Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. - Cindy Crawford
When xoJane launched almost two years ago, it was truly one of the first websites where independent, passionate, and opinionated women could go to find raw, honest, and compelling stories from real, relatable women. Readers were drawn to the site instantly, spending an average of five minutes per visit engaging with the authors and each other in the comments. Even more impressive is how thoughtful the readers' reactions were to the types of personal articles they couldn’t find anywhere else on the web.
At the same time, however, these readers had no problem clicking from an article like It Happened to Me: I'm Married to a Virgin to a beauty article telling them how one writer fixed her chicken skin and got awesome hair to boot.
In fact, many of those beauty articles were among the site's most popular. The readers loved that they were getting beauty advice from women who'd actually tried the products and refused to say good things about something if it didn't do what it promised. Soon, the comment sections on beauty articles turned into a forum for the readers to give and get great makeup and skin care advice from each other. Beauty articles garnered hundreds of comments in just a few hours. And Jane Pratt, the editor of xoJane, knew there was something special there.
"The beauty vertical on xoJane blew up from the very beginning," Pratt says. "It was one of our biggest categories by far. So when we were looking at what the best way was to grow the brand next, we took a close look at just why it was so popular and what else was out there in terms of strict beauty sites. Turns out there was a real hole in the marketplace in terms of the type of beauty articles on xoJane and the type of beauty site we would do." Pratt also wanted to capitalize on xoJane's success as the fastest growing women's lifestyle brand on the Web. With more than 2 million monthly readers and 6.2 million monthly page views, Pratt knew there was an opportunity there.
Enter: xoVain, the newest extension of the "xo" brand and a beauty site like no other.
Pratt says, "xoVain is not about professional experts. It's about real women sharing what they know and have learned about beauty by living it." Pratt explains that a woman who has been dealing with acne since the age of thirteen is an expert in skin care because she's lived it. She’s tried everything. She knows what works and what doesn't. She doesn’t need a degree to make her opinion valid. Her opinion is valid because she's talking about her own experiences.
xoVain is similar to xoJane in that there is a cast of characters the readers can really get to know. Women of all ages (the target demographic is 18-49) can find someone on the site who has similar beauty issues or a similar look. And they can get to know about the editors' personal lives through the ways in which the editors describe their beauty routines, experiments, tips and tricks. Pratt says, "Ideally the readers will become more invested in the writers and the beauty advice they’re giving because they'll know that a writer was out until 3 a.m. the night before, but had to get up for a 9 a.m. job interview. When that writer shows how she got rid of her dark circles and made her eyes look awake, the readers will know it's real and so they'll trust her. Real life experiences. Real advice."
What is Pratt most excited about? "I can’t wait to see these women I know are stars, but who other people don’t know yet … I can’t wait to watch them blow up. That’s always so much fun."