It’s always been a dream of mine to attend Fashion Week in New York City. Thanks to a local charity auction, it became a reality a few weeks ago. In April, Wheels of Success, a nonprofit in Tampa that provides automobiles for people in need, held their annual fundraiser. Like many charity events, they had a live auction offering some very cool items. The package I bid on and won was two tickets to go to a show at the 2014 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City.
Fashion Week New York started in 1943 as way to distract from French fashion during World War II, because the fashion industry could not travel to Paris. It was also an opportunity to showcase American designers who at the time were in the shadow of the French Couture houses. Today, New York Fashion Week is the first of 138 Fashion Weeks around the world that kicks off the two main buying seasons, autumn/winter and spring/summer.
Fashion Week in the major markets like NYC, Paris, Milan, London and Berlin are mostly invitation-only events where design houses, fashion brands and their public relations firms invite store buyers, fashion journalists and celebrities to view the new styles, colors and looks that will set the trends for the coming season.
If you are not in the fashion industry, the media, or like me and had an opportunity to snag a ticket through a charity event, you can still attend. American Express Concierge service offers several events ranging from runway shows in their skybox, to private meet and greet events with designers. The costs range from $75-$350 a ticket. I attended two shows, Georgine through the charity package, and Malan Breton, that I purchased through American Express. Another option is to get a gig as a volunteer contact: email@example.com, or try interning for one of the sponsors, designers or a PR firm.
My experience at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was a blast. Beyond the runway productions, beautiful models and my sneak preview of next season’s fashions, I gained insight on how an industry like apparel is adapting to change and how non-fashion brands are now getting in on the spotlight of this international trend setting stage.
Since I was in the city for Fashion Week, my friends at Fox News asked me to come by the studio to provide some footage for their affiliate networks about my observations and what I learned about branding trends. Here’s some of what I said and some other interesting finds.
Fashion Week is a runway for all kinds of brands to take off!
The stage starts with 100,000+ trend and fashion influencers coming to New York City. They’ll add over $25 million to the city’s economy.
7 days of showcasing over 250 designers and savvy brands seeking a connection to the styling crowd will help: journalists pen their stories, trend setters decide what is cool and mass market retailers determine what to knock-off to stock their fast fashion stores.
The critics’ loves and hates, pics and pans direct what is pushed out to consumers and the scan of impact is so much greater than fashion, these style trends will be seen in décor, technology and even food.
The world of fashion influence has a new face.
It’s not limited to the big books of fashion like WWD or Vogue from years past. Today some of the runway’s front row seats were taken by social media tastemakers and bloggers with big fan bases.
You don’t have to be a design house to get in on the action at Fashion Week.
Zappo’s set up recharge stations across the street from Lincoln Center offering weary fashionistas and other industry folks a place to chill, relax and refuel.
Brand visibility never hurts.
Swag, product sampling and placement were alive and well.
My American Express gift bag was full of cool things, my favorite being a commemorative swellbottle.com, the reusable drink container that looks fabulous too. If you’ve not seen these, check them out here. They offer an array of designs, finished in insolated bottles.
Technology and fashion continue to merge.
Samsung was one of this year’s Fashion Week sponsors, showcasing everything from their latest smartphone to their new wearable smart watch at the Samsung Galaxy Lounge. Open Ceremony launched their Intel-powered smart bracelet and other tech brands like Fitbit are partnering with fashion names like Tory Burch. Even Google techies are teaming up with fashion veteran Diane Von Furstenberg – and this is just to name a few. And if you are not that into accessories, just wear a well lit dress by London-based firm CuteCircuit who uses LED technology on its designs to display twinkling lights that react to the wearer’s movement and charge when plugged into a USB. They can also be programmed with customized text or feature designs chosen via the company’s app.
Had a great time in at Fashion Week and look forward to many more. So as you can see, branding is becoming more important than ever, even when you throw tech companies in the fashion world!
Age withers the human machine. It slows down the body and dulls the brain. As young as 35 your major organs start to decline. YIKES! For life-long achievers and supercharged entrepreneurs this can be a disheartening and brutal truth. There are two choices. One, surrender, join AARP and start drinking Ensure®, or two, you can fight it with the same passion that helped you be on your “A” game throughout life.
I’m taking option number two and will remain a relentless warrior against time.
