The Insider: Marina Khidekel
As the way-busy deputy editor of Cosmopolitan, Marina Khidekel was not exactly in the market for a side hustle. But when she realized the world was missing out on her savvy friends’ tips and discoveries, she knew she had to launch Undrrated, a newsletter to share obsessions like the best prosecco bar, a face balm worth using religiously, and the greatest flight-tracking app. So, do we even have to tell you’re going to want to subscribe ASAP? Or did you get that already?
Q: Since you’re the expert: What under-the-radar things are we missing out on?
A: “Part of the fun of Undrrated for me is getting to discover lesser-known shopping destinations that cool people swear by. Stacy London recommended Kule, which makes these European-chic striped tops. I totally bought one. Danielle Panabaker, who stars on CW’s The Flash, is into the cool Australian clothing line Zimmermann (their swimsuits are awesome!), and she uses the browser extension Shoptagr, where you save items you want and get alerts when they go on sale. Time Out New York editor-in-chief Carla Sosenko raved about Black Crane’s clothes, which she learned about when she interviewed the Broad City girls for a cover shoot, and Abbi was wearing a Black Crane top. The incredible (and incredibly down-to-earth!) Misty Copeland was telling me how much she loves Max Delivery and the ClosetSpace app. Actress/author Jenny Mollen shared a funny story about how she became obsessed with The Anou for Moroccan rugs. And bestselling author Sloane Crosley recommended...wait for it...Of a Kind! Which I can totally get behind, of course.”
“Personally, I love Lady Grey jewelry because each collection feels like a surprise, and I always find a new favorite piece. I also like AdornMilk for architectural jewelry. And I’m psyched to get new bedding from Brooklinen—a critical mass of friends have recently raved about how soft (and affordable) their sheets are.”
Q: On the flip side, what’s the internet’s most overrated trend? And don’t say avocado toast!
A: “Do you think I'll get death threats if I say we’ve reached peak flower crown?”
Q: What’s your go-to housewarming present?
A: “I used to do the candle thing. Diptyque is always a classic. But everyone does the candle thing, so I changed course and have been giving people a Swissted print. For fans of music or design, which is basically everyone I know, you can’t go wrong with this poster series, which takes info from punk and indie rock shows from the seventies, eighties, and nineties (like Nirvana opening for Dinosaur Jr. in 1991 and the Ramones opening for Television in 1974!) and re-imagines that info into gorgeous, Swiss Modernist typographic prints. And full disclosure: I am biased because Swissted is the work of my boyfriend, graphic designer Mike Joyce, but the prints make really special gifts. Everyone needs a piece of art for their home—the hardest part is deciding on one.”
Q: You have $40 and a well-stocked Duane Reade in which to blow it. How do you spend it?
A: “I swear by La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid—I layer it under tinted moisturizer for a perfect mix of sun protection, moisture, and a little coverage. With whatever cash is left over, I’ll stock up on San Pellegrino—the bubbles are smaller than other sparkling waters, which makes it better IMHO, and I’m thoroughly addicted to it.”
Q: When’s the last time working-out felt fun?
A: “When I signed up for DanceBody@Home, the new streaming video service from dance-cardio queen Katia Pryce, who has THE most inspiring body in the fitness world. I’ve had zero dance training, so with the videos, I can flail around in my living room and learn her routines on my own time. Plus, her sculpting classes are much more fun—and for me, get better results—than a typical squat- and burpee-driven workout. I’ve also gone through phases where I was going to Bari’s Bounce classes a lot—it’s super-fun, high-energy trampoline cardio and much harder than it looks (note to self: get back on that horse). When I need variety or a quick-hit workout, I do Fitness Blender’s videos. You can choose from a huge range of refreshingly minimal (and free) cardio, HIIT, strength, and pilates workouts of all different lengths led by a blessedly non-annoying husband-and-wife trainer team.”
Q: It’s like playing favorites, I know, but tell us about one Cosmo story that we all need to read ASAP.
A: “No way can I pick just one. I’m incredibly lucky to be working at Cosmopolitan under editor Joanna Coles, who supports me in wanting to push our cultural conversation forward, especially in covering the way young women experience love, sex, and relationships—topics that other publications don’t always treat with the depth they deserve.
But I will name a few recent favorites! I loved this deeply personal, deeply reported look into the rise of single mothers by choice by Kate Bolick, whose riveting book Spinster is now out in paperback and should not be missed. I can’t stop thinking about this smart essay by Michelle Tea, in which she explores whether we still need orientation labels in the age of sexual fluidity. Nobody writes about existential dilemmas with more heart and less BS than “Ask Polly” herself, Heather Havrilesky. I loved her fresh take on what we should really put on our love “checklist.” I recently got to sign the brilliant author and love/sex therapist Esther Perel to a monthly column, where she goes deep (sometimes uncomfortably deep) into topics like whether it’s ever ok to snoop on your partner and why we keep having the same fights over and over again. It’s like a free therapy session in each issue!
Q: What advice would do you give to young people who want to be writers, editors, newsletter moguls, etc.?
A: “When I was starting out in media, there were a lot fewer opportunities. If you wanted your voice and byline out there, you had to get a job at a publication that would publish you. That’s not the case anymore. The first thing I’d say is don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write—just start! Write a series on Medium, start a blog, slay your Twitter account, all while pitching a bunch of publications. If something moves you, write consistently on that topic, find interesting new spins on it, and become an expert on it.”
“The second piece of advice I’d give is don’t shy away from research and reporting. So many people want to fire off their opinion about something and add a funny GIF , but we’re pretty saturated with that kind of content (and I love a funny GIF as much as the next person). If a young person can bring real reporting skills to the table and actually gets excited about digging deeper for new angles, finding good stats, cultivating sources, adding layers to a story—they’ll have an advantage over everyone else vying for the same job. I think there will always be a need for content that’s engrossing, enlightening, and entertaining. The more you can deliver that, the more doors will open for you in all types of media.”