Monday, October 11, 2010

Shopmate: Shopping List iPhone App

The makers of Babymate have launched a new iPhone application, Shopmate, that helps users compile their shopping lists. Although a number of competitors exist, the makers of Shopmate claim that the majority are either too simplistic or require users to add in cumbersome information, like quantities or supermarket aisle.

I've been testing out Shopmate and it is quite straightforward to use while having enough features to make it useful. (Some existing shopping list apps look a bit too similar to the Notes app that comes with the iPhone, which makes me question their added value.) With Shopmate, the list of items was robust but not too long, avoided brand names or quantities, and adding in esoteric items, like miso paste, was easy.

While in store, I could add in my location via Foursquare, cross off the individual items as I found them, and associate items with bookmarks. I liked the "finally found it" one, as I went to three different stores to find a particular brand of chai. Post-trip, Shopmate offers statistics on purchases, including top items purchased (individually and by category), purchased versus planned ratio, and popular stores. The statistics were simple, straightforward, and useful.

For more information on Shopmate, check out the demo below.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Network for Women Hosts Soiree in New York

Although this blog is primarily dedicated to online and mobile social networking for women, at times the work done by non-profits for women is so valuable that it is worthy of mention. Step Up Women’s Network is a US-based, national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to connecting and advancing women and girls. By bridging communities of professional women and underserved teen girls through mentorship, networking and advancement, they ensure women and girls have the opportunities they need to create a better future.

Step Up's most dedicated leaders are hosting Soirees this fall, as a grassroots fundraising effort to support Step Up's programming to bridge communities of professional women and underserved girls through mentoring, networking and advancement opportunities.

The New York chapter of Step Up will be hosting a Soiree tomorrow night, October 5th at The Bubble Lounge. Buy tickets or for click here for more information on events nationwide. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Questions for Einat Naveh of Be Happy NYC

Einat Naveh is a blogger based in New York City. Her mission is to find  things (mostly food) that make her smile. Check out her blog, Be Happy NYC.

Why did you decide to start blogging?  
I decided to begin blogging after I returned from my honeymoon July 2009 and realized I had so much extra free time in the evenings now that I had finished planning our wedding. I had also found myself in a place with nothing to "look forward to" on the horizon. I started my blog with the premise of finding what it is that makes me smile on a daily basis. Looking for the extraordinary out of the ordinary. 

Your focus is often on food- both cooking and dining out. What is on your 'must eat' list for NYC? 
It really depends on the cuisine and the occasion. A few of my favorites:

An ideal place for a 'fancy' brunch buffet is Brasserie 8 1/2
For fresh pasta, I like Po in the West Village or I Coppi in the East Village
The best pizza ever is Keste, and yes it IS worth the wait
The lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar is fantastic
If you're looking for  a steak dinner, Striphouse beats Peter Luger in my book

What else makes you happy? Any recommendations for readers? 
I obviously really enjoy trying new foods and indulging in old favorites. I also love to cook for friends and loved ones. Lately, I have gotten pure happiness from riding my new bike and from going back to doing yoga. I would tell anyone to keep trying different things and stick to what puts them in a "childlike" state of mind. There is nothing better than calming down the to-do list in your head with sautéing onions or biking up the west side highway.

How have you been promoting your blog? What kinds of social media tools do you use? 
I have a Facebook page that links to my Twitter account. I make sure every blog post I write I also share on Facebook. About 60% of my "fans" are my own friends. I played with Facebook ads in the beginning just to see how it worked and was pretty impressed with the results. I would highly recommend to any business to use the facebook ads as they are so targeted and I was seeing great conversion rates from clicks to fans (now "likes").

Your parents recently started an e-commerce jewelry site, which you've been helping them market. How does marketing a web store differ from the blog, and what have you been doing differently? 
I am so proud of my parents! They took their idea and made it a reality. Inspired by the book Eat, Pray, Love my parents went off on their own Bali adventure and curated an assortment of unique silver jewelry pieces that they now sell on Muse BazaarI wrote about them on my blog and they are starting to use Google Adwords. They are also thinking of starting a blog of their own on the site. The key to any site's success is obviously traffic. I helped them create a Facebook page and hope to get them using the Facebook ads soon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

GetMyCloset: Swap, Share and Sell Clothes Online

GetMyCloset is a recently launched site that enables users to share and swap their clothing, as well as sell both new and second-hand clothing and accessories. GetMyCloset was founded as a solution to the current shopping climate: we want to feel excited about our clothes, but have limited financial resources and are concerned about the environmental impact of creating, shipping, and packaging new clothes.

Says founder Raquel Ohana: "Going shopping with a friend on Oxford Street one Friday afternoon during the sales was so exiting. I saw myself heading home with bags full of new clothes at discount prices! Unfortunately, the magic shopping experience was neither as enjoyable nor as pleasant as I expected... Discounts and offers were uninteresting, especially in an economic downturn when clothes and accessories are considered ‘non-essential’ purchases. Therefore, we women are less likely to spend enough to renew our closets! Disappointed, I returned home bag-less. I then opened my closet... it was already FULL! This is a problem for most of us: we need space and cheap clothes! This is why I set up an online marketplace where fashionistas can - from the comfort of their home - swap the clothes they don’t feel like wearing anymore, and get something different, something original, something timeless, that someone else was tired of!"

