I’ll admit that I didn’t know who Mallory Rice was until my friend Blair Waters mentioned her to me. But I soon discovered that she was behind some of my favorite publications, from Nylon to Sweet to-- most recently --Man Repeller.
When I found this out, I was over the moon at the prospect of being able to interview her. I’d always admired the concept of Sweet (using Snapchat as a platform for a magazine), and Sweet has also been one of my biggest aesthetic influences in starting this blog, with their bright, colorful, glittering visuals. The whole idea of translating the zine aesthetic to the digital realm is just really attractive to me. Sweet never felt like it was pandering to a teen audience. Instead, Sweet respected young people and made content to inspire rather than trivialize them. It never felt like it was pretentious or out-of-date either. It was quirky and fun without being too heavy handed about it.
The rest of Mallory’s work also strikes the perfect balance between whimsical and insightful, and whenever she writes about/for teens, it’s always apparent that she appreciates them as people and is not trying to exploit them as consumers. For example, her piece in Man Repeller in which teens review fashion week really hit me. Even though it’s a lighthearted article, teen perspectives are so often ignored and I was touched seeing young people’s voices being heard.
What work are you most proud of?
I’m proud of any story I've worked on that causes people to come away with the feeling that the world is bigger, more surprising, and more interesting than they realized. I think there are a lot of different ways to do that—at Nylon I started a books page that promoted emerging authors and independent publishers (remnants on this Tumblr) and I’ve had fun reporting stories that explore smaller moments in life, like writing condolence letters and riding the bus. I’m also usually equally proud of the editing work that goes on behind the scenes, I get so much satisfaction out of helping talented writers say what they want to say.
What do you think is the most important skill for a young writer to develop?
I think young writers should read as much as they possibly can. Everybody comes to writing with their own natural rhythm, but it’s helpful to get a good variety of influences and start to figure out what resonates most with you, so you can start to refine a style of your own.
Who would you say your inspirations are?
Everyone who inspires me seems to be driven by a sense of wanting to bring people together around a common interest. I really appreciate people who are passionate about the things they love and want to introduce people to them in generous, creative ways. Sometimes these people are editors, but I find they are just as often filmmakers or artists or musicians.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The answer to this is pretty unsexy: As the leader of an editorial team, the biggest challenge is just sorting out logistical things so that all the amazing creative people I work with can make stuff to the best of their abilities. I try to remove anything that might be in the way of that.
In your opinion, what makes a good pitch?
Every story needs a different kind of pitch, depending on who you’re pitching and how much of a case you need to make for the story’s vitality. That said, I think most good pitches start with an authentic personal interest and include a unique way into a topic that feels relevant to the current cultural moment.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
I really just enjoy the process of making things, from start to finish. I love the potential of coming up with a fun idea, and the excitement everyone has in that moment. And I love the harder part, where you get down to the details of how to make that idea into a thing that's as awesome as you thought it was when you came up with it. I also love the fine-tuning at the end, when you step back and make sure it’s doing what you intended.
What do you like most about Man Repeller as a publication?
When I joined the team I saw it as a place for eccentric people to gather and talk about whatever they wanted—stuff that could at turns be funny, introspective, light-hearted, etc. I think it’s a kind of space that’s unfortunately always been underserved in women’s media.
How would you describe Man Repeller readers?
Smart, open-minded, critical, creative, funny.
Using a metaphor, how would you describe your creative process?
Like a demented Rube Goldberg machine??
What's been the most transformative experience of your life?
Hopefully this doesn’t sound like a cop out—but!—there’s no one experience. That said I do seek out things that have transformative potential as much as possible. On a larger scale, it could be taking on a really challenging project like Sweet was, and on a more personal level, I think it comes down to consistently seeking out new and unfamiliar things, and really listening when people share things with me.