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Marie Claire Spain: Speaking The Language Of Women Internationally With Humor, Style & Class – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-In-Chief, Maria Pardo de Santayana

November 13, 2015

From Spain with love…

“I think the printed magazine’s mission is to curate all of these things that might be of the reader’s interest and put it into the perfect format that you don’t need to plug in and charge; in fact, you don’t need to do anything with it except enjoy it. You can take it with you everywhere and you can keep it forever. It’s a good photography of the time that it shows. If you see the magazine in 20 years’ time and you pick it up and read it; you’ll find that it’s a perfect history book because you can see the time represented in its pages vividly.” Maria Pardo de Santayana

MC2-2 Marie Claire is a unique fashion magazine. Mr. Magazine™ likes to call it “the fashion magazine with a conscience,” because of the high bar it sets for a rigorous standard for journalism. It is a fashion and beauty magazine, of that there’s no doubt, but it doesn’t shy away from the important issues that matter to women in the 21st century.

And Marie Claire Spain is the perfect international extension of the brand by offering its readers ideas for improving both their life and their personal image, by providing the latest trends, with a sense of humor and from an avant-garde but also close point of view.

Maria Pardo de Santayana is the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire Spain and has a passion for the brand that is palpable. Maria comes from an extensive magazine background, having worked at GQ for many years and also Hachette Spanish Press. She has a journalism degree in Information Sciences and a broad range of knowledge when it comes to what it takes to be at the helm of a magazine like Marie Claire Spain.

I spoke with Maria recently and we talked about her penchant for humor when it comes to most situations, whether good or bad. Her spirit of joy and laughter and her take on life in general was contagious as it spilled over into our conversation and made the interview wonderfully light-hearted and filled with confidence for her brand’s future.

Maria is a woman who has seen disappointment, but talks it all with a grain of salt as she keeps the optimism flowing and never forgets her passion and love for magazines.

So, I hope you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ conversation with a lady who can make you laugh and make you admire the many facets of life in the magazine realm.

But first, the sound-bites:


FullSizeRender On the day in the life of an international magazine editor:
It depends very much on the time of the year. A normal day within the office starts with our first meeting with the team to look at the job that needs to be done for that day. And then the rest of the day moves on between meetings, readings, approvals and more meetings…(Laughs), more readings, and then giving birth to new ideas for the magazine.

On whether digital has made her life as an editor easier or harder:
Digital has made life 24/7; now you can’t close the office ever. And there are no Saturdays and Sundays. Of course, in some ways it’s made life easier too because technology is always helpful, but it also requires more dedication.

On how she balances the international theme of the magazine with the Spanish content:
Marie Claire is a brand that really takes care of its uniqueness and its DNA. More than that, because of Marie Claire’s long history in Spain, more than 20 years, it’s very well-established and it has managed to create its own uniqueness. In terms of the balance, it’s quite simple because the French and the Spanish women are quite similar; they’re both European and western; they share, more or less, the same difficulties and the same struggles and ambitions. So, it’s much easier, I believe, for our European Marie Claire to become nearer to the core of Marie Claire than maybe one from Asia, America, South Africa or Australia. For us, it’s much easier because we are really near the French culture.

On whether her entire team is tuned into the DNA of Marie Claire Spain:
One good point that I have with my team is that I have people from the founding of Marie Claire Spain, so they are still working here and they’re really able to teach me about the DNA of Marie Claire because these people have been working here for over 20 years, so they know a lot about Marie Claire.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning: The thing that I like most is magazines. It’s always been like that with me since I was 14 years old. When you have the opportunity and the chance to work in something that you like so much; you don’t feel like it’s a job. It’s more like your hobby or something that you love to do, so there are not enough hours in the day for you to enjoy it. And that’s one of the things that motivate me. My father wanted me to be an engineer because I have a mathematical brain. I was a very good student; all A’s or A+’s. But I really liked magazines and that’s why I’m dedicated to them.

On any stumbling blocks she’s had to face:
I started as a journalist and I liked it very much and I believe that I have good managerial skills. I was moved and promoted to the management side. I was an Internet Director for five years for a large retail company and then I moved into an executive position and it was fun. I received good information from the MBA and I learned a lot, but I wasn’t happy. Of course, I was well-paid, but I just wasn’t happy. For me it’s very important to be happy and have fun where I work. So, I had to come back to the magazine business, but when I left I was just a normal editor, but I was a director at the time so I wanted to try to find a way to come back in a higher position. It took quite a lot.

