By Catherine Stacke
When Meg Jones walked into her Fashion Journalism class in the spring of her senior year at SMU, she never imagined that the course would lead her to the woman who would jump-start her post-college career.
Amber Venz, rewardStyle CEO, founded the company shortly after graduating from SMU. Jones was immediately struck by Venz’ motivation to do something that few fashion bloggers had done before: turn her hobby into a lucrative business.
“I was so impressed that a young SMU grad had started her own company from the ground up just a few years after graduating. I loved that it was a full-service monetization solution for bloggers, run by bloggers,” says Jones.
Although Jones had visited Venz to interview her for her Fashion Journalism class, it was soon clear that this was the beginning of a significant business relationship. Soon after the profile was completed, Amber Venz hired Meg Jones as an intern and proceeded to offer her a job post-graduation.
“The SMU Fashion Media program has prepared me to wear many hats in my job as an account consultant at rewardStyle,” Jones says.
Jones says she’s been an avid follower of multiple fashion blogs for several years, and she credits rewardStyle with connecting her love of fashion and blogging to her career.
“It is fun working for a start-up company where everyone is willing and eager to work hard in a fast-paced environment,” she says. And a fast-paced environment it is indeed. Bloggers have certainly become an important complement to fashion publications over the past decade, and fashion brands everywhere are scrambling to profit from their increasing influence.
SMU’s William J. O’Neil Chair in Business Journalism Mark Vamos stresses the value of the direct connection bloggers have with readers: “It’s clear that companies, which once had to go through intermediaries like the media or advertising to reach customers, increasingly have direct access to consumers through multiple touch points,” Vamos says.
This more direct relationship between fashion bloggers and their readers is exactly the area that rewardStyle is capitalizing on — and with great success. The website allows bloggers to link their pages to the products they focus on, fostering a unique relationship between blogger and brand. Whenever a consumer purchases an item linked to a rewardStyle blogger’s page, she receives a commission equal to a percentage of the item’s cost.
The influence of fashion bloggers is significant, and the opportunities for them to cash in on that influence, endless. With a list of more than 300 retail clients – including ASOS, Shopbop and Neiman Marcus – rewardStyle offers an attractive option for up-and-coming fashion bloggers. The rise of social media has only upped the ante.
Yes, Amber Venz and rewardStyle have caught a very stylish wave — and should be riding high for some time to come.