Catching Up With “The Glow” Co-Founder Violet Gaynor

portrait of a brunette women in a pink dress
Violet Gaynor; photo by Carl Timpone

In today’s digital media landscape, rife with #sponcon and influencers galore, a commitment to substantial storytelling and open discussion about the less-glamorous sides of life can be tough to land on—and ones that are also beautifully presented with a aesthetically-refined point of view even more so.

Enter, The Glow.

Co-found in 2011 by friends and former co-workers (they first met in 2009 while working together at Elle.com) Violet Gaynor (co-founder and editorial director) and Kelly Stuart (co-founder, photographer, and creative director), The Glow has always aimed to be an “intimate and honest diary of motherhood: The beauty, the struggles, the magic and all.” In short, they utilized an Insta-worthy visual strategy before “influencer” was a thing you could reasonably put on a resume, and they did it all while staying true to a mission of bringing real moms together as they navigated the ups and downs of raising children while also pursuing worthy passions.

At the center of it all is co-founder Violet Gaynor, who came up with the idea for the site before she had children, and has only redoubled her efforts now that she’s a mom-of-two (her daughter is 5.5—“the half is, obviously, very important to her”—and her son is 6 months old).

“The Glow is a platform that connects new mothers, and expectant mothers, and women in general, through storytelling,” the Upper West Side-native says. “We capture moments that are very polished looking and sort of ethereal and inspiring and aspirational, but in terms of the information that is shared, and the stories that are told, and the resources given, it’s very much a way to connect with other women. At the end of the day, it’s a way to feel less alone in the motherhood journey.”

Since its inception in 2011, The Glow has grown to become a cultural force for savvy and successful moms looking to connect with one another in authentic and emotionally honest ways. The site’s core content revolves around shining a spotlight on moms who are doing meaningful work at the top of their fields, all while raising children in the modern world. Readers can expect to see mamas like Rachelle Hruska MacPherson (of Guest of a Guest and Lingua Franca), fashion designer Ulla Johnson, TV personality Daphne Oz, and fab foodie and restaurateur Eden Grinshpan featured alongside ethereal and brightly lit photos and endearingly confessional interviews and essays.

“[Who we feature] really comes down to women who are doing something in their world that is inspiring and meaningful, and they’re really making it happen for themselves—that means something different for each person who’s featured,” Gaynor, who’s background is in fashion and magazine editorial work, says. “It’s people who are out there in the world who are out there in the world, creating something for themselves… It really is about asking: Is this person doing something that’s meaningful to them? Are they inspiring to me? Are they going to be inspiring to The Glow’s audience? Are they relatable? All of those things…I think they all have something in common, and that’s that they are all working hard at something that’s meaningful.”

Gaynor herself, as a mom with two young children, understands the need in the market for raw and real descriptions of motherhood firsthand. Though she wasn’t a mother when she launched the site—she and Stuart teamed up for the business venture after the two women were no longer co-workers and wanted to reconnect creatively, and Gaynor had noticed a hole in the media landscape for stylish motherhood content that also felt really true; something in between Baby Center and Vogue—she was pregnant with her first child, Plum, when The Glow published a book back in 2014 (The Glow: An Inspiring Guide to Stylish Motherhood) and now truly feels representative of the readership she serves.

“I think we’re all going through things as humans, but in particular as mothers and women, and I think the struggle is a very real thing, and the whole idea of balance, and that balance myth, is something that’s discussed more now, which is amazing,” Gaynor says. Adding that the idea of “honest motherhood” has always been part and parcel of what makes The Glow tick as a storytelling platform. “To me, honest motherhood is just saying: ‘This is the real side of what I’m dealing with.” It’s amazing what happens when you do open up about that…once you open up, it’s incredible to hear that there are so many women going through similar situations, and we’re really not alone in our struggles. I think sharing just as much about our triumphs as we do our challenges is really what honest motherhood is about.”

And not only is the present looking rosy for The Glow, but the future looks bright as well. While Gaynor confesses that the work of producing a book isn’t something that she and Stuart (also now a mother) are eager to jump in for round two on, the evolution of how to execute the site’s mission in innovation and engaging ways remains top of mind.

“In general, going back to the honest motherhood discussion, there will be more of those stories,” Gaynor says. “The Glow has always brought those honest stories to women and connected our audience in that way but I think that my mission, more than ever, is to tell really raw, honest stories that sometimes focus more on a specific topic.”

To learn more about Violet Gaynor and The Glow, visit theglow.com!

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