First Black Editor-In-Chief For Conde Nast

Keija Minor recently made history when she became the first African-American editor-in-chief of a Conde Nast publication. She sits down with guest host Celeste Headlee to talk about her plans for Brides magazine and how she views her historic achievement.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Switching gears now, we want to talk about that magical day, the satin gown, gleaming gold rings, the perfect pair of shoes and - oh, yeah - love and commitment. That stuff, too. We're talking about weddings and, if poring over the perfect place setting, floral arrangements and the latest bridal trend is your kind of thing, our next guest is your kind of woman.

Keija Minor was recently named editor-in-chief of Brides magazine and along with the new job comes a new place in history as the first African-American to hold the title of editor-in-chief at a Conde Nast publication. She's here to talk with us about her new position and her plans for Brides magazine.

Welcome, and congratulations.

KEIJA MINOR: Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here.

HEADLEE: You were only at Brides for a year. You were executive editor and then promoted to editor-in-chief, so you must have made quite the splash. What really attracted you about this particular job?

MINOR: A few things. The magazine has such a history. It really is an iconic brand within the company and, just like you said, it's helping women find the right dress and celebrate this moment. It's a pretty happy place to work. It's a great place to work.

HEADLEE: So what kind of perspective do you think you can bring as editor-in-chief?

MINOR: My commitment is to really build on what we have, which is a great brand, but to continue to focus on giving service to our readers, helping them plan this day. There's a lot of details that have to be handled and color pallets to pick out and flowers to choose and that kind of thing and helping our brides plan their perfect day and also helping them enjoy the process is really key to me. So through gorgeous images, we just want to provide as much service and inspiration as we can for our readers.

HEADLEE: And they are gorgeous images. I mean, you can spend an afternoon poring over your magazine, looking at all the designer gowns, the rings, the shoes, the veils. And weddings can be very expensive, so how has the mission and the message of Brides magazine changed since the great recession?

MINOR: I think we are more committed than ever to providing accessible elegance for our readers. Everyone wants to have their best day and we want to help people achieve their goal and find their personal style and bring it to life in their wedding, but let's be realistic. Not everyone's going to spend a million dollars, so how do they do that? So the magazine is really - and the website - are dedicated to helping these people find the interesting touches and helping them personalize their own day.

HEADLEE: Can you have a stylish, glamorous wedding for, say, less than $5,000?

MINOR: I believe you can have a stylish wedding on any budget. I really do because what I've seen is that some people who don't spend a ton of money, but have found really creative ways to personalize their day or make the reception really special for them and for their friends and family have had wonderfully elegant weddings. And it's not about the cost. Elegance is not - does not have a price tag.

HEADLEE: If you're just joining us, I'm Celeste Headlee and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm talking to Keija Minor. She was recently named editor-in-chief of Brides magazine and is now the first African-American to lead a Conde Nast magazine in that company's more than a century of publishing and that is a long time, more than 100 years. So what took so long, do you think?

MINOR: I don't know that I can really answer that. I do know that Conde Nast is known for its commitment to excellence and to really attracting and retaining the top talent, so I am excited for this opportunity to lead one of its brands. Why it's taken so long? I think you would have to ask other people that.

HEADLEE: And yet, do you think that now you're going to be looked to or seen as a role model among editors-in-chief? Are they going to look to you on how to do diversity right?

MINOR: Interesting. The expression, role model. Those are big words. You know, when I think of role models, I think of Michelle Obama. I think I aspire to be or want to be the best editor I possibly can be, and that's really my focus and if people then consider me a role model, that's, I think, for others to determine and probably to determine over time. The people who I look to who are really role models have decades in the business and really just shine. I don't - those are big words.

HEADLEE: They are. I mean, certainly, Michelle Obama is, at the very least, a style role model, I would imagine, for a lot of women. But, for you, was there a role model in publishing? Was there somebody that sort of inspired you?

MINOR: There are several people in publishing and outside of publishing who have inspired me. Jill Bright, who is a chief executive at our office, is someone who I look to who I think has set an example of strong women in top executive roles. There are people - there's Amy Barnett at Ebony - has certainly had a remarkable career. There are people across the world. I mean, Anna Wintour. I don't think anyone would question what an icon she is in the publishing industry. There are a lot of great people out there.

HEADLEE: And Wintour at Vogue also would not question her own status. She would agree she's an icon. Yeah.

MINOR: Yeah. I think that's fair. I don't think that's debatable at this point.

HEADLEE: Yeah, absolutely. But, you know, let me ask you something. About 40 percent or so of your readers are African-American or self-identify as Latino. Is that pretty accurate?

MINOR: Yes.

HEADLEE: Do you - how far does the magazine industry need to go in order to kind of accurately reflect America as it is? I mean, I'm not talking about separating it out and doing an African-American magazine, something that's aimed at that audience, like Essence or something else, but the entire magazine publishing industry.

MINOR: I think, for every editor, they need to decide how to best reach their readers. For me, I think it's important to provide images that speak to all of our readers and also to provide images that speak to the celebration and joy that all of our readers are feeling at this moment when they're planning their wedding and so how each editor interprets or decides the best way to reach their readers, that's up to them. I think we all come to this with our own personal experiences and curate content through our own lens and how much diversity plays into that probably depends on the editor.

HEADLEE: And, in your case, that's you, Keija Minor, recently named editor-in-chief of Brides, which is a Conde Nast magazine. She joined me today from our New York bureau. Congratulations again. Good luck with the new job and thanks so much.

MINOR: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HEADLEE: Coming up, many young teachers struggle to stay excited about their profession and, according to teacher and author Roxanna Elden, staying motivated is easier said than done.

ROXANNA ELDEN: Especially for someone who is dealing with a constant stream of judgment calls they've never had to make before.

HEADLEE: A lesson in teaching and she'll tell us about her book, as well, "See Me After Class." That's coming up on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HEADLEE: Stacy London is a style maven who offers advice on how to go from frumpy to fabulous, but she says her own self-confidence is a work in progress.

STACY LONDON: I had low self-esteem and I really looked to an industry to kind of make me feel like I was super cool and an insider.

HEADLEE: TV star Stacy London dishes on her new book, "The Truth About Style," next time on TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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