Suzanne Hall, Editorial Director, The Chalkboard Mag
Interview by Laura Piety
A Rverie Conversation with Suzanne Hall, Editorial and Creative Director of The Chalkboard Mag, an online magazine that provides its readers with ‘a study in living well’.
The Chalkboard was originally birthed from Pressed Juicery, the insanely popular West Coast juicing company that has made fresh to-go juice a must-have fridge-filler. I sat down with Suzanne at the Pressed offices in Santa Monica to talk wellness and juice-cleanse tips, how to determine editorial direction, as well as her favorite beauty products. Her consistently sunny disposition, vibrant, engaging personality and clear complexion is a true testament to living well. After a chat and an obligatory green juice, (I promise it really does give you a high!) we went for lunch at Huckleberry, a bustling Westside go-to that's also one of Suzanne's faves. If you're in the area I suggest you pick up a blueberry bran muffin, anything for brunch, or one of their delicious farm-to-table salads. All that to say, this interview is for anyone interested in changing up their current wellness habits, eating well or exploring ways to achieve vibrant, holistic health from the inside out.
Talk to us about Pressed Juicery, how it began and how The Chalkboard came to be.
Pressed Juicery is about three years old - the brain child of our three founders who wanted to provide fresh juice in a convenient way. Drinking a couple bottles of green juice everyday provides your body with an insane amount of nutrition and more leafy green veggies than you could ever hope to eat in one sitting. (It’s incredible to see how much produce goes into one little bottle!) The only problem with juice is that it’s an ordeal to make at home on a regular basis. Pressed was created in the hope that more people would drink juice regularly if it was made more accessible.
Not long after Pressed was founded I came on board as one of the first members of their team. At the time, Pressed had just two stores here in LA (there are now 20 across California!) and we all had the bug to make green juice the next big thing in Los Angeles. Not long after I joined in on all the green juice madness, the founders were inspired to launch editorial, with our juice cleanse customers especially in mind. The Chalkboard was born and quickly became a go-to resource for both our juicers and anyone looking to get inspired to live a wellness-oriented lifestyle.
Going on a juice cleanse or just drinking green juice everyday can be a transformative experience. It really introduces people to the idea that they can feel glowingly healthy. That feeling of vibrant health is addictive and open folks up to all the ideas and practices of a wellness-rented lifestyle, from eating clean to working out and finding ways to live a more balanced life.
We’re incredibly happy to find that so many readers now use the site to learn about natural health and get inspired to ‘live well’.
Wellness is at the forefront of The Chalkboard. Can you talk us through what that means?
Yes, at The Chalkboard we cover everything from the stylish thoughtleaders we love to the latest trends in beauty – all with the throughline of what’s going to inspire you to live well. We’ll shoot a stylish home with an organic garden or round-up our favorite products that are completely toxin-free. Everything has that element of clean living.
To some health means how many calories you're burning in a given day. Our definition of living well definitely transcends that.
We use the word ‘wellness’, intentionally, because, to us, it has a more holistic meaning. Wellness is a way of life encompassing all your daily patterns and habits and your frame of mind.
Living well is about finding vibrant physical health and having a balanced emotional life, managing stress and living generously in your community.
Wellness also includes the many natural modalities we talk about often on The Chalkboard: Chinese herbs, detox protocols, superfoods and mind-body therapies.
How do you pick what makes it into the magazine?
The Chalkboard is a unique mix of coverage and really fun to manage. To some degree, we’re luring in those readers who troll all the fashion and design blogs, hoping to educate them about natural health while still giving them that hit of gorgeous imagery and cultural relevance. We hope to draw in that reader who might not otherwise invest time in the kind of technical wellness websites we read that are so void of good design.
Not everyone nerds out to this kind of stuff like we do and we get that! We curate things to appeal to our own friends and peers who love staying current, enjoy great design and are looking for fresh inspiration.
The day’s stories could range anywhere from a studio visit with a local artisan to the basics of acupuncture, from a guide to shopping fresh herbs to a new LA chef’s healthy recipes. We love to feature the brands, products, people and ideas that we love ourselves and that are truly helping people achieve greater wellness in their lives. It all comes back to simple inspiration toward wellness, just like each bottle of green juice.
Who have been some of your favorite Guest Editors?
I’ve really loved featuring couples as our monthly Guest Editors every February. Last year, fitness royalty Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton. This year, the founders of Kinfolk Magazine. Two completely different couples, both with fascinating insights to offer on marriage and wellness. From natural makeup guru, Josie Maran to this month’s healthy mama, Alicia Silverstone, our Guests always bring something totally new to the table. I also loved Mindy Kaling for New Year’s – talking resolutions and cleansing from a more unorthodox position was too fun.
