Meet Maura Walters
ON HER MORNING ROUTINE
My daughter is my human alarm clock, and we’re usually up at 6 AM. We have some snuggle time in bed, and then all have breakfast together (waffles, fruit and milk for her, hardboiled eggs and a piece of whole wheat toast with olive oil and sea salt, or oatmeal for me and my husband), sing some songs, and read books. Vivienne, my daughter, is really into Paddington lately. I usually leave for work around 9:30am, and try to make the walk to the subway a noise-free zone. Meaning, I’m not listening to any music or podcasts, or frantically emailing while walking. It’s a nice time to reflect and map out my day. Once on the train, I like to read an old paperback. I’m currently devouring Heartburn by Nora Ephron, and have Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles on standby.
ON HER career
I always knew I wanted to tell stories. I remember in first grade we had to write little biographies about ourselves, and mine said, “Maura likes to write stories.” I feel really lucky that I’ve always known who and what I wanted to be. I got my start as the second assistant to the editor-in-chief of Town & Country, back when editors-in-chief still had two assistants. From there, I jumped to another publication and another after that, freelanced for a couple years (which I highly recommend; it gives you autonomy but also forces you to become a generalist since you need to say “yes” to most assignments—at least when you’re starting out—for financial security). I needed to be out of an office for a while, and that opened me up to some wonderful opportunities: I traveled to Japan, China, and Thailand for assignments, and started hosting a monthly article club with several brilliant women (it’s like a book club, but instead we dissect two-three articles chosen by different people in the group.)
On the most challenging part of her job
I think every digital editor struggles with executing well-articulated and moving content in a very short period of time. The most rewarding part of my job is helping a writer tell the best possible version of his or her story. Having been on the other side of the editor-writer relationship, I know how valuable it is to work with an editor who can pinpoint the heart of what you’re trying to say without telling you how to say it. My favorite part of the job is collaborating with people from different departments on one special project whom I don’t get to interact with normally: I think you become a better story teller when you look at said story from a totally different perspective.
ON HER skincare ROUTINE
In the morning I clean my face with a grapefruit polish by Diane Higgins. She's a facialist who works out of a no-frills studio on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, and she transformed my skin. Her plant-based products (many of which are made with ingredients cultivated in her garden in upstate New York) are equally gentle and effective, and they come with little hand-written instructions so you feel as though they were made just for you. I used to call Diane a beauty editor secret, but I've sent so many people to her--my mother included—that she’s under the radar no more. I don’t let anyone else touch my skin. After cleansing, I'll pat Estée Lauder Softening Lotion on my face. This may be heresy, but I like it better than SKII. It's light and hydrating and a third of the price. After the Softening Lotion, I pat on a few drops of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. I use it day and night, and I’d bathe in it if I could. I am a big Estée Lauder fan. HUGE. My grandmother was a devotee, and even at 97, strangers still stopped her on the street to ask what her secret was. It was Estée! And a lot of sunscreen. At night, I’ll double cleanse, first with an oil and then with a face wash. I don’t know why it took me so long to catch on to the double cleanse. It’s the most effective way I’ve found of getting rid of makeup. Then I’ll apply a few drops of Vintner’s Daughter, this incredible all natural serum made with 22 different plants, followed by Diane’s Hydra Replenish Cream.
ON HER Makeup ROUTINE
I’ve been lucky to work in close proximity to a beauty closet for a decade, and I’ve amassed a few favorite products (and some tricks) along the way: First, never buy fancy mascara. L’Oreal Voluminous is the best, and it’s like $6. Lancome Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Leg Gel is actually my favorite self-tanner for the face. It never streaks, and gives you a subtle, not at all obvious tan. And since it comes in a big bottle, you’ll have it for a year. Amazing Concealer (yes, that’s the name of the brand) is in fact amazing, and IT Cosmetics makes a CC cream that’s the longest-lasting I’ve ever worn. I can put that on at 6 AM and it will not have budged by the time I’m ready for bed. I decided to try natural deodorant a few years ago after reading one too many scary articles about the dangers of aluminum, and Soapwalla Deodorant Cream is insanely effective. I have no idea how a natural deodorant is so good at warding off B.O.—it’s better than most antiperspirants.
ON HER FAVORITE Records
My husband turned me on to Jason Isbell as soon as we met, in 2007, and in many ways I feel like he’s provided the soundtrack to our relationship. I feel like he’s a once-in-a-generation singer. After Vivienne was born, David gave me a rose-gold ring engraved with a lyric from one of our favorite songs.
ON HER MOTHERHOOD
Becoming a new mom has changed me in the best possible ways: I’m more patient and I’ve developed a go-with-the-flow attitude that I definitely never had previously. Being a mother has made me more empathetic, too. Empathy is such an underused emotion. I’ve come to learn that you never know what other people are going through, which is especially important when dealing with conflict. Most importantly, since becoming a mother I just give less of a shit about what people think of me. It’s oddly liberating.
I really love to cook and I really love to read, and since I primarily edit in my professional life right now, I try to write creatively, just for myself, in my spare time. Every now and then I’ll treat myself to a massage, but they’re so overpriced in New York City—I need to have at least 20 knots in my back to justify the cost! The best part of my daily routine is the morning time with my daughter. There’s nothing better than snuggling with her in bed, smelling her hair, and making her giggle.
On having a mentor and advice on breaking into publishing
I was very fortunate to have a wonderful mentor at the start of my career—Laura Brown. I was unemployed and desperate to break into magazines, and she was kind enough to give me 15 minutes of her time. It turned out she was looking for someone to fill in for an assistant features editor who was going on maternity leave, and asked if I’d be interested in coming to work for her at Harper’s Bazaar for 12 weeks. I ended up staying for three years, and it was a transformative experience. My advice for breaking into publishing is incredibly old-school: Buy every magazine you think you want to work at, write down the names of everyone whose job title sounds appealing to you, see what they’re up to, and write them a sincere email. Flattery will get you everywhere. You may only hear from one of the fifty people you email, but that one person could change your career. Also, say yes to every meeting and every assignment (even if it’s out of your comfort zone).
Maura's FAVORITE BOOKS
Maura's FAVORITE RECORDS
Maura's FAVORITE MOVIES
The Sound of Music ; Dirty Dancing ; Goodwill Hunting ; Moonlight
Maura's FAVORITE PLACES
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is such an inspiring, creative place for both parents and kids
Glady’s for the best Caribbean food
Barboncino for world-class pizza and meatballs
The Cotton Bean for matcha lattes
Maman Tribeca for a home-y café with great coffee and cookies
Hibino in Cobble Hill for Sushi
Sally Hershberger/Tim Rogers Salon for an amazing haircut
Diane Higgins, UES for facials