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Academy of Art University (CA)
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Eugene Lang College The New School for LIberal Arts
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Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
FIDM
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Flagler College
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RISD
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Rochester Institute of Technology
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Rutgers University
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Sacred Heart University
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Saint Anselm College
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Saint Vincent College
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San Diego State University
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SCAD
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Seminole State College of Florida
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Texas Tech University
Texas Woman's University
The Art Institute of Austin
The Art Institute of Portland
The Catholic University of America
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Academy of Art University (CA)
Adelphi University
Agnes Scott College
AI Miami International University of Art and Design
Albright College
American University
Anderson University
Appalachian State University
Aquinas College
Arcadia University
Arizona State University
Armstrong State University
Art Institute of California - San Francisco
Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Art Institute of Philadelphia
Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Art Institute of Portland
Art Institute of Washington
Art Institute of York Pennsylvania
Auburn University
Aurora University
Austin College
Azusa Pacific University
Babson College
Ball State University
Baruch College
Bates College
Baylor University
Bellarmine University
Belmont University
Beloit College
Bentley University
Berklee College of Music
Binghamton University
Bloomsburg University
Boise State University
Boston College
Boston University
Bowie State University
Bowling Green State University
Bradley University
Brandeis University
Brigham Young University
Brown University
Bryn Mawr College
Bucknell University
Buffalo State College
Butler University
California Polytechnic State University - Pomona
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
California State University - Fullerton
California State University - Long Beach
California State University - Northridge
California State University-Sacramento
Carleton College
Carnegie Mellon University
Central Michigan University
Champlain College
Chapman University
Christopher Newport University
City College of New York
Claremont McKenna College
Clark Atlanta University
Clemson University
Colby College
Colgate University
College of Charleston
College of DuPage
College of the Holy Cross
Colorado State University
Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College South Carolina
Columbia University
Connecticut College
Cornell University
Culver-Stockton College
Dalhousie University (Canada)
Dartmouth College
Delaware State University
Denison University
DePaul University
DePauw University
Dickinson College
Dominican University
Drake University
Drew University
Drexel University
Duke University
East Carolina University
East Stroudsburg University
Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Washington University
Elizabethtown College
Elon University
Emerson College
Emory University
Eugene Lang College The New School for LIberal Arts
Fairfield University
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
FIDM
FIT
Flagler College
Florida A&M University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida International University
Florida State University
Florida State University—Panama City
Fordham University
Franklin and Marshall College
Fullerton College
Galveston College
Gateway College (Canada)
Geneseo State University
George Brown College
George Mason University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Southern University
Georgia State University
Gettysburg College
Gonzaga University
Graceland University
Grinnell College
Hampton University
Hanover College
Hartwick College
Harvard University
High Point University
Hofstra University
Howard University
Humber College (Canada)
Hunter College
Illinois State University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Indiana State University
Indiana University
Iona College
Iowa State University
Ithaca College
James Madison University
Johns Hopkins University
Johnson & Wales University
Johnson County Community College
Kansas State University
Kent State University
La Salle University
Lafayette College
Lamar University
Lasell College
Le Moyne College
Lehigh University
LIM College
Lipscomb University
Loras College
Louisiana State University
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University New Orleans
Macalester College
Manhattan College
Manhattan School of Music
Manhattanville College
Marist College
Marquette University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Marymount Manhattan College
Maryville College
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
McGill University (Canada)
McMaster University (Canada)
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Messiah College
Miami Dade College
Miami International University of Art & Design
Miami University (Ohio)
Michigan State University
Middle Tennessee State University
Middlebury College
Minnesota State University
Misericordia University
Missouri State University
Monmouth University
Montana State University
Montclair State University
Moore College of Art & Design
Morehouse College
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Mary University
Mount St. Mary's University
New England College
New Mexico State University
New York City College of Technology
New York University
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina State University
Northeastern University
Northern Arizona University
Northern Illinois University
Northern Michigan University
Northwestern University
Oakland University
Oberlin College
Ocad University
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Old Dominion University
Olivet Nazarene University
Oregon State University
Pace University
Pacific Union College
Parsons New School for Design
Penn State University
Pepperdine University
Philadelphia University
Pitzer College
Point Park University
Pomona College
Prairie View A&M University
Providence College
Purdue University
Queens College-CUNY
Queens University (Canada)
Quest University (Canada)
Quinnipiac University
Radford College
Radford University
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Regis University
Rhode Island College
Rhode Island School of Design
RISD
Roanoke College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Roger Williams University
Rollins College
Rutgers University
Ryerson University (Canada)
Sacred Heart University
Saddleback College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Joseph's University
Saint Louis University
Saint Mary's College - Notre Dame
Saint Mary's College of California
Saint Vincent College
Salve Regina University
San Diego Miramar College
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Santa Clara University
SCAD
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle University
Seminole State College of Florida
Seneca College (Canada)
Seton Hill University
Siena College
Simmons College
Simon Fraser University (Canada)
Skidmore College
Smith College
South Texas College
Southern Connecticut State University
Southern Illinois University
Southern Methodist University
Spelman College
St. Bonaventure University
St. Edward's University
St. John's University
St. Olaf College
Stonehill College
Stony Brook University
Suffolk University
SUNY Cortland
SUNY Geneseo
SUNY New Paltz
SUNY Oneonta
SUNY Purchase
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
Texas Christian University