To find individuals with similar tastes, users can join trend groups in categories such as 'Quirky Quintessential', 'Denim Addict', and 'Miss Avant-Garde.' Additionally, Ohana hopes that emerging designers will use GetMyCloset as a platform to sell their designs and expand their reach. And while the goal of GetMyCloset is to build an active community on the site, Ohana recognises the need to promote the site via existing social media channels. "Blogs, Webzines and Facebook are the new sources of inspiration for style, right up there with the best fashion press.," says Ohana. "We are trying to put ourselves out there by reaching out to the blogosphere, tweeting loudly, and showing all Facebook the best of customers' uploads!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Latin Women Discuss Shopping Experiences Online

A recent Sophia Mind study of  women in the Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and Latina women in the US, revealed that female social networking users in these countries are using the Web to comment about their purchase experiences. Although the figures varied by country, up to 66% of women are talking about their purchasing experiences online (Brazil). Across the board, women were more likely to make positive comments than negative ones.

However, bad comments were more likely to deter users from shopping than messages received from companies or brands. Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter were the largest sources for friend recommendations. Women in both the US and Latin America claimed that they trust comments on social networks more than ads. 11% of Hispanic female social network users in the US strongly agreed with that statement,  48% agreed, and 25% were undecided. Latin women were most likely to trust the advice of social network connections when it came to electronics, and about half were open to recommendations for books and magazines, music, travel and films.

The activity of Latin women on social networks could create a huge opportunity for companies who are targeting Latin America and the Hispanic population in the US. Companies who invest in good customer service and provide their audience with the tools to share their experiences via social media could see a significant impact- one that could directly affect their bottom line.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

With FavRav, Get Recommendations from Friends

FavRav, which launched on Monday, lets consumers find quality, trusted referrals from the people they already know. The Facebook-enabled site displays recommendations for nearby service-oriented small businesses, but only displays results from people in that user's existing network. A user's recommendation also display in their Facebook wall, providing new users with incentive to discover the site and create recommendations of their own.The result, hopes FavRav, will be a recommendations engine with more meaningful results to consumers and will convert to new customers for businesses.

"If you're looking for a recommendation on a great 'date night' restaurant or local bar, you can use the other myriad of referral/recommendation sites like Yelp or Citysearch," said Bill Manos, co-founder, FavRav.  "We're really the place people come when you need a trusted referral from friends on important decisions like your first child's pediatrician, a realtor for your next home purchase or an insurance agent to help you protect your family."
FavRav also provides small business accounts, targeting small business owners who rely primarily on referrals, and who want to promote themselves in a more engaging way via social media. FavRav enables business accounts to provide discounts and special offers underneath customer testimonials, both on FavRav and on Facebook They also provide real-time analytics on their referrals. "With FavRav, companies setup quickly, engage customers to refer them and end up with more serious inquiries as a result. It's hassle-free and lets them focus on their business," says Manos.
For more information on FavRav, check out the demo video below:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Social Media Success Story: LOFT

Ann Taylor LOFT's Facebook presence is a great example of social media done right. The LOFT Facebook page provides a variety of content, including photos and videos with information on trends and advice on how to wear them. They offer polls, discussion boards, fashion flipbooks, and links to their blogs and Twitter. The page's wall is filled with user comments. But where LOFT truly excels is by listening to their fans' reactions and responding to them appropriately.

Last week, LOFT created an album featuring a cropped silk cargo pant. The album showed a model wearing the pants to work, for an evening out, or on the weekend. The album received 84 comments- many of them negative. Fans complained that the looks were unrealistic and that the pants would not flatter the average woman.

Loft responded brilliantly. The Digital Programs manager posted on LOFT's Facebook wall acknowledging users' needs and suggested a solution: LOFT created new albums with three ways to wear the new cargo pants, but instead of using models, had LOFT employees, in a variety of shapes and sizes, from 5'3" to 5'10", and sizes 2 to 12, wearing the trend. The result? Positive press and kudos from customers. What a great example of a company who gains from listening to their fans.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Waze Wants Women: Contest Offers Free iPad

Waze is a smartphone application that provides FREE crowdsourced GPS navigation for the consumer, including voice-guided turn-by-turn directions. Users can send live road reports to other users, tweet from the road, share pictures of hazards to let people know why there is a hold up, chat with other drivers, and check in to Foursquare and other location based apps.

Alli Magidsohn, Waze's MarcComm Director, contacted me about a promotion they are holding to attract more women. According to Magidsohn, "We’re a technology start up that loves our users, but there's a small problem – they’re almost all boys!...We’ve been asking ourselves about where all the waze* girlpower is for a while now, and today we’ve finally decided to take action: If you’re a girl gadget geek who loves getting involved in trendsetting technology projects, then waze wants you. We’re looking for ladies to become wazers and to start contributing to the driving communities in their areas. And as a small incentive to help attract more female attention to our app, we’re giving away an iPad to a randomly selected wazerette on June 17."

