MILLIE’S NEW FACE
Byline: Janet Ozzard
NEW YORK — Mandi Norwood is barely three weeks into her new job as editor of Mademoiselle, but she’s acclimated fairly quickly to her new office. Not that that’s surprising: Norwood, 36, has spent her entire professional career at monthly magazines, so a hectic pace is no shocker.
“I’ve met everybody, but we’re still very much in a ‘getting to know you’ phase,” said Norwood, who had been at British Cosmopolitan for five years before being tapped last year to succeed Elizabeth Crow at the head of the Conde Nast title. “I can say that I’ve been bowled over by how passionate and loyal people are. Normally when you come into a new magazine there is a lot of cynicism and raised eyebrows, but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.”
But while Norwood has moved in, she hasn’t really started on the day-to-day managing yet. The existing staff is finishing the June and July issues while Norwood and her new creative director Anna Starr put all their energies into the August issue, which will be their debut.
Norwood said it’s still too early to say whether her vision for Mademoiselle is radically different from her predecessor’s.
“I’ve had a lot of ideas buzzing around in my head for a while,” she said. The look, at least, is likely to change with Starr, who had been art director at Elle for 2 1/2 years.
“I’d admired her work, its clarity and modernity,” said Norwood. “Then, when we met, I was impressed by how in sync we were. The relationship between the editor in chief and the creative director is the most important one on the magazine. Anna and I spoke in similar terms. We really connected.”
Mademoiselle could use a bit of new juice. According to Media Industry Newsletter, last year the magazine’s ad pages declined 9.3 percent, and for the first four months of 2000, ad pages are down 10.2 percent. April alone took a 27.6 percent hit.
By contrast, competitor Marie Claire is up 17.4 percent in ad pages for the first four months of the year, with April up 46 percent.
Mademoiselle’s newsstand sales have stalled as well: For the second half of 1999, single copy sales declined 15 percent to 466,936, while total paid circulation was off 1.2 percent to 1,177,986, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
So another part of Norwood’s mission is to get Mademoiselle reacquainted with the reader, and later this year she will embark on a five-city tour in order to do just that.
But for the moment, and despite the new challenge, Norwood has refused to capitulate to at least one aspect of New York life — working weekends.
“My energy levels are huge, and when I’m here I give 100 percent,” she said. While Norwood said she’s “too busy to be homesick,” her husband and two children are “a bit shell-shocked, as you can imagine. Plus, my husband is incredibly good fun, so I do like spending time with him. We’ve been wandering the streets, getting to know the city.”
And she’s found Americans are a great source for ideas.
“One of my favorite things to do is sit in diners and look at the people and just listen in on conversations,” she said. “People are so open here, you can pick up the most fascinating things.”