THE SOUTHERN (C )ITY GUIDE 2 Atlanta with Betsy Riley

Jun 14 2016

by Cheri Leavy

At The Southern C, our demographics span the entire South, from large cities to small towns, each with their own unique blend of Southern culture. This mix is a large part of what makes The Southern C special.

We want to promote this mix by having members in different cities peel back the curtain on the way they conduct business in their town.

This week, we have Editor-In-Chief of Atlanta magazine HOME, Betsy Riley for our #tsctakeover on instagram and Pinterest board.  I enjoyed getting to know Betsy better this spring when she presented on tablescapes at The Southern C Summit with Atlanta interior designer and shop owner, Steve McKenzie.  She is a tiny but mighty force in shelter publishing.  I read her magazine cover to cover and love getting to visit the homes of Atlantans.



Get to know Betsy and Atlanta magazine HOME as she shares her guide to Atlanta …

Describe your brand/business and how it got started:

Atlanta Magazine’s HOME is a quarterly magazine published by Atlanta magazine, and I’ve worked with Atlanta in many different capacities–from freelance writer to executive editor–for close to 25 years. We launched HOME because our readers have always loved architecture and interior design. We’re big nesters in this city. We originally published HOME from about 2002 to 2009, but the recession killed it. I had edited HOME toward the end of its first run, but last time I always kept my hands in the main magazine just in case HOME ever folded. Sadly, when HOME ended in 2009, I went back to editing medical, educational, and other lifestyle stories. When the economy rebounded and we decided to relaunch HOME, I jumped in with both feet. Media has changed completely since 2009, and I felt that shelter books were still stuck in their old patterns. Basically, I wanted HOME to be the Garden & Gun of shelter magazines–with real “reads” and thoughtful stories about where we live. About the time of the launch, I interviewed Jonathan Adler. He said his philosophy is always to go with his gut and then push a bit farther. I’ve tried to follow his advice!

First job:

My first long-time job was as a medical writer. I had to cover dry technical topics like laser surgery and infection control, but the experience taught me how to do reporting. I was an English major; and, as much as I love a good novel, that’s not an easy career path.


I’ve honestly learned to appreciate all types of good design. Whenever I take one of those decorating preference quizzes, I come out equally divided among all styles. This works well in the magazine, not so much in my house.

#1 skill needed to be an entrepreneur:

Organization. You can reach any goal if you just break it down into baby steps.

Role model:

Anna Quindlen because she inspired me to keep up my writing career while I was raising my kids

Favorite social media:

Instagram — I just hope everyone keeps their posts spontaneous and not too polished! We already see enough ads.

Fave Insta accounts to follow:

@annettejosephstyle, @parkerkennedyliving, @atlantamagazine

Most used emoji:

top hat — because I am a Demon Deacon from Wake Forest University!

Favorite quote:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”–

William Morris

Biggest risk that paid off:

Devoting major space in the feature well to narratives like a piece on Atlanta’s design mentors or an oral history of Knoll (excerpted from rarely seen interviews with the company’s founders).

Interesting tidbit about you or your business:

Atlanta magazine has been around for 55 years. It’s one of the, if not the, oldest city magazines in the nation.

Theme song:

Currently, it’s “My Girl” by the Temptations because my son chose it for our mother-son dance at his wedding in February.

Favorite book or author:

Joshilyn Jackson because she understands and loves the South in all its quirkiness


Antiquing, decorating, entertaining

Favorite charity:

Currently concerned about foster kids, as the last “serious” story I wrote before relaunching HOME was about a program for homeless and troubled teens

Favorite session at the Summit:

Mandy Rye’s brilliant explanation of social media

What you love most about your town:

Atlanta is a diverse, optimistic, energetic, and welcoming place. It’s Southern without being cliche, and we have beautiful neighborhoods. Trees.

Describe a typical day in your town:

Traffic, traffic, traffic. Work. Traffic, traffic, traffic. Go for jog along Chattahoochee River. Meet friends at latest hot restaurant, go to outdoor concert. Repeat.

Go to weekend recipe:

Can I say OpenTable?

The Southern C(ity) Guides:

Cheri Leavy of The Southern Cotherie in the Golden Isles and Athens, GA

Whitney Long of The Southern Coterie in the Golden Isles, GA

Holly Phillips of The English Room in Charlotte, NC

Kelly Shatat of Moon and Lola in Raleigh, NC

Cassie Kelley of Womanista in Nashville, TN

Molly Waring of Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Libbie Summers of A Food Inspired Life in Savannah, GA

Beth Aschenbach and Danielle Norcross of Palm Beach Lately in Palm Beach, FLA

Kim Schlegal Whitman of Dallas

Jennifer Goldman of Charleston, SC







Cheri Leavy View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs.
Building rapport and strengthening a sense of community:
• A community of female entrepreneurs through the The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit
• The faces and places of Athens that make our city so vibrant through guide2athens
• A community of devoted football fans through Bulldawg Illustrated
- Contributing editor to Coastal Illustrated, Executive Board Member of the UGA Alumni Association

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