Photo: Courtesy of DailyCandy.
Last week, news broke that NBC was shuttering Daily Candy. I didn’t think much of it at the time. After all, I barely read the email anymore. Sometimes, I’d open the Thursday edition to browse the NYC weekend offerings. But, my inbox is stuffed with newsletters these days, each vying for my attention with the promise of telling me everything I need to know, from where to eat (Tasting Table) to how to style my apartment (Apartment Therapy). If I spent all my time reading those emails, I wouldn’t have the time to actually do anything they recommend.
But, yesterday, I was having breakfast with an old college friend, and she mentioned how sad she was over the loss of Daily Candy. “Why is no one talking about it more?” she pondered. “Daily Candy was a game changer.” Later in the morning, Christene Barberich, our EIC, brought up the closing in our weekly editorial meeting. She echoed my friend’s sentiment: This was the end of an era.
Once upon a time, reading the Daily Candy email was a morning ritual for me. I first discovered the site while reading Shopaholic Takes Manhattan. The heroine, super-shopper Becky Bloomwood, signs up for the email when she’s visiting NYC with her boyfriend Luke. It promises to send her daily sample-sale updates — and if there is one thing Becky loves more than Luke, it’s luxury goods at a steep discount.
It may seem silly now, but I was instantly intrigued. A daily email that sent you info about sample sales? How do I get on the list? I was surprised when I googled “Daily Candy,” and it was actually a thing. I signed up immediately.
This was the fall of 2003, and I had just moved to New York from Boston with big dreams of breaking into the world of glossy magazines. (I had told a college professor that one day I was going to be the EIC of Vanity Fair.) I was interning at Harper’s Bazaar. I was working as a temp at media companies all over the city. And, I lived in a tiny apartment on the LES with two amazingly tall girls who loved to drink vodka and didn’t watch TV. I wanted so desperately to be in the know, and Daily Candy seemed to be the answer.
This was the era before Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. It was harder to learn about something cool. There weren’t 40 emails in your inbox telling you about the latest restaurant pop-up or the cool free movie screening in Williamsburg. You couldn’t follow your favorite bars, restaurants, or influencers to see what they were up to. People didn’t have smartphones and constant Internet access. But, Daily Candy found a niche: sharing insider info with the masses. Or, at least the masses of young women living in NYC that loved to shop, dine out, see cool stuff, and wanted to be in the know.
But, it wasn’t just the content of the emails that hooked me. It was the voice. Daily Candy newsletters were short and pithy and read something like an email your effortlessly cool friend — you know, the one who knows all about a secret art exhibit I simply couldn't miss this weekend. And, after the art exhibit? A to-die-for brunch and sample sale, of course. How can you resist the invitation? I couldn’t.
If you work in media, or even if you just follow the industry casually, you learn quickly it’s not unusual for great publications to close too soon. I had the first taste of that disappointment when Sassy shuttered in 1996, when it was merged with Teen. In the years that followed, I said sad good-byes to Domino, Jane, and Gourmet. It’s never easy to say farewell to friends. And, magazines — and even e-newsletters — have always been my most trusted and constant companions.
Sure, you could argue that Daily Candy was no longer relevant. The only reason I didn’t unsubscribe is because I felt some loyalty and nostalgia toward the brand. But, I would argue R29 — and scores of other amazing newsletters and websites — would not exist without founder Dany Levy’s decision to launch the email in the spring of 2000 to a list of 700 people. At the very least, Daily Candy inspired a generation of 22-year-olds, fresh off the bus from their hometowns, eager to discover the latest and greatest the Big Apple had to offer — all they needed was a little help from one very cool friend. And, for that, I for one am very thankful.