How to make yourself eligible to win an iPad:

1- Retweet this message on Twitter: Ladies: Help bring girlpower to waze’s free social GPS app for your chance to win a shiny new iPad! Details here:
2 - Download waze, if you haven’t already. Make sure to register your email address in the registration process, or in yours settings, so we’ll be able to contact you, should you be the lucky winner!
3- Post one ‘chit chat’ on the waze map with the message “Girlpower!” Note that to send a ‘chit chat’, all you have to do is to click the ‘report’ button, click the purple and blue ‘chit chat’ icon, type your message, and then click send.

*Please note that the contest is open to women only.
** Webutantes is not affiliated with Waze, will have no part in the selection process, and did not receive any financial compensation for this post.

Mashable: 3 Key Location Trends for Moms

My latest Mashable post, 3 Key Location Trends for Moms, is live. The post discusses the various ways that moms are integrating location-based services (LBS) into their lives. To check it out, click here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with (Díga)Mama Blogger K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the author of (Díga)Mama, a travel and mommy blog chronicling her move from New York City to Seville, Spain. (Díga)Mama, which translates literally to "say mom," is a thoughtful reflection on expat motherhood and life in Spain, dotted with colorful photographs and tips for travelers. In addition to (Díga)Mama, Emily has for worked for O, The Oprah Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Village Voice. She's also written for iVillage, The New York Observer, BUST,, the Huffington Post and a host of other publications in the US and abroad.

How did the decision to move to Spain come about?
Once I started complaining (a lot!) about New York, I knew it was time to consider moving to another city. I thought we’d end up in Sydney since my husband lived there for such a long time. Not a bad place at all – a gorgeous city! – but too far away, particularly since we had a newborn at the time. I couldn’t be that far away from my family. We ended up choosing Seville because I have a sister here and she has a son who’s about two years older than ours.

Spain, and Andalucia in particular, is a rather insulated place. What I mean is that it’s not that easy to assimilate to life here. But Seville is a great place for children. We have a green market at the end of our calle (street), bakeries around the corner, numerous parks and, above all else, lots of old women that shower Ezra with attention…it’s just a really nice lifestyle for us and a ton of fun for our son.

What has the transition been like? What was your biggest surprise?

Like I mentioned, it’s not easy moving to Andalucia. It’s very different from the United States and it takes time to get used to things like siesta hours and the accent. But this region has opened up quite a bit since the first time I visited my sister here in the mid-90’s. There are new conveniences, like Ikea. But, for example, unemployment is notoriously high at 20%. We thought we could take advantage of cheaper rents because of that. Of course, we pay a fraction of what we paid in New York, but given the Euro against the Dollar and all that, it’s not as good of a deal as we thought it would be. Another cosa (thing), which is really more of an annoyance than a surprise, is that the juntas (government offices) seem to be in competition with one another to make the simplest of processes as confusing and frustrating as possible.

What is your favorite thing about Seville? What activities would you recommend to families who want to visit?
It’s incredibly family-friendly here. There are bars next to parks and it’s not unusual to see entire families out until midnight, especially now that it’s so hot outside making it impossible to take your kids to the park during the day. For us, the energy in the streets is invigorating. If Ezra is in a bad mood all we have to do is take him on a walk. He loves to watch what the old people are up to, what the dogs are barking about, what music the dreadlocked hippies on the Alameda are listening to, what the flamenco singers are singing about. He’s into all of it. I am not one to keep him out until midnight, but like every other Spanish kid he cannot get enough of the calle.

You're a writer, and you've spent your career writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites. How does blogging differ?
I love how fast it all is! But it’s really important to treat the content you produce for a blog with the same care, quality, and accuracy that you would for a newspaper or magazine. I’m a one-woman-band so that makes it difficult at times. And I’m a mama, so I suffer from a time-deficit most of the time. I end up with typos!

Also, while I would never (ever!) reference Wikipedia for a traditional article, I do sometimes find myself traipsing over there for a quick Wiki-fact when I need one for (Díga)Mama. Wiki-facts are very different from real ones, though, so I stay away from them as much as possible. I use them for confirmation more than sourcing. It’s a big pet peeve of mine when writers use Wikipedia.

 If (as is my dream) someone reads about something on (Díga)Mama and decides to visit that place, I want it to be as true to the experience I blogged about as possible. The point-of-view on the site is specifically mine; but a lot of what I write is still service-journalism.
With a blog, you do have a little bit more leeway, yet you have to be twice as vigilant about how you end up presenting that information. Once you hit publish, which is ultra easy on Wordpress and other blogging platforms, your content is out there for better, worse, in accuracy or not. That’s a lot of responsibility and something that every writer and blogger should take very seriously.

What are your plans for (Díga)Mama going forward?
I’m going to devote more time and energy to (Díga)Mama this summer. Right now it’s hosted on Wordpress, but I’m going to move it over to a different server in the coming months, once I boost my traffic. I’m also going to focus more on networking with other mom and travel bloggers to push traffic that way, too. Eventually, I’d like to enlist other expat mothers to contribute content. In the meantime, (Díga)Mama – that would be me talking about myself in 3rd person again! – can also be found blogging for The Stir at CafeMom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glö Launches Paperless Invitations and Wedding Websites

London-based start-up Glö offers paperless wedding invitations, save the dates, and wedding websites for brides who "didn't say 'yes' to addressing envelopes." Glö provides brides with designs and functionality that enable them to save time, money, and trees while maintaining the customized look and feel of traditional invitations.Glö offers a broad range of designs to choose from or allows users upload their own designs, giving couples the option to work with a favorite designer or coordinate their online communications with other paper stationery products.