How do you want to shape the Chalkboard going forward?
I love what we do right now. In some ways I’m providing a content mix that I myself was looking for and thought was missing from the blogosphere. There are so many fascinating tastemakers, health advocates and artisans out there, so many fun things happening in the culture of food and nutrition. We’re ready to sink our teeth into all of it and bring it on to the ‘Board.
If one of our readers were juicing for the first time, what would you recommend?
I like to make something like a Pressed Juicery Greens 3 at home: a blend of greens like kale, parsley, celery and spinach, juiced with a whole apple, whole lemon and as much ginger as you want (I like to use a ton!).
Pay attention to your own palate and blend the ingredients to what suits you best – if you love it sweet go heavy on cucumber and apple, if you love things spicy throw in a little cayenne powder and extra ginger.
If green juice seems like a big leap for you right now, start simple: make a smoothie you love and add a handful of spinach to the mix- you'll be surprised at how low profile the taste is!
What have been the most pertinent things you’ve personally learnt from content on The Chalkboard?
That’s a tough one! I’ve always been into eating healthfully – I’ll eat the craziest things if I know it’s great for my body - and I’ve always been a very spiritual person too. But I’d say that through The Chalkboard I’ve learned to further accept the valid need for great self-care, rest and stress-reduction – in our fast-paced culture (and with my fast-paced personality) it’s easy to marginalize these values.
I've talked to many experts now and had too many transformative experiences with great holistic treatments for me to brush aside that crucial area of wellness any longer.
It’s so key.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Ultimately, talking about natural wellness is a cause-driven thing for me.
Taking care of your own health is strongly tied to self-education and self-awareness, two things I highly value.
Learning about wellness can be overwhelming or dull to some, and even those who want to learn can have a hard time doing so in this age of information overload. Providing a fun and beautiful outlet for consistent, quality information is a thrill to create for people.
What does your daily routine look like?
Good question! Between shooting, keeping tuned in to the best of what’s happening out there and juggling our diverse array of content, my schedule changes a lot in the day to day. My day always includes coffee and green juice, a few hours-worth of email power-sessions, and meeting with our team, but other than that, anything goes. There could be a meeting with a holistic practitioner, natural beauty brand or local designer, or a little ‘research’ at one of the new farm-to-table hotspots in LA. Our Santa Monica offices are near a hard-core natural grocery store, so when I’m not away for lunch, I’m usually drooling up and down the aisles with our team over crazy new raw foods and kale chip flavors.
Can you give us your top five wellness and beauty products/habits?
Greens: Obviously I'm a huge proponent of green juice.
Whether it’s a bottle of Pressed Juicery every day, or making a smoothie at home – find a way to get more greens into your diet. Read here for more information.
Lemons: another incredibly simple daily habit for your health is to drink fresh warm lemon water first thing in the morning.
It cleanses, hydrates and nourishes your system – one of the most powerfully simple things you can do every day. Read here for more information.
Find out what makes you feel amazing: wellness is not about deprivation, it's about feeling great and clear headed.
Start thinking about how you feel after you eat different things and eat more of what leaves you feeling more alive. I’ll never stop loving cake – but I also crave giant salads with spicy dressing because I feel amazing after I eat that. Just being aware of how great that feels starts to shift your life.
Never felt amazing after eating? Start with the lemon water everyday and then consider a juice cleanse eventually.
Read labels: Start by watching for just a handful of offenders. For food: watch for hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup and msg. For beauty: watch for parabens and petroleum products. If you can remember - and eliminate from your life – products with just that handful of ingredients, you’ll headed in the right direction. To go a step deeper check out these lists here, we talk about this stuff all the time.
A few Chalkboard-y products I’m obsessed with: Odacite and La Bella Figura skin oils, Ilia, Studio 78 Paris and W3ll People natural makeup, Archipelago candles, and Alexis Smart flower remedies.
Lastly, what advice would you give someone wanting to get into journalism?
Unlike ever before, you might say it’s anyone’s guess what will succeed in media in the next two decades. The landscape of media is evolving rapidly which is exciting. There is a lot of noise out there and it’s important to stay true to the uniqueness of your message.
Even if you model yourself after people look up to in your niche or industry, at the end of the day, there's that magic touch that makes you you.
That personal perspective is invaluable and is what makes the best publications really special. When you look at emerging media, I think that’s what is most notable.
To read more on The Chalkboard take a look at these enticing stories:
For more information visit: http://thechalkboardmag.com
All photos courtesy of The Chalkboard