Nov 25, 2021
Martha Stewart headlined at T&C 2021 and gave attendees an up close and personal look at her empire, her passions, and her life.
In this episode, host Roland Frasier sits down with Martha and a long list of questions (something he’s famous for and Martha compliments him on). They talk about everything from CBD gummies to peacocks to Snoop crashing her daughter’s tea party and a whole bunch more.
Listen in for an entertaining conversation with one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of our time.
What do we need to make a good cocktail?
You shouldn’t skimp on the quality of the booze you buy, Martha says. Your bar should be elegant. If you’re going to drink, you might as well drink the really good stuff. Her liquor of choice is Casa Dragones tequila. She has a new wine coming out, but the details are hush hush. She’s pretty excited about the name. Stay tuned.
Tell us about some of the new things you’re doing now.
They just soft-launched Martha.com, where you can buy all of Martha’s products plus other people’s products that she’s curated. She has two words that help her choose the products: Need & Want. There are a lot of things that look great, but do you need it and want it? If you live by those two words, you won’t waste money. You’ll save money. You won’t clutter your home, and you’ll have good things.
What did you mean when you said “it’s a good idea to re-pot yourself every 10 years?”
I think change is good, Martha says. When you’re through changing, you’re through. Change often enough that you surprise people and keep them on their toes. Make sure you stay out there, not back here. Look to the future. It can get very boring doing the same thing over and over again. Branch out, try new things, look ahead, adapt and adopt.
What’s your favorite Snoop story?
Snoop called one day and asked Martha if he could come over. Her daughter and her friends and kids were over at the farm. Snoop said he was bringing three people, then showed up in his Mercedes bus with a group of eight. They were all sitting on the terrace of her farmhouse and Snoop asked, “what’s that building down there?” (It was Martha’s stable.) “I’m going to go down there and look for some grass,” he said. Every adult followed him.
Tell us about creating this category of entertaining that didn’t exist before.
I looked for the void, Martha says. At that time, she wanted a magazine that taught people how to run a home, go to work, take care of the kids, be a well-rounded woman, homemaker, business woman. She was making all these painstakingly handmade Christmas decorations and realized that a lot of women would love them for their homes but didn’t have the time to make them. “Let’s make it for them,” she said. That’s how the product line started.
What is Canopy?
Canopy is one of the largest cannabis companies in the world, and the founder told her, at the behest of Snoop, that she should be getting involved. She’s in the CBD world; Snoop is in the THC world. Her gummies are the #1 gummies in America right now, and she has new products coming out for the holidays. She tried hard to emulate the French confection that you get at the end of a dinner in a restaurant in France.
You’re on the board of AppHarvest. Tell us about that.
Martha says she’s very concerned about feeding the world. She wants everybody to have good food. She visited acres of greenhouses in Russia where everything is grown because the climate is so cold. AppHarvest is doing the same thing in Appalachia (Kentucky). It’s a very central location so that people can eat fresh tomatoes instead of shipping them from far away. It’s sustainable agriculture using a fraction of the water.
You were one of the first people to realize the value of owning your own media.
In 1997 she put together a deal to acquire all her media from Time Warner. “They shouldn’t have let a property like Martha Stewart Living go,” Martha says with a smile. They wrote on a piece of paper “45 million” and that’s what Martha paid. Nothing went well for them after she acquired her media from them. She tried to raise money, but venture money wasn’t as accessible to women back then. She went to one businessman who loved the deal and offered her 60/40 (60 for him, 40 for her). She said no thank you, walked out the door, and did it herself.
You were really early in the crowdsourcing idea. How are you using it now?
They started a wonderful program called American Made, looking for young entrepreneurs around the U.S. to celebrate. Lots of good things happen, Martha says, when you help other people build their businesses. Just a few photos in a magazine can change the life of a person and their business. She’s also starting a podcast featuring people they’ve worked with in the past who are doing great things.
What opportunities do you see now in the field of homemaking and entertaining?
So many. They’re working on an affordable wine and also have a curated collection of wine—Martha Stewart Wine Co. They’re opening a restaurant in Las Vegas in the spring. She just published her 99th book, Martha Stewart’s Fruit Desserts.
One of the things you’re known for is that you insist on not dumbing things down.
“I’m a teacher,” Martha says. “If my teachers dumbed things down, I’d be really upset. I want to teach the whole thing. You can always simplify things, find a better way to do things, but that’s not dumbing it down. Our content is evergreen, and we will continue to use that method or recipe or technique until we find a better one to replace it. That’s been my philosophy forever and will continue to be.”
What’s a typical day like for you these days?
She gets up early to take care of her animals. She has a lot that live both inside and outside her house. Lots of birds, cats, dogs, peacocks, and chickens. 147 hens, 37 roosters, 20 peacocks, 22 geese, all different nationalities. They all coexist very nicely. Guinea fowl, homing pigeons from all over the world. They moved a lot of the operations of her company to her farm during Covid. She keeps busy with lots of Zoom conferences, TV things. They never stopped working.