2018 Year In Review

We are an industry that tells stories about others. But this year, media is scrutinizing itself. What is the truth, and whose truth is it? What consequences does our work have? How can media make itself resilient?
In times like these, Refinery29 has found it rewarding to return again and again to what’s always been our North Star: serving the women who read us, watch us, teach us, and motivate us to push back, speak up, and fight out loud. What Refinery29 makes fuels this woman who’s rapidly changing how the world operates, from her own household to The Hill. Through this year of reckoning, our strengths — our nimbleness, our diversity, our purpose-driven staff — have made us resilient and valuable. Join us in acknowledging all the work we’ve accomplished this year.

Our Coverage

The 2018 elections saw the most amount of women running for office in order to defend our rights. Our deep and empathetic coverage of the underdogs — from Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Republican Young Kim — set us apart from traditional newspapers that largely ignored these women. Read more.
Our readers were rabid about our Money Diaries column, with 7MM unique visitors in 2018 joining our conversation about how real women spend their cash — one of the most pervasive taboos for women. Viral posts got the entire internet discussing privilege and ambition, with features in The Washington Post, WSJ's MarketWatch, The New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and more. Additionally, author and Refinery29’s work and money director Lindsey Stanberry turned the franchise into a resourceful book. Lindsey crossed the country on a sold-out book tour, connecting with real women to discuss why we don't talk enough about our finances — and why we should. Read more.
Refinery29 global editor-in-chief Christene Barberich’s critically acclaimed podcast UnStyled celebrated its third season with a litany of guests, including Aly Raisman, Cynthia Nixon, Tess Holliday, and Bethenny Frankel, who joined Christene for a live taping at Advertising Week. As always, the podcast explores the funny, inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking tales of life, work, and love — as told through the things that we wear. Read more.
Refinery29 writer Connie Wang hosts this second season of Style Out There, traveling to Namibia, Japan, and beyond to look at the relationships between what women wear and what they have to say. The show has reached 30M people and has a 352% higher watch time than average. The February relaunch won a prestigious Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page award this fall. Watch now.
We debuted an investigative video series this year that calls out the illegal, dangerous, and sketchy practices inside the notoriously under-examined beauty industry. Host and Refinery29 writer Lexy Lebsack goes deep within the source of human hair extensions, the exploitation of NFL cheerleaders, and the unlicensed plastic surgeons flourishing on Instagram. In 2018, this series was watched for 140M minutes. Watch now.
With a diverse staff dedicated to covering race in America, Refinery29 made the decision to take “months” devoted to minority awareness and turn them into opportunities to discuss taboo subjects: Why aren’t minority women celebrated all year long? Has discussing cultural appropriation made us less culturally sensitive? How do we reconcile our past and current traumas to imagine a more just future? From Black Is The New Black to #NotYourTokenAsian to #SomosLatinx, our coverage was complicated, compassionate, and courageous. Read more.
Our ever-popular Beauty Innovator Awards really dug into what women consider beautiful this year, celebrating brands who made inclusivity a priority, the people that showed us new ways to express beauty, and the no-BS products that actually worked. View awards.
2018
2018 Year in Review
2018

We are an industry that tells stories about others. But this year, media is scrutinizing itself. What is the truth, and whose truth is it? What consequences does our work have? How can media make itself resilient?

In times like these, Refinery29 has found it rewarding to return again and again to what’s always been our North Star: serving the women who read us, watch us, teach us, and motivate us to push back, speak up, and fight out loud. What Refinery29 makes fuels this woman who’s rapidly changing how the world operates, from her own household to The Hill. Through this year of reckoning, our strengths — our nimbleness, our diversity, our purpose-driven staff — have made us resilient and valuable. Join us in acknowledging all the work we’ve accomplished this year.

Our Coverage

The 2018 elections saw the most amount of women running for office in order to defend our rights. Our deep and empathetic coverage of the underdogs — from Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Republican Young Kim — set us apart from traditional newspapers that largely ignored these women.