Glö enables couples to create e-invites or save-the-dates that mimic paper communications. They can also create a matching wedding websites and add unlimited pages of information, events and RSVP questions. Glö has an RSVP system where couples can select which guests are invited to each event (such as the rehearsal dinner, brunch after the wedding, etc.) and the Glösite will only display the relevant events & RSVP questions to each guest. Guests can view and edit RSVP responses for everyone in their household or party. 

According to founder Taryn Westberg,“Glö was born from a need we had for our own wedding.We had lots of out-of-town guests and numerous activities taking place, so we needed to collect a slew of RSVP information like arrival/departure date, attendance at various activities, dietary needs, babysitter needs, accommodation choice, etc. to help us plan.We wanted to send online invitations but couldn’t find anything that looked sophisticated enough for a wedding, plus had the website and RSVP functionality we needed. Ultimately, a web-professional family member created our invites and website as a wedding gift, and we had such a tremendous response from our guests and other engaged-couples that we decided to start Glö.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Women Comfortable with Targeting but Want Value Adds from Advertisers

A recent eMarketer report featured research from Q Interactive revealed that women 88% of women would like to see more targeted advertising from brands they trust. Only 11% of women said targeted online ads were "weird" and nearly two-thirds of women said targeted ads were "cool."

According to Emily Girolamo, VP Marketing and Corporate Communications at Q Interactive, "Women...are creating new expectations of brands, agencies and marketers. They are past any fear or suspicion when they get a targeted ad online—and now just expectwant and seek out brands online with meaning for their busy lives." 

The types of targeting women seek are those that add value. Almost two-fifths of respondents said brands were “good partners" if they sent relevant information that women needed and used, while another one-fifth said good partners were those who were straightforward about deals and offers. Deals and discounts were a tactic that almost 60% of respondents said they would want to see more of. David Hallerman, an eMarketer senior analyst, said, "Offers such as discounts and deals appeal to most consumers." However, he cautions that, "A number of surveys reveal significantly divergent perspectives among consumers about the intersection of privacy, data collected about them and their relationship with targeted online advertising."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Microsoft's Project Natal Enables Users to Virtually Try Clothing

Microsoft announced Project Natal, 3D camera for Xbox 360, last September. Project Natal tracks people's motions in three dimensions and has a microphone capable of voice recognition. It is to be used as a controller-free method of playing video games, tracking the player's body movements and voice and transferring that information directly to the gaming console.

Natal's hands-free applications and high quality sensors will enable Microsoft to create high quality games that incorporate users' body movements. However, one of the more unique applications of the device is not related to gaming but fashion. Natal allows individuals to scan items, such as their skateboards, for use in the console's games. It also enables users to scan clothing, such as dresses, share them with friends, and have them virtually try them on. Many companies are trying to get into the virtual scanning space in order to improve online shopping experiences, and it will be interesting to see if Natal can inadvertently enter the space.

For more information, check out the video below. The clothes scanning application shows up at around 2:20:

*Special thanks to Juanita Ochoa.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Women Than Men Play Games Online

A joint study by Trendstream and Lightspeed Research, which looked at the online gaming activities of US Internet users. According to the study, 42% of women have played an online game, compared to only 36% of men. Also, 28% of women have participated in social games- casual games on social networking sites, while only 22% of men have played social games. 83% of social gamers play on Facebook, and one of the most popular games, Mafia Wars, attracts more than 24 million monthly users. Source: Facebook

According to PopCap Games, more than half of the social gaming population is female. The average age of the US social gamer is 48 years old, with more than half of gamers over 50 and few regular gamers (those who participate at minimum on a weekly basis) under 30. Source: eMarketer

Tom Smith, managing director of Trendstream, has said, “The transformation of the gaming market towards casual social concepts has already changed the way that games are created and distributed...This gives brands a huge opportunity to engage with consumers through casual games much more cost effectively than through other forms of advertising."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

hangPROUD Channels Negative Thoughts into Positive Action

In March 2007, Diane Prefontaine and Carla Alpert launched hangProud, a community that promotes teen girls' self-esteem and encourages them to use their power to make significant differences in their lives, communities and the world. hangProud's mission is to persuade girls away from "negative self-dialogue", embrace their individual strengths, and channel that energy into something positive.

On the hangPROUD site, girls can find inspiration, connect with one another and learn how to change their negative thoughts into positive action. The site offers a robust Advice section from a mother/daughter team, user blogs, and an eMentor area where girls can find mentors based on career interests, hobbies, or personal experience. There is also a radio component, where users can check out music and create their own playlists.

A key component of the hangPROUD message is community service. The website has a Pay It Forward page with links to volunteer organizations and non-profits. The hangPROUD mission continues offline with PROUDgirls on the MOVE, an enrichment program, and workshops. The first PROUDgirls on the Move team has already made 1001 lunches for the hungry, visited and entertained the elderly, prepared and served lunch at a soup kitchen to over 350 people, and most recently bonded with girls their age at a Little Flower Children’s Services, an idea that the girls created and produced themselves.

