Q & A: Refinery29’s Interactive (& Insanely Addictive) New Platforms

If you’re anything like us, you while away more than your fair share of hours on Refinery29 already. In the past few years, the site has grown bigger and better than ever before, and now, with the launch of My Stylist and Beauty Nation, they’re handing the reins over to their community of readers to drive the conversation surrounding two things near and dear to our hearts: fashion and beauty. On the platforms, bloggers, readers and editors will have the chance to share and discuss everything from the best neighborhood vintage haunts to tips on keeping a manicure looking salon fresh. Intrigued? So were we, so we asked the brains behind the operations to fill us in on our newly bookmarked destinations.

My Stylist, launched in partnership with T.J. Maxx, officially went live today, and the team of local bloggers from across the country have already come up with plenty of content for your perusing pleasure, from a New Yorker-friendly spring coat to chic-up your Sunday morning bodega run, to the perfect polka dot dress for a sunny Miami brunch (can we come?). Over on Beauty Nation, backed by Revlon, a similarly chic cadre of experts is chiming in, and readers are joining the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Read on for our Q+A with Beauty Director Annie Tomlin and VP of Editorial Operations Susan Kaplow:

Styleite: Why did you feel it was important to pull readers and independent bloggers into the conversation about beauty topics?

Annie: Beauty is such an individualized topic. No two women have the same view of what’s beautiful, and so there are countless points of view. With Beauty Nation, we want to highlight some of the voices that we love, and we want to hear from readers as well. Our readers are smart and opinionated, and we wanted to create a space where everyone has a say. Because, really, there are so many topics around beauty that get people talking — and we want to get this conversation going.

How will My Stylist differ from other community-driven fashion sites like Lookbook.nu or Chictopia?

Susan: My Stylist is different than other community-driven fashion sites because it’s very personality-based vs. photo-based. Our users will come to know everything about the personalities driving My Stylist — what museums they go to, their playlists, what they’re reading, eating, watching — everything. We think that what a person absorbs intellectually and how they live is interpreted through their style. That’s what My Stylist is all about — stylish, smart people who help inspire you to find your own personal style and live more creatively — it’s not just about street style photos. It’s about an ongoing conversation between our editors, personalities, and users — and what everyone learns from each other.

What is some of the personal style content readers seem to want more of?

Susan: We are inspired by inspiring people — and so is our audience. Again, we think personality-based content is the most exciting kind there is. We love making style choices based on cool, smart, chic people who have similar tastes to our own — and help us elevate how we think and live.

What was your process in picking the bloggers to participate from the thousands out there on the web?

Annie: There are so many talented writers, bloggers, and video bloggers online. So many. When we started looking for our Beauty Nation contributors, we wanted to find a team of women with diverse points of view — people whose opinions and style always make us take another look. And of course, we were looking for women who love beauty! I love the contributors we have because they each have unique points of view, and I know that readers will connect with them.

Susan: They had to be smart, stylish, interesting, have a real knowledge of the beauty market — and have excellent taste. We weren’t just looking for pretty girls who love makeup.

How do you see the local concept tying into your goals?

Susan: The local concept for My Stylist is everything. How people dress based on where they live, what the weather is like, the restaurants they go to, where they go on the weekend, what they do for a living — that’s what we want to know. We’re interested in how life informs style.

What kind of social media tie-ins do you have planned?

Annie: We knew that from the start, we wanted social media to be featured in a big way. All of our contributors are tweeting and Instagramming with the hashtag #r29beautynation or #r29mystylist, so you can see what they’re up to — and you can get sneak peeks of R29 photo shoots, too! Those tweets and pictures live on both sites, and anyone can join in by using the hashtag. The r29 editors and our contributors are also posing questions to readers each week — getting that back-and-forth conversation going — and we will be answering reader questions that are tweeted. So if you’ve ever had a beauty question, now you can pose it to a team of experts… And yes, we are answering! We have some other fun things planned (stay tuned!).

Susan: There will also be tie-ins across all social platforms – Twitter and Pinterest being the primary sources as both feeds are constantly updated on the site.

What can we expect to see in the future from these platforms?

Annie: We are working on some exciting things for Beauty Nation — really good stuff, but I can’t give away the details just yet! Let’s just say that we will be highlighting truly fresh, unique points of view in beauty… and asking both fun and thought-provoking questions about how we define beauty.

Susan: For both platforms, there will be a 24/7 conversation between Refinery29 editors, ultra-stylish bloggers and our audience.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know about the platforms that they may not see on first glance?

Annie: If you make beauty videos on YouTube, you can share a link to your content on Beauty Nation. We will be highlighting the videos we love most. I’m really excited to connect with readers this way, because while anyone can go on YouTube to see videos, this will allow the Refinery29 video community to connect in a whole new way. And, of course, it’s great exposure!

Susan: My Stylist isn’t just about pretty pictures and trends. We believe great personal style is much more than that. Our editors, bloggers and audience have a lot of smarts, soul, and substance. That’s what makes us stylish.

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