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Discussion Series DC: Digital Branding + Content Strategy

Discussion Series DC: Digital Branding + Content Strategy

We have announced our next Discussion Series for DC based Fashion, Retail, and Tech Innovators.   Join us as we gain insight into the world of digital branding.  Building a cohesive and effective content strategy across digital platforms is extremely important when establishing your personal, and business brand identity.

July 16th, 2013
6PM – 9PM
The Dunes DC
1402 Meridian Place NW
OSF Member RSVP $10.00: Meetup.com
Non Member RSVP $20.00: DoItInPerson

July16OSFDC

Confirmed Panelists:

Nikki Rappaport – Digital Marketing for Hugh & Crye

Nikki is a marketing professional, currently working for Hugh & Crye. Hugh & Crye is an online retailer of menswear, based in Washington, DC. They launched in December of 2009, and have quickly become a force in the burgeoning menswear fashion industry. She also hosts her own blog, Cupcakes For Breakfast…which is deliciously beautiful.

Follow Nikki on Twitter: @nikkirap

Nicole Aguirre - Founder, Worn Magazine & Worn Creative.

Worn Magazine is a D.C.-based publication intended to bring greater awareness of fashion and art to the District and to the world. Worn Creative is a boutique creative agency that turns ideas into visually engaging content.

Follow Nicole on Twitter: @WornMagazine

Holley Simmons – Lifestyles Editor, The Washington Post Express & Fashion Washington

Holley compiles weekly style features for The Washington Post’s free commuter daily and its five-times-a-year fashion magazine. She reports on local and national tastemakers in the beauty, home décor, food, and fashion sectors. Holley also has her hand in styling for photo shoots.

Follow Holley on Twitter:  @HolleyUnedited

As always, your RSVP includes light snacks, and insightful conversation.

See you soon!

 

Image Credits: ATM Digital Branding

 

 

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The Money Dump: Why Consumer-Facing Ecommerce is Broken

The Money Dump: Why Consumer-Facing Ecommerce is Broken

Join a panel discussion with VCs and brand experts, like Sindhya, at OS Fashion’s next event: The Founders’ & Funders’ Dilemma which will discuss the current state of e-commerce: VCs, start-ups and all.

[Original article published by OSF contributor Sindhya on Business Insider.]

I finally found panties on True&Co., an ecommerce lingerie company. It took them nearly one year to start selling panties. They allegedly sold them when I mentioned them in a viral article titled VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm in January, but the panties were impossible to find. Nobody could find them. Now you can find them after about 6 minutes of multiple choice questioning and some scrolling around online. But you still won’t get a “true” fit from their algorithm.

Another startup that I discussed in that article is Dollar Shave Club (DSC) which is now raising yet another round of funding even though they raised a total of $10.8M in venture funding last June. Earlier this month, DSC finally launched their 2nd product – Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter. Who on earth is Dr. Carver and what does he have to with DSC, you ask?? Is Dr. Carver a new brand? Well, I bet your guess is as good as Dollar Shave Club’s. I’m not joking.

Consumer marketing is an art AND a science. It’s something that the founders of many consumer-facing ecommerce companies and their investors don’t understand. The Science Lab in LA, which launched DSC, and the DSC management team and their investors clearly don’t comprehend it. That’s why consumer-facing ecommerce is broken.

 

To date, all that DSC has done is create one funny video that went viral. DSC’s second video was a complete failure so they pulled it from YouTube. Interestingly, Grumpy Cat is a damn funny video that went even more viral, and it has more brand potential than DSC. Grumpy Cat could be branded similar to Angry Birds with games, lunchboxes, candy, etc. Naming a brand Dollar Shave Club is problematic since DSC’s intent was to build a global lifestyle brand. The name limits them to “dollar” and budget pricing and also to the shave category. Will they call their shower gel “Dollar Shave Club Shower Gel”? That doesn’t exactly make sense. On that note, Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter, its newest product, doesn’t make sense. The management team doesn’t understand branding, positioning and pricing. The cost of the Easy Shave Butter product is $8 while the average shave cream or shave gel from leading brands like Edge or Gillette is $4 or less (even $2) – everywhere, even at the corner CVS or Duane Reade in Manhattan and on Amazon.com. If DSC’s goal is to disrupt the industry by offering cheaper products, they are certainly NOT doing that with Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter.

What I don’t understand is what exactly is DSC doing with $10.8M? What took them so long to launch the shave butter product? It is stock packaging (which means it’s off-the-shelf without distinct custom design). It’s also a stock formula that they sourced from lab in Dallas, Texas. Just like the non-proprietary blades that they source from Dorco, a Korean company, DSC’s Dr. Carver’s Shave Butter is not a proprietary formula. The packaging is a knockoff of Kiehl’s with its apothecary-esque branding which is a very inconsistent departure from DSC’s budget branding. Product lead time for their stock packaging and stock formulas is NOT 1 year. They also don’t need $10.8M in funding to sell non-proprietary products with stock packaging. Here are the facts: For a product with stock formula and packaging, it should cost: less than $25K for a small production run of 7,000 units with a lead time of 2 months. The cost of goods per unit should be no more than $3.57. With a COG of $3.57 and retail price of $8, their markup is 55%. That should yield about $56,000 in sales. Keep in mind that this inventory is seasonless, trendless and sizeless too. It’s a very lucrative business for those who truly understand it.

The fact that DSC waited one year to launch a shave butter/cream demonstrates that they: 1) don’t spend their cash wisely, and 2) they don’t understand consumer psychology. When products are used in tandem, marketers should pair these products together and so that the consumer can buy them together. When most people buy a cup of coffee at a coffee shop, they will go somewhere where they can also get milk and sugar. The only exception to this pairing rule is when a product has superior performance and distinction. That’s not the case with DSC’s razors.

The biggest question I have is: why on earth is DSC raising yet another round of funding? Word on the street is that they are now hoping to close a Series B of $45M in June. I’m still unclear on what they did with $10.8M which they raised at a hilariously healthy $30M pre-money valuation – they’re hemorrhaging their investors’ money! In addition to STILL offering free razors for a month to new customers, they are now also doing radio ads and TV commercials during the NBA Playoffs! The going rate for a 30-second spot during the NBA Playoffs is $500,ooo. At this rate, I predict that DSC is going to follow in the footsteps of hyper-inflated, struggling companies like Groupon and BeachMint. It makes no sense to keep pouring money into a brand that isn’t really a brand, doesn’t have special products and doesn’t understand its industry. Without great branding and experience, you’re just another product.

