Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg’s new site, The Toast, launched today. Despite some first day problems (the site got hacked and is still a bit wonky), the ladyblogging seems to have started in earnest.
“This started with a text message, for those of you who haven’t heard our foundational story,” Ms. Cliffe and Ms. Ortberg posted today. “Nicole was perfectly happy at her old job, chugging along free of editorial responsibility and public heat, and then Mallory texted her and said: ‘Why don’t you quit and we can start our own site?’And Nicole said: ‘Ha ha ha ha ha ha :)'”The ex-Hairpinners (Ms. Cliffe was the book editor and Ms. Ortberg was a contributor) announced that they were leaving The Awl network women’s site to start their own in early May.
But what is The Toast? Well, it sounds a lot like The Hairpin.
“The Toast is the final song medley from ‘Pitch Perfect,’ complete with awkwardly integrated racial and social diversity and up-tempo beats and infusions of 1980s pop and the immortal genius of Ester Dean,” they wrote in a press release that went out on Friday. “The Toast is a long email chain about force-ranking the Mitford sisters. The Toast prefers free weights to circuit machines. The Toast doesn’t care how much you or Marilyn Monroe weigh. The Toast is happy, then dignified. It’s clever without being snarky, and fun as hell. The Toast is committed to paying freelance contributors.”
The site, which lists Ms. Cliffe as the chairwoman and CEO, Ms. Ortberg as the president and Nicholas Pavich as the publisher, is the first web property from Manderley, LLC., which was started specifically for the purpose of launching the site.
“Manderley’s corporate vision is to bring an authentic and positive voice to the world of for-profit ladyblogging. Manderley will be a new platform for exciting and creative new writers,” said the press release. “Aimed at, but not exclusively to, the 18-35 y/o female demographic, the company will offer advertisers traditional and native access to a more sophisticated and intellectual audience. With emphasis on production value combined with data, Manderley will help brands develop relevant content for an increasingly media-savvy demographic.”
We emailed Ms. Cliffe to ask if the name of the LLC was a reference to the estate in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.
“Manderley is most CERTAINLY a Rebecca reference. The first time Mallory and I met IRL, we watched Rebecca together and then did a horrible fake Joan Fontaine impersonation at each other for three days until we made ourselves retch,” Ms. Cliffe wrote.
Guess that’s what they mean by the access to a more sophisticated and intellectual audience.