For my body:
This means not looking at exercise as a chore, but an enjoyable event that is guaranteed to make me feel good. I love playing tennis, power walking and hitting the weight room, jamming to my favorite tunes. And it’s never to late to start. I was a total fitness slug and over weight until about the the age of 32, and didn’t start playing tennis until 40.
If you hate the thought of exercise, find some activity you enjoy. There are a lot of fun things you can do to burn calories that don’t require Spandex®. And if you think you are creative now, add 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, and your creative output will significantly accelerate. Research shows the creative boost from exercise can last for least two hours afterward. However, there’s a catch: this applies to the already physically fit. For those who rarely exercise, the fatigue may just make you want to nap and have creative dreams.
For my mind:
I just discovered Lumoisty, online brain training program. They have been running banner advertising on CNN.com. The video ads are extremely well done and advertising works, they converted me into a buyer.
The idea is quite simple. As your brain ages, it naturally looses some of it cognition performance. Your memory gets fuzzy, your attention span shrinks, and your problem solving skills get slow or even disappear. Their online games help you get mentally fit again. Like a muscle, with brain exercises you can reactivate the napping neutrons and get your cognitive brain function back.
Lumosity has over 40 million users exercising their brains and seeing impressive results. Their research shows after 4-weeks of brain exercises, you can achieve a 10-20% increase in cognitive functions. Those functions contribute to a better and happier life.
I signed up over the weekend, and I started today. It was challenging. Some of my scores were pretty pathetic. It took around 30 minutes for four exercises. The cost for an annual subscription is $5.82 a month. They offer family plans, too.
All of the brain exercises are designed like games you play on your digital device. After taking a quick test, Lumosity designs a custom brain training program based on your current functions and your areas needing improvement. They recommend, to achieve optimal results, you exercise your brain 2-4 times a week. They also offer reminders, so you don’t become a slacker. The personalized dashboard shows your progress, which is very cool. I’m going for the three times a week plan and will keep you posted.
I can definitely see the logic behind it.
Use it, or lose it!
If the senior market is important to your business, take note, the stereotype of today’s senior may be as out of date as the CD player.
This weekend I spent some time with my mom. She is 78-years young, lives in a senior community near Tampa and has for the past ten years. She’s healthy, spunky and represents a new breed of well aging consumers. And gives serious merit to the concept of “78 is the new 58”.
5 insights into the new senior consumer
1) The desire for fun does not lighten with age.
When I arrived, the first thing she tells me is: “I want to move. Not out of my community, but out of my neighborhood. Everyone here is too darn old,” she claims. “They’re sick, frail, grumpy, don’t take care of their homes and bottom line, they are not any fun!”
Seth Godin’s tribe theory remains true. Consumers want to be around like-minded people and age is not an accurate means to profile this consumer.
2) Chemical addictions don’t go away, they just change.
My mom has a hair color habit, she drinks sweet wine and even sweeter cocktails (I don’t remember her drinking until she turned 68). She loves a good chocolate fix a lot more often than just on Valentine’s Day.
According to The Wine Institute women drink the lion’s share of wine of the over 800 million gallons sold in US annually.
3) Have road will travel.
Fortunately, my mom and dad saved for retirement, so she has money to spend and she likes to travel. In the past 5 years, she’s visited at least 20 different countries and has covered even more tracks locally on her zippy golf cart. However, she also claims there are much faster models, and she wouldn’t mind having one.
4) It’s never too late to find your inner rowdy, party animal voice.
My mom loves sports, she knows the local team’s players by their first names and goes to lots of concerts and performances. I’ve heard her scream and holler at all of these events, something again I don’t remember from my childhood with her.
5) The fashion bug never flies away.
Frugal she is and also a card-carrying CCC (compulsive coupon clipper), but her annual spending on fashion, shoes and accessories could fund a small village.
Watching my mom enter her aging backwards chapter is quite entertaining as well as enlightening. As it reminds me how when brands are being built, we must remember all consumer segments, their values and buying patterns continue to change.
Being introduced to new experiences can change your perspective on life. They can also change your perspective on how to run your business. Karen Post and the Oddpodz team experienced many new things this past week and we’re sure you’ll enjoy the take-away.
1 – Miracle Whip and Cate Blanchett. What do these two have in common? Differentiating you brand will help you succeed in the long run.
