74 October 15, 2012

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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74 Comments

  • Reply
    A Lovely Life List | Making it Lovely
    October 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    […] chain letter but more fulfilling)Do/create something worthy of being nominated as a MacArthur FellowMeet Martha StewartMeet Jonathan AdlerRedesign Making it LovelyLaunch a magazineSell my designs through a nationwide […]

  • Reply
    Gena@BakeAllTheThings!
    October 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I read the title – raised an eyebrow.
    Read the first sentence – grinned.

    So jealous!

    Also, I so want ‘a casual email’ from someone’s PR team! Guess I better get back in the kitchen, selling more treats and making more blog posts!

  • Reply
    shana
    October 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    that’s effing rad nicole! mazel tov!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    October 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Fantastic! Great opportunity and so happy that you received that casual email!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    October 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    That is incredible, what a great Life List accomplishment! How crazy is it that you coordinated with her. I call her Goddess Martha, did she smell like rosemary and have fingers covered in glitter?

  • Reply
    Nicole
    October 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    What a fabulous opportunity! Congrats!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    October 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Congratulations, that is so exciting! I think it’s especially wonderful that HER team contacted YOU! You should feel incredibly proud.

  • Reply
    the domestic fringe
    October 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    How fabulous!

    What a wonderful opportunity to meet someone you admire.

    Congrats on being chosen for the interview.
    ~FringeGirl

  • Reply
    Nora
    October 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    That was a really terrific question. I loved getting to read her thoughts on the topic.

  • Reply
    Tina Ramchandani
    October 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Ohh I’ve been waiting for you to tell us what happened! Exciting that you got to meet Martha. She really is a pioneer! I might make one of those lovely life lists too. It’s a good way to focus on the future. Congrats!

  • Reply
    Danielle
    October 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Soo awesome! I’m a bit jealous as I’ve been a fan of Martha since the mid-0s when I started getting her magazine. (one of the smartest things I’ve done was to hold on to all of them!) Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Danielle
      October 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      dur, that would be the mid-90s!

  • Reply
    Sandra
    October 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Love the look on your face – I can JUST imagine thinking “I’m with Martha!!!”.

    I was lucky enough to go to ALTNYC and when she popped in to speak for a few moments you could FEEL the electricity in the room and the energy SURGE. She’s built an amazing empire.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Eastman
    October 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Congrats on such an amazing opportunity and for crossing something off your Lovely Life List. Big things can happen when you dream big!

  • Reply
    Danielle
    October 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Congratulations! What and amazing opportunity. I just love her.

  • Reply
    Giulia
    October 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Congratulations on this great opportunity. This must have been so much fun. I’m always surprised by her voice, it seems to get the attention of the whole room without being loud.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    October 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I always feel when I read her site, watch her show, or flip through her magazine inspired to create! Thanks for sharing. She is a true role model for American women.

  • Reply
    Emily @ Peck Life
    October 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Congrats! What a wonderful opportunity and a dream come true! I LOVE MARTHA!

  • Reply
    Nancy Rosso
    October 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    OMG! Thats incredible!!!! LOL!

  • Reply
    Julia
    October 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    OMG! OMG! OMG!
    How cool is that! I’m happy-jealous that you mat Martha. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply
    Patty
    October 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I have been a fan of Martha’s for over 25 years. I began collecting her recipe books in college and I haven’t stopped. I loved how she revived the role of the homemaker. I do remember one summer afternoon in my early 20’s listening to my mother and her friends talk about how Martha put women back into the kitchen after women fought so hard to get out of it. I understood where they were coming from, but to me, that’s where I wanted to be. Martha made it stylish and very chic to construct a good lobster roll.
    Congratulations on meeting Martha. It’s my life’s dream, too.

    • Reply
      Jo
      October 16, 2012 at 7:17 am

      I’ve thought about this too, but I think what I love about Martha is that she owns it. She didn’t “put women back in the kitchen” to me. Rather, she made it so we can pursue the crafts and cooking and what have you for their own sake and enjoyment.

  • Reply
    Mefi
    October 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Hard work paid off! You too are an inspiration.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Wow, just…wow. You spoke to her. TO HER!!!! Definite life list check off is in order. More like a party is in order!!!

  • Reply
    Heidi S.
    October 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Nicole that is amazing! Congratulations and what an awesome opportunity! You are just checking off that Life List like crazy. I think this might make me finally put a list together for myself.

  • Reply
    Tiffanie
    October 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    That is just wonderful, Nicole. Great question, great answer. She is a total American icon and a personal hero to me! Lucky you!

  • Reply
    Heather B
    October 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    That was a really good question! I would have said something dumb like “Uh… what’s your favorite color?” Well done Nicole!

  • Reply
    Mara
    October 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    How fantastic! Meeting Martha is on my list too… Congratulations on another item checked off your list.

