How Stephanie Mark and the birth of Coveteur set the stage for the rise of social media

Emily Rella, AOL.com

If you could look into the closet of anyone in the world, who would it be?

Would it be the girl who works in a different department than you that always has the most amazing boots every fall? Or maybe your favorite sitcom star who somehow manages to look even better off duty than she does in full-wardrobe? Or perhaps it's that model whose clothes you know you could never pull off but just the thought of seeing that many designer brands at once exhilarates you?

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When Stephanie Mark co-founded Coveteur six years ago, she set out to answer that question exactly -- and she set out to do it for all of us.

Coveteur “really launched as a passion project” Mark explained, as a means of finding a creative outlet apart from a boring job that her heart just wasn’t in. 

Mark completed her undergrad in Canada (she hails from Toronto) and received her degree in Fashion Marketing at Parsons, where she was able to take numerous internship positions across the fashion world — marketing, styling, editorial — you name it. 

Mark came onto the editorial scene at a time when street style was at its prime, and bloggers and photographers who documented the everyday woman were the closest one could get to getting a glimpse into the lives of every day people — social media as a mass market and the concept of social influencers were nonexistent.

Oh, what a simpler time!

But what’s astonishing is that Mark saw a gap and a disconnect in what the everyday reader was interested in and what they were seeing when they digested there content — How did these street style icons, celebrities and models get from Point A to Point B? Why were consumers only able to see the finished product, but not the process? Why was access to the ‘behind the scenes’ so limited?

Enter the birth of Coveteur, as Mark explains:

“We wanted to take what was really popular but sort of deconstruct it, peel it back a layer, and thats how we came up with the idea of going inside people’s homes and showcasing their wardrobes. It was the step before someone shows up on the street. Also, the premise was to really highlight all the people in the industry who we felt, at the time, were sort of the ‘unsung heroes’ … hairstylists, make up artists, editors.”

Coveteur was founded by Mark and business partner Jake Rosenberg, and is now operated under CEO Warren Webster — “Within my own work environment, it really feels like I’m part of a team — it does not necessarily feel like I’m the girl with two guys,” says Mark.

The publication would allow Reader A living in Cleveland, Ohio a visual and detailed look inside his or her favorite celebrity’s closets, while Reader B might get to read an exclusive Q&A with his or her favorite supermodel’s hair stylist, as Mark elaborated that “the access to people’s homes… that felt really different compared to the access a lot of other people were getting at the time.”

Before social media, the people pulling all the strings in the world of the beautiful and glamorous were just names on a magazine page — with Coveteur, they came to life.

The digital-only format worked, as Coveteur had no print version to compare itself against. 

Similarly, Mark herself had no former business to compare the model of Coveteur against either (“I was just happy to do something else that made me feel excited, and made me feel passionate”) and described her method of launching the site as “going in blind.”

But it worked, and continues to work, even in the age of social media dominance where celebs, influencers and everyday girls alike post everything from what they ate for breakfast, to what their bedrooms look like to a what their hair looks like after it’s been cut, colored and styled (tagging the hairstylist and salon, of course.)

So how does Coveteur continue to thrive in a digital environment that’s threatened the originality of the site’s core purpose? Mark credits the ability to keep a passion project and global brand one in the same: 

“Having the passion there and making sure it's authentic. Online, things are so crowded, and if you don’t have a differentiating factor (even if it is a passion project) it has to be something different, there has to be a reason that someone’s coming … for something they can’t find somewhere else.”

And it’s that authenticity, that originality that continues to set the bar — not every publication gets the opportunity to sit down with the Shoe God himself, Christian Louboutin, in his apartment in Paris and feature the interview and intimate peek into his life in a hardcover, published book.

The small, startup vibe of the company also makes the Coveteur experience unique:

“Because we are a small team and a startup, I think you’re exposed to a ton of different job opportunities, maybe that would take 10 years at another company.”

Longevity doesn’t necessarily matter at Coveteur — within weeks you could be taking on interviews and responsibilities that range from menial to ‘OMG’-worthy, it’s just how things work.

But running any site smoothly starts from the top and trickles down, and Mark emphasizes the importance of “self-care” and stress management.

Mark, who’s self-proclaimed a very non-morning person, has recently flipped a switch to start getting up early:

“I’m a lot less reactive in the morning … if I’ve been up for an hour and a half and I've worked out and I have a coffee and I’m sitting on my couch and an email comes in, I think my reaction to it is a lot different and I’m a lot less stressed because of it.”

The emphasis on wellness and positivity are concepts that she’s lifted from interviews directly on the site, and that’s something she hopes Coveteur readers will do, too, saying that if she had to sum up what Coveteur’s core mission really is, that it would be:

“To give people access and information that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. And hopefully, they can apply whatever they read in a way that has a positive impact on their life.”

Because whether your a health and fitness guru, celeb-obsessed, fashion-forward or none of the above, everyone can stand to remember to not only appreciate the magic when they see it but to appreciate the ones who make things sparkle from behind the curtain.

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