When Cobi Ladner was first hired at Canadian House & Home in 1990, she was the sole decorating editor on a staff of five. Today, the magazine boasts one of the largest editorial staffs in the country (25 in editorial, 12 in design), a readership of 2.5 million and a paid circulation that has more than doubled in size since owner/publisher Lynda Reeves took the magazine over in 1986.
“We’ve grown and grown and it’s sort of on its way now,” says Ladner, who debuted as editor-in-chief with the Feb/March 1993 issue, “and it doesn’t need its mother as much.” Ladner, 46, has decided to leave the editorial nest of H&H on June 24. She plans on taking the summer to recharge, spending plenty of time with her two young children and caring for her recently widowed mother. After that, “the possibilities are wide open.”
While Ladner says her decision to leave was amiable (she will consult for the magazine until the end of year and says, “I want this place to do really well without me”), she admits that some on the H&H team were shaken by the news. “One of the design editors said it felt like her parents were splitting up,” she says. “Everybody wants to understand why.”
Both personal and professional reasons were at play, Ladner says. She lost her father, Eric Ladner, to an aneurysm in February. “He was a great mentor to me,” Ladner says. “He gave me many great words of wisdom, one of them being, ‘Don’t follow your dreams, live them.’” She hasn’t quite decided what that next dream will be, at least when it comes to her work, though she does expect a return to the area of lifestyle and home décor. “I just want the chance to do something else in my lifetime.”
As for her proudest accomplishments, Ladner is particularly proud of the team she’s managed to build at H&H. “We have always put editorial first and I’m glad for that,” she says. “I feel like we’re often a training ground for many of the other magazines around town.” She’s also felt rewarded by the connection she’s been able to make with readers through the magazine. “We never win any National Magazine Awards, and yet…a day doesn’t go by when a Canadian doesn’t say to me, ‘Canadian House & Home’ is my favourite magazine.”