A Conversation, a new Web site described as a combination of Facebook, TripAdvisor and Goop, is all about dialogues.
It homes in on the subjects that are of interest to its founder, Stevie Benanty, such as travel, food, style, health and music, and asks readers to answer daily questions such as “What’s your biggest vice?” and “What was the best career advice you ever received?”
For now, Benanty, who is 26, is funding the site herself, with the help of two family members. “That will see me through the launch and the next six months,” she said. “We’re moving to the stage of ad buys and we want to do sponsored posts.”
She doesn’t want the advertising or sponsorships to “take away from the integrity of the brand,” she said. “ I want to take my time.”
Benanty’s goal is to launch e-commerce on the site in a year to 18 months. She mentioned ways to seamlessly incorporate a selling component into A Conversation. “I work with a great designer who does illustrations and a jewelry designer,” she said. “We’re exploring the avenues, but I want to make sure it’s organic.”
True to its name, A Conversation, features interviews with people whom Benanty considers to be exemplars of healthy living or creative style-setters.
Benanty said she wondered how to get other opinions and voices on to the site. “The word ‘conversation’ started to come up.”
“So far I haven’t had to pay for interviews, Benanty said. “I have a network of people from my travels and my life. I know a lot of creative people who are making a mark.”
Benanty put lists together of interview subjects when she began working on A Conversation almost a year ago. By the time she launched the site, she had 25 or 30 interviews completed.
The interviews aren’t conducted in the traditional journalistic style with a reporter posing questions to a subject across a table or over the phone.
Benanty sends participants a questionnaire, which they fill out digitally. “We’re going to start doing videos and podcasts shortly,” she said.
A Conversation showcases products that Benanty covets, such as the Thom Browne sunglasses her avatar on the site wears in an illustrations by Julia Taylor-Brown, whose work is seen throughout A Conversation.
“Lifestyle, in general, leans a bit toward aspirational,” she said. “I’m looking for sites and brands that I would wear.”
Featured under style are Olivia von Halle satin pajamas; black jeans from Frame, and Sau, a Hong Kong-based label.
There are also recommendations for destinations and hotels, which range in price from $90 to $500 per night, and “eats” everywhere from Café Luluc in Brooklyn to Blauw in Amsterdam.
Benanty said she asks those making recommendations to “give me an exact brand of a hotel or restaurant or product. It’s a lot of research. I cross-reference everything with TripAdvisor.”
Benanty, who worked in social media and digital marketing before launching A Conversation, worked for “big name DJs when I got out of college.” Then, she jumped to underground music and worked at Verboten, a hub for underground music and events in Brooklyn.
“I’ve been interning since I was 14 years old,” Benanty said. “I always wanted to go out on my own.”