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My grandmother was a Southern debutante from Nashville with the kind of elegant style, grace, and the ability to sip a gin martini without smearing her lipstick that you only read about in novels that land on Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club list.

 

I have vivid memories of reading Southern Living with her from a very young age, in awe of the pages in the magazine. I owe my propensity for linen napkins, magnolia trees, and a spicy bloody mary to Southern Living. 

 

It’s an honor to share with you my conversation with Southern Living Style Editor, Betsy Cribb. Betsy hails from Charleston and moved to Birmingham after college to pursue her dreams of working for a prestigious magazine. You can find Betsy’s stunning storytelling in each issue of Southern Living, as well as on their website. And if you are looking for a laugh and a healthy dose of Southern style and culture,  follow her on Instagram @bestycribb.

 

Here’s my conversation with Betsy. 

 

Betsy, all of us at Choice are multi-generational Southern Living readers. What is it like working for a prestigious publication that is an institution of the South? 

 

Like many of our readers, I grew up with Southern Living on the coffee table. My grandmother has read it for years, and when my parents got married, my grandmother bought my mom a subscription for Christmas that she renews each year. So when I told my grandmother I landed a job at Southern Living, she about fell out. It’s an enormous privilege and responsibility to work for a legacy brand that’s been around for more than 50 years. With every story I write, I work hard to be thoughtful in serving our reader, whether she’s a millennial who has just picked up her first issue or my grandmother who has been subscribing for years. Ultimately, they both come to Southern Living for the same thing: soulful stories about the people and places they know and love. That’s always top of mind for me.

 

 

What is your favorite Southern tradition?

 

Our commitment to hospitality, in all its forms. The best hosts aren’t necessarily the ones who always have a signature cocktail on hand (though we can appreciate that!), but they’re the people who make you feel at ease the moment you step through the door. Southerners are especially good at that. 

 

What advice would you give people who want to work in print media? 

 

Say yes to any opportunity to write, even if it’s not a platform you’re interested in for the long run. I majored in journalism in college, with a required focus on hard news. Everything I learned about hard news—how to ask good questions, how to tell an impactful story, how to do all of that in an ethical way—is equally important at a lifestyle magazine. Build those foundational skills, and you can work anywhere; you’ll learn the nuances and voice of your outlet or brand on the job. 

 

You obviously have a passion for style and fashion. How would you describe your personal style? 

 

We laugh in the office because so many of our editors have a very specific “look” that’s uniquely theirs. I’d say my style is classic-ish: I love a timeless silhouette in a funky pattern, unexpected color, or interesting texture. And when I find something I like, I commit: I have an embarrassment of turtlenecks and a drawer full of statement earrings. 

 

 

What has been a pinch me moment in your career so far? 

 

I have ‘pinch me’ moments all the time. I feel so lucky and grateful that my job gives me the chance to celebrate the folks who make the South such a special place. It’s humbling that these people are willing to share their stories with me and trust me to tell those stories in an authentic way. 

 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

 

There is no shame or weakness in asking for help. Pride (or thinking that you can handle it all on your own) can really get in the way of a job well done.

 

What are you looking forward to most in 2020?

 

More travel, more people, and more good stories!

 

 

Betsy, you have your finger on the pulse of what is hot and happening in the South. For our readers can you share:

 

  • Favorite restaurant: Unfair question!! In Birmingham, it’s a toss-up between Chez Fon Fon and Bottega (big fan of Frank Stitt). In my hometown of Charleston, SC, I generally forego the latest and greatest addition to our overwhelming food scene for red curry duck at Basil or the shrimp roll and hush puppies at Leon’s Oyster Shop.
  • Favorite hotel: I stayed at Sea Island for the first time last winter and have a little crush. The rooms are cozy and well-appointed, the grounds are beautiful, and the hospitality is unmatched.
  • Favorite shopping: No trip home to Charleston is complete without a stroll down King Street. So many places worth a stop (or at least a window shop): Beckett Boutique, Shoes on King, Ibu Movement, SMALL, and Croghan’s Jewel Box are must-visits.
  • Favorite weekend getaway: Oxford, Mississippi. It’s a small town that’s loaded with soul. And you won’t eat a bad meal while you’re there. Stop by Saint Leo for the pizza (order the olives too!), or follow the road ten miles out of town for amazing fried catfish at Taylor Grocery.
  • Favorite cocktail: The Brad Green at The Atomic Bar & Lounge here in Birmingham. It’s a delicious, frothy drink made with Aperol, vodka, and a little St-Germain. 
  • Must have beauty item: My splurge-worthy skincare favorite is T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum from Texas-based clean skincare company Drunk Elephant. I’m also a sucker for a good drugstore buy: Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lipstick in Rum Raisin is my go-to.
  • Southern company making a difference: Another unfair question! So many Southern entrepreneurs are weaving philanthropy and social responsibility directly into the fabric of their businesses, and they aren’t sacrificing the quality of their products to do it, either. I could probably send you a hundred companies worth supporting, but here are three to get you started: ABLE (Nashville), Bauble Stockings (Atlanta), and CROSBY by Mollie Burch (also in Atlanta).

 

Square Books, one of my favorite places in Oxford, Miss.

 

Read more from Betsy Cribb on the Southern Living website or in their most recent issues.

 

 

 

 

 

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AUTHOR: Kerry Gardner
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