Dear Martha: A Few Thoughts About Your New Brand

David Kiley

Dear Martha:

How's the food? I tried to see you. I thought you would have liked the company. But I was turned away. I had rice crispy squares for you. When I couldn't get in, I gave them to the screws and asked that they give you an extra bar of lavender soap or something.

Listen girlfriend, I just wanted to give you a few thoughts about Act 2 of this play you call your company and your image. When you get out and start taking meetings:

1. You have to take yourself seriously, but not too seriously like you did before. You did "a good thing" for America by getting families to aspire to creating nicer home environments. A lot of people raised their standards for home decor and home cooking because of you, even if we fail to meet those standards most of the time. But you've been in jail now. If you come out and pretend it didn't happen, and continue the ice queen routine, you won't have any credibility. Look into the camera and say: "I made some mistakes. I'm human. There are some things I'd do over if I could. But I did some time in the slammer (actually say "slammer" if you think of it) and as difficult an experience as it was, I believe it will make me a stronger and better person."

2. At least think about taking corporate governance on as an issue. Talk about how you thought everything you did was correct, but maybe in retrospect it wasn't. Say this: That we can't be too careful and we can't be too willing to go further than we think we have to when it comes to doing the right thing by the people who invest in our companies.

3. Start to take on childhood obesity as an issue. Get parents' attention and let's you apply the things you know about---food and positive environments--and you will really start to make headway with your public.

4. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. You are an icon of the gay community. Address it somehow in your shows and in your magazine. Maybe even come out in favor of gay marriage.

5. The days of being a cross between June Cleaver and Leona Helmsley are over. That just isn't going to fly. And you can't just go back to talking about deep-fried turkeys, grape-vine wreaths and crackle finishes.I know your net-worth is about $1 billion now, and you don't need to listen to anyone if you don't want to. But these things I have laid out for free would probably be more fun for you than trying to just recapture the old Martha.

As I said, you still have to take yourself and what you espouse seriously, so we will. But have a sense of humor about it sometimes.

6. If there is one thing your hiatus has proved, it's that there is only one Martha Stewart.

You go girl! And call me when you get out. We'll do the brunch thing.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.