Martha’s Interview with Austin Business Journal [video]

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Martha Stewart sits for an extensive interview to share her thoughts about business and entrepreneurship. Colin Pope, the interviewer, says that, of the 20-plus interviews he’s taped, this one with Martha is the all-time most requested. The video is 45-minutes of pure Martha fabulousness. Enjoy!

From the Austin Business Journal:

This is an entrepreneur who has amassed a reported net worth of $638 million as she built one of the world’s most recognizable brands, so I was eager to sit down with her last year and extract some business intelligence for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The conversation ran the gamut — from mistakes made in her startup days to how she markets in the digital world. She got in a few laughs about her prison stay, but I was pleased to be a part of almost an hour of straight business talk from someone who rarely goes on about corporate strategy.

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Martha’s Beauty Regimen Highlighted in New York Times

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There’s no denying that Martha looks fabulous, always. And now we know why! Martha shares her beauty regimen and her favorite products in an article in Thursday’s NY Times. She details her favorite products and regimen for skincare, make-up, fragrance, and hair. Finally, she shares her thoughts on diet and exercise. Say’s Martha, “You can be the most beautiful person on earth, and if you don’t have a fitness or diet routine, you won’t be beautiful.” FOMS: Whatever Martha’s doing, it’s working–she looks fabulous, don’t you think?

From the New York Times article (as is the above photo):

“I was told years ago by my daughter, Alexis, that I shouldn’t leave the house without makeup on. You’ll pay for it if you don’t because somebody will be there with a camera snapping away and you’ll look awful or just plain.”

If you are interested, as I was, in what this regimen will cost you, you might also enjoy this article that provided prices for the products Martha recommends. Most useful, this article also provides links so that you can purchase any and all items for yourself! The headline for the article describes Martha’s regiment as “insane”. However, as a public figure, who represents a publicly-traded company that promotes visuals and aesthetics, and carries her name, Martha simply MUST look her best. For the rest of us, the investment is optional–but who doesn’t want to look his/her best, too? Here’s the Martha Stewart article, from Racked.

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Martha Attends Professional Bull Riders Opener (And Rocks a Killer Outfit)

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Martha attended the Professional Bull Riders season opener at Madison Square Garden in NYC last weekend, in a stunning and (of course) event-appropriate outfit. Martha, long a farm owner/operator in Bedford, NY, told People Magazine, “I love this sport. I can’t believe they can stay on there for eight seconds.” FOMs: If there’s any 70-something woman who could successfully take on bull riding, our money’s on the ageless SuperMartha!

From People Magazine (as is the above photo):

Amid a sea of cowboy hats at the Professional Bull Riders season opener in New York City this weekend was a surprising celebrity fan.

“I love this sport,” Martha Stewart told the crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. “I can’t believe they can stay on there for eight seconds.”

Stewart wasn’t the only famous supporter in attendance, either.

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JC Penney Scales Back Partnership with Martha

What a difference a CEO makes!

Ron Johnson, former CEO of JC Penney who initiated the partnership with MSLO, was counting on Martha to be the centerpiece of JC Penney’s reimagined housewares department. As the retailer struggled under his leadership, he was replaced by the current CEO, Mike Ullman. Unfortunately, Ullman either doesn’t share Johnson’s faith in the Martha brand, or he thinks that the national retailer should be focused elsewhere–or both. The expensive lawsuit that JC Penney’s has been fighting with Macys in a NYC courtroom is  almost certainly influencing his decision, as well

So, he has decided to scale back significantly JC Penney’s partnership with Martha. Here’s what’s changing:

– JC Penney’s will discontinue selling products in those categories that prompted the lawsuit from Macys.

– JC Penney’s will sell back its share  ($37 million worth!) of MSLO stock purchased as part of the partnership.

