Another changing of the guard is afoot at Time Inc., where Real Simple's longtime editor in chief Kristin van Ogtrop announced today that she'll soon be stepping down from her post at the 16-year-old magazine.
Van Ogtrop joined Real Simple as editor in 2003, making her the longest-serving editor in chief at a Time Inc. title (with the exception of former American Express brands Departures and Food & Wine). "When I got here 13 years ago, Real Simple was hardly a brand—it was a print magazine that published 10 times a year," she told Adweek. "It was a seedling, and now it's grown into this huge tree with all these branches," referencing the brand's many extensions, from a licensed product line at Bed Bath & Beyond to a 1-800-Flowers collection to ready-to-cook meal kits.
In regard to her decision to leave the magazine, van Ogtrop said, "This job has been incredibly fun and incredibly rewarding, and I have so much belief in Real Simple, but I feel that I've done everything I can do. I think that Real Simple needs someone to come in with fresh energy who hasn't already tried all the things I've tried."
While a permanent replacement for van Ogtrop hasn't been named, Time Inc. chief content officer Alan Murray and vice chairman Norm Pearlstine wrote in a memo to staffers that Real Simple executive editor Sarah Collins will serve as interim editor after van Ogtrop officially departs on Sept. 2.
Van Ogtrop has no immediate plans for the future, although she said she'd like to continue to write her regular column for sibling brand Time. As for what she hopes for Real Simple's future, she said, "I think that there are lots of things that the brand can still represent in terms of touch points in a consumer's life that have not been discovered yet, and I hope that the person who succeeds me can look at what other opportunities there are."
Real Simple currently has an audience of 17.5 million readers across print, digital, mobile and video, according to the MPA's Magazine 360 report for the first half of 2016. That audience has declined by around 5 percent year-over-year, thanks in part to a 15 percent drop in visitors to Real Simple's desktop site. The magazine's total circulation, meanwhile, held steady at about 2 million during that same period, per the AAM.