In 2011, Amber Venz Box launched a platform to help fellow style influencers actually make money from posting their outfits on social media. Seven years later, the platform (a site, an app, a blog, a full-fledged company) is the largest contextual shopping app in the world. In September, Box's first coffee table book will be released: LIKEtoKNOW.it Stories From The Influencers Next Door, which shows the amazing community she and her company have helped to build. Here, we share exclusively the book's introduction.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in the fashion industry. As an elementary school girl, I would call my best friend and tell her what to wear to school the next day so we could coordinate on the playground. In 5th grade, I was asked to leave math class because I was caught knitting and vending scarves in the back row of class; and in middle school I had a denim business where I took vintage jeans and turned them into skirts. My freshman year of high school, I carried around a book filled with drawings of a clothing collection I had designed (called “VENZEL”); and later in college I went on to launch my own jewelry line, became a retail buyer, and then a personal stylist.
In April of 2010, at the age of 22, I published a website, venzedits.com, where I documented my personal styling work. I posted three times daily — one outfit post, one trend story, and one sale find or frugal styling tip. I found out that my website was a “blog” when The Dallas Morning News ran a full-page article titled Meet the Blogger, announcing that the shopgirl and jewelry designer people knew from around town was now offering her personal shopping service for free, online.
I loved sharing my work and point of view online; it was so much more gratifying than working with just a single client each day. With the blog, I got to share ideas with anyone who was interested. I got to style photoshoots, learn to edit photos, and share my personal-style wins and secrets with people who cared about fashion the way I did — people who visited my site. During college, I applied several times to work as a summer “closet intern” at one of the biggest publications in New York, but my applications were never acknowledged. Having my own site allowed me to be the fashion editor I had always aspired to be. Being a blogger gave me the opportunity to create the career I had always wanted, in my city, on my terms.
In 2011, a year after I launched my blog, I was all-in on my new hobby; but I needed to find a way to earn a living. At that time, “blogging” was not a respected activity and it was certainly not a career choice.
My then-boyfriend, now-husband Baxter and I set out to find a solution that would allow me to turn my blogging hobby into my full-time job; so we created a tech platform that would ultimately empower me and my newfound peers — other bloggers like me — to become true digital entrepreneurs; the kind that, could support ourselves and our families. rewardStyle launched that June.
Today, the rewardStyle team is made up of hundreds of employees who work from our offices across four continents and provide service in more than a dozen languages — from Shanghai to São Paulo, and Dallas, Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles to London, this team wakes up every day with a single mission: to empower influencers to become successful entrepreneurs.
What started as an idea in a studio apartment in Dallas, Texas is now fueling an entirely new industry and powering the businesses of tens of thousands of creative entrepreneurs around the world.
In 2017, rewardStyle created and launched the LIKEtoKNOW.it app, and today, it is the largest contextual shopping app in the world; the millions of original images found in the app were all created and published by influencers and they are 100 percent shoppable. The LIKEtoKNOW.it app is a destination where you can discover people, looks, and products — all in context — and then curate them, and shop when you are ready.
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As we built the company over the last seven years, I have gotten to meet influencers from all over the world, in their hometowns, in their favorite restaurants and coffee shops and in their homes. What is striking about these influencers is that they are all normal people, just like you and me. They come from all types of cities and countries and family types and their ages are as varied as their professional backgrounds. In the book, you will read about nurses, parents, Chief Architects, teachers, and even a high school student, all of whom decided to embark on building a business of their own. What these influencers have in common is that they are all entrepreneurs; they all had the guts to launch and the grit to keep going.
The LIKEtoKNOW.it app is a place where they share their world, just for you. They document their wardrobes, their homes, vacations, family life, beauty and fitness routines, and more. Together, they have created a mobile universe that is completely shoppable, making the LIKEtoKNOW.it app a place for you to find your people and curate your life.
There are more than 100 LIKEtoKNOW.it influencers featured in this book, but there are tens of thousands of wildly successful influencers who have unique journeys that they share in the app every day and millions who are just embarking on this path. Together, these influencers have created a new industry — and a new way to look at careers and entrepreneurship — while providing us, their followers, with a new way of curating a beautiful life that is more convenient, accessible, authentic, and inviting than ever before.
In reading this book, I hope you find your people — the ones with backgrounds, circumstances, and dreams just like you — and that their stories empower you on your journey.
Visit Amazon.com to pre-order LIKEtoKNOW.it: Stories from the Influencer Next Door.