2 – Making history in Saudi and 5 lessons from the experience. Being introduced to global challenges can be very rewarding.
3 – Size can matter. 4 ideas to help your brand impact measure up. Increase your brand memory with objects bigger than life.
4 – Waiting patiently. An oxymoron and opportunity. Don’t wait for your competitors to measure up to you, start creating a masterpiece now.
5 – Have an AT&T iphone? Don’t expect service in NYC. You’ll be disappointed. How some technology can’t always keep up to speed.
If you missed last weeks wrap up, click here.
Raising money, being a profitable venture from the get go and finding a golden opportunity is no easy drill for any entrepreneur.
Ben Huh, a former journalist, says it can be done and he just did it.
His holding company Pet Holdings, which run a slew of comedy-heavy, user-generated stuff, sites that the curate topics are based on user votes and interest in the content. Some of their wacky properties are: I Can Has Cheezburger, also known as LOL Cats, FAIL Blog, which shows user-submitted photos of all manner of things and people that are, well, failing at something and Memebase, that tracks Internet memes. Check all of them out. They are amazingly entertaining.
Under Ben’s leadership the company just raised a $30 million round of Series A financing for expansion. The funding round was sponsored by Foundry Group’s Brad Feld. The two met about one and a half years ago and developed a strong relationship. Feld said, “It’s a combination of a great team, a great leader and an ability to create something that can become a very large media property”. See full story from VentureWire.
In 2007 Ben bought the main Cheezburger site, also known as LOLcats, from two entrepreneurs in Hawaii and built it into an online collection of the funnest pictures of animals with the site’s signature misspelled captions plastered over them.
The company has grown to become the largest humor network in the world with growth to 16 million monthly unique visitors and 375 million monthly page views.
Holy feline!! With traffic like that, it’s no surprise that they earn lots of income from ad revenues and merchandise.
Congrats Ben! and all the cats and folks that helped him build his empire. And thanks for the inspiration.
Is there more room in this market space of completely goofy, user-generated content, weird named ventures? What niches have not been tapped yet and can they dance more than one song?
Top photo credit from I Can Has Cheezburger, author unknown.
Also, check out: 5 tips to manage the painful side effects of progress and change.
It’s freezing in New York, but fun and stimulating!
First thing, check into my hotel. I am staying at a small boutique property on upper West Side (I’ll share the details on this property at the end of my trip). Are you traveling to a big city and want a great deal on cool hotels? I always use Hotwire.com. You can pick the number of stars and which part of the city you want to stay in. You get a choice of many, showing prices and star rankings. I’ve never been disappointed and sometimes save 50% off rack rate.
Worried about bedbugs? Go to Bedbug registry and make sure your chosen hotel won’t have uninvited guests in your bed. My hotel is awesome – it was not listed, WHEW!
Our first adventure: A food tour of the Lower East side via City Food Tours. This is a great way to taste and learn some history about New York’s fabulous food. Most tours are a couple hours long and range from 40-90 bucks per person. They include a knowledgeable guide, outside exercise and samplings of 5-6 culinary bites along the way. We discovered: The Essex Food market, a gem, which houses Roni-Sue chocolates, an artisan spot with truffles and to die for chocolates in every variety. The Pickle Guys, one of the few pickle places around. Economy Candy, a massive store that feels like a mall of a million sweets. The Roasting Plant, a great coffee cafe founded by a former Starbucks staffer who turned a vacuum into a Javabot® coffee roasting system and lastly, one of the best slices of pizza from San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria.
A great afternoon! More marketing commentary coming. Packed agenda.
Robert’s at the Museum of Design.
Prohibition a neighborhood spot for live music acts. Rachel Platton performed and was an amazing, fresh and entertaining sound. She’s a New Yorker who is hitting the world tour scene. Check out her schedule, and check her out.
Went to Jimmy Fallon Live with Jack Black, recap coming, was tooooo much fun and got to hang and dance with the Roots. I’m now the proud owner of an official drum stick too.
Got to run, sorry for the short hand, promise to fill in. Headed to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Review coming too with lots more street stuff.
Working on a plane is nothing new, but FREE Internet access sure is. As I write this blog way up in the sky, Google Chrome is gifting all the passengers with some holiday cheer day via Boingo. Gracias!!
