StyleHaul CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski on why the fashion and lifestlye multi-channel network launched a men's vertical

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StyleHaul has built itself into a leading multi-channel network (MCN) by being extremely ambitious, but pursuing those ambitions within the fashion and lifestyle verticals. This has given the company the ability to attract top creators and top brands to draw on those creators.

StyleHaul currently works with more than 6,500 creators, and two years after being acquired by RTL Group for $107 million, the company is now worth twice that.

That is partly because in just the last year StyleHaul was nominated for an Emmy for their original series Vanity, partnered with Verizon’s Go90 to produce original content, and a announced a virtual reality series. And, last month, StyleHaul widened its appeal with the launch of a new men’s lifestyle vertical called Hauk. The platform has more than 70 creators to date, including top creators like Ali-A (Alastair Aiken), DanTDM (Daniel Middleton), and BluMaan (Joe Andrews).

While a men’s fashion and lifestyle verticalis more niche than a women’s one, StyleHaul CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski is confident that there is plenty of demand from both viewers and advertisers.

For more on StyleHaul and the launch of Hauk, we spoke with Horbaczewski.

Found Remote: How is StyleHaul moving beyond the MCN label?

Stephanie Horbaczewski: We aren’t trying to move beyond the term MCN, but it needs to be absorbed in to who we have become. For starters we are multi platform- YouTube, Amazon, Go90 and six social platforms. We produce original content, have been nominated for an Emmy, and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. We have also extended distribution, we partnered with Verizon Go90 to stream a scripted digital series called Relationship Status. The series stars Milo Ventimiglia, and focuses on the trials and tribulations of dating in the age of social media. StyleHaul is also developing a VR series called Free to Fall (based off the book Free to Fall by Lauren Miller). The concept is focused on a fictional future world where our lives are run by technology and an app capable of controlling all aspects of a person’s life makes every decision.

FR: What trends are you seeing that make you confident that a men's vertical like Hauk will succeed?

Horbaczewski: There were two trends that began to arise over the last year that indicated to us the potential demand for a male lifestyle destination. First, as StyleHaul has always had leading male creators who make style-related content, there is a growth in male creators who historically have focused their content development on other such categories such as a gaming and entertainment, that began to evolve their content to share more lifestyle related insights—and this was coming from requests from their community wanting to see a deeper look into their lives. When these creators began to diversify their content—their communities responded incredibly positively giving an indication that there is the opportunity for more.

In parallel, brands began to ask StyleHaul to activate more and in a bigger way in the male lifestyle space. There isn’t an existing and effective way to connect brands, creators and viewers in the male lifestyle vertical, so Hauk fills that void. Men's lifestyle is an increasingly relevant topic, and Hauk allows us to meet the needs of our brand partners, who are looking for opportunities to partner on content for these consumers.

FR: What do StyleHaul and Hauk offer to creators that other MCNs cannot?

Horbaczewski: One of the benefits of StyleHaul and Hauk is our vertical focus. Since StyleHaul was launched six years ago, the business has remained incredibly focused on the style vertical, making us not only the largest globally in style, but also the leading expert. Hauk builds on that expertise in style, just in the men’s space. Because of that, we offer creators who are interested in building their own respective businesses in the style category the opportunity to be a part of the largest global community of style creators and the ability to grow whether it be through strategic brand partnerships, development of new and original content along with other aligned opportunities

FR: How will Hauk factor into existing relationships you have with Go90 and Time Inc?

Horbaczewski: We look forward to growing Hauk—and as a part of that process, will be looking to develop and extend our existing partnerships with those like go90 and Time Inc.

FR: What opportunities do you see for MCNs- and StyleHaul in particular- in the over-the-top and SVOD space moving forward?

Horbaczewski: OTT and SVOD are playing increasingly important roles in every aspect of content. In the men’s space first we saw gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation being used to access OTT content and become integrated with an entire aspect of their lifestyle. All long form content today considers SVOD, we have all heard the cord cutting stats and antidotes. It is clear that both OTT and SVOD will play enormous roles in our content strategies going forward.

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