Not many women would choose to call themselves the “Man Repeller.”
But that’s exactly what Leandra Medine did back in 2010 when she launched her freethinking fashion blog of that name. It started as an unpolished look at her zany New York style with some rambling thoughts on brands and trends (she’s a proponent of everything from harem pants to shoulder pads).
Now, it’s morphed into a bona fide lifestyle writing destination. The core thesis: women should dress for themselves first and foremost. The content: everything from fashion show recaps to “New York Closets” features to bitingly honest dating advice and personal essays. Think Vogue meets Jezebel, but written by really funny, quirky women.
Despite its name, Man Repeller has reeled in a devoted audience: 2.6 million pageviews a month, according to Business of Fashion, 2.2 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and an average 53% fan growth year to year. Meanwhile, a series of high-profile brand collaborations have boosted the site’s bottom line; they have worked with the likes of Sunglass Hut, Fossil, NARS, and Estée Lauder.
Medine, who’s now 28, employs a stable of writers, artists, and social media gurus who whip up and spread their of-the-moment content. She’s expanded into offline work, too, publishing a book of personal essays in 2013 and launching two podcasts, called “Oh Boy” and “Monocycle”, in 2015.
“I started Man Repeller because I wanted to write,” she told Business Insider. “I didn’t start Man Repeller because I wanted to be a founder.”
But make no mistake: the business role is one she’s tackled head-on. The unfiltered entrepreneur shared with Business Insider how she spends her very busy, very fashionable day.
7:15 a.m.: Up and at 'em. Medine lives in downtown Manhattan with her husband of four years, wealth manager Abie Cohen. She starts her days early, often with a workout and meditation, before perusing her packed closet for the day's look.
9:30 a.m.: Breakfast at Balthazar. The old-school French bistro in SoHo is a perennial favourite, and is just around the corner from her office.
After breakfast, it's time to head to Man Repeller headquarters. Right on lower Broadway in SoHo, the office is just one airy room. Ten women, hard at work, are seated at two broad tables. The only sound is the tapping of keys on keyboards, and of one of the women blowing bubblegum bubbles.
Quirky decorations abound on the shelves around the space, reflecting the whimsical tone the site can take. But the team is serious about their work, implementing a strict 48-hour writing deadline: all pieces must be finished a full two days before they are scheduled to be published, leaving adequate time for editing.
Around noon: time for lunch. Medine's favourite place to order in from is a vegan spot called Peacefood Cafe; today, she goes for the chickpea fries. She's also a regular at nearby restaurants St. Ambroeus and the Butcher's Daughter, as well as the members-only Soho House.
Man Repeller is, at its core, a fashion site; here, a rack hangs with designer pieces to snag for an impromptu shoot.
In fashion, as in life, shoes are one of the most important elements of any day. Three pairs of designer kicks are on prime display on an office table, including a pair of Charlotte Olympia sandals and Golden Goose white sneakers.
The walls around the office are covered in irreverent art. Here's a framed illustration of a New York Magazine feature, entitled 'NY Women Draw Their Own Boobs.'
2:30 p.m.: It's time for the weekly content meeting. The women swivel around in their chairs as Medine applies a hand lotion and stands up, ready to preside.
On the wall on the left, a content calendar for the month is outlined in whiteboard markers. They efficiently talk through each of the stories, mainly discussing visual elements they can add in.
Krista Anna Lewis, left, is in charge of most of the photos and visuals. Everyone is expected to contribute creative ideas at the content meeting, and the conversation is rapid-fire.
They try to come up with an eye-catching concept for every story. Much like a magazine, they must choose a unique layout for each of its printed features or photo shoots.
Elizabeth Tamkin is Man Repeller's managing editor, and she runs the team tightly, taking notes as the meeting progresses. They finish in under 30 minutes. 'So are we good?' Medine asks before sitting back down.
3:00 p.m.: Medine is distracted by a notification on her Apple Watch. 'It's not every afternoon you get a text from Emma Stone,' she says, surprised. Medine says her biggest challenge has been learning to become a good manager. But her passion for what she's created has kept her at it. 'I don't actually think anyone else is better qualified to do this job,' she says of her position.
Medine says that only 10-15% of her time is spent writing; the rest is devoted to managerial tasks and goal-setting. As with many startups in a growth phase, recruitment is a top priority. 'We need nannies,' she says, referencing a desire to find executive-level staff. She spends about two hours 'trolling on LinkedIn' daily.
4:00 p.m.: At the end of the quarter, Medine hopes to have a team of 15. That requires new office space, so she's off to check out a nearby spot. She's working with interior design startup Homepolish for decor.
Medine says that she's learned three important lessons in her time as an entrepreneur. The first: 'Get over yourself,' she says. Nobody cares about your problems, just the solutions you can provide.
5:30 p.m.: After looking at the potential new office space, Medine heads out to an evening appointment with up-and-coming fashion brand Tome. Below, a shot from their Spring 2016 runway show at New York Fashion Week.
Later in the evening: dinner is a Man-Repeller-hosted breakfast-for-dinner party at hip West Village coffee shop The Elk.
In attendance are designers like Kate Spade and Rosie Assoulin, as well as a slew of fashion, beauty, and design industry insiders.
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