Dallas startup puts together fashion bloggers, shoppers and retailers

SMU Meadows of the Arts alumna Amber Venz co-founded rewardStyle, an affiliate marketer that helps bloggers earn revenue. SMU Cox School of Business alumnus Baxter Box also is involved in the entreprenuerial effort.

By Hanah Cho

Personal stylist Amy Wells Havins dishes on her latest fashion picks and catalogs her outfits on her blog Dallas Wardrobe.

With a few clicks, her readers can purchase those Gap shorts or that Marc Jacobs bag featured on the blog. With every online sale, Havins gets a commission.

“Maybe someone doesn’t hire me to take them shopping. [But] they shop with me online,” said Havins, 27.

Driving the sales engine behind thousands of fashion and lifestyle bloggers like Havins is Dallas-based rewardStyle.

The 2-year-old startup provides the back-end platform that not only helps bloggers make money from their content but also drives sales to retailers.

With retailers and brands shifting more advertising dollars to alternative channels, such as Facebook and YouTube, so-called affiliate marketing like rewardStyle is one way retailers are using to attract new customers, drive traffic and increase revenue.

Top fashion and style blogs can attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors, some of whom are loyal followers and are likely to buy an item based on their recommendations....

Amber Venz, a Southern Methodist University graduate, began blogging in April 2010 to support her jewelry and personal styling and shopping businesses. Realizing that her readers were buying outfits she was posting online and not booking appointments with her, Venz devised a plan to make money from her content.

She signed up for several online advertising networks, but she needed a spreadsheet to keep track of administrative details. Venz also began calling retailers to negotiate sponsorships and sales commissions on her own.

Venz’s boyfriend, Baxter Box, who was getting his MBA at SMU’s Cox School of Business, saw what Venz was doing and wondered whether there was an ideal solution for bloggers to make money. As rewardStyle’s CEO, Box, 31, provides the tech and business background....