Interview #17: Stephanie Kaplan - Harvard Grad helps College Women find their Voice - Co-Founder of Her Campus

Watch a quick preview of Stephanie’s interview
Check out Stephanie’s responses to our Word Association Challenge under “Boxers or Briefs”
Click “read more” for Stephanie’s full interview 
Blogger at The Huffinton Post
Co-Founder, CEO, & Editor-in-Chief of
Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30” - Coolest Young Entrepreneurs
Glamour Magazine’s 20 Amazing Young Women
The Boston Globe’s 25 Most Stylish Bostonians
Current Harvard MBA student

Connect with Stephanie:
Stephanie is the co-founder of the massively popular and ever growing online magazine Her Campus.  From the moment she met her co-founders, Windsor Hanger and Annie Wang, she knew they were going to do something special together.  While working for Harvard’s online mag, Freeze, the three saw the potential for so much more.  With the motivation of Harvard’s business plan competition, i3 Innovation Challenge, Stephanie, Windsor, and Annie, put ideas to paper and eventually won the competition.  This opened many doors for them and helped them land their first advertising client, Juicy Couture.  Since then they have worked with Loft, Self Magazine, Elizabeth Arden, New Balance and many other brands.  Stephanie notes the collaborative effort of her team as a main component of their success.  Stephanie is the Editor-in-Chief and focuses her energy on her strengths, which include writing and journalism.  Annie is the CIO and tech genius.  She learned Drupal on her own and build the entire site.  Windsor is the sales guru and is a master with marketing and engaging new clients.  These 3 separate entities unite for a powerhouse of forward-moving action.  Stephanie believes in progressing with ideas quickly and implementing before thinking too much about the consequences.  Repeatedly, HerCampus has been successful due to this simple principle.  One such idea has expanded their business model exponentially.  HerCampus offered colleges around the country to create their very own local HerCampus magazine.  This inspires rising entrepreneurs to create content that will be broadcasted globally through a recognized brand.  This also helps Her Campus grow it’s own brand by connecting with universities across the nation and around the world.  Now Her Campus has the advantage of being nationally and locally relevant at the same time.  A simple idea that has exploded their growth.  They are now at over 1000 active contributors on 120+ campuses.  With a clear vision, consistent focus and teamwork, the Her Campus team has shown us what being young leaders is all about.  Stephanie has a unique view on leadership that is of great value to all young professionals.  Click “read more” to watch the full interview and read our 
Top Ten Take-aways from our interview with Stephanie

  • Be action oriented.  Do it now.  Get going.  Don’t get stuck in the planning stage.  Let the feedback you receive dictate how you move forward.
    • Stephanie’s idea for user-generated blogs on the Her Campus website started as a simple idea during their Self Magazine “Lose the Freshman 15” campaign.  She passed the idea to Annie (Co-Founder & web designer) and it became a reality.  Stephanie is a master at turning ideas into real value-added components of her business.
  • Do something you are excited about - don’t just do what everyone else is doing or follow a career path just for money or success.  Make sure you love what you are doing.
  • Constantly improve your speaking and writing skills.  Communication is incredibly important at any level of professional or personal life
  • Keys to writing good content:
    • Attention-grabbing Title
    • Have your own distinct voice when writing a post - speak directly to the reader and come at your writing from a unique angel
      • The reader should forget that they are reading a blog and think that you are just talking to them.
  • Social media advice:
    • With Twitter:
      • Follow all the experts in your field of interest
      • Watch what they do with their account to learn how to be successful
    • Retweet and post relevant content to begin to establish yourself as an expert
    • Keep everything professional so you can always be taken seriously
    • Facebook is Her Campus’s main marketing platform and traffic generator (Twitter being second).  They do spend any money on advertising.  It’s all word of mouth and social media.  So use it to it’s full potential.
  • Look to the future - Troubleshoot for the long-term instead of just firefighting the current problems.  Anticipate what is coming around the bend. 
  • Entering a Business Plan competition is a good way to get a simple idea structured into a launch-ready business, with a scalable profit model.
  • It’s important to have a partner - there are always times when you feel discouraged, and if there is no one there to pick you back up, it is easier for everything to fall apart.  
    • You also need someone else with a complementary skills set to make up for your weaknesses as you move toward your goals together.
    • Make sure you get along because you will most-likely be spending a lot of time together.
  • Because of the Her Campus business model, Stephanie and her co-founders have not pursued funding options.  The majority of content is provided by college students and interns to handle office duties.  With free office space provided by the business plan competition, they are able to keep costs low.  Her Campus has been profitable since before the official launch.  Windsor had sold their first ad package to Juicy Couture.
  • To survive in Media, one must have a strong understanding of all the digital social media platforms (Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter).

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