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Texas Woman's University
The Art Institute of Austin
The Art Institute of Portland
The Catholic University of America
The College of New Jersey
The College of Saint Rose
The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago
Towson University
Trinity College
Trinity University
Troy University
Tufts University
Tulane University
Union College
University at Albany
University of Akron
University of Alabama
University of Alberta (Canada)
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
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University of Santa Clara
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University of South Carolina Upstate
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University of Tampa
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University of Texas
University of Texas - Pan American
University of Texas at San Antonio
University of the Arts
University of the Fraser Valley (Canada)
University of the Pacific
University of Toronto (Canada)
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Waterloo (Canada)
University of Western Ontario (Canada)
University of Windsor
University of Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Wisconsin—La Crosse
Ursinus College
Valdosta State University
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
Villanova University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Tech
Wade College
Wake Forest University
Washington State University
Washington University-St Louis
Wayne State University
Webster University
Wellesley College
Wesleyan University
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Virginia University
Western Connecticut State University
Western Illinois University
Western Kentucky University
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Western Washington University
Westminster College
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Whitman College
Whittier College
Wichita State University
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William Jewell College
Wofford College
Woodbury University
Worcester State University
Yale University
York College of Pennsylvania
York University (Canada)
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Academy of Art University (CA)
Adelphi University
Agnes Scott College
AI Miami International University of Art and Design
Albright College
American University
Anderson University
Appalachian State University
Aquinas College
Arcadia University
Arizona State University
Armstrong State University
Art Institute of California - San Francisco
Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Art Institute of Philadelphia
Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Art Institute of Portland
Art Institute of Washington
Art Institute of York Pennsylvania
Auburn University
Aurora University
Austin College
Azusa Pacific University
Babson College
Ball State University
Baruch College
Bates College
Baylor University
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Berklee College of Music
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Dominican University
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East Stroudsburg University
Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Washington University
Elizabethtown College
Elon University
Emerson College
Emory University
Eugene Lang College The New School for LIberal Arts
Fairfield University
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
FIDM
FIT
Flagler College
Florida A&M University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida International University
Florida State University
Florida State University—Panama City
Fordham University
Franklin and Marshall College
Fullerton College
Galveston College
Gateway College (Canada)
Geneseo State University
George Brown College
George Mason University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Southern University
Georgia State University
Gettysburg College
Gonzaga University
Graceland University
Grinnell College
Hampton University
Hanover College
Hartwick College
Harvard University
High Point University
Hofstra University
Howard University
Humber College (Canada)
Hunter College
Illinois State University
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Iona College
Iowa State University
Ithaca College
James Madison University
Johns Hopkins University
Johnson & Wales University
Johnson County Community College
Kansas State University
Kent State University
La Salle University
Lafayette College
Lamar University
Lasell College
Le Moyne College
Lehigh University
LIM College
Lipscomb University
Loras College
Louisiana State University
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University New Orleans
Macalester College
Manhattan College
Manhattan School of Music
Manhattanville College
Marist College
Marquette University
Maryland Institute College of Art
Marymount Manhattan College
Maryville College
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
McGill University (Canada)
McMaster University (Canada)
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Messiah College
Miami Dade College
Miami International University of Art & Design
Miami University (Ohio)
Michigan State University
Middle Tennessee State University
Middlebury College
Minnesota State University
Misericordia University
Missouri State University
Monmouth University
Montana State University
Montclair State University
Moore College of Art & Design
Morehouse College
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Mary University
Mount St. Mary's University
New England College
New Mexico State University
New York City College of Technology
New York University
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina State University
Northeastern University
Northern Arizona University
Northern Illinois University
Northern Michigan University
Northwestern University
Oakland University
Oberlin College
Ocad University
Ohio State University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Old Dominion University
Olivet Nazarene University
Oregon State University
Pace University
Pacific Union College
Parsons New School for Design
Penn State University
Pepperdine University
Philadelphia University
Pitzer College
Point Park University
Pomona College
Prairie View A&M University
Providence College
Purdue University
Queens College-CUNY
Queens University (Canada)
Quest University (Canada)
Quinnipiac University
Radford College
Radford University
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Regis University
Rhode Island College
Rhode Island School of Design
RISD
Roanoke College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Roger Williams University
Rollins College
Rutgers University
Ryerson University (Canada)
Sacred Heart University
Saddleback College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Joseph's University
Saint Louis University
Saint Mary's College - Notre Dame
Saint Mary's College of California
Saint Vincent College
Salve Regina University
San Diego Miramar College
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Santa Clara University
SCAD
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle University
Seminole State College of Florida
Seneca College (Canada)
Seton Hill University
Siena College
Simmons College
Simon Fraser University (Canada)
Skidmore College
Smith College
South Texas College
Southern Connecticut State University
Southern Illinois University
Southern Methodist University
Spelman College
St. Bonaventure University
St. Edward's University
St. John's University
St. Olaf College
Stonehill College
Stony Brook University
Suffolk University
SUNY Cortland
SUNY Geneseo
SUNY New Paltz
SUNY Oneonta
SUNY Purchase
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
Texas Christian University
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Texas Woman's University
The Art Institute of Austin
The Art Institute of Portland
The Catholic University of America
The College of New Jersey
The College of Saint Rose
The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago
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Amber Venz, rewardStyle

