Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief cut her teeth at the Paris Review under George Plimpton as his assistant and associate editor of the publication. Under his tutelage she learned the value of an intense curiosity.
“I was terrified of him in the first two weeks,” she laughed. “His wife had to take me outside and say, ‘Anne you need to knock on his door and tell him what he’s doing today. You’re in charge of his life.'”
Fulenwider always knew she wanted to be a writer or editor, and she said cutting carrots for Plimpton’s literary parties before attending them was “intoxicating,” and only reinforced she wanted to continue in the literary world.
Her career history includes stints at Vanity Fair, a previous position at Marie Claire, and Brides, before she returned to head Marie Claire in 2012, where she knew digital would be ingrained in the role. In April this year, Marie Claire had 4.4 million visitors to its website, compared to Vogue’s 5 million, per comScore.
“As people’s lives are increasingly revolved around being online, the role of a magazine has become all the more luxurious,” Fulenwider said. “We reach our readers across all social media platforms, but we think of print as one way to reach her in the digital era, the most luxurious.”
Glossy caught up with Fulenwider to discuss her career, magazines in the digital era, and how it’s changed the role of publications.
What is a magazine’s role in the digital world?
So many people, including myself are shopping online and they’re looking very specifically. I’ll Google “white summer dress shirt” and find it and compare it online. In print, our role is to bring trends and interpret them in a way that delights and surprises readers.
So it expands on what people see everyday?
Our readers spend time with a magazine in ways they don’t with any other media, it’s how we reach out. It’s the most luxurious medium and print is very important for fashion. It’s still the most impactful way we can interpret fashion trends.
How does Marie Claire approach digital?
I don’t remember the point in time where we thought, “OK, now we have to go digital.’ It’s become an increasing part of our life, everyone on the floor can publish a story to our website, everyone has access to our Snapchat to create their own stories. We do always want to tell the story in the best way for that medium though, and we recognize the way we do a print story is completely different to how we do it on Snapchat, Facebook and the website.
So what’s the tack there?
People are craving real life experiences so we’ve done a lot with the experience side of our business in the last six months. We’ve streamed a whole bunch of events on Facebook Live, including [Marie Claire events] Image Makers and Power Trip, to share them in real time and give Marie Claire readers a glimpse into these events. We’re growing on every platform: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. We’ve grown on Instagram 100-something percent in the last year and we were the first Hearst brand to do Facebook Live. [Marie Claire has 789,000 Instagram followers, compared to Vogue’s 10.9 million].
What do you think about the move away from the traditional fashion calendar?
We all need to keep talking about it. Last season you couldn’t walk into an event without people talking about it. It was interesting to go to Europe after New York Fashion Week and hear a completely different view. We’re in a period of great transformation and disruption, but out of that comes great creativity and solutions.
Do people have any assumptions about your job that are wrong?
As much as I loved the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” it did a great disservice to fashion editors everywhere. In some ways it set out this insane expectation, I was at this new gym the other day and handed over my credit card and the man behind the desk was so surprised I was a pleasant person. He didn’t mention the film, but people are surprised I’m even remotely polite.
Biggest career mistake?
I regret the interviews I didn’t go to and the opportunities I didn’t jump at. When I first arrived in New York I got a phone call from the New Yorker to go in for a typing test and I’d just graduated and thought I was above that, thinking it was a secretarial position. I didn’t go for the interview and then found out that’s the way everyone gets into the New Yorker.
What have I enjoyed the most? Every day right now.