Laura Brown – Editor-In-Chief of InStyle

Episode 70

My guest, Laura Brown is the Editor-in-Chief of InStyle, which is one of the world's most successful fashion media brands. Leading a brand that reaches over 30-million women, Laura oversees the magazine in its different additions, languages, and forms around the world. In addition, she leads development of the ‘InStyle Badass Women’ platform and previously, Laura worked as an executive editor at Harper's Bazaar for 11 years. On this episode of Unstoppable, Laura shares the meaning behind her “Everybody’s In” philosophy for the InStyle brand, how she built her career on enthusiasm (not confidence), the importance of embracing your limitations, and much more.

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Kara Goldin: Hi, everybody. It’s Kara Goldin from Unstoppable, and I’m so, so excited to have our next guest here, Laura Brown. Hi, Laura. How are you?
Laura Brown: Hello. Hi, thank you for having me.
Kara Goldin: Laura is the editor in chief of InStyle. I mean, who doesn’t know InStyle? It’s just the most amazing, beautiful, beautiful book out there, and is one of the world’s most successful fashion media brands. Laura is leading a brand that reaches over 30 million women. Wild, wild, wild.
Laura Brown: Hi, everybody. Hi, all 30 million of you.
Kara Goldin: Yes. So awesome. Laura oversees the core magazine, digital across all the platforms, and 13 international editions as well, and InStyle has really seen unprecedented growth across digital, with record-breaking unique visitors to InStyle. We’ll talk a little bit more about that, but over 10 million. I mean, that’s-
Laura Brown: Yeah. I will say one thing just quick, that I’m more of a dotted line as they call it [inaudible 00:01:13] digital. We overlap, and they’ll refer to me in some places, but I don’t run the day to day, because there’s just no way. It’s 50 stories a day.
Kara Goldin: That’s fair.
Laura Brown: Yeah, but I have my involvement, which I will happily share.
Kara Goldin: I love it. So, in addition, she leads the development of the InStyle Badass Women, which by the way, I am honored to say I was a part of I think-
Laura Brown: Yes, you were!
Kara Goldin: … last year. And that is when I’m out speaking, and they say that I was a Badass Woman, that is the one that I always get a great cheer in the audience, saying, “Yeah! She’s a badass.”
Laura Brown: No lady dislikes being called a badass. That’s why this whole thing started. It’s like no one goes, “Oh.” If I say you’re a badass and they go, “Ew!” Everyone loves it! It is the greatest compliment.
Kara Goldin: I love it. It’s one of my best ones. And-
Laura Brown: Good.
Kara Goldin: So, Laura spent 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar, another book that is just incredible, and rising to the role of executive editor, and has done amazing stuff with some other great books. I mean, what haven’t you done here? Details, W, it’s just-
Laura Brown: Details, W, oh, I was at Talk Magazine for… Oh, geez. Six weeks. Right after September 11th, when I moved to New York, so I worked for Tina Brown and Harvey.
Kara Goldin: Oh my God.
Laura Brown: If you can believe. I was there, not in any proximity to Harvey, thankfully, but it was I was there six weeks and then that closed down. So I’ve had a lot of different titles, and that’s not even in Australia, you know what I mean?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Laura Brown: I was going to say you’re into my short time in magazines. Uh-uh. I’ve been in magazines 27 years. Is that right? Yeah, 27 years. I started when I was 19.
Kara Goldin: I love it. This is a podcast, obviously, but Laura clearly looks like she’s about 25. I can’t believe-
Laura Brown: Really?
Kara Goldin: … that you are. Yes. Wow.
Laura Brown: 46. 46, just… What month is it?
Kara Goldin: I know, I know. August is this week, which is just-
Laura Brown: I’m 46. Ladies, what is time, man? Time no longer counts. Ah yes, I’ve been 46 for a couple months now.
Kara Goldin: I love it, I love it.
Laura Brown: Just sit yourself in front of a window, girls. Sit yourself in front of a window.
Kara Goldin: You’re so funny. Funny. Anyway, welcome, welcome, welcome. Let’s-
Laura Brown: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: You mentioned Australia, so is that where you grew up?
