Passion — shrewdly harnessed — not only fuels revenue generation, it stokes innovation. Take Amber Venz Box. Back in 2010, when she was just a fashion and style blogger, Box had generated a significant social media discipleship. She was what is known in the digital space as an influencer.
But the designation earned the then jewelry designer and stylist her little other than the validation that her blog VENZedits.com was driving merchandise sales. Challenge: how to transform all of that social currency into legal tender. For Box, that meant divining a way to monetize her influence.
With the help of engineer boyfriend-turned husband Baxter Box, she transformed her vision into an innovative technological tool that would transform the fashion industry. She leveraged affiliate-style marketing into a sphere where it was largely unknown. In 2011, RewardStyle was born. And it’s been disrupting the fashion world ever since.
The platform works like this: Members of RewardStyle’s invite-only network of bloggers post merchandise using the company’s technology that tracks readers’ purchases. Brands and retailers commit to negotiated commissions for any sales generated. The bloggers and RewardStyle take a cut of each transaction.
The vision grew organically, with virtually no outside investment. Box started by recruiting her friends and contacts onto the breakthrough platform. Major brands and international retailers quickly followed.
Her idea helped upend the fashion world by placing power and money in the hands of digital content creators through innovative tracking technology. Social media platforms had been driving more traffic than glossy magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Bazaar — and now that traffic could be monetized. Generating commissions from each transaction translated to tens of thousands of dollars on certain months for the savviest of bloggers. Digital mavens began to generate fees for endorsements and collaborations.
Aggregating Social Power
The idea has blossomed into an international social media network powerhouse with 4,000 retailers and 14,000 publishers who drove $155 million in retail sales last year. Their clients include the former fashion gatekeepers — the glossies. Every major magazine publisher — from Conde Nast and Hearst to Time — is now part of the RewardStyle network.
Today, the company continues in its effort to innovate in the content marketing space —recently developing a consumer-facing system that enables linking in posts on sites such as Instagram — the first of its kind. Dubbed LIKEtoKNOWit, the technology enables Instagram posters to send links to readers who want more information about their photo posts and thus drive sales — and commissions. It unleashes tracking tools that pinpoints the what, when, and how (content creators) of each photo-driven transaction.
RewardStyle’s success showcases the critical importance of an Insigniam innovation component: Effective Execution. Passion, resourcefulness, and ingenuity are meaningless terms if they aren’t translated into action with results that are hard and measurable. It’s how opportunity portfolios are turned into value-driven reality.