Reader Questions for Gina Pell + Amy Parker
Here I am with Amy Parker, my Friend of the Week this week and every week for the past fifteen years. This photo was taken at of our first 2-person company holiday party celebrating the first seven issues of theWhat. We spend most of our days dreaming up unrealistic s#!t and figuring out ways to wow you with things you’ll actually love, use, and share. Since we started theWhat, we’ve received quite a few questions from readers and friends so we thought we’d take a moment to answer them here. If you have any other burning questions (like ‘who makes Amy’s dress?’ or ‘is Gina wearing Tom Ford eyeglasses (yes)’, please email us at what [at] thewhatlist [dot] com.
1. What makes you two the authority on what’s good? Amy and I spent over a decade researching and evangelizing our discoveries during our days at Splendora (1999-2011) so at this point it’s a reflex. We are both natural curators and enthusiasts who take pleasure in exploring the world around us. While we vet everything on theWhat List together, I tend to gravitate towards art, culture, and literature while Amy unearths the best in food, health, beauty, and lifestyle. In the past when we’ve surveyed our audience, the data showed a high percentage of reader trust and purchase behavior based on our picks. But for us it’s not about authority … it’s about sharing things we love.
2. How do you decide what makes the list? Our process involves combing through dozens of websites, magazines, trade pubs, product shows, and other source material. We also go on weekly boutique and restaurant crawls to stay current on what’s out there. Some of our best tips come from savvy friends and fellow editors–which we then test drive ourselves for quality assurance. As we approach our third month of publishing, we’re also starting to receive great tips from readers. The real challenge is in the editing. We spend more time editing down theWhat List than we do trying to build it.
2. Who are the Featured Friends? Every person we feature is someone we know personally–someone we admire and who exhibits grit, wit, talent, drive, sparkle, passion, and compassion. We were tired of reading celebrity-driven stories and thought it would be a breath of fresh air to feature real, everyday people who march to the beat of their own drum and who are fun to hang out with.
3. What is your plan for theWhat? Our plan is no plan. We are just two friends who wanted to work together again. And while our first company was a multi-pronged publishing entity, this time around we want to produce one simple thing: an email newsletter of What’s worth your time and money–whether it’s a good bottle of wine, a great book, a cool gadget, or a good laugh. No desire to scale this thing. No exit strategy. No investors.
4. How will you make money? When we launched theWhat we were adamant that we would focus on creating strong content and not accept any sponsors until 2016. But in January, we will interview companies that align with our brand philosophy–the same philosophy we use to choose our Friend of the Week. Once we identify the right companies we’ll craft sponsorship opportunities that will hopefully feel collaborative to your reader experience–not disruptive or annoying. Another way we make money is through affiliate revenue. Only after we find something great, we will check if there’s an affiliate program attached, but never the other way around.
5. How do I submit my stuff for editorial review? To keep our editorial desk tidy we like to be contacted via email with a description, photo, and link to your product(s). If we think it might be a fit we’ll ask for a sample. Emails should be sent to what[at]thewhatlist[dot]com.
6. What do you guys believe in? We still believe what we believed back in 1999: make something good for yourself and others will want some too.