Warren Buffett. Sheryl Sandberg. Meryl Streep. Barack Obama.
In addition to being on the guest list of your dream dinner party, these people all have one thing in common: They’ve been interviewed by Pattie Sellers or Nina Easton.
Sellers and Easton are both veteran journalists and longtime employees of Fortune, where they were, until very recently, senior editors. On Thursday, they announced that they will be starting a new chapter in their careers, launching a content creation company to produce stories for individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations.
The new venture, called SellersEaston Media (SEM), will combine the writers’ love of storytelling with their desire to apply all that they’ve learned during their years of writing about business leaders, says Easton. “We’ve been around so many entrepreneurs, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, powerful women, and we’ve been imbued by their passion,” she says. “At this time in our lives, we want to try [starting our own business].”
Sellers says the pair has been particularly inspired by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s call to “lean in” and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s advice to “get out of your comfort zone.”
Both Sellers and Easton are staying on with Fortune and its parent company, Time Inc. (time), as co-chairs of Most Powerful Women, which Sellers co-founded in 1998 and which has grown to become Fortune’s broadest multimedia franchise.
“What makes both Pattie and Nina so special is that they’re both very entrepreneurial,” says Fortune editor Alan Murray. “They were both entrepreneurial at Fortune and it’s no surprise to me they want to launch their own venture. I’m just happy we get part of their time for the [Most Powerful Women] franchise.”
While Time Inc. is supportive of SEM, it is not financially involved, says Sellers. The company has been bootstrapped and is entirely independent of both Fortune and its parent. “If a client needs help distributing content, we can help with that, but there is a wall between us and Fortune,” she says. The stories that SEM will create—whether written, illustrated, or in documentary format—will be entirely owned by their clients, who can choose how widely (or not) to distribute them.
“This is the era of storytelling,” says Sellers. Indeed, with the rise of ephemeral story creation on sites like Snapchat and Vine, as well as longer-form self-publication platforms like Medium and Tumblr, there are plenty of opportunities for people to tell their tales. Still, Sellers believes there’s a golden opportunity for SEM. “What’s missing is people who have the expertise to tell stories in a beautiful, elegant way.”
And expertise is exactly what the founders bring to the table. Sellers began her career with Fortune in 1984, reporting on the packaged goods industry before finding her niche covering female business leaders in the ’90s. She wrote the first-ever profile of Melinda Gates in 2008, the first business story on Oprah Winfrey in 2002, and did a definitive interview with Marissa Mayer a few months after she was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012. “I always wanted to do profiles,” Sellers recalls. “That’s what I was best at.”
Easton, on the other hand, cut her teeth at the Los Angeles Times, where she started off covering entertainment and profiling Hollywood legends like Bette Davis and Denzel Washington before going on to write about politics and culture at the paper’s Sunday magazine. She was deputy chief of the Washington bureau of the Boston Globe when she joined Fortune in 2005. At the magazine, she wrote profiles of secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker, as well as Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. “At the root of everything is my belief that individual stories matter,” says Easton.
“We truly believe—and this comes after 30 years of writing about leaders and getting to know people like Warren Buffett and Melinda Gates well—that real success is having an impact and leaving a mark on the world,” says Sellers.
That’s what SEM hopes to help its clients achieve—and, if their journalism careers are any indication, it’s what we can expect from Sellers and Easton as well.