Bustle Digital Group tapped Karen Hibbert, most recently senior art director at Amazon Fashion, as VP of creative for the lifestyle group — and her first big task is overseeing the redesign of the company’s flagship Bustle site.
At BDG, where Hibbert started on Jan. 6, she is responsible for creative art direction and design for the company’s stable of lifestyle brands comprising Bustle, Nylon, The Zoe Report, Elite Daily and Romper. She reports to Emma Rosenblum, previously executive editor at Hearst’s Elle, who joined BDG as editor-in-chief for the lifestyle group last year.
Bustle Digital, founded in 2013 by CEO Bryan Goldberg, has rolled up several flagging digital-media companies over the last three years in a bid to amass a younger-skewing audience across different categories.
Now Bustle.com is in the midst of an overhaul with a bigger focus on fashion. Last fall, BDG let go at least 10 staffers and contributors at Bustle as part of prepping for a site relaunch in 2020. This month, the company hired Tiffany Reid as fashion director for BDG’s lifestyle group; previously, she was at Hearst as style director for its women’s fashion group where she worked with Rosenblum.
The redesign of Bustle, scheduled to go live sometime in the second quarter, will be the first BDG publication British native Hibbert will tackle. She said it’s like trying to change a wheel on a moving vehicle.
“It’s a diverse audience – we want to reflect that creatively to make it inclusive,” she told Variety. “We also want to make it contemporary in terms of type, design and photography, to have a relevance for today without being elitist or austere.” Specifically, one of her goals is to achieve a level of quality in Bustle’s photography that is akin to traditional fashion mags.
Next in the queue for Hibbert will be Nylon, the struggling fashion and culture publication BDG acquired in June 2019 that is now headed by editorial director Alyssa Vingan Klein, former EIC of Fashionista.com. In addition to Nylon’s website, Hibbert will oversee the design of a special Nylon print edition slated to hit in the fall of 2020.
Eventually, Hibbert said, she will “definitely be touching all the lifestyle brands to reimagine their visual language.”
Hibbert previously spent three years on the Amazon Fashion team, creating marketing materials for all of the e-retailer’s private-label brands. Before joining Amazon in 2016, she was at Condé Nast for 10 years where she held various roles, including art director at Teen Vogue across print and digital platforms and creative director of special issues and promotions for Vanity Fair U.K. Hibbert started her career at British Vogue as an intern and worked as a picture editor and designer for titles including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ.
Amazon Fashion “was a great place to learn scale and maintain a level of creativity while having a business point of view,” Hibbert said. “Vanity Fair and Condé Nast taught me about taste, and Amazon taught me how to scale that and make it profitable.”
Hibbert holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s degree in art and design history from the U.K.’s Leeds Beckett University (formerly known as Leeds Metropolitan University).
Goldberg’s BDG has made eight acquisitions to date: Inverse, The Outline, Nylon, Mic, Gawker, Elite Daily, Flavorpill and The Zoe Report. The company also recently launched tech-news site Input, alongside Inverse and The Outline in the “culture and innovation” group overseen by Joshua Topolsky. Goldberg bought the assets of Gawker in a bankruptcy auction and had planned to relaunch the gossipy news site in 2019 — before tabling the plans and laying off the staff he had hired for Gawker.