Laura Brown: Yes. I’m a proud Aussie farmer’s daughter from a town called Camden, which is outside of Sydney in Australia. I was born there and my parents got divorced when I was five, so Mom and I moved to the “Big Smoke,” Sydney. Yeah, I was brought up there. My dad remarried and I have a half-sister and I have a stepsister on the other side, but I was essentially an only child as I grew up. I was just me and my mom, and I was just sort of hungry to be part of things all the time. I started waitressing when I was like 14. I started working and loved having my own money, and I loved fashion and everything else, so I was very, I mean very independent. For better or for worse, very thirsty to just be part of number one, the world, because we were so physically far away from it in Australia and we didn’t have Instagram, we didn’t have Twitter, any of that stuff. So, I was thirsty for that, but I was also just thirsty to be out there and meet people and be with the grownups. I think that propelled me in tons of ways, at the very least being to get on the odd plane.
Kara Goldin: So you’re in Sydney, and how did you make that transition into writing? What was it that-
Laura Brown: I wanted to be a journalist. I loved magazines. I just was really so enamored by them. And again, due to the distance that we were away. One, there’s a mythology to fashion and fashion magazines anyway, but there was especially then. I’m talking I’m coming up in high school. I graduated college in ’94. It was the mythology of the glamor and the creativity and the immediacy of it, but also the mythology because I wasn’t near it. I wasn’t near it at all, and to me it was, totally pun intended, it was like Oz. It was like, “Look at this world, look at this world.” I feel like that that… I wanted to experience things and to be able to record them myself and put them into the world myself, so I guess that’s where the writing thing came from, or at the very least the journalism thing. You know what I mean? The wanting to experience people and things. It wasn’t necessarily like, “I must write. I am a writer.” It wasn’t that, but it was like I was so hungry for everybody’s experience. I wanted to meet everyone, and that’s what journalism does. It gives you… I always say sometimes it’s the most powerful profession in the world because you have so much influence, but also the most pathetic because you’re always talking about what everyone else is doing.
Kara Goldin: No, it’s true.
Laura Brown: You know? You get to be exposed to just the gamut of people and things, and there’s no other job where you can do that. So I detected that pretty early in Australia and then I just kept projecting myself into these bigger, bigger situations where I could meet more people and see more things.
Kara Goldin: I was a journalism major as well, and as you and I were talking right before we started this, that I wanted to get a job at Time. I wanted to work at Fortune Magazine, and they wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t have any experience. I was trying to get [crosstalk 00:07:09]-
Laura Brown: Right.
Kara Goldin: … my first job. But what was your first role then in journalism?
Laura Brown: My first role, because I actually finished… In Australia our degrees are three years as opposed to four, so I did journalism communications, and I graduated. I finished early because I took a job. It was called… What was it called? Australian… Oh, that’s right. Australian Family Magazine. Australian Family I worked at for not very long, because that closed down. I had a really kind of great record a while of working for things that closed down. But I worked at Australian Family just for a few months. Then I had done an internship previously at a magazine called Mode, which sort of fancied itself as a ’90s W, in a social glamorous kind of way.
Kara Goldin: I remember Mode, actually.
Laura Brown: Aussie Mode, yeah. I’d interned there, but then I got a job doing production, like literally shipping the magazine and chasing people for their deadlines. This was back in the day when you would hand write out the grid yourself. This is crazy stuff. I didn’t love that job very much, because it wasn’t very creative, but it got me in the door. Then I would write and night and say, “No, I can write that section. I can write this, I can write that.” Then I ended up segueing into more of an editor role. But my first job, real job, was not necessarily a creative one. I mean, I knew I could do that, but I was getting the nugget into the printer.
Kara Goldin: I love hearing the story, though, because every great disruptor, entrepreneur, in almost every industry that I talk to, they really, whether they recognize it or not, and what I just heard out of you, that you were throwing up your hand and say, “Put me in,” right?
Laura Brown: Yeah, yeah.
Kara Goldin: Like, “I want to do this.” And you didn’t wait, right?
Laura Brown: So needy, so needy.
Kara Goldin: You didn’t wait.
Laura Brown: No.
Kara Goldin: And you were-
Laura Brown: I didn’t wait.
Kara Goldin: … totally confident that you could probably do it, either. Right?