 

Harry’s, a new grooming brand that launched online last month with upwards of $4M in VC funding, isn’t much better than DSC. Marketing and branding aren’t their forte either. The funniest comment I saw on their Facebook page was: “Is this razor only for white people who all look the same?”

They are definitely too niche if people are saying things like that. Their logo is quite possibly the ugliest logo that I’ve ever seen. You cannot just reapply the same formula that worked at Warby Parker and move it to Harry’s and expect success. You cannot just shift one executive/founder from a successful company to another company and category and expect success. We already learned this lesson with Ron Johnson and J.C. Penney. The minute more compelling grooming brands launch DSC and Harry’s will be in serious trouble.

 

Here’s another shocking startup story: A NY-based luxury goods and fashion curation startup which closed $2M in venture funding in October 2012 and was slated to launch in November/December 2012 delayed its launch by one whole year. The only reason for the delay is poor planning. Unlike many other startups, this startup isn’t stuck due to lack of funds. The founder of this startup, who does not have a background or understanding of fashion, luxury goods, buying, or ecommerce, did not understand the buying cycles for purchasing products from third party brands. Her prior work history included being a Co-Founder at a food-focused picture sharing app and doing digital partnerships for a leading media company. In my opinion, this founder should have never gotten funding. There is no excuse for a one-year delay when this startup has cash and resources. More importantly, this founder failed to establish an iota of traction since her company was pre-launch and even pre-business plan and branding. She clearly lacked domain expertise or even a basic understanding of the luxury goods and fashion industry. She should have established all of that before getting funding. Her investors from leading VC firms failed to do proper diligence and gave her $2M in VC funding at a $5M pre-money valuation.

Clearly, many VCs don’t really understand which founders to fund, and they don’t really understand consumer-facing ecommerce. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t look to these VCs for validation especially if these VCs are funding founders without plans. Some common threads with these flawed startups include having founders who do not understand:

1) basic business, understanding of retail, how to scale a company, pair and group products to drive more sales
2) branding and marketing
3) consumer psychology, purchasing habits

It seems that a lot of founders and VCs think that marketing and branding aren’t that important and can be outsourced. That’s clearly apparent in all the aforementioned startups. Without a great brand experience, you’re just another product. Marketing and branding are conceived in the heart and mind first, then applied to product and finally applied online. Marketing is an art, a science and also a spectator sport – online it’s become a shit show that’s providing me a lot of laughs.

Original header image created by Steve Mueller.

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The Founders’ & Funders’ Dilemma: Discussion Series Event, NYC

The Founders’ & Funders’ Dilemma: Discussion Series Event, NYC

 

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DISCUSSION SERIES – MAY 13th @ LIM College, NYC
Join Our NYC Meetup to RSVP Now: $15.00
Non Member Tickets Available:  $20.00 / $30.00

Consumer online commerce investing is BROKEN.  Nasty Gal and Warby Parker are hits, but most brands that launch online fail to understand consumer psychology as well as the value of branding, marketing and great product; they are struggling.

What does it take to create a true long-lasting online commerce brand success online? Nasty Gal’s Founder Sophia Amoruso struggled for a long time before finally being courted by VCs. How can seed stage investors learn to recognize true talent like Sophia sooner? Investors are used to valuing companies with traditional metrics like Customer Acquisition Cost and Lifetime Value, but do VC’s know how to really measure and value a brand? Does domain expertise matter at all? Come find out.

This event is a part of a series of events created with the purpose sparking a long overdue paradigm shift in the startup ecosystem. Look forward to a no holds barred discussion, instead of smoke and mirrors. No pandering, no BS – just raw conversation. Connect, learn, grow.

6PM – 7PM:  Make Meaningful Connections over Drinks & Snacks
7PM – 7:45PM:  Discussion
7:45 – 8PM:  Startup Showcase w/ Panel Feedback
8PM – 8:30PM:  Make Meaningful Connections over Drinks & Snacks Provided By:

Mack Weldon

Meet the Panel:

Brand Experts

elizabeth canonElizabeth Canon – Founder of Fashion’s Collective, Elizabeth is an innovator of business education focused primarily on the intersection of fashion and digital.  A new-age resource for fashion and luxury brands focused on digital marketing, Fashion’s Collective is comprised of an online publication, FC Labs educational workshops and the FashionForward event series.

Elizabeth has spoken at TEDx in Bali, SXSW in Austin, Casa della Creativita in Italy, Fashion 2.0 in Germany, and Luxury Interactive in New York. She has also been featured on Elle Magazine’s Digital Power List.  Prior to starting Fashion’s Collective, Elizabeth was partner and director at a NYC-based interactive agency, where she worked creating digital initiatives for top global fashion and luxury brands.

Lilly Chan FareskindLilly Chan – Founder & CEO of Fareskind, a 100% Australian Merino Sheepskin Baby Accessories brand, which launched online in Dec. 2012. Most recently, Lilly was a Brand Manager & Innovations Manager at Unilever – AXE. Prior to that, she worked as a Group Manager of Innovations & Brand Devleopment at Limited Brands – Bath & Body Works,  Senior Brand Manager at L’Oreal – Redken and Director of Integrative Marketing at NBC Universal and Director of Advertising at Showtime. Lilly has a Bachelors in International Marketing from Baruch College.

sindhya valloppillil

Sindhya Valloppillil – Founder & CEO of Helix Men. Most recently, Sindhya was the Brand & Product Development Manager at ZIRH Skincare. While at ZIRH, she successfully created award-winning products and best-selling products in addition to creating and launching 3 brands: ZIRH Platinum Skincare, ZIRH Warrior Collection of Shower Gels & ZIRH Cocktail Bars. The ZIRH Platinum Drenched Moisturizer won the coveted CEW Beauty Award in 2009; it is the highest honor in the industry. Prior to ZIRH, she worked at Johnson & Johnson – Neutrogena Cosmetics, Limited Brands – Beauty Avenues and L’Oreal USA – Maybelline DMI in various roles including Marketing, Global Brand Image, Product Development and Innovations. She does Trend Consulting for the clients of Primary Global Research and Vista Research. Sindhya graduated with honors from the Global Fashion Management Masters program, a joint program with Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris and Hong Kong Polytechnical Institute. Additionally, she has an undergraduate degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT.

Investors

Shai Goldman is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, the most active global seed fund with offices in U.S, India, China, Mexico and Brazil.  Shai is based in NYC and assists in investor relations, making new investment, sourcing opportunities and working with existing portfolio companies.  Prior to 500 Startups, Shai worked at Silicon Valley Bank, in both the Bay Area and NYC, working closely with founders and early stage investors.  Shai was born in Israel.

