Morning Person is the weekly newsletter I always wanted in my inbox, packed with obsessively-curated recommendations, ideas, interviews, and essays around living an intentional and well-entertained life.

Welcome to Morning Person, one of Substack’s Top 10 Paid Culture Newsletters with over 25,000 subscribers, written by me, Leslie Stephens. After cutting my teeth developing recipes on the editorial team at Food52 and running content for years at the L.A.-based lifestyle brand, cupcakes and cashmere, I went rogue to reimagine what a lifestyle publication could look like.

Morning Person is the weekly newsletter I always wanted in my inbox. Every issue is packed with tips and recommendations, without the bullshit. There are zero affiliate links or sponsors here and I write about all the lifestyle-y things like capsule wardrobes, recipes, and apartment decor. But I also write vulnerably about my separation from my husband, learning to live alone, and my relationship with alcohol.

I live in Portland, Oregon with my pit-mix, Toast and am currently earning my Master’s in Professional Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Addiction with the intention of treating people struggling with social media addiction and women going through major life changes. My writing has appeared in Food52, Los Angeles Review of Books, Eater, Apartment Therapy, and Tasting Table among other publications. My debut novel, YOU’RE SAFE HERE comes out 2024, published by Scout Press!

A paid subscription gives you full access to past issues! Here are a few worth checking out:

  1. Issue #55: A Tour of My First Solo Apartment (paired with Issue #51: Reading Between the Lines)

  2. Issue #23: Why I’m Taking an Alcohol-Free Pause

  3. Issue #41: How to Make and Maintain Friends as an Adult

  4. Issue #28: It's Time to Think About Sex as Self-Care

  5. Issue #44: A Fool-Proof Method for Deciding When to Flake on Plans

  6. Issue #34: The Dill-Packed Spring Base I'm Adding to Everything

Pssst… Morning Person is entirely affiliate-free and subscription-supported (with the exception of books linked via Bookshop, where 100% of the proceeds are donated to a different nonprofit each month). I do this for a few reasons:

  1. I want you to trust me and my recommendations. Affiliates are an amazing, accessible way for influencers to generate revenue so they can create free content for you—but they can also sometimes stir up feelings of mistrust (if I made money off of the products I recommend, you wouldn’t ever really know if I liked it or was recommending it to make money from it). Instead, I ultimately decided to opt for a paid subscription model, which allows me to be affiliate-free.

  2. While I’ll recommend plenty of products here, I don’t want to measure the success of this newsletter against how much money I make from you buying products. I prioritize my own spending toward experiences over products, because I believe it makes me happier and leads to more environmentally-conscious decisions. If I made money from links, I’d be at odds with my personal ethos.

  3. …So why affiliate-link books? I believe in BookShop’s mission, which supports independent bookstores. I would link to them, regardless of if they were affiliated, so I’ve decided to donate 100% of the affiliate revenue I make from Bookshop to a different nonprofit each month. Past donations have included: Women for Afghan Women, Whole Woman’s Health, ACLU Reproductive Rights, and Everytown. I also highly recommend using the app Libby to download ebooks from your local library. If you’re in Portland, Broadway Books and Powell’s are two favorites. Just don’t buy books from Amazon, k?

Thank you, thank you to all of my subscribers. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your support!

Contact: If you have any questions, please send me an email at or reply directly to any issue of Morning Person!

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Obsessively-curated recommendations and reflections, best served with coffee.


I'm a Portland-based writer and editor, by way of Food52 and cupcakes and cashmere. Obsessively questioning how to live a more intentional, meaning-filled life.