Man Repeller’s founder Leandra Medine didn’t set out to build a media company. As she studied toward a journalism degree in college, she thought she’d end up writing for New York Magazine.
But in 2010, after recognizing a gap in fashion media, Medine started the blog Man Repeller to put a humorous spin on “serious fashion.” The idea was to discuss the trends that women love, and men hate.
There turned out to be a large audience with an appetite for her quirky fashion sense and humorous writing, which has helped to grow the blog into a 20-employee media business. Today, Man Repeller also includes fashion collaborations and its own eponymous shoe line.
“A lot of people think I’m point-blank an influencer who posts photos to Instagram,” said Medine, 27, about the biggest misconception of her job and Man Repeller. “But I’m a trained writer and I started this thing because I had an opinion that I thought was being underserved, not because I wanted social media fame. People think I try shoes on all day and post photos of myself, but that’s not the case at all.”
Here’s a recent day in her life, edited slightly.
6:44 a.m.: I have just woken up to 55 unread text messages in a group chat between two of my closest girlfriends, and one just said, “Deplorable.” Does this mean Donald Trump won?
6:46 a.m.: My husband returns from the gym. I ask him who won (I fell asleep the night before), and he says Donald Trump.
7:22 a.m.: I haven’t brushed my teeth, but I’m at my computer slack messaging with our editorial director, Leslie Price, about unscheduling all the content we had ready to go today. We’d developed a graphic for a printable time capsule that would immortalize where you were when Hillary won—we had two stunning essays by political writers based in DC slated to inaugurate her presidency and three photo stories, all of which had to be squashed. It was like putting a living person inside a cemetery plot.
8:20 a.m.: Just finished writing a letter to the community. Amelia Diamond, one of our senior writers, is working on copy for two other stories we will run in tandem, and Leslie is maniacally reaching out to our freelancers about getting stories in to compensate for the gaps.
9:01 a.m.: I get dressed (straight-leg jeans, backless flats from my own collection called MR and a black sweater) and head out for breakfast at Jack’s Wife Freda, a few blocks away from our office, with a close friend of mine who works at an elderly care start-up.
10:15 a.m.: We’re still talking about the election and our lives, and whether she should take three months off and travel the world with her husband.
11:00 a.m.: Have been back at our office for about 30 minutes. We are now getting ready to watch Hillary address the nation on Facebook live.
11:40 a.m.: That was pretty emotional. Now we get back to work, which is actually—and I think I speak for all of us—the perfect reprieve today. Both our president, Kate Barnett, and myself have addressed the company multiple times this morning.
12:00 p.m.: Quick editorial debrief with our editorial director and deputy editor regarding scrapping the scheduled content for Thursday and Friday and refreshing to feel more comfortably on-pulse with how we are feeling culturally. This part of the job is hectic, but it is also the most invigorating and satisfying.
12:45 p.m.: Mask approval. This probably sounds so weird, but tonight we’re having our fourth community event, which is a series we launched earlier this summer following the hiring of our integrated marketing strategist Jasmin Aujla. She’s been extremely helpful in the process of identifying super-users from the Man Repeller community and inviting them to intimate, monthly events that we are running. Tonight, we’re doing masked karaoke at Sid’s Gold Room, and frankly, the timing couldn’t be better. What a way to blow off steam.
2 p.m.: Site redesign copy meeting. We’re in the midst of overhauling the current design of our site and updating it to better reflect our current tenets. This has been an incredible growth year at Man Repeller: We’ve launched two highly rated podcasts (with guests like Gloria Steinem and Aidy Bryant), our community building events and a sold-out run of baseball caps while continuing to publish original content on style, feminism, culture, wellness, beauty, relationships and careers to a global audience that has grown 40 percent from last year. 40 percent!
2:30 p.m.: Important update: We’re going to call “trending content,” “hot off the spice rack” going forward.
2:40 p.m.: Our creative assets team and editors get together for a meeting to discuss the first gift guide we are going to run on Man Repeller. Though the company has doubled its year-over-year revenue and that has been led by campaigns (including on-site editorial, social, video and original photography) with notable fashion and beauty brands (The Estée Lauder Companies, Gucci, Topshop), we’ve decided to produce this in-house without a partner.
3:00 p.m.: We’ve decided on a Willy Wonka theme for the guide. You heard it here first!
4:00 p.m.: Meeting with Kate, our president, who was promoted from digital director earlier this summer. We have weekly touch-bases to talk through our growth plans, progress and what’s up at Man Repeller. Her shift from the role of digital director to president marked an important milestone for us: We’ve been investing significantly in leadership and infrastructure this year. Though we’re still self-funded and boot strapping, we’ve focused on consistent, strategic and healthy growth from the start—and Kate and I have made it a priority to ensure the foundation of Man Repeller can support its ambitious future.
5:15 p.m.: This conversation usually takes no longer than 30 to 45 minutes, but today we’re addressing mental health and the outcome of the election also. Redesign plans are on-track for launch date, all the pieces are in place for tonight’s community event. Kate has just sent out a lovely letter to our community, letting them know we’re eager to see them but that it’s totally okay if they’re not in the mood to karaoke.
5:30 p.m.: Head home to change, because following tonight’s community event, I am going to the Memorial Sloan Kettering gala as a guest of Valentino’s.
6:20 p.m.: I’ve just arrived at Sid’s Gold Room. Ginger vodka drinks are swirling around and there are deviled eggs and vegan pigs in blankets. My version of heaven, really.
6:35 p.m.: Community members start arriving. It is overwhelming to hear how touched so many of them have been by the stories we published today. Our goal is to ensure a comfortable, judgement-free zone on the Internet, where no topic is off-limits for intellectual or emotional dissection—and today was a shining example of how we do this.
7:00 p.m.: I share my opening remarks, I’m wearing a dramatic sequined dressed, yadiyadiya.
7:05 p.m.: Showtime! First song? “You Don’t Own Me.”
8:15 p.m.: I duck out a little early to head uptown for MSK’s dinner but never actually make it because Midtown traffic still has me on 34th Street at 9:20—so I turn around and head home.
9:45 p.m.: Home, undressed, about to wash my face and brush my teeth, finally.