What is your advice to young women looking to start their own company? How did you learn what to do in terms of forming LLCs, getting investors, building a website and brand, and all the other technical work that goes into starting a company?
Do NOT try to do it alone. If it takes a complete set of markers, don’t try to be the red, the orange, the yellow…find a really brilliant orange, yellow… Make sure you have a clear, attainable roadmap.
Take us through your average work day/week?
As President, I work with the CEO to create strategic plans for both rewardStyle and CurrentlyObsessed.me. I spend the rest of my day negotiating with advertisers and working with our high potential bloggers.
I love to travel. Before we launched rewardStyle I was traveling to another state or country once a month; however, that has slowed down a bit. Any trip I take now is to work with an advertiser, blogger, or potential employee. The destinations have changed a bit but I find life much more fulfilling. I do work nonstop but I am so proud of the company we have built and know that without the hard work it could all fall apart. My longtime boyfriend, Baxter, is our CEO (we launched the company together) so we travel together for work and play.
As far as time allocated to brands, there is no science to it but the guidelines are the same for advertisers and bloggers: the more potential and reach, the more attention they get. Our top brands have my cell phone number and our top bloggers text it.
What are the biggest rewards from running your own company? And the biggest challenges?
The biggest reward of running my own company are pride, self-respect, and confidence. I think that any time someone succeeds in public like this it alters their social skills and I feel much more comfortable in my own skin.
There are two biggest challenges that I deal with personally: 1. managing employees and 2. reacting to the ever-changing landscape of technology. Culture is very important at rewardStyle and it is not uncommon for the team to crack a beer at 7PM (yes, we work late). That said, the friend/employee line is extremely thin. Secondly, disruptive technologies happen everyday and keeping up with it and anticipating technology can be overwhelming.
How are you hoping to see rewardStyle expand? Any chance of offering home goods?
rewardStyle is definitely expanding—we are moving into more countries and releasing new products and features. We will be launching lifestyle in 2012 and have so many tools that will change the work-flow for bloggers.
What has been the best moment of your career so far?
There are little victories every day. Two of the earliest and biggest victories I remember were getting Net-a-Porter as an advertiser and receiving an email from the COO of Who What Wear saying that they wanted to talk.
Not only do you run rewardStyle, but you are also the founder of Amber Venz jewelry. Two companies and you’re only 24. Tell us about the jewelry line. And how do you do it all?
I started making jewelry because I found a pair of earrings that I wanted but could not afford. Once I learned to wire wrap, I started experimenting with more designs and materials and eventually my friends started asking to purchase my designs. Girls would drop off their homecoming dresses or party tops and ask me to build something to coordinate.
During college, while working at the small, high-end boutique (think mini-Barneys), I ended up selling my jewelry there for about four years. I used that time to slowly launch my own business. I created a logo, worked with a designer on my website, styled the jewelry shoots, and launched the line in the wholesale market. In 2011, I was named Best Jewelry Designer in Dallas by D Magazine, and Stanley Korshak was my biggest client.
In January of this year I had to put my jewelry line on hold to focus on rewardStyle. This decision was incredibly emotional as jewelry design is how I broke into the fashion industry; however, it was a stepping stone and I am now focusing on something that positively effects so many women (and men) in fashion. rewardStyle is much more important right now. But I’ll pick up the jewelry again one day.
You’ve worked in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York… what is your favorite city to live in? Work in? Build a career in? Why?
I will always say Dallas. Privately, I choose to live in Dallas because: I can have my own car, it takes at most 15 minutes to get anywhere I need to go, I can afford to live in a large apartment, almost every restaurant in town offers bottomless mimosas on the weekends, the weather is mild, the Mavs (I’m a huge basketball fan), southern boys, DFW has non-stop flights to anywhere I want to go, Dallas is right in the middle of the country (two hours to LA & two hours to NY), Neiman Marcus and 4510 bring in all the major designers you would ever want to meet, my family is here, I have invested my time in my Dallas relationships.