Saying Goodbye to Email Sounds Good to Melanie Masarin

How the Ghia CEO prioritizes her business and life.

By Emma Sharpe

Photos by Amanda Charchian


Every morning upon waking up, I experience a brief, three-second window of calm before I remember who I am: an empty, corporate drone who must immediately brace herself for the cruel tribulations the day will surely bring. This starts with opening my email, wincing, and bribing myself out of bed with a Starbucks.

For a founder, who probably frets about their company even in their dreams, I can only imagine the anguish that their cloyingly cheerful By The Seaside alarm provokes.

Enter Ghia founder and CEO Melanie Masarin, who has pioneered a revolutionary way to save time and protect her sanity: not answering your dumbass emails.

We chatted with Melanie about the delicious, spirits-free aperitifs she and her team are creating at Ghia, how her no-email policy actually works, and her dream dinner party guests.

Ghia recently launched its new Berry Aperitif, your first foray into non-bitter drinks. What do you love about this product, and how can it best be enjoyed?

I love this new aperitif because it’s tart, but it still has body to it. It’s really good as a balance between a light meal or cutting through dense food. My favorite way to drink it is to cut it with sparkling water.

It's reminiscent of a Lambrusco — maybe the thing that I missed the most now that I’m not drinking is that very dry feeling on the tongue.

You spent part of your career as the head of marketing at Dig Inn, one of the premier corporate lunching destinations. What’s your favorite power lunch for a busy day at the office?

I have been ordering from Organic Oren, which is a local LA luxury. That’s kind of my new thing, but I’m always trying new things. Back when we had more time, we used to cook lunch in the Ghia office, which I miss, but now we try to do a team lunch every two weeks, like a potluck.

One of your endeavors outside of building Ghia has been your popular Substack Night Shade, where you write more creatively about what’s on your mind. A recent entry detailed your “in office but off emails” policy. Do you have any advice for business leaders on how to successfully implement a policy like this and then hold yourself to it?

It’s very hard! People think that I don’t read my emails, but I read all my emails.

I’m very well-supported, which is something I’m transparent about in my Substack. I have an amazing assistant who’s been with me for two years. It takes a long time to train someone to understand how your brain works and basically help grow them into a version of you so that you can decouple yourself — and, by the way, I have like a graveyard of assistants. It's really hard to find a fit.

I'm usually on like 10 to 12 calls during the day, and I send my assistant voice notes in between meetings to try to get to the emails that need to be attended to.

The one that's the toughest is when I get introduced to other founders for informational meetings. I’m trying to re-implement having maybe one of those per week. But it got to a point last year where I was getting 5 or 6 requests per day, and whatever time I spend outside the office, I'm not spending with my team.

You’ve mentioned in your writing that the nonstop work of being a founder often leaves you with decision fatigue. When you are able to turn off your brain, are you able to wade through the endless options on streaming services to find a feel-good show, or is TV not even an option for you these days?

I actually don’t watch TV at all. I don’t watch movies. I don’t really watch anything — if I have time, I’ll read, but I prefer to be outdoors, so most of my hobbies are in the outside world.

I’ve been wanting to watch a show, maybe, but I watch so little that I don’t know where to start.

You should watch The Bear. I think the story of building something from scratch will resonate with you.

You know, I recently met Courntey Storer, who is the sister of the creator of The Bear, and she did all the food for the show and worked on the set — she’s fabulous. I used to work in restaurants, so [the show] is on my computer. It will happen.

On the books front, anything you want to recommend?

I read Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and loved it so much. I thought it was so simply but beautifully written, and the story just really hooks you from the very beginning. I loved the characters with all their flaws and you really just want them to win.

I just downloaded Yellow Face which is kind of like a satire on racism. I also have A Gentleman in Moscow which I still haven't read, so that's also on my Kindle.

I’m sure you’ve been asked a million times, what’s something that you wish you knew before becoming a founder. I’m curious, is there anything you’re glad you didn’t know before taking the leap, because if you did, it might have dissuaded you?

Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t know anything. Otherwise I would not have done it. I think that nothing can really prepare you for this.

And I had a pretty multifaceted professional experience before, because I had worked in marketing, I had worked in finance, I had worked in a bunch of different industries. That obviously prepares you better for the skills, but it's all about not taking things personally, having a thick skin, and being able to figure it out as you go.

“It's all about not taking things personally, having a thick skin, and being able to figure it out as you go.”

Part of Ghia’s mission is to make an inclusive dinner table where people can create and savor good memories. Can you pick three people, dead or alive, to fill the table at your dream dinner party?

Since I don't know them (yet) making it a girls' dinner would help make the evening feel more intimate from the beginning.

Oprah is an obvious one, she has lived so many lives and must have the most incredible stories. She will captivate the room. I really want to hear everything she has to say about the current state of the world.

I've always loved Marina Abromovic as a performer. She's also a magnet and has such a unique viewpoint. I really value the diversity of perspectives and opinions around my dinner table and I feel like Marina has such an interesting point of view as it pertains to the self and our interaction with our environments and I'm keen to hear everything she has to say.

I've met Ester Perel a few brief times (we share a tennis instructor and she spoke at Glossier when I worked there) and she's one of the smartest people that I've ever had the chance to listen to. She specializes in human relationships so I figured that she'd be a great facilitator for a dinner with new people.

A girl can dream!

More Articles: