Sunday, March 8, 2009

Andrew Ritchie: Martha Moments Creator

On March 9th, 2006, I sat down and created a blog. I called it Martha Moments. Using Blogger, I created a very rudimentary, simple-looking blog in garish shades of lime green and based it on all the good things (and great things) Martha Stewart represented to me at the time. Fresh from my stint as a writer for, I felt the urge to continue examining and studying the Martha Stewart brand on my own terms. Three years later, the blog is still going strong with readers from all over the world. Below is an interview with myself (Diane Sawyer wasn't available) that helps shed some light on the genesis of Martha Moments. Enjoy, and thank you all so much for reading!

Why did you start Martha Moments?

I had been working with as a writer and editor, from the time news hit about the investigation into Martha Stewart’s affairs with ImClone right through her trial and time in jail. It was about a three-year run with John Small, the founder of the site, and we did all sorts of research together, via email, about the case and about all the books that were coming out about her. Through that time I had accumulated so much information on Martha and I had years and years worth of her magazines on hand, so I just decided to do something with the interest and the information I had. Martha was free, she was back to work, so I wanted to continue “Martha watching” but with a fresh perspective, one that was not tied to ‘saving’ her from anything, something more optimistic and celebratory of what she is all about. I couldn't find anything like it on the Web, so I started it up myself.

What is a Martha Moment, exactly?

The first time I heard that term was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Chef Mario Batali was the guest and he had asked Oprah to brush some melted butter onto a pastry or something. Oprah exclaimed, “I’m having a Martha moment!” And then, of course, I realized that it had become something of a catchphrase among homemakers; when you did something perfectly or felt an urge to embark on some sort of crafty project you would say you were having a Martha moment. So, I adapted it and gave it a different connotation. Each item I post on the blog I create a Martha moment – for myself and those reading what I write. It’s a moment in Martha’s world, a glimpse - good or bad – into her life and the larger sphere of living she has fostered in others. It could also be a moment in my life, too, that is somehow Martha-esque in theme or style. I like sharing my own Martha moments sometimes.

Why a blog?

I think blogs are so easy to set up and design. Anyone can do it. I like that it’s an “everyday” tool. I have no HTML skills and hosts like Blogger really make it easy for me to be creative on my own but still maintain an orderly looking format that’s attractive and easy to navigate. I love the simplicity but I can still be creative with some of my design skills, by using imagery and different fonts. Photoshop is such a blessing to me! I like that I can update the blog from anywhere at any time without having to remember complex coding just to put something up. I also like the immediacy of blogs. They’re inherrently newsy and interactive.

Yours truly: Martha Moments creator Andrew Ritchie with Martha Stewart on the set of her TV show in New York City. Andrew appeared on the show on January 14th, 2010, to do a craft segment with Martha for a show about blogs. Andrew is a writer, journalist, designer and a housewares specialist at Anthropologie in Toronto. Andrew was also a contributing researcher and source for the book "Martha: On Trail, In Jail and on a Comeback" by writer Robert Slater.

Do you think your blog has been successful?

I think so. I didn’t have a counter on the blog until this past summer after a friend suggested I use Sitemeter. Traffic can be as low as 50 hits a day to as high as 5,000 on a busy day. It all depends on what’s going on in the news or who is directing traffic to my site. I’ve had a few relatively high-volume websites and blogs mention Martha Moments or directing traffic my way with a link to one of my posts. Also, being on Martha's show and knowing that she reads the blog, along with numerous members of her staff, is a big boost to me. It was such a pleasure to meet her and to discuss the blog with her.

What’s also exciting to me is seeing where the visitors come from: Sweden, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, Israel, England, Iceland, France, Germany, lots of places I’d never expect. And of course all over the United States and Canada. More than traffic, though, I feel I’ve been successful in fulfilling my mandate, which is to provide Martha Stewart news and resources with some original posts on lifestyle topics – sharing my own Martha moments is important to me. And the best part is meeting new people. I have a steady following of regular readers, which feels great. It means I’m doing something right! Happily, 98% of all the feedback I’ve had has been positive. The people who leave comments are really wonderful and intelligent. I thank them so much for their support and interest. I consider many of them my friends now.

My Martha Moments journal (where I keep all my ideas for the blog) is a Martha By Mail item given to me by my friend Kenn. It is brown leather with "good things" inscribed on the cover in silver. It's a beautiful journal and I treasure it.

What does Martha think of the blog?

She loves the blog. When I met her she told me she thought it was beautiful and considered me to be very well informed about her life, her brand and her company. It was great! Editors and producers from her company also keep in touch with me, so it's been a tremendous pleasure getting to know these people.

What’s next for Martha Moments?

I really don’t know. I try not to think too far ahead. I take it as it comes. A dream is to be the official Martha Stewart Living blogger, on staff at Omnimedia, writing all day about all the various projects and articles the magazine is working on, doing features on the great people who work there, being an online analyst of all the media the company is putting out and acting as a liaison between the consumers and the company, communicating directly with people both within and outside the company to develop an onging, open dialogue about the brand. I know that’s not entirely likely but I like thinking big! (Don't forget to visit my personal blog - called simply "Andrew's Blog" - by clicking here!)
Some of my extensive collection of Martha Stewart books, magazines and catalogs, which are "evergreen" sources of inspiration in all areas of my life.

I keep several folders of Martha Stewart clippings from magazines, correspondence letters from MSLO, advertising, labels and brochures.

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