How HelloGiggles' Founder Is Making the World a Positive Place
Courtesy of Create & Cultivate
Founded in 2011 by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer, and Sophia Rossi, HelloGiggles has been and continues to be a positive online community for women. The HelloGiggles mission is “to inspire a smile,” and we can’t help but do just that every time we visit the content-heavy website. During the recent Create & Cultivate event in Dallas, we had a chance to sit down with Sophia Rossi and talk all things Giggles—including her unwavering commitment to positivity, her thirst for knowledge, and her love for all things challenging. Scroll through to find out what this inspirational woman does to make your world a better place.
MYDOMAINE: Tell us about HelloGiggles and why you decided to build it.
SOPHIA ROSSI: We founded HelloGiggles in 2011 on the idea of establishing a safe little uplifting corner of the Internet that really catered to female audiences. At the time, the Internet was feeling very gossipy and snarky. It’s really easy to put negative thoughts out there on a medium that feels so anonymous, and we wanted to counteract that.
MD: Who is your target audience?
SR: We have a growing audience of 18 million unique monthly visitors. To put that in perspective, our new sister brand People magazine has an online audience of 20 million—so we’re big. Right now our audience is mostly young women, ranging from 18 to 34, averaging 26. She’s highly educated, highly mobile.
MD: How do you differentiate yourself from other female-oriented content platforms?
SR: As mentioned before, we’re really focused on positivity and on reflecting real women’s interests—beyond the obvious marketable areas of fashion and beauty, we try to be socially responsible—discussing positive body image, sexuality, gender studies, and the like.
Another major difference is our contributor-based model, which we expect to evolve in the future, but that model really allowed us to grow into what we are now. A lot of our best content comes from our readers. We’ve offered these voices a platform, and through doing so, we’ve established a solid community of writers and ideas.
Courtesy of Create & Cultivate
MD: What was the most challenging part of getting started?
SR: Not knowing anything about the Internet besides that I enjoyed it.
MD: HelloGiggles was acquired by Time Inc. last year. What’s next for you and your company?
SR: The Time Inc. acquisition is really expanding our network, now that we’re part of the People, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated family, among other Time Inc. brands.
But the most exciting thing about the acquisition is that we’re now making major pushes into the video space. The audience we’ve built expects to come to HelloGiggles for articles, and we’ve really gotten to know them—what content they come back for, what they engage in. In the wake of this transition, we’re excited to start introducing a lot of video content—both digitally and through traditional film/TV outlets—based on that understanding of what our audience is interested in.
MD: Who has been your greatest mentor along the way?
SR: Katherine Power [co-CEO of Clique Media Group], and Ricky Van Veen of CollegeHumor.
MD: Who do you look up to?
SR: Katherine Power. She inspired me to start HelloGiggles.
MD: Words to live by?
SR: “You have to want it more than hurts.” My SoulCycle instructor Angela says this.
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Sophia Rossi is motivated by positivity. What are you motivated by? Share with us in the comments!