Morin has a girly-girl core inside a polished exterior. Her hair swings loose, but it’s glossy in a way that doesn’t just happen.
When Japanese überhip retailer Uniqlo arrived in San Francisco this fall, it went searching for local celebrities to promote its new Union Square store. It was on the hunt, says director of global marketing Kensuke Suwa, for cultural icons who were "transforming" their respective fields "through innnovation." Among those it selected (and who now grace ads splashed across the city) were Mission Chinese Food chef and entreprenuer Danny Bowien, Oakland songrestress and human rights advocate Goapele, and beautiful-living guru Brit Morin.
Wait, Brit who?
Exactly. The 26-year-old's PR team is working overtime to position Morin, a veteran of Apple and Google, as the Martha Stewart of the app-tapping generation—a bold claim for an untested entreprenuer whose first property, a glorified blog featuring hipster craft projects, hit the Internet just a year ago.
But within those 12 months, Morin has scored gigs as a tech lifestyle contributor for People, NBC’s Today, and Katie Couric’s new daytime program, Katie. Executives from NBC, Time, and Condé Nast, who periodically trek out to Silicon Valley for clues on where media are headed, have all consulted with her. Along the way, Morin’s venture, Brit+Co., has secured funding from Silicon Valley A-listers like Kleiner Perkins’s Aileen Lee (through her independent Cowboy Ventures fund), Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. And it’s currently on track to hit 2 million unique users this year.
I’m standing with Morin across the street from AT&T Park, on the top floor of a triple-decker loft that serves as Brit+Co. headquarters. She’s showing off boxes of buttons and ribbons as she describes a new commerce angle she launched this fall: monthly “Brit Kits” for do-it-yourself projects like LED-filled balloons, and starter boxes with basic tools for those who don’t know a hole punch from a glue gun. “People are really interested in this world of making and creating, but they don’t know how to get started,” Morin says.
It’s easy to see why people are drawn to this would-be queen of the household arts. She has a girly-girl core wrapped up in a polished exterior. Her outfits are hip and handcrafted, but immaculately put together. Her hair swings loose, but it’s glossy in a way that doesn’t just happen. And while she’s got Martha’s drive and focus, her sparkling smile seems constantly on the verge of breaking into a laugh.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that in addition to being “pretty and likable,” as one admirer put it, Morin is fabulously connected. Her husband, Path cofounder Dave Morin, is a member of the original Facebook gang. An introduction from Jeff Zucker (“We have, like, 18 friends in common”) led to the Katie gig. And an email from a Spotify friend tipped off the team at flashsale powerhouse Fab, which snapped up Brit-branded earrings and shot glasses.
Morin knows that some people will chalk up her success to being in the right place at the right time—but she’s not concerned. “It just makes me work harder,” she says. And she’s convinced that she has something unique to offer. Unlike, say, online crafting it-girl Erica Domesek, of P.S.-I made this..., or actress Gwyneth Paltrow with her Goop franchise, Morin started with the very Silicon Valley insight that tech is now as integral a lifestyle category as cooking and crafts. So alongside tips on how to bake ombre cakes and turn hoodies into “hip new threads,” Brit+Co. features tech stories about how to use smartphone apps to trick out your photos with holiday themes, and reviews of accessories that double as phone chargers.
Morin is also building out a suite of apps, which she says are “stickier” than content alone. The first is Weduary, a wedding planner that’s based on a site she built for her own nuptials last year and that’s integrated with Facebook. (Morin made her wedding decorations at TechShop, the local maker mecca, where she learned to use laser cutters.)
“She’s really digitally savvy,” says Lee. “Folks in Silicon Valley are uniquely positioned to succeed in this space because they’ve spent their whole careers in tech.”
Still, isn’t the basic idea behind Brit+Co. a bit of a throwback? Do young women really need a Martha Stewart of their own? Morin thinks that they do—but not because they want to stay home baking the perfect cupcake. She believes that she is riding the wave of a mini-backlash against the 24/7 plugged-in lifestyle. “There’s a saturation that we’ve only come to hit in the last year or two,” Morin says. This is the generation, after all, that was instant messaging by age 10 and that jumped onto Facebook as soon as it opened its digital doors. If the success of Etsy and Pinterest is any proof, millennials now want to get their hands dirty offline, even if they trade project tips online.
Of course, the online lifestyle space that Morin is hoping to dominate is a crowded one, and she figures it’s only a matter of time before her competitors clue into her canny blend of content, commerce, and apps. “I’m trying to sprint ahead,” she says, “before they all come chasing after me.”