Laura Brown: Yeah, but it wasn’t… I’m conscious of saying it wasn’t a plan. For me, I feel like I just lurch around with enthusiasm. It was more my enthusiasm and excitement about what I was doing that would lead me to go, “I can do it.” It wasn’t like, “Oh, I’ll show them,” or, “This is my plan.” It was like, “Oh, I’ll do that.” I feel like, I think sometimes when we’re trying to chart a course or get into this industry, sometimes you can remember those sort of childlike things of something that just suddenly that you really love. If you really love it, you’re going to gravitate to it and you’re going to put your hand up. So I feel like more of like I surfed my way into it rather than really contriving. That would be far too sophisticated for me.
Kara Goldin: No, I think-
Laura Brown: I was just like…
Kara Goldin: But I think that’s really interesting, and I have a book coming out in October, and the theme is a lot of that, where if you didn’t know the word failure, what would you do. I so often talk to people about this journey that they’ve been on and how so often they were raising their hands with enthusiasm. They didn’t necessarily want to do that role forever, but they were like, “Oh, I’ll do it. It’ll be fun.”
Laura Brown: Right. There’s a guilelessness to it that I think is really important too. It’s not about I knew what I… I didn’t know intrinsically what I wanted. Of course, I knew that in my core, but you just sort of go with this joy and naivete and enthusiasm, and hopefully you know you have some sort of aptitude for the business that you want to be in. I hope that comes with that. You know yourself well enough for that. Yeah, just that sort of, “Oh yeah, I’ll do it,” I think. I still do that.
Kara Goldin: But so often, I think people think, okay, she gets to the top of Harper and Harper’s and then InStyle, but there were a lot of things along the way. There were steps along the way.
Laura Brown: So many. That’s the thing, is there’s been so many that I sort of forgot where I first worked, because it’s been years and years and years in different countries, in different machinations, and it does end up, I have an idea of it. I say any career or any career that is deemed successful, and success is up to you, each thing you achieve, each job, each whatever you achieve was like a brick, and I think each brick [inaudible 00:11:56] wall and then another layer and then another layer, and then suddenly you’ve built your house. I think that that’s, you gain something from each brick. Each brick is edifying to you, and that doesn’t go away. I think that’s what then continues to build you as you go, because God willing, you love what you do. Hopefully you’re good at it, and so you should do well just by those two very, very simple factors if you’re not forcing it.
That’s when as you get older, you get to be a bit like, “Yeah, I can do that.” Because you have.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, I love this. I also see this in women too. We’ll probably go out on a limb, and there will be a few men that hate me for saying this, but I feel like there so often is this step that not always, but I see men taking, where they went from here to there, and they… I don’t know. They got lucky or whatever. So often with women, they actually did exactly what you’re talking about, where they built it, and you don’t forget about those steps. You actually want to do those. You probably still know how to put a brick in there, right? And-
Laura Brown: No. And you’re built. I think that it doesn’t matter whether that brick is, whether you built a company or whether you made, I don’t know, fed your family and they’re healthy. It doesn’t matter what that thing is. That’s why, honestly, I’ve been on this challenge that’s been going around, the challenge accepted, women supporting women thing. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the word empowerment, because I feel like it sort of transmits the idea that we need it or we don’t have it already. You know what I mean? Let’s empower-
Kara Goldin: I agree, I agree.
Laura Brown: Because I feel like, to go back to the bricks, whatever her circumstance, and of course many woman, and you and I are in better circumstances than a whole lot, but everybody has those bricks and I feel like sometimes women forget that. That’s okay. I know it’s not so easy, but when I hear the word empowerment, I’m always like, I feel like it’s a little patronizing. We all have those damn bricks. We have bricks.
Kara Goldin: No, definitely. Definitely. No, but I love it. I love knowing that you remember those days.
Laura Brown: Yes, God.
Kara Goldin: So how did you get to the U.S. then?
Laura Brown: I got to the U.S. on a one way ticket. Oh my God, what did I do? I worked in London for a couple years, and then I went back to Australia and worked for Harper’s Bazaar. But I just had my heart set on this. I just remember, when I worked for Harper’s Bazaar we used to get this bag of magazines. It was called the air bag. It’s very creative in Australia. It’s a bag from the plane so it’s called the air bag, and we would get all these magazines, and I was so hungry. I mean, new Vogue would come in, new Harper’s Bazaar, the new Details, the new W, the new New York Magazine.
