Christene Barberich
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January 2013, Refinery29 office.


Tell me about the last time you were surprised.

“Well, not to sound cynical, but the older I get, the less surprised I am about anything. I’ve always been one of those people who, even during the darkest times or the grimmest circumstances, is able to see the silver lining….even if I have to imagine HARD that it’s there. That’s how I felt right before I met my husband.
Like so many people, I had suffered some not-so-great relationships, one in particular that took a long time to recover from. And I often wondered if the bond I’d always hoped for or somehow imagined in my “super life” was really possible. I’ve learned that it’s those times of grief and serious self doubt, or, I think, just “the journey inward” as George Harrison would say, that test your belief systems and push you to go to a place where your life just HAS to change, and something new can come to you…or from you. And it doesn’t always come to you like you might imagine. In fact, it probably won’t. And neither did my husband. He was a big surprise. But the best possible surprise I could ever hope for. In so many ways, he has restored my belief in deep, faithful love, the kind that guides you and lifts you up and almost seems to change you on a cellular level. That sounds so dumb, but it’s really true. He makes me believe in destiny and in believing—truly believing—in the long shot, no matter how many obstacles and how much bullshit you have to slag through to get there.
True love, the right job, a big change, a MIRACLE…yes, even when it’s hard, I allow myself to be surprised as often as humanly possible. And, like my husband, that in itself is a gift.”
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In a way, Christene is sort of an elusive person to me. I’ve met her only twice – our first encounter was an interview in 2009, and the second was a few weeks ago to take this photograph. Although a lot of time had passed since the time we first shook hands, we’d had many exchanges over email.
As the Editor in Chief of the now well-established startup,, Christene was a great source of inspiration. Consistently, I would send her ideas or pitch projects related to the aesthetic of Refinery29. In that 2009 interview, Christene asked me about my then job with Cosmopolitan. I was a freelance Fashion Assistant that year and I truly loved it. I told her about the travel, amazing perks and my wildly fun boss. She listened and then said, “Why don’t you stay there, you love it.” And then I realized, she was right! After our interview she told me to stay in touch. I am happy I did, because as my magazine career moved and changed, I watched Refinery29 grow. Meanwhile, Christene was still an ever-present honest female role model in the media, who held down the fort for new platforms to develop and succeed.
- Jen