After reading a string of increasingly acerbic reviews of Blake Lively’s languidly executed foray into the celebrity taste-making market over the last few weeks, we decided to objectively assess her eclectic blog-tique creation for ourselves. While trying to figure out what Lively could do to, pardon the pun, Preserve, her website as an e-commerce mainstay, we realized the need to examine the concept of the “lifestyle expert” more closely. Where (and when?) did this career path materialize? What distinguishes a bona fide, qualified expert on homemaking and entertaining from a mere peddler of non-necessities? Finally, how can Ms. Lively succeed as a purveyor of goods like artisanal small-batch pickles while simultaneously cementing herself as a trusted authority on the very lifestyle that she endorses?
At its crux, it seems that Preserve tries to reconcile the Stewart ethos—taking pride in craftsmanship and appreciating the hand-made—with the GOOP aesthetic—spending freely in hopes of attaining the appearance of effortlessness (a sort of consumerist Nirvana?). By profiling artsy DIY-ers and then selling their fancy, steeply priced creations all in one place, Preserve overwhelms the palate. Part of the taste-making formula is figuring out the difference between whetting the audience’s appetite with captivating ideas and offering a sensory (and conceptual) overload. It also helps to have a lifetime of experiences and trial and error to pull off a venture of this magnitude and complexity with success.
Despite its rocky start, Preserve can certainly evolve from a hipster hobby shop to a fun and engaging lifestyle hub, and hopefully the criticism has not discouraged Lively from taking notes and making improvements. It takes years—sometimes even a lifetime—to build a successful website, let alone an entire lifestyle brand, and to achieve critical acclaim requires luck, talent, and patience. There is no reason why Lively can’t find her own niche in the lifestyle market; it’s just going to take some time and creative restructuring. -Stylish Council
Preserve needs to figure out her audience, and find a way to connect with them that’s a bit deeper than an invitation to “preserve the connection.” Beyond that, Preserve needs a clear position to take in the lifestyle expert world without caking on too many layers (effortless shabby overpriced Americana chic, for example, is going to need some tinkering). When Preserve finds its footing and develops an unique and unconflicted point of view, it could very well find itself thriving among already established lifestyle experts. It is too early to judge Preserve’s success, and it’s only fair to give its ambitious take on a well-meaning idea the benefit of the doubt.