I remember one day, I had a roommate, and we actually had a really great apartment. It was at the harbor. It was really lovely. But I was reading New York Magazine and I was reading Intelligencer. This is year 2000 I guess, or 2001. I’m reading something about Moomba, the club or something, [inaudible 00:15:12]. But I was so entranced by this Intelligencer section that I looked up and I remember that I had forgotten where I was. I looked up and I was like, “Oh, I’m in Sydney.” I’d just gone mentally to New York City. It was a very physical feeling. It was really strange. So I was like, “All right.” I mean, that wasn’t then and there, but I just had to come here, because I think it’s very much again part of the journalistic impulse, where you want to be where things happen, in this first instance.
Again, we didn’t have that at home. We didn’t have all the access we have now, so it was kind of second. You know what I mean? I would write a review of a fashion show from the internet and I wanted to see a fashion show with my own eyes, or an art exhibition, or see a movie when it came out and not three months later. It was just the idea of just wanting to see it, and New York is was where the center of all of that, especially for magazines and fashion. So I just, it wasn’t really a choice. I had to come, I think. I think most journalists, whether they’ve stayed in Australia or not, have gotten on a plane and gone somewhere, because it’s just very much part of the instinct. But then you add to that that sort of Aussie silly, “Oh, so I’ll go.” You know what I mean? Where you’re just sort of, because you haven’t seen the rest of the world, when you grow up. That’s why I did it. So yeah, I turned up September the 4th, 2001.
Kara Goldin: Great time, right?
Laura Brown: Yeah, really. Then thankfully I didn’t know. I didn’t have friends. I had barely had any friends by then because I’d been there a week. What a time to get there, but I feel like it sort of… Get here, sorry. But I feel like it did, if nothing else, as horrendous as it was, really distilled very quickly whether you were going to stay or whether you were going to go. I think a lot of people, a lot of Aussies left, and more power to them. They’d been here and they were like, “See you later.”
I was, again, sort of guileless, I guess, and I was like, “Well, I’m here.” My mom is like, “Your bags are still packed. You can come home.” And I was like, “No, I’m in Gristedes buying my”… You know what I mean? It didn’t occur to me. It didn’t occur to me to go, and I felt like when you’re here in that time, you’re in the fabric, that’s it. It’s your town, you know what I mean? That’s what it was. My first year felt like a dream sequence. I don’t really remember where I got my Social Security number from, just various establishing things. I don’t really remember. I just was here. Crazy.
Kara Goldin: Right, it [crosstalk 00:17:55]. I moved to New York in the early ’90s, and I stayed with a friend of my sister’s who was living in the East Village on St. Mark’s between B and C, which was not a very-
Laura Brown: No way. My first place was St. Mark’s between 1st and 2nd.
Kara Goldin: Oh, that’s… I remember, I grew up in Scottsdale, and landing there, I mean outside of her I knew nobody. Two things happened to me the first week, which I should have left New York. Everybody said, “I can’t believe you’re still there.” My first day when I went to go work at Time Magazine, I walked outside the apartment and there was a painting of somebody had just died. So I asked the police officers. They were doing the outline-
Laura Brown: Taping.
Kara Goldin: … and I-
Laura Brown: Oh, the outline?
Kara Goldin: Yeah, the outline. And I said-
Laura Brown: Oh no.
Kara Goldin: … eyes wide open, girl from Arizona, I’m like, “Excuse me, what is that exactly?” And they said, “Oh, you should move along. Somebody has passed.” Then I got on the subway. I’d only been on it once, and I got on the subway, and then not that night, but the next day, my scalp is itching, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I looked down at my hair and I see these bugs, and I got lice the first week.
Laura Brown: On the-
Kara Goldin: So I remember, this is my first job-
Laura Brown: Start spreading the news.
Kara Goldin: I said to my boss at Time, I came in and I said, “I’ve been… my hair all night, it’s just awful.” I had never been through this, and I’m crying. I’m 21 years old and I’m like how-
Laura Brown: Oh no. (singing)
Kara Goldin: Right? I’m like-
Laura Brown: And you’re like-
Kara Goldin: Yeah. So of course I call. My mom was calling me, and she said, “So, are you going to come home now?” And I said, “I think I’m okay. I’m fine.”