On whether some of the covers of the spinoff specials that Marie Claire is publishing are a reflection of her own personality, such as “Shoes First”:
Yes, they are. I believe that life without humor is useless. You have to laugh at yourself and at all of the bad situations that might come up. It’s not like being superficial, but it’s taking life with optimism. And that’s what we want to reflect. As I take my life with a lot of humor; I find that it is very important to life itself and to the magazine. And trying to make a 100-page supplement about shoes could bore someone to death, going from shoe-to-shoe-to-shoe. So, if you don’t put humor into that subject, it will be dull and boring.

On whether she believes in the future of print in this digital age:
Yes, absolutely I do, because I think that printed magazines work as the perfect curator for all of these platforms, the visual and audio impacts of digital; all of these things coming up to you in notifications, the nonsense and the important things. This generation has access to more information than ever, but less analyzed. So you see a lot of things, but there is so much that you don’t even have the time to take in what you’re seeing.

On what keeps her up at night:
Marie Claire. (Laughs) You know what, the thing is I was telling someone, when I go on holiday I can’t sleep the night through, but then when I start working again; your mind needs several hours of sleep and then it turns on. My head is full of Marie Claire in every way, Marie Claire ideas; Marie Claire people; Marie Claire stories, and so my mind is just awake all of the time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Maria Pardo de Santayana, Editor-In-Chief, Marie Claire Spain.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the day in the life of an international magazine editor, such as Marie Claire, in Spain?

IMG_9069 Maria Pardo de Santayana: It depends very much on the time of the year. A normal day within the office starts with our first meeting with the team to look at the job that needs to be done for that day. And then the rest of the day moves on between meetings, readings, approvals and more meetings…(Laughs), more readings, and then giving birth to new ideas for the magazine.

When it comes to the first of the season, things change a little bit because we have to meet much more in terms of fashion to try and plan the whole season. And then we do that again for beauty and another for the covers. And then we have all of these spinoffs and supplements that we try to create.

So, it’s always a lot of work, but then again when we are at the shows, all of my days off are there and I have to do everything by mobile.

Samir Husni: It’s my understanding that the job of editors worldwide have dramatically changed since the dawn of the digital age. You’re no longer just editing a printed magazine, but you have so many other outlets that you have to care about. If you compared your life at GQ when you were there, and your life today at Marie Claire; did digital make life easier on you?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: Not at all. It’s become more troubling. When I was at GQ I was the deputy editor, I wasn’t the editor-in-chief, so I had a bit of an easier time, because I didn’t have the responsibility or the stress that comes with the editor-in-chief position. And also because the men’s market in Spain is much smaller than the women’s, so it’s a bit more relaxed work.

In terms of digital, the peculiar side of my job position at Marie Claire is that I don’t really take care of the website because it has an independent team. And they work it separately. So, for me it was more complicated at GQ because I did take care of more of the digital side, with GQ.com, but not here.

Digital has made life 24/7; now you can’t close the office ever. And there are no Saturdays and Sundays. Of course, in some ways it’s made life easier too because technology is always helpful, but it also requires more dedication.

Samir Husni: With Marie Claire specifically; with this magazine I always like to refer to as “fashion with a conscience,” as I flip through the pages of the magazine, there are a lot of similarities with all of the other Marie Claire international editions and there are also unique facets to the magazine. How do you balance that mix between international and Spanish?

MC1-1 Maria Pardo de Santayana: The Marie Claire DNA is quite clear for all of the international editions and they work very hard to make this real and happening. For instance, in June we’re all meeting in Paris, Marie Claire International, and we’ll have a two or three-day summit where we’ll discuss everything through the eyes of Marie Claire as a whole.

Marie Claire is a brand that really takes care of its uniqueness and its DNA. More than that, because of Marie Claire’s long history in Spain, more than 20 years, it’s very well-established and it has managed to create its own uniqueness.

In terms of the balance, it’s quite simple because the French and the Spanish women are quite similar; they’re both European and western; they share, more or less, the same difficulties and the same struggles and ambitions. So, it’s much easier, I believe, for our European Marie Claire to become nearer to the core of Marie Claire than maybe one from Asia, America, South Africa or Australia. For us, it’s much easier because we are really near the French culture.

Samir Husni: As you sit with your team and try to establish that issue in/issue out; I take it all of your team is Spanish?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: The fashion director is half American, but apart from that, yes, we are all Spanish.

Samir Husni: So, everyone is tuned into the DNA of Marie Claire or do you have any difficulties with that?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: One good point that I have with my team is that I have people from the founding of Marie Claire Spain, so they are still working here and they’re really able to teach me about the DNA of Marie Claire because these people have been working here for over 20 years, so they know a lot about Marie Claire.