For more info about hangProud and to see some of the members in action, check out the YouTube video below:


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Businesses on Twitter Double Their Leads

A recent eMarketer post showed evidence from HubSpot that small businesses on Twitter can double their monthly lead generation figures. The "Twitter effect" was consistent whether businesses generated 1-10, 11-50, or more than 51 leads per month, and also held across company size. The Twitter effect was stronger for businesses targeting consumers (B2C companies) than business to business (B2B) organizations.

The amount of Twitter followers is critical to increased lead generation. Companies with a Twitter reach between 100-500 followers generated 146% more median monthly leads than those with 21-100 followers. Interestingly, companies with more than 500 followers did not show any increased gains, suggesting that the quality of interactions, as opposed to quantity of followers, should the backbone for a good Twitter strategy.

Blogging also increased lead generation for small businesses. Unlike Twitter, the effect was similar for both B2C as well as B2B companies. For blogs, the crucial component for increased lead generation was the amount of content produced. According to eMarketer, 24-51 posts are the minimum "tipping point" at which increased lead generation occurs.

Additional benefits of Twitter usage and blogging include better search engine visibility. Blogs increase the number of indexed pages for a business, and every 50-100 incremental indexed pages on Google can lead to significant growth. Twitter, which is now being crawled by Google and included in their results, can also impact search engine visibility.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The iPad Revolutionizes Reading

Alice for the iPad is an interactive version of Alice in Wonderland created for Apple's newest device. The ebook is intended to be interactive- users can shake and twist their iPad to activate clever special effects. Mushrooms drop, Alice grows, cards toss and hearts fall.

The Alice iPad app is targeted at kids, but the special effects are more than child's play. When graphics and movement pair up with text, the iPad could change the future of reading. The way we consume and experience stories will forever be altered if this takes off. Check out the demo video below.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Interview with Sammy Davis: Vintage Curator and Stylist

I recently interviewed the fabulous Sammy Davis, curator, stylist, and founder of Sammy Davis Vintage. Her goal is to make vintage fashion accessible to the contemporary woman. Sammy has been featured in Full Frontal Fashion, i Heart Daily, and Guest of a Guest.

With so many brands and options available to the contemporary woman, why should she consider buying vintage?
When you buy vintage clothing, you are first investing in style. These are one-of-a-kind pieces for your wardrobe that will get compliments from peers and add positive energy to your personal style. That is style. Now, when you buy vintage, you are also investing in sustainable style - the fact that you are investing in alternative fashion rather than the mass produced mainstream. Buying vintage and second-hand is recycling clothing that would otherwise be rotting in a landfill.

What is your role as a vintage curator?
My brand's platform is "sustainable style with substance." I curate thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales, even people's closets to find the best vintage pieces for my market. I do this as a service so that woman can understand the opportunities to engage in eco-conscious, unique and affordable fashion. I want my platform and its high quality product to clear woman's insecurities around buying second hand pieces so that they can execute their own buying power and seek vintage and thrift on their own.

How do you use social media?
I use social media in a multitude of ways: Not only for my own pleasure, but to create pleasure and content (and thereby context) around my brand to an audience, and to eventually form relationships with that audience and my pre-existing network of fans and friends. Secondly, I use social media to initiate sales from my collection through online networking and online word-of-mouth around my brand and it's product, and to stay in touch with the needs and wants of my existing customer base.

What tools to you use to engage your audience?I'll update my Facebook fan page with the status change, "What styles do you want most for the spring?" or "What are your favorite looks right now?" to crowdsource my customer base for input on what to buy so that I have a better chance of carrying a product that my market wants and will buy.

Fans may say, "I'm dying for a houndstooth skirt! or "A motorcycle leather jacket." If I see any styles fitting to these requests on my thrifting journey, I will buy, and then directly email that fan with a picture to let them know I'm now carrying their wardrobe request in my shop. It's like you telling your favorite store that you want a particular look, and they buy it just for you. While department stores and even small boutiques can't create this service for their customer, I can personalize the shopping experience through crowd sourcing strategy because I buy one-of-a-kind pieces and don't have to stock my store with duplicates.

I believe in the 80/20 model -- that 80 percent of your business is done with 20 percent of your customer base. So make sure that you are keeping that 20 percent happy -- and when you are selling online and can continually be in touch with multiple customers at once, there is no better way to fulfill those needs of that 20 percent to keep them returning to your brand to purchase your product.

How do you initiate sales?
A wall is broken down between seller and customer when a relationship is formed through interaction on the web. By remaining human in your business relationships, the customer sees you as a trusted friend and is more apt to make that final sale.

For example, after reaching out to a favorite new blog of mine, Spicy Candy, I developed a Twitter relationship with one of the two writers. She tweeted me one day to ask if I carried and leather skirts, because her best friend was looking for one. She passed along her friend's email and I sent her friend pictures and measurements of a few leather skirts I carried. And guess what! She bought one from me!

You also have a media component to your business. Can you speak a bit about that?
My personal mission is to "make vintage fashion more accessible to the contemporary woman." This is not only through sales of a product, but in generating media of service and inspiration around that product and around the benefits of the industry of wearing second-hand clothing itself. I launched Sammy D TV with the intention to create videos that could be used as service pieces. 5 Thrifting Tips (below) and How to Get into Your Grandmother's Closet are the two best examples of how I hope to provide inspiring content to my reader so that he/she can take my knowledge and apply it on their own.