Laura Brown: That’s when I say New York likes to give you the finger. It just goes, it gives you the finger, and then it’s like tests you, as it is right now again. But it goes, “Here’s the finger. You really want to live here? You want to live here? Do you? Do you, do you, do you, do you?” And you’re like, “I think so.”
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Laura Brown: Then suddenly it’s almost 20 years later. But it will test you.
Kara Goldin: It will test you and make you more interesting, and just add to your ability to live and handle and-
Laura Brown: Yeah. And up your masochism index.
Kara Goldin: Exactly. No, it’s so funny. So talk to me about the Everybody’s In philosophy and how it’s [crosstalk 00:20:39] to the InStyle brand.
Laura Brown: Oh, yeah. I sort of… Again, I don’t happen upon these platforms or slogans from any sort of tested place, or you know what I mean. I feel like there’s a lot of women’s stuff where it’s like, “What’s our women platform? What’s our da-da-da-da?” For me, it’s just come out of my mouth, and I think the previous example that everybody’s in was the badass thing. I was reading about, this was about two and a half years ago now when Trump had his first attempt, which has sadly come off, which was to ban trans people from the military, and I was so, so pissed off, as I think so many of us were. I was like, “I want to profile a trans woman.” So, we found this trans woman called Jennifer Peace who served in three wars, three kids, just incredible.
Kara Goldin: Amazing.
Laura Brown: I was reading about her and I was like, “Oh, what a badass.” I was like, “Oh.” So, that became an organic page every issue, then our online platform, now an issue, now a whole thing, and same thing with Everybody’s In. I think I’ve always loved fashion magazines because I love fashion, and I love that idea of it, but I don’t like being condescended to. I don’t like reading a magazine and feeling worse about myself, that I don’t have the right husband, the right garden, the right body, the right whatever sanctioned level of achievement of the day. And I say that as an editor. I just, I don’t like it. I don’t like that prescriptive nature of it. I think obviously it’s improving. I don’t like the idea that sometimes fashion has that it likes to make you feel without this you are not enough.
I got I think the measure of this business quite early, and I love and adore fashion and I love and adore magazines, but it’s not Mensa. When you can see inside and out of it, I want everybody to feel welcome. I don’t sit there and go, “Our magazine’s just for the,” I hate the word aspirational, or it’s just for this readership. It’s not. It’s for everybody, and whether or not each reader likes or can afford or cares to buy a pair of Prada shoes, that’s up to them. Or they want to read about an immigration lawyer that just is saving kids on the border, great. I can put all those things together, but I firmly believe, and I have become so much more stubborn about it, when you finish reading InStyle you feel better, not worse. You don’t feel like you don’t have or you aren’t or you’re not worthy or you need something.
You buy a lip gloss, super. You know what I mean? But you’re not defined by that. Any equity I’ve earned in this business, I’m standing on that. I can produce a beautiful, gorgeous fashion picture that Louis Vuitton likes, and that’s fine, and I will do that, but I can also… These things are not separate. Each woman can appreciate a beautiful fashion image and also work and worry about how she’s going to pay a bill or how she looks or if she wants to color her hair. We have so many different gears and I think that I’m just trying to put them all the blender every issue basically. So yeah, Everybody’s In.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, well I think you a great job. I think what you’re touching on too is just that any influencer, whether you’re an actual celebrity or you’re an editor or CEO or whatever, there is a sense of responsibility that you have.
Laura Brown: Oh, especially now. My God. I mean, I was hired four months… Four? No, three months before Trump was elected. For me, to reflect, not to try and be on the right side of history since all of this has happened, would be profoundly irresponsible. For me to stick my head in the sand and be like, “Here’s a lady in a ballgown in a garden,” that’s not where we’re at. I think that we have a [inaudible 00:24:50] of all these millions of ladies that you were talking about, and if I can put some vitamins in the honey, I will certainly do it. I think that’s what I am the most proud of, is we have been very much part of the conversation for the last few years and have been not just reflecting the culture. We’ve made news. We put Dr. Fauci on the cover two weeks ago. That’s my job. I think those magazines [crosstalk 00:25:18]-
Kara Goldin: Which was amazing, by the way.
Laura Brown: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: I absolutely loved it. He looked like the CAA executive.
Laura Brown: Yeah, he did. I have something, this is literally, I have one trick, when I put sunglasses on a senior citizen, and I call it the Biden.
