Advertisements



15 celebrities who love shopping at Costco

From former presidents to the music industry's biggest names, even celebrities are known to shop at Costco. President Barack Obama greets an employee in the bakery at a Costco store in Lanham, Maryland, in 2014.ISP POOL images/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Costco is a retail chain beloved by many, including celebrities. In 2020, Lana Del Rey described the chain as "a happy place." Other stars like John Mayer and Ryan Seacrest have also touted their love for Costco. From former presidents to the music industry's biggest names, even celebrities are known to shop at Costco.In 2020, Lana Del Rey shared a series of photos from a recent trip to Costco, calling it "a happy place." Billie Eilish, the Kardashians, and prominent politicians have also touted the grocery-store chain for its deals and selection. Here are 15 celebrities who love shopping at Costco.Billie Eilish said she's a huge fan of Costco's Kirkland-brand peanut butter.Billie Eilish at the world premiere of "Barbie."Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagicIn a series of Instagram stories in November 2021, the "Bad Guy" singer shared how she makes her favorite peanut-butter cookies. She also took a moment to call out Costco's brand of organic peanut butter, which she said she "uses for everything." In 2020, Lana Del Rey shared a series of photos from a trip to Costco, calling it "a happy place."Lana Del Rey.Joseph Okpako/Getty ImagesThe photos showed smoke from the Santa Clarita forest fires over a range of mountains, as well as a snap of the singer wearing a face mask and posing in what appeared to be the Costco parking lot.Publicist and television personality Kelly Cutrone commented on the Instagram post, saying, "I've never been to Costco, what's it like?!"Del Rey replied, "Stunning. But you have to be very aggressive. And I found it strange I was the only one riding along on my cart doing wheelies I mean it's a happy place, get happy?"In January 2020, a photograph of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, shopping at Costco made the rounds.Mark Zuckerberg.Charles Platiau/ReutersThe photograph, first published by TMZ, appeared to show the tech mogul and his wife, Priscilla, perusing the TV selection at a Costco store, which according to TMZ was in Mountain View, California.In 2008, Megan Fox was seen leaving Costco with her then-husband, Brian Austin Green.Megan Fox.Kevin Mazur/AMA2020 / Getty ImagesAccording to Costco Blog, she was spotted leaving with a shopping cart loaded with toilet paper and Kirkland products.Mandy Moore was spotted stocking up on essentials at a Los Feliz, California, Costco in 2011.Mandy Moore.Mike Blake/ReutersA paparazzi photo showed Moore and her assistant with a cart loaded with toilet paper and other household necessities.The Kardashian-Jenner clan are also fans of Costco.Kylie Jenner.Photo by Jackson Lee/GC ImagesIn a photo released by US Magazine, sisters Kylie and Khloe were seen shopping hand-in-hand and wearing matching outfits at a Costco store in Los Angeles in 2014.Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner also described herself as "a bulk girl," adding that Costco is her favorite store for stocking up.Kris Jenner.Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesWhen asked if her home was prepared for earthquakes, she said in an interview with Alex Israel, "I am! I am like a Girl Scout. I am the most earthquake-ready person you would ever meet. I have fire extinguishers, and backpacks full of supplies, and I have flashlights and water ... I practically have a bunker."She continued, explaining her grocery shopping practices: "Big, big, big," she said. "Go big or go home."In 2014, John Mayer said on Twitter that he had just made his first visit to Costco and joked that he "went nuts" at the store.John Mayer.Photo by Robert Knight Archive/Redferns"Went to a Costco today. I don't think I've ever been. Went nuts. Now I'm juicing and carbonating and brewing everything in sight," the singer tweeted.Mayer also helped a pair of Costco's Kirkland sneakers to go viral after joking on Instagram that he paid $700 to a reseller to get his hands on a pair.Ryan Seacrest revealed himself as a fan when he gifted Justin Bieber with a Costco membership for his 18th birthday.Ryan Seacrest.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images"I've known you for a few years and I've been waiting for this moment because there's something I've wanted to give you on your 18th birthday," Seacrest said on his KIIS-FM radio show in 2012, US Magazine reported. "It's something that I love," he continued. "My buddies and I used to use this [membership] quite a bit when we were roommates. It's a lot of fun."Jessica Alba was photographed shopping at Costco in downtown Los Angeles back in 2010.Jessica Alba.Dia Dipasupil/GettyThe Daily Mail reported that the actress turned businesswoman was stocking up on electronics, including a TV and DVD player.Bethenny Frankel has spoken about her love for Costco, calling it her "religion."Bethenny Frankel.Roy Rochlin/Getty ImagesIn a Bravo TV blog post, the former "Real Housewives of New York" star wrote, "I live for bulk stores in general, but Costco is, as I said, my religion. There are always all of these random great finds there, from king crab legs to dried blueberries.""You definitely need to have a big household or split with a friend," she continued. "It is best to buy there when having a large party or purchase what you use on an ongoing basis."Ashlee Simpson was seen leaving a Costco store in Los Angeles in 2011.Ashlee Simpson.Photo by Getty Images/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagicPaparazzi photos showed Simpson with her son Bronx and a female companion, who wheeled a shopping cart loaded with groceries from the retail chain.Former president Barack Obama appears to be a big fan of the warehouse chain.President Barack Obama greets an employee in the bakery at a Costco store in Lanham, Maryland.ISP POOL images/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesDuring his time as president, he visited Costco stores and touted the retailer for its "good wages" and benefits, the Washington Examiner reported in 2013.Costco cofounder Jim Sinegal is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, and the company even donated funds to Obama's 2012 campaign.Mitt Romney wasn't fazed by Costco's Democrat connections back in the Obama years.Mitt Romney.Associated Press/Rick BowmerThe New York Daily News reported that the Republican politician was seen at a Costco store in La Jolla, California, in 2012, wheeling out a cart stuffed with supplies.Rudy Giuliani was spotted shopping at a Costco in Reno in 2007.Rudy Giuliani.AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinHe was photographed buying a selection of DVDs, socks, and a book about Richard Nixon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

18 of the longest-lasting female friendships in Hollywood

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's four-decade friendship began with the movie "9 to 5," while Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez met as teenagers. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin together on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2020.Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images February 13 is Galentine's Day — a day for women to celebrate their female friendships. Some female celebrities have found lifelong friends in other A-listers.  Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin's four-decade friendship began with the movie "9 to 5." Galentine's Day is officially here, which means it's time to give your female friendships the love and attention they deserve.Whether your friendship began with a near-death experience like Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek, or you bonded over boyfriends like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, the women of Hollywood serve as a great reminder that there's a friendship origin story for everyone to celebrate.So, take a break from last-minute Valentine's Day shopping, give your best friend a call, and see which of these celebrity best friends you relate to most.Tina Fey and Amy Poehler met at a Chicago improv club in 1993.Tina Fey and Amy Poehler onstage at the 2024 Emmy Awards.Monica Schipper/Staff/WireImage/Getty ImagesBack when Poehler and Fey were cutting their teeth in the improv circuit, they met at Chicago's ImprovOlympic theater. In her 2014 autobiography, "Yes Please," Poehler recalls meeting Fey for the first time. "[ImprovOlympic co-founder Charna Halpern] said there was another new improviser in another one of her classes whom she thought I would really like. Her name was Tina and she was like me but with brown hair," she wrote.The two had their own show at ImprovOlympic for a bit before joining the legendary "Second City" improv troupe. Since that fateful meeting 30 years ago, the duo has gone on to host the Golden Globes, star in the movie "Sisters" together, and has created some of the most beloved "SNL" skits in recent history. Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah met as teenagers in the '90s.Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith in 2016.Paras Griffin/Getty ImagesPinkett Smith first saw Latifah at a club in Baltimore where the then 17-year-old rapper was performing. "I'd never seen anyone like her before, this female rapper named Queen Latifah," Pinkett Smith told People in 2017. "I convinced the promoter to let me introduce her."In the more than 30 years since that night, the two have become best friends, starring in the 1996 film "Set It Off" and 2017's "Girls Trip" together. "Jada and I can have whole conversations where we haven't really said anything, but we've said a lot," Latifah told People.Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz's sisterhood started when they were teenagers.Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in 2003.Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty ImagesMore specifically, it started over a cup of coffee.Back in the '80s, Diaz, 16 at the time, grabbed a cup of joe from the coffee shop Barrymore worked at. As reported by E! Online, the two maintained a low-key friendship until, in 2002, Barrymore offered Diaz a role on the "Charlie's Angels" reboot she was producing.Since then, the two have developed an unbreakable bond, with Barrymore telling Entertainment Tonight's Lauren Zima in 2018 that she considers Diaz her sister. "We have much more of that kind of relationship, we're very honest with each other," Barrymore told ET. "We push each other. And we've had the majority of our lives spent side by side, really going through what real life is, which is an everyday high and low and we just have each other's backs."In September 2020, Barrymore invited Diaz and fellow "Charlie's Angels" star Lucy Liu to be the first guests on her talk show, and they spoke about their friendship."The thing that I love about our friendship is that we have been there in all the big and important moments, we've also been there in the small moments and the casual moments and the reason we are such good friends is because it's real and we go through real stuff with each other. It's not a Hollywood fairytale," Barrymore said.A snowstorm brought Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King together in 1976, and they've been best friends ever since.Winfrey and King have been friends since their early 20s.Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & ChandonOver four decades ago, Winfrey and King worked at the same Baltimore news station as a news co-anchor and production assistant, respectively. When a snowstorm prevented King from driving back to her house in the suburbs, Winfrey invited King to stay with her. After staying up all night talking, the two quickly moved from colleagues to friends. "I believe God put the two of us in each other's path to do exactly what we've been doing since that night in Baltimore when I was 22 and she was 21," Winfrey wrote in a 2019 article for her O Magazine. "Listening. Listening. Talking. Listening. Laughing (a lot). Building dreams. Standing in the gap. Cheering. Being a shoulder to cry on. Supporting. Speaking the truth. Being the truth!"In September 2021, in her new Oprah Daily series "The OG Chronicles: Joy Ride," Winfrey said that King has been on every vacation with her and her longterm partner, Stedman Graham, since 1993."The three of us have had a wonderful time," King said in the episode. "If I was the third wheel, I didn't know it! If Stedman didn't like me, that would've been tough."Winfrey added, "If Stedman didn't like you, Stedman wouldn't have lasted. Husbands and boyfriends come and go. Best friends last forever."Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox are the best of friends in real life, too.Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston in 2018.Steve Granitz/WireImageIt's a bit serendipitous that Aniston and Cox met on the set of "Friends." After acting alongside each other for a decade, the two developed a special bond that has only strengthened throughout the years. Aniston is the godmother of Cox's daughter, Coco, and when Aniston married now ex-husband Justin Theroux in 2015, Cox was her maid of honor. Aniston then returned the favor and was Cox's maid of honor in 2018. Aniston told More in 2014 that she and Cox have experienced the highs and lows of life together."I've slept in her guest bedroom a lot," Aniston told the outlet. "Without giving away too much of my private stuff, all I can say is she's been there for me through thick and thin."In their 20-plus years of friendship, Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek have been through a lot, even a near-death experience on a plane while dressed as clowns.Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek in 2005.Amanda Edwards/Getty ImagesWhile flying to Mexico to film the movie "Bandidas" in 2004, the actresses' plane had to make a pretty serious emergency landing that involved depressurizing the cabin and wearing oxygen masks. Even worse, the flight was on Halloween, so, naturally, Cruz and Hayek were dressed as clowns. "I've never liked clowns, even as a kid, but after this experience [I like them] even less," Cruz told People in 2017.  In the years since, the two have become one of the most adored friendships in Hollywood. They even have a cute nickname for each other, which Cruz explained to Allure in 2014."She's one of my best friends. We call each other 'huevos' [eggs]," Cruz said. "It was because when we were working together, we didn't have children yet, so we used to sleep much more than now. So it was a way to call each other lazy. We slept in the same bed so many times, and it was like she was always trying to wake me up and call me 'huevos.'" Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin met on the set of "9 to 5" in 1980 and have been besties since.Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin together on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in 2020.Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty ImagesThe "Grace and Frankie" stars began working together more than 40 years ago after Fonda, who was co-producing "9 to 5," stumbled onto Tomlin's one-woman show "Appearing Nitely." "What can I say, I was smitten," Fonda told Stephen Colbert in 2017. "I said I don't want to make a movie about secretaries unless she's in it." In addition to the time they've spent together on screen, Fonda and Tomlin are dedicated climate activists — Tomlin was arrested at one of Fonda's climate protests in 2019. Together they've answered the internet's most searched questions about themselves and even did a TED Talk in 2016 celebrating their decades-long friendship. Sanaa Lathan and Regina Hall have known each other for over 20 years.Sanaa Lathan and Regina Hall in 2018.Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty ImagesDespite often competing for the same roles, the two have become such good friends that they refer to each other as their "human diaries."In 2018, Hall was recognized at the Step Up Inspiration Awards for her commitment to mentoring young women in Los Angeles. Lathan presented Hall with the award and dedicated a heartfelt Instagram post to her friend. "Had the pleasure of honoring my bestie @morereginahall today at the Step Up inspiration awards ... So proud of you Regina you inspire me and so many others. Love u and congratulations!" Lathan wrote. Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman attended the same high school, but they really bonded while on set in 1991.Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman in 2015.Charley Gallay/Getty ImagesWatts' and Kidman's 30-year friendship started while filming the 1991 movie "Flirting," but the two had known of each other for many years. They actually attended the same high school and were part of the same Australian theater company. "We've gone through a lot together over a significant amount of time. That history binds you," Watts told People in 2017. "We have a strong respect and love for one another."Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams have been besties since meeting on the set of "Dawson's Creek" in 2001.Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams in 2016.Mike Coppola/Getty ImagesIn the 20 years since Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams met, the two have become the definition of friendship goals. Williams is the godmother of Philipps' daughter, and she was extremely supportive to her friend after Heath Ledger's death in 2008. "I'm so in love with her," Williams told People in 2016. "She's proof that the love of your life does not have to be a man! That's the love of my life right there."Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove met as teenagers on the set of "iCarly" in 2007, and they have remained friends since.Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove.Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesIn Jennette McCurdy's 2022 memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died," the Nickelodeon star shares details about the beginning of her friendship with Cosgrove. She referred to their friendship as a "source of camaraderie and emotional support" during her difficult childhood. According to McCurdy, after meeting Cosgrove on the set of iCarly, the two spent hours each day talking on AIM. She recalls being drawn to Cosgrove's "distinct and hilarious personality.""So many of the things she said made me laugh," McCurdy wrote. "Her way of observing things — people, habits, human nature. I loved her. And I was so excited we were becoming friends."Cosgrove spoke to E! News in 2022 about McCurdy's decision not to join the "iCarly" reboot, stating that it is a "different show without the Sam character.""If she ever wanted to come back, of course, the door would always be open," Cosgrove said.Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler have been friends since high school.Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler in 2008.BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesHudson and Tyler both attended the Crossroads School For Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica during the '90s, according to The List. Ever since, the two have been best friends. Early in their careers, the two co-starred in the movie "Dr. T and the Women," in which they share an on-screen kiss. On "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in 2017, Hudson said the two still talk about their kiss all the time. "We're like, 'We should've gone for it more.' It was so sweet, you know? It was such a sweet kiss. We should've just really made out," she said.Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini have known each other for years but only starred in their first movie together in 2018.Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini in 2018.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty ImagesRemini first met Lopez in 2004 because she and her husband, Angelo Pagán, were close with Marc Anthony, Lopez's boyfriend at the time. Remini remembers being wowed the first time she met J Lo. "He was like, 'She's the love of my life, blah, blah, blah,'" Remini recalled in a 2018 Los Angeles Times interview. "As I was walking up to the table, I was like, 'Ugh, God, you're even prettier in real life.' She started laughing, and I was like, 'Ugh, and you have a sense of humor even?'"The two became fast friends and have been frequently spotted in public together in the years since. Lopez stood by her friend and supported Remini's decision to leave the church of Scientology in 2013. Five years later the duo starred in their first movie together, the romantic comedy "Second Act." Remini told the LA Times she said yes to her role before even reading the script because she trusted Lopez so much. The 2010 Super Bowl brought Meghan Markle and Serena Williams together.Meghan Markle, Serena Williams participate in the DirecTV Beach Bowl at Pier 40 on February 1, 2014 in New York City.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DirecTVBefore becoming royalty, Meghan Markle met tennis star Serena Williams at the Super Bowl in 2010. Their friendship began to blossom when they met for a second time in 2014 — once again, at the Super Bowl. Meghan became an avid supporter of Williams, attending many of her tennis matches and celebrating her wins.Soon after the beginning of their friendship, Meghan discussed their bond on her now-defunct blog, "The Tig," stating, "We are both the same age, have a penchant for hot sauces and adore fashion, but what connects us more than those things is perhaps our belief in exceeding expectations – our endless ambition."In 2017, when Williams announced her pregnancy with her daughter, Meghan told Vogue, "She will be an amazing mom. The very best, because she is so attuned to balancing strength and sensitivity."Williams attended the royal wedding in 2018, and documented the experience on Instagram, writing, "So my friend is getting married today... I've known her for so many years, and I'm so happy for her."Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez became friends when they were each dating a Jonas brother.Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty ImagesIn 2008, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez dated Joe and Nick Jonas, respectively, and quickly became close friends. In 2017, Gomez joked that their long-lasting friendship "was the best thing we got out of those relationships."When Swift released her album "1989" in 2014, Gomez posted a collage of photos of the two of them on Instagram, writing, "From hotel room album listening parties, kitchen dance floor album listening parties to driving on the [porch], windows down album listening parties. -The best part is we were the only ones there. Each time. So happy, honored and proud to know you and your diaries."Swift sent Gomez a cake for her birthday in 2018, referencing one of Gomez's songs in her Instagram post, writing, "Will I let distance stop me from celebrating my best friend's bday? I MEAN I COULD BUT WHY WOULD I WANT 2."And in 2022, Gomez referred to Swift as her "only friend" in the music industry, telling Rolling Stone, "I never fit in with a cool group of girls that were celebrities. My only friend in the industry really is Taylor [Swift], so I remember feeling like I didn't belong."Malika Haqq was dating one of Khloé Kardashian's friends when the pair became inseparable.Khloé Kardashian and Malika Haqq in 2018.Rich Fury/Contributor/Getty ImagesIt's no secret that Khloé Kardashian has been through a lot. Luckily, her best friend, Malika Haqq, has been by her side since they were only 15 years old.Cosmopolitan reported that Kardashian referenced their friendship's beginning on her blog, writing, "Malika was dating one of my male best friends. He would always keep us apart because I am sure he knew we would just hit it off. One day we met and we did. Malika and [her twin sister] Khadijah have been my best friends ever since."Since then, they've embraced not only life's struggles, but its successes, too. One highlight of their friendship came in 2018 when they collaborated on BECCA Cosmetics' BFF Collection. In an interview with Bustle in 2019, the pair explained that their long-standing friendship made working together an easy process."We know our strengths and our weaknesses — who is stronger at what — and that's a blessing of a real friendship," Kardashian told the outlet.The two are still going strong, with Haqq notably sharing her love for her best friend in an Instagram post last year after one of the pair's candid conversations was documented in a season three episode of "The Kardashians" on Hulu.Haqq wrote in part, "No human has more grace with life and its challenges. Please hear me loud and clear, I will forever have your back."Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone have been friends for over a decade.Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone at the Governors Awards in 2017.Rob Latour/Variety/Penske Media via Getty ImagesLawrence and Stone's friendship famously began with a shared "stalker" they called "John the Orchestra Guy.""Jennifer Lawrence and I both had the same stalker, John the Orchestra Guy," Stone told W magazine in 2018. "He would text us both and say things like 'I'm running late on my way to the soundstage. Can you warm up the orchestra for me? Text me back and let me know you got this.' He wasn't really a stalker. He must have worked at a studio or something because he had a lot of people's numbers."Lawrence and Stone ended up texting every day for a year before finally deciding to meet in person — only to fear that they'd been unknowingly communicating with "John the Orchestra Guy" the whole time. A quick phone call revealed it wasn't him, and the two have remained close ever since.Lawrence recently displayed her affection for Stone at the 2024 Golden Globes in January. The friends were both nominated for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical: Lawrence for "No Hard Feelings" and Stone for "Poor Things."When Lawrence's name was read during the award nominations, she jokingly mouthed to the camera, "If I don't win, I'm leaving," Variety reported. However, when she lost to Stone moments later, she immediately jumped to her feet to clap and cheer.Victoria Monét and Ariana Grande first met when Grande was still on Nickelodeon.Victoria Monét and Ariana Grande performing at the One Love Manchester Benefit Concert in 2017.Getty Images/Dave Hogan for One Love Manchester2024 is the year of Victoria Monét and Ariana Grande, but their friendship actually started over a decade ago when Grande was beginning to work on her debut album, "Yours Truly," StyleCaster reported.Monét helped write the album's first track "Honeymoon Avenue," and has since contributed to some of Grande's biggest hits like "Be Alright," "thank u, next," and "34 + 35." The two even have a song together called "MONOPOLY," where they sing, "I'm so thankful working with my best friend, she the cheat code."Now, they're on track to have a standout year. Monét already won three Grammy awards and Billboard Women in Music's Rising Star Award, and Grande is preparing to release two upcoming projects: her album "Eternal Sunshine" in March, and the film adaptation of "Wicked" in November.The besties have repeatedly been supportive of each other's career growth. E! News reported that Grande was quick to praise Monét's Grammy wins on her Instagram story, writing, "My friend you deserve this one million times over. I am so deeply proud and happy for you there are no words. You have worked so hard and given so much of yourself to this industry for so, so long while quietly being in your absolute own league."They even appeared to reunite recently, attending Super Bowl LVIII together alongside Grande's "Wicked" co-star Cynthia Erivo.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 13th, 2024

Wealthy Californians are ditching the state for the "Beverly Hills of Arizona"

