Christene is part of a rare breed, a very rare breed indeed. She is both beautiful and successful, which is by no means a scarcity in this city, but what sets her apart from all the other dashing over achievers is that her rise to lady of the manor has not changed her into a growling diva rather she has remained one of the nicest people you will meet in this industry. As her company Refinery 29 has grown from a small hip, “I think your style is cool website,” into a must go to fashion bible of empiric proportions she herself has remained as lovely as the day I met her. That was over a decade ago, back when I was a cool, hip stylist that wore clothes that were occasionally interesting enough to get me photographed for their website! Nowadays my uniform of jeans and t-shirts rarely gets me on the most stylish list, thus giving me even less reason to google myself and leaving me with more time to read the slew of articles they publish daily on health, fashion, style, beauty, celebrity to name a few. So how did Refinery 29 whom Christene started with Piere Gelardi, Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries grow to such epic proportions? “Hard work! Always looking ahead while taking stock of what we were okay with leaving behind…to grow you have to be adaptable, self-aware, compassionate, and insanely disciplined…it doesn’t happen overnight, so you’ve gotta be in it to win it.”
I saw this hard work and self discipline first hand when I went to visit her in their new two story offices, that they are already out growing, in the financial district. It was like walking into the hexagonal world of a thriving bee hive! Energy crackled in the air, it was alive with youth and ideas and had an all over general sense of happiness. With her signature bright lipstick always immaculate Christene spoke to and smiled at everyone we passed in the hallways, knew all their names, joked with co-workers in the elevator and discussed up and coming shoots with her style director while trying on killer outfits for our shoot. With so many exciting ideas and developments flying around Christene says that at times it still feels like the beginning. Feelings aside they couldn’t be further from those early days! They are the largest independent fashion website in the US and each month pull in over 8 million unique visitors. With all this success you would think it could quite easily have gone to her head. Her ego could have sky rocketed to Paris, Milan, London and back again and her demands could have reached Mariah Carey proportions. But they didn’t. So to all those cynics who say that you have to be a bitchy ball buster to make it and that the nice guys always finishes last…hhhhmm! I think Christene has just proved you all wrong!
Who is Christene Barberich?
I feel silly answering this…I’d say I’m lots of things, but mostly I’m a work in progress.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An editor and a writer. I stuck to my guns.
How did you get to be where you are?
I think I was always meant to be here, so I’m not sure if I had taken a different path I wouldn’t have ended up here anyway, so it’s hard to say. But I’d guess it was a combination of hard work and a complete an utter refusal to admit defeat even when things were shitty…and boy, were they once shitty.
If you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self some advice what would it be?
I’m not sure I would have listened, but I would have told her to try really, really hard not to be so stressed out all the time. I think stress ages you, in every way, so if you can develop good habits to counteract it when scary things happen, I think you can create a stronger constitution to get through anything…16-year-old CB…do NOT sweat it!
If the cupboard in your bedroom would lead you to another world what would your Narnia look like?
Laurel Canyon circa 1975 with Jackson Brown, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, and Linda Ronstadt all living somewhere in the hood…
What was one of your favorite past projects?
Co-authoring STYLE STALKING, Refinery29’s first book, with Piera…it comes out on October 21 and we couldn’t be more proud. ( you can pre-order it at http://www.stylestalking.r29.com/pre-orders/ )
What are you working on now and what do you dream of happening in the future?
Continuing to grow our team of media visionaries, expanding into television and ramping up video, fine-tuning what we’ve already built, making it better than ever…I live by this.
What song do you love that you keep secret cause its too embarrassing to say publicly you like it?!
OMG, there are so many…maybe Evergreen by Barbra Streisand or The Rose by Bette Midler…are they really embarrassing tho? I think they’re awesome…
Which version of “Satellite of love “do you prefer Lou Reeds or Morrissey
Gosh, I love Lou, but my heart will eternally belong to Morrissey…
Are you a morning person or night person?
Morning. I’m a sucker for a new beginning…
Any advice for peeps just starting out?
Believe…and even when you abandon yourself, find someone to bring you back to the dream…I’ve been lucky enough to have a few people who got me back on the rails at the most critical moments of my life…find those people and make sure you always do the same for them.
Is there a quote or mantra you live by?
“Everything is going to be amazing.” I refuse to think otherwise. xx