 

Nikhil Kalghatgi Softbank

Nikhil Kalghatgi is a recovering engineer and 2x entrepreneur investing in early stage startups. Via SoftBank Capital, Nikhil invested in 45+ companies in ecommerce, mobile and content, including GSI Commerce, Gilt Groupe, Buddy Media, Buzzfeed, Criteo, and younger companies like Moat, RapGenius, NowThisNews, FlightCar and NatureBox. Nikhil previously launched a hedge fund, a mobile app analytics company, worked in the military intelligence, is a UX designer by trade, and is an alum from Harvard Business School.

 

jacob brody

 

Jacob Brody - Partner at Mesa+ Ventures.  Jacob spends 100% of his time helping early stage companies in every way, shape and form. He is a mentor to numerous startups, advising them on financing, marketing, PR, product and corporate strategy. He is also a mentor at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and is the Co-founder of Standard Start, a non-profit providing standardized resources to venture-backed startups. Jacob previously worked as a staff writer / blogger for VentureBeat.  Jacob graduated with a B.A. from Hunter College.

 

RSVP:  OS Fashion Members: $15.00
Non-Member Founders & Startups: $20
Non-Members Non-Founders & Startups: $30

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Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 2

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl and Content Coordinator, Alex J. Tunney. For more great articles check us out on Twitter: @osfashion.

Third Wave Fashion || Your Startup Needs To Host More Events. Here’s Why…  by Leticia Domenech

We all love a good party. There’s nothing better than great horde’euvres, some refreshments, and plain ol’ good company. Interestingly enough, these features are typically what makes a business/networking event so successful. So why is it that so many startups choose not to host events? It’s an interesting paradigm but we’re siding with ‘you should definitely be hosting more events.’

Third Wave Fashion || Major Brands Are Adopting Startup Strategies And Here’s Why by Leticia Domenech

Here at Third Wave Fashion, we understand the amount of research and preparation that goes into launching a successful startup. There are trends to discover and analyze, as well as previous business models to dissect — from all the things that worked to all the things that fell short. Not every great idea will translate into a solid business. VentureBeat coined the term, ‘Enthusiasticus Founder Syndrome’ (we’re not kidding) wherein a novice entrepreneur allows the enthusiasm of his or her idea to take over, and ignores the critical mistakes of inexperience. Other times that isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of fashion tech startups whose business models are so effective and downright innovative that even major brands have adopted their models into their older, more mature fashion tech functions.

Fashion’s Collective || Insider Access: Q&A with Cannon Hodge, Bergdorf Goodman by FC Staff

Cannon Hodge: I’m really fond of twitter and how it’s given Bergdorf Goodman’s single New York address such an instant connection to the world.  From the very first tweet we knew we wanted to create a human connection – Bergdorf can be overwhelming so we knew this would be the place to show the store’s personality.  That said, we still wanted to provide the best customer service possible (it’s a matter of pride for us) – so I make a point to read every tweet and mention and respond when applicable.  The entire company is attuned to how quickly twitter unfolds, so we have a rule that any customer service issue must be answered within an hour.

Business of Fashion || First Person | Brian Atwood Says Never Compromise on What You Love by Tommye Fitzpatrick

“Key” to his growth has been listening closely to customer feedback, says Atwood. “Talking to your customer at your stores and seeing what the customer’s buying, I think that is so important. [Because] what are you going to do, just have a store full of shoes and not sell any?”

So what has he learned? “It’s not only 20-year-olds who want a six-inch heel,” he says. But conversely, “some women don’t want or can’t walk in the high heels. That’s something we’re responding to very quickly. They like the fun fashion shoe — on a sensible heel, sometimes. Sensible…[it’s] not in my vocab, but we do it. I’m learning.”

He also interacts with customers directly online. “Sometimes I’ll tweet and say, ‘Guys, I need names for shoes, send me names,’ and I’ll have 1,000 names, which really helps me out when I’m thinking,” he says. “It’s fun to see the reaction, and you’re not giving up the luxury, you’re just putting it out there and getting more followers.”

Business of Fashion || The Fashion Industry (Still) Has an Image Problem by Imran Amed

As beautiful as fashion imagery can be, the so-called ‘dream’ that the industry projects can lead to unhealthy behaviour. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23 percent less.Would the industry ever be able to change and step outside these ideals? I wasn’t sure.

StartUp Fashion || Success in the Fashion Industry is Relative by Nicole Giordano

Success in the fashion industry is whatever you want it to be. Yes, the fashion industry is tough. And yes, just like anything else worth pursuing it takes a lot of hard work to build a business and become profitable. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And it surely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after you want. When I hear people talk about being successful, so many concentrate on making exorbitant amounts of money. Don’t get me wrong, this can obviously count as success. But so can making a living spending your days doing exactly what you love.

Retail Minded || 5 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a POS by Jason Richelson

Your POS system should be easy to set up and simple to use. You’ll want a POS system with an intuitive interface to process sales quickly and keep lines moving. Training cashiers and managers should take minutes, not hours. Managing inventory should be straightforward and painless. Remember that any POS system that’s confusing to learn or complicated to use will decrease employee satisfaction and waste time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Tweak Your Biz || Super Advertising Via Social Networks: Amazing Ways To Leverage Customers And Sales by Maria Lynette

Which factor measures the success of a few companies while others falter? The reasons vary. But, most often the prime reason behind the failure of most companies is the poor marketing and advertising campaigns they have tried on social media sites. Well, leave the ones that faltered, but consider the ones that have succeeded with their exceptional campaigns. Trying the tricks they have followed would give a deeper insight, which in turn allows you to come up with an interesting advertising strategy yourself.

Inc. || 5 Lessons From 361 Start-ups by John Harthorne

MassChallenge founder and CEO John Harthorne explains what early-stage entrepreneurs can take away from the experiences of more than 350 start-ups that have participated in his annual $1 million global start-up competition and accelerator program since 2010.

Inc. || The Only 2 Words an Innovator Needs to Know by Howard A. Tullman

The key to successful and ongoing innovation is simple. You need a perfectly clear understanding of the two concepts that define the process: mistakes and failures. Understanding and discussing these two ideas correctly in every conversation about innovation is crucial to your focus, clarity and momentum.

 

Also check out:

Our friends over in DC, The Tailored Man, were featured in The Washington Post.

The Washington Post || Alexandria tailor weaves custom solution for taking orders by Abha Bhattarai

It takes 25 measurements, including the circumference of a client’s ankles, for Sanjay Daswani to design a suit. By the time he is done, there are numbers upon numbers to calculate and crunch.

