Digital start-up understands what women want

Elizabeth Fox and Liza Graves of StyleBlueprint
Elizabeth Fox and Liza Graves of StyleBlueprint
Photo by Mary Ann DeSantis / SNPA

Nashville businesswomen Elizabeth Fox and Liza Graves met for coffee in 2009 to talk about how they could connect busy women to the great things happening in their town. They understood the time constraints women face, and their goal was to build a different business model to reach an audience that often says it's too busy to read a newspaper.

StyleBlueprint began in Nashville just eight years ago, and has become one of the South's fastest-growing online lifestyle brands, anchored by its daily articles, curated local guides in six markets and a newly launched digital app. In a breakout session at the 2017 Key Executives Mega-Conference in Orlando, Fox and Graves explained how they've achieved digital success by focusing solely on women.

"We didn't just blog," said Graves. "We got to know our audiences and focused on original content."

StyleBlueprint is more than just a website. Every morning, the digital business sends out emails to about 100,000 people with a positive message, community happenings and a "daily deal" from a featured advertiser.

"Our goal is to use the online platform to drive business into offline brick and mortar stores," Graves explained. "When we feature a 'daily deal,' we write about the store, which is accompanied by a great photograph. We let the readers know why they need to buy this deal, too."

Graves said that they won't feature a "Daily Deal" unless they know the business.

"We've actually turned down a deal because we didn't know the company," she said. is a very clean and uncluttered site. Beautiful photos and well-written content have also been paramount to the local city guides where StyleBlueprint is now offered: Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Louisville and Memphis. In addition, a Southern edition showcases events, tips and stories from other areas around the South.

Inc. magazine named StyleBlueprint as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company's 2016 numbers also confirm the digital darling is making an impact:

  • 7.5 million page views in the last 12 months
  • More than 100,000 daily email subscribers
  • Daily email subscribers up over 30 percent in the last year
  • More than 120,000 followers on social media
  • 2.5 million visitors
  • Page views up 35 percent over the last year
  • More than 15,000 app users and 100,000 beacon encounters

"In a world of more, more, more ... we know women actually want less," said Fox. "We bring them curated, vetted options. Less is better."

The co-founders understood from the beginning just how big social media was going to be to their success. They got a Facebook Business page as soon as Facebook began offering business pages, and all of the city guides have individual Twitter accounts. They have also created mini-marketing campaigns for their clients on social media.

"Being a digital company, we can be very nimble," Fox explained. "We're always adding new products that address our clients' needs."

The company has 21 employees with an editor and sales person in each market. Some content is shared, but, for the most part, stories and ads are local.

"Each city is different," Fox said. "A certain style of shoes may be popular in Birmingham, while Nashville readers will hate them."

Graves and Fox said they have no plans currently to expand into other cities but instead want to focus on penetrating deeper into their current markets. They shared their start-up story at the 2017 Mega-Conference because they believe the model for this kind of digital publication can be rolled out in other markets, particularly smaller cities.