Yeah the weather was just not cold enough in Tampa (32 degrees this last week), so I’m headed to The Big Apple for some creative inspiration, culture, food and yes, Jimmy Fallon, (Tues. night, I know it late for some of you, but it’s a holiday week, take a nap Tues. day).
I’ll be in the city all week, trend spotting, pigging out, drinking good wine, consumer research and sharing with you the Oddpodz readers what I learn on my journey.
I’m so excited and grateful that as an American, an entrepreneur and a free agent I can do this!! Get on a plane, in 2.5 hours be headed to such a cool, freaken, maybe snowy mega of ideas and enterprise and wear my red mittens.
. . . That was fast, flight attendant just gave me that look, “turn off all electronics, NOW”, more later from Manhattan.
Call me crazy, the anti-saving queen, the discount defector, the over spending psycho shopper – I don’t like coupons!
I do like being rewarded with gifts for my loyalty, finding items with extreme value for a fair price and being a recipient of a bonus tied to a purchase. To me that’s all cool. However, you will never see me packing a coupon at a nice restaurant or signing up at Groupon. See end of story of their story.
So what’s the difference?
The difference is: How it’s packaged and the psychological message that accompanies it.
My aversion to discounting started as a child. My mother and grandmother were coupon addicts, my mother still is. So from the get-go it was part of my rebel nature. If my mom did it, I was not going there. (Sorry mom)
Later in life, when I started selling things that I created and built with lots of sweat and investment, a client wanted a fire sale price or discount. I processed that request as if the buyer didn’t see the value in what I delivered; they were uneducated or maybe just cheap, either way my ego was insulted.
As I matured as a business person and understood the costs of goods/services, overhead and profit, paying full price for things was tied to my value system. As an entrepreneur supporting other entrepreneurs and economies I felt it was my duty to pay a business, that provided a quality/valuable product, a fair, and many times full price, so they could be around next year.
I also have been around many whiny people who do not value themselves, always feel like they are a victim and don’t run a business. Their affinity to discounts, and their chest pounding with feelings of triumphant, when a business has to discount—annoys me.
Discounts, two for one, buy one, get one free—all scream desperate, needs sales badly or worse – sneaky marketing.
Maybe my knowledge of business gives me an unfair advantage or my knowledge of life cuts through any faux coupon cloud.
My opinion on coupons and discounts is not universal, I am a market segment (professional, educated, not poor, supports capitalism, high level of quality standards, values principles of business) that certain sellers need to understand and speak to. To get me to buy one needs to package a quality offering, price it in a fair manner and stand behind it with enough resources (that hopefully you’ve earned).
There are many consumers who are not like me (my mother, a college student, a single mom with 4 kids etc.) and successfully selling to them may look different. The recent recession has had an impact on pricing strategies. The key, to discounting or not, needs to align to the values of your buyers.
I’ve witnessed many a brand demise when quality companies resort to deep discounting. Instead they should focus on better communications on their value offering, product experience and performance. Apple , Rolex, Mont Blanc or BMW don’t discount.
Another story, three more important points.
Even though I’ve hammered against the concept of discounts and coupons, today in The Wall Street Journal there is an excellent story on Groupon, an online company that was offered $6 billion from Google and they passed. Groupon offers local, online visitors, daily deals with significant discounts. I applaud their confidence in themselves, the intriguing business model and their success. The story is worth reading. Three messages that stuck with me were, 1.) the founder first started the company on a different path and lost over $1,000,000, Don’t give up! 2.) The founder believes the success of Groupon is credited to the simpleness of the idea vs. the first company concept was complex. Simple is good. 3.) Livingsocial.com is another similar local/discount model and Amazon just pumped $175 million into it. Isn’t business fun!
For more on coupons, view: Are you as consumer savvy with your advertising as you are with your groceries?
I was craving a good escape last night, a movie fix. So I went to two.
Tampa is fortunate to have a fabulous dinner, drinks and movie venue called Cine Bistro. It’s so worth the extra few bucks, no kids, no cramped seats, no kidding. Plus the food ranks up there with any nice, foodie, hip dinning spot. If you live in Tampa, check this place out and support them, so they stick around.
My first flick was Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. Two fine guys and actors. I loved the movie. Great art directing, awesome sound, good casting and an energizing story line that as an entrepreneur was very inspiring. The movie had nothing to do with running your own business, but it had everything to do with fundamental principles that are very relevant to being a successful entrepreneur.
