Martha Stewart. She fascinates me.
I should probably start this post by mentioning that I am somewhat of a Martha-wannabe, because my admiration of her craft and cooking/baking talents knows no bounds. At home I am frequently accused of exhibiting the symptoms of F.E.D., aka Fall Explosion Disorder. As any home decorating enthusiast knows, fall is our time to shine, and thus my home is currently sagging under the weight of pumpkins (real, ceramic, wood, wire - you name it), leaf garlands/leaves/swags, pretty red berries, strings of lights (one of which is little pumpkins), black cat silhouettes, and other season-appropriate goodness. It doesn't end there either. I'm also in the planning stages of a fall baking extravaganza for our "carve and cocktails" party next weekend, which will feature pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkitinis, and anything else that may involve nutmeg, cinnamon or pumpkin.
But I got excited. Back to Martha. Before we talk about her let's take a quick look at her crafty prowess.
This exquisite (read: will take you five hours and have you tear your hair out when it just doesn't look the way it's supposed to) Halloween cake says "If you don't act like you're enjoying the heck of out eating this thing I'll scream."
Martha's glorious kingdom extends across best-selling books, a daily tv show, a satellite radio show, a magazine, a website, a home-wares range at Kmart and Macy's, craft supplies at Michael's and Walmart, furniture, floor coverings - even her own freaking line of entire HOMES. Yes, Martha designs homes. No wonder she's an insomniac.
While Martha does do genius stuff with acorns, pipecleaners and glitter, the weird thing is that she's actually just not that likable.
She's pretty darn awkward and seems to lack the ability to laugh at herself. Which is very important, when one owns four country estates in the New England area, one did a five month stint in jail for lying about a stock sale, and one pots plants while wearing Hermes from head to toe.
Her core audience is probably middle aged, middle class women - not other women who own four country estates and hold tea parties in their rare-variety peony gardens. We can't relate to her at all - she's not like Oprah, who we all know is richer than Donald Trump but still manages to act like she's on of us on occasion.
A version of Martha's monthly calendar is shared in the magazine and honestly, I can't recommend it enough for a laugh. It usually looks something like this -
July 5: Deadhead the spent hyancinths
July 7: Chow Chow's doggy yoga lesson
July 9: Refold antique table linens in cream tissue paper, not white
July 10: Remove burlap from box hedges
July 15: Lunch with Gloria Vanderbilt
How did Martha, so seemingly out of touch with the common folk, build her empire?
She's the perfect example of aspirational branding because, well, she's perfect. Her neat little world is perfect. Her closets are tidy and labeled, her cakes always rise, and her glue gun never scorches her hands. Deep down we know we'll never be like Martha, but her brand somehow manages to keep that little flicker of hope alive.
In organic pastry flour we trust.