Kara Goldin: It was absolutely awesome. He actually was a… My father-in-law was at New York Hospital for years, and for actually almost 50 years, and Fauci was actually his resident.
Laura Brown: Oh really?
Kara Goldin: Yeah, so it’s funny. A couple of years ago, he had actually told me about Fauci and how he was probably one of his smartest and always asked the best questions and hardest working.
Laura Brown: Wow.
Kara Goldin: Then he starts showing up in television and really-
Laura Brown: Now he’s the man.
Kara Goldin: He’s the man.
Laura Brown: Now Trump’s grumpy because Fauci’s getting the attention.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, I-
Laura Brown: Did you see Trump saying that the Yankees have asked him to pitch and they hadn’t?
Kara Goldin: Oh. It’s just-
Laura Brown: It actually gave me a real kick yesterday in the Times. It talks about how Trump said that and that he’s a little incensed that Fauci’s getting play, and it mentioned InStyle Magazine, and I was like, “Yeah.”
Kara Goldin: That is so awesome. I love it. I love that you’re smiling through this and having a good time with it too, because you can’t take it so seriously that you get so-
Laura Brown: Well, you can’t. You can’t shake your fist every day. No one can. No woman, man, or anyone else. It is not good for our health. It’s just not. You’ve got to… I think it’s easier for us sometimes to come at all of these issues, because we come at it through the particular woman who represents X, Y, or Z, rather than all day just going, throwing around every hashtag and this and this and this and this. It is just futile and also becomes… If you keep yelling, no one’s going to hear you. You know what I mean? It’s just endless. You just become noise. You do have to choose your battles, and you have to edit, and I’m an editor. I like to be like, oh, okay. For example, [inaudible 00:27:27], but here’s Dr. Fauci and here’s what he represents during this COVID fight.
Our Badass Woman issue is out in August, our Badass 50, which you were on. This year is 50 healthcare workers, one from each state, and-
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Laura Brown: … celebrating each woman, but also not just celebrating them covered in PPE, celebrating them as, “Hi, this is Jane. Jane likes winged eye liner.” She’s an actual person, you know what I mean? That’s what I’m really keen to do, so again, it’s very clear by talking about these women, it is very much clearly implied that they shouldn’t be having to do this because we should have handled this earlier. But by saying, “Here is X, Y, and Z doing the job,” I say that, without just going, “F Trump, he screwed up in 7 March,” every second of the day, because it’s defeating and tiring. We look at everything else going on in this country, there’s enough battles and enough problems that I’d rather try and be a bit more personal about it, I guess.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, you guys have done a great job on that. Obviously, we’re recording this during COVID, and I’d love to hear what you think. Obviously producing a magazine, working in any business I think is super challenging during this time as you move forward-
Laura Brown: Yeah. What do you mean, honey? It’s a picnic. It’s a picnic.
Kara Goldin: Exactly, exactly. Well, two things. I think the big thing that I’m most curious about is obviously you’re covering, you’ve covered this for Bazaar and you covered this as so many fashion. You cover lots of different brands, but as we start to look at events, right?
Laura Brown: What’s an event?
Kara Goldin: And Fashion Week and some of these, what happens? How does this-
Laura Brown: Nothing, nothing here.
Kara Goldin: How do you collect? What is going to be happening for fall with collections with-
Laura Brown: Nothing in the States. I know that pretty much. We have InStyle Awards that we do normally every October, end of October in LA. We’re not going to be doing that. No, we can’t do anything in the U.S., and that sucks, but it is what it is. In terms of Europe, they will be doing it in different ways, but it does depend. We are not sure if… It was funny. I had a couple of brands saying, “So you’re planning on coming to shows?” I’m like, “Dudes, we’re not allowed to get on a plane to Europe right now.” I have no control over whether or not I can go to Paris or whether anybody in the American press can go anywhere. I don’t know when I can go to Australia. So I don’t know. I think there will be European shows in Europe, and they’ve already done a couple. Etro and Dolce & Gabbana and Jacquemus did some shows a couple of weeks ago, sort of social distance mask, la la la. They’ll certainly do that. Whether or not Americans or people living in the States can be part of it is to be seen.
