Interview: Katie Hintz-Zambrano – Refinery29

We love exploring the ever-changing media landscape. From stylish new online publications to edgy blogs to reborn print magazines, our media-rich world has something for everyone. From time to time, we’d like to highlight new publications we’ve recently enjoyed through interviews with editors, writers, publishers or perhaps even art directors.  Our first featured interview subject is the fashion and lifestyle site Refinery29, with its San Francisco editor, Katie Hintz-Zambrano.

Folsom + Associates: Refinery29 launched its San Francisco edition in May, 2011. What about SF made it a good candidate to be the next featured city?

Katie Hintz-Zambrano: We always knew we had a really strong fan base in San Francisco and I think the more style-inclined residents of the city have been super-excited to see their city through the unique lens of Refinery29, which many knew very well through the global edition. This localized edition just makes the coverage so much more personal to our Bay Area readers. And there is such amazing culture here to draw on—from really interesting things happening on the food scene (which I think leads the rest of the country) and also an emerging fashion scene.

F + A: Can you elaborate a little on the trend toward hyperlocal lifestyle sites and what makes them so popular?

K H-Z: I think while everything has gone really big and global, there’s a real yearning to know what’s happening in your own backyard. For a big site like Refinery29 to start spreading out locally, it really rewards all of our readers in their respective cities with hyper-personalized coverage that feels very in-the-know and specific to them.

F + A: Describe the type of growth that Refinery29 has had since launch.

K H-Z: Our San Francisco readers have responded really, really well to the site. There’s nothing out there in the city like Refinery29’s San Francisco edition and I think people were really hungry for this sort of curated lifestyle coverage with a strong fashion bent.

F + A: What are your areas of interest in your writing for Refinery29?

K H-Z: Everything the city has to offer! I love helping our readers discover new designers, amazing boutiques, and going deeper with some of the characters in town, whether they are chefs, artists…whomever!

F + A: What is it about Refinery29 that resonates with its readers?

K H-Z: Again, I don’t think there are any other fashion-driven lifestyle sites that focuses solely on the Bay Area. So, it’s been something that longtime Refinery29 fans have been waiting for and something that new fans have been really enthusiastic about! The mission of the site is to distill all of the information that is out there and our readers really trust us to cherry pick the restaurants they should be going to, the boutiques they should be visiting, the weekend events they should be hitting, and so forth.

F + A: As recent transplant from New York, what are your resources for staying current with local food and wine trends in San Francisco?

K H-Z: The city has a lot of great food blogs that I follow, and I also get fun tips from friends, PR folks, people within the industry, and myself! There’s a lot I learn by keeping my own eyes and ears open and I get a lot of scoops by talking to chefs and restaurant owners and just noticing what’s happening when I’m walking around town. Restaurant openings and closings, and interesting trends developing, are really out there for everyone to see. You just have to be paying attention.

F + A: What are some of your favorite things to do and see in San Francisco?

K H-Z: Within the city, I love checking out new shops, restaurants, and bars, and also talking to all of the people behind these ventures!  It’s always inspiring to hear how someone’s passion pushed them to launch a business. And this city seems to be an especially great place to start a small business. I also love taking little day trips and weekend trips North, South and East of the city. It’s amazing how different things can feel just an hour outside of town and I love a good roadtrip adventure!

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