Meeting Lisa Mowry has been a real treat for me. I’ve been seeing her name in some of my favorite magazines for decades, so when I met her here in Atlanta this past year (through blogging, naturally!), I was so happy to see how down to earth and totally real she is. She’s been scouting for magazines for over 20 years, magazines we all know and love, like Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home and more. Writing stories and bringing homes to life for all of us magazine junkies is Lisa’s specialty and she does it well. I was so honored that she wrote my DIY story and submitted it to Atlanta magazine (May 2013) and she’ll be writing about my kitchen and guest bath in a future edition of Better Homes and Gardens as well. Truly a treat to get to know Lisa!
(Lisa with her son, Alex, and Atlanta resident/Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward, doing a story for Atlanta magazine)
I told her I would love to interview her about what she does and how she does it, so I asked her a few questions about her life in magazines and she graciously accepted the challenge. Lisa is always on the lookout for homes to feature and I’ll tell you how to contact her if you think you have a magazine-worthy room or home that you’d like to send in for possible publication. You can find her at LisaMowry.com and there’s a contact page and email, so take note of that.
I enjoyed hearing from Lisa on how she got started and where she thinks magazines are headed.
How did you get started working with magazines?
I’ve always been a magazine-aholic (I used to make my own magazines when I was about 12…so that should’ve been my first clue.) Right out of college, however, I worked in public relations for most of my 20s, which was a great job in its own right, since I got to work on the Atlanta bid for the Olympics, and travel around with make-up artist Bobbi Brown, who was the spokesperson for a moisturizer I worked on). I was excited to start doing publicity for Southern Homes magazine while at my PR firm, and then later went to work there. That magazine turned into Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, where I worked for about six years, obviously learning a lot there and getting to know the creative folks in Atlanta, so that was a huge break. In 1997 I left to be a freelancer and have more flexibility with my son Alex just being born, and shortly afterwards I heard from BH&G that they were looking for someone to be their Atlanta editor. It’s been an ideal situation for me and I’m so happy we found each other. I’ve since made connections with all their sister publications: all the kitchen magazines, Traditional Home and the bookazines such as Decor and Elegant Homes, and work on behalf of them finding projects, and depending on the house, often styling the project, often writing the final article, a variety of scenarios.
(Julie and Anisa with Milk & Honey Home, Kitchen & Bath Makeovers, Emily Followill, photographer/Meredith Publishing;stylist and writer: Lisa Mowry )
What are your top tips for regular home owners getting featured in magazines?
I would advise them to take “before” shots whenever that’s applicable, because you can’t go back and do that after the fact. If a homeowner would like to submit a project to me, I always first look at a project with their own scouting shots (or if they have the budget, professional shots). I need to see several complete angles of any rooms, vignettes and details, showing furniture or cabinetry going all the way to the floor. They can direct me to a Dropbox or other situation like that by contacting me through email, but don’t send lots of photos to my inbox, please! I would need a couple bullet points about each room (less is more), letting me know what the good ideas are from their house. It’s good to see a whole house and don’t forget an exterior, but I can also do features on just a kitchen, bath or master suite renovation, or outdoor areas. It’s hard to say specifically what magazines are looking for, and so many projects are beautiful but just not different enough to become a magazine feature, but I do see more success with houses that have nice pops of color, a mix of high/low furnishings, and some unique touches here and there.
(Beautiful Kitchens & Baths, photography, Emily Followill, copyright Meredith Publishing; stylist and writer: Lisa Mowry)
Are magazines now looking at blogs to get ideas for features and creativity?
I think shelter magazines at first thought of blogs as competition, but now see them as partners to benefit each other. I’ve certainly enjoyed working with all the bloggers I’ve featured, because they think like a magazine person. I have a huge respect for the bloggers such as yourself who are generating your own material and features. I must admit that I’m not as much of a fan of design blogs that just run photos they’ve lifted from magazine websites because I know how hard we work to generate those features, and the photographers aren’t being paid again.
(Jae Vinson with Design OCD, for Kitchen and Bath Makeovers, Photography by Anthony-Masterson/copyright Meredith Publishing;stylist and writer: Lisa Mowry )
What does the future hold for all those shelter magazines that we love?
I think shelter magazines are here to stay…unlike news magazines, where unfortunately for them, people could get content online and didn’t want to wait for Newsweek, for instance, to appear in their mailbox once a week. Home and garden magazines are different, however, because they’re so visual. If you’re redoing a kitchen and want to show your designer what you’re interested in, tearing out pages from kitchen magazines is the way to go. I’m happy to report that I’m very busy producing features for all my magazines right now. There was a bit of a slow-down a couple years ago, but the successful magazines are still looking for lots of content.
Do you have a hard time not changing out your house with all the beautiful homes you cover, getting all those ideas and seeing the newest things?
Well, yes! Which is why those of us in the business often have very non-magazine-worthy houses…we’re almost overloaded with ideas, so that nothing gets changed. I do feel fortunate to get to visit so many creative houses on behalf of the magazines, so I don’t necessarily need to recreate the looks in my own house. I am pleased that my own screened porch project will be in the June issue of Better Homes & Gardens. It gives me some credibility and I hope inspires other people to create their own outdoor rooms.
What is your personal style?
This is too hard to answer, Rhoda…my house is such a hodge-podge!
Thank you so much, Lisa, for answering my questions and letting my readers get a peek behind the scenes of how magazines think and do things. I think most of us are magazine-aholics and love to peek inside others’ homes. I know I do! Opening up a magazine and turning those glossy pages is still a thrill for me. Be sure and check out Lisa’s beautiful screened porch in the June issue of BHG. It’s a gorgeous space with a….sigh….hanging bed!