading the words myself as he said them. My mom also read to us and I remember when she brought home this book she’d been hearing about called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — by that time I was 10 and found it impossible to wait for my mom and five-year-old brother to read the next chapter the following evening and was forced to more speedily read ahead on my own. After that we started to buy two copies of the books so we didn’t have to share.
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