weekly feature | Mar 1, 2017 |
Traditional Home’s new EIC discusses her plans for the publication

By Katy B. Olson
The new role of Traditional Home editor in chief is a childhood dream fulfilled for Des Moines, Iowa–based Jill Waage, and also signals a more digital focus for the 28-year-old publication. Waage, who most recently served as editorial director of digital content and products for Better Homes & Gardens, replaces Ann Omvig Maine, who edited the magazine for the last 15 years (and whose 35-year career at Meredith Corporation comes to an end with her retirement).

Traditional Home’s new EIC discusses her plans for the publication
Jill Waage

It’s a goal that germinated early. “When I was looking at colleges, I knew then I wanted to study magazine journalism and interior design, because my goal was to—I remember distinctly—to write about houses for BHG someday. Design was something that was a goal of mine since I was about 16 years old,” reflects Waage. “I am one of those lucky few people who get to live their dream.”

After college, she worked in special interest media at BHG, editing the brand’s products guide—researching flooring, fabrics, kitchen appliances and bath fixtures, garden supplies, the latest tools of the trade—and, in doing so, cultivating her own love of products. “That instilled in me a love of market editing and a love of new products. I’m fascinated by product launches [and trade shows]. I love High Point, tracking what’s actually new and different and why that matters to our consumer.”

She recalls one of her early stories: “I remember being fresh out of school, working on this building home products guide, and I had to write a front-of-book story about asphalt roofing shingles. I knew nothing about asphalt roofing shingles and I had to learn.” Conquering that learning curve has led to “a love of product information and recognizing what’s important to our readers.”

Traditional Home’s new EIC discusses her plans for the publication

In addition to product, digital initiatives, given Waage’s history in that realm, will be a major focus. “I’m really interested in the vehicle we have with our TradHome digital edition, and the Rising Stars design program. [It’s a] concerted effort to meet new people and to identify rising talent. With my background in multi-platform content creation at BHG, I’m excited to bring that strategic thinking to the ways we make content for Traditional Home. I love to amplify content,” she explains. “I’m always looking at other ways we can use that content, make it work harder for us in all our other platforms on social media. That’s how we can put together these really engaging stories for our readers, our designers in the design community and our partners.”

Waage, whose staff is primarily based in Des Moines, with additional New York coverage as well, says that for today, she is “initially settling in,” meeting with her editors. The brand has recently undergone a redesign, she explains, “and I’m interested in sitting down with this amazing staff and hearing from them. They’re all out covering their beats, they have their eyes and ears on all the time.” A primary focus will be “studying,” covering and engaging with the emerging design-driven generation, “this next generation of designers and homeowners and how they express traditional style and what it means to them.”

Waage describes Traditional Home as a ‘jewel box of a brand’

“We have a great opportunity, with what Ann’s already done, to really lean into these next-generation folks, to really interpret and grow what ‘traditional style’ means,” Wage says of the focus on emerging designers...and emerging readers. “We’re going to tell those designers’ and homeowners’ stories and bring those personalities to life, raise up that talent we’re finding, and at the same time, study the classic design elements that make for outstanding interior design.”

As for outreach into the interior design community, the editor says the brand already has a “pretty impressive docket,” with plans to continue its already active involvement in showhouses, its editorial team manning panels at design centers, giving presentations, moderating, and devoting hours to “good market editing” and “time in the field.”

The brand itself has already charmed her. “A friend of mine, when he heard the news, described Traditional Home to me as ‘a little jewel box of a brand.’ I’m excited to open up that little box and see what we can do within its pages, on its platforms,” says Waage. “It’s such a beautiful brand.… I’m mindful of what I’m stepping into, but I’m also excited to see what we can do with it.”

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