Storytelling with Sara Harowitz, Editor in Chief of Natural Habitat
At Courant, we’re inspired by stories of innovative design and trend tastemaking. Some of our favorite brands have storytelling at their forefront — this next feature is no exception.
We had the pleasure to talk with Sara Harowitz, Editor in Chief of Natural Habitat, a print and digital publication by vitruvi. In their words, Natural Habitat is “an exploration of what it means to be at home — in our bodies, in our spaces, and in our world.”
Sara has shown us, in her witty and poignant style, just that same mission. In sharing her daily essentials, grounding routines and the importance of storytelling that surrounds her day-to-day, we felt welcomed right into Sara’s “home” — one that, depending on who you are, might even feel like a hotel.
Read on to hear Sara’s illuminating perspective.
What is most important in curating a space to you at home? Look, feel, design?
I’m a very clean and organized person, but at the same time, I don’t want my space to feel sterile. Things are always put away, but throw blankets are never folded, the bed is never made, and there are always pots on the stove. I’m also pretty minimal in terms of my possessions; I try to only keep things that really matter to me. Books on the shelves, art on the walls, cozy textures, and a good scent in the air (vitruvi’s Dusk is my forever favorite) make my space truly feel like it’s mine.
A guy I dated once told me that coming to my apartment felt like staying at a hotel. Then again, his bed frame was just a bunch of wooden planks drilled together, so the bar was pretty low.
At Courant, we talk often about the power of a meaningful routine—from putting your phone down before getting ready for bed to diffusing scents to wake up. What are your daily routines that help you set the tone of the day?
A big game-changer for me was getting a real alarm clock (shoutout to Loftie) and no longer using my phone to wake me up. These days, I keep my phone on my desk overnight (charging on my Courant CATCH:2) and try not to look at it until after I’m showered and ready for the day. Beyond that, coffee is a huge part of my morning ritual; I grind my beans fresh for every cup, and revel in the little ritual of packing and pulling an espresso shot. I’ve also taken up the habit of doing The New York Times app’s mini crossword before I start work in the morning. It’s a great two-minute brain wake-up.
You have our new Essentials collection at home (and it looks great!). What are your everyday essentials?
The Courant CATCH:2 has honestly been so great to have on my desk! I talk on the phone often and am always listening to music on walks, so it’s been very luxurious to be able to charge my cell and my AirPods at the same time. I’ve always got a book on the go, and try to prioritize reading before bed to calm my mind; right now it’s The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, and on deck is Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I also love my vitruvi diffusers, of course; I have three. My espresso machine—a hand-me-down from my big brother—has to be mentioned, too.
You create insightful editorial work for vitruvi as the content director and editor-in-chief of Natural Habitat—from conception to publishing, what’s your process?
I’m lucky that I’ve been working in the editorial landscape for over 10 years, which has allowed me the time and space to refine my process. These days, I receive a lot of story ideas from writers and publicists or marketers; if any of those are a fit, we’ll hash out an angle and get the necessary pieces in place. I come up with a lot of ideas on my own, as well, which is a combination of tips from our digital team, what I see covered (or not covered) in the broader cultural conversation, and simply what I’m interested in and want to explore deeper. Last year we launched the first print edition of Natural Habitat, which invited readers into our universe in a whole new way; that project took years of prep, months of head-down work, some very late nights, and an incredible in-house team.
We love how you tell a story through a scent at vitruvi. What’s important to you about combining the vitruvi brand with content storytelling?
Storytelling has actually been part of vitruvi’s ethos since the very beginning: our cofounder Sara Panton had a blog about botanicals and natural wellness modalities before starting to create her own products. For me, editorial content is a way to engage with and inspire our community in a larger, richer way. It’s not just about our products (though there is plenty of that, too)—it’s about the lifestyle and culture that goes along with our company’s broader values about home, natural living, and design.
What’s inspiring you in the content space at the moment?
It’s very interesting to be immersed in content, which people seem to be both abandoning with aplomb (RIP, print edition of InStyle) and trying to capitalize on (every celebrity with a podcast, blog, or newsletter). I think the projects that do the best job are the ones that see storytelling as a long game; it’s about brand equity and loyalty, not instant return. Air Canada (seriously), Cuup, and SSENSE are great examples of brands with excellent editorial arms. Hunter Harris and Stacy Lee Kong both write fantastic pop culture newsletters, albeit from very different angles. In terms of the more “traditional” media landscape, The Cut and Refinery29 are still my lifestyle go-tos—they cover important issues that matter to me, like politics and feminism, but also talk about the latest in pop culture. Anyone who says that women can’t be interested in all of the above is simply not listening.
I think the projects that do the best job are the ones that see storytelling as a long game; it’s about brand equity and loyalty, not instant return.
Photos courtesy of Sara Harowitz