If I could safely go to Paris at the end of September, I would love to. I’d love it, of course. But I could not answer anything. The way it’s going in this country, I don’t see that. I don’t see us getting there. But I would love to be wrong. I’d love to be wrong.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Do you think these things end up happening just how sports are, without an audience, and you do it by [crosstalk 00:31:01]? Or where-
Laura Brown: No, I think that it’s funny, because there was all this debate before all of this happening about who should show and who shouldn’t. There’s designers that should show and those that just are better off if they do a presentation or they do direct to consumer. There’s many different modes to be a successful designer, so I feel like the schedules and everything were already too padded by stuff and obligations that people didn’t need to be doing. If the designer [inaudible 00:31:26] show because it cost them too much money, from the editor, who can’t get into the office all day because she’s fulfilling all these obligations. There was this necessary questioning of who should and shouldn’t.
I think as COVID has shown in a weird way, part of the charm of fashion is its old-fashionedness in some ways, when it’s done well. I miss going to a show, and there is something about a digital fashion show that just doesn’t transmit. It just doesn’t. There is something about the electricity in a room of a show. It’s about your particular eye for a detail, whether you think a shoe looks cool or how you position in your head or what that means to you or what that reminds you of personally, as those young folks walk past you. I think that there’s, even back to my… It’s funny how it goes sick circles around back to my earlier perspective of wanting to see it with your own eyes. You want to see it in real life with your own eyes.
I miss it. I don’t miss going to a bunch of shows that don’t mean anything. I miss going to shows that mean something, and I think that a Valentino show for example, but I do think that that is the realization that designers have had is that it does need to mean something now to be worthwhile. But a bunch of brands, I mean obviously the really big ones like Chanel and stuff are like, “Yeah, we’re showing. It’s a thing. That’s what we have to do.” It was sort of cliché. It was the French people of course who came up first, “We’ll always show, we’ll always show.” That was that. Yeah, I think a great fashion show is a amazing thing. I really do. But we’ll just have to see when we can go. All the digital stuff that brands have been doing I’ve barely watched it, and I know I should be, but I haven’t been so drawn in.
Kara Goldin: Engaged. I know. I feel-
Laura Brown: Yeah, it says something.
Kara Goldin: I feel like there’s a technology play, and I don’t know what it is, but I feel like we’ll be sitting here in a couple years from now saying, “Of course that happened.”
Laura Brown: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s this sort of eternal question about how do we do it. There is, just like a beautiful outfit that was designed with real joy and intent walking past you, there is nothing like that. So I don’t think that will go away. I just think we’ve got to find our way in the middle of it a bit better than we are.
Kara Goldin: Maybe it’s because, what, in New York you can do 50 people at these. Maybe there is a way. I don’t know. I mean-
Laura Brown: Yeah. In New York ain’t no one doing anything soon. We’re just excited to eat outside.
Kara Goldin: I know. That’s [crosstalk 00:34:09].
Laura Brown: Maybe somebody can walk models up and down Columbus Avenue when I’m having my Mexican.
Kara Goldin: No, I-
Laura Brown: That’s all we’ve got to look forward to right now.
Kara Goldin: I hear you. So you’re in the city?
Laura Brown: Yeah. I’m sort of in and out. Sorry. We, me and my fiance, we’ll kind of sit here for a few weeks and then go somewhere just to kind of charge ourselves up to come back again. We went to North Carolina for a couple weeks. We’ve been out to the beach. Yeah, but it is a bit weird that we can’t really… I was quite struck last week with the fact that we can’t really fly anywhere now. We can’t go to the Bahamas. Just places that we’ve sort of taken as a given that were three hours away from New York that maybe you could go to if you wanted to go on holiday. No one wants anybody from the States.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, it’s-
Laura Brown: Which is just absolutely terrible. What a bragging right, to be international pariahs.
Kara Goldin: Yes.
Laura Brown: I mean, look, I like my apartment. I’m living in the park. It is what it is. There’s nothing you can do about it apart from being kind of sanguine about it and try and keep your spirits up. But I do think that’s again where I’m lucky because my team and I talk about this all the time, because we get to make a thing. Every day or every month or somewhere in between we can see the results of what we’re doing, so we’re not just floating in limbo all the time. You know what I mean? We can put a cover out and see that bounce around the culture and be rewarded by that, so we do have something to show for ourselves while we’re at home. We all count ourselves as super lucky for that. Some professions, some people can’t. Some people aren’t even working, number one. A whole lot of people aren’t even working. Number two, those people whose professions don’t work like that, you know what I mean, and are just a bit sort of stuck. For that choice and the immediacy of telling a story, I’m super grateful I do that right now, even though it’s a bit tiring. That’s okay.
