Why Martha Stewart Is Everything to These DIY Bloggers

(L-R) Mandee Renaldi, Nicole Young, Jen Hajer
(L-R) Mandee Renaldi, Nicole Young, Jen Hajer

Martha Stewart, television personality and domestic goddess, has cornered the DIY market and, according to a story published this week, she has also inspired a booming online community of hardcore Martha Stewart fans on Facebook, Pinterest, and in the blogosphere, who yearn to decoupage lace pillows and perfectly de-seed a pomegranate just like their idol.

Why is Stewart so appealing to women? Mandee Renaldi, 27, a Realtor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, whose Facebook page Martha Stewart Wannabe and Etsy store featuring her crocheted baby beanies was name-checked in a Salon story, chalks it up to plain old admiration. “Martha Stewart is an all-around expert in life,” Renaldi tells Yahoo Shine. “She’s so aspirational — who else owns a chestnut-roasting pan?” Renaldi’s husband has even nicknamed his wife “Martha.”

For others, Stewart is a nostalgic throwback to simpler days. “I was raised in an immaculate home where we ate homecooked meals every night,” Nicole Peterson, a 40-year-old photographer and author of the blog Life as a Martha Wannabe (also noted in Salon's story), tells Yahoo Shine. “When I got married, I wanted to pack my husband's lunch in the morning and make sure he lived in a clean house. Martha became a resource to me as a queen of minutia and everyday life — I never would have learned to fold a fitted sheet without her.” And while Peterson is now divorced, Stewart continues to inspire. “She doesn’t teach women how to be perfect wives,” she says. “Her lifestyle is attainable for single women, too.”  

Jen Hajer, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mother of two from Naperville, Illinois, and creator of The Martha Project, a blog devoted to document “all the things I do that are Martha inspired,” (tie-dye doilies, glass blowing, gardening, cooking), says her obsession with Stewart began when she was 22. “I was cleaning my dirty apartment one day and had Martha’s television show on. She was making a Christmas wreath, and I suddenly realized that I wanted the kind of life she was projecting. I was always creative, but I didn’t know how to to channel my energy until right then.” For Hajer, Stewart is also a bit of a feminist inspiration. “She’s a businesswoman, even at the age of 72, and is non-apologetic about her drive to succeed,” she says. Hajer owns 17 years' worth of back issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine and can't bear to part with them. “I tried trashing them once and then retrieved them out of the garbage cans later,” she shares.

Despite their devotion, many of Martha's most die-hard followers admit they’ll never reach the lifestyle maven's level. Jen Lancaster writes in her book The Tao of Martha, “I realize that Martha would shudder at my half-assery.” Amanda Demers, who runs the blog From Thee to We, admits, “I am organized, but I’m not Martha Stewart. I am a perfectionist, but I’m not Martha Stewart. I am crafty, but I’m not Martha Stewart.”

And Renaldi, Young, and Hajer aren't deterred by comments Stewart made in 2013 during an interview on Bloomberg TV, when she said, “Who are these bloggers?... I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create kind of a popularity, but they are not the experts.”

"She had a point," says Hajer. "Martha has a large staff who prep and test her recipes to ensure a certain standard is upheld. And who else has time to dip-dye paper for thank-you notes? But she needs bloggers like us to spread her message."

More on Yahoo Shine:
Martha Stewart Awkwardly Promotes a Cough Drop
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