June 28, 2009

Layered Marketing Works on Me

These earrings by Amrita Singh are almost definitely going to be my wedding day earrings, and it was fate that brought us together.

I went to the New York Post's NYC Start-Up event last week for work, and sitting on a panel discussion about successful entrepreneurship along with my company's co-founder was Kevin P. Ryan, the former CEO of DoubleClick. While he was regaling stories of selling that company for $1.1 billion only to have it be sold to Google for $3 billion a few years later, someone asked him what he was up to now. He is involved in many start-ups but mentioned that one of the companies he focuses on is the exclusive shopping site, Gilt Groupe.

My ears perked up right away! Gilt.com is a members only shopping site that offers exclusive sales on designer clothing and accessories for very short periods of time. There are a bunch of sites like this that have cropped up over the past few years, but I consider Gilt and Ideeli to be the only major players.

During the panel, while I was tweeting entrepreneurial advice for Vault and the panelists were discussing the challenges of choosing a business name and finding URLs that haven't been taken yet, I kept thinking about how genius Gilt is, and how even their name is the perfect concept for their site: "Gilt" and "Guilt" are homonyms, just like how shopping for luxury goods is a guilty pleasure. And the notion of exclusivity and "members-only" even though there isn't a fee associated with membership makes you feel like you've discovered something no one else has. And when you get their daily emails about the sales starting and ending THAT DAY, it triggers the heart rate increase that only impulse shopping can.

Now, up until this point I never bought anything from the site (I came THIS CLOSE to buying fantastic Louboutins but I hesitated and they sold out), but I get their emails everyday about their 12pm sales and sometimes take a peak while I'm eating lunch. After the panel discussion ended and the food was served, I checked my Gmail on my phone and the first message was from Gilt Groupe, announcing their sale.

I'd been thinking a lot about wedding earrings and have been hunting down big chandelier earrings in the Etsy wedding section but couldn't find the right Art Deco vibe, so when I saw a jewelry designer in my Gilt promo email, I had to check out the Amrita Singh sale just in case. And, I found her Alexandra earrings!!! I was psyched, and bought them right away. (Hopefully credit card transactions via the iPhone are still secure.)

Now, I know Kevin P. Ryan didn't speak at the event because he wanted to sell more $80 earrings, but he had me thinking about Gilt at the exact moment that they were emailing me their daily promo. Maybe I would've just deleted the message if the day was different and I'm so glad that the double dose of marketing hit me when it did because these earrings are exactly what I've been looking for.

And to further plug the site, I placed the order at around 12:30pm on Wednesday and received the package on Friday morning.

Perfect coincidences like this make me happy :)

June 25, 2009

Wedding Attire - Funny Text Msg

I've been avoiding lots of Rob and Missa wedding talk on ye olde blog but think this exchange via text message is too subtely funny not to share.

We've been discussing what the groomsmen should wear now that my bridesmaids' attire is all figured out, and I've been taking the approach of "it's your decision, honey", but last night when it came up, my fiance suggested we let the guys wear whatever they want and that just can be dangerous...

So this morning an idea hit me:

My text: "Had a vision for our wedding. You in light gray, the boys in black, and my girls in dark gray".

His response: "Grayt"

I chuckled to myself on Spring Street.

June 22, 2009

Top Ten DC-isms That Don’t Fly in Manhattan – Part 1

I was reminded of all the quirks that make Washington, DC so much different than New York City while spending this past weekend in the District, where I lived for nearly four years after college. I’m not trying to be all snobby and list reasons why living in Manhattan is better than living in DC because that’s not the case, but I do want to point out some cultural differences. Here’s the first installment of DC-isms I was confronted with/reminded of this weekend:

10. The Crosswalk Countdown Timer

Instead of relying on a flashing red hand or a little blue walking man to signify that it’s okay to cross the street, DC street signals actually tell pedestrians how much walking time remains until the light changes. This is such a great example of how orderly that city is. They also force to rely on their anal infrastructure because when the countdown clock hits 0 seconds the light changes immediately for on-coming traffic. There is no wiggle room for rule-bending. This nearly killed me when I first got to town because I thought it was counting down your time to START walking, not FINISH, so I once casually started crossing a busy street with 4 seconds left…not smart.

