From the second the Duchess of Sussex steps out of her front door, these women go into overdrive. What started as the hobby of two stay-at-home mums has rapidly become THE global authority on all things Meghan – even Vogue turns to them for intel on her latest headline-grabbing outfit. Their hit website Meghan’s Mirror is making them a fortune, yet they live thousands of miles apart and have never met. We speak to them about their astonishing rise.
The moment the Duchess of Sussex appears in public, the clock starts ticking for Christine Ross and Amanda Dishaw, editors of fashion blog Meghan’s Mirror. What is she wearing? Who designed it? How much does it cost? And where can you buy it? We’re not just talking the dress. What about the belt? Her sunglasses? The tiny, barely perceptible earrings? Meghan’s fans – and the world’s media – want every detail. And they want it right now.
Although the subject matter might seem soft, Amanda and Christine have serious business nous. They’ve gone from royal-family admirers to establishing themselves and their site as the authorities on Meghan Markle’s style – creating a booming business in the process.
Amanda, 31, started her first blog, the hugely popular What Would Kate Do? (WWKD?) in 2012 while on maternity leave from her job in finance, mainly out of boredom but partly
as a way to deal with ‘the fog that descends when you have a small baby’. In the Duchess of Cambridge she found an emotional inspiration: ‘I thought, what would Kate do in
my situation? Well, she’d get dressed, and get out and do something.’
Based in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and small children, Amanda had no experience of the fashion industry before Meghan’s Mirror, but her drive and organisational skills are channelled into overseeing the daily running of the business.
Two weeks after the Kate blog launched, the recently graduated Christine, who was also feeling ‘a bit lost’ after completing a degree in education, spotted it on Twitter, and emailed Amanda asking if she could get involved. Now 26, she lives on a farm in Washington DC with her English husband, baby bump, dog, cat and chickens, and has a fondness for all things quintessentially English – ‘charming and refined’ – and Richard Curtis films. Responsible for the creative direction of the business, she is more the ‘face’ of the blog than Amanda, at ease with being on camera and talking to the media.
‘Right away with WWKD? we knew we’d found a niche market,’ says Christine. ‘We had found women like us, women who appreciated afternoon tea and a good book, women who wanted something different – role models with substance.’
While some might dismiss their blogging as simply the hobby of two royal-obsessed women, in fact, it’s just one facet of the pair’s hugely successful content and consultancy business, Effervescence Group. Monetising a global interest in the new wave of royals, in the past six years they’ve built a profitable company – they say earnings have increased 400 per cent since 2016 (but, tellingly, won’t reveal precise figures).
Today the Effervescence Group encompasses WWKD?, RepliKate (a more practical archive of all her looks), Meghan’s Mirror, Dress like a Duke (which chronicles the style of the royal men), plus the associated email newsletters and social media channels – Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – for each site. They also have a new top-secret website launching next month.
Incredibly, in the six years of building their empire together, the two have never actually met. ‘That’s the benefit of technology,’ says Amanda. ‘We spend half our lives on FaceTime!’ Their team of contributors is managed remotely and, in fact, they consider living in different time zones – resulting in a three-hour difference between them – an advantage, effectively adding six hours to the working day.
When they began their blogs, neither Amanda nor Christine was a huge monarchist. Their fascination with Kate – and then Meghan – was the ‘quiet elegance’ they represented, a refreshing alternative to the Kardashian-style, reality-TV-star brashness they didn’t connect with.
They took a punt on Meghan after receiving more and more questions from their readers about Prince Harry’s rumoured new girlfriend. In fact, it was Amanda who first had the instinct that Meghan really was dating Prince Harry – Christine initially said she was crazy, but Amanda claims she ‘just knew’.
When they launched Meghan’s Mirror in October 2016, nothing had been confirmed officially, ‘But I had a good feeling about it,’ says Amanda. Shortly after, when Kensington Palace released a statement asking the press not to harass Ms Markle, the number of visitors boomed, with website traffic growing 30 to 40 per cent each month. On the day of the engagement announcement, the site got a million hits.
The pair admit that keeping up-to-date with Meghan’s every move isn’t always easy. ‘It can be stressful,’ says Christine, who was in Windsor for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding, working as a fashion pundit for multiple broadcasters (while eight weeks pregnant). ‘Royal tours can be difficult: it’s three or four outfits a day. Depending on which time zone they’re in, we won’t sleep for a week!’
When Christine and Amanda whir into action – as recently, when Meghan hit the headlines wearing a tuxedo dress to a performance of Hamilton for Harry’s HIV charity Sentebale – they use a combination of sources to identify what the duchess is wearing. There’s a team of in-house stylists au fait with the brands she favours a network of fashion and PR contacts, and then their own intuition, having chronicled the 37-year-old’s style in minute detail since 2016.
‘It’s an adrenaline rush,’ says Christine. ‘We’re trying to do it quickly and accurately. There’s so much information flying at you. When we post something on Meghan’s Mirror, it’s taken as gospel. So if we make a mistake it’s going to be picked up by Vogue, The New York Times…’
Within hours of the duchess stepping out, Meghan’s Mirror will not only have posted details of what she is wearing, they will have sourced cheaper alternatives – called ‘Mirror Megs’. This is what gives their blog the edge over the myriad Meghan style blogs out there: a great Mirror Meg will sell out as fast as the real deal.
They combine this instant shopability with in-depth commentary – on the significance of the duchess wearing denim or, say, a brief history of breton stripes. The blog has dedicated sections on everything from her ‘airport style’, to ‘polo style’; there is intel on what yoga mat she uses and where to get the elephant-shaped teapot she once posted on Instagram. Meghan acolytes will often ask them to identify clothes she wore years ago. ‘When the outfit is from 2013, it’s difficult to track down,’ admits Amanda, but they are rarely stumped.