  • Reply
    patricia
    October 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Congratulations Nicole, you rocked!

  • Reply
    Jen @ Bungalov
    October 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Nicole you are one lucky lady! Congrats on such an honor :) If it were me I would of been shaking like a leaf and so nervous. You seemed so calm and cool. Like a cuc! I too live in Chicago and wish I could of gone. I had only heard of the event on my way home from work and had to get home to the babes!

  • Reply
    Becca :: Making Room in Sicily
    October 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    What a fabulous opportunity! And you didn’t just get to “meet” her, you really got to talk to her. I’m so glad for you! Good question, too. :-)

  • Reply
    Miss B.
    October 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Congrats on being to cross this off your list! What a wonderful + thoughtful question you posed. So thrilled for you!

  • Reply
    Dana @ This Silly Girl's Life
    October 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Congrats!

  • Reply
    Kristina
    October 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    This is fantastic, she sounds like a great interview. Talk about a dream come true!

    Kristina

    Kristina does the Internets

  • Reply
    Nicole B
    October 15, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    So cool!! Great job Nicole!

  • Reply
    janeb
    October 15, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    first off, wtf are you wearing? frump anyone?
    second, stalker!

    • Reply
      janeb
      October 16, 2012 at 1:08 am

      i agree, get a life!

      • Reply
        Heather B
        October 16, 2012 at 10:22 am

        Jane sweetie, it’s good to see that you agree with yourself. Now, you should give yourself a high-five. Way to go! So clever.

      • Reply
        Puck
        October 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        One word: FAIL!!!!

      • Reply
        Miss Beef
        October 17, 2012 at 7:33 am

        Is Jane a pseudonym for “complete pratt?” Yep, thought so.

  • Reply
    Yelle
    October 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    So dreamy!

    I believe my friend was the photographer that day!

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    October 15, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Whoawhoawhoawhoa! This is so cool. I’ve long been a fan of Martha. I think I was the only high schooler paying attention to Martha, other than one of my best guy friends. When I saw this pic in my bloglovin, it took a second for me to register, but when I did, I was so excited for you!

    Love that you guys match, too! I also really love your question and her answer. I like that these big important names in fashion, design, etc. are all about getting back to basics. I met Nate Berkus in NY in June, and his new book Things Matter is very much in that vein. Lovely.

  • Reply
    Jeanne Rondeau
    October 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    So exciting! Martha has been a/the major force in bringing craft and domestic life back into the daylight. The things our grandmothers took for granted had been lost for many. Thank you Martha for making the humble be seen as beautiful again. And you asked her a great question!
    – Jeanne, Domesticspace.com

  • Reply
    Sarah W
    October 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    That is ah-mazing! I would love to meet Martha! I am so happy for you, and jealous of you. :)

  • Reply
    Jody
    October 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    What a wonderful question! I hadn’t heard about the American Made Awards, but I’m going to read more. Thanks for sharing your incredible experience!

  • Reply
    Jessie {My Mod Style}
    October 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I am so happy for you!!! I love her answer and how she talked about Toyota. My husband and I want a Prius and we know our families will be like, “GASP! You aren’t buying an American car!??” It just goes to show you gotta do your research. You look so happy in the picture. I got to meet Peter Hammarstedt this year from the TV show Whale Wars. It was a dream come true and I was so VERY nervous. So I can relate to your excitement. :)

  • Reply
    Donna
    October 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    How awesome! and I really enjoyed your question and her answer. It IS sad not to see cotton mills in North Carolina! One question: Did she request that you all color coordinate or is it just a fantastic coincidence that you both are wearing similar shades and look so fabulous together? Congrats!

  • Reply
    Astrid
    October 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I can only imagine what I might have said in your position- but many OMG’s I’m sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing your great experience!
    Astrid
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/AnAstridEndeavor

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    This post epitomizes everything I LOVE about Martha! Well said!

  • Reply
    Vanessa@Decor Happy
    October 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Congrats – that’s huge! And I loved your question and her thoughtful reply.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    October 16, 2012 at 1:15 am

    O.m.g.!!! ;)

  • Reply
    Sarah M.
    October 16, 2012 at 5:53 am

    This is very awesome. I would love to meet Martha one day myself, and am so jealous. Way to go on achieving this goal!

  • Reply
    Jo
    October 16, 2012 at 7:19 am

    How neat is this! I’m going to have to take a moment to live vicariously through you, as the one time I had the opportunity to meet Martha (book signing), my train was delayed and I missed her.
    Also loved your thoughtful question and her answer :)

  • Reply
    Maria @ Redecorate Blog
    October 16, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Wow, what an experience! I think your question was a great one, and I really admire her answer! :-)

  • Reply
    Evii
    October 16, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Amazing! & congrats on such a huge opportunity.

  • Reply
    amyks
    October 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Lucky you! How fun to meet Martha…the original inspiration to so many “crafty” women!

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