Paradise Valley, nestled in the desert hills between Phoenix and Scottsdale, is drawing wealthy Californians. A property in Paradise Valley, Arizona, at the foot of Camelback Mountain.David C Tomlinson/Getty ImagesParadise Valley, dubbed by some the "Beverly Hills of Arizona," has seen an influx of wealthy Californians.Movers come for the privacy, luxurious lifestyle, lower taxes, and quality of life.The movers are coming from across the state, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.Ken Sawyer didn’t initially plan to leave California.The cofounder of Saints Capital previously lived in San Francisco with his wife, who also works in venture capital, and had a second home in Napa. But when the Napa home burned in the 2017 wildfires, they decided to get a home in Colorado instead of rebuilding.“After being there and realizing some of the dynamics and quality of life and the benefits that were there, we decided maybe we didn’t need to be in California,” he told Business Insider. In 2019, after considering about five cities as potential places to move, Sawyer and his wife settled on Paradise Valley, Arizona, and have not lived in San Francisco since. Sawyer is one of many Californians who swapped Silicon Valley for Paradise Valley. According to census county-to-county migration data, Santa Clara County, where Silicon Valley is located, has been losing more residents to Arizona recently.From 2011 to 2015, Maricopa County received an average of 1,127 residents from Santa Clara County each year. From 2016 to 2020, that average increased nearly 38% to 1,555.Paradise Valley, which has been called by some the “Beverly Hills of Arizona,” is nestled into the desert hills between Phoenix and Scottsdale in Maricopa County. In 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported millionaires from around the country were flocking to the affluent suburb.Joan Levinson, a luxury real-estate agent in Arizona who helped Sawyer find his home, said Paradise Valley provides privacy and spacious lots for its residents while still being a quick drive to city amenities like shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. It also offers natural beauty, less traffic than California, and lower taxes.The community has long attracted celebrities like Muhammad Ali, who died in 2016, and Stevie Nicks, as well as several billionaires, including Bennett Dorrance, the Campbell Soup heir worth an estimated $3.1 billion, and Bruce Halle, the founder of Discount Tire, who died in 2018.An aerial shot of the golf courses and swimming pools of Paradise Valley, Arizona.Tim Roberts Photography/ShutterstockOf the more recent wealthy out-of-state movers coming to Paradise Valley, Levinson said the No. 1 state they are coming from is California.“The ability to live in Paradise Valley really provided us with a quality of life that's far superior,” Sawyer said, adding his kids can now run around outside with more freedom than before.“We love San Francisco,” he said. “But it stopped providing the public education that we wanted, stopped providing the safety that we wanted.”People are moving to Paradise Valley from several counties in CaliforniaOther wealthy California counties like Los Angeles and Orange County are also losing people to Arizona. Los Angeles County, which has a population of over 9.7 million, lost 8,614 residents to Maricopa County on average each year from 2016 to 2020 — a 48% increase from 2011 to 2015.Arizona real-estate agent Kelly Jones told BI that Paradise Valley has always been a luxurious part of Arizona, but when prices started to rise country-wide during the early stages of COVID, the prices of the undiscovered enclave of Paradise Valley stayed firm for a while.“Our prices hadn't been climbing like everybody else — we were the last frontier,” Jones told BI. “That's basically how we looked at it. We were the ones on the map that hadn't really been discovered. And then we got hit.”The $2,870,000 median sale price in Paradise Valley is larger than the $1,190,000 and $957,000 price tags in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, but where homeowners are saving is taxes, Jones said.“California as a whole has taxes that have been really hurting everybody, and they're looking at the cost of living there versus here,” she said. “It's a lot cheaper to live here.”Taylor Graber and his wife, Amelia, moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, which is also in Maricopa County, from San Diego — which lost an average of 5,206 residents to Maricopa County annually from 2016 to 2020.Taylor and Amelia Graber moved from California to Arizona for its favorable income tax and to be closer to family.Taylor GraberGraber estimated that his household income was taxed 9.3% in California and only 4.5% in Arizona, a difference that can result in a substantial amount in savings.Sawyer also noted the taxes in California but said the issue was that he did not feel like the money was being well spent, adding that public schooling, police, and infrastructure were still lacking. “I think San Francisco squandered much of its opportunity for good governance,” he said.There’s also a growing tech scene in Arizona, making it easier for people like Sawyer to make the move. “Every month, there are more and more people both in the tech world as well as from California more generally,” he said, adding that part of the appeal of Arizona is that it’s still close to California, compared to tech hubs like Austin and Miami.Sawyer said he still thinks California is an amazing place and that things could change in the future if the state decides to become more business-friendly.But for now, his family is happy in Paradise Valley, and he and his wife are still close enough to visit San Francisco and Los Angeles as needed.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 13th, 2024

Inside New York Fashion Week where subtle luxury still reigns supreme

Attendees of the Badgley Mischka runway show at New York Fashion Week said they're still fans of the quiet-luxury trend that took over last year. A view of the Badgley Mischka runway during New York Fashion Week.Dia Dipasupil/Getty ImagesQuiet luxury was everywhere at Badgley Mischka's runway show during New York Fashion Week.Influencers, celebrities, and fashion fans told BI they think the trend is timeless.The show itself was also representative of the style, featuring neutral outfits and elegant fabrics.When Badgley Mischka took over the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York City, one thing was clear: quiet luxury is here to stay.Influencers, celebrities, and friends of the designers packed into the industrial venue on Saturday, carrying designer purses in hand and wearing chic coats on their backs."Gossip Girl" star Kelly Rutherford mingled with Jonathan Cheban of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" fame, and Adrienne Bailon-Houghton shared a bench with model Madisin Rian.The duo behind the brand — Mark Badgley and James Mischka — greeted such guests via notes left on each seat, explaining how the fall 2024 line was inspired by the luxury and reality of living in New York City."This collection is about the precision and drama of Park Avenue glass towers and the velvet-lined floral cocoons in their lobbies," the note read. "It is a dance we love to do, of control and extravagance."With that in mind, it's probably not surprising that those in attendance told Business Insider that they're in line with Badgley Mischka — luxury is best served subtly.A model walks the Badgley Mischka runway during New York Fashion Week.Amanda Krause/Business Insider"Quiet luxury speaks for itself. I feel like less is more," influencer Daisy Marquez told BI.Elizabeth Woods, the mom and manager of Jordyn Woods, agreed. Because she usually prefers shopping on a budget, she doesn't flaunt her more expensive pieces when she wears them."I'm always quiet luxury," she said while pointing to her Cartier glasses, which were a gift from her daughter Jordyn.Elizabeth Woods attends the Badgley Mischka runway show during New York Fashion Week.Amanda Krause/Business InsiderAnd Dhaval Bhanusali, the dermatologist behind Hailey Bieber's skincare line Rhode, was right there with her."I think there's a fine appreciation for art that's important, but a lot of times, you don't necessarily have to shout it from the rooftops," he said. "I will always go with quiet luxury."The loud rise of quiet luxuryA few months into 2023, quiet luxury emerged as a major trend.Thomaï Serdari, the director of the fashion and luxury MBA program at NYU's Stern School of Business, previously told BI that the trend consists of "the highest quality" clothing that's timeless, sophisticated, and simple.Think neutral colors and thick fabrics. Now pair them with classic accessories: gold jewelry, black sunglasses, and leather purses. You've got yourself the ultimate quiet-luxury look.Some also describe it as the "old money" aesthetic, or dressing like a wealthy fashion icon from decades past. Members of Gen Z, like Sofia Richie, are especially fond of the style.Sofia Richie in New York City on September 9, 2023.Jeremy Moeller/Getty ImagesOf course, it hasn't risen to the top without competition. Though quiet-luxury status symbols are everywhere in 2024, some fashion fans are making the case for loud luxury looks — or outfits that feature logos, out-there silhouettes, and bolder colors more prominently."Quiet luxury had its moment, and the moment has passed," costume designer and stylist Molly Farrell-Savage told BI. "I'm from Connecticut, where quiet luxury is the thing, so I just see so much that I'm over it."But even fashion fans who understand loud luxury say it's still not the best look.Eva Marcille, a former "America's Next Top Model" winner and "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" star, told BI that quiet luxury will always remain the ultimate sign of style."I think people want to go loud luxury because, after COVID and everything that's happened, there's fashion from two seasons that we couldn't wear," Marcille said. "But less is more. It's still all about simplicity."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 12th, 2024

Taylor Swift"s gameday outfits are a touchdown for fashion brands

Taylor Swift was a staple at NFL games this season, and her gameday outfits have inspired thousands of Swifties to support the brands she's worn. Reed Hoffmann/AP; Ed Zurga/AP; RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group; Rebecca Zisser/BISwifties are in their shopping era.From buying rare Taylor Swift merchandise and expensive Eras Tour tickets to bejeweled concert outfits, no cost has been too high for her most dedicated fans in recent months.All the while, Swift has been embracing her new status as a WAG, the phrase used to describe wives and girlfriends of professional athletes. She attended 12 Kansas City Chiefs games during the regular season to support her boyfriend, NFL star Travis Kelce, and her fashion choices stole the show each time.Some of her looks mixed designer coats with Louboutin shoes, while others focused on Chiefs gear and affordable jewelry. Every time, she looked like the ultimate girl next door, and Swifties couldn't get enough.In fact, they've been so invested in her football looks that thousands have purchased matching pieces for themselves and wiped inventory from brand warehouses in the process.Shop owners and designers told Business Insider that interest in Swift-worn pieces is so high that they've been unable to catch their breaths, even weeks after the singer promoted their businesses.And with the Super Bowl on the horizon, many are bracing themselves for the next wave of the Taylor Effect.Taylor Swift attending an NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins.Ed Zurga/AP PhotoTaylor Swift and small businessesWestside Storey has been a staple of Kansas City, Missouri, for over a decade. The boutique offers a range of apparel, artisan products, and Kansas City-themed merchandise that tourists and locals love.But everything changed when an online shopper bought $1,200 worth of vintage sweatshirts from the shop in October 2023. The owner, Chris Harrington, initially thought the charge was fraudulent before realizing it was "tied to Taylor Swift somehow," he previously told BI.His suspicion was confirmed when Swift wore one of the sweatshirts to a game in December — and business exploded.Taylor Swift attends a Kansas City Chiefs game on December 10, 2023.Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesFourty-eight hours later, Westside Storey had hundreds of orders and its best December sales to date, Harrington said. Interest hasn't slowed in the weeks since."During a live drop on our website pre-Taylor, we would have about 30 to 50 people shopping, and we'd sell about half the items," he said. "The last couple of drops, we've had anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 people on the website, and stuff sells out in five minutes."Harrington is even more surprised by the real-life impact of Swift's business."People are still coming in because they heard about Westside Storey, and they don't even want a vintage sweatshirt," he said. "They just want any item from Westside Storey, anything associated with Taylor." View this post on Instagram A post shared by #westsidestorey (@westsidestorey) Emily Bordner, the founder of the Kansas City boutique EB and Co., experienced the same phenomenon in late January when Swift wore a jersey-shaped ring with Kelce's number, 87, on it to the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens.The $14 ring was designed by Bordner for her store and was later gifted to Donna Kelce, among other jewelry, in the hopes she'd wear it and share pieces with Swift.Taylor Swift hugs Travis Kelce while wearing an EB and Co. ring.Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesWhat Bordner didn't expect was the swarm of Swifties who followed when the musician actually did."We immediately sold out of the hundred we had on hand within the first 30 minutes," she said of Swift being photographed wearing the ring. "Now, we have close to 1,200 on preorder."Bordner said EB and Co. received so many online orders — rings and other items — that she had to close her store for half a day to catch up, posting a sign on the door that read, "We are closed today due to Taylor Swift.""It was our best day, our best week, our best month ever," she said. "My life has changed, and I know that my business has fundamentally changed."Emily Bordner (left) and the sign she left on the EB and Co. door.Emily BordnerWestside Storey and EB and Co. are just two of the many small businesses impacted by Swift and her fans.Harrington said his girlfriend and partner, Kathryn Cacho, has sold 300 beanies through her brand Kut the Knit after Swift wore one of her designs in December.Taylor Swift attends a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots on December 17, 2023.Danielle Parhizkaran/The Boston Globe via Getty Images"That was honestly even more insane," Harrington said of the experience. "It was really cool for us to sell the vintage sweatshirt, but in retrospect, it's not like we created and designed it. We just found it, and she supported us. But when Kathryn included her beanie in the order, she put her little Kut the Knit card in there. So for Taylor to almost endorse the brand and knowingly wear that product is just another level."Missouri-based bracelet brand Erimish sold thousands of the exact design Swift wore in October when the Chiefs played the Los Angeles Chargers, the cofounder, Misha Wilson, told BI. She added that sales overall have increased around 3,000%.And Wove, the luxury jewelry brand that created the "TNT" bracelet Swift wore while hugging Kelce on the field after the AFC Championship game, earned six figures in sales as a result of Swift, according to the CEO, Simone Kendle."Our site traffic has increased 5,000%. Our social-media followers more than doubled, and our jewelry sales are up over 2,000%," she told BI.Diamond tennis bracelets made for Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce by Wove.WoveWestside Storey and EB and Co. said they have also hired more employees to help meet the demands of Swiftie shoppers, while Erimish extended its employee hours."We usually have a little bit of downtime for everybody to take off during the holidays, but our girls have been busy," Wilson said."She's a blessing without even knowing it," she added of Swift.A boost for big businessMajor fashion and accessory brands are also benefiting from Swift's army of fans.Part of the musician's coveted outfit at the AFC Championship game in January was a $44 golden necklace from the BaubleBar x Wear by Erin Andrews collaboration.The brand, which sells both luxe pieces and affordable ones at retailers like Target, has long boasted a loyal customer base that includes jewelry fanatics and celebrities.Taylor Swift wears a BaubleBar necklace while embracing Travis Kelce.Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesBut Swift's impact was "enormous," Baublebar cofounder Daniella Fiala told BI. Not only did the brand's Chiefs necklaces sell out that night, but she said the waitlist to purchase one now surpasses five figures."We're no longer a small, 10-person startup — we're bigger than that — but we're not Amazon," she added. "There are tons of people who have no idea who we are, and Taylor Swift is the biggest star in the world. So for her to put a spotlight on the brand has a massive impact from an awareness standpoint across the board."Sheertex, the rip-resistant brand of tights that Swift regularly wears, experienced the same phenomenon.The company's executive vice president, Samantha Colby, told BI that stock of the $99 pair Swift wore to the AFC Championship game sold out immediately afterward.Athletic gear is no longer just for dads, Brads, and ChadsBeyond sales, those in charge of fashion and accessory brands say Swift's biggest impact is arguably on the athletic gear industry at large.Whereas team-themed clothing and accessories have traditionally been made for men — or the dads, Brads, and Chads, as Swift lovingly referred to them in a Time interview — a major star like Swift advocating for female-focused sports merchandise is huge, with the Taylor Effect bringing interest in themed apparel to another level. BaubleBar, for example, secured a licensing deal with the NFL in 2021 and has seen success since."We've heard a lot of feedback from women who are really avid sports fans and go to games," Fiala said. "And they say, 'I love your pieces because I can wear something that represents my team that I'm passionate about and love, but it doesn't have to be an outfit takeover.'"And now, NFL deals are spreading across the industry. Sportico reported that designer Kristin Juszczyk, who is married to San Francisco 49ers player Kyle Juszczyk, signed a licensing agreement with the organization after stars like Swift, Brittany Mahomes, and Simone Biles wore her creations at football games.Taylor Swift attends a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 13, 2024.Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesNo sleep 'til the Super BowlWhile Swift might inspire thousands to shop the same brands she does, her fans are actually the ones who have really made a difference to businesses.Bordner said she's working nonstop ahead of the big game so Swifties and other shoppers can get their merchandise in time."It's just been so crazy," she said. "I have been so in the trenches with fulfilling orders and trying to get them out the door as soon as we can. I haven't had a chance to look at what the numbers are. We just want to make sure we get stuff to people as quickly as we can."On the other hand, businesses like Westside Storey are just taking things one day at a time after its brush with the superstar.But purchases, Harrington said, have stayed strong and continue to grow as the Chiefs head into the Super Bowl."It's taken on a second wind again," he added. "Our online drops, our in-store stuff, our new shirts, everything's going really well, and it keeps going for us. I don't know when it's going to end."And the businesses who've been impacted by Swift hope it never does.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 9th, 2024

