I'm Not Martha Stewart. Neither Are You.

Seeking Authentic Brands: Moving Beyond Picture Perfect

When Martha started her empire, she was a plucky housewife on a mission to build a profitable business. She was scrappy. She bootstrapped. She bulldozed. She didn’t take no for an answer. And her business grew. People flocked to her picture-perfect lifestyle spread, the portrait of a perfect home. The spreads of her magazine paint a picture of a life free of stains, full of effortless perfection. She drew people in and she prescribed elaborate decorating techniques to make one’s home and life better.

Martha Stewart built an empire – unfit for the new generation. I am not Martha – and neither are you.


In the face of real life – rotating your carpets annually, spending all day baking elaborate cakes, or hand making all your wedding favors can be overwhelming if not completely detrimental to your relationships. Yet – people have been drawn to her lifestyle brand for a reason. As people we are attracted to beauty, to things that inspire us to be better, to the idea that we too can have a beautiful home filled with lovely things and perfectly clean, happy children all the time. These are not unfair aspirations, but the prescription is wrong.

This is just one of the reasons I started deliberateLIFE – a lifestyle brand that aims to make it easier to “live well and do good” without presenting an unattainable reality. By publishing a magazine not based on a picture-perfect ideal, but rather focused on actual choices people face daily, we hope to be your companion on a journey to living a life well lived.

My generation (full disclosure – I was born in the early 80’s) wants and expects more – from our community, employers, government, and from the businesses that we support through our purchases.  We believe choices matter. 

To survive in the marketplace of tomorrow, businesses, particularly founder-centric lifestyle brands must be authentic, ethical, and realistic. In the same way manufacturers are no longer free to hide their factories and human resource choices from the end user. Consumers increasingly want to participate in a world where people, including people who run companies, share their values. We want to be invited behind the curtain.

In conjunction with the increased demand for transparency and engagement, consumers are also willing to put forward empathy and understanding in a new way. We know people are not perfect, for we are not perfect. We recognize the complexities of global markets but seek to navigate them the best that we can. For example, this is why programs like Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles, which allow consumers to track the manufacturing and environmental footprint of their clothes, are so powerful. The company is not saying they are perfect, but they are demonstrating a willingness to try.  Just like you and me.

So, instead of creating brands around an ideal world that does not exist, we should aim to create companies for real people, with real lives. People, who are busy, have bills to pay, relationships to maintain, and children who throw cheerios on that carpet Martha wants us to rotate.  Let us encourage people to be deliberate rather than perfect, because in imperfection, life is beautiful.