Read more

Our readers were rabid about our Money Diaries column, with 7MM unique visitors in 2018 joining our conversation about how real women spend their cash — one of the most pervasive taboos for women. Viral posts got the entire internet discussing privilege and ambition, with features in The Washington Post, WSJ's MarketWatch, The New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and more. Additionally, author and Refinery29’s work and money director Lindsey Stanberry turned the franchise into a resourceful book. Lindsey crossed the country on a sold-out book tour, connecting with real women to discuss why we don't talk enough about our finances — and why we should.

Read more

Refinery29 global editor-in-chief Christene Barberich’s critically acclaimed podcast UnStyled celebrated its third season with a litany of guests, including Aly Raisman, Cynthia Nixon, Tess Holliday, and Bethenny Frankel, who joined Christene for a live taping at Advertising Week. As always, the podcast explores the funny, inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking tales of life, work, and love — as told through the things that we wear.

Read more

Refinery29 writer Connie Wang hosts this second season of Style Out There, traveling to Namibia, Japan, and beyond to look at the relationships between what women wear and what they have to say. The show has reached 30M people and has a 352% higher watch time than average. The February relaunch won a prestigious Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page award this fall.

Watch now

We debuted an investigative video series this year that calls out the illegal, dangerous, and sketchy practices inside the notoriously under-examined beauty industry. Host and Refinery29 writer Lexy Lebsack goes deep within the source of human hair extensions, the exploitation of NFL cheerleaders, and the unlicensed plastic surgeons flourishing on Instagram. In 2018, this series was watched for 140M minutes.

Watch now

With a diverse staff dedicated to covering race in America, Refinery29 made the decision to take “months” devoted to minority awareness and turn them into opportunities to discuss taboo subjects: Why aren’t minority women celebrated all year long? Has discussing cultural appropriation made us less culturally sensitive? How do we reconcile our past and current traumas to imagine a more just future? From Black Is The New Black to #NotYourTokenAsian to #SomosLatinx, our coverage was complicated, compassionate, and courageous.

Read more

Our ever-popular Beauty Innovator Awards really dug into what women consider beautiful this year, celebrating brands who made inclusivity a priority, the people that showed us new ways to express beauty, and the no-BS products that actually worked.

View awards

We’ve covered fertility on Refinery29 for years, including heartfelt, vulnerable essays about miscarriage by our founders Piera Gelardi and Christene Barberich. This year, both welcomed babies into the world with Christene penning a story about her experiences. Domino magazine featured Christene’s new nursery as the cover story of its December issue.

Read more

Our Videos

Hollywood has a women’s problem, and this year’s Sundance Film Festival wrestled with how to fix the industry’s culture of misogyny. In a step to continue rectifying the male-dominated world of directing, Refinery29 announced its second season of Shatterbox, a film series that passes women the director reigns; this year includes directors Yara Shahidi, Jessica Sanders, and Gillian Jacobs, among others.

Watch now

"Refinery is making a huge difference in Hollywood by making our films and respecting the director’s vision."

JESSICA SANDERS / The Los Angeles Times

With Assassination Nation and Little Woods, Refinery29 expanded into feature films through a new partnership with NEON, the award-winning studio responsible for the release of I,Tonya, Sundance- and Spirit Award-winner Ingrid Goes West, and Three Identical Strangers. This partnership further expands the breadth and scope of the company’s video and entertainment business, allowing it to serve new and existing audiences with an appetite for premium women-focused content.

Read more

This year’s NewFronts challenged advertisers to incorporate a philosophy of abundant thinking and channel social change. Our powerful new slate of video programming and upcoming business initiatives like Shady, Style Out There, and Unbothered were covered in a number of trade outlets. The Wall Street Journal said: "In a week where many brands avoided touching on hot-button political and social issues because of recurring brand safety concerns, Refinery29 didn’t play it safe."

