Before we talk about Meghan Markle and American Riviera Orchard, let’s acknowledge that every conversation about her quickly becomes an unhinged comment section. Her very existence makes “I don’t see colour!” types feral. This is absolutely down to anti-Blackness and she has been the victim of a sustained and targeted campaign of harassment by the British press. 


This piece is about Meghan’s business, which can’t be separated out from her celebrity or her former royal status, but we can critique her brand while also acknowledging the systemic racism and sexism that affects press coverage of her. I say this as a non-royal watcher and someone who views Meghan as a very savvy person.

Have I eyerolled her and Harry at times? Yes – but Harry way more than her. Do I think they are self-serving at times? Yes – who isn’t?!


I also think they’ve squandered some opportunities and beyond the Oprah interview, which was all of Oprah’s expertise coming out to play, have not created any media that is impactful. They are not immune to big swings which means they are not immune to flops, like her podcast. They are just kind of floating through a no-man’s land, not exciting celebrities but not part of The Firm. Are they philanthropists? Are they socialites? Are they just rich and beautiful? And now that they are selling stuff, doesn’t that make them influencers? The thing I’ve never quite understood about Harry and Meghan is, what do they want to say? 

Well now we know. She wants to say: 





Vaguely French California vibe. Slightly nonsensical. Colour palette out of 2018 wedding trends. The grid drop, also straight out of 2018. The lifestyle gang’s all here. 

American Riviera Orchard Instagram grid


The Duchess is branding herself like a former CW star. This looks like Crumbl cookie and Lisa Vanderpump’s wine label had a baby and named it AMERICAN RIVIERA ORCHARD.


American Riviera Orchard is the name the meanest woman you know gives her child and she gets one of those neon scribble signs made for the nursery and then you post her Instagram announcement in the group chat. All that’s missing is a wide-brim velvet hat, Gucci GG belt, and Stanley cup. 

But let’s not ignore the floating “Montecito”. Tying a brand to a place is a tricky thing (what if they move?) but out of all places, she chose the cultural hotbed of MONTECITO. It’s not a place that people outside of Montecito care about that much. Or at all. 

My first guess was ARO would be textiles. Throw pillows. Maybe a signature home scent with the word clean in it. Everything will be CLEAN, nothing will be dirty. A vaguely feminist mantra. An even more vague “proceeds of sales” charity tie-in. Something, something… women. Framed Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes. Sustainable, everything is sustainable! How, you ask? Uhhh well ummm – look over there, a cashmere throw blanket!


But I didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of products: the trademark is mostly for kitchen goods, jams and other edibles and maybe a cookbook. Roast chicken… for dinner? Groundbreaking. 

Of course the irony is, Meghan was a great royal and could have been an influencer for the literal history books. She wasn’t excessively attention seeking but naturally enigmatic. She managed to conform to the clothing/hair/grooming rules without dressing like a teapot. She was engaging, warm, charming, and a crowd pleaser even to people who aren’t interested in that institution. That skillset can of course be applied to the saturated celebrity lifestyle market in the most pumpkin spice way possible, but do we need another table setting tutorial (spoiler alert: there will be wild flowers and linen napkins). This just feels like another Pinterest personality. 

And seeing how badly Meghan wants to “influence” and shake hands and kiss babies makes us see even more clearly how the royal family f-cked up, well, royally. Meghan would have slayed as a working mother in the royal family, if only they had not been sniveling cowards with the UK press. Like right now, whatever is happening with Kate would have been a nothingburger. In an alternate universe, the April timeline would have been fine because the press would have had content with Harry and Meghan (who, by all reports, has a strong work ethic) and there wouldn’t be a void. You know what fills voids? Gossip and conspiracy theories.

So now the Royal Family is in tatters, Kate is playing peek-a-boo with Photoshop and Meghan is launching this Bed Bath & Beyond Basic site. 

From a business perspective, it’s a costly and very risky financial investment because it’s incredibly expensive to start one of these brands, takes years to break even, and the economy is not great. Tricky time to be shelling $25 jars of artisanal jam. 


Lifestyle also requires a lot of press. The Kardashians have multiple successful brands and it’s no coincidence that they are always on the clock. Martha Stewart hustles her ass off and she’s in her 80s. Ina Garten is as chill as it gets but probably turns down 90% of what she is offered in terms of product lines and appearances. Interaction with customers is necessary because fans and customers need to feel like friends in order to sell the lifestyle lie. They are quite literally buying your taste.

If you think it’s low brow to compare Meghan to the Kardashians, well, this is Meghan’s competition now. She’s in Poosh-land. She’s in that same realm. It’s a low down, dirty and competitive business. Fighting for clicks, fighting for suppliers and most of all, fighting for attention. Right now she sneezes and everyone pays attention but the more accessible she makes herself and her “life,” the less exciting her appearances become. How much, and how far, will the Sussexes be willing to take it?

The only person who probably feels really good…. wait, excuse me let me start again. The only person who feels really chuffed about American Riviera Orchard is the Gen X Queen of Lifestyle, Gwyneth Paltrow. You better believe that Goop is the gold business standard Meghan is striving for in terms of profitability and longevity. Everyone wants to be that bitch!

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