Kara Goldin: Well, I love how the combination of fashion and really bringing in what you believe is important, Fauci on the cover, all of these things, I really admire for how you’ve led.
Laura Brown: Thank you. Wait for our September issue I just did. September issue is really good. It comes out in two weeks. It looks like, I said, it looks like we didn’t have any problems at all, and we so did. We so did. But it looks great and I think it’s really reflective of what a team can do when they really, really try, so I’m proud of it.
Kara Goldin: I love it. I can’t wait. That’s going to be really, really fun to see.
Laura Brown: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: Two last questions I always ask.
Laura Brown: Oh yes.
Kara Goldin: What is your favorite Hint flavor?
Laura Brown: Lime. My favorite Hint-
Kara Goldin: Which I mentioned to you on hiatus.
Laura Brown: … Hint flavor is lime.
Kara Goldin: What did you say to me, that is has to-
Laura Brown: Bring back the lime, bring back the lime.
Kara Goldin: I know.
Laura Brown: Bring back the lime, at least so it can hang out with its good friend Tequila.
Kara Goldin: But you also said you liked the lemon as well.
Laura Brown: I like lemon. I like a light citrus. I’ve always been more of a lemony-lime citrus than an orange. That’s just me, guys. It’s just me.
Kara Goldin: Oh, you’re so funny. That’s awesome. Then final question. What makes you unstoppable?
Laura Brown: Well, this question, actually I will be contrarian, because I actually think I am eminently stoppable, and I think that knowing when to stop and knowing what your limitations are are really, really important. As a woman whose prominent business or role, whatever it was, I think you need to know, and especially right now, when it’s very challenging out there for everybody, you need to know you need to do the best you can and you need to create what you can and do work you’re proud of and be kind, but if you need to stop or if you actually can’t for a day or whatever, don’t second guess yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. You need to go to bed. If you need to have a glass of wine or you need just to lie there and stare at the wall, do it. I always think embracing your limitations is one of the greatest thing any woman who is successful or wants to be successful can do.
How would I be unstoppable is to occasionally stop.
Kara Goldin: No, I love that, and really self-care.
Laura Brown: Yes.
Kara Goldin: That’s just really [crosstalk 00:38:26].
Laura Brown: That’s basically it. That’s basically it. It’s all right. It’s okay to say sometimes, “I can’t do that. I don’t have the ability, desire, whatever, juice, the charge in my human iPhone to do that.” That’s fine. It’ll get done. Just, look, getting through the days right now for so many people is an absolute hell zone, so don’t beat yourself up on top of it.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Laura Brown: Doesn’t matter if you don’t write the great novel. I am certainly not.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I hear you. Absolutely. Your Instagram’s amazing. Is that the best place for people to follow you?
Laura Brown: Oh, thanks. That’s where I live, @laurabrown99. Yup, I live there.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Laura Brown: My little avatar. Yeah, and I’m there and on Twitter, but people know where to find me. Obviously, I love to hear from people. I chat away with people on Instagram all the time. I am an only child, so be my friend.
Kara Goldin: I love it. Yeah, and I’m Kara Goldin on Instagram as well, with an I. Goldin with an I. Definitely-
Laura Brown: Goldin glory.
Kara Goldin: This has been really, really fun, Laura. Thank you so much for-
Laura Brown: Thank you so much for having me.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, thanks for taking the time and enjoy the rest of the week, and thanks everybody for listening. If you are not yet a subscriber, definitely subscribe to Unstoppable and hear the rest of our great interviews that we’re doing, and lots of learnings along the way.
Laura Brown: And apologies for all my yapping, ladies. I’m sure you’ll get your life back soon.
Kara Goldin: No, no, no, no. We love yapping, and it wasn’t yapping that way, so appreciate it.
Laura Brown: Thank you so much for having me.
Kara Goldin: Thanks so much, Laura. I appreciate it.
Laura Brown: I’ll see you soon, doll.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, definitely. All right, talk to you soon.