Recently, a few things happened around the same time that it almost seems like fate. First, I decided that I wanted to add a new series to my blog. It might be the journalist in me, but I decided that I wanted to do more interviews with brands and other bloggers. (I had a lot of fun with the two interviews — one blogger and one brand — that I had already conducted for my blog, and I knew this was something I really wanted to do.)
Pretty much as I decided to do this series, I was introduced to a new online boutique. While there are many different boutiques out there, one thing I immediately liked about this particular boutique is how every item available helps the greater good in some way. So I decided to ask the boutique founder if she would answer a few questions for me. Luckily, she said yes!
So without further ado, here is my interview with Style Because President and founder, Denise Stirk:
Me: You told me that you were a fashion/lifestyle blogger, and now you run an online boutique. Have you always been interested in working with fashion?
Denise: Always. Long story short: In college I interned in Paris, France with an amazing agency that represented some of the top fashion photographers around the world. The truth is that I mainly answered the phones and sent faxes, but I was also able to help scout models, attend shoots, and do something more important tasks. After that I was hooked. Little did I know then how important and influential these guys were, all I knew is that it was fun and exciting . . . and I wanted to be part of it.
M: How long ago did you open Style Because?
D: We launched the end of May 2013.
M: What made you decide to take the leap from fashion/lifestyle blogger to online boutique owner? Was that always the plan?
D: Definitely not always the plan. I loved writing/working in print, but when I made a move from NYC to San Francisco, it became clear that all the jobs (and the future of the industry) were online and more specifically, in blogging. Blogging was fun because it is so current, but I started to get the inkling that one day I might like to run a store like the ones that I am always writing about.
Cut to me taking a break from writing world for a few years to raise my two adorable babies. They are now 2.5 and 4.5 and somewhat self sufficient now (in the sense that they I don’t worry they will drown themselves in the toilet the second I turn my back to check my email), so I decided to get my creative juices flowing again. All my experience (editor for both print and blogs, marketing for print and brands, and PR for e-commerce, and blogger for e-commerce) pointed, very clearly, in the direction of starting an online boutique
M: Where does the name Style Because come from?
D: I wanted a name that represented what we are selling — stylish items that give back to different “causes” around the globe. It’s OK to be both fashionable and charitable! And Style BeCAUSE was born. After deciding on a name, everything (even the tagline) flowed naturally – Style Because, you care.
M: What kind of things does Style Because (SB) specialize in? Is there something unique to SB that makes it standout from the other boutiques out there?
D: Women’s clothing and accessories and men’s accessories. I’ve just added a line of awesome formaldehyde-free nail polish that is really fantastic. More beauty products, along with kids and home goods, are going to be added soon too!
SB stands out because each product is hand curated based on two things: 1.) Each item must benefit the greater good 2.) Each item needs to be something I would buy regardless of the giving model. Nothing against those bright yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets, but I would rather support causes stylishly (and maybe a lil’ more subtly). My favorite part about SB is that when someone compliments your awesome dress or cute bracelet, you have a story to tell.
M: On your website, it says that all of the products are “fashionably and socially conscious,” what do you mean by that?
D: Exactly what I described above: Every item sold benefits the greater good all while being fashionable at the same time.
M: Your site also says that SB donates to different organizations each quarter, how do you decide which organization you are going to donate to? Are there certain requirements they must meet?
D: This is still a work in progress, because I am a softy, and I would like to give to every organization that contacts us. However, we are going to try to stick with highly rated charities/foundations/organizations.
M: What is the A21 Campaign (the current charity proceeds are donated to), and what do they do?
D: The A21 Campaign is an amazing organization working to abolish slavery in the 21st century. There are an estimated 27 million people in bondage across the globe — men, women, and children are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will. To me, that number is completely staggering and the minute I heard this figure, I literally could not stop thinking about it. Slaves? Today! WT(*)?! In a nutshell, the A21 Campaign:
- Provides awareness and education for prevention.
- Protects those who have been trafficked by building shelters and transition homes.
- Prosecutes traffickers and strengthens the legal response to human trafficking.
- Partners with local law enforcement, service providers, and community members to meet a comprehensive set of needs for those rescued from human trafficking.
M: What do you see in the future for Style Because? Do you think you will ever open any brick and mortar stores?
D: Near future consists of expanding our product base and internet presence — the store is still a baby! We’ve got to help it grow! I would love, love, love to one day have a few B&M stores, but right now we are only focusing our efforts online.
M: Do you have any advice you would like to give for bloggers thinking about starting their own boutiques?
D: Be prepared! There are a LOT more steps and procedures that come with having a store than a blog. Customer service. Taxes. Merchant accounts. Shopping carts. Shipping. The list goes ON AND ON! Marketing is altogether different too. As a blogger I focused so much on page views and/or unique visitors, but for an e-commerce site, just because someone has visited your site and spent 25 minutes on it, doesn’t translate into success. Success is measured in one way: sales.
Do you look for brands that benefit the greater good when you shop? Let me know what you look for in the comments below!