You hopefully knew this already, but Refinery29 plays very well with others. Case in point: For this week’s UnStyled podcast, global editor-in-chief and co-founder Christene Barberich interviewed Stella Bugbee, the editor-in-chief and president of another popular women’s outlet, The Cut. Having both survived the radical, sometimes scary evolution of media, Christene and Stella had much to discuss.
When you’re at the helm of a major multi-pronged website, traffic, digital revenue, social media and the demise of countless former institutions are the daily de rigeur. To face all of this effectively, Stella offers one takeaway, one she calls “corny” and “like a 90s anthem”: “The big lesson for me is embrace the chaos.” This isn’t just a philosophy for mental health, she says. “Control, which is a thing that many people seek in every industry, isn't necessarily the best way to grow, and growth is the goal for most of us,” she observes. “So the challenge is, how do you balance growth and quality? Letting go of some need for controlling every single thing is the only way to do it... Chaos [is] the defining characteristic of working online.” [Ed. note: She’s right!]
And Stella, an alum of shuttered Conde Nast magazine Domino, is only looking forward. “I have no nostalgia for print,” she tells Christene. In fact, she asserts, “I don’t think that there's a future for magazines, print, paper, newspapers.” Lest you find that pessimistic, she clarifies: “That doesn’t mean there's not a future for storytelling, truth telling, and investigations. In fact, quite the opposite. I think it's more and more necessary to be rigorous about the processes behind journalism than it ever was. The medium in which those stories and those truths are distributed is just not going to be paper.”
Stella is also a married mom of three who has a work-life balance to figure out like the rest of us, but she’s a little skeptical about a few 2019 tropes about how to achieve that — especially the concept of self-care. “I always just chuckle — not even chuckle, I shake my head, like how do they do it? when people talk about self-care. Who the fuck has time to self-care?!”
Accordingly, her advice — to anyone, especially any woman — looking to balance their career and personal lives is...no advice. “I hate to give advice,” she says. “Because I think it is so hard to take, and so custom to every person. I would say my greatest gift in life is that I don’t compare myself to other people on a regular basis, and that helps me function.”
She continues: “I have an allergic reaction to hearing how other people live, and then thinking I should live like that. Occasionally I take lessons from people that say good things, but really...My life is mine. My decisions are weird and unique and they only suit me, and that's okay.”
To hear the rest of Stella’s honest, no-bullshit chat with Christene about motherhood, the state of media and more, listen to UnStyled and subscribe via Apple Podcasts.