media | Jun 20, 2023 |
Lonny is back—with co-founder Michelle Adams at the helm

Nearly 15 years after co-founding Lonny magazine—and a decade after first selling it—Michelle Adams is returning to the publication’s helm. Today, an announcement revealed that Adams acquired the title from its most recent owner, Recurrent Ventures, kicking off a new era for a brand that has experienced a long chain of acquisitions and false starts in the years after its initial debut. Since first selling Lonny in 2012, Adams served at the helm of Domino, completed a handful of home restorations, earned a secondary degree in organic farming and launched a consulting business and another editorial site, and is now coming full circle to reinvent the brand.

“I launched Lonny from my tiny New York apartment in my 20s and am now taking the reins again from my Michigan home in my 40s,” Adams tells Business of Home. “I view this as an opportunity to give back what I’ve learned over the years.”

Lonny debuted in 2009 as the brainchild of Adams and her late co-founder and photographer, Patrick Cline (the title’s name is a mashup of their hometowns, London and New York). The publication’s launch marked the start of a new wave of digital shelter magazines—including sites like Rue, High Gloss and Matchbook—that cropped up in the wake of the closure of beloved print titles such as House & Garden, Blueprint and Domino. Compared to those brands, Lonny turned a spotlight on more accessible home styles, while also covering long-standing design icons like Bunny Williams, Albert Hadley and Vicente Wolf.

“It was something that made me feel so proud, and I know it made Pat feel extraordinarily proud too, and I wish he was here to see this—I feel like he had a role in it, in some way,” says Adams.

In 2012, Livingly Media acquired Lonny, with Adams remaining on staff briefly as editor in chief before departing to assume the same role at the newly relaunched Domino in 2013. In the years that followed, the brand changed hands several times—in 2015, when Livingly Media was acquired by the European digital publishing company Aufeminin; in 2018, when Aufeminin was purchased by French broadcast network TF1; and finally in early 2022, when Recurrent bought Livingly Media, acquiring Lonny, StyleBistro and Zimbio. (Recurrent is also the owner of Business of Home.) After a short-lived relaunch as a Gen Z–focused brand that year, the site was largely dormant.

The Lonny site is now live once again, launching with a mix of home tours and features spanning food and garden, style and culture, kids, travel, editors’ picks and refreshed stories from the brand’s archives. In the coming months, Adams plans to drop a new wellness vertical, book excerpts and coverage on emerging industry brands. “My dream is for Lonny to be a clever mix of a classic interiors magazine like World of Interiors, a down-to-earth and highly resourceful site like Remodelista, and a tried-and-true sustainable living publication like Mother Earth News,” she says.

While Adams expects the new content mix to appeal to all ages, she has zeroed in on the 35-to-45 age group—a target demographic that mirrors the brand’s social media audience and reflects Adams’s own growth in the years since launching Lonny.

“The world has changed significantly since I was last the editor of Lonny in 2012, so I knew right away that I’d need to cover topics that are important in today’s world,” says Adams. “Collectively, we are sailing in uncharted waters, and as such, there’s a lot of uncertainty. I’d love for Lonny to be a place where readers can go to feel good, get inspired and find practical ideas.”

Beyond aesthetics and lifestyle content, the new Lonny will address the health and safety side of homeownership, including content on generators, air and water purifiers, creating an emergency kit, and growing and canning food. “Topics that would have bored me to tears in my 20s, I’m now eager to learn more about in today’s world,” says Adams.

In another strategic departure, Lonny will no longer publish on a monthly basis (formerly released as a pdf on Issuu), transitioning instead to daily content to ensure more consistent engagement with readers. Populating the site at this rate poses some challenges to Lonny’s lean team—which currently consists of Adams, two advertising associates and a stable of freelancers—though the magazine will benefit from relaunching with archival Lonny pieces and content pulled from The Maryn, the home-focused e-commerce shop that Adams launched in 2016 and now redirects to the Lonny site.

Along with the rest of the media industry, Lonny also faces a challenging advertising landscape and, more broadly, an uncertain economic climate—not unlike the turbulence of the Great Recession, when the brand first launched. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, though Adams self-funded the purchase and plans to rely on advertising partners and other revenue streams as the venture grows. To help shore up resources, she’s tapping into services she’s been providing consulting clients with since 2015 by offering Lonny Creative Services, which will create custom content for brand partners ranging from advertisements to catalog shoots and sponsored editorial features.

For Lonny’s next chapter, Adams is focused on building a brand that stands the test of time—a departure from the magazine’s first iteration as an industry disrupter “obsessed with novelty.” This time around, the site will largely eschew trend-driven content, opting instead to pay homage to the classics and encourage readers to bring lasting design into their own homes, as encapsulated in its new tagline: “Timeless Design for a New Era.”

While Adams expects to be thrown back into the startup-like atmosphere of the magazine’s early days, she’s come a long way from the 26-year-old former Domino editorial assistant who launched the business more than a decade ago. “I’m eager to be back, and grateful for the opportunity to share ideas, help foster a community of design lovers, and build something new and sustainable together,” says Adams.

Homepage image: Michelle Adams | Courtesy of Michelle Adams

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