Image courtesy Hearst Magazines
Interview

Meredith Rollins

09.13.16

Meredith Rollins is the editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine; she joined the team in 2010 as executive editor and was appointed EIC two years ago. At an early age Rollins knew she wanted to be an editor; she calls the pace as a magazine editor “perfectly suited to her temperament.” As Rollins describes the Redbook woman, she loves style and wants to live her best life, but she’s also very, very busy. Rollins has expertly designed a magazine this woman can benefit from in all aspects of her life, mostly because Rollins is this woman: smart, confident, ambitious, family-oriented, joyful, and most importantly supportive. Rollins takes her role seriously and strives to provide content that is authentic and reflects the lives of her readers. It’s not so often a magazine considers the whole woman or that the woman running the magazine personifies the exact spirit of the book itself. Redbook is doing this, and doing this well.

Interview

Have you always wanted to be an editor?

When I was little, I wanted to be a book editor, and that dream lasted all the way through college. But my first job out of school was at Random House and I quickly discovered that I wanted something more fast-paced, so I made the switch to magazines. I’m lucky—I think it’s pretty much the perfect career for my temperament.

You played a key role in helping to evolve and redesign the Redbook brand. How has that helped you shift into your role as Editor-in-Chief?

I don’t think anything totally prepares you to shift into the EIC role. I was fortunate that I already knew and loved the brand and had a very clear vision of how I wanted it to evolve. And I had insight into what our readers liked, so I could quickly shift gears in order to give them more of what they wanted: fashion and beauty and big, gorgeous images, along with lots of useful, relatable advice.

How would you describe the Redbook woman and lifestyle?

The Redbook woman loves style and she wants to live her best life, but she’s also being pulled in a million different directions. Though her free time is in short supply, she doesn’t want to give up on looking chic and taking care of herself, having a lovely home and cooking something amazing—so we give her the tools to do that faster and more easily. Plus, we focus on helping her build her confidence, advocate for herself and her health, and have the courage to ask for that raise. All of that is so important.

Over the past few years, you have been able to maintain sales growth in an industry which has been battling increasing declination. What do you think makes your publication so accessible to readers?

It’s a pretty joyful magazine! We put women on the cover that readers can relate to; we always give tips and strategies that save time; we have a sense of fun and we laugh at our imperfections. It’s a key part of why our existing audience is so loyal and why we’ve been able to pull in a new group of readers. We aren’t trying to put forward some unapproachable, fancy, impossible-to-achieve ideal. We’re just real and useful and funny and fun.

It appears your family plays an important role in your life. How has being a working mother changed your perspective on creating content for the magazine, if at all?

It’s made me realize how absurd the quest for balance or perfection is. Sad truth: I will never have time to make a gorgeous photo album or craft an intricate tablescape or finish a fabulous DIY project. I’m lucky if I can get my pants on in the morning. I think most of our readers feel the same way.

You’ve been recognized for promoting positive body image campaigns and even featuring “real” women on the cover of Redbook. Why is this particular issue so important to you?

I think it should be important to all women, and to every brand that markets to women. There is no one “perfect” size that women should aspire to—that ideal is so unhealthy. You don’t have to be a size zero to be beautiful and stylish and sexy. Why haven’t we moved past that idea by now? There’s such gorgeous diversity in America, and my point of view is that we should constantly celebrate it and reflect it back to our readers.

Do you consider yourself to be a feminist?

Yes! Yes, with many exclamation points!!!!!!

Aside from your role at Redbook, you’re also part owner of the White Hart Inn in Connecticut. So I have to ask, how did that venture come about?

It’s a really long story, but the short answer is that this amazing, historic inn—the hub of this little town—had been sitting empty for years. My husband and I gathered a group of friends and brought it back to life. It’s been a lot of work, but the rewards are so great. It’s lovely to be part of the fabric of a community like that. Plus, the food is incredible, so I get out of cooking at home a lot more often than I used to.

Would you ever consider permanently relocating from bustling Manhattan to the Connecticut countryside?

My husband would love that! So would my kids. But I really adore the city. The country gets so quiet at night; it’s frankly terrifying.

What are one or two of your most notable takeaways from working in the women’s editorial world?

First, that our readers really expect us to rise to the occasion. They’ll call us on our mistakes, and cheer when they feel like we’ve gotten something right. They catch everything—as an editor, you can’t be lazy. And they know if you aren’t being authentic.

What do you love most about being Editor-in-Chief?

Aside from being able to raid the beauty closet? It’s being able to take part in the cultural conversation. To give women tools that will make their lives easier and that will make them feel more empowered. To shed light on issues that really matter, whether it’s health care or infertility or body image. It’s such an honor to be able to reach millions of women every month—it’s a huge responsibility.

What are your hopes for Redbook in the future?

That we continue to speak to our growing audience. I think we talk to them in a way that nobody else does. I want to keep delivering great content to women whose lives are super-full and crazy-busy, and help them realize that it’s fine to stop striving for perfection. Who wants to be perfect? Above all, they deserve to be happy.