Amber Venz Box was a 23-year old fashion blogger fresh out of Southern Methodist University when her million—make that billion—dollar idea hit. The question: How can I make money from blogging? The answer: LTK.HQ (formerly rewardStyle), a platform that allows fashion bloggers to monetize clicks by tracking the traffic and sales they drive to retailers.
Launched in 2011 with her then-boyfriend now-husband, Baxter Box, the company boasts a global network in the tens of thousands with 4,000 retail partners and more than 500,000 brands. The company’s newest launches, @shop.LTK and @ltk.family, make it possible for followers to buy merchandise from their favorite bloggers’ and retailers’ Instagram posts.
As president, Venz Box is a certified jetsetter and master multitasker, balancing hefty professional responsibilities (she’s the creative and marketing brain behind the business) with caring for her two children: Birdie, 2, and Boyce, 8 months.
“I want to show the kids that working hard is rewarding, but I don’t want to do that at the expense of someone else raising them,” says Venz Box, 30. “I’ve talked to other working moms about it a lot lately. My goals are admirable, but I hope I’m executing them in the right way.”
DFWChild: What do you think your entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in?
Amber Venz Box: My mom was always encouraging me to be creative. And my dad is a small-business owner. He encouraged my brother and me to own our own businesses because it would allow us to build the lifestyle that we wanted.
C: What have you learned since launching rewardStyle six years ago?
AVB: I’ve learned a lot about hiring the right people and delegation. That’s something I had a hard time with as a young founder. Having two kids, I don’t even have an option anymore. The third thing is the importance of peers and mentors. For so long, I didn’t make enough room for people in my life.
C: What’s most difficult about helming a company of this size?
AVB: Finding really strong talent you can delegate to and trust. One wrong leader can derail the entire company.
C: Which female leaders do you look up to?
AVB: Sheryl Sandberg for different reasons. In the peer space, my friend Whitney Wolfe has done an amazing job building her company, Bumble.
C: What’s it like working with your husband?
AVB: We love getting to work together. We have very complementary skill sets. His background is in finance and engineering, and mine is completely fashion and marketing. It’s incredible to have a cofounder who I trust through and through.
C: What made you decide to launch LiketoKnow.It.Family?
AVB: When I had kids, I started to realize how much parents rely on their peers to inform their purchase decisions. I started following other moms online and realized this content was a natural part of what was happening in the influencer space.
C: What’s next for you professionally?
AVB: We always tend to build things out of a need. Back in 2015 I had my daughter, and it became increasingly difficult for me to go get my nails done, so we’re launching a new app called Cherry for nails anytime, anywhere. I call it a fun project, but hopefully it will be the next big company.
C: How have you changed since becoming a mother?
AVB: My children have made me a better person. I’ve become more empathetic and started to notice the world around me more. It’s also helped me to delegate, be more intentional and reset my priorities. RewardStyle was No. 1 for many years. Over the last several years, I’ve had a refactoring of that. My faith is No. 1. Marriage is No. 2. Kids are 3, and work is 4.
C: What’s most difficult about motherhood?
AVB: The balance. I love working and being involved in so many projects. But the first eight years of your child’s life are the most impressionable. As much as I want to spend every waking moment with them, I also want to be the best person I can be for them. It’s trying to juggle how to run a large business and also be a great mom. That’s something I genuinely struggle with.
C: How do you and Baxter stay connected?
AVB: It sounds so rigid, but we found we were working all the time whether we wanted to or not. So now we have a rule that once we get out of the car, all work discussion is off. If we have an idea or something we want to talk about, we just put time on each other’s calendar. Putting those boundaries in place has really helped us.
C: What keeps you grounded?
AVB: I grew up in a Christian household, but throughout college and professional life, I didn’t really prioritize that. Now that’s resurfaced and is something that’s very important. When you make God the priority, you become less selfish, and you’re able to focus more on loving other people. If faith hadn’t become a big part of my life, I think rewardStyle would probably still be number one.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2018.
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Photo courtesy of Amber Benz Box