– JC Penney’s will no longer have representation on the MSLO Board of Directors

Not great news for Martha and MSLO, where a great portion of revenue is generated by licensing the “Martha Stewart” name. Martha was hopeful that the products offered at JC Penney’s would reach audiences currently unserved by the products sold at Macy’s.

Still, the JC Penney’s partnership will continue, though CEO Ullman seems less devoted to Martha and her products. And the partnership with Macy’s will continue, though Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren became furious with Martha when she told him of her new relationship with JC Penney’s. Of course, neither CEO would be interested in continuing his partnership with Martha if she and her products were not so popular with the public.

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Martha vs. Macy’s: Judge Schedules Sept. 25 Hearing on Report Penney’s Will Drop Contested Items

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The judge in the Martha vs. Macy’s trial has scheduled a hearing for September 25, though he did not give a reason for the hearing. According to the Dallas Business Journal, the hearing is in response to the NY Post article that claimed JC Penney was dropping its plan to carry Martha Stewart-designed items–branded “jcp everyday”–in its stores. Obviously, if JC Penney voluntarily quits carrying the contested products, the lawsuit is ended in Macy’s favor.

After the original article ran in the NY Post, a spokesperson for MSLO stated “J.C. Penney remains one of our many retail partners. Our agreement with them is in force, and we have no intention of ending it,” indicating they would not be receptive to an early termination of the agreement. Unless there is specific language in the contract that allows JC Penney to do so, it is expected that MSLO may itself sue JC Penney for breach of contract.

From the Dallas Business Journal:

Oing oversaw the lengthy non-jury trial on a claim by Macy’s that Penney’s 2011 deal with Stewart violated her 2006 agreement with the Cincinnati-based retailer. Oing’s decision in the suit is expected soon. A source told Bloomberg that Oing intends to ask Penney’s lawyers if the story is true because it could affect his ruling on the contract.

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JC Penney Appears Poised to End Partnership with Martha

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Things just got more complicated for Martha and Co.

To most following the Martha vs. Macy’s trial, it looks very unlikely that Martha and JC Penney will prevail. In a nutshell: Although Martha’s contract with Macy’s did, in fact, allow for Martha to open stand-alone Martha Stewart stores that offer products in categories–housewares, bedding, bath, and cookware–that would compete with those items offered at Macy’s, the idea that Martha’s “store within a store” actually qualifies as a “stand alone” seems dubious, at best. Ron Johnson, the JC Penney CEO who developed the “store within a store” idea and created the partnership with MSLO, was ousted in April 2013. His predecessor, Mike Ullman, was reappointed to take over the company and has shown little to no enthusiasm for the plan.

Yesterday, reports surfaced that Penney’s was planning to discontinue offering products designed by Martha Stewart in those categories deemed exclusive  in Martha’s contract with Macy’s, effectively throwing in the towel to end the ongoing lawsuit. More worrisome are reports that JC Penney was also ending its entire partnership with Martha, and would not be selling any Martha Stewart products, even in categories that did not impinge upon the Martha-Macy’s contract. According to one insider, CEO Ullman has said, “Her designs aren’t that great. They’re not selling, and they’re nothing that your normal Joe Schmoe can’t come up with.”

Further complicating the matter is the fact that, as part of its partnership with MSLO, JC Penney purchased a 16.6-percent stake in MSLO, infusing the cash-strapped company with $38.5 million. Obviously, MSLO would prefer to see their partnership with JC Penney continue. A MSLO spokesperson has released as statement saying, “J.C. Penney remains one of our many retail partners. Our agreement with them is in force, and we have no intention of ending it.”

If JC Penney does end its partnership with Martha, it is expected that MSLO will sue JC Penney to enforce the contract, unless there is specific language in the contract allowing JC Penney to end it at any time. MSLO had projected its merchandising agreement with JC Penney to generate $200 million dollars in much-needed revenue for the company over the next several years. MSLO has become increasingly dependent upon revenue generated through licensing and merchandising agreements, as sales through its magazine divisions have slowed and Martha’s presence on television has diminished. MSLO stock prices sunk when the news of the end of its JC Penney partnership was leaked.

