Conscious that she’s gambling with her chairman’s money, Honor
Riley confides that the pressure of launching Bare is turning her into
’I’ve had more sleepless nights with Bare than I had with my baby,’ says
Riley. ’It’s a rollercoaster. Deadlines are looming and things change
from one day to the next. But it’s very exciting.’
After 13 years in sales at Conde Nast, Riley has certainly taken on a
challenge in her first role as a publisher. For John Brown Publishing,
Bare represents a first entry into the hugely competitive world of
New entrants from such media giants as the BBC, Time and Conde Nast are
lining up on the runway for imminent take off, and many question whether
Bare can survive in the melee.
Unsurprisingly, Riley is confident it can. ’We’ve identified a niche and
Bare is going to be genuinely different. If you have a great product, it
will stand out from the crowd.’
She adds: ’We’re also launching in a typical John Brown way, which is
not boom or bust.’
But with an initial target sale of only 65,000 and costly, high-quality
production values, one wonders how Bare can pay its way.
Though she admits her magazine will never be a 200,000 title, Riley
expects sales will grow over time. She also hopes to operate a premium
yield policy from advertisers wishing to reach Bare’s intelligent,
upmarket target readership.
’The response has been very good. We’re getting exactly the kind of
advertisers we want,’ she says confidently.
A big plus for Bare is chairman John Brown’s shrewdness in snapping up
experts from the women’s style market. The style guru and former Elle
Decoration editor Ilse Crawford has been lured from New York to edit
Riley’s 13 years at Conde Nast include spells on World of Interiors,
Tatler, Vanity Fair and, finally, House & Garden, where she was
advertisement director. To complete her sales team, Riley has made
several raids on her former employer.
She left Vogue House to have a baby, Ned, who is now two-and-a-half
years old. After dabbling in PR and launching a shoe shop, Riley caught
the media bug again and knew she had to get back into magazines.
A friend suggested she contact Brown, who had an idea for a new title,
and Riley persuaded him to make her publisher.
Riley admits she has gone through a steep learning curve and has felt
the added pressures that come with the publisher’s role.
’As a publisher you are responsible for many more people and a lot more
money,’ she says. ’At Conde Nast I had exposure to operations other than
sales and I picked up a lot by osmosis.’
Working long hours, Riley also has to find time to care for Ned, a task
which she shares with her ’very understanding and supportive’ husband
Teddy, who works in IT in the City.
Weekends are divided between the London home in Notting Hill, which she
has just redesigned, and their farm in Gloucestershire, where Teddy
indulges in a spot of arable farming.
Riley has a passion for shopping for vintage clothes on Portobello
News of her eclectic wardrobe reached the Evening Standard, which
recently published a feature on it.
’My wardrobe contains everything from Prada and Comme des Garcons to
pink wigs and Japanese coats,’ she laughs.
If she ever tires of women’s magazines, Riley thinks a more restful
career as a florist might have appeal. ’I did the flowers for my
sister’s wedding and it was incredibly therapeutic. After eight hours, I
was in a trance-like state.’