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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.

Coming Attractions

I’ve been bouncing around from project to project lately, not getting much farther than the initial “I want to do it” phase. I can make all kinds of excuses (two of them are upstairs sleeping right now), but that’s neither fun to write about (boohoo, I’m so busy) nor read. The remedy? A new list. Here’s what you can expect to see me working on in the near future.


Make Some Kitchen Curtains

Bathroom (Main Floor)

  • paint the exterior of the pedestal bathtub

  • paint the trim

  • paint the walls

  • replace the tub enclosure (hanging shower rod)

  • new shower curtain, towels, accessories

Dining Room

Living Room


  • organize the studio side (a big job)

  • repaint the playroom side

  • paint a mural on the far wall


Trying for a World Record

(And Why You Should Have a Life List)

Orbit Skate Center in Palatine is trying to break the world record for the longest line of roller skaters. I found out about it from my Derby Lite ladies, and since breaking a world record is on my Lovely Life List, I figure I ought to go be a part of this one. If you’re in the Chicago area, you should come out too! There’s open skate beforehand, but you have to register in advance to be a part of the record.

I know a lot of you have life lists already but if you don’t yet, I want to convince you to make one. It’s not about coming up with an arbitrary list of “things to do before you die” and crossing them off; it’s about figuring out what would make you happy and then opening yourself up to those experiences. I probably would have heard about this world record attempt and thought, ‘oh, that’s nice, I hope they make it.’ Having it on my list made me consider it more carefully, and it proved to be the difference between wishing them well versus being a part of it. Now I hope we make it.

The weekend after the world record attempt, I’ll be in the Color Run. Running in a 5k is also on my list and that seemed like the most fun way to do it, so I somewhat impulsively signed up even though I’m new to running. Sometimes accomplishing items on my list happens naturally or even accidentally, sometimes I have to really work at them, and sometimes I have to take a leap and do something that I’m a little afraid of. Either way, I’m always a little happier after. Life Lists are awesome like that.

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