The 6 best flower delivery services to order fresh blooms this Valentine"s Day

We ordered 39 bouquets to find the best online flower delivery services so you can shower your loved ones with gorgeous flowers this Valentine's Day. When you buy through our links, Business Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreFresh flowers make a thoughtful and easy gift. We ordered 39 bouquets from 16 brands to find the best flowers for all occasions.Lauren Savoie/Business Insider Whatever the occasion, fresh flowers are a thoughtful way to show someone you care and that you're thinking of them. With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, classic roses coupled with the best chocolate are a foolproof Valentine's Day gift idea no matter the stage of your relationship and can easily be ordered online. There are now dozens of flower delivery services offering unique bouquets, trendy arrangements, and even subscriptions. We ordered 39 arrangements from 16 popular brands to find the best online service for delivering fresh, attractive flowers that arrive on time. We found that when it comes to the best online flower delivery services, there are a few that stand out from the rest. For instance, UrbanStems creates some of the most stunning floral arrangements around, but if you're in a pinch, FTD connects you to local florists for same-day delivery and plenty of affordable options. For flower-giving holidays like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, try to order early for access to the best selection and discounts. However, be prepared for delivery surcharges during these high volume times. Our top picks for the best online flower delivery servicesBest overall: UrbanStemsUrbanStems makes some of the most stunning bouquets we've found and offers something for everyone, with a diverse selection of fresh flowers, dried flowers, plants, gifts, and subscriptions.Best same-day delivery: FTDFTD offers hundreds of bouquets, gifts, and plants for delivery in all 50 states and 150 counties, with many options for same-day arrival.  Best fresh roses: Roses OnlyAs the name implies, Roses Only sells just one product, but it does it remarkably well, delivering some of the most pristine, stunning, long-stemmed roses we've ever seen.Best preserved roses: RoseBoxPreserved roses are incredibly popular and can last more than a year with proper care. We love Rosebox for preserved roses because of its robust selection of arrangements, vases, and colors.Best farm-fresh: Farmgirl FlowersFarmgirl Flowers offers unique and playful arrangements that change with what's in season and with many blooms sourced from California farmers.Best subscription: BloomsyBoxBloomsyBox offers à la carte bouquets and plants, but its wide variety of subscription plans is where the service really shines.Best overall: UrbanStemsLauren Savoie/Maria Del Russo/Rachael Shultz/Business InsiderPrice range: $45 to $264Delivery area: Lower 48 statesSame-day delivery: Yes, in DC, NYC, Jersey City, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami on orders placed before 2 pm ET.Next-day delivery: YesShipping: $10 to $30, depending on delivery date and methodValentine's Day shipping cut-off: February 13th at 3 p.m. ESTShop all flowers on UrbanStemsPros: Lots of options to choose from, including dried bouquets and plants; attractive floral designs in a range of styles, sizes, and pricesCons: Some testers noted flowers lasted a few days less than other brandsIf you're searching for the perfect flower arrangement, look no further than UrbanStems. They offer a robust selection of modern, fresh bouquets, along with plants, candles, and subscriptions, making it a one-stop shop for all your Valentine's Day needs. Their diverse selection ensures that you can find something unique and personalized to your recipient's taste. You can browse according to delivery location and intended delivery date to see the most updated availability. We tried the Juliet, Luna, and Double the Pink Champagne fresh bouquets, along with the  Claude plant, a Chinese money plant. We also tried a dried bouquet, which is no longer part of UrbanStems offerings. Everything arrived on time and in excellent condition. The arrangements were some of the freshest, most attractive bouquets we tested and were filled with lively, creative blooms in a range of colors.Read our full review of UrbanStems.Worth a look:Best same-day delivery: FTDLauren Savoie/Jenny McGrath/Business InsiderPrice range: $40 to $225Delivery area: All 50 states, 150 countriesSame-day delivery: YesNext-day delivery: YesShipping: Starts at $17.99 and varies based on delivery date and order totalValentine's Day shipping cut-off: February 14th local timeShop all flowers from FTDPros: Orders filled by local florists; a large selection of bouquets, plants, and giftsCons: Experience can vary based on which florist fills your order; designs are more traditional and less modernWhen you need to send flowers fast, a floral wire service is your best option. Florists' Transworld Delivery Service (FTD) has been in the flower delivery business for more than 100 years and partners with local florists to fulfill and deliver orders in all 50 states and more than 150 countries. In many cases, you'll also have the option of same-day delivery. The arrangements lean toward more traditional colors and flowers instead of more modern or unique designs.Compared to other similar floral wire services, we had a better experience with FTD. The bouquets and plants we received were fuller, fresher, and in better condition than blooms from 1-800-Flowers. Of course, since orders are typically filled by local florists, your experience may vary depending on who ultimately fills your order.If you need to send flowers quickly, for Valentine's Day, internationally, or to hard-to-reach places, FTD is the best same-day service we've found for last-minute florals. They're also our top choice in terms of offering the best value. Read our full review of FTD.Worth a look:Best fresh roses: Roses OnlyLauren Savoie/Katie Decker-Jacoby/Business InsiderPrice range: $49 to $669Delivery area: Lower 48 states and internationally to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and SingaporeSame-day delivery: Yes, in San Diego onlyNext-day delivery: YesShipping: $18Valentine's Day cut-off: Order from the curated Valentine's Day Collection before February 11th at 1 p.m. PSTShop all roses on Roses OnlyPros: Stunning roses; beautiful presentation; long-lasting flowers; available in quantities from six to 100Cons: Limited product and color choices.Roses are such a big seller that we made sure every arrangement we received as part of this guide included at least some of them. Having seen the spectrum of what's out there, we can confidently say that Roses Only delivers the most pristine, long-lasting roses we've found.So much care is put into the delivery: The cartoonishly perfect long-stemmed roses (which you can order in quantities of 6-100) come packaged in a long, elegant box with a linen ribbon, and every rose has its own water reservoir to ensure it arrives pristine. The roses themselves are flawless, with big velvety petals. They lasted about two weeks and gradually opened up until each bud was about palm-sized.At about $8 per flower, Roses Only sells some of the most expensive roses out there, but if it's just fresh roses you're after, no flower delivery service does it better.Worth a look:Best preserved roses: RoseBoxLauren Savoie/Maliah West/Hannah Freedman/Business InsiderPrice range: $109 to $1,399Delivery area: All 50 states, international availableSame-day delivery: Yes, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx onlyNext-day delivery: YesShipping: $0 to $30, depending on delivery date and order totalValentine's Day shipping cut-off:  February 7th Shop all preserved flowers on RoseBoxPros: More than 20 rose color options, many container types, smell and look like fresh roses, can last a year or longer with proper careCons: Don't have the same feel as real rosesIf you've been on Instagram lately, chances are you've seen these trendy preserved roses somewhere on your feed. Usually packed into boxes or displayed in a classic ball arrangement, these flowers are incredibly popular with influencers and celebrities. We tested three preserved rose brands and found the quality very similar. Ultimately, we chose RoseBox as the best preserved roses for its diverse color and display options. We particularly liked that its plentiful display containers had discreet branding or none at all, unlike other preserved rose brands that cover containers (which can't be separated from the flowers) with logos.  Almost all of RoseBox's 90+ products can be customized with 25 or more different rose color options. One of our testers opted for turquoise, while others chose more classic red and pink varieties. Preserved roses are expensive, no matter what brand you choose. A single preserved rose will cost you anywhere from $109, which is the same price as a full-sized bouquet from most of our other top picks. Expect a medium-sized array of preserved roses to cost about $300. That said, they can end up being an economical alternative to buying flowers every week. We're eager to see if our arrangements live up to their purported longevity.Worth a look:Best farm-fresh: Farmgirl FlowersLauren Savoie/Connie Chen/Business InsiderPrice range: $59 to $139Delivery area: Lower 48 statesSame-day delivery: NoNext-day delivery: Possible, but not guaranteedShipping: $25Valentine's Day shipping cut-off: February 13th, but varies by delivery locationShop all bouquets from Farmgirl FlowersPros: Whimsical, in-season blooms, each bouquet is unique, moderately priced, offers some rare flowers; some florals are grown in the US Cons: Surprise bouquets are not ideal if you have specific flowers you want to include or avoid, some customers report wilting or short-lived bloomsIf you're after an arrangement that looks like it was recently plucked from the garden, Farmgirl Flowers offers inventive and playful bouquets based on what's in season. Farmgirl's flagship offerings are the Fun Size, Just Right, and Big Love bouquets (formerly Mini, Midi, and Maxi). You don't get to choose what you receive; instead, Farmgirl puts together a bouquet based on what's available and in season. The company's website and social media give you an idea of what to expect, but every bouquet is slightly different, giving it a special, unique feel. We received a Just Right and a Big Love, as well as another Just Right sent to a tester in California. We loved that the arrangements had a whimsical, wild shape, and they were gorgeous from every angle. The Just Right and Big Love both appeared the same size when we first received them, but after a few hours in the water, the Big Love's closed buds opened up to create a fuller bouquet. If you're looking for a unique and personalized touch to your Valentine's Day flowers, Farmgirl Flowers is a great choice, with a special dedicated Valentine's Day section, with some bouquets shipping free. Farmgirl also offers a few dozen specialty bouquets, including some rare blooms like flower breeder David Austin's Patience roses.Worth a look:Best subscription: BloomsyBoxLauren Savoie/Business InsiderPrice range: $45 to $110Delivery area: Nationwide, except Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto RicoSame-day delivery: N/A for subscriptionsNext-day delivery: Yes, N/A for subscriptionsShipping: Free with subscription; $16.99 individuallyValentine's Day shipping cut-off: February 13 at 12 p.m. EST for next-day deliveryShop all flower subscriptions on BloomsyBoxPros: Multiple weekly and monthly plans to choose from, offers month-to-month and prepaid plans, bouquets are gorgeous, a la carte bouquets and plants availableCons: Don't get to choose which flowers are in your bouquet, which might not be a good option for those with allergies or petsFlower subscriptions are a great way to brighten someone's day on a more frequent basis — or to liven up your own home with regularly scheduled blooms. BloomsyBox offers a robust fleet of weekly and monthly subscription options at reasonable prices. You can pay month-to-month or save a few dollars by prepaying for 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions. While the retailer also sells a la carte bouquets and plants, its subscriptions offer the best value.We tried BloomsyBox's priciest subscription: Its NYBG Collection. Each bouquet in the subscription is curated by the New York Botanical Garden's floral experts and features in-season blooms. A portion of the subscription goes to supporting the NYBG's plant science and conservation efforts.We highly recommend BloomsyBox's subscriptions to anyone looking for a bit of floral cheer on a regular basis. It's a nice treat each month to get an email saying a new bouquet is on the way. Worth a look:How we tested flower delivery servicesCaitlin Petreycik/Lauren Savoie/Business InsiderTo find the best flower delivery service, we conducted hands-on testing of every brand in this guide. We ordered two to three arrangements from each brand, evaluating the selection, ordering, and delivery process. We sent bouquets to testers in different parts of the country — including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, rural Colorado, and suburban Connecticut — to see if quality and delivery time varied based on location. In all, we tested 39 bouquets from 16 brands.What to look for in flower delivery servicesLauren Savoie/Business InsiderHere's what we looked for in the best flower delivery service:Ordering: We scrutinized the ordering process of each service, noting whether the website was simple to navigate, what the product selection was like, and how easy it was to place an order. We also looked at shipping options and estimated delivery times.Delivery: We noted whether the arrangements arrived when they said they would (all did), evaluated packaging, and looked at the condition of the flowers when they first arrived. Testers across the country compared notes; we found delivery times and quality consistent across the country.Quality of flowers: We looked for full bouquets of lively-looking flowers that matched the description and photo of the arrangement we ordered online. We read all care instructions and followed them meticulously, noting how long the flowers remained fresh enough to display. Consistency: A good flower service should deliver quality blooms no matter the location of your recipient. Our testers across the country took photos and detailed notes about delivery and bouquet quality to compare experiences.Budget: When choosing a flower delivery service, it's important to consider your budget. Flower prices can vary widely, and some delivery services charge more than others for their arrangements. To stay within your budget, consider shopping around and comparing prices from different florists. You can also look for seasonal flowers or less expensive options to help keep costs down.Packaging, customization, and extras: Customization options are important, especially if you want to add a personal touch to your gift. Look for a service that offers a variety of vase options and add-ons such as chocolates, balloons, or stuffed animals. Some services even offer personalized messages or cards that can be included with your delivery.How to keep flowers freshTrim the stems: When cutting, it's important to use a sharp, clean tool to prevent damage to the stem. By cutting at an angle, you create a larger surface area for the stem to absorb water, which helps keep the flowers hydrated and fresh. Clean the water: Changing the water every 2-3 days helps prevent bacteria growth and keeps the water fresh, which in turn helps the flowers last longer.Put your flowers in the right location: Keeping your flowers in a cool and shady spot is ideal, but it's important to note that some flowers have different temperature preferences.For example, tropical flowers like orchids and anthuriums prefer warmer temperatures while others, like roses and hydrangeas, prefer cooler temperatures. So it's always a good idea to check the specific care instructions for the flowers you have.Feed your flowers: It's important to use lukewarm water and add floral preservatives or a tablespoon of sugar to the water to nourish the flowers. Additionally, make sure to recut the stems at an angle before placing them in the fresh water.FAQsLauren Savoie/InsiderWhen should I order flowers for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and other popular holidays?While many flower delivery services offer next-day delivery for most of the year, all bets are off when it comes to major holidays like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. When ordering around popular holidays, a safe bet is to place your order two weeks in advance of the day you want the flowers delivered. This will ensure you have plenty of arrangements and delivery dates to choose from. We've also noticed companies offering discounts to those who shop early. Is it safe to have fresh flowers around pets?It depends on the types of flowers. The ASPCA maintains a comprehensive list of flowers and plants and whether they are toxic or safe for dogs and cats. It's important to remember that certain plants can still be toxic to animals even if they are kept out of reach; pollen and other airborne spores can get into the fur of animals and be ingested during grooming. If you're ordering flowers for a household that has pets, it's best to stick with a service that allows you to see the types of flowers in the arrangement before ordering. Some brands, like Fresh Sends or subscription services, don't allow you to preview the bouquet before it's sent, which could land you with a bouquet that isn't pet-safe.Our top pick, UrbanStems, lists the type of flowers in each arrangement so you can check to make sure it's safe for your pet. Check out our guides on 11 pet-friendly houseplants and the best pet-friendly plants.How long do fresh flowers last?A lot depends on how recently the flowers were cut before they arrived at your home. Flowers can be cut hours, days, or weeks before shipping to you, greatly varying their lifespan in your home. On average, however, you can expect fresh flowers to last five days to a week in a vase with good care. If you're interested in longer-lasting flowers, preserved roses or a dried bouquet are great options.What's the best way to keep fresh flowers alive longer?Some ways to extend the life of your fresh flowers include cutting the stems before putting them in water, using flower food in the water (often supplied with the bouquet, but can be homemade), and changing the water whenever it gets discolored or cloudy. You can read more tips for keeping flowers fresh here. Remember that you don't have to trash the whole bouquet if a few flowers are dead or wilted; just remove the dead flowers and rearrange or tighten the bouquet as needed (you may need to downsize to a smaller vase). Hardy flowers with woody stems (like roses) can last several weeks with proper care.   What are the best types of flowers to buy?When in doubt, roses are a great pick. They're long-lasting, easy to care for, and largely pet-safe. You can get roses in all colors, shapes, and sizes to suit any recipient. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 5th, 2024

I"m a Canadian who"s lived in NYC and Toronto. Quality of life is better in Canada, but I still prefer the US.

After years of living between New York and Toronto, I think the quality of living is better in Canada. But I still prefer the US for a few reasons. The author (not pictured) is Canadian and has enjoyed living in the US. edb3_16i/Stock / Getty Images PlusI've spent years living between New York City and Toronto. I prefer the United States even though the quality of living is better in Canada.Canada has great healthcare, but I prefer shopping and consuming pop culture in the US. After eight years of living between New York City and Toronto, I find the quality of living is better in Canada.For starters, Canada has universal healthcare and lower rates of crime.And yet, as a Canadian, I still prefer living in the US — particularly New York City — over my home country. Here are just a few reasons. I think Americans are friendlier than Canadians The stereotype is that Canadians are nice, and I think that does hold true. But I find Canadians are more polite, and Americans are friendlier.Canadians can be quite reserved — we keep to ourselves in public and typically only engage with others if they need help.In my experience traveling across the US and meeting Americans abroad, Americans are often chattier than Canadians.Some Canadians may think this behavior is obnoxious, but as someone who spends a lot of time alone, I relish the chance to have an unexpected conversation with a stranger.Americans love pop culture, and so do I I think pop culture is way more exciting in the US than in Canada.Canada's a big player in the entertainment industry, but it doesn't always get credit. Canadian celebrities, like Ryan Gosling and Matthew Perry, are often mistaken as Americans.Plus, Canada is frequently used as a filming location for movies and shows that are said to be set in the US on screen.Ryan Gosling is Canadian but he stars in tons of American films. Karwai Tang/Getty ImagesThe culture around celebrities in the US feels different, too. We Canadians love to gossip about stars, but in the US, the celebrity culture feels like its own kind of religion, discussed as zealously as politics.The US also has a better selection of shows and movies to stream.Canada has streamers like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Netflix, but the selection isn't as good as it is in the US. I can't watch popular streamers like Hulu, Max, and Peacock in Canada, either. The variety of grocery stores in the US has also impressed me There's not a lot of grocery-store competition in Canada, which also means there's not a ton of variety or competitively low prices. I like Canadian grocers like Loblaws and Farm Boy, but a lot of the stores look the same to me. In the US, there are countless grocery chains, and within each unique store, a cornucopia of brands to discover.In NYC alone, I can grocery shop at my corner bodega, a farmers market, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Aldi, or Stop & Shop — and the selection in each place will be vastly different.Even within certain food categories, like yogurt, I've found the US has more options when it comes to flavors and brands. Of course, population plays a part, and NYC has more store variety than many places around the US. Still, I like that it's got way more options than even Canada's biggest city, Toronto. And, overall, I much prefer shopping in the US There aren't Target locations in Canada anymore. Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins/InsiderConsumer culture is the only thing that feels stronger than celebrity culture in the US. I love the novelty of big American retailers like Target and Nordstrom, which are no longer in Canada. And when I — in true Canadian fashion — feel like avoiding the crowds and want to shop online, I'd rather do it in the US. A lot of global retailers I like offer fast, and sometimes even free, shipping within the US. When shopping online from Canada, I often wait several days or weeks for a delivery (if what I want is even available to ship to Canada). Cellphone service is also way more affordable in the USWhen I told my American friends that my friend in Toronto paid 100 Canadian dollars for a long-distance call from NYC, they were shocked. They didn't realize long-distance charges still existed. I wasn't surprised — Canada's cellphone rates are among the highest in the world, especially when it comes to data plans. Part of the problem is that Canada is a sparsely populated country with a lot of ground to cover with cellphone towers. In the US, I've found lower rates and plans that give me better data access and coverage while traveling internationally. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 30th, 2024

The 26 best jewelry brands you can get online 2024

If you're wondering where to buy affordable fine jewelry in 2023, our style editors rounded up the best online jewelry stores and brands to shop from. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreWhether you're looking for dainty pieces or statement jewelry, we've got you covered.Samantha Crozier/Ana LuisaWith its inaccessible prices, technical terminology, and nebulous production practices, the world of fine jewelry is intimidating to step into. For a generation that cares simultaneously about value, style, sustainability, and ethics, it can be challenging to find the best online jewelry stores that meet our criteria. But with direct-to-consumer jewelry companies taking center stage, no middlemen or mark-ups mean that you can pay a palatable price that's closer to the true cost of making that beautiful gold necklace. We did a full review of Ana Luisa and love how well the pieces hold up, even if you shower and swim with them. Other than Ana Luisa, we've found that Quince's jewelry selection is a great hidden gem for fine pieces that deliver on quality. These trustworthy online jewelry brands, hand-selected and tested by our style editors, will make the decision easy without overcharging you in the process.Best overall: Ana LuisaAna LuisaAna Luisa makes affordable jewelry that's designed to last. In fact, each piece comes with a two-year warranty so you know you won't be left with a snapped chain or a ring with stones missing. Though their jewelry is mostly dainty, the pieces really stand out. I own their Meesh Necklace, one of their bestsellers, and I get compliments on how beautiful and shiny it is every time I wear it. Plus, I have a nickel allergy, which means that low-quality instantly gives me a rash. Every piece I've bought from Ana Luisa is fully hypoallergenic and feels great against my sensitive skin.Read our full review of Ana Luisa to see more of our favorite pieces. Best affordable fine jewelry: QuinceQuinceFor minimalist styles at a minimal cost, Quince has a collection of solid gold jewelry that starts as low as $50. Similar to Italic, Quince is able to offer solid gold and diamond jewelry at affordable prices by cutting out the middleman.If you're looking for exceptionally dainty pieces, this is where you can pick up a pair of 14-karat gold hoops for less than $50 and a simple 14-karat gold stacker ring for less than $70. The minimalist designs and low prices make Quince an easy destination for rounding out the foundation of your jewelry collection.Best under $100: GorjanaGorjanaIf you love the "I-just-threw-this-on" jewelry look, you're going to want to check out Gorjana. If you haven't heard of it already, this Laguna Beach-based brand is well-loved for its range of affordable, gold-plated pieces that range from simple and dainty to funky and trendy, which pretty much all cost under $100. If you want something a little more luxe and have extra room in your budget, Gorjana recently introduced a line of fine jewelry that's made up of solid 14-karat gold and diamonds. Read our full review of Gorjana.Best for unique pieces: Awe InspiredAwe InspiredAwe Inspired makes some of the most unique and meaningful pieces we've found, and is beloved by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Halle Berry, and Meghan Markle. Awe's signature line is its collection of goddess-inspired necklaces ranging from mythical goddesses like Athena, the Greek goddess of heroic endeavor, to real-life "goddesses" such as Harriet Tubman.If you don't know which goddess suits you best, Awe has a quiz you can take. And while the goddess collection offers plenty of swoon-worthy pieces, it's just the tip of Awe's offerings — you'll also find meaningful pieces inspired by amulets, affirmations, the zodiac, and more. Not only do all the pieces feel unique and personalized, but they're surprisingly affordable, with most necklaces coming in at under $200. Best for quality basics: MejuriMejuriToronto-based startup Mejuri, founded by a former art director and a former engineer and third-generation jeweler, drops new pieces every week of the year, and without fail, its largely female clientele return again and again to its 14-karat gold, gold vermeil, and sterling silver jewelry that's made for everyday wear.Mejuri's mission is to have women "embrace a daily dose of luxury." With plenty of under-$100 options, it makes fulfilling this mission very achievable. Read our editor's review of Mejuri's pearl hoops, and check out our full review of Mejuri jewelry.Best for fine jewelry: Ring ConciergeRing ConciergeDon't let the name fool you — in addition to the gorgeous custom engagement rings you'll spot on its Instagram page, Ring Concierge has a full line of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to own and wear for a lifetime.As true fine jewelry pieces, RC requires a larger budget than many brands on this list, but if you're looking to splurge on a tennis bracelet or a simple diamond stacking ring, you can find it for lower markups than many big-name jewelers. Many of the top sellers fall under $1000, including stacking rings and diamond ear cuffs for less than $200 that are a perfect entry point to building your collection.Best for personalization: BaubleBarBauble BarBaubleBar is a great place to find both quirky pieces and classics that will last you many years. The pieces range from trendy jelly slider bracelets that you can customize with your name to elegant, gold-plated pieces. Bauble Bar also has partnerships with places like Disney and the NFL to produce pieces like Mickey Mouse earrings or football helmet pendants that make great gifts for the super fan in your life. For more of our favorite pieces, see our review of BaubleBar.Best for gold jewelry: AurateAUrateAurate offers both minimal, everyday pieces as well as bold statement pieces, so you can create a well-rounded jewelry collection. Everything is crafted in New York City, which also means that NYC dwellers can enjoy same-day delivery of 14- and 18-karat gold, AAA pearls, and ethically sourced diamonds (the rest of the country gets free shipping). Read our full review of Aurate jewelry.Best trendy: CatbirdCatbirdKnown for its delicate rings and transparent sourcing, Catbird is the epitome of cool jewelry. At Catbird you can find delicate $48 rings alongside sparkly engagement rings. It's fully transparent about the source of its materials and donates 1% of all sales to non-profits including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.In addition to jewelry that's crafted in-house, Catbird is home to other designers and beauty and home goods. Catbird is also famous for its "permanent bracelets," which you have to go into the store to have welded onto your wrist. While they do have brick-and-mortar locations in New York, we've found that it's more reliable as an online jewelry store because there are more options.Best for quirky pieces: Susan AlexandraSusan AlexandraThe name of the game with Susan Alexandra is fun. The brand is famous for its campy and trendy beaded handbags, like the Ash Bag, and their jewelry line embodies the same sense of whimsy. In fact, they have a whole section of beaded fruit earrings and offer a crafty make-your -own jewelry option that lets you pick your own colorful charms.Best for little diamonds: ItalicItalicItalic is an online retailer where you can find clothing, handbags, home goods, and more that are made in the same factories as designers like Miu Miu and Prada — just without the label and for a fraction of the price. Recently, it added fine jewelry to the mix. You can now pick up timeless additions like diamond necklaces and solid gold huggie hoops for as little as $225 and $150, respectively. For more info on how Italic works, read our full review. Best for earrings: StudsStuds/FacebookWhen earrings are all you're after, Studs has a wide assortment to create your perfect earscape, making it atop pick as one of the best online jewelry stores for delicate earrings. It's here you'll find hoops of all sizes, simple studs, and huggies with cute charms that range from cowboy boots to lava lamps. What they all have in common is a dainty size and aesthetic that makes them easy to layer on your lobes. (If you're looking for large statement earrings, your time is best spent elsewhere.) If you need another piercing to accommodate your new pieces, Studs can help you with that, too, at one of its physical locations. 14-karat gold plating keeps the prices low, with starting prices at $14 for a single earring. Read our full review of Studs.Best for statement pieces: SequinSequinSequin makes jewelry that's stylishly eclectic. You can find necklaces made of baroque pearls, chokers adorned with astrological symbols, and gemstone earrings made to ward off the evil eye. Their selection of semi-precious pieces are beautifully designed to stand out. Plus, you can even make your own necklace by choosing from an array of ornate charms and gold chains.Best for everyday pieces: Stone and StrandStone and StrandStone and Strand produces its own high-end jewelry and curates other like-minded brands on its site, creating an online space where shoppers aren't intimidated to explore fine jewelry. Most pieces are made of 14-karat solid gold — though you can also find more affordable gold-plated options — and the diamonds and gemstones used are ethically sourced and conflict-free. It's one of the best online jewelry stores for everyday pieces, including an exceptional collection of layering rings and necklaces.Read our full review of Stone and Strand.Best for lab diamonds: VraiVraiSkeptical about buying diamond rings online? Vrai helps to streamline the process. This downtown LA-based company only uses solid gold and Diamond Foundry diamonds, which are physically and chemically indistinguishable from mined diamonds, and created using solar energy.Vrai's simple and timeless pieces will delight minimalists and anyone who hates to be plagued by pages and pages of choices. Couples should take advantage of its free home try-on program for wedding rings, which decreases the pressure of choosing the perfect ring. Read our full review of Vrai jewelry.Best for custom fine jewelry: NoémieNoémieNoémie specializes in both timeless designs and custom pieces that feature conflict-free stones. While you can find classic tennis bracelets and playful diamond studs, we think its custom design option offers exceptional value, making it one of the best online jewelry stores for custom pieces.You simply describe your dream piece and budget, and the designers at Noémie pull together original designs for you to choose from. Our editor recently used the service to make a custom wedding band to fit around a tear-shaped engagement ring and loved being part of the design process. For truly one-of-a-kind pieces, Noémie is worth checking out.Best for tennis necklaces: DorseyDorseyIf you've ever admired the sparkling diamond necklaces worn by celebs on the red carpet but felt like the look was entirely out of reach, then consider Dorsey. The online jewelry brand makes statement pieces that would fit right in at an awards show, yet because they're mostly made from lab-grown white sapphires and plated sterling silver, the prices average around $200-$500.Dorsey also has the option to splurge on lab-grown diamonds that fall in the $2,500-$4,500 range – not quite spare change, but still far less than red carpet jewels that regularly run $1 million or more. The brand's signature collar necklaces and tennis bracelets are standouts you can wear with everything from a T-shirt to an evening gown.Best for hammered gold pieces: Page SargissonPaige SargissonBrooklyn-based designer Page Sargisson makes custom pieces that run well into the thousands, but you'll also find plenty of more affordable options as part of the 10 karat and silver collection. Everything is made by hand out of solid gold or sterling silver and includes pieces like an opal-studded evil eye necklace ($575) and tiny stud earrings ($32).Best for ethical pieces: SokoSokoAt the helm of the movement towards "ethical fast fashion" is Soko, a jewelry startup with an innovative, efficient, and empowering model that uses technology to connect with independent artisans in Africa. Soko's jewelry is guaranteed to attract attention, not only for its unique sourcing and manufacturing origins but also for its structural, powerful style. These hand-made pieces are produced from less conventional, but more affordable materials like brass. Read our full Soko review.AuvereAuvereFor top-line luxury, specifically 22- and 24-karat gold, at surprisingly affordable prices, Auvere is the place to go. There's a range of feminine and more masculine designs, so there's something to fit everyone's style. There's no denying that the architectural pieces are investments, but you get what you pay for — pure gold, wrapped into beautiful designs without the mark-up — and they'll only appreciate in value over time.Best for elevated pieces: Ariel GordonAriel GordonAriel Gordon designs cute, delicate jewelry that is meant to be worn over and over again. This Los Angeles-based brand is a celebrity favorite and it's easy to see why. Launched out of her apartment while Gordon worked as a Hollywood publicist, the collection is made up of pieces designed to be worn over and over again, transitioning from occasion to occasion without losing quality and durability. Its charm pieces, which include animals and flowers, are truly sweet designs that'll brighten your day.Best for investment pieces: VerlasVerlasInvesting in a nice piece of jewelry without trying it on first can feel risky. If you can't make up your mind right away, Verlas is one of the best online jewelry stores for a try-before-you-buy experience. The brand's try-at-home program allows you to try any three pieces from the site for 15 days. The test pieces are made of replica materials (like cubic zirconium and brass), but when you're done, you can choose the ones you love best and then order the real deal made with diamonds and gold. If you want to pass on them all, that's okay too. Of course, if you know what you want right off the bat, you can go straight to purchasing.Best for simple bands: HoldenHoldenWhen wedding ring shopping gets so stressful that it detracts from the real experience of starting your life with someone, that's a problem. As one of the best online jewelry stores for simple bands and wedding rings, Holden is making it easy to shop for and customize rings that start at only $249. Simply request a free ring size kit, choose your ring profile, width, metal, karat, and finish, and add an optional engraving, and your rings will be made-to-order with 3D printing technology. Read our full review of Holden, which is also a top pick in our guide to the best men's wedding bands.Best for engagement rings: CoupleCouple/FacebookThe idea for Couple began when one of its co-founders had difficulty finding an engagement ring for his now-wife and saw an opportunity to also lessen the environmental and ethical challenges of mined diamonds. Couple works with lab-grown diamonds that look identical to mined ones (and are actually of higher quality) so that marriages can start off on the right foot — with trust, transparency, and thoughtfulness. Many of the rings can also be engraved for a truly personal touch. Read our full review of Couple. Best try before you buy program: GemistGemistLove a finger full of stackable rings? As one of the best online jewelry stores for colorful pieces, you'll love Gemist's wide variety of affordable options. The brand offers a streamlined at-home try-on process, where you're given three costume rings to play with for two weeks. Enjoy the pieces? Just let Gemist know, and they'll send you the custom pieces after you send your testers back. Gemist also has a variety of earrings, wedding bands, and engagement rings, too.Best for modular jewelry: IdylIdylIdyl's modular jewelry lets you create multiple looks from a single necklace or pair of earrings, all of which are made with lab-grown diamonds and conflict-free gold.What Idyl lacks in options, it makes up for in versatility. The jewelry brand currently only sells necklaces and earrings but what makes it unique is that everything is modular — all of the pieces are designed to be mixed and matched with various add-ons to create different looks. Once you own the basic round studs, for example, you can purchase 17 separate attachments to look like an entirely new pair of earrings. Idyl also aims to bring transparency and sustainability to its jewelry line by using lab-grown diamonds and traceable solid gold.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 30th, 2024

