- Emma Baumgartel
Three Questions with Wendy Franzen, Editor in Chief of Forest & Bluff Magazine
Forest & Bluff Magazine, the monthly lifestyle publication covering the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities, recently welcomed Wendy Franzen as its new Editor in Chief. Franzen, who took the reins of the magazine in February of 2020 (her first full issue was May 2020) has added a fresh, new feel to its pages. A previous column writer and continuing cooking, entertaining, and gardening blogger at Fletcher + Fork, Franzen made a seamless transition into her new role and recently took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her background and exciting plans for Forest & Bluff.
Photography by Monica Kass Rogers
EB: Please tell me a little about your writing background and how that led to your new position as Editor in Chief of Forest & Bluff.
WF: Writing has always been a big part of my life, beginning with journaling. A distinct 2nd grade memory is of running in the house to write about the giant honeysuckle bush in our West Virginia backyard and what it was like to pull the blossoms apart, tasting the drips of sweet nectar. It was all very, “Dear Diary, today I…,” but writing has always been—even back then—about documenting the world around me and wanting to paint word pictures to remember experiences. This practice served me well at DePauw University where, as an art history major, every test was blue book—which I loved. I may not have aced a multiple-choice exam had I been given one, but I could always write my way into a decent grade! After graduate school, my husband and I decided to have a family and I stayed home with our children. Needing a creative outlet, I developed a lifestyle blog, back when blogging was in its infancy. When we moved to Lake Forest a decade ago, it caught the attention of someone at JWC Media and I began writing for Sheridan Road, eventually having a dedicated food and cocktail column. When the Editor in Chief position opened up at Forest & Bluff, I was immediately interested. I had been writing about style, food, cultural events and travel, and taking photographs for years, so it was a natural fit.
EB: Are you contemplating any new ideas for the magazine and can you share those or plans in the works?
WF: During my first month as editor, I spent a great deal of time looking through 20 years of back issues. Though I have lived in Lake Forest for a long time now, it was inspiring on a new level to read these stories—they reminded me of how unique and philanthropically driven our community is. The cornerstone of Forest & Bluff has always been, and will always be, highlighting the extraordinary residents of our community. My goal when I came on board was to add fresh content that would pique the interest of new readers and also engage past readers in new ways.
My favorite addition to the magazine has been the House & Garden department. One Sunday drive through the neighborhoods of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff will show we are a community that enjoys gardening, so creating our In the Garden section was one of the first things I did. And it may be old school, but I love and appreciate the gracious hospitality of our community members. Whether it is a fireside dinner party for eight, an expansive front lawn celebration during Lake Bluff’s Fourth of July parade, or a cocktail gathering with philanthropic purpose, many of our residents enjoy entertaining at home, so Entertaining was also at the top of my list of sections to add. In our Personal Best department, The Sporting Life section celebrates the athletes, coaches, and instructors of our community. I felt it important to highlight equally the young and old, male and female, those competitively driven and those who are simply personal besting—from the Division I golfer to the sexagenarian swim coach. One does not have to be athletically inclined to appreciate the dedication and drive of the individuals whose journeys land on these pages. At their core, they are stories of perseverance.
The sections in Forest & Bluff will undoubtedly evolve and grow with time in order to stay fresh and relevant, but I am enjoying the stride we have hit right now. Having just completed my 11th issue, I am still learning something new every day, and I am incredibly grateful for my colleagues who help execute the magazine and my vision for it, month after month.
EB: What message would you like to tell readers of the magazine?
WF: I would love for readers to know that they can contact me anytime with ideas for stories or people who they feel should be highlighted! Some of my favorite features have come from community members reaching out to me sharing the story of a friend, an organization, or colleague who is doing something noteworthy.
Franzen can be reached at email@example.com. To read the latest issues of Forest & Bluff Magazine, visit forestbluff.com.