Highlights and my take-aways -
The movie had a simple idea, “a train that could not be stopped”. The simple idea was transformed in a two hour compelling story.
What simple concept do you have in your biz that can be transformed into a masterful story?
The two main characters were regular working class guys both with a skill set, one with limited experience, but had miles of determination.
Sound like someone you admire?
Both characters were dealing with significant personal challenges.
At the moments where stepping up and taking on danger head on, these issues were not present, but the will to succeed was.
Nothing could stop this train.
Does this sound like you? Resilient, tough as steel. If not, make some adjustments.
It was a scary, high risk, against all odds journey.
I know what that feels like. If being in business was easy, every person would be doing it.
Need a little adrenaline rush this week, see this movie.
The second movie I saw was Love and other Drugs
Well for me this flick was not a walk out movie, but, certainly not a must see either, on a 1 to 10, I’d give it a 6. What I would give it is “The trailer was much better than the actual movie award”. Which is always disappointing.
The love story was sappy and predictable. The sex scenes were very present, along with some great camera shots and editing. Ann Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal seem to have good chemistry, even though the story was on the light side. What stuck in my head most about this film was not a dating, love relationship message, but the state of how sometimes creepy and corrupt the pharmaceutical companies and doctors relationships are. See CNN story on branding of conditions, Kind of made me feel sick.
Anyhow, Movies are good medicine for entrepreneurs. They keep you grounded with moral messages and can expand your mind with some extreme fantasy all in the same day. Movies can teach us, about market segments, typography treatments, promotions, product placement, casting and character creation, creativity, brilliant story telling and remind us that sometimes even boring and stupid things can make money too.
If your brain needs some feeding today, take a break and go see a movie.
For more on how to be unstoppable, view: 5 things that helped us get our creative mojo back.
I have a pile of business books that I have been meaning to read, and I am now determined to finish them by the end of the year. I had a great excuse last week when my power went out. I ran my laptop until the battery died. When it did, I decided not to relocate to a place where I could power up and sat down to read instead.
I started with Seth Godin’s Tribes. It is a collection, I believe, of blog posts on leadership. If you are an entrepreneur, or if you work for a company and have the desire to champion a cause, this book will help ignite that fire. A few key takeaways for me were:
1. The definitions of a tribe and its dynamics. “A tribe is a group of people, connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate. Tribes need leadership. Sometimes one person leads, sometimes more. You can’t have a tribe without a leader–and you can’t be a leader without a tribe.”
2. A tribe is formed when someone sees a group that is asking to be led. For example, “Fox News didn’t persuade millions of people to become conservative; they just assembled the tribe and led them where they were already headed.” Capitalize on a non-obvious moment/opportunity; get there first.
3. A manager is not a leader. A manager operates within the status quo of the “factory.” The leader sees an opportunity to do things differently (and better) and sees a group that is willing to move toward that change. The leader doesn’t wait to be asked to lead, he or she just does it.
4. The internet provides unprecedented opportunities for leaders and tribes to connect. One person with a YouTube.com account can impact the world in 24 hours with the right video. The power quotient has shifted. Just look at the power of blogging, anyone can broadcast their thoughts or ideas and lead or form a tribe.
5. Necessary ingredients for a tribe leader. Genuine passion and charisma – if you don’t have that, people will see through you and a tribe won’t follow. Authentic generosity – a true leader doesn’t need credit for his or her ideas, he or she is happy for them to be spread. The ability to use criticism to improve, curiosity, heresy (vs status quo), faith, remarkability, fearlessness, leadership/empowerment, passion and reinvention.
6. Recipe for starting a micromovement: a manifesto, connectablity and tracking progress. Making money can’t be the ultimate goal of the micromovement, that will guarantee its failure.
7. Persuasion: don’t start with opposition, seek the uncommitted passionates.
8. Elements of leadership: challenge status quo, create culture, be charismatic, communicate vision, connect.
9. Do not get stuck in the way things were or are, get busy turning things into what they could be.
10. Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking for forgiveness later.
11. True leaders understand that change is not only omnipresent, but the key to success.
12. Great leaders listen to tribe members. However, truly great leaders can listen to the other opinion, still do what they had intended and retain loyal tribe followers. He used Ronald Regan as an example of a leader with this quality.
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