Refinery29 Adds Shopping After Drawing an Audience in With Content

After building up an online editorial presence for the past few years, Refinery29 is using its clout in fashion to shift to e-commerce.

In October, the online fashion magazine attracted 4.3 million visitors, generating 40 million page views; it has 600,000 subscribers signed up for local editions in five cities nationwide.

To date, though, it has mostly monetized the company through advertising.

Co-founder Philippe von Borries said that 80 percent of the revenue this year will come from ads, and 20 percent from commerce. Next year, he hopes the ratio is closer to 40 percent from commerce.

“Content drives incredible engagement, and now that we have built such a sizable audience of women who tune in every day through email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — we are building exciting new opportunities to shop our content,” he said.

Today, the company is relaunching its e-commerce component, called Reserve. The site, which is separate from the editorial, will offer only a few items a day, and could be connected to the content that appears in the magazine; it is currently offering a selection of boots and handbags.

To support the launch, the company raised $4.5 million in funding this summer in a first round from Floodgate and First Round Capital.

Von Borries said the New York-based company is hiring aggressively to add to its current 49 employees, and that its revenues are on an annual run rate of $15 million. Last year, its revenues totaled $2 million.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

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