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Amber Venz, rewardStyle

Ever wonder how your favorite bloggers are able to afford the latest “it” bag or can make a business out of blogging? Well, it likely is thanks to Amber Venz. This blogger turned entrepreneur wanted a way to simulate the personal shopping revenue model online. She and her business partner (and now fiancé!) worked tirelessly to make monetization of digital style content more fluid and simple. And so rewardStyle was born and continues to be the leader in this space.

Amber embodies the entrepreneur spirit. She has the brains, passion and endless drive it takes to not only make it, but thrive and succeed as an entrepreneur. We caught up with Amber as she discussed the growth and expansion of rewardStyle as well as what the future holds for her brand.

Be sure to check out CollegeDormista to take a look at rewardStyle‘s Dallas headquarters.

CollegeFashionista: rewardStyle is such a cool concept. Tell us how it got its start.

Amber Venz: I started my personal blog, VENZEDITS.com, in April of 2010. It was initially developed as a marketing tool and portfolio for my offline businesses: my jewelry company and personal shopping/styling services. I launched the blog with a clear business plan and was posting three times daily, had a professional photographer and was investing significant resources into the development and production of the site. 

I quickly realized that the site was more than a marketing tool and therefore needed a revenue stream of its own. After several months of trialing various solutions, my business partner (now fiancé) and I started brainstorming about the perfect monetization solution for my site. I wanted to be able to earn money online in the same manner that I had offline with my personal shopping business: if I drive a sale for a retailer, I get paid a commission on the sale. We decided to take that offline model online, providing a performance-based monetization solution for me and my peers, other premier style bloggers.

Baxter, my partner, and I walked to our local coffee shop and to brainstorm and we came up with the very literal name, rewardStyle, and purchased the domain.

CF: Was it hard to get the first few brands on board?

AV: I had a brief but successful history with a handful of retailers and brands prior to rewardStyle and they were all happy to try rewardStyle in our early days. After all, rewardStyle is an excellent tool for brands as performance-based marketing is basically no-risk. Retailers only pay when a sale is converted so they are ‘playing with house money,’ as we like to say.

However, back in 2011, blogging had not professionalized in the way that we see today and most brands did not have dedicated resources for blogger outreach. Cold calling retailers is not an easy task and when I did get ahold of a marketer, I was passed around the team because no one knew if my proposition fit into their department.

Today, word about rewardStyle has spread and our advertiser services team is going rapidly. Advertiser applications enter a long queue and the services that we offer to existing retail clients has expanded. Last April we announced the launch of rStheAgency, rewardStyle’s own influencer agency, and our retail clients now have a much larger scope of marketing tools.

CF: When did you feel that rewardStyle really took off? Was there a brand in particular to make you feel like you were going to “make it”?

AV: rewardStyle took off before we opened our first office. We are one of the only new propositions where the goals of all parties are aligned: retailers only pay when publishers drive sales; publishers are compensated at scale for their influence and rewardStyle only generates revenue when our publishers drive sales to our retailers. It is a win, win, win. Our company is built on monetization so we were earning revenue from day one. Also, we were first to market and our enthusiasm and soul was apparent to our clients. Our growth is due largely to referral business as we have only started pursuing press and launched a consumer-facing product (www.LIKEtoKNOW.IT)  in the last few months.

