Each year at The Southern C Summit, we strive to offer attendees a variety of speakers from various national publications and across various niches. It’s no surprise that Southern Living frequently tops the list as a speaker request from our attendees. We are big fans at The Southern C and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Southern Living editor-in-chief Sid Evans some questions related this milestone 50th anniversary issue:
WL: I knew this special #SL50 issue was in the works so I had eagerly been anticipating the release. Can I just tell you how excited I was when it arrived in my mailbox? I handed my four children their gadgets and said have fun (kidding, maybe?) while I immediately sat down to read from cover to cover. It did not disappoint! I turned down page after page with ideas for travel, style tips and of course, recipes. Can you tell me a little about this issue and how it came to be?
SE: For this issue, we profiled people from every corner of the South – chefs and writers, gardeners and decorators, artists and musicians, and (of course) our loyal readers. Put them all together and you have a collection of people who are bound by one thing – a shared passion for the South. Every story in the issue has some connection to the past including classic Southern Living covers, cakes, recipes and gardens. This issue is special for two reasons: one, it’s a way to say thank you for being a reader, in many cases for a very long time. And two, it’s more than a celebration of Southern Living. This is a celebration of life in the South.
WL: Looking to the future – what direction do you see Southern Living, and the South in general, taking over the next 50 years? A few predictions you can share? We won’t hold you to them when 2066 rolls around!
SE: I think the South will continue to be more and more culturally diverse. Our story on Houston in the 50th Anniversary issue is a great example. The blend of Asian, Latino, and African cultures in that town has made it one of the most interesting food destinations in the country. It’s still Southern, still Texan, but it’s also something totally new. I think you’ll see more and more stories like that in Southern Living.
WL: Your favorite cover image from the past 50 years?
SE: I’ve always loved this cover from June 1969. It’s a woman trying on a hat somewhere in Mexico, and she looks like Audrey Hepburn. The photographer just captured this gorgeous, timeless moment, and I love what it says about Southern style.
(to view more SL covers from the 60’s click here )
WL: Favorite SL recipe?
SE: I’m partial to our buttermilk biscuits. I can make a mean batch of biscuits now thanks to Southern Living.
WL: A story from the February issue that really resonates with you?
SE: Rick Bragg writing about his Mom in “My Mama’s Cookbook”. He talks about how she’s a wonderful, soulful, creative cook, but she’s never followed a recipe. I think some of the best Southern cooks ever to pick up a spatula came out of that mold.
WL: A few southern entrepreneurs on your radar for 2016 and beyond?
SE: There are too many to name. I love what’s happening with all the breweries, from Tennessee Brew Works in Nashville to Good People in Birmingham to the delicious beers they’re making at Blackberry Farm. I think the Southern style revolution is still in its early days, and you’ll see more Southern designers blowing up like Billy Reid has. I also think you have to hand it to Reese Witherspoon, who launched an incredibly smart and stylish brand last year with Draper James. She’s not fooling around.
WL: As you know, The Southern Coterie hosts events that pertain especially to the Southern creative, artisan, entrepreneur, and small business owner. Of special interest at each Southern C Summit is how to get editorial attention. What piece of advice would you give someone looking to get on Southern Living’s radar?
SE: We have a number of filters that help us decide what to cover and when. First of all, we’re looking for products and people with a good Southern story. Secondly, we’re looking for things that will appeal to a mass audience, which means price and availability are important. And third, we’re very seasonal, so any time you can give us a creative idea for a Christmas food gift, a Mother’s Day present, or anything that helps our readers enjoy the season, you’ll have our attention.
WL: 2016 will be our 3rd year hosting The Southern C Summit in Charleston and your Southern Living Anniversary Insider’s Weekend will also be in Charleston this June – what makes the city such a special place to host?
SE: Our readers just love Charleston, and they always have. We wanted to do a 50th Anniversary celebration that would incorporate all the pillars of the magazine—food, home, garden, travel, and style—and Charleston has all of those in spades. What makes Southern Living Live special is that my edit team will be curating all of the events, so it will really be a unique experience, even for Charlestonians.
Of special note – For the upcoming 2016 TSC Summit, we are excited to feature Krissy Tiglias, Southern Living Executive Editor, as one of our speakers.