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Meeting Martha

I met Martha Stewart last week.

Let’s back up for a minute, because that is something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time. Meeting Martha was on my Lovely Life List. I admire her business acumen, her signature look and brand, and I’m grateful to her for being a pioneer and paving the way for what I and many of my blogging peers are able to do today.

Martha was in Chicago to appear at a Home Depot event. I received a casual email from her PR team, asking if I was interested in meeting with Martha and doing a quick interview. I resisted the urge to pepper my reply with OMGs and excessive exclamation marks (!!!), and instead said “yes, thank you.”

Nicole Balch and Martha Stewart

There were five of us there to interview Martha, but her plane was delayed and that threw her schedule off. Instead of one-on-one time, we went in as a group for twenty minutes. She greeted us with a smile and a grand sweep of her arms as she surveyed the surroundings. “Welcome… to the Home Depot break room.” Martha answered questions about her favorite designers (Kevin Sharkey for home, Vince for fashion) and recounted her biggest entertaining emergency (“It’s hard to have a true emergency when you’re prepared”), and then I was able to ask my question.

I was already familiar with the upcoming American Made Awards honoring creative entrepreneurs, and I wanted to know if Martha ever imagined having a brand with such reach and scope that she could do something like this. Here’s our very brief interview.

Nicole: I have this funny job of being a professional blogger, and I feel like a lot of the opportunities that exist for me today are the result of what people like you have done in leading the way. I loved this quote from Pilar [Guzmán] in her editor’s letter this month.

“We believe we are at a defining cultural moment, when so many people are making a go of their creative passions and, in doing so, fueling a new American economy.”

I know you have the American Made event coming up in New York, but looking back, way back to when you were catering, did you ever imagine that you would have a brand that would touch on so many of these things?”

Martha: I don’t know if I imagined it, but I certainly hoped it. Because I really feel very strongly that there are so many talented people in this country, and we’ve always made a point of introducing them to our audience. Our magazines have always been filled with people who were great growers, great artisans, great party-givers – whatever they do, we like to tell people about them. And this event is really bringing to the fore the importance and the need for Americans to start promoting “American made” again. It makes me very sad to go to North Carolina and not see a cotton mill anywhere. A weaving mill, a sheet factory — they’re all gone. And they shouldn’t be gone. We should still be making sheets and bedding in America. We grew all the cotton, and now we’re outsourcing it.

I just did a big piece on Toyota for American Made. Now Toyota, you think “oh, it’s a Japanese car,” but they have one of the largest car factories in America making half a million cars a year in Kentucky. I went and visited the factory, and we made a whole car. They make thousands of cars every single day, and it’s start to finish. So we showed the whole process and these are going to be a series of short videos that will be on their website and our website. We have the ability to do that. To show people a lot of the processes that go into various products, and it changes their business. It changes a lot of people’s businesses when you really show them to your big audience. And we’ve had a very big audience for a long time.

Thank you, Martha (and team) for taking time out of your schedule to meet with an admiring blogger.

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  • Reply
    Perilously Pale
    October 16, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I have no idea why but your question to Martha gave me goosebumps! What a great opportunity! I love seeing people living their dreams and only hope I can be successful in my attempt to live mine. Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Liking the matching ranger inspired tops :)

  • Reply
    Adventures in Dressmaking
    October 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

    How incredible to meet and get to talk to/ask a question of Martha. Regardless of how people feel about her style or lifestyle, she really did blaze a trail for us independent blogger-turned-author/entrepreneur/personalities… Nice to hear her remind us of her beginnings!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Lucky, lucky you :)

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    This is just too cool! Glad you got the opportunity to do this! :)

  • Reply
    October 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    OMG I am so very excited for you!!!! I completely understand what Martha is saying about “American Made”. When given the option, I almost always buy American. I do however, have an issue that Martha doesn’t practice what she preaches. I was at Macy’s today and her line of bedding is NOT made in America and neither are her dishes.

    • Reply
      October 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Dianne – I, too, was disappointed to see that none of her products are made in the USA.

      In other news, that’s awesome that you got to meet her, Nicole! Regardless of the US or non-US origin of her products, she’s an incredible businesswoman and I’d still love to meet her!

  • Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

    What an amazing opportunity! Congrats to you, Nicole.

    Thank you for posting your question & Martha’s response. I LOVE her response. It frustrates me to no end to see people with bumper stickers which say, “Out of a job? Keep buying foreign!” without realizing that so many of these “foreign” cars are wholly made in the US or Canada. Yes, the parent company might be foreign, but the skilled workers they employ are not. What frustrates me more is when those bumper stickers in a Wal-Mart parking lot and not at a farmers’ market or local shop. It’s not the one big purchase you make every 5-10 years that counts to me; it’s your every day life choices.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I once met Martha too, many years ago in Buffalo NY. A friend had won a radio sponsored contest that had Martha do a barbecue for friends and family in their back yard. Martha was something of a big deal then but of course nothing as compared to today. She was quite snotty, the food was not that good and she made nasty comments to the press about Buffalo that got her a kind of official banishment from the city. It was all pretty funny and I don’t think Martha was left with any desire to return to Buffalo anyway:).

    • Reply
      October 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      My grandma also met Martha many years ago and had the same impression.

  • Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I like that you’re kinda leaning into Martha for the photo.
    She could be your aunt or something. I was a little confused though
    because I first thought the email meant she was going to interview YOU!
    And then you were going to tell her about your amazing life and
    awesome family, and she’d be all like wow cool blog gig. But I wasn’t disappointed or anything. Isn’t it great to live in America?

  • Reply
    October 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    You’re kidding me…

    And I don’t mean meeting Martha – although that’s quite cool – I just mean that she visited my home town and my parents said nothing about it! The Toyota plant is in Georgetown, Ky and it was built when I was in middle school. We had two Japanese families that lived on our street – some of the sweetest people we’d ever met.

    I always thought it was cool that I went to a small town high school in central Kentucky that offered Spanish, French and Japanese language classes – I’ll have to look up that episode on the plant.

    And also – you’re kidding me – you met Martha Stewart!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I knew of all people you would ROCK this and you did. Your question for Martha was so well thought out, researched, and well said/spoken. Wait to go Nicole and thanks for making all the blogworld proud!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Why have I not thought to add meeting Martha to my life list?? Definitely doing so now. What an amazing experience for you! And how funny that she welcomed you all to the Home Depot break room like that :)

  • Reply
    October 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Nicole, you inspired me to add a Bucket List board on my Pinterest page:

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Nicole! you are such an inspiration to me! I love your blog and your house is just lovely! My husband and I just bought a house and we are slowly but surely transforming and your ideas come in handy every time.
    thank you for doing what you do!

  • Reply
    Style: Pink. Always. | Making it Lovely
    October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    […] Tippi Sweater, J. Crew This is the sweater style I wore when I interviewed Martha Stewart, and I shall henceforth call it The Martha […]

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