Throughout December, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I will examine 25 of the most memorable and influential people, moments and milestones at Martha Stewart's company over the last quarter century: the Martha Moments that fans are especially grateful for. I hope you enjoy these reflections on twenty-five years of excellence!
DECEMBER 1: THE FIRST ISSUE
In the late 1980s, during an interview with House & Gardens magazine, Martha Stewart discussed how she wanted to start a magazine; she said she wanted to write about the subjects she enjoyed because she knew there were so many other women (and men) out there who wanted the same kind of information about how to care for a home, a garden, a family.
Using her high profile as a best-selling author (Entertaining, Gardening and Weddings) as well as her visibility through her new product line at Kmart and her PBS holiday specials, she was poised to take the magazine world by storm. And in 1990, that's exactly what she did! Martha Stewart Living magazine was the seed for Martha's eponymous company. It was the cornerstone of everything she later designed and created, from her television show to her mail-order catalog, from new product lines to more books.
It wasn't a home run, however. She was rejected by every major publisher in New York City, including Conde Nast and Murdoch publishing. It was on her third try at Time Warner that someone finally sat up and took notice. Time made a test issue for Martha, under her specifications, and mailed it out to a handful of longtime female subscribers of Time's other lifestyle publications. The response rate was over 70 percent, which was an astronomical rate! What's more, 100,000 subscription orders came back from direct response mailing and advertisers were clamouring to be a part of the first issue as well. Martha Stewart Living went on to become one of the leading publications of the 1990s, winning numerous awards for design, photography and content.
For Martha Stewart collectors, the first issue is a must-have. Copies of the first issue are becoming more and more rare but can still be found on eBay for a pretty penny: issues that are in good condition can cost anywhere between $70 to as high as $300, depending on the auction and the demand at the time.