STEPHANIE MAXWELL NEWTON '05
"[I]n Ms. Cobb’s English classes, whatever we were reading that year — Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice — I loved it so much. It helped me decide to be an English major, then wanting to write for a living.”
At Home in Arkansas Editor Inspires and Gives Back with her Love of Reading and Writing
While most people are spending time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Editor Stephanie Maxwell Newton ‘05 is using At Home in Arkansas to inspire Arkansans with the latest interior design and home lifestyle ideas. Leading the statewide, monthly magazine for three years now, Stephanie and her team publish glimpses of Arkansas’s most beautiful homes, gardens, and artwork.
Over the course of her entire professional career, Stephanie has been writing — a passion she traces all the way back to high school at Episcopal Collegiate and former English teacher Tandy Cobb.
“I loved to read and write as a little kid,” she said. “Later along I stopped, but in Ms. Cobb’s English classes, whatever we were reading that year — Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice — I loved it so much. It helped me decide to be an English major, then wanting to write for a living.”
After graduating in Episcopal Collegiate’s second class, Stephanie headed to Millsaps College for her undergraduate degree. She graduated in 2009 with an English degree and a minor in Greek. Stephanie continued her education at Regents University in London, graduating in 2011 with a masters in Media Communications.
For the next couple of years, Stephanie built her writing portfolio working for a mix of publishing and marketing companies over the years. She freelanced for several publications and even worked at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, before landing the job as editor of At Home in Arkansas.
Since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown restrictions were placed on the state in March, Maxwell and her team have been working hard to produce more content online and on social media for their audience now in quarantine.
“We’re in a unique position because suddenly so many people are staying home,” Stephanie said. “We started putting out e-blasts last month for readers looking for inspiration, DIYs for the home, or recipes. We saw a huge bump in subscriptions to our magazine in the first few weeks.”
Nonetheless, much of the magazine’s content focuses on interior design, which has presented its own challenges when photographing Arkansas residents' homes amidst the pandemic. Stephanie said this was particularly challenging in March, but with the restrictions being lifted, photoshoots have become easier, and she and her team have been following all precautions.
Colleen Jayroe, fellow 2005 Episcopal graduate and close friend, said she’s been impressed with Stephanie’s dedication to her readers, the magazine, and the industry as a whole.
“While keeping a level head about business, [Stephanie] and her team continually put out a magazine that readers can draw inspiration from and enjoy. She has added a new level of attention to detail that the magazine lacked before as well as chooses feature pieces that cater to a much broader audience” Colleen said.
As a member of the Junior League of Little Rock (JLLR), Stephanie is now passing on her love for reading — that same passion she rediscovered at Episcopal. She led the way to a partnership with the Little Readers Rock committee, which provides books for children in the most in-need schools in the Little Rock School District.
Visiting several schools within the district, Stephanie has read to children in kindergarten, first and second grade classes, and set up pop-up book fairs with free books for children to take for their own home libraries.
“It sounds like a small thing, but for kids who don't have many books at home, instilling a love of reading and providing those books at no cost can be huge in helping ensure they're reading at grade level,” Stephanie said. “Since I love to read and love working with kids, it didn't take much for me to become passionate about that project!”
Stephanie returned to Episcopal in January as a guest speaker in Writing Center Director Vivian Blair’s class. She talked about her own career path through freelance writing, marketing, copyediting, and magazines to show students there is no one straight, correct path to take.
Stephanie lives in Little Rock with her husband Patrick Newton, a Kentucky native.