Many companies in the online fashion industry focus on one area. Either they're online fashion magazines, focused on editorial, such as Style.com. Or they're strictly e-commerce sites focused on selling items, like Net-a-porter.com.
Over the past few years, however, start-ups have been popping up that are trying to bridge different areas of fashion and offer a more integrated experience.
One of those companies is Refinery29, which offers a combination of flash sales, fashion commentary and trend reports. It is converging media and commerce by driving content to the purchase path, building narrative around commerce and building audiences through premium, branded content. Not only does it give you the hottest trends of the season, but it also shows you where you can buy them.
The strategy has worked very well for the company. Self-funded for the first five years before raising a seed round of $500,000 in 2010 and turning cash flow positive last year.
In July 2011, it raised a $4.5 million round from Floodgate and First Round Capital and are today continuing its impressive organic growth.
It has 850,000 email subscribers and 60 million page views per month and are working with advertisers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Fendi, Chanel, Dior and Net-a-Porter.
"We run a tight analytics team that provides every editor with a constant stream of content performance to allow for better publishing," said Philippe von Borries, co-founder, in an interview with me. "Every edit station in our office has a live feed of content performance."
The metrics-driven focus has lead towards higher pageviews, improved engagement and the conversion rate of new users is now 8-9%. Revenue grew 525% to $10 million in 2011. Eighty-five percent of the revenues still comes from media and advertising but von Borries expects to see more of that split going to commerce in 2012.
Disclaimer: Erin Håkansson is a Registered Representative of Ackrell Capital, LLC, a member of FINRA and SIPC. Nothing in this posting should be construed as investment or financial advice.