From the NY Post (as is the above photo):

Ullman, a former Penney CEO who returned to the helm in April to repair damage from a disastrously unsuccessful turnaround effort by Johnson, began to broadcast the split with the beleaguered domestic diva to workers in recent weeks, insiders said.

However, Ullman was determined to give Stewart the boot from the get-go, insiders said.

As reported by The Post, Ullman initially reached out to Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren to settle the lawsuit, which had already gone to trial with dramatic testimony from Lundgren, Johnson and Stewart herself.

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Martha vs. Macy’s Trial to Resume Monday

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If you have been following the trial, you likely remember that the judge in the case ordered the parties into mediation while the trial was in recess, in the hope that they could resolve the dispute without a ruling from the court. No such settlement emerged, and so the trial will resume again next Monday. Much is on the line, especially for J.C. Penney and MSLO, as both companies have lately had disappointing financials. Macy’s, seen as the likely beneficiary of a court ruling, has essentially no reason to negotiate or settle with the other parties.

From MarketsPress website:

The three parties Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia were sent into mediation by the officiating Judge Jeffrey Oing. He had hoped to resolve the dispute mutually during the time the non-jury trial was in a recess owing to the conflicts in the schedule.

However, even on Friday there was no evidence of any deal being stuck and witnesses would be testifying the same in the early part of this week according to a person who knows the case. The person who was not authorized to speak publicly and wished to remain anonymous told that the witnesses might include a few J.C. Penney marketing executives.

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Martha Visits Persephone Farm in Washington State

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This is one of the qualities I suspect each of us admires about Martha: her unquenchable desire to learn. While visiting Washington for the wedding of horticulturalist Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones, Martha found time to visit nearby Persephone Farm.

Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones founded Heronswood, a mutli-acre botanical garden in Kingston, WA. You can tour the gardens by visiting the Heronswood website’s photo gallery here.

And yes–that is Ryan, Martha’s (very cute) gardener, in the photo, second from left.

From Persephone Farm’s website (as is the above photo):

Martha knew the names of all the plants and we had fun comparing gardens, hers stretching from Bedford NY to Mt. Desert Island, ME. One of her personal gardeners was with us and he seemed to be taking lots of notes and shooting pictures.

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MS Living Editor-in-Chief, Pilar Guzman, is Hired Away by Conde Nast

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Word today that Pilar Guzman, the editor-in-chief (EIC) of MSLO’s flagship magazine, “Martha Stewart Living”, has been hired away by Conde Nast, to serve as EIC of that company’s “Conde Nast Traveler” magazine. Guzman was promoted to EIC of “Martha Stewart Living” magazine in early 2011. (You can read the transcript of a conversation between Martha herself and Ms Guzman that appeared on Martha’s blog here.)

Given the changes that have recently taken place at MSLO and specifically, with the magazine–which has essentially shifted its focus away “lifestyle/fine living” to one of “cooking and crafts/instructional”, it is no wonder that we have seen the departures of some key higher-level executives from MSLO. Long-time design visionary, Gael Towey, and CEO Lisa Gersh both departed in late 2012.

It was announced that another long-time Martha Stewart employee, (Creative Director) Eric Pike, would takeover EIC responsibilities at “Martha Stewart Living” magazine. If interested, you can take a tour of Eric’s home here.

From the AdWeek article on Pilar Guzman’s departure (as is the above photograph):

Guzman is also one half of a publishing power couple: Her husband, Chris Mitchell, was the vp, publisher of Traveler until 2011, and now holds the same title at GQ.

In a statement, Guzman praised the magazine’s “engaging features, thoughtful advice and stunning visuals” and added that she looked forward to “drawing upon the insights and vision of the company’s artistic director Anna Wintour to catapult this legendary brand” -–perhaps a signal that Traveler could be the next title to get the Wintour treatment.

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