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Lifestyling the Less Rich and Unfamous: Blake Lively's Preserve

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When Blake Lively's lifestyle website Preserve debuted, it drew the expected comparisons to Martha Stewart (a hero of Lively's) and--more sharply--Gwyneth Paltrow's goop. Pretty actresses turning themselves into lifestyle gurus/mavens/experts with a slick website are bound to draw ire, especially since Gwyneth's goop scoop on her "Conscious Uncoupling" from husband Chris Martin. It's hard to explain the push and pull of attraction and repulsion that makes one a goop fan, but it certainly makes one predisposed to curiosity about Lively's take on lifestyle.

Plus who could resist the possibility of stumbling across Ryan Reynolds somewhere along the way?

Preserve: The Look

From a user standpoint, it's a relatively friendly website, even though the front page has that deep-scroll thing that can be kind of annoying. The color scheme is a bit dark--especially compared to Stewart's and Paltrow's light-and-airy designs--and the photography has a vintage-y, Instagram filter-y feel that further sets it apart. In her opening Editor's Letter Lively describes Preserve as "part magazine, part e-commerce hub, part philanthropic endeavor and above all, a place to showcase the power of imagination," and then tells us that her staff thinks about Preserve like a street instead of a website. Well, it's a website and it's a good one, and you don't have to put on pants to enjoy it so Preserve 1, streets 0.

Let's Go Shopping

Paltrow's goop is particularly known for outrageous shopping suggestions, but Lively shows restraint in her commerce section, where you can sort items by price, or by category: Ladies, Gents, Home, Taste, or Jewelry. (You can also sort by Name, Brand, or "Featured" items.) The most expensive piece of jewelry is a $330 string of pearls; the most expensive item overall is a $2,000 "wood marquis"--a rendering of a map in wood, with lights. Is that more or less ridiculous than $500 pajamas? You have to decide that for yourself.

Focused Philanthropy

No vagaries about "doing good" at Preserve; their philanthropy page is clear, concise, and has laid out specific, actionable goals. It's a straightforward, no-frills set of information: partnered with Covenant House, a home for homeless, trafficked, and abused youth, Preserve is donating five percent of sales in Taste, Home, and Style to Covenant House. Their first goal is 5,000 meals, 2,000 blankets, and 2,700 warm hoodies, with a promise that as Preserve experiences growth, so will its philanthropic work. You aren't going to spend a ton of time on this page--you can sign up to receive updates on Preserve's philanthropic endeavors--but the transparency is nice.

Preserve: The Issue

The biggest issue with Preserve is actually perusing the current issue, but that will likely be a matter of personal taste for the reader. The content is excellent, but the "Shop this story" box that follows you vertically as you navigate the page is completely distracting--embedding a link in a sponsored or featured product seems sufficient. Many folks won't be bothered by this, but I found it irritating from the start. It would also be great if we could see who authored a story before we click on it, but perhaps that's a favor to the non-Blake Lively writers on staff.

Overall, Preserve has promise--but let's see what Blake puts on her Christmas shopping list first, just to be sure.

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