Three years ago Jane magazine closed, and editor Brandon Holley was out of a job.
“I didn’t leave Jane, Jane left me,” Ms. Holley told The Observer on the phone this afternoon.
Ms. Holley decided that she didn’t want to take over another magazine. “I talked to a couple of other print titles and something in my belly said, ‘just don’t do it,'” she said.
Condé Nast editorial director Tom Wallace, who worked with Ms. Holley on Jane, got her an interview with Yahoo and, for the last three years, she has been running Shine, Yahoo’s site for women.
“We never lost touch with her,” Mr. Wallace told The Observer. Now Ms. Holley is returning to Condé Nast to take over Lucky magazine from founding editor Kim France. She is only the second editor to return to the company after leaving (Lucy Danzinger, who used to edit Women’s Sports and Fitness, returned to the company to edit Self).
“Brandon knows her way around Condé Nast,” Mr. Wallace said. “Brandon also knows, because of her Shine experience, as much as anybody knows about building a success on the web.”
Shine has been a success, and its traffic grew to more than 25 million unique visitors per month under Ms. Holley.
“I feel like I went to school for three years and now I can bring that back,” Ms. Holley said. She compared Yahoo to MIT. “You have all these crazy, brainy geeks.”
She said she is excited to bring her freshly minted web degree to Lucky.
“Lucky is an amazing magazine and perfect for what women are doing online,” she said. “If you look at what women are doing a lot, what they’re doing is looking at clothes and shopping and beauty.”
We suggested that Ms. Holley is the first editor-in-chief at Condé Nast with extensive web experience — a new breed. She agreed.
“Our hope here is that the combination of her experiences will make her ideal for helping, enriching and strengthening the Lucky brand across many platforms,” Mr. Wallace said.
Ms. Holley said that she is excited to help extend the Lucky brand on mobile platforms and grow more of a community on the magazine’s website.
“I’m lucky enough to have done magazines, and now I’ve launched a women’s online destination and all the parts that play in-between—applications and mobile,” she said. “Then again, I miss the fashion well. I miss talking to crazy photographers and crazy stylists.”
The Observer asked Ms. Holley if Condé Nast had changed since she left in 2007.
“Oh my gosh! It is so different,” Ms. Holley said. “I am just getting a taste. Bob Sauerberg is bringing together all the digital and print worlds in a great way.” Mr. Sauerberg was promoted to president of the company earlier this summer.
Ms. Holley said it isn’t difficult to come back to the company after what happened to Jane.
“Jane was a whole different enchilada. It was in a place of transition,” Ms. Holley said. “Lucky has got a strong business. It makes money. It doesn’t lose money.”
She said that Lucky has changed the world of magazines since it launched under Ms. France in 2000.
“One could only hope to do what Kim did,” Ms. Holley said.
Speaking of, what exactly happened to Ms. France here? Was she pushed out given the pressures to generate revenue for new platforms, especially for a brand like Lucky‘s that seems rich with opportunity for the web and other digital platforms? Did she leave on her own?
“I am exceptionally grateful to Conde Nast and Si Newhouse for what has been a tremendous opportunity, and something I will remember with only fondness,” she wrote in a statement this afternoon, sent by the Conde Nast spokeswoman Maurie Perl.
“Kim created a brand,” Mr. Wallace said. “There are very, very few people in our business who can say that.”
“In my view and I can tell you in S.I.’s view,” he added, “she’s a great editor and we owe her a lot.”
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