It's not uncommon to hear people lament over information overload. Now a new website, ArchetypeMe, is looking to help us cut through the clutter. Blending content, community and shopping, the site delivers curated content based on your personality type. To learn more, we spoke to two of the industry visionaries behind the new venture, Cristina Carlino, who founded mega beauty brand philosophy, and Michael Mendenhall who spent nearly two decades at Disney before being named CMO at HP.
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Cristina Carlino: My first company, BioMedic, was anti-surgery. Peels were so dangerous. BioMedic ushered in the lunch hour peel. My second company, philosophy, was anti-beauty. It broke every rule and redirected an industry towards inner beauty, clean fragrances, skin lighteners, super natural makeup and in-home procedures and peels. Archetypes, however, feels so different. I needed a place where I could live my life online, as long as where I was living online would curate to my archetypes in terms of content, community and shopping.
Michael Mendenhall: I started my career in advertising as a national account representative, working on brands like American Honda, AT&T and Black & Decker. From there, I was hired by the Walt Disney Company. After 17 years at Disney, I noticed the industry was starting to change. Content creation and content distribution were evolving as a result of technology. I then went on to join Hewlett Packard as the Global CMO. Four years later, I met Andy Spellman, one of the co-founders of Archetypes, as he was starting a private equity firm. He wanted me to join as a partner to manage some of the investments. One of the investments was an idea brought by Cristina Carlino, founder of Archetypes. She had an incredible vision of changing the way people shopped and bought, finally a way for people to find the things that were right for them. I immediately saw an online play with the opportunity to merge content, commerce and community in a way that hasn’t been done before. That’s how Archetypes was born.
tFS: Can you tell us exactly how you guys ended up working together?
CC: There is the plan and then the big plan. I met Michael as I was walking out of a meeting with Andy and he was walking in. I knew he was the one for Archetypes — the person who could take a dream and make it a reality. I met Andy two months before Michael and, on Andy’s birthday no less. We met for a simple introduction at the request of his father who had sat on the philosophy board. The reality is none of us realized we would be creating a company together. It's just what happened.
tFS: What is it about archetypes that you find so fascinating?
CC: That it is so predictive. That it is an idea with no beginning and no end. That it will change the world. Once you speak archetypes, it becomes your first language above all others. Most importantly, it's a global language that everyone will speak in the future.
tFS: Starting a new venture like this must be daunting. What convinced you that it was a viable project?
CC: I have a spiritual archetype so I knew I had to do it and I knew it would work. I also knew it would be so very, very hard. And honestly, it’s been harder than anything I've ever done.
MM: I’ve heard many people share their frustrations, tired of sifting through so much information. They want the right stuff at the right time in the right place. They want you to know them and be relevant to them. That’s what Archetypes allows us to do. Know who you are and then deliver what’s relevant for you.
tFS: What were some of the biggest challenges with putting together the site?
MM: Ensuring that you are meeting people’s needs all along the way. Many people create just to create, but for a startup to be successful, you have to solve something for people so that you are meaningful to them.
tFS: Anything you know now that you wished you had known when you started?
MM: I wish I had known how global of a language archetypes really is because we’re now playing catch up on translations for the site. We’re already in over 180 countries after less than a year of being out there. It’s incredible to see how, regardless of what language you speak, the idea of archetypes and personal identity is global.
tFS: What qualities do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
CC: Integrity and perseverance. Tremendous courage…and you must be able to fail and get up.
MM: Believing 100% in your vision and staying true to your concept. It’s important to hear feedback from family and friends but even more important to not let others bend, change or dilute your idea too much. Also, that fads and frivolous ideas are not sustainable.
tFS: How did you go about getting those initials users — beyond family and friends — to the site?
MM: Because archetypes are highly personal and reflective of who you are, it was only natural that people would want to start sharing their archetypes with others as a way to showcase their personal brands. We started to see people posting their archetypes on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. We also saw people sharing articles from our site, which attracted more people to come and see what the site was all about. From there, the site grew and continues to grow from people talking about us with others.
tFS: How did you go about putting together an editorial team?
MM: For us, it was about finding that one Editor-in-Chief who had digital and social skills with some conventional experience. Someone who was a risk taker and believed in reinventing how media was consumed and shared. We met Lisa Gabor who embodied all these qualities and more.
tFS: What's something about archetypes that might surprise people?
MM: That it really knows who you are with great accuracy. We have done a lot of proprietary studies and research on this and it never ceases to amaze me just how well the archetypes descriptions tend to sum up most people.
tFS: What kind of e-commerce will you be introducing?
MM: We just launched a new version of the site. The site experience is cleaned up, making it easier to navigate on desktop and also on mobile devices. We are also introducing a dedicated shopping area, where we provide our users a truly immersive environment where they can discover new things and how it’s relevant to them through the filter of archetypes.