All those numbers add up to data, and Daswani, vice president of operations for The Tailored Man, has found a way to weave the information together, in hopes that it will help the Alexandria-based business become savvier about marketing and anticipating customers’ needs.

Meanwhile our friends at L+C featured our other friends, The Vanity Project, in a recent article:

Lifestyle + Charity || The Vanity Project – Finance to Fashion and Philanthropy In Between by Danielle Valente

These graphics represent “TVP’s” mission: to create non-profit apparel that “people would actually want to wear,” compared to oversized, unappealing tee shirts typically given out at charity events. It donates 51% of proceeds to the organizations it represents.

The meaning behind the clothes is just as significant as the story behind its Northwestern University co-founders, both of whom stumbled into the industry somewhat untraditionally

Even though Sochol’s family participated in service work throughout his life, he never thought he’d work with non-profits full-time, until several experiences swayed him away from the life in corporate America he had originally imagined.

 

Original Image created by Elena (on Flickr).

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Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 1

Fast Fashion Finds – March 2013, Pt. 1

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl and Content Coordinator, Alex J. Tunney. For more great articles check us out on Twitter: @osfashion.

Fashion’s Collective || SxSW Survival Guide by FC Staff

It’s that time again: when the city of Austin is overtaken with the madness and mayhem of SxSW. In many ways (OK, in every way), the experience can be a bit overwhelming. At any given moment there are dozens of panels, presentations and events to choose from. Since SXSW doesn’t yet allow us to filter the plethora of activities based on our industry, we created a way to do it– by publishing our own SxSW Survival Guide, which includes a curated list of the panels we think are most applicable for our industry.

Third Wave Fashion || 16 Twitter Handles That Are Sure To Keep You In The Know Of Everything @ SXSW by Leticia Domenech

It’s finally here. All week long we’ve been building up to this moment. From the hottest fashion tech startups participating at SXSW to the 7 SXSW events you cannot afford to miss, we made sure you know exactly where to be in the coming week. We, for one, can’t be happier to finally be in our sky-high cowgirl boots, chewing on straw and talking tech. But our coverage of all things South by isn’t over just yet. We want everyone to feel like they’re included in all the festivities because SXSW and Third Wave Fashion are firm believers of growing our fashion tech network.

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Business of Fashion || Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season by the BOF Team

Fashion label Vena Cava recently released a hiliarious spoof film to promote its diffusion line “Viva Vena!” which gets at everything that’s wrong with far too many fashion films: slow, dramatic music; models gazing dreamily at the camera; and rambling narratives that don’t really say anything. Many of these unfortunate clichés are rooted in the misallocated budgets and entrenched politics that stem from the print-centric culture that has long dominated fashion media. But times are changing and brands are learning.

Overall, it has to be said, it was a lacklustre season for fashion film, with few genuinely new ideas or approaches. But the most successful films broke away from the old template, embracing the unexpected plots, quirky music and bursts of humour that resonate with online audiences.

Business of Fashion || Au Revoir Fashion’s Night Out by the BOF Team

It seemed like a good idea, and for a short while it was: for one night of the year, in balmy September, stores along New York’s Fifth Avenue, Lower Broadway and in the city’s Meatpacking district — everyone from high-end brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney to mid-market names such as Ann Taylor and Guess — stayed open late into the night, welcoming would-be-shoppers and treating them like VIP’s, or at least like part of the otherwise impenetrable fashion community.To this end, designers and hired celebrities appeared in stores and mingled with guests while deejays and free drinks provided the setting of a surprisingly democratic fashion party. Goodie-bags were handed out and — in a laudable effort — forty percent of the proceeds from special FNO-branded merchandise sold during the event went to the New York City AIDS Fund.

Yet today’s announcement, in WWD, that until further notice Fashion’s Night Out will no longer take place in American cities suggests that all that fun may have come at too high a cost.

Retail Minded || 3 Reasons to Use Mobile In Your Retail Biz by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

If you are a retailer who needs to get things done fast– yet still efficiently– while also reaching a broad network of consumers, it’s time to consider how mobile may be incorporated into your business. While implementing mobile may not happen overnight, working towards it should be your goal. Not only can mobile support help you reach and sell to more customers, it can also help you in your store operations.

StartUp Fashion || What Boutique Retailers Can Learn from the Big Guys? by Dominique Leger

Staying current and ahead of your competition as a boutique retailer is a full time job all in itself. It’s important to keep up to date with what your nearest competitors are doing, but checking out what’s happening with major brands and large, well established retailers will keep you going in the right direction and inspire some new ideas.

Tweak Your Biz || 7 Ways To Improve The Visibility Of Your Blog by Dawn Altnam

With so many websites on the Internet, it can feel like rising in the ranks, increasing traffic and building your brand is an uphill battle. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Others have been, and are going, through the same journey. We’ve got some advice to impart to you on yours. Every time you write a blog post, make sure you incorporate these methods.

Inc. || 14 Revealing Interview Questions by Jeff Haden

Interview questions: Everyone has them. And everyone wishes they had better ones. So I asked smart people from a variety of fields for their favorite interview question and, more importantly, why it’s their favorite and what it tells them about the candidate.

Betabeat || Is This Men’s Shaving Service The Next Thing From Warby Parker? by Nitasha Tiku

The “pre-launch” page for new start-up called Harry’s features a handsome image of a razor emblazoned with an “H” logo and the slogan, “RESPECTING THE FACE AND WALLET. SINCE LIKE… RIGHT NOW.” Sign up to learn more and you’ll be directed to what looks like a package deal on shaving supplies, including the historically-named “Truman Handle” and the “Winston Shave Set” How mid-century! But why not just label it the Don Draper special?

According to a source, Harry’s is actually tied up with the marketing experts at Warby Parker. Jen Rubio, head of social media at the eyeglass retailer, shared the site on her Facebook page with the message, “Remember in 2010 when I said Warby Parker was going to be big? This is kinda like that.”

TechCrunch || Want To Build A $1B Consumer Company? by Jacob Mullins

With the recent talk about the growing “billion-dollar club” in startups, I’ve been wondering, as a Series A investor, what characteristics a $1 billion consumer tech company has. I examined the pool of consumer companies that have had exits over $100 million within the current era of consumer tech, which I consider to be post-recession 2008. I wanted to see what I could learn and ideally reverse-engineer common characteristics that would help me identify the next big winners when I see them today or in the future.

The Emerging Designer || Fashion and Technology Exhibition at FIT by Melissa Hall

Fashion and Technology, an exhibition running through May 8 at the Museum at FIT shows the impact of technology over the past 250 years to present day and poses the question as to what technology is while showing how it has changed culture.