8 loud luxury items sold by designer brands that people actually buy

Quiet luxury may be in, but not everyone's convinced. Here are some of the loud luxury items people buy, from a $700 toaster to a nearly $8,000 purse. Designer brands are still selling loud, logo-heavy luxury items that aren't always made for practical use.Gotham/GC Images, Bellocqimages/Bauer-GriffinQuiet luxury has become one of the buzziest consumer trends.But not everyone is sold, as designer brands are still selling some wild, loud luxury items.Hermès is selling $125 envelopes and Smeg collaborated with Dolce & Gabbana on $700 toasters.Quiet luxury might be one of the year's biggest shopping trends, but that doesn't mean everyone is sold on it.More than a few designer brands are still marketing loud luxury items that scream, "This product is expensive," proving there are still consumers who love being bougie and aren't afraid to show it.From logo-heavy kitchenware that costs nearly $1,000 to customized paper envelopes retailing at over $100, here are eight loud luxury items from designers that people are buying.Hermès is selling customized A5 envelopes that cost a mere $125 each.An Hermès paper envelope.HermèsNothing says loud luxury quite like designer versions of miscellaneous homeware. Take the Hermès paper envelope, for example.Sold in an A5 size, the envelopes are individually priced at £100, roughly $127, and are customized so online shoppers don't know what the product looks like until it arrives.According to the product description, the envelopes are "ideal for storing travel documents, tickets, or notes."They are also ideal for letting everyone know how bougie you are.Balenciaga dropped rhinestone-encrusted mesh bags for a casual $6,950.Kim Kardashian is seen on January 19, 2024, in Los Angeles.Bellocqimages/Bauer-GriffinKim Kardashian, a Balenciaga ambassador, is no stranger to loud luxury. Take the recent office tour she uploaded to TikTok, which showed viewers that her headquarters are littered with expensive pieces like a silver embossed 3D model of her brain, a tanning bed, and a mannequin customized with her body measurements.But she's also been spotted outside the office carrying a rhinestone-covered $6,950 Balenciaga tote, a loud luxury version of an ordinary mesh bag often used for grocery shopping. Designers are still selling logo-heavy items, and celebrities are still rocking them. Taylor Swift and Lauren Sánchez wearing logo-heavy apparel.Gotham/GC Images, MEGA/GC ImagesLogo-heavy items are huge indicators of loud luxury — even on designer brands' tiniest products.Just look at Taylor Swift's Louis Vuitton camera box. It's only 4.9 x 6.9 inches, but the recognizable logo print screams, "This is expensive." And spoiler alert — it is. The bag retails for $3,450.Another celebrity dedicated to loud luxury is Jeff Bezos' fiancée, Lauren Sánchez. During a pit stop in Portofino, Italy, during their European vacation on his $500 million yacht over the summer, she was spotted wearing a $635 Louis Vuitton visor adorned with the brand's logo and its name boldly printed on the back strap.The bigger the item, the more obvious it is that you spent a lot of money on it. A$AP Rocky and Rihanna are seen leaving Carbone restaurant after celebrating his birthday on October 3, 2023 in New York.MEGA/GC ImagesLoud luxury doesn't necessarily mean an item has to be plastered with designer logos or rhinestones.Another way designers are selling products that anyone can tell are expensive is through bold colors and oversize dimensions.The celebrity favorite Bottega Veneta Andiamo Ribbon tote, priced at $7,900, is a good example. Yes, there are versions of the bag in muted colors on sale, but the only one out of stock is bubblegum pink, which shows some consumers aren't shying away from loud luxury.It's not just bags — UGG is selling huge, pricey versions of its standard boots. Women's Classic Ultra Ultra Tall UGGs.UGGThe Ultra Ultra Tall UGGs are 26 inches long, over double the size of the classic tall UGG boot. Originally marketed at $600, the shoe is now priced at $419.99. That's still over double the price of the classic shape.The new boot comes with four zip-off sections in shades of orange and cream, which are adjustable so buyers can style them how they want.Like the colorful big designer bags, the shoe's size and colors lean into loud luxury.It remains to be seen if people are seriously flocking to buy these boots, but sales could be driven by recent viral videos shared by TikTok creators jokingly buying and reviewing them.Miu Miu is selling sequin-embroidered panties that don't look comfortable but do look expensive. Emma Corrin walks the runway during the Miu Miu show at Paris Fashion Week on March 7, 2023.Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesLoud luxury lends itself to the old-fashioned motto: beauty is pain.Nothing quite sums that up like the sequin-embroidered silk underwear Miu Miu debuted at Paris Fashion Week in 2023, now sold for $5,800.Two of the four available sizes are sold out, showing demand for these sparkly and very clearly expensive undergarments.Kitchenware isn't immune to loud luxury, as Smeg's colorful collab with Dolce & Gabbana proves.A Smeg x Dolce & Gabbana toaster.BloomingdalesThe exclusive "Sicily is My Love" collection features flashy, colorful kitchenware completed with the Dolce & Gabbana logo. Shortly after the collection debuted in 2019, Kris Jenner took to Instagram to say she was "OBSESSED" with them and had bought stacks of the appliances as Christmas gifts for friends and family.The products from the line are still sold through different vendors. On the Bloomingdale's website, the two-slice toaster is $700, the four-slice toaster is $900, and the Electric Citrus Juicer is $700.But the Kardashians aren't the only fans of the eye-catching kitchenware. Over the last year, several content creators have shown off items from the line in their homes on TikTok, including one who bought a Dolce & Gabbana and Smeg fridge. Williams Sonoma is selling a variation of the refrigerator from the line for $50,000.Le Creuset items are timeless, but specialty products like the heart-shaped Dutch oven encapsulate loud luxury. A heart-shaped Le Creuset Dutch oven.Le CreusetLe Creuset cookware is often considered a subtle indicator of wealth. The brand is nearly 100 years old and is known for producing durable kitchen items that many see as a long-term investment.But there is nothing subtle about the brand's decision to recently launch a Valentine's Day-themed cookware featuring $220 heart-shaped versions of its signature pieces, including the fan-favorite Dutch oven.The pieces make a statement, and that's exactly what loud luxury is about.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 25th, 2024

The 7 best flower delivery services for fresh flowers online in time for Valentine"s Day

Flowers are a thoughtful and easy gift to brighten a special someone's day. We ordered 39 bouquets to find the best online flower delivery services. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreFresh flowers make a thoughtful and easy gift. We ordered 39 bouquets from 16 brands to find the best flowers for all occasions.Lauren Savoie/Business Insider If you're looking for a Valentine's Day gift idea,  timeless roses (or your beau's favorite stems) coupled with the best chocolate are a classic and foolproof option no matter the stage of your relationship. Whatever the occasion, sending fresh flowers is a thoughtful way to show someone you care and that you're thinking of them.There are now dozens of online flower delivery services offering unique bouquets, trendy arrangements, and even subscriptions. We ordered 39 arrangements from 16 popular brands to find the best service for delivering fresh, attractive flowers that arrive on time. We found that when it comes to the best online flower delivery services, there are a few that stand out from the rest.For flower-giving holidays like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, try to order early for access to the best selection and even discounts. However, be prepared for delivery surcharges during these high volume times. Our top picks for online flower delivery servicesBest overall: UrbanStemsUrbanStems makes some of the most stunning bouquets we've found and offers something for everyone, with a diverse selection of fresh flowers, dried flowers, plants, gifts, and subscriptions.Best same-day delivery: FTDFTD offers hundreds of bouquets, gifts, and plants for delivery in all 50 states and 150 counties, with many options for same-day arrival.  Best fresh roses: Roses OnlyAs the name implies, Roses Only sells just one product, but it does it remarkably well, delivering some of the most pristine, stunning, long-stemmed roses we've ever seen.Best preserved roses: RoseBoxPreserved roses are incredibly popular and can last more than a year with proper care. We love Rosebox for preserved roses because of its robust selection of arrangements, vases, and colors.Best farm-fresh: Farmgirl FlowersFarmgirl Flowers offers unique and playful arrangements that change with what's in season and with many blooms sourced from California farmers.Best subscription: BloomsyBoxBloomsyBox offers a la carte bouquets and plants, but its wide variety of subscription plans are where the service really shines.Best dried bouquets: East OliviaFresh flowers have a short lifespan, but dried florals from East Olivia can last for years with proper care — and feature inventive colors and textures not found in traditional fresh bouquets.Best overall: UrbanStemsLauren Savoie/Maria Del Russo/Rachael Shultz/Business InsiderPrice range: $45 to $264Delivery area: Lower 48 statesSame-day delivery: Yes, in DC, NYC, Jersey City, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami on orders placed before 2 pm ET.Next-day delivery: YesShipping: $10 to $30, depending on delivery date and methodShop all flowers on UrbanStemsPros: Lots of options to choose from, including dried bouquets and plants; attractive floral designs in a range of styles, sizes, and pricesCons: Some testers noted flowers lasted a few days less than other brandsIf you're searching for the perfect flower arrangement, look no further than UrbanStems. They offer a robust selection of modern, fresh bouquets, along with plants, candles, and subscriptions, making it a one-stop shop for all your Valentine's Day needs. Their diverse selection ensures that you can find something unique and personalized to your recipient's taste. You can browse according to delivery location and intended delivery date to see the most updated availability. We tried the Juliet, Luna, and Double the Pink Champagne fresh bouquets, along with the Aspen dried bouquet (no longer available) and Claude plant. Everything arrived on time and in excellent condition. The arrangements were some of the freshest, most attractive bouquets we tested and were filled with lively, creative blooms in a range of colors.Read our full review of UrbanStems.Worth a look:Best same-day delivery: FTDLauren Savoie/Jenny McGrath/Business InsiderPrice range: $40 to $225Delivery area: All 50 states, 150 countriesSame-day delivery: YesNext-day delivery: YesShipping: Starts at $17.99 and varies based on delivery date and order totalShop all flowers from FTDPros: Orders filled by local florists; a large selection of bouquets, plants, and giftsCons: Experience can vary based on which florist fills your order; designs are more traditional and less modernWhen you need to send flowers fast, a floral wire service is your best option. Florists' Transworld Delivery Service (FTD) has been in the flower delivery business for more than 100 years and partners with local florists to fulfill and deliver orders in all 50 states and more than 150 countries. In many cases, you'll also have the option of same-day delivery. The arrangements lean toward more traditional colors and flowers instead of more modern or unique designs.Compared to other similar floral wire services, we had a better experience with FTD. The bouquets and plants we received were fuller, fresher, and in better condition than blooms from 1-800-Flowers. Of course, since orders are typically filled by local florists, your experience may vary depending on who ultimately fills your order.If you need to send flowers quickly, for Valentine's Day, internationally, or to hard-to-reach places, FTD is the best same-day service we've found for last-minute florals. They're also our top choice in terms of offering the best value. Read our full review of FTD.Worth a look:Best fresh roses: Roses OnlyLauren Savoie/Katie Decker-Jacoby/Business InsiderPrice range: $49 to $669Delivery area: All 50 states and internationally to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore, and AustraliaSame-day delivery: Yes, in San Diego onlyNext-day delivery: YesShipping: $19.95Shop all roses on Roses OnlyPros: Stunning roses; beautiful presentation; long-lasting flowers; available in quantities from six to 100Cons: Limited product and color choices.Roses are such a big seller that we made sure every arrangement we received as part of this guide included at least some of them. Having seen the spectrum of what's out there, we can confidently say that Roses Only delivers the most pristine, long-lasting roses we've found.So much care is put into the delivery: The cartoonishly perfect long-stemmed roses (which you can order in quantities of 6-100) come packaged in a long, elegant box with a linen ribbon, and every rose has its own water reservoir to ensure it arrives pristine. The roses themselves are flawless, with big velvety petals. They lasted about two weeks and gradually opened up until each bud was about palm-sized.At about $8 per flower, Roses Only sells some of the most expensive roses out there, but if it's just fresh roses you're after, no flower delivery service does it better.Worth a look:Best preserved roses: RoseBoxLauren Savoie/Maliah West/Hannah Freedman/Business InsiderPrice range: $109 to $1,399Delivery area: All 50 statesSame-day delivery: Yes, in Manhattan onlyNext-day delivery: YesShipping: $0 to $30, depending on delivery date and order totalShop all preserved flowers on RoseBoxPros: More than 20 rose color options, many container types, smell and look like fresh roses, can last a year or longer with proper careCons: Don't have the same feel as real rosesIf you've been on Instagram lately, chances are you've seen these trendy preserved roses somewhere on your feed. Usually packed into boxes or displayed in a classic ball arrangement, these flowers are incredibly popular with influencers and celebrities. We tested three preserved rose brands and found the quality very similar. Ultimately, we chose RoseBox as the best preserved roses for its diverse color and display options. We particularly liked that its plentiful display containers had discreet branding or none at all, unlike other preserved rose brands that cover containers (which can't be separated from the flowers) with logos.  Almost all of RoseBox's 90+ products can be customized with 25 or more different rose color options. One of our testers opted for turquoise, while others chose more classic red and pink varieties. Preserved roses are expensive, no matter what brand you choose. A single preserved rose will cost you anywhere from $109, which is the same price as a full-sized bouquet from most of our other top picks. Expect a medium-sized array of preserved roses to cost about $300. That said, they can end up being an economical alternative to buying flowers every week. We're eager to see if our arrangements live up to their purported longevity.Worth a look:Best farm-fresh: Farmgirl FlowersLauren Savoie/Connie Chen/Business InsiderPrice range: $59 to $139Delivery area: Lower 48 statesSame-day delivery: NoNext-day delivery: Possible, but not guaranteedShipping: $25Shop all bouquets from Farmgirl FlowersPros: Whimsical, in-season blooms, each bouquet is unique, moderately priced, offers some rare flowers; some florals are grown in the US Cons: Surprise bouquets are not ideal if you have specific flowers you want to include or avoid, some customers report wilting or short-lived bloomsIf you're after an arrangement that looks like it was recently plucked from the garden, Farmgirl Flowers offers inventive and playful bouquets based on what's in season. Farmgirl's flagship offerings are the Fun Size, Just Right, and Big Love bouquets (formerly Mini, Midi, and Maxi). You don't get to choose what you receive; instead, Farmgirl puts together a bouquet based on what's available and in season. The company's website and social media give you an idea of what to expect, but every bouquet is slightly different, giving it a special, unique feel. We received a Just Right and a Big Love, as well as another Just Right sent to a tester in California. We loved that the arrangements had a whimsical, wild shape, and they were gorgeous from every angle. The Just Right and Big Love both appeared the same size when we first received them, but after a few hours in the water, the Big Love's closed buds opened up to create a fuller bouquet. If you're looking for a unique and personalized touch to your Valentine's Day flowers, Farmgirl Flowers is a great choice, with a special dedicated Valentine's Day section, with some bouquets shipping free. Farmgirl also offers a few dozen specialty bouquets, including some rare blooms like flower breeder David Austin's Patience roses.Worth a look:Best subscription: BloomsyBoxLauren Savoie/Business InsiderPrice range: $45 to $110Delivery area: Nationwide, except Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto RicoSame-day delivery: N/A for subscriptionsNext-day delivery: Yes, N/A for subscriptionsShipping: Free with subscription; $16.99 individuallyShop all flower subscriptions on BloomsyBoxPros: Multiple weekly and monthly plans to choose from, offers month-to-month and prepaid plans, bouquets are gorgeous, a la carte bouquets and plants availableCons: Don't get to choose which flowers are in your bouquet, which might not be a good option for those with allergies or petsFlower subscriptions are a great way to brighten someone's day on a more frequent basis — or to liven up your own home with regularly scheduled blooms. BloomsyBox offers a robust fleet of weekly and monthly subscription options at reasonable prices. You can pay month-to-month or save a few dollars by prepaying for 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions. While the retailer also sells a la carte bouquets and plants, its subscriptions offer the best value.We tried BloomsyBox's priciest subscription: Its NYBG Collection. Each bouquet in the subscription is curated by the New York Botanical Garden's floral experts and features in-season blooms. A portion of the subscription goes to supporting the NYBG's plant science and conservation efforts.We highly recommend BloomsyBox's subscriptions to anyone looking for a bit of floral cheer on a regular basis. It's a nice treat each month to get an email saying a new bouquet is on the way. Worth a look:Best dried bouquets: East OliviaLauren Savoie/Business InsiderEditor's note 1/19/24: East Olivia has temporarily suspended orders but has plans to resume its online shop in time for Valentine's Day.  The small business still remains our top choice for dried floral arrangements. Price range: $60 to $225Delivery area: All 50 statesSame-day delivery: NoNext-day delivery: NoShipping: $12.99Shop all dried flowers at East OliviaPros: Unique and inventive designs, each arrangement comes with a coordinating vase, options change seasonally, arrangements can last a year or longer with proper careCons: Order processing can take up to five business days, limited edition collections can sell out quicklyNo matter how pretty the bouquet, fresh flowers will all eventually wilt. Dried bouquets are a good solution for those who love the look of florals but hate the upkeep. Some of the most creative and beautiful preserved arrangements we've seen come from East Olivia.The offerings change seasonally, but at the time of our testing, the brand featured a winter collection and Mother's Day collection, both featuring ornamental grasses and filler flowers dyed dreamy pastel colors. Each bouquet comes fully arranged and delicately packaged with its own matching ceramic vase. We love knowing that we'll get many, many months of enjoyment out of these.The fact that East Olivia's collections change with the season makes each arrangement feel special. Order processing can take up to five business days, so you'll want to plan ahead if you plan on gifting one of these dried arrangements, especially considering the limited edition collections can sell out quickly.Worth a look:How we tested flower delivery servicesCaitlin Petreycik/Lauren Savoie/Business InsiderTo find the best flower delivery service, we conducted hands-on testing of every brand in this guide. We ordered two to three arrangements from each brand, evaluating the selection, ordering, and delivery process. We sent bouquets to testers in different parts of the country — including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, rural Colorado, and suburban Connecticut — to see if quality and delivery time varied based on location. In all, we tested 39 bouquets from 16 brands.What to look for in flower delivery servicesLauren Savoie/Business InsiderHere's what we looked for in the best flower delivery service:Ordering: We scrutinized the ordering process of each service, noting whether the website was simple to navigate, what the product selection was like, and how easy it was to place an order. We also looked at shipping options and estimated delivery times.Delivery: We noted whether the arrangements arrived when they said they would (all did), evaluated packaging, and looked at the condition of the flowers when they first arrived. Testers across the country compared notes; we found delivery times and quality consistent across the country.Quality of flowers: We looked for full bouquets of lively-looking flowers that matched the description and photo of the arrangement we ordered online. We read all care instructions and followed them meticulously, noting how long the flowers remained fresh enough to display. Consistency: A good flower service should deliver quality blooms no matter the location of your recipient. Our testers across the country took photos and detailed notes about delivery and bouquet quality to compare experiences.Budget: When choosing a flower delivery service, it's important to consider your budget. Flower prices can vary widely, and some delivery services charge more than others for their arrangements. To stay within your budget, consider shopping around and comparing prices from different florists. You can also look for seasonal flowers or less expensive options to help keep costs down.Packaging, customization, and extras: Customization options are important, especially if you want to add a personal touch to your gift. Look for a service that offers a variety of vase options and add-ons such as chocolates, balloons, or stuffed animals. Some services even offer personalized messages or cards that can be included with your delivery.How to keep flowers freshTrim the stems: When cutting, it's important to use a sharp, clean tool to prevent damage to the stem. By cutting at an angle, you create a larger surface area for the stem to absorb water, which helps keep the flowers hydrated and fresh. Clean the water: Changing the water every 2-3 days helps prevent bacteria growth and keeps the water fresh, which in turn helps the flowers last longer.Put your flowers in the right location: Keeping your flowers in a cool and shady spot is ideal, but it's important to note that some flowers have different temperature preferences.For example, tropical flowers like orchids and anthuriums prefer warmer temperatures while others, like roses and hydrangeas, prefer cooler temperatures. So it's always a good idea to check the specific care instructions for the flowers you have.Feed your flowers: It's important to use lukewarm water and add floral preservatives or a tablespoon of sugar to the water to nourish the flowers. Additionally, make sure to recut the stems at an angle before placing them in the fresh water.FAQsLauren Savoie/InsiderWhen should I order flowers for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and other popular holidays?While many flower delivery services offer next-day delivery for most of the year, all bets are off when it comes to major holidays like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. When ordering around popular holidays, a safe bet is to place your order two weeks in advance of the day you want the flowers delivered. This will ensure you have plenty of arrangements and delivery dates to choose from. We've also noticed companies offering discounts to those who shop early. Is it safe to have fresh flowers around pets?It depends on the types of flowers. The ASPCA maintains a comprehensive list of flowers and plants and whether they are toxic or safe for dogs and cats. It's important to remember that certain plants can still be toxic to animals even if they are kept out of reach; pollen and other airborne spores can get into the fur of animals and be ingested during grooming. If you're ordering flowers for a household that has pets, it's best to stick with a service that allows you to see the types of flowers in the arrangement before ordering. Some brands, like Fresh Sends or subscription services, don't allow you to preview the bouquet before it's sent, which could land you with a bouquet that isn't pet-safe.Our top pick, UrbanStems, lists the type of flowers in each arrangement so you can check to make sure it's safe for your pet. Check out our guides on 11 pet-friendly houseplants and the best pet-friendly plants.How long do fresh flowers last?A lot depends on how recently the flowers were cut before they arrived at your home. Flowers can be cut hours, days, or weeks before shipping to you, greatly varying their lifespan in your home. On average, however, you can expect fresh flowers to last five days to a week in a vase with good care. If you're interested in longer-lasting flowers, preserved roses or a dried bouquet are great options.What's the best way to keep fresh flowers alive longer?Some ways to extend the life of your fresh flowers include cutting the stems before putting them in water, using flower food in the water (often supplied with the bouquet, but can be homemade), and changing the water whenever it gets discolored or cloudy. You can read more tips for keeping flowers fresh here. Remember that you don't have to trash the whole bouquet if a few flowers are dead or wilted; just remove the dead flowers and rearrange or tighten the bouquet as needed (you may need to downsize to a smaller vase). Hardy flowers with woody stems (like roses) can last several weeks with proper care.   What are the best types of flowers to buy?When in doubt, roses are a great pick. They're long-lasting, easy to care for, and largely pet-safe. You can get roses in all colors, shapes, and sizes to suit any recipient. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 22nd, 2024