5 Thrifting Tips // Episode 6 // Sammy D TV from Sammy Davis on Vimeo.

Additionally, I hope that by creating content -- whether it is through my written blog or video blog, and then promoting on Twitter/Facebook and other outlets -- that I reach a new market who would never have encountered content about vintage clothing and thrift store style before. While I realize that my sales will remain successful under the 80/20 model, I want my content and reach as a media brand to extend much farther. And the best way to reach a great audience is via the web. Creating content also allows for me to maintain a voice of authority in this saturated industry. Admittedly, I am but one online vintage seller among many. Sellers make their livelihoods based on online sales. I am not there yet, but hope that through promotion of my brand and its mission, along with my attention to personalization and working for my customer as a resource and personal stylist, that someday I can achieve my dreams of writing a book on thrift store style for the 20-something, and have a book launch party at my own vintage store/boutique.

For readers in the New York area, Sammy Davis Vintage will be holding a sale to benefit She's the First. Details, a non-profit media campaign that promotes girls's education in developing countries. Click here for details.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

State of the Mobile App Market

The mobile applications market is growing. According to a joint survey by DM2PRO and Quattro Wireless, 65% of publishers and marketers in North America plan to invest in mobile apps in 2010. “There are now numerous mobile apps that fill utilitarian needs, serving up informative tips and educational bits, plenty that offer pure entertainment and others that hover in between,”says eMarketer's Toby Elkin.The right kinds of mobile apps tethered to social media can move consumer products marketers closer to their goals.”

The Yankee Group predicts that the US app market will pull in $1.6 billion worth of revenues this year, and that by 2014, revenues will be six times as high at $11 billion. Gartner expects over 4.5 billion applications will be downloaded worldwide this year, garnering $6.8 billion in revenues. By 2013, the number of mobile applications downloaded is expected to grow to nearly 22 billion, bringing in $29.5 billion in revenues. Gartner also predicts that 8 out of 10 applications downloaded will be free, and by 2013, nearly 9 out of every 10 applications will be free.

“Growth in smartphone sales will not necessarily mean that consumers will spend more money, but it will widen the addressable market for an offering that will be advertising-funded,” Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner.

The mobile apps trend is expected to hit emerging markets as well. By 2014, approximately 2.6 billion people in Brazil, Russia, India, and China will have access to the mobile Internet. In 2010 alone, there will be more mobile Internet users in China than the entire population of the United States.

With such a staggering concentration of mobile phone subscribers accessing the Internet and downloading apps, the possibilities are endless. Smart brands, particularly global ones, should take advantage of the platform to provide value, engage their audience, and tie mobile into their overall social media and marketing strategy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Viv Mag Creates Interactive Spread for iPad

Viv Magazine, a digital magazine aimed primarily at women, recently released a demo of their interactive cover. The demo, a collaboration with VIV, visual artists Cory Strassburger and Ming Hsuing, and Alexx Henry Photography, explores the potential that the iPad, smart phones, and tablets provide for publishers. According to Andrew Gant, the Studio Manager for Alexx Henry Photography, these new outlets are unique because "as photographers, we can put motion into print where we weren't able to before."

VIV's demo includes a "living cover" and 40's style presentation of a feature article, bringing an element of movement to VIV's content. "It's really exciting because we're going to be able to capture the energy of a still-life fashion shoot with the motion of a blockbuster," says Angela Giglia, Photo Editor for VIV.

For more information on VIV's demo, check out the behind the scenes video below:

VIV Mag Featurette: A Digital Magazine Motion Cover and Feature for the iPad from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with Helen Brown, Director of Catwalk Genius

I recently interviewed Helen Brown, Director of Catwalk Genius, an online store where consumers can buy directly from designers and invest in emerging designers' new collections. The Dublin-based site has already made quite an impression- Catwalk Genius has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and British Vogue, and Helen was named one of the Online Fashion 100.

What was the inspiration behind Catwalk Genius?

I studied Psychology and have always been interested in consumer behaviour. When our team decided to set up a business, we researched a variety of interactive tech ideas across different sectors. We settled on Catwalk Genius because fashion seemed to have the most opportunity; standard retail online is still pretty passive and we thought we could make it more exciting.

Catwalk Genius has a few interesting elements that make it stand out from other sites that promote new designers. What features do you think make Catwalk Genius unique?
It's still pretty rare to be able to buy direct from design labels and converse with them, but our unique feature is our Back a Designer scheme. If you love a brand, you can buy a share in their next collection. Once a target number of shares have sold, they produce the clothing and everyone takes an equal share in the revenues. Supporters can also get perks in return for their help - so everyone benefits.

How do you select your designers?
We work with Sarah Bunter, an amazing Creative Consultant who puts us in touch with strong UK design brands. She looks for strong design, wearable clothes and very high quality production. At the same time designers come to us directly by submitting product adverts every day. Then, we're still looking for high quality products as well as good quality imagery and appropriate pricing.