‘Part of the reason Meghan became popular so quickly is that she was very relatable; she was wearing jeans, blouses, a nice pair of flats – some of it might have been expensive but a lot of it wasn’t,’ says Amanda. When the actress took down her personal blog, The Tig, last year – just as interest in her rocketed – Meghan’s Mirror was perfectly positioned to fill that void. And, savvily, they’d started archiving The Tig’s web pages and images. The content continues to prove hugely useful, giving first-hand insight into her unfiltered, pre-royal tastes. ‘She really put herself out there with The Tig, but we knew she wouldn’t keep it going as an official member of the royal family,’ says Amanda.
Having analysed every aspect of the duchess’s life, the pair say they feel as though they know her. ‘Several sources have confirmed that Kensington Palace is aware of our blogs, so we wouldn’t be surprised if she had stumbled across us, too,’ says Amanda. ‘We think she’d be happy to see the amount of coverage we give to not simply talking about her clothes but sharing the story behind them and why she might have chosen them.’
But back to business: how do they turn all this into hard cash? Browse the shop on Meghan’s Mirror, and you can purchase items ranging from an iPhone case she was once spotted with to a Stella McCartney dress she wore in 2011. Meghan’s Mirror gets a small commission if you click through and buy. Along with these affiliate links, there’s advertising, plus brand collaborations – sponsored reviews, giveaways – with the likes of Timex and Mint Velvet, who are keen to reach the audience of roughly one million women aged 18 to 49 who visit the Effervescence Group sites each month. They also provide consulting services, helping others grow their websites.
Not everyone can fully comprehend how they’ve built their careers. ‘I spend hours each week sourcing Mirror Meg or RepliKate items – which is essentially online shopping. My husband says, “I don’t think this is work!’’’ says Christine. ‘When I tell people what I do, the first comment I get is, “Are there really that many people who look at websites about Meghan?” Well, yes, there are!’
Business-savvy Amanda and Christine are still spotting new commercial opportunities in this Meghan madness. A Meghan’s Mirror cookbook is in the works, taking inspiration from recipes she’s shared previously on The Tig or Instagram. ‘Cookbooks are a big market these days,’ says Christine. ‘And people are interested in what’s in Meghan’s morning smoothie.’
It’s not highbrow, sure, but these women have carved themselves a piece of a very lucrative pie. We can’t help but think that the Duchess would be impressed.
That Meghan magic
Christine and Amanda, the gurus of all things Markle, on what makes a winning Meghan’s Mirror outfit.
- The Accessibility Factor: People go crazy for anything they can see themselves wearing – a striped shirt, an affordable clutch from J Crew, a pair of classic courts. The distressed jeans and white shirt she wore to the Invictus Games in Toronto precipitated a huge spike in traffic on the blog. The two trench dresses were popular, too; they’re by expensive designers – Jason Wu and Canadian label Nonie – but it’s a shape and style women can imagine themselves in.
- The Colour Palette: She’s drawn to quite muted colours. She wore the yellow Brandon Maxwell dress once, then switched back to her navy and olive green palette. That’s where she’s most comfortable and it’s incredibly chic.
- The Element of Imperfection: Her style is put together but there’s always something a little bit ‘off’. Her hair is messy or her coat is on-trend slouchy. She’s polished but imperfect. People like that.
From Hollywood to high society
Says Amanda, ‘Reports indicate that stylist Jessica Mulroney [above left, Meghan’s best friend – her sons and daughter were in the bridal party at the wedding] has come to London to help her figure out her new look. Because it can’t just be “actress in Toronto”, it needs to be “duchess in London”. It’s balancing Meghan Markle the American actress with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. At her first royal events people got nervous because she wore beige and the styles were very restrained. At recent engagements, though, we’ve seen some of her natural style return, which is more modern and North American, rather than “Boden” British.
TOO HAUTE FOR HARRY?
What about the rumour Prince Harry vetoed a tuxedo suit she was planning to wear on their Australia tour this October as being not ‘traditional enough’? ‘From speaking to people who know her, she’s very self-confident,’ says Amanda. ‘If she wants to wear a tuxedo, I’m pretty sure she’s just going to wear a tuxedo.’
Wardrobe winners and losers
…according to the women who’ve watched her every waking move.
Amanda says: The Carolina Herrera dress she wore to the Sentebale Polo Cup was the perfect balance of her personal taste and her royal duty. The cut is very duchess, but the denim fabric is very Meghan.
Christine says: Meghan is a style icon when she’s not trying to be, such as when she went to the polo off-duty in just a sundress and sandals.
Amanda says: The entire Ireland tour was a success. Everything was sartorially perfect – each piece fitted her well and suited each event. My favourite was the Givenchy ensemble when she arrived in Dublin.
Christine says: Meghan’s still learning her role. At the Stephen Lawrence memorial her Hugo Boss dress wasn’t inappropriate, but it was easy to say it was because it showed the shoulders.
Amanda says: The most divisive looks have been when Meghan has been perceived as appearing too much like the ‘traditional royal’, like the pale Goat dress she wore to Prince Charles’s 70th birthday garden party at Buckingham Palace – with those nude tights.
Amanda says: The floaty Oscar de la Renta dress she wore to the wedding of
Celia McCorquodale [Princess Diana’s niece] was hotly debated. People felt the big floral print wasn’t true to her style.
Report by Hanna Woodside