That said, there have certainly been notable moments:

  • I was thrilled when Net-A-Porter joined rewardStyle in the fall of 2011
  • We hired our 10th employee in 2012
  • On Thanksgiving day 2012 we moved into a new office that we designed and built
  • April 2013 we hosted our first conference with 100 publishers from six countries and 31 retailers
  • January 2014 we released a consumer-facing product that allows our publishers to monetize their instagram audience
  • February 2014 we hired our 60th employee

CF: Not only does rewardStyle have fashion brands but also home product and beauty brands. How do you ensure cohesiveness in rewardStyle with such diverse products?

AV: We are vertical specific, serving premium digital publishers in the style space. Many of our personal style bloggers also show images of their homes or feature lifestyle accessories in their product roundups. Fashion bloggers get married or become moms and suddenly we find mens and baby products entering the mix. Fashion, beauty, home, mom and male publishers share a similar set of needs and most of the time, their publications are not specific to just one category. I see our offerings expanding in a strategic way alongside the needs of our publisher base.

CF: In which way has rewardStyle changed the most since its birth in 2011?

AV: When we launched in 2011, we only served the female American fashion blogger. Today, we serve a diverse group of bloggers, traditional print publishers, pinners, instagrammers, celebrity brands and more- all across more than 60 countries. Not only has our publisher base broadened, but so have our tools and technological capabilities. Our product team is large and incredibly sophisticated and we push new code daily. In 2011, we launched with one engineer.

CF: Is there a particular mentality or motto that the rewardStyle team members try to live by?

AV: At rewardStyle, our goal is to enable our publishers to earn the most money possible on their content regardless of where they chose to publish it. Every tech product that we build and every strategy that we offer is designed to serve that goal. Beyond that overarching goal, rewardStyle team members are strategic and that singular trait is one of our biggest differentiators and advantages.

CF: What is it like for rewardStyle to be based out of Dallas rather than New York or L.A., where a lot of today’s retail companies are located? Are there any specific pros and cons?

AV: rewardStyle is at a major advantage for being headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Beyond our state’s business-friendly laws that allow us to reinvest revenue in our human resources, our team is incredibly focused and we are not influenced by the status quo in fashion or tech that can sometimes influence a copy-cat culture that we see from companies in the major cities that you mentioned above. We are laser focused on our goal and there are not many social or professional distractions here, which allows us to innovate quickly and ship new code daily. Keeping mum about our products and roadmap has served us well and in Dallas, there are far fewer opportunities for information leakage. Baxter, my co-founder (and new fiancé) and I were born and raised in Dallas, so it is truly home.

Our London office allows the international publisher, advertiser and agency teams to operate in the heart of the action so we benefit from that hub-like city exposure.

CF: Can you give our readers a little insight on what an average day may look like for the president and co-founder of rewardStyle?

AV: My days are all quite unique. When we were a newborn start-up, I did everything- created newsletters, recruited publishers and advertisers, designed wireframes and wrote strategy. Once we were able to hire specialized team members, I created training manuals, conducted interviews and built ikea desks. Now, we are an international company with more than 60 team members so I spend nearly half of the year traveling. I spend some time working from our London office.

When I am in Dallas, I spend a lot of time in meetings with our various teams and departments and when I am on the road I spend time in the field, face-to-face with our current and potential clients. Being a part of the industry that we serve is critical to our success.

CF: Besides the need for an entrepreneurial mindset, in your opinion, are there any other skills or characteristics that one needs to have in order to start their own brand?

AV: The best preparation for owning your own company is working for someone else’s. My work history in the fashion industry is unique from my peers and it has put me at a major advantage. Once you decide what industry to pursue, work on every side of that industry. Knowing that I wanted to work in fashion, I worked in retail as a shop girl then store manager and buyer; I worked alongside a stylist in Los Angeles; I spent time at Thakoon as a global wholesale intern and then fit model in New York; I started my own jewelry company and then my own blog. Experience and relationships are two of the most important things in your career. My last piece of advise: spend your 20s working your ass off, building your career. Your other needs will take care of themselves.

CF: Ideally, where would you like to see rewardStyle in five years time?

AV: rewardStyle will be the defacto monetization solution among premium digital style publishers.

rS is my dream job. I get to travel the world and get to know new cities with distinguished local influencers. We now have a product team that can create and launch new products within one month so there is little time from idea generation to execution to mass user adoption. We power thousands of small businesses around the world and I am blessed to work in a company that is changing the lives of individuals and affecting the direction of an entire new industry. In 5 years I hope to be working at rewardStyle alongside a global network of passionate and enthusiastic team members.

Style OnTM,

Amy Levin

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