The 16 best lingerie brands to shop with Valentine"s Day just around the corner

Whether shopping for a teddy to wear on date night or matching bras and panties to feel special in, here are the best brands for lingerie. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreAgent Provacateur/Only HeartsYou probably already have your favorite everyday undergarments, but when it's time to put on something special, lingerie is the answer. If you don't know where to start, let us help you navigate this shopping experience to find the pieces that will make you feel your best.It's important to remember that buying lingerie is so personal. They're called intimates for a reason! What you look for in lingerie will likely be completely different than what I do, but that's what makes this process fun. What really matters is you find something that makes you feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.To help you shop, whether for a special occasion or just because, we've taken the time to curate a list of the best lingerie brands you can shop online right now. This includes everyday intimates like bras and underwear to special occasion underthings like teddies and slips. Whether you're looking for a spicy getup to surprise your partner or an easy lace bralette you can always rely on for sexy support, we've got you covered.Only HeartsOnly HeartsWith a slow fashion approach, Only Hearts makes lingerie that's sexy and sustainable.Since 1978, Only Hearts has been making beautiful lingerie that's meant to be seen. The brand even coined the term Inner Outerwear, making a statement that its lingerie can, and should, get to see the light. Once you check out what Only Hearts has to offer, you'll understand why. Ruffles, lace, silk, and mesh– everything at Only Hearts oozes romance, from the sensual slips to the more simple, everyday intimates like briefs and bralettes. What really sets Only Hearts apart is how its pieces are made. Everything from Only Hearts is manufactured in New York City using local deadstock and recycled fabrics, or organic, certified made in green textiles. These flirty, feminine underthings are proof that one person's trash is another's treasure.We do wish there was a wider range of sizes, because these pieces are truly so beautiful and everyone should have the chance to don them. What to buy:EberjeyEberjeyYou'll never have to sacrifice comfort again with Eberjey's simple, delicate, and oh-so-soft lingerie. Feeling sexy means something different for everyone. If your ideal lingerie looks like simple silhouettes, soft fabrics, and details that put your comfort first, you need to check out Eberjey. The brand is best known for its supremely soft loungewear and pajamas, which we've sung the praises of ourselves, but its undergarments are not to be missed. From undies made from the brands signature, buttery-soft Tencel to lacey underwire bras, Eberjey's selection is sure to make you feel comfortable and confident. We love that you can wear these pieces on their own or layered under your favorite fits. Our one qualm is that sizing is limited, with most pieces offered in XS-XL and bras in sizes 34A-36C. What to buy:AraksAraksMinimalist pieces with maximal color are what make Araks' pieces perfect for special occasions and everyday wear. There's something incredibly sexy about the simplicity of Araks' intimates. The barely-there bras and panties let you show off and embrace your natural figure. And, Araks makes sure you are comfortable too. Whether it's sumptuous organic cotton or smooth silk, the brand uses materials that look and feel great. Everything about these pieces is minimal except for the exquisite and bold color palettes. Araks offers a wide range of vivid colors which makes this lingerie feel special enough for an occasion, but also easy enough to wear on a random Tuesday under your outfit for work. We'd be remiss not to mention the brands commitment to being a conscious player in the garment game. The brand acknowledges they're not perfect, but they are constantly improving their process to create a more sustainable product and lower their environmental impact every step of the way. From the materials they source (and how they do so), to their design process, to the manufacturers they work with, every decision is made with their environmental impact top of mind. What to buy:IntimissimiIntimissimiSexy, comfortable, and affordable, Intimissimi is the ultimate trifecta for your everyday underpinnings. Italy has romance in its DNA, so it's no wonder this Italian lingerie company is such a hit. Intimissimi offers a large selection of bras, panties, slips, garters, and more. From seductive lace bodysuits you can pull out on special, sultry occasions to simple shapewear for everyday, Intimissimi truly has everything you need to fill your lingerie drawer. The sizing can be a bit limited depending on the style, but if you find something you love in your size you can be confident knowing you're getting a great product for a great price. Sales and bundled discounts are always available, so you can stock up on sexy little somethings within your budget. What to buy:Agent ProvocateurAgent ProvocateurFor a special occasion, Agent Provocateur is the sexy splurge your wardrobe has been waiting for. You surely don't need a special occasion to slip on a feather-trimmed, body-hugging corset, but Agent Provocateur's intricately-designed intimates will turn any moment into a jaw-droppingly special event. This lingerie label is iconic, known around the world for its sexy, provocative pieces that empower customers to embrace their sensuality. From the more simple, cheeky panties to bold playsuits that look like they belong on a burlesque stage, Agent Provocateur has something for every sensibility from the daring to the demure. And, while every item has its own range of sizes offered, the brand has a decent selection of pieces available for bigger busts and bums. The brand also stocks toys and accessories to help you make all of your bedroom fantasies come true. These luxurious pieces come with a premium pricetag, with bras starting at $120 and some playsuits and corsets running up to four digits. If you've been fantasizing about Agent Provocateur but it's not in your budget, they do have an outlet where you can shop heavily discounted styles. What to buy:Fleur Du MalFleur Du MalFleur Du Mal's sexy, flattering styles are so beautiful and comfortable you'll probably want to wear them as clothing. Today, it's not uncommon to see underwear being worn as outerwear. Fleur Du Mal may be one of the brands to thank for that. While the brand has only been around for just over 10 years, it has become an instant A-lister favorite. Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, and Margot Robbie are just a few of the celebrities that have been spotted in the brand's feminine, flirty pieces. The brands bodysuits have become so popular that many people actually wear them as tops– they're that chic. Fleur Du Mal's mission is to make everyone feel more confident in embracing their femininity and sexuality. That comes through in the design of their pieces, their commitment to continue expanding their size range, and events the brand hosts to create open conversations around sex, love, and wellness. We're particularly impressed by the brand's bra selection, which includes beautiful nursing bras and mastectomy bras so that every woman can feel their absolute best.Since its founding, Fleur Du Mal has expanded from just lingerie to swimwear and ready-to-wear clothing, but everything still has that sensual appeal. The brand even sells toys, books, and accessories to help you tap into your deepest pleasures. What to buy:Adore MeAdore MeLove the look and feel sexy lingerie sets but don't have a ton of money to spend? Give Adore Me's affordable yet stylish lingerie a try.Adore Me is a direct-to-consumer lingerie brand that was started with the sole purpose of offering affordable, fashion-forward underpinnings to the masses. The inclusive brand offers stylish intimates at an accessible price point for women of all shapes and sizes.The offerings range from 30A to 46G in most styles. The company's lingerie collections include everything from bodysuits to slips, corsets, and garters, but Adore Me's most popular products have to be the bra and panty sets.Adore Me has more than 600 stylish sets to choose from and a monthly subscription box. For $39.95 a month, you'll be sent a curated box of lingerie for you to try on at home. You can send back anything you don't like and will only be charged the fee for the styles you keep.What to buy:Anya LustAnyalustAnya Lust's pieces look like they're straight out of a fantasy, with lots of lace and silk. If you want proof that lingerie is an art form, take a scroll through Anya Lust's online shop. The store has a mix of Anya Lust's own curated collection of lingerie, along with a collection of other designers, as well. The main theme of all of the pieces, however, is luxury. Think sensual lace bras, mesh teddies, and silky robes. Aside from offering up gorgeous lingerie, the Anya Lust site also acts as a resource, offering sensuality classes, literature, and art. You can also pick up candles and bath products, making this a true one-stop-shop. Plus, the brand is dedicated to inclusive styles and sizes. Most bras are sized up to an F, while lingerie is sized XS-4X. And with dedicated collections for honeymoons, bondage play, and role-playing, there's something for every sensibility at Anya Lust. What to buy:CosabellaCosabellaCosabella is a family-owned lingerie company that uses Italian craftsmanship to produce luxe feminine intimates.Cosabella has been producing well-crafted, luxurious lingerie since 1983 when husband and wife duo Valeria and Ugo Campello founded it. The brand is known for making high-quality, fashionable intimates from the best materials available.Since each piece is hand-crafted by Italian artisans, a single thong can take up to 10 hours to create. Cosabella's attention to detail and timeless designs have won it a legion of celebrity fans including Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, and Jessica Alba.The shop's offerings include a variety of bras including nursing and training bras, panties in multiple silhouettes, bodysuits, bustiers, slips, robes, and shapewear.What to buy:Savage X FentySavage X FentyRihanna's Savage x Fenty brand creates size-inclusive lingerie that is bold and incredibly sexy. To say that Rihanna's Savage x Fenty line changed the lingerie game is an understatement. The brand regularly offers sexy pieces in bold colors and prints — from teddies to thongs to corsets. But Savage x Fenty doesn't just do lingerie well. Its bras and underwear are supportive and beautiful, whether you're looking for something lacey or simple. Where Savage x Fenty really wins, though, is in its inclusive sizing. The brand's bras go up to an H cup, and most of its lingerie goes up to a 3XL. And while Savage x Fenty's prices are already seriously accessible, the brand also has a VIP program you can join. For a monthly membership fee, you get discounts every time you shop, as well as access to special VIP boxes and more.What to buy:Free PeopleFree PeopleFor cool-girl pieces you can wear every day, look no further than Free People.Free People's cool-girl aesthetic translates pretty gorgeously to its lingerie. With lacey bras, delicate panties, and beautiful matching sets, there is a lingerie style at Free People for just about everyone. It's a great option for folks who want to mix and match their pieces. If you love a vintage-inspired aesthetic with your lingerie, Free People provides. Pieces like high-waisted briefs and two-toned bras give major throwback vibes. But if you're more interested in bold colors, Free People has picks for you, too. Its bras and panties come in a range of hues, from lime green to bright purple.The sizing of Free People's lingerie leaves a little to be desired, but the pieces it does have are beautiful and affordable. And with ever-present bundles and discounts, you can renew your lingerie drawer without breaking the bank.What to buy:JournelleJournelleJournelle is a leading lingerie store that carries multiple luxury lingerie brands as well as its own line of underpinnings.If you're looking for a one-and-done lingerie shop, Journelle is the place for you. The brand has both a website and a small chain of boutiques — catering to digital and in-person shopping experiences alike. Journelle has one of the largest offerings of intimates we've ever seen, including Spanx shapewear. Journelle even offers bridal sets, everyday basics, silk pajamas, and barely-there special occasion pieces.While the shop carries dozens of lingerie designers, Journelle also sells its own line of intimates. The Journelle collection offers a great array of sizings, ranging from A-G cup bras and XS-L underwear, but some of the other brands the company sells have more limited size ranges.What to buy:La PerlaLa PerlaLa Perla is a classic lingerie brand for good reason — it offers classic styles with a major dose of luxury.It's impossible to talk about lingerie without talking about La Perla. The brand made a name for itself as the go-to spot for elegant, yet sexy, pieces of lingerie. From gossamer babydoll dresses to delicate lace bralettes, La Perla has a piece for just about anyone's sensibility. And while La Perla has a reputation for having a high price tag, in recent years, the brand has offered lingerie at a wider price point, depending on the style you're getting. La Perla also focuses on sustainability and is committed to ensuring its materials are coming from ethical suppliers. This isn't the spot to go for super trendy pieces or lingerie with a lot of cut-outs and tassels. But a little whisper of lace, or a gorgeously embroidered bra you will still love when you're 70? La Perla is the place. What to buy:EresEresSubtlety is the new sexy, and Eres provides a minimal, elegant approach to lingerie.Not everyone loves lace, glitter, and cutouts, and Eres creates delicate pieces in muted pastels, embracing a less-is-more approach to lingerie. Lace panels and unlined mesh offer the classic aesthetics of lingerie, but without the bold cutouts and high cuts of some other brands. Notably, Eres' lingerie looks super dainty and actually holds up to daily wear. The bras are surprisingly supportive — even those that don't rely on underwire. The panties are sets that you'd want to wear daily — not just for special occasions. The one caveat is that Eres doesn't have the most extensive sizing available. And while the price tag may seem high, these are hand-crafted pieces that, with proper care, can last a while. And since Eres' lingerie is incredibly minimal and classic, it will always be in style. What to buy:BluebellaBluebellaBluebella's size-inclusive lingerie offers the look of high-end labels but with prices below the $100 mark.If you love the look of luxury labels like La Perla but can't swing the price, UK-based Bluebella has a large selection of stylish lingerie and pajamas that only look expensive. It's here where you'll find bras, underwear, teddies, corsets, garters, and more with sensual cutouts and delicate, strappy details — and most prices falling between $30 and $85. Even better is Bluebella's commitment to inclusivity with bra sizes that range from 30A to 40G.Amid the many classic black lace styles, there are plenty of colorful options that range from pale pink to bright green to bold yellow — and everything in-between. We also appreciate how Bluebella uses 95% recycled packaging, purchases carbon offsets, and donates 10% of profits from select styles to the Kaleidoscope Trust charity that works to uphold the human rights of LGBTQ+ people.What to buy:SKIMSSKIMS/FacebookSKIMS has been proving that comfort can be sexy since 2019. From loungewear to shapewear, and every kind of underwear in-between, there's a price point and size for everyone. Originally in search of her own shapewear that offered the right support, coverage, and shade, Kim Kardashian began cutting and dying her own pieces at home. With prices starting at $18 and sizes ranging from XXS to 5XL, SKIMS became the shapewear solution for Kim and others looking for pieces to enhance curves, lift the body, and tone silhouettes. After its initial release and with every collection that's followed, most of the inventory sells out within days. (The most recent SKIMs Romance collection was no exception) Whether we're talking about the brand's mission towards inclusivity or the construction of its bras and underwear, support is what makes its wearers feel just as good as they look.What to buy:Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 16th, 2024

Elon Musk met his first wife, Justine, when he was 19. She"s the mother of 5 of his kids but grew disillusioned with their marriage as he got richer – here"s everything we know about her.

Their relationship was rocky from the start. Elon Musk's biographer says his friends and family didn't want them to get married. Chesnot/Getty Images; Ryan Miller/Getty ImagesElon Musk met his first wife, Justine, at college when she was 18 and he was 19.Their relationship was rocky from the start. Elon's biographer says his friends and family didn't want them to get married.They divorced after eight years together. Justine said she'd felt like a "trophy wife" and was disillusioned by their jet-setting lifestyle.Justine Musk is a fantasy author from Canada.She's also Elon Musk's ex-wife and the mother of five of his children.Little information is publicly available about her early life, with most coverage focusing on her relationship with Elon, now the world's richest person, who serves as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Justine lifted the lid on their turbulent relationship in an explosive Marie Claire column in 2010. Walter Isaacson's recent biography of the tech mogul cast further light on the couple's time together.Justine Musk was born in 1972 as Jennifer Wilson and grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, around 80 miles north-east of Toronto.She studied at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she majored in English literature. It was here, when she was 18, that she met the then-19-year-old Elon.For their first date, he invited her for ice-cream, but when he came to pick her up she wasn't there. He walked around campus carrying the gradually melting cone until he found her studying, she wrote in her Marie Claire column."He's not a man who takes no for an answer," Justine wrote.While Elon studied at Queen's, she was "not the only woman he pursued," she wrote. He ended up transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, but they stayed in touch. He would sometimes send her roses and go for dinner with her when he came back to visit his friends at Queen's, she wrote."It was the first time that a boy found my sense of ambition — instead of my long hair or narrow waist — attractive," she wrote.After studying, Justine spent a year teaching English in Japan, where she ultimately decided to ditch the name Jennifer "because it was far too common and the name of a lot of cheerleaders," she told Isaacson. She returned to Canada, took a bartending job while working on a novel, and mulled over whether to return to Japan or go to grad school, she wrote in her Marie Claire column.But things changed when she rekindled her relationship with Elon, culminating in her moving into the apartment in Palo Alto that he shared with his housemates and their dog.Justine spent most of her time writing in their bedroom. "Friends would not want to stay at my house because Justine was too grumpy," Elon told Isaacson.Their relationship was turbulent. They often had big arguments in public, and Elon "never hesitated to let me know that I was wrong about something," Justine told Isaacson. "And I would fight back. I realized that I could say anything to him, and it just did not faze him."As his wealth grew, Justine "made uneasy jokes" that he'd dump her for a supermodel, she wrote. But instead, Elon proposed to her one day on a street corner.Some of Elon's friends and family, including his mother Maye Musk, younger brother Kimbal Musk, and college friend Navaid Farooq, didn't approve of the relationship, per Isaacson's book. Some even tried to talk him out of the wedding.But the couple still got married in Saint Martin, in the Caribbean, in January 2000. Elon and Justine got into an argument the day before the ceremony was due to take place over their unsigned prenup and Elon told his mother that the wedding was off, to her delight, Isaacson wrote.The wedding ultimately went ahead. During their first dance, Elon whispered to Justine that he was "the alpha in this relationship," she wrote in her Marie Claire column.Justine said that Elon "wanted to get married and have kids early on," according to Ashlee Vance, once of his biographers.Their first child, Nevada, who was born in 2002, died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He stopped breathing in his sleep when he was 10 weeks old and his parents took him off life support after three days, Justine wrote in Marie Claire. "I held him in my arms when he died," she wrote."Nevada's death sent me on a years-long inward spiral of depression," Justine wrote. She wrote that one of the ways she coped was by trying to get pregnant again "as swiftly as possible," visiting an IVF clinic less than two months later.Through IVF, Justine gave birth to twins Griffin and Jenna in 2004 and triplets Damian, Kai, and Saxon in 2006. In between, she published her first novel, "BloodAngel," in 2005.Elon and Justine had a jet-setting lifestyle. They went to parties with celebrities, traveled in Musk's private jet, and lived in a 6,000-square-foot house in Bel Air, Los Angeles with five domestic staff, Justine wrote in Marie Claire.But they weren't happily married."It was a dream lifestyle, privileged and surreal," she wrote. "But the whirlwind of glitter couldn't disguise a growing void at the core. Elon was obsessed with his work: When he was home, his mind was elsewhere. I longed for deep and heartfelt conversations, for intimacy and empathy."During some arguments, Justine would say how much she hated Elon and he would call her a "moron" or "idiot," per Isaacson's book. She wrote in her Marie Claire column that he sometimes told her that, if she were his employee, he'd fire her."I met him when he didn't have much at all," she told Isaacson. "The accumulation of wealth and fame changed the dynamic."Musk kept urging her to dye her hair blonder and even go platinum, and she had to attend events where "the men talked and the women smiled and listened," she wrote in her Marie Claire column."I barely recognized myself," she wrote. "I had turned into a trophy wife — and I sucked at it.""I didn't want to be a sideline player in the multimillion-dollar spectacle of my husband's life," she wrote. "I wanted equality. I wanted partnership. I wanted to love and be loved, the way we had before he made all his millions."Describing the social circle she was in during their marriage, Justine wrote: "Women disappeared after some point in their 30s, and any female ambition other than looking beautiful, shopping, and overseeing the domestic realm became an inconvenience."The couple ultimately divorced in 2008. "I felt numb, but strangely relieved," Justine wrote. She used the separation as an opportunity to dye her hair dark and cut it.Just six weeks after starting divorce proceedings, Elon texted her to say he was engaged to actor Talulah Riley, Justine wrote.Justine wrote that she didn't regret her marriage to Elon. "I will always respect the brilliant and visionary person that he is," she added.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 29th, 2023