Read more

Our YouTube channel surpassed 1 million subscribers in May thanks to addictive series like Try Living With Lucie and Sweet Digs. Since then, our YouTube has grown by another 600,000 subscribers. To date, our YouTube Channel has over 311 million views and has grown viewership by 137% YTD 2018 vs. 2017.

SNAPCHAT SHOWS US UP

We migrated our ever-popular Beauty Evolution series to Snapchat this April. Since then, our most popular video series, including Strong Opinions, How Stuff Is Made, Style Out There, and World Wide Wed, can be found there.

Our Business

Our groundbreaking interactive experience 29Rooms celebrated its fourth year by taking the show on the road, traveling across America to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. With a slate full of visionary collaborators in fields ranging from art to activism to mysticism, we pushed into more hands-on activities, performances, and theatrics to provide a wide-ranging experience to 90,000 guests.

Visit 29Rooms

“Instead of just being a superficial place to take photos for Instagram, the experiential installation was incredibly well thought out and offered lots of moments for reflection… stunningly effective.”

Forbes

As the third international edition after London and Berlin, Refinery29’s Toronto site will service a large (and growing!) Canadian readership. With executive editor Carley Fortune, Refinery29 Canada will bring the brand’s female-first ethos to its coverage of Canada’s issues, trends, and ideas.

Based on data about what our readers love buying and appreciate reading, Refinery29 collaborated with brands like Revlon and Papyrus to turn these learnings into actual merchandise. Together, we created custom capsule collections of lipsticks, greeting cards, and artwork that gave us opportunities to work with other female creatives in the design space.

Read more

Director of R29 Intelligence Alex Kirk presented our conscious content research at the United Nations’ Media For Social Impact Summit, an annual event that focuses on the power of media and technology to drive social change. Through neuroscience technology, we confirmed our hypothesis that when brands take a more empathetic approach with their content, they will drive both a positive social impact and a positive business impact.

Watch now

Our Audience

In an effort to understand the young female voter, Refinery29 teamed up with CBS News for a representative poll to understand a group that most pollsters know very little about — a huge oversight considering millennial women have the potential to reshape the entire electorate. We dug into partisanship, the candidates, as well as how they really feel about healthcare, immigration, abortion, and Ivanka Trump.

Watch now

What’s it like to be a recent graduate? In a series paid for by Trojan, writer Torey Van Oot interviewed dozens of women across the country about the joys and challenges facing women who are newly entering the workforce. Covering student debt, single motherhood, the gig economy, and immigrant identities, these stories reveal the stark realities facing young women and the gumption they possess to help them navigate their first steps into adulthood.

Read more

After learning that 71% of our audience says it’s important to celebrate women’s achievements in sports, we partnered with NBC to launch new instagram account @onherturf, celebrating the power of female athletes both on and off the field.

Read more

The Product & Engineering team worked on creating a new homepage and site experience to help readers better access our site’s functions, including a new shopping component. Since relaunching, our onsite video views are up 462% and shopping site visitors are up 326%.

Visit site

For this year’s update to Refinery29’s successful data franchise Her Brain on Digital, we conducted an exclusive study about how women manage their money, their most pressing financial concerns, and how they feel about the future.

Read more

Our Actions

Our coverage of the violent harassment of U.K. women in the form of upskirt photography sparked a movement with its campaign, #StopSkirtingTheIssue. Refinery29 U.K. editor Gillian Orr’s coverage didn’t just resonate with readers but led to policy changes that effectively made the practice a legal offense in England.

Read more

Michelle Obama exclusively spoke with Refinery29 for International Women’s Day. We discussed with the former First Lady why it’s more urgent than ever that we educate girls around the world. In addition, she interviewed four young women from Nepal, Ghana, Guatemala, and Chicago for Refinery29 about the power of education.