Can you talk about the “back a designer” scheme?
As I mentioned, it's about investing in a fashion collection in return for the opportunity for profits and perks. We're about to introduce a flexible funding target, which the designer will choose. You can switch or withdraw shares at any point up until the designer reaches their target and we're also adding a community where you can exchange messages with your favourite designers and other supporters. We've got a really exciting designer collaboration lined up to launch these extra features, so check back in mid-April to see what's going on.

What are your favorite pieces for Spring/Summer?
I've got a lot of weddings to go to this year, so Deibe Rondon's grown-up glamour has definitely caught my eye. Minna always produces the most lovely feminine pieces. All of her work is responsibly produced and she was named as one of the highlights of London Fashion Week's Esthetica exhibition last month. Shorts are still working over tights and I love the check on these, just in from pitchouguina.

How have you been promoting the site? Which social media tools do you use to spread the word about Catwalk Genius?
Social media's big for us because it involves the same kind of interaction that Catwalk Genius is all about. We do like Facebook and have the obligatory fan page, but I have the most fun with the folk who we follow on Twitter. Fashion tweeters are a fascinating and funny demographic!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paycheck Fairness Act: Interview with Lisa Maatz

I just interviewed Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) about the Paycheck Fairness Act. This morning, the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearding on the Paycheck Fairness Act, an update of the Equal Pay Act that was signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which has 36 co-sponsors and was already approved by the House, would help create a climate in which wage discrimination is not tolerated. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that women earn, on average, only 77 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterparts (even when they have same major and occupation).

What is the Paycheck Fairness Act and how does it differ from the Equal Pay Act?
The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is a much needed update that amends the Equal Pay Act. It offers legislation that provides an update to a bill that was signed in 1963. Things have changed and we’ve learned a lot since then about discrimination, the ways to deter it, what works and what doesn’t. The PFA is an extension of that knowledge.

Why is the Paycheck Fairness Act so important, particularly now in light of the recession?
When it comes to the recession- and it was true before but even more so now- women’s wages are an important way to make ends meet. Especially in a recession, when one of the key components to recovery is consumer spending, fair wages for women is essential. Two-thirds of women are either the primary or co-breadwinner for their households. Pay equity is not just a social issue; it has an economic impact.

The Equal Pay Act was signed by JFK in 1963- almost 50 years ago. Why does pay discrimination still exist? What do you believe are the main causes of pay discrimination?
Still exists bc there has been revolutionary change in women’s roles but not revolutionary change in stereotypes of women. Job segregation- certain jobs appropriate for men and certain for women. When you have the vast majority of women in lower paid occupations, is it really that those jobs are not that valuable or that we’re not valuing women as much as well.

I was following the hearing on AAUW’s live blog, and I believe it was Senator Enzi who said that the pay gap is due more to women’s choices than to discrimination. How would you respond to that?
Are they really their choices? Yes, women’s choices factor into that but I would ask if they are truly free choices.With more women being the breadwinners, or the only breadwinners, they are going to be concerned about taking any legal action that could jeopardize their current position or affect their ability to get a new job.
That is why the PFA is so important. It is structured to do a lot more from the front end, by encouraging employers to do more. The current sanctions are so light for employers who fail to pay men and women equally. The PFA will create incentives for businesses, as well as women, to have frank discussions upfront, and provisions to help women better negotiate salary. It will also tighten the sanctions against employers who fail to comply.

The AAUW is promoting this bill in many ways. What social media tools are you using to spread the word? 
We are using several tools to promote the bill. We had a live blog during the Senate hearing this morning, and have been sharing information via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other channels. We also created Web stickers that can be embedded on blogs and social networks in different sizes and codes that are appropriate for those kinds of vehicles. 

How can we help?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Microblogging: Where does Buzz Fit In?

Statistics on microblogging are staggering. Facebook currently has 400 million users worldwide, many who update their statuses multiple times per day. Twitter announced on February 22nd that the site hit 50 million tweets per day, an exponential increase from approximately 50,000 per day in 2007. Google released Buzz, on February 9th. In only two days, it surpassed 9 million posts and comments, averaging around 160,000 buzzes per hour.

Who is Microblogging?
Microbloggers can be segmented into three categories:
Corporations use microblogging to connect with current and potential customers. Companies’ microblogs include information on products and services. Additionally, brands utilize microblogging to promote news, as well as offer discounts and coupons.
Professionals: Individuals Microblogging for Professional Reasons
Another subset of the microblogging population is individuals who microblog for professional reasons. This group includes celebrities, independent consultants, bloggers, coaches and other individuals who utilize microblogging to promote professional services or enhance their personal brand. Professionals microblog to engage fans or potential clients and connect with colleagues. They frequently post links to their website or blog, not only to increase traffic but also improve their search engine ranking.

Casual Users: Individuals Microblogging for Personal Reasons
Individuals who microblog for personal reasons (“casual users”) use microblogging tools to connect with friends and family, and post links to articles they find interesting. Often, casual users are passive users. They use microblogging sites to gain up-to-date information on the lives of friends and family, as well as brands and colleagues, as opposed to posting information.

