Refinery29 is a digital media platform founded in 2005 by Justin Stefano, Philippe von Borries, Piera Gelardi, and Christene Barberich. Originally established as a fashion-focused website based out of New York City, the website has branched out to cover beauty, living, entertainment, how-to, and news. They started out as guide/helpful how-tos for navigating the city’s fashion-centered landscape. What hasn’t changed, however, is their audience. They cater to an 18-35 age group of “stylish, intelligent women who crave thought-provoking conversation around limitless ideals,” as the R29 corporate website states. You’ve probably seen their articles promoted or shared on Facebook, where they’ve gathered a significant following. They publish over 2,000 stories a month, which provide readers constant updates to fashion/beauty trends, news, and entertainment.
“The mission is to build the most important media company of this generation for millennial women.”
When it comes to content provided, Refinery29 has significantly refined and expanded their domain. “The core has remained the same, which was producing content for our audience every day. We’ve just followed our users and what they respond to and what they want,” co-founder Justin Stefano explained in an interview by Rebecca Borison for Inc.com. From the website, it’s quite clear that Refinery29 is a comprehensive go-to guide for everything a young woman living her best life could need. With over 400 contributors, Refinery29 is able to cater to a variety of tastes and interests, as well as cover a multitude of perspectives and opinions that help an audience relate to the site. “The mission is to build the most important media company of this generation for millennial women,” co-founder Phillipe von Borries states.
Laura Delarato is a regular contributor for Refinery29. She writes about a variety of topics, almost all targeted towards a female-identifying audience. Her most recent article has a title that grabs at anyone dealing with body image issues of their own – “Plus-Size Women Are Still Not Considered Sexy—& That’s a Problem.” Some of her other articles focus on the women’s movement in light of recent events, but she also includes more light-hearted pieces that cater to the site’s fashion-focused mind. “Why We Need Female Representation in Film” and “3 Ways to Rock a Dress When It’s Super Cold Outside” are two articles by Delarato that show her ability to span a wide range of topics along a spectrum of depth. Delarato is a great example of the kind of contributors that help Refinery29 thrive. She writes what is relevant to her own life and her experiences because there is some portion of the Refinery29 audience that she will be able to reach.
This is where Refinery29 shines. They have a media site similar to that of Bustle or Insider, with the sparkly essence of Marie Claire and the political undertones of Teen Vogue. They realize that the best way to reach their target audience is to understand that an incredibly diverse team of contributors is necessary. As a lifestyle guide, no category can or should be left untouched. And, such as life, categories blur together and unrelated pieces will run side by side. An article about the most efficient New York morning beauty routine can, and probably will, find itself sitting next to what happened in the most recent Homeland Security briefing with the POTUS.
As for social media, Refinery29 bloomed through the success of Facebook, where they now claim over 4 million followers. With the more recent updates of Snapchat, Refinery29 has found their place among Buzzfeed, Cosmo, and MTV under the stories category. They reach their audience where they know they can find them. They refine the site’s taste based on what they know will help them succeed. Refinery29 has evolved in the digital age and we will continue to see them grow and foster relevant media to the strengthening movement of today’s women.