Konstantin: If you can go to one mountain in the States for a long holiday, which one would you choose and why?
Christine: I've always dreamed of renting a classic old camp on the shore of Lake Placid, in the shadow of Whiteface Mountain. I'd canoe every morning (and stay close to shore so I could house-peep - and because I'm afraid of deep water), paddle over to town to pick up some bread and good cheese, and then sit on the dock and swirl my feet in the chilly water all afternoon. And, obviously, I'd toast marshmallows over a fire every night before bed. I don't know what it is about that place, but for me, it's one of the most romantic, nostalgic spots in the world.
Konstantin: You are working for a magazine, but what is your online media menu? Which sites are you visiting regularly?
for entertaining design and real estate news; Thisiscolossal.com
, where I've discovered many great artists; Christiesrealestate.com
for the latest luxury real estate listings; and the websites of hundreds of architecture and design firms, and home-decor manufacturers and retailers. And Facebook of course: It's amazing how many great story ideas have come from my network there.
Konstantin: If you have to point three Instagram profiles for daily inspiration, which one would you show?
Christine: Dreamy, minimalist images of architectural details, fashion and pretty things @oh.sopretty. Gorgeous rooms, great styling ideas and impeccable art direction @pellahedeby. Grace and beauty @marachok. And if I can cheat and have one more, deliciousness @thedaleyplate
Konstantin: Tell me about your magazine work schedule - do you have a daily regime or each day is different?
Christine: Each day is different, but the one constant is email. When I get to the office each morning, I'll typically check in with my team to review our plans and deadlines for the day, and then I spend at least an hour replying to emails (I revisit this task throughout the day -- nothing makes me happier than an empty inbox). Depending on where we are in the production cycle, I'll spend the rest of the day researching new story ideas, assigning content to our freelance writers and in-house editors, editing stories, writing content, processing invoices and managing budgets, attending meetings, and putting out the little fires that come up each day. On good days, I have time to leave the office for lunch or coffee meetings with designers, freelancers and PR professionals. And on the best days, I can actually spend time in the mountains.
Konstantin: What is the process of choosing the right cover?
Christine: It's a little bit of science and a lot of gut feelings, and it often begins more than a year before an issue goes to press, when we're photographing our featured homes. Our art director never leaves a shoot without getting several great vertical shots that could accommodate our logo and cover lines. Once we begin producing an issue, she'll mock up a dozen or more covers, trying every photo that might work. Then she and I review them and pretty quickly narrow the list to three or four contenders. We're considering composition, readability of cover lines, if the image will "pop" on newsstands, if the mood and seasonality of the photo feels appropriate for the season the issue will be on newsstands, how similar cover images have performed in the past (we keep newsstand sell-through data on every cover we've produced) and perhaps most importantly, if the image feels like "the one."
Once we've narrowed it down, we present the short list to the rest of the editorial team, our publisher and circulation/newsstand manager and we all hash it out. Sometimes the decision is easy and sometimes we agonize over it for days. Every so often, when we're really stumped, we'll present our top two choices to our social media audiences. Our readers often have a clear favorite, and we take that into consideration too.
Konstantin: How limited you are in terms of topics when you work for a magazine with a “mountain” in its title?
Christine: Not as limited as you might think. Many people envision nothing but log cabins, antler chandeliers and flannel plaids when they imagine a mountain home, and think that everyone who lives in the high country just skis and hikes, but we're constantly challenging that. The mountains of the American West (which is the region we cover) attract people from all over the world, who bring an incredibly broad range of aesthetics and interests and cultural influences with them -- and that all informs the homes they build and decorate, the clothes they wear, the art they collect, and the way they travel and shop and dine. And so my great challenge -- and the really fun part -- is to discover and share every bit of that in the magazine. We love to feature innovative and unexpected architecture and interior design, and especially creative twists on the traditional "mountain" vernacular. Lately we're focusing on some fascinating artists and craftspeople who think outside the box, a wide range of travel destinations (hidden gems are our favorites), and one-of-a-kind home décor items we've found during our travels, but that you won't necessarily find in catalogues or stores.
Konstantin: What personally inpires you - culture influences like movies, music, books?
Christine: Books, magazines and blogs. Two that have really inspired me lately are the books "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo and "Little House in the Big Woods" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I hadn't read since grade school. They're so different, but both are guiding me to live well with less stuff. And I love the blogs Mayya+Movement (mayyamovement.com) for personal health and wellness motivation, Curbed.com for my daily design and real estate fix, and Anne Sage (annesage.com) because I just love her style and natural way with words.
This winter, I've also really been inspired by the Danish concept of "hygge." There's no perfect translation to English -- the closest we can get is "cozy" -- but it's all about comfort and camaraderie and contentment and getting that warm and fuzzy feeling. Hygge helps the Danes get through their long dark winters, and I've been trying to bring a bit of it into my house every day too.
Konstantin: How do you buy clothes for you - online or offline?
Christine: Offline. I'd like to be able to buy my clothes online, but I really need to touch the fabric and try each piece on to see how it makes me feel. No online store can convey that.
Konstantin: When shopping online, do you look for an offline-appeal of an online shop? Like - publishing stories, interviews with customers, something else?
Christine: I rarely have the luxury of extra time to spend on a site, so I'll read a product description, enough customer reviews to make a decision, and that's it. But when I can, I really enjoy getting to know a brand a bit more. I think interviews, back-stories, Instagram feeds, video content and blogs all go a long way in emphasizing a brand's identity and the lifestyle it promotes. And when that identity aligns with mine in some way, I feel more connected to the product I purchased, more confident in my decision to buy and more likely to buy again.
Konstantin: I started a family business recently, but for the last 15 years was from the other, media side of the business. Tell me what is needed today to have a successful brand in this digital world? And is it possible to still be authentic and analogue in a digital world and succeed?
Christine: It's so easy to create digital content these days; anyone can become a published author in a matter of minutes. But with millions of content creators out there and new publishing platforms popping up all the time, it's almost impossible to stand out - I certainly find it increasingly difficult to find what I'm looking for.
So much of the digital content I see these days feels like a soulless rehashing of someone else's story. It's tough to find an authentic voice or depth or insight. What's more, we're losing the media distinctions among journalists: These days, one person is often required to be a reporter and columnist, video producer, blogger and photographer. That's efficient, but it doesn't account for the fact that each kind of journalism is a very specific craft that requires a particular expertise.
I think the integrity of digital content is also suffering. Because an online article or tweet can be published so quickly -- and because the next deadline is often just minutes away, especially for news channels -- writers and editors can't possibly be taking the time to vet their sources and check their facts.
So I'm going to be really optimistic (and maybe totally naive) and hope that in the future, the wheat will separate from the chaff and the brands with lasting success will be those that invest in dedicated experts for each kind of content they produce (or limit themselves to the media they've mastered and do those things really well); that develop an authentic voice; and that can take their audience down past the surface of a topic.
We have so many more storytelling tools at our disposal these days. I think the key is to use each one with the same care and responsibility we take with print.
Konstantin: Ever thought about creating your own brand?
Christine: Of course! Over the past decade or so, I've purchased at least a dozen domain names for the magazines I hope to launch someday. And while I don't want to give too much away, most are lifestyle-related, and I'm very interested in Millennials as a target audience.
Konstantin: Finally, your favourite song?
Christine: "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum -- and it has been since I was about eight years old. My stepfather once filled an entire blank tape with that song so I wouldn't have to keep rewinding it!