And we’re a very small team, there are only 10 of us, it’s very easy to make the magazine work from one way to another. Also, it’s quite an international team because our deputy editor, she was raised in France, and also I had an international education. The syndication manager is also German, French and Spanish. So, it’s quite an international team.

But more important than that, on the core of the team we have people who have been working for Marie Claire since its beginning in Spain.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and say it’s going to be a great day?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: The thing that I like most is magazines. It’s always been like that with me since I was 14 years old. When you have the opportunity and the chance to work in something that you like so much; you don’t feel like it’s a job. It’s more like your hobby or something that you love to do, so there are not enough hours in the day for you to enjoy it. And that’s one of the things that motivate me. My father wanted me to be an engineer because I have a mathematical brain. I was a very good student; all A’s or A+’s. But I really liked magazines and that’s why I’m dedicated to them.

When I first told my father that I was going to be a journalist, he was like: Really? I was hoping that you’d be an engineer. And I told him that wasn’t going to happen because I really loved magazines.

I think that there has to be good people everywhere and if you’re doing what you love, good people help you do it better. I’m very lucky because this is my dream job.

Samir Husni: Has it been all smooth sailing for you or have you had to deal with a stumbling block or two along the way?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: I started as a journalist and I liked it very much and I believe that I have good managerial skills. I was moved and promoted to the management side. I was an Internet Director for five years for a large retail company and then I moved into an executive position and it was fun. I received good information from the MBA and I learned a lot, but I wasn’t happy. Of course, I was well-paid, but I just wasn’t happy.

For me it’s very important to be happy and have fun where I work. So, I had to come back to the magazine business, but when I left I was just a normal editor, but I was a director at the time so I wanted to try to find a way to come back in a higher position. It took quite a lot. I had several opportunities but they didn’t crystallize into anything because some of the offers I didn’t like enough to leave my then current position, and some of the others just didn’t happen.

After 5½ years of being out of the editorial business, and in the internet business for a big retail company, I managed to get back into magazines. Life isn’t always an easy path, but I always take it with a lot of optimism and I really enjoy my life. And even the bad times for me are a way of learning. When I see the glass it’s always half-full instead of half-empty.

MC3-3 Samir Husni: Looking at the covers of your spinoffs, especially with the “Shoes First,” are the covers a reflection of the fun, passionate Maria?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: Yes, they are. I believe that life without humor is useless. You have to laugh at yourself and at all of the bad situations that might come up. It’s not like being superficial, but it’s taking life with optimism. And that’s what we want to reflect.

As my CEO always tells me, we are absolutely disposable; you have to make people happy. There is no reason they should buy us, except for having fun and providing them with joy and something inspirational.

As I take my life with a lot of humor; I find that it is very important to life itself and to the magazine. And trying to make a 100-page supplement about shoes could bore someone to death, going from shoe-to-shoe-to-shoe. So, if you don’t put humor into that subject, it will be dull and boring. I always try to put some humor into everything that I do.

Samir Husni: Why do you think in this digital age that we live in, amidst all of these social media giants that we actually compete with, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter; why do you think there’s still a reason for a printed magazine? Do you believe in the future of print?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: Yes, absolutely I do, because I think that printed magazines work as the perfect curator for all of these platforms, the visual and audio impacts of digital; all of these things coming up to you in notifications, the nonsense and the important things. This generation has access to more information than ever, but less analyzed. So you see a lot of things, but there is so much that you don’t even have the time to take in what you’re seeing.

I think the printed magazine’s mission is to curate all of these things that might be of the reader’s interest and put it into the perfect format that you don’t need to plug in and charge; in fact, you don’t need to do anything with it except enjoy it. You can take it with you everywhere and you can keep it forever. It’s a good photography of the time that it shows. If you see the magazine in 20 years’ time and you pick it up and read it; you’ll find that it’s a perfect history book because you can see the time represented in its pages vividly.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Maria Pardo de Santayana: Marie Claire. (Laughs) You know what, the thing is I was telling someone, when I go on holiday I can’t sleep the night through, but then when I start working again; your mind needs several hours of sleep and then it turns on. My head is full of Marie Claire in every way, Marie Claire ideas; Marie Claire people; Marie Claire stories, and so my mind is just awake all of the time. By the time I lay down to go to sleep, I might get a few hours and then it’s right back on. It’s all about Marie Claire now. I’m a little bit obsessed. (Laughs again)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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