OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Honor Riley - The stylish publisher will help Bare stand out in the crowd

Conscious that she’s gambling with her chairman’s money, Honor Riley confides that the pressure of launching Bare is turning her into an insomniac.

Conscious that she’s gambling with her chairman’s money, Honor

Riley confides that the pressure of launching Bare is turning her into

an insomniac.

’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

women’s magazines.

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.’