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How Chloe Harris Plans to Dominate San Francisco Publishing

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Photo by <a href="">Aubrie Pick</a>
Photo by Aubrie Pick

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Chloe Harris first began working at 7x7 in 2004. Three years later, she left for a stint in online publishing, joined a few advisory boards, then in 2011 returned to 7x7 as editor-in-chief. Earlier this year, she bought the darn magazine. Now, she's functioning as president and editor-in-chief, and she has big plans for her publication—both online and in print—to to become an even bigger player in San Francisco media and as a lifestyle brand. We visited the mag's SoMa digs and got the lowdown on changes Harris has in store (there will be many!), as well as her favorite shopping haunts, beauty routine and how she keeps that check-signing arm in good shape.

You bought 7x7! Tell us everything: What made you you want to own the magazine? How does it feel to be head honcho?
"I've wanted to run my own magazine for about as long as I can remember—I think it was my way of combining my love of storytelling with a need to curate my life around all the creative people and cool stuff I love. I started at 7x7 as an associate editor back in 2004, and I've worked with the brand off and on ever since. It's become part of who I am. People keep telling me what a 'bold' move it was to buy a magazine. Bold is polite for crazy. But it feels right.

Head honcho? I don't think of myself that way. Though, people keep calling me Boss Lady, LOL. I guess it's empowering to know that I started at 7x7 ten years ago at the bottom of the masthead, and have found my way to the top. But I am just one person in a team of unbelievably smart and talented people, some of whom I've worked with for years. Buying this company without them on board—that would have been crazy. There's no doing this without them. I can't tell them this enough."

Photo by Aubrie Pick

What changes do you have planned?
"The vision for 7x7 has, since its launch in 2001, always been to bring our readers the best life you can live in San Francisco. That hasn't changed, though we are always seeking to improve—we're all a little competitive. For the past two years, we've worked to elevate our print magazine to a new height of quality and, as a result, readership and revenue are up—we had a record-breaking first quarter. We are also seeing rapid growth in digital. We now have nearly a half a million readers on, and we launched our first app, The Big Eat, in February. Our second app, The Big Drink, is due out in July. And there are surprises coming on—but I'm not telling what! We are also expanding into 7x7 experiences, which is really exciting. For over a decade, we've been the authority on what to eat, drink, shop and do in SF. Now we're going to get out there and do it all with you. The 7x7 Big Eat Live!—at AT&T Park on July 19—will be our first really dynamic step into community-building events, with more than 30 amazing local restaurants coming to give tastes of our favorite dishes. We are investing heavily in the brand right now. So, not only will we be the best San Francisco regional publication, we will be the lifestyle brand for the SF Bay Area."

You spent some time at Zimbio launching their fashion website Style Bistro. Did that experience help you devise a plan for 7x7's web presence?
"Absolutely. StyleBistro was an eye opener. We had more engineers on staff than editors, and SEO data drove content. It worked—we climbed to the top 10 among fashion websites in just two years, leaving the Vogues of the internet in the dust. Ultimately, I craved more editorial integrity, but I learned a thing or two about how to succeed online. What works in print doesn't work on the web. Reader behavior is different. Now I have the best of both worlds: fun and relevant curated content, and the tools to do the geeky stuff like SEO and competitive analysis."

How has your job changed post-acquisition?
"I'm doing exactly what I was meant to do. And I sign more checks."

What makes 7x7 stand out from other SF city publications?
"7x7 is an independent, locally owned and operated media company. Our competition can't say the same, and that's incredibly liberating. We can be a fully dynamic media brand—we can push the boundaries and constantly evolve—while also staying 100 percent authentic to San Francisco in the moment. 7x7 aims for a sweet spot between our city's iconic indie spirit, urban millennial cool, and an aspirational lifestyle—a convergence that very much reflects what's happening here, from the Mission to Oakland to Palo Alto. We speak directly to the reader that everyone wants to be: young at heart and in-the-know in one of the most fantastic places on earth."

And now let's talk about you! What are your favorite go-to boutiques in SF? Do you have any favorite new additions?
"Freda Salvador for boots; Basil Racuk for leather bags; Coup d'Etat and Future Perfect for home. I also love the organic cotton comfies at Alternative Apparel, the book selection at Unionmade, and I will forever be a fan of M.A.C. (Modern Appealing Clothing). Melissa Fleis doesn't have a boutique yet, but when she does, I'll be a regular.

What's your favorite shopping neighborhood?

Where do you work out, if you have time for such things these days?
"Let's just say I sign up for more Pilates classes than I actually attend. I also just bought my first bike in 20 years—a cruiser from Public Bikes. I attempt to ride it along the Embarcadero. Is it like riding a bike? I'm not yet sure. But it's adorbs."

What's your beauty routine?
"I am religious about facials at Lori Anderson Skincare, mani/pedis at Mizu Spa or Lux SF, haircuts at Cinta Salon, at-home hair color from SoMa-based startup Madison Reed, and as many massages as I can cajole out of my boyfriend, Jake.
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