The Newcomer: Google Buzz
Buzz is the newest entrant to the microblogging space. Launched by Google, Buzz connects to Google’s email client, Gmail. Buzz has a number of strengths and unusual features that set it apart from other microblogging services. The integration with Gmail provided Buzz with an existing user base of millions of users who do not have to create a new username or password in order to participate. Also, users no longer have to leave their email inbox in order to share information with contacts. Buzz enables users to respond to others’ microblogs with their commenting feature. Additionally, with Buzz, users can select their privacy preferences, something other services, such as Twitter, lack. Buzz has no character limits and also allows users to integrate photos and attachments in a streamlined and simple way.

According to Google executive Bradley Horowitz, “It’s not just status-casting. It’s not just checking in. It’s really meaningful interactions around meaningful topics within Buzz and it’s reaching the right audience and people are engaged. That kind of value proposition is I think unique to Buzz. I’ve heard that again and again. In the realm of positive feedback, I think that people are finding that the conversational mode of buzz is very, very powerful and the quality of audience is also great.”

The Incumbent: Twitter

Twitter is in many ways the “anti-Buzz.” Twitter is a start-up founded by a small team and was created as a stand-alone product. Twitter’s strength lies in its simplicity. Users create simple profiles with only one photo and basic information. All communication on Twitter, whether microblogs (which are public) or private messages, must be 140 characters or less. Twitter is also well designed for search: Twitter provides information on “trending topics”- popular keywords that featured in a large percentage of microblogs across all Twitter users. Additionally, searching for specific users is easy to locate (under the “Find People” tab) and the site offers suggestions for users to follow based on categories.
However, Twitter’s simplicity, which has worked well in the past, may ultimately be its biggest weakness. The 140 character limit can be cumbersome. Although users can post pictures on Twitter, they need a third-party application, such as TwitPic, to do so. Also, users cannot see responses to conversations- they can only view one user’s microblogs at one time.

Where Does Buzz Add Value?
Google Buzz’s strengths, particularly when compared to Twitter, make Buzz an ideal product for professionals looking to microblog. On Buzz, professionals who want to enhance their personal brand can post links as well as photos and videos, enabling them to post more varied types of information than on Twitter. Additionally, professionals who want engage with their fans/audience can provide a more interactive experience on Buzz via the commenting feature, which not only allows professionals to interact with their audience but also enables fans to interact with one another. Also, presumably, since Buzz is a Google product, microblogging with Buzz could increase search engine rankings as well as, or even better than Twitter or other competitors. I personally would love to see a Buzz application for Blogger, and start following TV how-to personalities on Buzz. I could find a lot of added value in hearing Martha Stewart's audience suggesting recipes, not just Martha herself. And that is one area where Buzz has the potential to outshine Twitter and the others. Let's just hope that the class action lawsuits against Buzz stop coming.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hila Rawet Karni: Industrial Jewellery

Hila Rawet Karni is a talented jewelry designer whose works have been featured throughout the world, from Tokyo and Design Basel in Miami to Tel Aviv, Milan, and London. Combining her background in industrial design, her knowledge of origami, and her impeccable fashion sense, Hila incorporates unusual materials to create unique, wearable pieces.

You are an industrial designer by trade. What prompted the interest in jewelry?
In my work, I use silicon, paper, grommets, and stainless steel. As an industrial designer, I am fascinated by the idea of taking raw materials that are not usually used for jewelry and transforming them into wearable objects. I want to create jewelry that is beautiful and luxurious and is not made out of gold and silver.

A lot of my inspiration comes from my family and my childhood. My father is an industrial designer and my grandfather was a jeweler and woodworker. I have vivid memories of looking through albums of my grandfather’s works, and going through his origami books, trying to create the designs myself. Those experiences stuck with me, and influence my work. My Kipul collection, for example, is created using one large piece of material that I fold and manipulate. I don’t use any glue or add in additional pieces.

One of your main distribution channels is Etsy. What do you like and dislike about the site?
I like that Etsy provides me with an online store that was easy to create and maintain, and I don’t need to invest a lot into it financially. I also use a similar site, Erayo, a marketplace for wholesalers. Overall, I think Etsy is great, but it’s hard to browse randomly and find something interesting; you have to know where to look. Also, as a seller, it’s very time intensive. I sometimes find myself explaining to customers how to use the site. I even made a video recently to show one customer how to make a payment.

How do you use social media to promote your designs? 
My online strategy is threefold: I have my website, which I use mainly as an online portfolio, with detailed information about my collections, press links, and contact information. On Etsy, I have my online store, and I also have a Facebook page that I update frequently. I use it to promote new designs and collections, and spread the word about upcoming sales and other news.

Facebook is amazing in the way that it produces a ripple effect. A good friend of mine who lives in New York recently came into work to see her colleague wearing one of my designs. When she asked her about it, the colleague said she saw that my friend was a fan of my designs on Facebook, and through Facebook she went to my Etsy page to buy the necklace. It also helped me foster new connections on the distributor end. I connected with a retailer in Palo Alto, California through Facebook and she is currently selling my designs there.

What advice can you give to artists trying to promote their brands online?
The main piece of advice I would give to artists trying to promote their brands is to coordinate the various pieces of their online presence. Try to update your Facebook and Etsy pages around the same time. Also, aim to slowly introduce a collection as opposed to putting everything up at the same time. It gives people a reason to come back more often.