On display, you’ll see how the manufacturing industry was impacted with the introduction of the sewing machine and jacquard loom, which allowed the masses to have access to woven textiles, something that was originally available only to the wealthy.

Original Image created by Jason Dean.

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The Naked Truth About Subscription Start-Ups: The Good, The Bad & The Scams

The Naked Truth About Subscription Start-Ups: The Good, The Bad & The Scams

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

Is there a fundamental flaw in the application of the subscription model to consumer commerce start-ups with physical goods like fashion and CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies? There are some terrific consumer companies like Netflix and Spotify that have proved the viability of subscription models. They have innovative ideas. They create something that people want like streaming movies and music. They disrupt old-fashioned ways of doing things like having to physically go into Blockbuster to rent movies. They created markets and trends, instead of chasing the trend. But when start-ups apply this model without innovative products and branding, they sometimes rely on scams to lure customers and smoke and mirrors style PR to lead people to believe that their company is successful. In fact, you can even argue that most (with a few exceptions) consumer subscription models with physical products are flawed and unnecessary.

Initially subscriptions became popular among VCs because a subscription implied predictable, recurring revenue. Recurring revenue software businesses tend to have better valuation multiples. However, consumer commerce subscriptions with physical products generally should not. The problem is that many of these well funded subscription start-ups engage in deceptive customer acquisition, lack focus on retention and branding, and partake in poor business practices.

 

Just last week, the Science incubator in Los Angeles launched yet another subscription start-up, a company called ELLIE. It offers workout clothes for women with a monthly subscription service. Seriously, who buys workout clothes every month?  I wonder what the people at Science do with their clothes every month. Throw them away? Don’t they do laundry like the rest of us?

Science start-ups have one thing in common: an aggressive emphasis on paid and socially-driven customer acquisition. To build a customer base quickly, ELLIE reportedly engaged in deceptive bait and switch tactics that are downright shocking and unprofessional. Prior to launching ELLIE, the founders launched a company called PvBody which offered customers two pieces of designer fitness apparel from brands like Lululemon, Nike and Under Armour for $39.99 a month. PvBody even offered a 40% promotion via popular fitness blogs like SarahFit.com to lure customers. Over 70 of Sarah Fit’s readers who signed up for the promotion complained about their less than stellar experience: everyone got a notification that PvBody was not going to be sending out the designer brands they promised , but their own brand named ELLIE.

Now, PvBody has been rebranded as ELLIE. ELLIE used the clout of leading brands like Lululemon and Nike to deceptively acquire subscribers while promising those brands instead of its own. These alleged bait and switch tactics – sometimes known as  fraudulent conveyance — were used to create “traction” for ELLIE prior to the brand’s launch. Ironically, ELLIE’s scam was rewarded with $2M from three venture capital  funds. (For more information about ELLIE’s bait and switch scam, read posts at: Complaint ListThe Purple Giraffe and Marathon Lar.)

According to a recent Venture Beat article, “the lack of highly sophisticated tech is becoming part of the Science blueprint.”  Well, Science start-ups don’t have sophisticated branding or product either. Their strategy has been to focus on unnecessary subscription start-ups with vanity customer acquisition proof points. This does not work since a subscription model isn’t a guarantee for long-term recurring revenue or customer retention.  In the case of the Science portfolio company Dollar Shave Club, which raised $9.8M on an exceptionally healthy $30M pre-money valuation in their most recent round, it experienced impressive but very fleeting traction after their extensive paid customer acquisition efforts. Paid customer acquisition is useless if your brand and products cannot retain the customer. Customers will not engage or purchase after being acquired. Good brands and products are capable of organic growth with monthly churn under 4%. Good content and branding make a brand sticky. Retargeting makes a brand stickier. When you have exceptional branding, product and content, customers will discover you.  Then the focus shifts to customer retention.

 

Just as Science’s Dollar Shave Club and Wittlebee don’t solve any problems or offer anything new, Ellie does not either. If someone is merely looking for Lululemon- style activewear at a lower price point, there are plenty of online retailers that offer lower priced workout-wear such as H&M, Gap, Athleta, even Target. Unless new start-ups are offering great products, prices and experiences, they shouldn’t even bother to try to compete with established big brands or e-tailers. What problem are they solving? What is their point of difference? Are they making the process easier? Plenty of online retailers are offering lower prices.

Subscriptions only work when the price, product, quality and user experience are great. If there is a product mix, it must be personalized or expertly curated, not random. Beauty subscription companies have a hard time satisfying customers with their one-size-fits all (non-personalized) boxes of sample products due to different skin types, customer preferences in color cosmetics and fragrance. Following the success of New Beauty & Beautylish, companies like Birchbox are now focused on content and eCommerce. New Beauty’s Test Tube,  the original beauty sample subscription company which launched in 2005 (well before Birchbox’s launch in 2010), works because of its targeted focus on high performance and efficacious luxury skincare and haircare products; every month you get some of the hottest new products coupled with the latest issue of New Beauty magazine, an industry authority. Since they aren’t offering random color cosmetics or fragrances, color and scent preferences aren’t an issue and there’s a higher probability of satisfying the customer.

Birchbox’s beauty and greatest vice is that they don’t pay for products from brands. Although Birchbox, which received $11.9M in venture funding, clearly has the cash to pay for the products, it engages in dangerous business practices which jeopardize the long-term viability of their core business model.  I recently interviewed Suk Chan the founder and CEO of Soukenberi, an eco-friendly home fragrance and bodycare brand.  Ms. Chan said, “Birchbox requested 300,000 units of a product for free; in return, they said that could offer a conservative purchase order of 400 units for that product if it was received well by their sampling audience.” Birchbox also requested a special sample size, which Ms. Chan would need to create, that would yield at least 3 uses of the product. After Ms. Chan negotiated with them, they lowered the amount of requested free product to 75,000 and then to 50,000 units (for a more targeted customer base). Birchbox only wanted to pay for a purchase order of 400 units after receiving 50,000 units for free. Ms. Chan decided not to do business with them since it was clear she wouldn’t get even a 1% return. Beyond a very conservative purchase order, Birchbox cannot quantify a significant return to brands despite their huge subscriber base. This is a flawed, inequitable method of doing business with brands since it puts many brands in financial jeopardy. Having a large subscriber base doesn’t necessarily yield a successful business. A successful business invests in its supplier ecosystem, it doesn’t destroy it.