7 ways to improve your style, according to a millennial mom who"s known for her Gen Z outfits

One fashion influencer's tips for dressing better include using Pinterest, shopping at thrift stores, and wearing basic outfits. Basics are key, according to one fashion influencer.Jeremy Moeller/Getty ImagesKrista Lavrusik is a fashion influencer with more than 269,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram.She describes herself as a millennial mom with the style of a Gen Z person.Her tips for dressing better include using Pinterest, thrift shopping, and wearing basic outfits.When Krista Lavrusik was scrolling through social media at the height of the pandemic, she noticed a pattern."I was seeing all of these really cute girlies that were incredibly fashionable, and I just realized that none of them were moms," Lavrusik, 37, told Business Insider.She questioned why "they get to have all the fun" with clothes, and took it upon herself to change that."My original goal on social media was to bridge the gap and be a Pinterest board, in a sense, through photos and videos for women who want to be trendy and stylish, but still dress their age," she said. "But now, I just want to be someone that's stylish overall."And she is. Just ask her combined 269,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok, who tune in daily to see what styling tricks Lavrusik has up her sleeve.She also shared a few of those tips for dressing better with BI. Here are her top seven.Focus on thrifting.You can find secondhand pieces to fit just about any trend.Triocean/Getty Images"I always say that if you want to be trendy, thrift your trend," Lavrusik said.Maybe you want to embrace the cherry-red color that's been everywhere this fall and winter, or the ballet flats that celebrities love. You can likely find pieces to achieve those looks secondhand.Or if you simply want to dress more modern and youthful, thrifting is ideal for that too."Everything that Gen Z is wearing came from 20, 30 years ago anyway, and that's what so much of the thrift stores are full of," Lavrusik said. "You don't have to spend so much money to try things out."Remember that less is often more.Influencer Michelle Fleur shows the power of a simple, classic outfit.Jeremy Moeller/Getty ImagesYou might think that being fashionable requires outfits with bold colors, standout prints, and one-of-a-kind pieces.But as Lavrusik sees it, style is best achieved when you "start with the basics.""Strip the patterns," she told BI. "Wear black, white, gray, and throw in some beige."The simpler colors and styles look more chic and are also easier to style.Follow fashionable members of Gen Z on Pinterest.You can never go wrong with Pinterest, according to Krista Lavrusik.PinterestLavrusik cites Pinterest as one of her "absolute favorite" places to find fashion inspiration — especially from young, trendy creators.Whereas Instagram sees finished looks and styles that have already reached peak coolness, she said, Pinterest is "the creative wheelhouse" where you can see ideas in motion.The mom of four says she often pins photos of styles she likes while in the beginning stages of planning an outfit."Then I'll take the idea and work it with what I have in my closet," she said.Don't limit yourself to gendered fashion.Brad Pitt in 1997 (left) and Princess Diana in 1988 (right).Ron Galella/Tim Graham/Getty ImagesWhen Lavrusik looks for fashion inspiration, she doesn't just stick to outfits worn by women."I look at Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt, and then I also look at Jennifer Anderson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Princess Diana," she said. "They won't style things exactly the same, but you can find your own style through them."It's less about what gender a garment is geared toward and more about how it's styled overall, she said.Find inspiration in '90s fashion.Naomi Campbell models for Todd Oldham in 1996.Jon Levy/Getty ImagesMillennials, Lavrusik said, often get stuck in the 2010s and continue to wear pieces that were trendy years ago — like chunky ankle boots, patterned kimono-style garments, and skinny jeans."I wish I could go into closets around the world and just throw them away for you," she said with a laugh.But generational fashion isn't all bad. In fact, it can be trendy to look back — so long as you choose the right decade and don't stay there for too long.Lavrusik, for example, said she loves the fashion of 30 years ago and is in "a big '90s era" of her life — something that's on par with where many Gen Z members are finding their fashion inspo.Experiment more.Influencers Fia Hamelijnck and Amaka Hamelijnck wearing Gen Z styles at Copenhagen Fashion Week.Streetstyleshooters/Getty ImagesThe main difference between trendy members of Gen Z and fashion-confused millennials, according to Lavrusik, is how they approach style."Gen Z doesn't take things too personally, and I feel like millennials do," she told Insider. "Like the whole side part and skinny jeans things — why don't millennials try changing them and see?"The same rule applies to anyone in need of a styling boost: try new things.Take denim, for example."If you don't want to go full wide-leg, baggy, or low-rise, there are straight-leg options," Lavrusik said. "There's so much to try."When in doubt, stick with this basic outfit.If you're wearing this outfit, you can't go wrong.Christian Vierig/Getty ImagesThere are some days when you just don't feel fashionable. When that's the case, Lavrusik suggests sticking with classic pieces to turn your entire look around."A plain white T-shirt and jeans can be the base for so many incredible looks," she said. "I can't tell you how obsessed I am with it — especially when I don't know what to wear."Not only does the combo look great on its own, she said, but it can also be dressed up in various ways."Any jacket you own is going to look incredible with it," she said.But most importantly, don't overthink the outfit."It seems too simple for most people," Lavrusik said. "They're like, 'I don't know. I just feel like it's too boring or too basic.' But no, it's not. It's actually perfection."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 25th, 2023

24 of the best online jewelry stores that make affordable fine jewelry

If you're wondering where to buy affordable fine jewelry in 2023, our style editors rounded up the best online jewelry stores and brands to shop from. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn moreWhether you're looking for dainty pieces or statement jewelry, we've got you covered.InsiderWith its inaccessible prices, technical terminology, and nebulous production practices, the world of fine jewelry is intimidating to step into. For a generation that cares simultaneously about value, style, sustainability, and ethics, it can be challenging to find the best online jewelry stores that meet our criteria. But with direct-to-consumer jewelry companies taking center stage, no middlemen or mark-ups mean that you can pay a palatable price that's closer to the true cost of making that beautiful gold necklace. We did a full review of Ana Luisa and love how well the pieces hold up, even if you shower and swim with them. Other than Ana Luisa, we've found that Quince's jewelry selection is a great hidden gem for fine pieces that deliver on quality. These trustworthy online jewelry brands, hand-selected and tested by our style editors, will make the decision easy without overcharging you in the process.If you're looking for the best deals on clothing and jewelry, check out our guide to the best Black Friday clothing deals live right now.Ana LuisaAna LuisaAna Luisa makes affordable jewelry that's designed to last. In fact, each piece comes with a two-year warranty so you know you won't be left with a snapped chain or a ring with stones missing. Though their jewelry is mostly dainty, the pieces really stand out. I own their Meesh Necklace, one of their bestsellers, and I get compliments on how beautiful and shiny it is every time I wear it. Plus, I have a nickel allergy, which means that low-quality instantly gives me a rash. Every piece I've bought from Ana Luisa is fully hypoallergenic and feels great against my sensitive skin.Read our full review of Ana Luisa to see more of our favorite pieces. Ring ConciergeRing ConciergeDon't let the name fool you — in addition to the gorgeous custom engagement rings you'll spot on its Instagram page, Ring Concierge has a full line of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to own and wear for a lifetime. As true fine jewelry pieces, RC requires a larger budget than many brands on this list, but if you're looking to splurge on a tennis bracelet or a simple diamond stacking ring, you can find it for lower markups than many big-name jewelers. Many of the top sellers fall under $1000, including stacking rings and diamond ear cuffs for less than $200 that are a perfect entry point to building your collection.BaubleBarBaublebarBaubleBar is a great place to find both quirky pieces and classics that will last you many years. The pieces range from trendy jelly slider bracelets that you can customize with your name to elegant, gold-plated pieces. Bauble Bar also has partnerships with places like Disney and the NFL to produce pieces like Mickey Mouse earrings or football helmet pendants that make great gifts for the super fan in your life. For more of our favorite pieces, see our review of BaubleBar.AurateAUrateAurate offers both minimal, everyday pieces as well as bold statement pieces, so you can create a well-rounded jewelry collection. Everything is crafted in New York City, which also means that NYC dwellers can enjoy same-day delivery of 14- and 18-karat gold, AAA pearls, and ethically sourced diamonds (the rest of the country gets free shipping). Read our full review of Aurate jewelry.QuinceQuinceFor minimalist styles at a minimal cost, Quince has a collection of solid gold jewelry that starts as low as $50. Similar to Italic, Quince is able to offer solid gold and diamond jewelry at affordable prices by cutting out the middleman. If you're looking for exceptionally dainty pieces, this is where you can pick up a pair of 14-karat gold hoops for less than $50 and a simple 14-karat gold stacker ring for less than $70. The minimalist designs and low prices make Quince an easy destination for rounding out the foundation of your jewelry collection.CatbirdCatbirdKnown for its delicate rings and transparent sourcing, Catbird is the epitome of cool jewelry. At Catbird you can find delicate $48 rings alongside sparkly engagement rings. It's fully transparent about the source of its materials and donates 1% of all sales to non-profits including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. In addition to jewelry that's crafted in-house, Catbird is home to other designers and beauty and home goods. Catbird is also famous for its "permanent bracelets," which you have to go into the store to have welded onto your wrist. While they do have brick-and-mortar locations in New York, we've found that it's more reliable as an online jewelry store because there are more options.ItalicItalicItalic is an online retailer where you can find clothing, handbags, home goods, and more that are made in the same factories as designers like Miu Miu and Prada — just without the label and for a fraction of the price. Recently, it added fine jewelry to the mix. You can now pick up timeless additions like diamond necklaces and solid gold huggie hoops for as little as $225 and $150, respectively. For more info on how Italic works, read our full review. MejuriMejuriToronto-based startup Mejuri, founded by a former art director and a former engineer and third-generation jeweler, drops new pieces every week of the year, and without fail, its largely female clientele return again and again to its 14-karat gold, gold vermeil, and sterling silver jewelry that's made for everyday wear. Mejuri's mission is to have women "embrace a daily dose of luxury." With plenty of under-$100 options, it makes fulfilling this mission very achievable. Read our editor's review of Mejuri's pearl hoops, and check out our full review of Mejuri jewelry.StudsStuds/FacebookWhen earrings are all you're after, Studs has a wide assortment to create your perfect earscape, making it atop pick as one of the best online jewelry stores for delicate earrings. It's here you'll find hoops of all sizes, simple studs, and huggies with cute charms that range from cowboy boots to lava lamps. What they all have in common is a dainty size and aesthetic that makes them easy to layer on your lobes. (If you're looking for large statement earrings, your time is best spent elsewhere.) If you need another piercing to accommodate your new pieces, Studs can help you with that, too, at one of its physical locations. 14-karat gold plating keeps the prices low, with starting prices at $14 for a single earring. Read our full review of Studs.SequinSequinSequin makes jewelry that's stylishly eclectic. You can find necklaces made of baroque pearls, chokers adorned with astrological symbols, and gemstone earrings made to ward off the evil eye. Their selection of semi-precious pieces are beautifully designed to stand out. Plus, you can even make your own necklace by choosing from an array of ornate charms and gold chains.Stone and StrandStone and StrandStone and Strand produces its own high-end jewelry and curates other like-minded brands on its site, creating an online space where shoppers aren't intimidated to explore fine jewelry. Most pieces are made of 14-karat solid gold — though you can also find more affordable gold-plated options — and the diamonds and gemstones used are ethically sourced and conflict-free. It's one of the best online jewelry stores for everyday pieces, including an exceptional collection of layering rings and necklaces. Read our full review of Stone and Strand.Awe InspiredAwe InspiredAwe Inspired makes some of the most unique and meaningful pieces we've found, and is beloved by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Halle Berry, and Meghan Markle. Awe's signature line is its collection of goddess-inspired necklaces ranging from mythical goddesses like Athena, the Greek goddess of heroic endeavor, to real-life "goddesses" such as Harriet Tubman. If you don't know which goddess suits you best, Awe has a quiz you can take. And while the goddess collection offers plenty of swoon-worthy pieces, it's just the tip of Awe's offerings — you'll also find meaningful pieces inspired by amulets, affirmations, the zodiac, and more. Not only do all the pieces feel unique and personalized, but they're surprisingly affordable, with most necklaces coming in at under $200. VraiVraiSkeptical about buying diamond rings online? Vrai helps to streamline the process. This downtown LA-based company only uses solid gold and Diamond Foundry diamonds, which are physically and chemically indistinguishable from mined diamonds, and created using solar energy. Vrai's simple and timeless pieces will delight minimalists and anyone who hates to be plagued by pages and pages of choices. Couples should take advantage of its free home try-on program for wedding rings, which decreases the pressure of choosing the perfect ring. Read our full review of Vrai jewelry.NoémieNoémieNoémie specializes in both timeless designs and custom pieces that feature conflict-free stones. While you can find classic tennis bracelets and playful diamond studs, we think its custom design option offers exceptional value, making it one of the best online jewelry stores for custom pieces. You simply describe your dream piece and budget, and the designers at Noémie pull together original designs for you to choose from. Our editor recently used the service to make a custom wedding band to fit around a tear-shaped engagement ring and loved being part of the design process. For truly one-of-a-kind pieces, Noémie is worth checking out.GorjanaGorjanaIf you love the "I-just-threw-this-on" jewelry look, you're going to want to check out Gorjana. If you haven't heard of it already, this Laguna Beach-based brand is well-loved for its range of affordable, gold-plated pieces that range from simple and dainty to funky and trendy, which pretty much all cost under $100. If you want something a little more luxe and have extra room in your budget, Gorjana recently introduced a line of fine jewelry that's made up of solid 14-karat gold and diamonds. Read our full review of Gorjana.Susan AlexandraSusan AlexandraThe name of the game with Susan Alexandra is fun. The brand is famous for its campy and trendy beaded handbags, like the Ash Bag, and their jewelry line embodies the same sense of whimsy. In fact, they have a whole section of beaded fruit earrings and offer a crafty make-your -own jewelry option that lets you pick your own colorful charms.DorseyDorseyIf you've ever admired the sparkling diamond necklaces worn by celebs on the red carpet but felt like the look was entirely out of reach, then consider Dorsey. The online jewelry brand makes statement pieces that would fit right in at an awards show, yet because they're mostly made from lab-grown white sapphires and plated sterling silver, the prices average around $200-$500.Dorsey also has the option to splurge on lab-grown diamonds that fall in the $2,500-$4,500 range – not quite spare change, but still far less than red carpet jewels that regularly run $1 million or more. The brand's signature collar necklaces and tennis bracelets are standouts you can wear with everything from a T-shirt to an evening gown.MontserratMontserratFor everyday pieces that still make a statement, Montserrat has a collection of both elegant and playful designs, from enameled fruit necklaces to bejeweled statement chokers. The vast majority of the pieces are under $200, but you'll find some larger statement pieces creep up over $500. Montserrat is the best online jewelry store for statement-making pieces that are still dainty enough to layer with other pieces you own.Page SargissonPaige SargissonBrooklyn-based designer Page Sargisson makes custom pieces that run well into the thousands, but you'll also find plenty of more affordable options as part of the 10 karat and silver collection. Everything is made by hand out of solid gold or sterling silver and includes pieces like an opal-studded evil eye necklace ($575) and tiny stud earrings ($32).SokoSokoAt the helm of the movement towards "ethical fast fashion" is Soko, a jewelry startup with an innovative, efficient, and empowering model that uses technology to connect with independent artisans in Africa. Soko's jewelry is guaranteed to attract attention, not only for its unique sourcing and manufacturing origins but also for its structural, powerful style. These hand-made pieces are produced from less conventional, but more affordable materials like brass. Read our full Soko review.AuvereAuvereFor top-line luxury, specifically 22- and 24-karat gold, at surprisingly affordable prices, Auvere is the place to go. There's a range of feminine and more masculine designs, so there's something to fit everyone's style. There's no denying that the architectural pieces are investments, but you get what you pay for — pure gold, wrapped into beautiful designs without the mark-up — and they'll only appreciate in value over time.Ariel GordonAriel GordonAriel Gordon designs cute, delicate jewelry that is meant to be worn over and over again. This Los Angeles-based brand is a celebrity favorite and it's easy to see why. Launched out of her apartment while Gordon worked as a Hollywood publicist, the collection is made up of pieces designed to be worn over and over again, transitioning from occasion to occasion without losing quality and durability. Its charm pieces, which include animals and flowers, are truly sweet designs that'll brighten your day.The Last LineThe Last LineFor those who love bold, beautiful jewelry, The Last Line is a must-shop. Founded by a Parsons grad and industry veteran, The Last Line wants to be the one and only place you buy all your jewelry. That might not be as ambitious as it sounds considering the brand sells everything from show-stopping rainbow pieces to chunky rings to classic gold hoops. If you thought fine jewelry couldn't be fun or colorful, The Last Line is here to prove you wrong.VerlasVerlasInvesting in a nice piece of jewelry without trying it on first can feel risky. If you can't make up your mind right away, Verlas is one of the best online jewelry stores for a try-before-you-buy experience. The brand's try-at-home program allows you to try any three pieces from the site for 15 days. The test pieces are made of replica materials (like cubic zirconium and brass), but when you're done, you can choose the ones you love best and then order the real deal made with diamonds and gold. If you want to pass on them all, that's okay too. Of course, if you know what you want right off the bat, you can go straight to purchasing.HoldenHoldenWhen wedding ring shopping gets so stressful that it detracts from the real experience of starting your life with someone, that's a problem. As one of the best online jewelry stores for simple bands and wedding rings, Holden is making it easy to shop for and customize rings that start at only $249. Simply request a free ring size kit, choose your ring profile, width, metal, karat, and finish, and add an optional engraving, and your rings will be made-to-order with 3D printing technology. Read our full review of Holden, which is also a top pick in our guide to the best men's wedding bands.CoupleCouple/FacebookThe idea for Couple began when one of its co-founders had difficulty finding an engagement ring for his now-wife and saw an opportunity to also lessen the environmental and ethical challenges of mined diamonds. Couple works with lab-grown diamonds that look identical to mined ones (and are actually of higher quality) so that marriages can start off on the right foot — with trust, transparency, and thoughtfulness. Many of the rings can also be engraved for a truly personal touch. Read our full review of Couple. GemistGemistLove a finger full of stackable rings? As one of the best online jewelry stores for colorful pieces, you'll love Gemist's wide variety of affordable options. The brand offers a streamlined at-home try-on process, where you're given three costume rings to play with for two weeks. Enjoy the pieces? Just let Gemist know, and they'll send you the custom pieces after you send your testers back. Gemist also has a variety of earrings, wedding bands, and engagement rings, too.IdylIdylIdyl's modular jewelry lets you create multiple looks from a single necklace or pair of earrings, all of which are made with lab-grown diamonds and conflict-free gold.What Idyl lacks in options, it makes up for in versatility. The jewelry brand currently only sells necklaces and earrings but what makes it unique is that everything is modular — all of the pieces are designed to be mixed and matched with various add-ons to create different looks. Once you own the basic round studs, for example, you can purchase 17 separate attachments to look like an entirely new pair of earrings. Idyl also aims to bring transparency and sustainability to its jewelry line by using lab-grown diamonds and traceable solid gold.Read the original article on Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 7th, 2023

