I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

What it is REALLY like to get your picture in The New York Times

First off let me state clearly that we were over-the-moon-happy with Amy Wallace’s feature story on Daily Grommet in The New York Times Sunday Business section yesterday.  Here’s a picture of me holding it.

Yes, I am wearing 20-year-old overalls.

This is our first “big” national story and we were lucky to be in the hands of such a skilled journalist.

But here’s my former fantasy (held since childhood) about what it would be like to get my picture taken for an important article:

  • I’d get a good night’s sleep before the photo session.  And I would be serene and composed, having deferred all difficult tasks to another day.
  • I would make sure my hair looked good.
  • I’d carefully plan my wardrobe to be flattering and, surely, project the right image.

Here is what really happened.  We had one hour’s notice of the photo shoot. I’ve been traveling non stop and we realized we HAD to do it on a rare day in the office. The NYT pulled a photographer out of the hat very quickly to accommodate.

Joanne and I each had a brief 10 second panic.  Not just for the surprise.  More that we were in no state to be photographed.  And that is not vanity talking…

It was a 95 degree high humidity day in Boston and we had spent most of it shooting video.  That is tiring in itself, but the hardest part is we have to turn off the air conditioning in the office to avoid the blowing sounds.  It’s a challenging day for all of us because of that.  (No heat in the winter either, but that is not as uncomfortable.)

Joanne and I were stained, rumpled, sweaty messes.  Whatever hairdo or makeup we had sported in the morning had been long wiped out.  We each  made a quick plan to buzz home and put on something clean.  I said, “I’m coming back in a white t-shirt and a black vest.”  She said, “No!  That’s my go-to outfit for pictures.” Clearly we’ve been working together too closely.

I thought about fighting back.  But I then realized I could make no such impressive claim to having a “a go-to outfit.”  So I stuck with the wrinkled (never ironed it in the AM anyway) linen print dress I had on.  (Julia reassured me it was “very Grommet.”)  I did go home to slap on some makeup…but the reality of that photo is we were still dripping with sweat and anything but fresh.

Jodi Hilton took this for the New York Times. She was lovely and talented.

When the actual article came out (online first) I was afraid to look (not so much for the photo but for any stray bonehead quotes I had provided).    We knew it would hit at 3PM on Saturday and I cowardly stayed down on the dock in Maine while my family and a bunch of friends from Dublin and Detroit  were up in the camp hitting “refresh refresh refresh” on the NYT site.  When the article finally appeared, 19-year-old Julie (who won Miss Trinity College Dublin this year) used her finest elocution skills to read the article to all assembled.  Then, my “toughest critic” son showed up on the dock sporting an iPad and a big smile.  I knew I was in the clear.

Amy had spared me from myself, this time.

My hair does look sweaty, though.

22 Responses to “What it is REALLY like to get your picture in The New York Times”

  1. Sally

    Great news on the NYT article. It also got read aloud to my visitors in Vt on saturday afternoon so news spread quickly thanks to social media. I proceeded to tell them about all the grommets I have.

    Love the honest and authentic post!!!!!

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Sally, you really are the best. And if startup people can’t be honest, we are letting each other down. The highs and lows are so dramatic…

      Reply
  2. Jill

    Jules, your humor and completely grounded approach to something as monumental as a NYT feature keeps me coming back to your blog for more. Thanks for keeping things so very real, not to mention funny!

    Reply
    • julespieri

      I was told by a Shamanic Healer (OK, there is a blog post in that itself) that my mission in life is to bring color and lightness to the world. I have a long way to go to meet THAT challenge, but I am glad I have leavened a tiny corner of your world Jill.

      Reply
  3. Michele Pearl

    Jules,

    Congrats on the big article and thanks so much for the great post! You crack me up…the pic looks great.

    Reply
  4. Giff

    It was a great article and I didn’t notice what you mean about the picture until you pointed it out here!

    Reply
  5. Claudia

    Natural beauty, poise, and humor shine through every time! If the NYT readers want perfect hair and makeup (rather than real people), they can go to the Fashion section. Great job; thanks for the entertaining (as always) post. Congrats!

    Reply
  6. Dan Weinreb

    Jules,
    So have you opened the Champagne I dropped off yesterday? Probably between the excitement of the new York Times, and the rush about getting your son off to college (which is exactly what’s happening over here at my house!), it might not be the right time!

    Huge congratulations again! This is just so wonderful! THhe article itself is so well-written; the reporter really GETS it, which is so important to any publicity about Daily Grommet. The concept is easy to misunderstand if one is not paying enough attention, and many reporters make that kind of mistake, but she really got it right

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Dan, I am saving the Champagne for the next team meeting, when we will toast you for your kindness, and our team for the article. Thanks so much. And I totally agree about the reporter.

      Reply
  7. Dennis

    Being your brother the same limits that may govern your other blog readers does not apply to me. I can be frank, unflattering, cruel, stinging and take revenge for any intended or unintended injustice you evoked on your younger brother in our youth. (The GI Joe you ruined comes to mind). That stated, I want to say I’am extremely proud of your achievements in life and with the Daily Grommett. Those close to you know you earned the right to sweat on camera because thats what you Grometteers have done thus far to get where you are. OK one shot. Mom called and she wants the her dress back by Friday for bridge.

    Reply
  8. Jodi

    Jules and Joanne were so lovely, relaxed and wonderful to photograph that I had no idea of the stress my appearance caused! They are pros in front of the camera and I so appreciated their natural way and their ability to allow me to work in the way I find most appealing, which is to say I like to photograph real people being themselves.

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Jodi…you made it easy, truly. Because I trusted that Zvi would never see the really awful shots that showed us looking like wet noodles.

      Reply
  9. Spotlight: Daily Grommet’s Jules Pieri

    […] I had been looking forward to meeting Jules for quite some time before we sat down over coffee. Not surprisingly given our focus over here at Aprizi and The Tail, we find Daily Grommet’s goals quite inspirational. Jules has a clear sense of mission (and if you want to get a taste of her personality, check out her blog post on getting photographed for The New York Times). […]

    Reply
  10. Billy

    Jules is the best! Thank you for all your support. Sporting-Sails loves Daily Grommet!! Always has, always will.

    Reply
  11. True tales from our 2012 tour of duty « Jules Pieri

    […] Readers of this blog know that I like to tell true tales of my entrepreneurial experience, which are not always glamorous.  Like stories about sharing a bed with another CEO to save money, getting bird shit on my face before a VC presentation, and what it is really like to get your picture in the New York Times. […]

    Reply

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