Pulled From Print Design

Want to Channel Martha Stewart This Summer? The Legend Herself Has Some Tips for You

Martha stewart-garden-photo-design

Martha Stewart really needs no introduction.

When we speak, the 82-year-old media mogul and doyenne of all things domestic is sitting outside her Bedford estate in a parked Polaris. It’s not even lunchtime, and she’s already tended to her farm, taken several appointments, moved some furniture, done Pilates, and delivered bagels to either her team or her animals (it’s unclear whom she means by her “gang”). As she prepares to release her hundredth book this year, Stewart found a rare moment in her exceedingly packed schedule to chat about the current “Martha-ssance,” why she doesn’t DM, and the secret behind her famous dinner parties—all while attempting to take a photograph of a chipmunk in her garden. 

Colin King: There’s been an undeniable“Martha-ssance” recently. How do you feel about your place in the zeitgeist?

Martha Stewart: That’s a nice word! I’ll have to add that to my vocabulary. It’s fun because I hope to lead the way in terms of our thoughts about geriatric people—one can continue to be productive, useful, and creative if one keeps going and has personal drive. People appreciate that. A lot of people my age and even younger admire the fact that I am very energetic. So that’s what it’s all about.

King: I’m one of those admirers! You’re the queen of personal branding. How would you advise someone looking to start or evolve their own brand?

Stewart: Everybody’s trying to make a brand these days. Even children are making brands. It’s quite extraordinary. When I started in 1982 with my first book, it was much more difficult to make a bestseller that would become an essential part of the American kitchen. A few people had done it, but not to the degree that they’re doing it nowadays. Last year, I think there were 20,000 books published. I don’t know how many cookbooks were published in 1982, but I would venture to guess it was less than 500.

King: Your personal Instagram is incredible—it gives us a glimpse into your life and your interests, and there’s such a sense of enjoyment there.

Stewart: I’ve been a proponent of social media ever since it started. I adopted Twitter immediately, loved it, and invested in it. The same with Instagram; I was an investor in the pre-Meta company and I tried very hard to understand everything they were doing. I visited their offices and spoke at some of their conferences. I don’t always agree with what’s happening online because it’s taking up an awful lot of our time. I sat on a plane the other day, and I don’t think there was one person out of 400 who wasn’t glued to their phone before we took off.

King: Who is the last person you DM’d?

Stewart: I do not DM. Do you know why? Because I still love the telephone. If I want to talk to somebody, I call them and I leave a message. Probably 95 percent return them. With DMs, that percentage is much lower. I have so many DMs on my Instagram, and I’ve never looked at them. I refuse. I admit that I read the comments when I have an extra moment or two. If it’s something really outrageous, I’ll answer. Sometimes I have to restrain myself because I don’t want to get into trouble.

King: How do you feel about the design world today?

Stewart: Wait, I have to take a picture of this chipmunk. I’m sitting outside, and one of my evil chipmunks are sitting on the edge of a beautiful flower pot. I’m going to get its picture right now.

[Martha accidentally hangs up while trying to photograph the chipmunk.]

King: Did you get the picture?

Stewart: I’m sending it to you right now.

King: [Laughs] Great! You recently returned to the cover of Sports Illustrated for its 60th anniversary issue. How has it felt to tap into a new facet of your image, and what are your thoughts on the “summer body”?

Stewart: Well, everybody wants to look good while they’re sitting at the pool, windsurfing, or paddleboarding. So it’s time to shape up a little bit, starting, like, right now. That’s not the only reason I go to Pilates three times a week and kill myself, but it’s certainly healthy and appealing to many people. Everybody should take care of themselves physically. It will add to longevity, good health, and non-absenteeism at work.

King: So, if you spontaneously have a free summer day, how are you spending your time?

Stewart: I garden! I have a huge garden in Bedford and a huge garden in Maine. My days begin and end with gardening and with animal care. I do have help, but I still oversee the operations of the farm. Today is Friday, and I had a lot of appointments this morning—a visit with the septic tank man and a viewing of a new electric lawn mower. Then I moved a tremendous amount of furniture into a house on the property that I’m trying to make into a guest house. And what else did I do today? I went to Pilates. What time is it?

King: It’s only 12:45 p.m.

Stewart: I’ve done a lot today.

King: Can you walk us through organizing one of your famous dinner parties? Who are your first three calls to?

Stewart: I’m actually organizing an important dinner for a historic vintage of the champagne Krug. It’s going to be about 24 people and I’m doing it in a dining pavilion near my pool that’s really picturesque for a dinner party. The first call is to my chef-slash-caterer, Pierre Schaedelin, to ask if he’s available. The second call is to someone I trust to ask them to assist me that day. The third is to Susan Magrino, my publicist, with whom I discuss most things. If she likes the idea of the whole thing, then we proceed. Oh, and the flower man!

King: Complete this sentence: “It’s not a Martha Stewart summer without...”

Stewart: It’s not a Martha Stewart summer without my grandchildren, my daughter, and a house full of friends in Maine.

King: What’s one thing you’d still like to achieve?

Stewart: Immortality!

King: What is your biggest contribution to culture?

Stewart: I have taught people to look at their homes not only as a shelter but as a place to enjoy. What we have created in terms of information and inspiration has been valuable to a very wide audience. For that, I’m really grateful.

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