Here in New York, everyone knows that the red hand stops blinking when the cars with the right of way get the Yellow light, so you still have a good 2.5 seconds to rush across the street before the cars piling up get the Green light. New Yorkers don’t obey pedestrian signs anyways so it would never be worth the money to upgrade the signal system to the more luxurious and pedestrian-friendly countdown clock. Everyone stands 8 feet into traffic anyways waiting for a gap in cars to rush across the street. It’s like a contest at the crosswalk: Who’s the most daring New Yorker, willing to walk the farthest into the bus lane. Only tourists stand on the curb waiting for the lights to change.

9. The Definition of

Maybe I’m just being naïve, but when I think of New York neighborhoods undergoing gentrification with the addition of rich young professionals flocking to new sparkling condos, the original neighborhood infrastructure was fairly okay to begin with...that’s why the place was chosen to gentrify—since small improvements could be the tipping point for convincing the white bread, middle class to move in. When my friend Carrie lived up on Malcom X Blvd and 129th Street in Harlem, sure there was some crime, but the brownstones were nice, and there were normal neighborhood functional amenities like Laundromats and bodegas already there, so when the sprawling Mormon Church and subsequent Condos were built, sure they were “nicer” than the rest of the neighborhood, but they didn’t BECOME the neighborhood. They fit into the neighborhood.

This weekend, I visited a friend of a friend’s
fabulous luxury building in the area of DC near New York Ave and 5th Street NW, on the outskirts of Chinatown. This area is in the midst of DC’s version of Gentrification, which apparently means “create a new upper crust neighborhood in the middle of nowhere” rather than make an existing neighborhood nicer so wealthier people want to join its current residents.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this building is AMAZING. Twangs of jealousy came over me when I compared the amenities (fantastic roof deck equipped with grills and a pool, artwork throughout, supermarket in the building, etc) to my expensive though crappy UES walk-up, knowing that if I still lived in DC, my fiancé and I could afford this place. BUT, I was definitely put off by the fact that not only is the building flanked by a huge parking lot but also a set of commercial row houses that include a sketchy strip club and a 3 story burned out, windows-boarded-up shack. When that type of scene exists in a neighborhood, it is not gentrification to build a luxury building. Gentrification would be to fix the abandoned building(s) and otherwise increase curb appeal. Instead, what happens in DC is the hyperbole of gentrification that really doesn’t involve the neighborhood at all.

Photo Credit

June 7, 2009

DVF + Sharpie = Obligatory "Social Media is Awesome" Post

In a series of decisions based on budgetary weakness, I trekked to the DVF Sample Sale last week in Manhattan. [Its easy to rationalize a $125 purchase when the original price is closer to $400.] And so I waited on a 40 minute line in the rain to gain entry into the packed, loud, messy porta-store to look for as many cute dresses in size 6 or 8 that I could carry to the dressing rooms.

I was super excited to find a pink boatneck sheath dress that I knew was from Diane's 2008 Wonder Woman collection. DVF is an icon for a reason and I think her story is the real reason why she has the following she does today.

Anyways, I snatched up the Renda in Raspberry (below) for $125 along with an ugly but funky/cute sample dress that probably never made it to production--a true original that got mixed reviews out in the East Village last night--for $50.

So where does social media come into this? Well, as I was getting ready to go out last night, I took another look at my recent acquisitions and what I thought was blue yarn stuck to the front of my Renda was in fact two very noticeable smudges of blue permanent marker.

The cashier who rang up my purchase put blue marker exes on the dress tags (I guess to reduce their resale value on ebay) and must have accidentally drawn on my dress as well!! I was pissed and decided to go on a mini social media tirade:

I posted my problem to the DVF Fan Page on Facebook, wrote a FB status update, and Tweeted about it to find out how the hell to get permanent marker out of wool.

And lo and behold, Sharpie was listening! I was expecting to hear back from DVF's PR girls with apologies and coupons and stain removal advice, but it was Sharpie instead that must have been tracking their RSS feed of brand mentions on Twitter.

They suggest Amodex. Just bought some on Ebay. Hopefully my new dress will be in wearing condition within the next 3-6 business days. I can't wait to wear it!!!

I still love DVF and would gladly accept coupons and free merchandise to make up for their not-so-conscientious cashier :)
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