Changing the game.
Leaving a cushy and respectable editorial job at a top fashion magazine to become an entrepreneur might sound completely terrifying and insane to most people, but Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power are certainly not most people. The fashion world power duo met while working for Elle Magazine, on the set of the show "Project Runway." They struck up a friendship and bonded immediately; within a year they had started Who What Wear as an answer to the lack of great editorial content online at the time. This was 2006, when MySpace was king, and most leading fashion magazines had only splash pages as websites, with no content at all. Kerr and Power saw an opportunity and took a leap: they left their jobs at Elle and launched a newsletter which is now, arguably, The Clique Media Group media empire.
As seasoned veterans of fashion editorial, Kerr and Power brought the professionalism and expertise of print media to their web content. But a big part of the reason for Who What Wear’s wild success was the duo’s early embracing of social media; though it was a fledgling medium at the time, Kerr and Power used MySpace to launch a series of videos promoting their new site. Thanks to that, the pair’s own strong networks, and the site’s uniquely friendly and approachable take on fashion, Who What Wear’s readership swelled. Kerr and Power have harnessed the power of social all along the way, and today Who What Wear boasts over 2.3 million Instagram followers. In fact, it was their enthusiasm and savvy for all things digital that led them to eventually step up their entrepreneurial game by launching Clique Media Group, not only as a parent company for Who What Wear but as a tech, commerce, and content company that would allow them to pursue all their digital dreams. In 2017, CMG is a formidable global media, marketing, and consumer brands company that is venture-backed (Amazon is an investor) and regularly touted by Forbes Magazine. Aside from Who What Wear, their current portfolio includes the home and lifestyle site myDomaine and beauty platform Byrdie, the cutting-edge social only Gen Z network Obsessee, and their most recent acquisition, the website CollegeFashionista. They’ve also entered the consumer space, partnering with Target to offer an ongoing monthly collection of clothing and accessories inspired by street style trends that launched in January of 2016. The collaboration has been so popular that Kerr and Power hope to expand their reach in terms of consumer goods. “We’ve found incredible success with our Who What Wear clothing and accessories line at Target,” says Power. “In fact, we just expanded with Who What Wear shoes that follow the same thesis of fast fashion informed by data from our savvy millennial reader. So I’d love to see us expand in that area of consumer brands as I know we can give consumers what they’re looking for.”
What else is the power pair currently excited about? “I'm obsessed with the Obsessee girl and world; the combination of Gen-Z and social-only content makes every part of my brain excited,” says Kerr. For Power, it’s virtual reality. “We’re always trying new things and work to stay on the cutting edge of all technological advancements, so it’s certainly on our radar,” she tells us. “In fact, we’ve already been using VR as event activations. For our Obsessee pop-up at The Grove this summer, we partnered with Samsung, who had ambassadors bring headsets for guests to view fashion, music, and art virtual reality videos. People loved it!”
It may not seem like Kerr or Power has literally one free second for anything outside of running their empire, but these superwomen squeeze in extra-curriculars to keep themselves sane. For Kerr, a self-described “word nerd,” it’s reading, and for Power, it’s exercise. “I love my daily 6 a.m. workout class at Tracy Anderson’s studio in L.A,” she says. “It keeps my brain functioning clearly.” For her part, Kerr has made peace with being a workaholic. “I take better care of myself, emotionally and physically,” she says of the time since the two first started out over a decade ago. “I've finally realized that I cannot separate my brain from work, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I firmly believe that you never know where a good idea will come from, and that means staying alert, open, and engaged with the world around you.” But don’t make the mistake of assuming Kerr and Power are content with staying where they are professionally. The same ambition and confidence that spurred them to take a risk and start Who What Wear back in 2006 is still here, and bigger than ever. “I’d like to build this company to the giant I know it can be,” Power says of their future goals. “You only get this close to something so big maybe once or twice in a lifetime, so I’m going to swing for the fences.”