 

The sad truth is most subscription companies are NOT doing anything special and are just adding unnecessary clutter to the ecosystem and our mailboxes.  That’s not to say that I don’t like any subscription models.  Three fabulous consumer commerce companies with subscriptions that make sense are Barkbox, NatureBox and Lacquerous whose visions go far beyond their initial consumer-facing product.

Lacquerous is the Netflix for luxury nail polish. It offers a 3 nail luxury polishes that are on trend for $18/month which is less than the cost of 1 bottle of luxury nail polish. It’s an affordable option for women who want to experience trendy new colors from luxury brands while spending a fraction of the cost. There is no other way to do this; Lacquerous is definitely innovative and disruptive. Although they just launched a month and a half ago, they are overwhelmed with customers; at the moment, there are 5,000 people on their waiting list to become new Lacquerous members. Why does it work? Nail polish is one of the hottest consumer commerce categories right now. Customers want to discover the trendiest luxury nail polishes at a discount. Lacquerous offers nail polishes from the most premium brands like Tom Ford, Chanel and NARS.  The products are on trend (focused curation), and, more importantly, its customers can choose the colors they want (personalization). It’s a business model that is a WIN for the Lacquerous team, the brands that they work with and its customers.

It’s trickier to apply the subscription model to fashion and consumer packaged goods start-ups. While many tech start-ups end up sacrificing their EBITDA to pursue future growth, future growth is often less obvious with some consumer commerce start-ups.  Where can you go next if you’re Dollar Shave? For a consumer commerce subscription to work: 1) the business model must be viable, and 2) the brand, product and price must be really compelling and perhaps even addictive. It should make life easier, solve a problem or create a new market. In the case of superstar subscription companies like Spotify, they initially earned their subscribers via freemium offerings and then turned many of them into paid subscribers. They succeed because they keep evolving and creating new markets and trends. That should be the goal of every start-up!

NOTE: All l the information in this article was compiled from public information and articles online which are hyperlinked except for one interview I had with Suk Chan, Founder of Soukenberi.

Previously by Sindhya:
My Break Up Letter to (Some) VCs
VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

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My Breakup Letter To (Some) VCs

My Breakup Letter To (Some) VCs

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

“The game taught me the game. And it didn’t spare the rod while teaching.”  - Jesse Livermore

There’s a new bully in town. And I guess that’s me at least according to a VC who emailed me last week to complain about my blog post. He wrote that it was unfair of me to write such an article. He even told me that I should delete it and all the tweets related to it. I can’t do that. There are just way too many tweets about it that aren’t even mine. The post trended on Hacker News, got over 50,000 uniques and blew away the peak of the domain. A few publications even asked if they could republish it or do a story on me. When I wrote it, I wasn’t worried about it creating polarity because the article wasn’t about VCs in an absolute context. Not all VCs engage in cronyism, invest in stupid startups or perform shallow assessments of start-ups. Moreover, I doubt that smart VCs with balls – the ones I want to partner with – would be even mildly bothered by my last blog post; they are smart enough to use this as an opportunity to really stand out during this Series A Crunch while most other VCs are running away from consumer investments.

At the risk of sounding like a bitchy girlfriend during a breakup, I’d like to tell you that the problem is you, not me. It really is you. In fact, I’d like to propose my issues and solutions for you VCs who are screwing up the start-up ecosystem. There are five primary issues:

  1. Your treatment of non-crony founders
  2. Your obvious lack of guidance
  3. Your herd mentality
  4. Your lack of domain expertise (and)
  5. Your flawed method of assessing consumer start-ups.

VCs who rely on old school-hustle and instinct cannot deliver sufficient returns anymore. Today’s VCs need to grow a pair, gain vision, get domain expertise and adapt their methodologies.

Treatment of Non-Crony Founders
Often non-crony founders are treated like desperate street beggars. Not all non-crony founders are crazy for seeking a Seed or Series A investment from VCs. Founders with compelling business models and domain expertise should be treated with respect and viewed as potential partnership opportunities to build a business and make money. Often VCs pass on these founders without even seeing or hearing a pitch. Check to see if there is a link between the founder’s start-up and his or her background and education. Is the founder an industry superstar? Does the founder have domain expertise relevant to her start-up? If so, it is probably worthwhile to explore the opportunity. Even if you don’t end up investing in his or her start-up, you can connect with an industry superstar or someone with a lot of domain expertise.

Lack of Guidance
Start-up funding shouldn’t be a charitable donation for cronies. It should be about making an investment with returns. When I asked some of the VCs who invested in the start-ups mentioned in my last post, they immediately mentioned that the founders were friends of theirs – no other reason. When a business model isn’t compelling, should friendship be a safety net? Being a crony and having a compelling business model are not mutually exclusive. Can’t VCs find real charities to donate to? How can you let start-ups with flawed business models launch? It’s like letting a friend drive drunk. At least sober him up. At least VCs could help these crony founders come up with a proper business model or help them create a better team. If they are real friends with the founder, they should properly guide him or her and give honest, constructive feedback. At least that way they wouldn’t be wasting their LP’s money.

Isn’t the professional relationship between two co-founders important too? In my last post, one of the start-ups that I mentioned is suffering because the founders broke up after working together less than 6 months. I’m not surprised since they barely knew each other when their company launched.

Herd Mentality
The start-up ecosystem is like junior high. There are a few cool cliques that everyone wants to follow, trends are created by them, and the net effect is a herd mentality. A few VC funds are deemed cool and when they lead a first round of funding, they attract a herd of others. Meanwhile, some VCs will follow and fund any start-up that already that has a committed VC. Often it’s a case of the blind leading the blind, particularly when the leading VC doesn’t go over the business model. Regardless, other VCs follow like flies buzzing around curdled milk in a bowl of Series A Crunch Cereal. Except they are VCs, and there’s no upside to investing in a crappy start-up. If they want to give to a charity, try Charity Water.

A lot of VCs don’t have balls. Just as big balls are an absolute must for a successful entrepreneur, they are absolutely necessary for VCs. Having balls is more than aggression and risk taking, it is the ability to dare to “THINK DIFFERENT,” the desire to build something from scratch, not listen to the peanut gallery and develop independent thoughts. It takes effort and vision, let’s face it-– it’s hard. Maybe the reason why many VCs don’t bother is because they are lazy and blind.

Lack of Domain Expertise
VCs often act like bouncers. Their assessment time of whom to allow “in” is about the same (and as shallow) and lacks domain expertise. Domain expertise can take the form of some or all of the following: deep understanding of the industry, a track record of success in that industry, a history of building superstar products and creating innovations within the sector, and constant self-education. The acquisition of domain expertise is important for (business) survival and definitely for domination. It involves constant evolution and adaptation. Our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think, learn, connect dots and evolve – whether you’re a founder or VC, you have a responsibility to continue to do so. Domain expertise is what separates weak start-ups like Dollar Shave Club and True & Co. from great companies like Nasty Gal, Spanx, and Zappos.

