Ari Goldberg is CEO and Founder of StyleCaster.com. Launched in 2009 to fill a void in the fashion industry, StyleCaster’s mission is to bring Style to the People. Through an interactive media site developed by Ari and his partners, after just three years, StyleCaster welcomes 1.4 million unique viewers a month.
StyleCaster initially launched as platform to assist readers getting dressed in the morning based on the weather. It almost seems this feature is no longer available. What happened?
The business has really evolved. We set out with a big idea and it led to something even bigger. The idea of content has evolved beyond just outfits to daily articles, big features, photography and videos. There is a different type of content that can be created by people beyond even our writers. Obviously I think the commerce component and the style is very important, but I think the people behind it are the most important.
Are you still having the photo shoots and putting outfits together in your studio?
Yes, we are actually working on some cool updates to that portion of the site. The plans haven’t been finalized but we are really thinking about what we are adding to the reader. I believe there is a killer app out there to figure out the weather and correlate that with “What do I wear?”. We are working to simplify and enhance that experience.
Will the daily email start up again, offering the weather and suggestions on how to dress for the day?
We are re-launching our email strategy as well — one thing for sure, we are never short on ideas! We try a lot of things and have done a good job refining what we do well and what needs to be put on the back burner. A lot of those updates are coming in January and new things will roll out periodically following that.
When a shoot is styled featuring clothing, accessories, what have you, do items link to the retailer where they can be purchased?
We try to link as often as possible. The beauty of the web is that purchases can be made with one click. A big part of our strategy in 2012 will be to create more utility around the shopping experience.
Is there a commerce aspect in StyleCaster’s future?
Yes, there will be a commerce component that we are strategizing on. Our real focus is on the social and the community because one of the big bets we are making is that social media will become verticalized: I think there will be a health conversation, a sports conversation, and a style conversation. Our job is to power that conversation with premium content, to become a style discovery engine. If we can help them find something on Shopbop, or whatever, and they want to stay there, we did our job. We want them to come back again next time and discover style.
Do you have a blog role on your site suggesting blogs that you like?
We do it more through content. I think it is more exciting for the bloggers and publishers to be featured that way.
What other sources of income does the site have, aside from advertising?
We have a robust advertising model and we do a lot of innovative things from sponsorship, to standard media, to highly branded content, to tweet space to social media activation. They all fall under the same umbrella of advertising, working with brands and their ad agencies.
I’ve read that you were VP of Lebron James Marketing. What did that experience entail?
Ever since I was cognizant of what I wanted to do, I wanted to represent the best athletes. At 25 I was lucky enough to get that chance. I was brought on to start up Lebron James’ marketing company, LRMR. Lebron is the only athlete in the world that created his own agency around himself. The idea of the business was to manage Lebron’s businesses but also other athletes, and work with brands that were looking to activate in the entertainment and sports space. As an entrepreneur, a sports fan, and a kid from Cleveland, Ohio, it was a dream job.
Where was that transition from sports to style?
I don’t think of myself as in the fashion business, and I’m certainly not in the beauty business. I don’t think my skin is that great!
First and foremost I’m an entrepreneur and then I’m a marketer. Fashion and style was a space we identified as being void of technology and really antiquated. We thought we could come in and make a splash.
I consider fashion a vanity industry. Fashion is so ego-driven, people want to say they are an editor just to get the perks.
Do you feel you bring a unique perspective as a male CEO?
I like to think it’s a unique perspective but you probably have to ask them (laughing). The six founding partners are all guys and only one of them had fashion publishing experience. Our management philosophy is simple: you hire people and invest in what they do. You trust them and stay out of their way. We try to give a lot of ownership and accountability to our team.
Over the past six months we have really upgraded the team and brought on some new people. Summer Krecke our new content director, Drew Butler our new Chief Technology Officer and Patrick Biesemans our new Visual Content Produce. The level of talent in here is higher then it has ever been. I’m just learning from them every day.
Is there any space on the site for sports or menswear?
It’s kind of an inverse relationship and counterintuitive: while the market for women’s lifestyle is gigantic, there is a lot of competition. While the men’s is smaller, there is less competition we see huge potential for growth.
I think there is a reason we call it StyleCaster and not FashionCaster. It is really about a life style, where you eat and the music you listen to and where you shop. It’s all a definition of style, not just the clothes you wear.
Would anything change in terms of the template? Making men feel comfortable on the site?
Woman view style the way men view sports: it’s a passion, they constantly want to know about it. Men are utility driven: “I need this now, I just want to get it over with.” It’s a much more simplistic view. There will be some content tweets when the time comes to get the word out.
One of our battles is that in old media content was king and in new media conversation is king.
Is there an age range you would say your reader is at right now?
She is an 18-34 year old girl, she is highly connected. She probably has a smart phone, a blackberry, or an iPhone. She is style conscious and extremely passionate about it. She is actively shopping. She loves style and is always looking for what is going on next.
What kind of traffic is the site currently attracting?
Last time I checked we were at 1.4 million unique viewers a month and just broke top 10 in com score. The business is growing so quickly we need to be true to our word and bring style to the people and it’s a function of not just helping our own cause but others, publishers, bloggers, retailers, and emerging brands and if we can become that we are a winner!