Read more

Refinery29 published a series of stories on Equal Pay Day that confront the forces behind the wage gap. From a story exploring the “predator tax” regarding the cost of sexual harassment in the workforce to an essay by Letitia James about how the wage gap manifests in government, our stories were tough, nuanced, and fact-based — doing justice to a complicated issue without a simple answer.

Read more

After the family separation crises over the summer, writer Andrea González-Ramírez published an article detailing all the ways to help — channeling our readers’ drive into productive actions. Since then, we’ve published similar how-tos that are made even more user-friendly with the help of Speakable’s Action Buttons. This year alone, our readers completed 160,000 actions to help their communities.

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Refinery29 participated in Olay’s creative work that interrogated the idea that women feel ashamed about being too much — too outspoken, too honest, or too emotional — for a #FaceAnything campaign. Billboards ran in Times Square and featured Refinery29’s own chief creative director, Piera Gelardi.

Read more

Our Accolades

Our 29Rooms event series was recognized by Adweek’s The Hot List, which highlights the best media outlets for journalism and storytelling. Adweek recognizes 29Rooms expansion into four cities, its impressive social media reach, and through-the-roof ticket sales.

Read more

Paranoia surrounding online Russian disinformation campaigns and cancel culture came to a head during New York Fashion Week, when a mysterious report began circulating that detailed the alleged shady dealings of a handful of fashion influencers. Writers Connie Wang and Valerie Stivers uncovered a foreign effort to prey on American social media habits in one of our biggest investigative stories of the year, which won a special reporting award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

Read more

OUR PHOTOS WIN BIG

Refinery29 won three awards at the AI-AP competition and two at the prestigious SPD Awards. The photos demonstrated a wide variety of photography styles, including studio shoots, celebrity profiles, documentary-style event coverage, and collage as well as modern production techniques, including inclusive casting, strategic commissioning, and realistic retouching.

Refinery29 won a 2018 Media Excellence Award from Planned Parenthood in January for our coverage about sexual health ranging from the attacks on reproductive rights to consent.

Read more

Digiday Media Awards Europe awarded Refinery29 U.K. with the Best Live Event & Publisher of the Year award this past May. Refinery29 U.K. also won Best Live Event for “Power Mouth,” a partnership with Nars.

Read more

Refinery29 won in the Best Use of Video by a Beauty Brand category at the Glossy Awards for Power Faces with CoverGirl. Power Faces is a monthly series that highlights what women love about their beauty looks, celebrating women who rock specific beauty looks daily — from women who choose to not wear makeup to women who wear red lipstick every single day.

Read more

Our Videos

Refinery is making a huge difference in Hollywood by making our films and respecting the director’s vision.

JESSICA SANDERS / The Los Angeles Times
With Assassination Nation and Little Woods, Refinery29 expanded into feature films through a new partnership with NEON, the award-winning studio responsible for the release of I,Tonya, Sundance- and Spirit Award-winner Ingrid Goes West, and Three Identical Strangers. This partnership further expands the breadth and scope of the company’s video and entertainment business, allowing it to serve new and existing audiences with an appetite for premium women-focused content. Read more.
This year’s NewFronts challenged advertisers to incorporate a philosophy of abundant thinking and channel social change. Our powerful new slate of video programming and upcoming business initiatives like Shady, Style Out There, and Unbothered were covered in a number of trade outlets. The Wall Street Journal said: "In a week where many brands avoided touching on hot-button political and social issues because of recurring brand safety concerns, Refinery29 didn’t play it safe." Read more.
Our YouTube channel surpassed 1 million subscribers in May thanks to addictive series like Try Living With Lucie and Sweet Digs. Since then, our YouTube has grown by another 600,000 subscribers. To date, our YouTube Channel has over 311 million views and has grown viewership by 137% YTD 2018 vs. 2017. Read more.

SNAPCHAT SHOWS US UP

We migrated our ever-popular Beauty Evolution series to Snapchat this April. Since then, our most popular video series, including Strong Opinions, How Stuff Is Made, Style Out There, and World Wide Wed, can be found there. Read more.
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