Fairfield County Business Journal

The Modern Estate drafts plans for expansion, by Alexander Soule

The Modern Estate drafts plans for expansion, by Alexander Soule

For its spring issue, The Modern Estate magazine ran a cover story on the Glass House. Before long, the magazine’s readers will get a better peek at the products it features in its pages. The Greenwich startup is finalizing plans for a new headquarters that will double as a product showroom ¬ a concept it plans to expand nationally as it couples new showrooms with market-specific editions in various enclaves.

The company also plans to increase its publication frequency to monthly from its current quarterly schedule, and has spoken with a television TV company about a potential program. The Modern Estate’s owners say they will finance the expansion by raising venture capital or private equity funding. They anticipate tripling their staff within a year to a dozen people. If it sounds like a media recipe straight out of “Martha Stewart Living,” The Modern Estate has a lot more Architectural Digest at its foundation. Launched a year ago by Richard and Linda Donnelly, The Modern Estate targets high-end builders, contractors and designers for luxury houses.

Following cosmetic changes from the first issue last fall, The Modern Estate had its breakthrough issue last spring, when it nailed down an early exclusive on the Philip Johnson property in New Canaan. The estate, with its iconic glass house, was opened this summer to the public. The issue won an award from Folio, a trade magazine for the publishing industry produced by Norwalk-based Red 7 Media L.L.C.

On the heels of the Folio award, newsstand and book store distribution jumped 84 percent for the summer issue of The Modern Estate. The Donnelly’s cannot point to any one reason, and surmise the increase might have been due to shoppers seeing it on the stands long enough to get curious.

The magazine underwent a face-lift after the initial issue. The Donnelly’s dumped their printing company’s in-house graphics design staff and hired New Jersey-based Big Designs Inc. to handle design initiatives. The most significant change was expanding the size of the magazine by roughly a half-inch. They still were pleased with the initial product. “There was just a sigh that we got something out that looked as good as it did,” said Richard Donnelly.

A new set of design decisions are now on his plate. The Modern Estate is finalizing plans to build a “green” headquarters to double as a “center of excellence,” functioning both as a showroom and a small conference center for seminars on construction and architecture.

While the Donnelly’s plan to keep the company based in lower Fairfield County, they hope to add other markets soon. The West Palm Beach, Fla., area might be a natural expansion route, given local residents who have second homes in that area.

Ultimately, the Donnelly’s think they can build a $200 million company.

“My understanding is that there are 14 pockets of wealth in the United States,” Linda Donnelly said. “I’d like to see The Modern Estate in each of them along with a center of excellence.”

For its spring issue, The Modern Estate magazine ran a cover story on the Glass House. Before long, the magazine’s readers will get a better peek at the products it features in its pages. The Greenwich startup is finalizing plans for a new headquarters that will double as a product showroom ¬ a concept it plans to expand nationally as it couples new showrooms with market-specific editions in various enclaves.

The company also plans to increase its publication frequency to monthly from its current quarterly schedule, and has spoken with a television TV company about a potential program. The Modern Estate’s owners say they will finance the expansion by raising venture capital or private equity funding. They anticipate tripling their staff within a year to a dozen people. If it sounds like a media recipe straight out of “Martha Stewart Living,” The Modern Estate has a lot more Architectural Digest at its foundation. Launched a year ago by Richard and Linda Donnelly, The Modern Estate targets high-end builders, contractors and designers for luxury houses.

Following cosmetic changes from the first issue last fall, The Modern Estate had its breakthrough issue last spring, when it nailed down an early exclusive on the Philip Johnson property in New Canaan. The estate, with its iconic glass house, was opened this summer to the public. The issue won an award from Folio, a trade magazine for the publishing industry produced by Norwalk-based Red 7 Media L.L.C.

On the heels of the Folio award, newsstand and book store distribution jumped 84 percent for the summer issue of The Modern Estate. The Donnelly’s cannot point to any one reason, and surmise the increase might have been due to shoppers seeing it on the stands long enough to get curious.

The magazine underwent a face-lift after the initial issue. The Donnelly’s dumped their printing company’s in-house graphics design staff and hired New Jersey-based Big Designs Inc. to handle design initiatives. The most significant change was expanding the size of the magazine by roughly a half-inch. They still were pleased with the initial product. “There was just a sigh that we got something out that looked as good as it did,” said Richard Donnelly.

A new set of design decisions are now on his plate. The Modern Estate is finalizing plans to build a “green” headquarters to double as a “center of excellence,” functioning both as a showroom and a small conference center for seminars on construction and architecture.

While the Donnelly’s plan to keep the company based in lower Fairfield County, they hope to add other markets soon. The West Palm Beach, Fla., area might be a natural expansion route, given local residents who have second homes in that area.

Ultimately, the Donnelly’s think they can build a $200 million company.

“My understanding is that there are 14 pockets of wealth in the United States,” Linda Donnelly said. “I’d like to see The Modern Estate in each of them along with a center of excellence.”

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