Brit Morin has become the Martha Stewart of sorts for the next generation. Brit & Co., the site she founded in 2011, has emerged as a destination for young women with stories and videos ranging from health and beauty to creativity and work-life balance.
Brit & Co. partnered with Create & Cultivate, a platform for women looking to build their dream career, at SXSW this week for a one-day pop-up event featuring speakers like actress Kristen Bell, model Brooklyn Decker and former CNN anchor Whitney Casey.
Ms. Morin, who also spoke at the event, sat down with Ad Age to discuss branded content, marketing, politics and the future of digital media. It was the same day that Brit & Co.'s line of DIY kits debuted nationally at Target stores.
Here are the highlights. Check back for our full video interview.
Ms. Morin said Brit & Co. will only dabble in politics when it comes to how it impacts women and women's rights. While the site will be objective when it comes to reporting the news of the day, as it relates to an issue that impacts women's rights, Ms. Morin said they will take a stand.
"We are advocating the Women's March and International Women's Day and standing up for women in the workforce, women in media, equal pay," she said.
Ms. Morin said women care about more than just do-it-yourself projects or recipes or beauty, "they care about what's going on in the news as well."
Brit & Co.'s platforms are clean of display advertising or pop-up ads, focusing solely on native advertising. "We launched the company in late 2011 and already 70% of the audience was mobile; they were millennials; they didn't care about display ads," she said.
"Because we weren't inhibited by driving traffic back to the site," Ms. Morin said they have been able to better find and engage with audiences no matter where they are consuming content.
Brit & Co. creates custom content for brands, and as much as possible tries to retain editorial control over the voice.
"A lot of time a lot of these brands are now asking us to be creative agencies for them, or in some cases, digital strategy arms for them, " Ms. Morin said. "We are running their strategy for how they use Facebook and Pinterest and all of these platforms. So it has become interesting how a publisher like us who has all of this data and knowledge of how content works on the internet today can take advantage not just from an advertising perspective, but from a digital strategy perspective as well."
On Staying True to Its Mission
"There are a lot of types of content that can grow our traffic that we have not gone into because we have been so steadfast about our mission, and I think brands and agencies now are starting to realize you can pay for as many clicks as you want – they can be from Asia or somewhere else in the world – but what matters is a real engaged cult following and I think Brit & Co. has that," Ms. Morin said.
Ms. Morin said every brand, from media companies to consumer packaged goods, need to have a 360-degree strategy. "If you are going to reach someone through digital you have to reach them with content," she said.
This also means having as many revenue streams as possible. Aside from producing content, Brit & Co. also offers online classes, a series of events and merchandise.
On New Technology
While Brit & Co. is exploring 360-degree video, like most other media companies, Ms. Morin said what caught her attention at SXSW was what she described as a "maker arm," a small machine that can act as a 3-D printer, razor cutter and machine that can cut metal and drill, among other things.
"For me, I got into Brit & Co. because I was obsessed with the idea that technology was radically changing the way we make and create, and with tools like this Maker Arm … people can have these things in their homes and in the next 10 years they can be manufacturing their own products, they can be customizing everything they have," she said, adding that it changes the game of mass retail and mass merchandising.