Flawed Method of Assessment
I’ve noticed during my fundraising journey that I prefer VCs who were former bankers or former entrepreneurs. These VCs tend to have vision, balls and domain expertise. The VCs who were former entrepreneurs tend to be more sincere. What I like about bankers is that before making a move, they do research and perform comprehensive competitive analysis in addition to studying industry trends. If they are not experts in the industry, they source the most up-to-date data and research from analysts, pundits and expert networks. VC firms should take a cue from bankers. By contrast, VCs often barely skim a 15-page deck with the least amount of text and most pictures as possible. Heck, Cliff Notes summaries have more meat than the decks VCs like to look at. As a founder of a consumer start-up, I have 2 decks: one for people who understand my industry and one for the VCs who do not.

A new trend in the VC world is that firms are hiring PR firms. Instead of focusing on closing the best deals and making the most money, these VC funds are more preoccupied with their own image while most barely understand “brand” in the consumer world — even though some market themselves as VCs who invest in consumer. Ironic. Instead of worrying about creating their own brand, they should focus on what they are supposed to excel at. Or at least do both, and learn consumer better.

I don’t understand why many VCs hate bankers. Unlike bankers, too many VCs run around town with arrogance and attitude disproportionate to their success. Moreover, VCs often take credit for deals at their firm that they have nothing to do with. Many VCs are clowns, ahem… characters, in the Series A Crunch Clown Show that’s currently playing in Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley. Usually when bankers act arrogant, it’s backed up by a successful record since they are results driven. On the other hand, as Matt Oguz, a venture capitalist and Founding Partner of Palo Alto Venture Science, said, “Traditional VC takes way too much credit for successes, and doesn’t accept its failures.”  It’s time for VCs to grow some balls and take a cue from bankers (several of whom are now launching their own VC funds). If VCs don’t evolve on their own, the game will teach them without sparing the rod. Life is about kicking ass, not kissing ass.

xoxo

Previously by Sindhya:
VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm
Next:
The Naked Truth about Subscription Startups

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OSFashion Announces DC Chapter!

OSFashion Announces DC Chapter!

Open Source Fashion is launching a DC Chapter and we’re doing it in style!

Open Source Fashion started in New York City in April 2011. We have cultivated a community of helpful innovators, and we are going to do the same in DC!

The idea of the OSF Meetup group is to bring like minded people together to openly share ideas, contacts, and expertise with each other for the benefit of the entire meetup community, and our individual projects.

For our first event, we are excited to bring you an opportunity to learn from Holly Thomas, Editor of Refinery29 in DC! Refinery29 is an online platform that connects a fast-growing audience of users with content, commerce, and community, giving them all the tips, tricks, and tools they need to live a more beautiful life – and share it with the world.

Join us as we pick Holly’s mind!

If you represent a brand or business - We will uncover what it takes to be noticed by one of the most prominent lifestyle media outlet on the planet!

For anyone publishing content regularly – Learn how to engage your reader, and best practices in regards to distributing your content!

This is an incredible opportunity to learn, and network with follow innovators in the DC Metro area.

RefineryDCHolly E. Thomas is the D.C. editor for Refinery29, a global platform for exploring and discovering personal style. As editor, she covers all things stylish, fun, and cool in Washington, D.C. Before joining Refinery29, she was a reporter at The Washington Post, where she reported on fashion, consumer interests, and the local creative scene. Holly co-founded Butler & Claypool, a vintage retail and design collective, in 2010, and spends her free time scouring for vintage treasures, hosting pop-up shops, and dreaming up DIY projects.

Join our DC Meetup Group to RSVP!

 Personal twitter: @hollyt81
Professional twitter: @refinery29 // @butlerclaypool
www.refinery29.com
www.butlerandclaypool.com

 


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Fast Fashion Finds – December 2012, Pt. 1

Fast Fashion Finds – December 2012, Pt. 1

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl.

Tweak Your Biz || 5 Ways To Prep Your Pinterest For The Holidays by Adrienne Erin

While they lagged behind on providing some key features for businesses, Pinterest recently made it possible to create an account as a business, not just an individual. Among the new features for businesses is the capability to register with your business name instead of a first and last name – which is great news if your business is only one word – and access to case studies that provide ideas for getting the most out of Pinterest.

Start Up Fashion || 8 Reasons Your Boutique Needs Yelp by Dominique Leger

Yelp. It’s been around since 2004, has over 84 million registered users and over 33 million reviews posted to the site and is definitely one of the most powerful when it comes to social review sites.

Independent Fashion Bloggers || Why the Battle Between Instagram and Twitter Matters For Bloggers by Amanda Boyce

The integration between Instagram and Twitter was a fashion blogger’s dream, as users were able to spotlight Instagrams on their Twitter feed, connecting both platform’s communities and helping blogger’s share their outfit posts and other social happenings. While many are speculating about why this is happening (oh hi, Mark Zuckerberg), the main issue at hand is: what does this mean for fashion bloggers? What can you do while Instagram and Twitter battle it out?

Likeable || How To: Encourage Your Customers to Share MORE This Holiday Season by Gabby Piazza

Tis the season for holiday shopping – and, of course, for holiday marketing! The growth for sales driven by social media is increasing at a RAPID pace, and you need to make sure you’re your company has a piece of that pie. In the next few weeks, packages are coming and going, online orders are being added to shopping carts faster than the blink of an eye, and customers are a completely captive audience, with your product in their hand. For most companies the ultimate goal is to acquire new customers – this will obviously increase the consumer base, drive awareness, and of course amplify sales. However, one thing to keep in mind is that retention is JUST as important as acquisition – the ability to turn one-time customers into lifelong purchasers is where social media marketing can show the most success.

Mashable || 4 Best Practices for Digital Marketers in 2013 by Johnathan Gardner

Another year, another attempt to predict the future. If 2012 was the year of Korean dance videos, citizen curation and Superstorm Sandy, who can possibly tell what 2013 might bring? It’s exciting to think that a year from now we’ll be buzzing about all new startups, fresh apps to obsess over and maybe even a new device or two we can’t imagine ever having lived without. But in the realm of digital marketing, the writing’s already on the wall.

Entrepreneur || What You Don’t Know About Sweepstakes and Contests May Hurt You by Lindsay Levine

Many businesses use sweepstakes and contests to excite consumers about their products or services. These promotions can be exciting, but when problems arise, it can lead to a messy (and expensive) legal battle.