15 celebrities who love shopping at Costco

From former presidents to the music industry's biggest names, even celebrities are known to shop at Costco. President Barack Obama greets an employee in the bakery at a Costco store in Lanham, Maryland, in 2014.ISP POOL images/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Costco is a retail chain beloved by many, including celebrities. In 2020, Lana Del Rey described the chain as "a happy place." Other stars like John Mayer and Ryan Seacrest have also touted their love for Costco. From former presidents to the music industry's biggest names, even celebrities are known to shop at Costco.In 2020, Lana Del Rey shared a series of photos from a recent trip to Costco, calling it "a happy place." Billie Eilish, the Kardashians, and prominent politicians have also touted the grocery-store chain for its deals and selection. Here are 15 celebrities who love shopping at Costco.Billie Eilish said she's a huge fan of Costco's Kirkland-brand peanut butter.Billie Eilish at the world premiere of "Barbie."Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagicIn a series of Instagram stories in November 2021, the "Bad Guy" singer shared how she makes her favorite peanut-butter cookies. She also took a moment to call out Costco's brand of organic peanut butter, which she said she "uses for everything." In 2020, Lana Del Rey shared a series of photos from a trip to Costco, calling it "a happy place."Lana Del Rey.Joseph Okpako/Getty ImagesThe photos showed smoke from the Santa Clarita forest fires over a range of mountains, as well as a snap of the singer wearing a face mask and posing in what appeared to be the Costco parking lot.Publicist and television personality Kelly Cutrone commented on the Instagram post, saying, "I've never been to Costco, what's it like?!"Del Rey replied, "Stunning. But you have to be very aggressive. And I found it strange I was the only one riding along on my cart doing wheelies I mean it's a happy place, get happy?"In January 2020, a photograph of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla, shopping at Costco made the rounds.Mark Zuckerberg.Charles Platiau/ReutersThe photograph, first published by TMZ, appeared to show the tech mogul and his wife, Priscilla, perusing the TV selection at a Costco store, which according to TMZ was in Mountain View, California.In 2008, Megan Fox was seen leaving Costco with her then-husband, Brian Austin Green.Megan Fox.Kevin Mazur/AMA2020 / Getty ImagesAccording to Costco Blog, she was spotted leaving with a shopping cart loaded with toilet paper and Kirkland products.Mandy Moore was spotted stocking up on essentials at a Los Feliz, California, Costco in 2011.Mandy Moore.Mike Blake/ReutersA paparazzi photo showed Moore and her assistant with a cart loaded with toilet paper and other household necessities.The Kardashian-Jenner clan are also fans of Costco.Kylie Jenner.Photo by Jackson Lee/GC ImagesIn a photo released by US Magazine, sisters Kylie and Khloe were seen shopping hand-in-hand and wearing matching outfits at a Costco store in Los Angeles in 2014.Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner also described herself as "a bulk girl," adding that Costco is her favorite store for stocking up.Kris Jenner.Jason Merritt/Getty ImagesWhen asked if her home was prepared for earthquakes, she said in an interview with Alex Israel, "I am! I am like a Girl Scout. I am the most earthquake-ready person you would ever meet. I have fire extinguishers, and backpacks full of supplies, and I have flashlights and water ... I practically have a bunker."She continued, explaining her grocery shopping practices: "Big, big, big," she said. "Go big or go home."In 2014, John Mayer said on Twitter that he had just made his first visit to Costco and joked that he "went nuts" at the store.John Mayer.Photo by Robert Knight Archive/Redferns"Went to a Costco today. I don't think I've ever been. Went nuts. Now I'm juicing and carbonating and brewing everything in sight," the singer tweeted.Mayer also helped a pair of Costco's Kirkland sneakers to go viral after joking on Instagram that he paid $700 to a reseller to get his hands on a pair.Ryan Seacrest revealed himself as a fan when he gifted Justin Bieber with a Costco membership for his 18th birthday.Ryan Seacrest.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images"I've known you for a few years and I've been waiting for this moment because there's something I've wanted to give you on your 18th birthday," Seacrest said on his KIIS-FM radio show in 2012, US Magazine reported. "It's something that I love," he continued. "My buddies and I used to use this [membership] quite a bit when we were roommates. It's a lot of fun."Jessica Alba was photographed shopping at Costco in downtown Los Angeles back in 2010.Jessica Alba.Dia Dipasupil/GettyThe Daily Mail reported that the actress turned businesswoman was stocking up on electronics, including a TV and DVD player.Bethenny Frankel has spoken about her love for Costco, calling it her "religion."Bethenny Frankel.Roy Rochlin/Getty ImagesIn a Bravo TV blog post, the former "Real Housewives of New York" star wrote, "I live for bulk stores in general, but Costco is, as I said, my religion. There are always all of these random great finds there, from king crab legs to dried blueberries.""You definitely need to have a big household or split with a friend," she continued. "It is best to buy there when having a large party or purchase what you use on an ongoing basis."Ashlee Simpson was seen leaving a Costco store in Los Angeles in 2011.Ashlee Simpson.Photo by Getty Images/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagicPaparazzi photos showed Simpson with her son Bronx and a female companion, who wheeled a shopping cart loaded with groceries from the retail chain.Former president Barack Obama appears to be a big fan of the warehouse chain.President Barack Obama greets an employee in the bakery at a Costco store in Lanham, Maryland.ISP POOL images/Corbis/VCG via Getty ImagesDuring his time as president, he visited Costco stores and touted the retailer for its "good wages" and benefits, the Washington Examiner reported in 2013.Costco cofounder Jim Sinegal is a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, and the company even donated funds to Obama's 2012 campaign.Mitt Romney wasn't fazed by Costco's Democrat connections back in the Obama years.Mitt Romney.Associated Press/Rick BowmerThe New York Daily News reported that the Republican politician was seen at a Costco store in La Jolla, California, in 2012, wheeling out a cart stuffed with supplies.Rudy Giuliani was spotted shopping at a Costco in Reno in 2007.Rudy Giuliani.AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinHe was photographed buying a selection of DVDs, socks, and a book about Richard Nixon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

The Lovesac Company (NASDAQ:LOVE) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

The Lovesac Company (NASDAQ:LOVE) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript November 3, 2023 Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, and welcome to the Lovesac’s Second Quarter Fiscal 2024 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this […] The Lovesac Company (NASDAQ:LOVE) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript November 3, 2023 Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, and welcome to the Lovesac’s Second Quarter Fiscal 2024 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host Ms. Rachel Schacter of ICR. Please go ahead. Rachel Schacter: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. With me on the call is Shawn Nelson, Chief Executive Officer; Mary Fox, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Keith Siegner, Chief Financial Officer. Before we get started, I would like to remind you that some of the information discussed will include forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future financial performance. These include statements about our future expectations, financial projections, and our plans and prospects. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in such statements. For a discussion of these risks and uncertainties, you should review the company’s filings with the SEC, which includes today’s press release. You should not rely on our forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. All forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions and beliefs as of today, and we undertake no obligation to update them, except as required by applicable law. Our discussion today will include non-GAAP financial measures, including EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA. These non-GAAP measures should be considered in addition to, and not as a substitute for, or in isolation from our GAAP results. A reconciliation of the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures to such non-GAAP financial measure has been provided as supplemental financial information in our press release. Now, I’d like to turn the call over to Shawn Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of The Lovesac Company. Shawn Nelson: Thank you, Rachel. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. I will start this call off by reviewing the highlights of our second quarter fiscal 2024, briefly providing an update on our operational accomplishments and finishing up with our outlook. Then Mary Fox, our President and COO, will update you on the progress we made against our strategic initiatives. And finally, Keith Siegner, our new CFO will review our financial results and a few other items related to our outlook in more detail. Before diving in, I want to thank everybody for their patience as we work through our financial restatement. We hold ourselves to very high standards of integrity, accuracy and reliability of our financial statements is paramount. As of today, all amended filings are complete. Additionally, we’re enhancing teams and implementing procedures and disciplines as we work to build a world-class organization able to support growth for years to come. Moving on to our results. We’re pleased with our second quarter performance with top and bottom line exceeding our initial outlook provided in June. The economic environment remained challenging as macro pressures drove a more cautious consumer in turn, keeping pressure on the home category. While we also felt pressure, Lovesac operated from a position of strength, leveraging our 25th anniversary campaign and omnichannel expansion to continue our track record of outperforming the category and achieving positive net sales growth. Not to be overlooked, we delivered growth despite a difficult comparison lapping top line growth of 45% in the second quarter of fiscal 2023. Specifically, total net sales were $154.5 million, up 4% versus the prior year period, supported by total comparable sales growth of 7.2% for the quarter. On a two-year basis, net sales grew an impressive 51%. Adjusted EBITDA was $5.3 million as compared to $12.3 million in the prior year period. As expected, gross margin expansion was more than offset by important investments in growth. Deleverage in marketing and advertising resulted from our 25th anniversary celebrity campaign and the launch and support of our Angled Side innovation, both of which will benefit us in the coming quarters. We also continue to make necessary and disciplined infrastructure investments to ensure we have the foundations for category beating profitable growth for the long-term. The pressure from the investments will abate later this year as we’ll talk more about that in a few minutes. Operationally, we made good progress on our initiatives to strengthen our Infinity flywheel that supports our differentiated business model. Mary will discuss in detail the progress on specific growth strategies but let me provide a brief update. On the product innovation front, as previously discussed, we formally launched Angled Side in the quarter. Angled Side offers benefits to augment both aesthetics and comfort, importantly, addressing the number one style gap we identified in our research. By opening the aperture of potential customers we’re reaching, more new and existing customers and seeing meaningful contribution every week since the launch of the Angled Side. We continue to wisely expand our physical footprint supporting awareness and benefiting our e-commerce sales, altogether, delivering a seamless omni-channel experience to our customer. We’re driving marketing efficiency with new tactics, including hyperlocal marketing to drive traffic. Lastly, we are still carefully investing in technology and R&D to fuel continued innovation to further elevate the entire customer experience and to ensure that we have a strong foundation to support the long runway of growth ahead. Looking to the second half of the year, we expect the macro environment to remain challenging, continuing to pressure the home category. We are not planning for any meaningful recovery in category growth this fiscal year. In terms of the promotional environment, we expect it will be more competitive as we head into holiday season and anticipate more frequency and depth of discounting across the industry. We’ve adapted our own plans accordingly, and we’ll remain very agile through the holiday season. Even taking this into account, which doesn’t change our confidence that Lovesac will continue to outperform the category and yes, generate stronger growth in the second half than the first half. This is clear in our guidance where we estimate third quarter revenues of approximate $154 million and are tightening the range of our fiscal 2024 net sales guidance to $710 million to $730 million nationally. Given the macro back drop we are highly caused operationally we are focused on efficiency and will control expenses very tightly. This will become more clear, as we lap necessary foundational investments that began in the second half of fiscal 2023, and which put peak pressure on bottom line growth in second and third quarters this year. After adding in some discrete expenses, primarily professional fees related to the restatement of approximately $4 million, we now anticipate fiscal 2024 net income in the range of $20 million to $29 million. In summary, we have an unwavering commitment to the customer, delivering our unique design for life platforms through circular operations and an omni-channel experience. We’re pleased with our performance thus far in fiscal 2024. Growing net sales and comping positively in a declining category, while funding essential investments in long-term growth and maintaining a very healthy balance sheet. We’re committed to operating the business with great discipline as we navigate the current environment and build on our track record of market share gains, which will become more evident in the coming quarters. We’re confident in the future. And we believe that we are well-positioned to deliver on our outlook for the remainder of this fiscal year and capitalize on any opportunities the macro backdrop offers. I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to our Lovesac team. It is their execution that enables our best-in-category financial and operational performance and drives my confidence and excitement in our future. With that, I’ll hand it over to Mary to cover our strategic priorities and progress in more detail. Mary? Mary Fox: Thank you, Shawn, and good morning, everyone. We’re pleased to have extended our track record of industry leading growth for quarter two and also quarter three, as you can see from our preliminary results. Our second quarter net sales growth of 4% continues to be significantly ahead of the category, and more importantly, is up 221% on a four-year basis to give a comparison to pre-pandemic levels. And even with the planned SG&A deleverage that Shawn mentioned, adjusted EBITDA margin has increased over 1,000 basis points over the same four-year time period. It is our unique and compelling design for life platform and the virtually unparalleled value proposition it offers that enables us to continue to profitably take share even with current market dynamics. With a clear strategy for growth and crisp execution by a team that is coalesced around the priorities that support our growth strategy, we continue to drive operational excellence across the business and make progress as illustrated by the highlights I will now share with you. Firstly, starting with product innovation. As previously announced, our highly anticipated new product introduction, the Angled Side first launched in May in conjunction with our 25th anniversary brand campaign. Our customers have been very receptive. As we have discussed before, Star was the number 1 reason, customers left our purchase funnel and the Angled Side addressed our biggest opportunity around disparity to purchase. But the benefit is not only aesthetic, we also received strong feedback on enhance, comfort from existing and new customers. During third quarter, we expanded distribution and the Angled Side has now been available across our showroom base as well as our e-com platform since the end of July. A full media campaign launched during the summer is support and helped drive Angled Side as a percentage of total size sold to over 40% in recent periods. We believe we will continue to gain market share through this new product introduction as awareness and appreciation continues to grow. Secondly, our omnichannel experience. We continue to execute as a true omnichannel retailer through a combination of our physical touch points and digital platform. During second quarter, we opened 18 showrooms and three Best Buy shop-in shops. Our success in driving strong efficiencies in the time from construction to opening enabled us to pull-forward some openings with 15 of the 18 showrooms opening ahead of our original schedule. With regards to our Costco partnership, sales were up 15% in Q2, driven by increased pop-up shop presence versus last year. Our e-commerce channel performance continued to impress, up 12.8% for last year including costco.com and bestbuy.com and contributing meaningfully to our category outperformance. Underlying all channels and proof that our plan is working, our customer satisfaction scores continue to improve and increase sequentially, driven by surgical initiatives in enhancing the digital experience and customer service improvements with technology investments in our customer loved teams. Thirdly, our brand ecosystem. Our efficient marketing, including our strong customer lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratio lies at the center of our ecosystem and serves as an effective driver of fans awareness and customer acquisition. The back end, we are being very selective about marketing where the traffic is and where the eye bills are, as we continue to widen our customer aperture with both product innovation and marketing strategy and tactics. We continue to deploy new marketing tactics, including continuing to invest in high ROI performing programs and growing hyper local marketing to drive relevant traffic to our touch points. We remain focused on customer acquisition and have been utilizing vehicles such as direct mail campaigns that deliver strong ROIs for us. As previously mentioned, we’ve also begun leveraging prime and linear TV buys to continue to drive reach and strengthen our brand love. The objective of our launch of Angled Side was to broaden our aesthetic appeal to address the segment of the market that we were missing with our current assortment. So we partnered with Architectural Digest, a leader in style to launch the product. The launch partnership included content and advertisement on architecturaldigest.com and their partners as well as the launch event in New York City with designers and influencers, which generated additional content driving awareness of the launch. To-date, we are over 750 million impressions from this launch partnership and really pleased with not only the reach, but also the quality of the coverage. Regarding our circular operations initiative, we have made good progress on our open-box inventory as we focus on improving the executional effectiveness and brand experience. And we are seeing over 20% improvement in returns back to start versus last year as one key measure for this initiative. And then lastly, disciplined infrastructure investments and efficiency. For fiscal 2024, we are investing in the areas of technology and research and development to best fuel our Infinity Flywheel. We are focused on continuing to enhance customer satisfaction through continued delivery of orders in just days. In addition, we believe our recent investments in supply chain will help drive inventory product improvements of 20%. We’re pleased with the team’s progress so far and are on track to deliver this by year-end. As we’ve said before, we expect these initiatives will drive a significant improvement in efficiency of working capital as well as associated cost reductions across inbound freight and warehousing, which we started realizing in quarter three and will continue to realize in quarter four. Our AI pilots that we mentioned last quarter provides generative AI-guided experiences to our customer-facing service associates to improve customer service and we’re pleased with initial results. So it is still very early. We continue to believe this has the potential to enhance the overall customer shopping experience and we are already seeing the benefits in the specific customer service satisfaction for improvement. As part of our people infrastructure investments, we recently appointed Carly Kawaja as our new Chief People Officer, as we continue to build our capabilities and evolve the organization strategically so that we can effectively scale the business. Through leveraging our extensive human resources experience we will be very strategic, building our organization through an optimal balance of human resources and impactful and efficient technology capabilities. Make no mistake, we are laser focused on operational excellence as we manage our cost structure and capital allocation. As Shawn mentioned, this will become more evident in coming quarters as deleverage abate. In summary, we’re pleased with our year-to-date performance and are ready to deliver the all-important fourth quarter. We’re very proud of our team and their continued execution against our strategic initiatives, which in turn further strengthens our competitive positioning and powers our Infinity flywheel. I will now pass the call over to Keith to review our quarter two results and our outlook for quarter three and the balance of the year. Keith? Keith Siegner: Thank you, Mary. Before I get started, I want to express how excited I am to be here today as part of this amazing team that this remarkable brand, this truly differentiated business model. After having spent 16 years covering consumer companies on Wall Street, then being part of the leadership and a large-cap consumer company and the start-up, I can say the outlook for profitable growth at Lovesac is truly special. Between continued growth and market share gains for Sactionals and Saks, introduction of new products and categories and eventual geographic expansion, the opportunity is immense. All right. On to a quick review of second quarter, followed by our outlook for the rest of fiscal 2024. Net sales increased $6 million or 4% and to $154.5 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2024, with the year-over-year increase driven by web and showrooms. This was in line with what we projected for the quarter driven by our July 4th promotional campaign and 25th anniversary celebration. Showroom net sales increased $5.8 million or 6.3% to $98.2 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2024 as compared to $92.4 million in the prior year period. The increase in Showroom sales was driven by an increase of 2.7% in comparable Showroom sales related to higher point-of-sale transactions with lower promotional discounting than the prior year, and the net addition of 49 net new showrooms compared to the prior year period. As a reminder, point-of-sale transactions that we reflect in our comparable sales metrics, represent orders placed through our showrooms, which does not always reflect the point at which control transfers to the customer and when net sales are recorded. Internet net sales increased $5.9 million or 16.6% to $41.4 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2024 as compared to $35.5 million in the prior year period. Other net sales, which include pop-up shop, shop-in-shop and open-box inventory transactions decreased $5.7 million or 27.7% to $14.9 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2024. The decrease was principally due to a lower open-box inventory transactions, only $2.8 million compared to $9.5 million in the second quarter fiscal 2023. As a reminder, our open-box inventory transactions with ICON are a part of our circular operations, design for life and ESG initiatives. We’re making great progress in reviewing all options for this returned product to align with our sustainability goals, and which should retain more profits for Lovesac at the same time. We expect some of these initiatives to ramp in Q4. In the meantime, we may engage in limited open-box inventory transactions with ICON to ensure our warehouses are operating as efficiently as possible. In fact, in the third quarter, we will have an incremental $2.5 million in open box sales, which are included in our outlook. By product category, in the second quarter, our Sactional net sales increased 3%. SaaS net sales increased 18% and our other net sales, which includes decorative pillows, blankets and accessories increased 12% over the prior year. Gross margin increased 650 basis points to 59.8% of net sales in the second quarter versus 53.3% in the prior year quarter, primarily driven by a decrease of 720 basis points in total distribution and related tariff expenses. This was offset partially by 70 basis points of pressure from higher promotional discounting. The decrease in total distribution and related tariff expenses over the prior year is principally related to the positive impact of 880 basis points decrease in inbound transportation costs, partially offset by 160 basis points in higher outbound, transportation and warehousing costs. As a reminder, the benefits of the decrease in inbound freight rates will continue in the third quarter albeit at a slightly lower level. SG&A expense as a percent of net sales increased by 840 basis points, primarily due to deleverage within employment costs, selling-related expenses tied to the Lovesac credit card and continued investments to support current and future growth as well as professional fees. In dollars, employment costs increased by $5.7 million, primarily driven by an increase in new hires in fiscal 2023. Overhead expenses increased $6.2 million, consisting mainly of increases of $3 million in professional fees and $3.2 million in infrastructure investments in other miscellaneous items. Rent increased by $0.9 million related to $1.9 million rent expense from our net addition of 49 showrooms, partially offset by $1 million reduction in percentage rent. We estimate non-recurring incremental fees associated with the restatement of prior period financials was approximately $1.7 million in the second quarter. Advertising and marketing expenses increased $7.4 million or 39% to $26.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2024 compared to $19.1 million in the prior year period. Advertising and marketing expenses were 17.2% of net sales in the second quarter as compared to 12.9% of net sales in the prior year period. The primary contributor to the increased percentage was the launch of the 25th anniversary campaign. This will serve as the foundation for many of our marketing messages through the remainder of the fiscal year. Operating loss for the quarter was $1 million compared to operating income of $8.1 million in the second quarter of last year, driven by the factors we just discussed. Before we turn our attention to net loss, net loss per diluted share and adjusted EBITDA, please refer to the terminology and reconciliation between each of our adjusted metrics and their most directly comparable GAAP measurements in our earnings release issued earlier this morning. Net loss for the quarter was $0.6 million or negative $0.04 per diluted share compared to net income of $5.8 million or $0.37 per diluted share in the prior year period. During the second quarter of fiscal 2024, we recorded an income tax benefit of $7,000 as compared to a $2.3 million tax provision for the second quarter of fiscal 2023. The change in provision is primarily driven by the net loss for the quarter. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was an income of $5.3 million as compared to adjusted EBITDA of $12.3 million in the prior year period. Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter was ahead of our expectations, principally driven by the upside to gross margin. Turning to our balance sheet. Our total merchandise inventory levels are in line with our projections, and have leveled out, as we discussed on our prior call. This is despite the addition of Angled Side SKUs, and we believe this is a clear highlight of the uniqueness of our business model. We feel exceptionally good about both the quality and quantity of our inventory and our ability to maintain industry-leading in-stock positions and delivery times. We ended the second quarter with a very healthy balance sheet, inclusive of $54.7 million in cash and cash equivalents as well as $36 million in availability on our revolving line of credit with no borrowings. Please refer to our earnings press release for other details on our second quarter financial performance. So now our outlook, and let’s start with the fiscal third quarter. We estimate net sales of $154 million. This includes approximately $2.5 million of open-box inventory sales compared to $4.2 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2023. We expect adjusted EBITDA between positive $0.5 million and negative $1.5 million. This includes gross margins between 56% and 57%. Merchandising and advertising slightly above 14 as a percent of net sales and SG&A slightly above 44% as a percent of net sales. We estimate net loss to be $3.2 million to $5.2 million. This includes approximately $1 million of non-recurring incremental expenses associated with our restatement of prior period financial statements. We estimate diluted loss per common share is expected to be $0.20 to $0.33 with 15.5 million weighted average shares outstanding. Now, for the full year fiscal 2024. We are tightening the range of our full year outlook for net sales to $710 million to $730 million. We expect adjusted EBITDA between $51 million and $63 million. This includes gross margins of $57 million to $57.5 million merchandising and advertising of slightly above 13% as a percent of net sales and SG&A between 37% and 38% as a percentage of net sales. We estimate net income to be between $20 million and $29 million. These fiscal 2024 estimates include approximately $4 million of non-recurring incremental expenses associated with our restatement of prior period financial statements. We estimate diluted income per common share in the range of $1.21 to $1.75, and approximately 16.5 million estimated diluted weighted average shares outstanding. As a reminder, the 53rd week in the fourth quarter is expected to contribute approximately $6 million in net sales. Quickly on our cash balance outlook. Given the timing of new touch point openings and our planned flow of inbound inventory ahead of the seasonally strong fourth quarter, the third quarter tends to be our lowest quarter ending cash balance of the year. I’m pleased to share that we ended fiscal third quarter with approximately $37 million in cash, which is up substantially from $3.8 million at the end of third quarter fiscal 2023. As we monetize inventory through the busy season, we continue to estimate we will end fiscal 2024 with a higher net cash balance than we ended fiscal 2023. So in conclusion, we are pleased with our second quarter results. Market share gains, strengthening foundations, exciting new growth drivers and a healthy balance sheet, put Lovesac in an enviable position. I’m new here, but I’m already very proud of the team’s execution and what continues to be a challenging macro backdrop as well as their exuberance for optimizing the opportunity ahead of us. With a strong focus on growth, underpinned by an ROI-based approach to measured reinvestment I’m confident in the outlook. I’ll now turn the call back to the operator to start our Q&A session. See also 30 Most Profitable Businesses You Could Start in 2023 and 10 Best Performing Small-cap ETFs in 2023. Q&A Session Follow Lovesac Co (NASDAQ:LOVE) Follow Lovesac Co (NASDAQ:LOVE) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we will now be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question is from Thomas Forte with D.A. Davidson. Please go ahead. Thomas Forte: Great. So congrats on the performance and welcome, Keith. I have one high-level question. I wanted to give you an opportunity to address the question, I guess, from investors a lot. You have a great business with a high gross margin, yet historically you have not generated a lot of free cash flow. What have been the limiting factors in the past for this? How might this change in the future? And when you get to a point where you’re generating significant free cash flow, how do you intend to use it including reinvesting in the business, buybacks and strategic M&A? Thanks. Shawn Nelson: Yeah. Thanks for the question, Tom. I appreciate where it’s coming from. This is Shawn. Lovesac has been on a rapid growth curve for about a decade now. I think when we look at our CAGR going back many, many years, it’s extremely high. Leading into the pandemic — heading into the pandemic brought an unprecedented growth and we’ve just been focused on chasing that, chasing market share and building the business in the most profitable way that we know how. Now that we’ve achieved the scale that we’re at today, I believe that even in real time, the evidence of free cash flow growing and producing the kind of results that you’re — I think investors would hope for and expect out of a business that’s the cheapest kind of scale will be evident, and we’re really excited about that. Obviously, here, we’re reporting on Q2, which is a strong path, because of the restatement process. But we’ve given a flash on Q3. And while we haven’t spoken specifically about cash, we feel really encouraged about those results and believe that the evidence of this business’ ability to generate free cash flow will be obvious. And so looking forward to sharing more on that, I’ll kick it to Keith who can probably give a little more insight. Keith Siegner: Thanks, Shawn. So this is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. And I think listening to each of the three of us, both Shawn, Mary and myself, I think you would have heard a very clear commitment to a disciplined approach to reinvestment both in the organization and in future growth drivers. But just to put a couple of numbers around this in terms of proof in the pudding, you could say, look, SG&A deleverage, as an example, was a little over 840 basis points in the second quarter. When you build into your model, the G&A ranges that I gave you for the third quarter for the full year. What you’ll see is that deleverage in SG&A in Q3, let’s call it approximately half of what we had in 2Q and then when you see what falls out for fourth quarter, it’s a substantial reduction even from there. So this isn’t a fiscal 2025 only commitment. You’re going to start to see this flow through in the next couple of quarters. Thomas Forte: Thank you. Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from the line of Maria Ripps with Cannacord Genuity. Please go ahead. Maria Ripps : Great. Good morning and thanks for taking my questions. First, I just wanted to ask about your outlook for Q4, which implies a pretty wide range for revenue growth for your biggest quarter. Can you maybe just talk about what’s implied in your assumptions, both at the lower and the upper end of your guidance? And then I have a quick follow-up. Keith Siegner: Sure, thing. So I’ll start with a couple of numbers around this, and then if Shawn or Mary want to add in some high level. It’s basically a $20 million range on a big quarter given the macro backdrop that remains a little uncertain as you’re hearing from pretty much everybody in the consumer category, particularly in our — including in our close-in categories. The way we’re thinking about approaching that range is to plan prudently and allocate expenses prudently. We have a really unique business model that lets us react to upside surprises and demand much more quickly than others given that we’re not merchandising led and can fulfill orders in retail inventory really quickly. So we think it’s a better approach......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyNov 4th, 2023

