The Evolution of Mean Magazine Editor Kristen Philipkoski
“If you would have told me in my 20s that I’d wear something that matched my kid’s, I would have rolled my eyes pretty hard,” said Mean Magazine editor Kristen Philipkoski. “But I’ve done it at least twice now and rather enjoyed it. Never say never, I guess.”
Philipkoski has bounced around the fashion and editorial scene for years. She’s been a science writer for Wired, she continues to write about the intersection of business and fashion for Forbes, and she’s enjoyed stints as a writer and editor for numerous other publications. Over the last decade-plus, she’s also dabbled in fashion blogging, including her California-boho style blog, Stylenik. Philipkoski—or “KP” as she’s often called—is the queen of making retro feel modern.
Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see that Philipkoski’s look has remained consistent for years: she loves caftans, bright colors, and jumpsuits. But she said that the specifics of her style began evolving when she began fostering her daughter, who she later adopted in 2013. (Today, she also has an 18-year-old son.)
“I rarely wear heels anymore, and comfort is much more important than it was before. Having to chase around a 6-year-old and keep up with an 18-year-old, the way I dress has had to adapt,” she said. “I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately. The things I wear to the grocery store sometimes are alarming. So while I don't want to spend too much time getting ready to go run errands, I'm also making a bit more of an effort to retain my sense of style since it is something that brings me joy. I also get some pretty honest feedback from my kids when I leave the house looking like a person who has given up on life.”
The questionable grocery run outfits she jokes about aren’t the result of apathy; on top of her usual work and raising two kids, KP added Mean Magazine to her list of responsibilities this year. Mean (as in the average of a sum of numbers, not cruel), is her online lifestyle publication and podcast for women of all ages. Covering everything from ageless fashion to menopause to cannabis, Philipkoski wants Mean to be an online meeting place that bridges generational divides.
“Over the years I considered creating an editorial site for women over 40, or something similar, but I hesitated to exclude younger readers because I’ve always had so many younger friends with whom I have so much in common,” she said. Then I read Gina Pell’s article about Perennials, and I realized that was my audience—women any age who are ambitious, curious, progressive, creative.”
Maintaining her sanity, running a publication, and running after her daughter, Frida, is a challenge for Philipkoski. “It never works when I'm trying to divide my focus between work and the kids—for example, trying to post something on Instagram while also pretending to pay attention to Frida's latest impromptu dance performance. It has to be one or the other or someone—often both of us—loses it. I wish I could say I've figured that out after 6 years but it's still a struggle,” she admits.
Launching a new magazine as a 50-year-old mother of two with an already-full plate may be difficult, but Philipkoski hopes that it teaches Frida that becoming a creative entrepreneur is possible, even if it’s tough.
Though she’s terrified of the day her daughter decides to follow in her digital footsteps, but Philipkoski is already considering the advice she’ll offer when it happens.
“I’ll tell her posts can live forever on the internet, so consider how a potential college admissions administrator or employer would interpret each and every piece of content you put out into the world. I’ll also tell her it’s harder than she might think to make money blogging. If our 18-year-old is any example, she will totally ignore me.”