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Background: If ever there was a Cinderella story in the online media space, it would be the Clutch fairy tale, except instead of being a flaxen-haired, slightly oppressed princess-in-the-making, our heroine would be an intelligent, introspective young black woman with style sensibilities to match her sharp wit. The mag launched in 2002 as a regional publication in Michigan, but founder and editorial director Deanna Sutton is quite candid about why that initial effort crashed and burned after just four issues: "I didn't know what I was doing," she admitted. "So I stopped it and went back to corporate America."
Five years later, Sutton revisited her vision and pursued Clutch again out of a dual-edged necessity: It gave her a positive, creative outlet to focus on as she healed from her father's death and helped to fill the void in the 18-34 year-old market. "Clutch was originally more fashion and beauty, because I was really into that at that time. As time progressed and I was trying to get the site to be more known, commentary became our claim to fame: girlfriend commentary," she specified, adding that the hallmark of the site is a mixture of pithy, have-you-ever-noticed topics and intellectual analyses on anything a young, Black woman would be interested in, which could, in essence, be anything.
Fresh off a redesign that focuses on one feature daily, the site has grown by leaps and bounds, but Sutton says she's still very attuned to what will appeal to her target audience. "I can tell when Clutch is not going the way it should go, because the traffic drops and commentary gets slow. Things are not going to hit all of the time," she said, "but I know what readers like. I know I can't talk about Kim Kardashian. I know I can't talk about [model] Amber Rose. There are certain topics that are going to cause a fight if we try to go there." So, Clutch focuses instead on the 1,000,000,001 other subjects that are relevant to readers' lives....