Take for example, when a consumer tried to buy a Harrier Jet with Pepsi points in 1996. The promotion encouraged consumers to collect Pepsi points in exchange for merchandise such as t-shirts and sunglasses. A Pepsi commercial featured various items and their point values: a leather jacket for 1450 points, and a Harrier Jet for 7 million Pepsi points. Pepsi contended the jet was a joke, but plaintiff purchased 7 million Pepsi points and tried to redeem them for a fighter plane. Pepsi ultimately won, but had several years’ worth of legal fees battling the case in court.

To make sure you don’t end up in a similar situation, here are a few tips to keep in mind for running a successful promotion.

The Next Web || Square to Announce Payment Trial with Burberry by Matt Brian

Following the roll-out of gift cards in its iOS apps over the weekend, well-placed sources have informed The Next Web that digital payments innovator Square is set to make another announcement – a partnership with British fashion house Burberry in what will be the company’s first tie-up with a luxury brand.

Fast Company || The Future Of Mentorship In An Age Of Entrepreneurs by Maynard Webb

We have to acknowledge that in the Age of Entrepreneurship, the onus of personal and professional development is on the individual, not on the company. I hope that instead of fearing this new responsibility, you’ll see the many benefits it brings.

PandoDaily || Fifteen NYC-based Enterprise Startups to Keep an Eye On by Johnathan Lehr

What’s not being discussed however, is how important NYC is going to play in the coming enterprise tech boom: Flybridge recently expanded here from Boston. The Partnership for New York City Fund’s FinTech Innovation Lab (a fintech accelerator) had its second successful graduating class this summer. We’ve had some big exits and many new entrants, which is the purpose of this blog post.

From my vantage point leading the NY Enterprise Technology Meetup (NYETM), it is tremendously exciting and fulfilling to see how much NYC is growing and continues to lead the charge of enterprise tech innovation. We have the customers here, with verticals including financial services, media, advertising, fashion, healthcare, and more.

Also check out:

The Emerging Designer || 24 Days of Emerging Designers by Melissa Hall

24 designers emerging! Melissa Hall of the The Emerging Designer is showcasing 24 up-and-coming designers throughout the month of December. Check out these designers to look out for in 2013 and possibly check out something to splurge on in 2013 as well!

Original Image created by Jon S.

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Fast Fashion Finds – November 2012, Pt. 2

Fast Fashion Finds – November 2012, Pt. 2

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl.

The Business of Fashion || Fashion 2.0 | The Next Chapter of Content and Commerce Integration by Vikram Alexei Kansara

Since the very birth of fashion magazines at the end of the 19th century, editorial content has been a powerful generator of consumer demand for fashion products. But the path between inspiration and transaction — between content and commerce — was fragmented and full of friction. Over the last decade, however, the interconnectedness of the web has rewired reality and given rise to new business models that integrate commerce and content, offering consumers a more seamless path from inspiration to purchase and allowing retailers and publishers alike to tap new revenue streams.

Start Up Fashion || How To Find a Domestic Manufacturer for Your Fashion Line with Maker’s Row by Nicole Giordano

Independent fashion designers face many challenges when trying to get their collections off the ground. One that they find quite early on is finding the right manufacturer. It’s not an easy task; it takes a lot of research, much back and forth, some killer negotiating skills, and think skin.

The recent launch of Maker’s Row, a website that provides access to industry-specific factories and suppliers across the United States, is helping to make the process a little easier.

Fashion’s Collective || 5 Ways to Assess Fashion/Tech Start Ups by Elizabeth Canon

It seems that now, more than ever, the industry is buzzing with fashion/tech startups. New York, some would argue even more than Silicon Valley, has become a hub for incubating and harboring these businesses. The media feeds the craze, dishing out an ongoing stream of the newest platforms and technologies on a daily basis. The result, it would appear, is that the industry is moving at the speed of light. And in many ways, it is. However, this can be problematic as industry leaders and journalists can sometimes have give into the tendency to praise a new platform all too quickly.

Before a brand has mastered one popular platform, the media is hyping up the next ten. So, how should those on the inside of the industry qualify and assess new platforms? And how should the startups themselves glean valuable information to make the moves necessary to excel in a competitive landscape?

Business Insider || Meet 9 Incredible Instagram Users That Advertisers Are Dying To Work With by Laura Stampler

Although the upper echelon of Instagram users are either brands (Starbucks) or celebrities (especially with names ending in Kardashian), there is also corps of individual Instagrammers who have accumulated significant followings for their niche and artistically complex photography. And brands want them on board.

“Brands are just dipping their toes into the Instagram world,” Jonathan Nafarrete, a Los Angeles-based Instagrammer, told us. “So while it’s hard for them to get budgets for reaching out to celebrities, they’re discovering how utilizing normal users can help.”

Entrepreneur || 10 Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask Suppliers by Jane Porter

Small-business owners should put together a new vendor checklist, advises Jason Bader, managing partner at The Distribution Team, a Portland, Ore. firm that specializes in inventory management and distribution consulting. “It really makes you a much better judge of who you ought to be working with.”

Here are 10 key questions you should consider asking suppliers before doing business with them.

Check out Entrepreneur‘s Shipping Center category for more great articles on the topic.

Inc. || How to Scale Your Start-Up by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart

Every start-up wants to achieve scale–building a multimillion-dollar business is an entrepreneur’s dream. But it is important to recognize that a lot of money can be wasted trying to scale a business that is not ready to grow. For every Facebook that successfully scales to one billion users, there are thousands that tried to get too big too quickly–and failed. We like the following quote from Running Lean: “Ideas are cheap; acting on them is expensive.”

Inc. || The Case Against Holiday Sales by Erik Sherman

This time of year is a race for retailers. Executives at companies both large and small are battling to get people in the front door and spend their Christmas gift budgets. And the frenzy began well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What’s the smart operator to do? Let your competitor win.

That’s right, let all that post-Thanksgiving Day traffic go to your competitor. Why? Because the discounting that goes on is a fool’s game.

Inc. || 8 Ways to Woo a VC by Jeff Harden

We closed our last round of funding in July but we started talking to investors last October. We felt ready: We had expanded our product line, our revenues were up, and we had won a number of awards. Yet when we first talked to VCs, while they loved our product they looked at us as if to say, “Who are you guys?”

We realized that even if you have had success, it’s not just the product and the story. VCs also make that investment in you. They want to feel sure you will take the money and do the right things.

Original Image created by Mike Hammerton.

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