BuzzFeed, Inc. (NASDAQ:BZFD) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

BuzzFeed, Inc. (NASDAQ:BZFD) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 12, 2023 Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to BuzzFeed’s Second Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please note […] BuzzFeed, Inc. (NASDAQ:BZFD) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 12, 2023 Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to BuzzFeed’s Second Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please note that today’s conference may be recorded. I will now hand the conference over to your speaker host, Amita Tomkoria, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead. Amita Tomkoria: Hi, everyone. Welcome to BuzzFeed Inc.’s second quarter 2023 earnings conference call. I’m Amita Tomkoria, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Joining me today are Founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti; President, Marcela Martin; and CFO, Felicia DellaFortuna. Before we get started, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our remarks today will include forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause these results to differ materially are set forth in today’s press release, our 2022 annual report on Form 10-K, our Q1 quarterly report on Form 10-Q, and in our Q2 quarterly report on Form 10-Q to be filed tomorrow. Any forward-looking statements that we make on this call are based on assumptions as of today, and we undertake no obligation to update these statements as a result of new information or future events. During this call, we present both GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin. The use of non-GAAP financial measures allows us to measure the operational strength and performance of our business to establish budgets and to develop operational goals for managing our business. We believe adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin are relevant and useful information for investors because they allow investors to view performance in a manner similar to the method used by our management. A reconciliation of these GAAP to non-GAAP measures is included in today’s earnings press release. Please refer to our Investor Relations website to find today’s press release along with our investor letter. And now I’ll pass the call over to Jonah. Jonah Peretti: Thank you, Amita. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. We continue to see a shift in the marketplace as consolidation and share gains across the biggest platforms have presented headwinds for digital content and publishing companies. Further, at Facebook and other major tech platforms continue to prioritize vertical video, traffic referrals from these platforms to our content have diminished. These dynamics have impacted monetization in Q2 and into Q3. As a result, we expect the year-on-year revenue declines we saw in Q2 to persist in Q3. To address this, we are laser-focused on our strategy to drive traffic directly to our owned-and-operated properties by introducing new AI-assisted content formats to increase engagement and offer innovative advertising opportunities to our clients, rapidly expanding our creator networks to participate in the rise of vertical video and prioritizing destination news content to grow our HuffPost front page audience. Though it will take time for these initiatives to translate into scaled monetization, we are making good progress in executing against our transformation plans. The strategic and organizational changes we discussed at our Investor Day in May have been fully executed, putting a rich library of IP and scaled owned-and-operated properties at the center of our operating model to create innovative, audience-driven content. We are successfully leveraging our trusted brands to attract a growing number of emerging Internet creators in order to more rapidly scale our content output, and we have prioritized resources aimed at growing engagement on our owned-and-operated properties through new AI-powered content formats. In doing so, we are reducing our dependence on the major tech platforms and leaning into our rare combination of voice and scale in a fragmented media environment. We have strong and differentiated IP across BuzzFeed, Complex, Hot Ones, First We Feast, Tasty and HuffPost each with a trusted and established brand identity. For BuzzFeed it is pop culture, entertainment and curating the best of the Internet using AI to shift content delivery and distribution. For Complex, it is delivering premium original content that covers the latest trends in sneakers, music and convergence culture. For First We Feast, it is explaining the Hot Ones universe and building more IP at the intersection of food and pop culture. For Tasty, it is attracting emerging food creators and leveraging the social platforms to build community around cooking. For HuffPost, it’s breaking news coverage and audience-centric stories for a massive direct to front page audience. The brands we have built are valuable and hard to replicate. As a testament to that, we continue to lead the industry in terms of Time Spent. U.S. Gen Z and millennials spend vastly more time consuming our content than that of any other digital media company in our competitive set according to Comscore. With a streamlined sales — with a streamlined sales team structure and a revamped go-to-market strategy that is anchoring — that is anchored in three intersecting pillars of innovation, Creators, AI, and Cultural Moments. We are now able to leverage the individual strengths of our brands more effectively in order to reaccelerate our growth and close the gap in monetization versus the broader U.S. digital advertising market. First, we are prototyping new generative AI formats, including quizzes and chatbots. We doubled our output of AI-assisted content from Q1 to Q2, and we expect to continue ramping up at a similar rate in Q3. Second, we are rapidly expanding our creator programs to increase both revenue and content output. Building on the success of the BuzzFeed and Tasty creator program, we have expanded this model to our other brands. We now have close partnerships with more than 180 creators who publish original content across our distribution channels, and we work with a much larger extended network of hundreds of creators across our brand portfolio. Collectively, creator-led content drove hundreds of millions of views across our network in Q2. And third, we are taking advantage of the fragmented media environment as one of the few companies that can deliver culturally relevant moments at scale. Something that platforms or creators can’t match on their own. Moments can be homegrown or they can be part of the broader pop culture calendar. Very few partners can deliver voice and scale together in one package. BuzzFeed Inc. is a one-stop shop for big moments in culture, whether it’s the NBA playoffs or the latest episode of Hot Ones that marketers can plan for and advertise around. In Q2, across our brand portfolio, we launched several new products in each of these areas, a few of which I want to highlight on today’s call. Starting with BuzzFeed. Buzzfeed has always been the leader in data-driven storytelling, operating at the intersection of technology and media to curate the best of the Internet for our audiences. In Q2, the editorial team continued to harness AI in new ways to deliver deeply engaging entertainment to our audiences. Over the past six months, BuzzFeed has launched several new AI content formats, including new personalized quizzes, chatbots, and multiplayer games and viral AI image collection. Even more exciting when we look at individual pieces of AI content, we see increased engagement, more Time Spent and AI-inspired image posts that have gone viral across BuzzFeed.com, Instagram and TikTok. One such example is our recent post, here’s what Barbie’s Dreamhouse would look like in each state, which capitalized on audience excitement around the Barbie film premiering — the Barbie film premier using AI to generate unique images of fictitious Barbie Dreamhouses across the country. The post saw over 1 million views and went viral on TikTok and Reels. More broadly, as compared to Q1, views of our AI content and Time Spent have both increased 3x, driven by higher content output. And the new content is also driving higher engagement quarter-over-quarter. Our top 20 AI articles published in Q2 generated more than twice the Time Spent when compared to our top 20 AI articles in Q1. Complex also began integrating AI to engage their audiences in new ways, leaning into the brand’s authoritative voice and the audience reach to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop. For print to digital to streaming to experiential, Complex represents the past, present and future of Convergent’s culture as one of the leading digital media brands for the hard-to-reach young male demographic. According to BuzzFeed, Complex attracts loyal audiences with obsessions that range from sneakers to street ware to sports to Hip Hop. In Q2, Complex continued to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop with experimental AI work in partnership with Sprite. This innovative collaboration allows fans to generate a personalized mix tape album cover with the help of AI. Earlier this year, Complex launched its first Creator program, welcoming 18 diverse voices to the inaugural Creator Class, providing an exciting opportunity to deliver original creator-driven content on behalf of brands. Although it’s still early, this content is resonating with advertisers. In fact, Uber is set to team up with us and one of our creators, Ross Mac of Maconomics to develop original branded content around financial tips for Uber drivers. First We Feast, our food and pop culture brand celebrated a huge milestone in Q2, hearing the 300th episode of its hit YouTube interview show Hot Ones. Since 2015, Hot Ones has attracted the biggest celebrity guests, garnered more than 25 billion minutes watch, received multiple Emmy nominations and broken new ground for YouTube-endemic talk shows. In Q2, the show continued to monetize major cultural moments like the NBA play out to deliver our audiences and clients. Hot Ones fans rallied around the NBA playoffs through a collaboration with NBA Playoffs official sponsor Google Pixel. The partnership went deep into the Hot Ones universe to include a Hot Ones episode sponsored by Google Pixel, custom-branded social content designed by our creative teams and brand integrations featuring the Pixel phone across both Hot Ones and the Truth or Dab spin-off series. Turning to Tasty. Since its launch in 2015, Tasty has taught the Internet how to cook through inspiring recipes, cutting-edge trends and inclusive food stories that reflect the wide identities of our audience. Today, Tasty garners over 1 billion cross-platform views each quarter, and audience engagement across platforms continues to surpass the competition, making it the largest and most engaged food community on the Internet according to Tubular Intelligence. Over the past year, Tasty has also emerged as a leading platform for food creators. Today, the Tasty Creator program has onboarded 10 residents to develop new content in collaboration with the brand. The residency has produced incredible results, helping creators to grow their audiences substantially while also driving deeper engagement with the Tasty community. This success led to new Tasty TikTok talk series Potatoes 100 Ways, held by one of Tasty’s inaugural residents Jeri Mobley. This series rapidly gained an audience following earning more than 70 million views to date and securing a multi-episode sponsorship from Idahoan Potatoes. As we continue to ramp our creator-led content, we’re excited to introduce even more ways to bring creators and brands together on our platform. In May, Tasty introduced a first-of-its-kind culinary companion in Botatouille, an AI-powered chef bot designed to revolutionize the cooking, meal prep and shopping experience for Tasty’s global community of chef. And users are engaging more deeply than we expected. They’re having long conversations with Botatouille asking the chef bot to help solve their daily cooking challenges from meal planning to healthy cooking to ingredient inspiration. HuffPost continue to engage readers with destination news content in Q2. The brand’s breaking news coverage from the high-profile departures at Fox and CNN to the tragic events of the Titan submersible to new developments in the Trump indictment and arraignment drove massive audience traffic during the quarter. HuffPost is also working with 10 rising stars as part of its own creator program to collaborate on editorial content in order to scale the brand’s short-form vertical video offerings while preparing the residents for careers as creators. Resident content has been featured across HuffPost social channels since its program launched last December. HuffPost has grown its vertical video output exponentially. Across our portfolio of premium brands and IP, we reach millions of young people every day who visit us directly to enjoy our content. And as you’ve heard, our initiatives around AI, Creators, and Cultural Moments are gaining real momentum with audiences and clients alike, validation that we are pursuing the right long-term strategy for growth and monetization. As we execute against our vision, we are committed to building a business that delivers significant margin expansion and generate strong cash flows over time. I’m grateful for the support of our shareholders, and honored to work alongside our talented teams of creators, journalists, producers and all our employees as we continue to lead the industry forward with an unwavering commitment to our mission to spread truth, joy and creativity on the Internet. I’ll now hand the call off to Marcela to discuss our business performance and operational highlights. Marcela? Marcela Martin: Thank you, Jonah, and good afternoon, everyone. Let me start by recapping our Q2 revenue performance and discussing some of the trends we are seeing across the business. We delivered Q2 revenues in line with the guidance range we provided in May, a decline of 27% year-over-year. Advertising revenues came in below our expectations, pressured by increased competition for both audience time and ad dollars. We saw softness across the traditional sales verticals, including CPG, entertainment and financial services. Tech was a bright spot in the quarter with year-over-year growth led by the partnership with Google Pixel that Jonah mentioned earlier. Retail also showed improvement in year-over-year trends versus Q1, a testament to our ability to deliver performance-based advertising solutions for large retailers in a down market by bundling our media and affiliate products. Content revenues outperformed our expectations, driven by higher-than-expected sales against our premium IP programming. Revenues from new creator-driven client partnerships which I will share more on shortly, are also captured here. Commerce performed in line with expectations with year-over-year growth in our organic affiliate business for the fourth consecutive quarter. Overall commerce revenues declined year-over-year as we lapped last year’s Metaverse experiential event, which we did not hold this year. Looking into Q3, the media environment remains challenged. We expect the year-over-year trends in overall revenue to be similar to Q2, as the headwinds we saw in advertising revenues persist and continue to offset the recent momentum in our content business and the return to growth in our commerce business. From the time we start engaging with the customers until the campaign is executed, it takes about six months. That being said, we are optimistic about the potential for our recent sales team reorganization and portfolio-wide go-to-market strategy to reaccelerate revenue growth over the coming quarters. Following the reorganization, our sales team kicked off a nationwide road show in May. Meeting with more than 100 clients and representatives from the major advertising agencies to present BuzzFeed, Inc.’s vision for the future of digital media. And clients are responding positively. We have closed several deals anchored in one or more of our three pillars or AI, Creators and Cultural Moments, which I will share more on shortly. Similarly, client excitement around Complex con is also building with pipeline activity up by a double-digit percentage when compared to the same period last year. Next, let me share some recent client wins in the areas of AI, creators and cultural moments to illustrate how our focus on these areas are attracting premium brands across major advertising categories. So let’s start with AI. As Jonah shared earlier, we have launched new AI-powered content formats across our brand portfolio. BuzzFeed’s Infinity Quizzes continue to attract new brand sponsors in Q2. In partnership with leading mattress brand, Serta, BuzzFeed launched two new sponsored quizzes, a dream interpreter and a bedtime story generator. Both quizzes received overwhelming positive comments from BuzzFeed readers and saw above average Time Spent compared to non-AI format. An audience click-through rate and engagement rate both exceeded the client’s expectations. Complex also introduced its first AI product through a commercial partnership with Sprite to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. The Complex team developed an interactive website powered by GPT acting as an art director, this spot crafts a distinctive mixtape cover using original art work created by the multidisciplinary Internet artist OseanWorld. The experience guides fun through its personalized hip hop journey while designing a unique mixtape cover in real time. In Q2, Tasty began integrating AI to develop fresh content for home chefs. In May, Tasty introduced the first-of-its-kind culinary companion in Botatouille, an AI-powered chef bot, available exclusively in the Tasty app, Botatouille is designed to revolutionize the cooking, meal preparation and shopping experience for Tasty’s global community. The chef bot serves up dishes, meal plans and grocery list when users talk to the bot and ask for cooking advice or recipes. Botatouille integrates shoppable recipes powered by Walmart to make the cooking experience seamless for users. The audience excitement and engagement we are seeing around Botatouille is driving interest from new and existing clients looking for innovative ways to reach consumers. Now let’s turn to Creators. Across our brands, we now have close partnerships with more than 180 creators, and we are continuing to grow rapidly. Following the success of BuzzFeed and Tasty’s Creator programs in identifying, attracting and developing emerging Internet creators we have extended this model to our other brands, including BuzzFeed News, HuffPost and Complex, and we expect to introduce First We Feast inaugural Creator Class very soon. Our work with creators continue to validate our thesis that success for both creators and brands is best achieved when creator-driven content is paired with a strong IP and massive audience reach. While looking at views and engagement of the same content on Tasty channels versus the creator’s own channels, the data consistently shows that creator content outperforms on our platform. This content is also attracting major advertising, looking to execute — sorry, major advertisers looking to execute marketing campaigns rooted in innovation. As Jonah mentioned earlier, in Q2, our creators collaborated with the likes of Uber, State Farm and Idahoan Potatoes, contributing to our better-than-expected content revenue performance in Q2. We are also experimenting with creator-led content in our commerce business. During Prime Day, we invited Creator — creators from across our brands to develop original shopping content for our audience. Content was distributed across our platform as well as through creator individual channels. We saw an incredibly positive response from audiences and significantly higher performance from Creator content published through our channels as compared to revenue from the same content on a creator’s own channel. This highlights the power of Creator content paired with our vast distribution network in driving both audience engagement and revenue. Now in terms of cultural moments. As Jonah mentioned earlier, Hot Ones recently celebrated its 300th episode. The most recent season feature A-list celebrities, including John Mulaney, Jennifer Lawrence, Melissa McCarthy, and Jason Sudeikis, with each episode reaching millions of viewers. In fact, Jennifer Lawrence interview reached more than 100 million viewers across platforms. And of the back of its fervent audience is following the show has also continued to attract major CPG brands sponsors such as Procter & Gamble and General Mills. Hot Ones fans also rallied around the NBA player through a deep partnership with the NBA player official sponsor, Google Pixel. Going beyond the traditional episode partnership to include custom social content and brand integrations across both Hot Ones and the Truth or Dab spin-off series. Similarly, Microsoft tapped into our audience reach across Tasty and First We Feast, trusting us with a media campaign to promote their Bing AI launch. And Activision Blizzard invested behind the latest tenfolds release of their video game franchise, Diablo, with an episode sponsorship of Hot Ones, a custom co-branded hot sauce and a limited merchandise. Before I wrap up, I want to briefly address our cash and liquidity circumstances. Against the backdrop of lingering macroeconomic uncertainty, diminishing returns from the major tech platforms and a tighter digital ad market, we continue to be laser-focused on preserving cash. The fully executed restructuring plans we discussed with you last quarter have meaningfully reduced our go-forward cash cost structure. We also tapped into the public market via at the market program through which we raised $800,000 in Q2. These initiatives have enabled us to access additional near-term liquidity in order to complete our restructuring program even amid the current revenue headwinds. And as we exit Q3, we expect to realize the full cash benefits of our restructuring program on an ongoing basis. Further, as we execute against our AI and creators initiatives, we are building a content creation model that makes our creative teams more efficient and sustainably expand our output without increasing fixed costs. Thank you, everyone, for being here today. I will now hand the call to Felicia to discuss our financial results and outlook. Felicia DellaFortuna: Thank you, Marcela. We delivered second quarter results in line with our guidance range for both revenue and adjusted EBITDA. Overall revenues for Q2 2023 declined 27% year-over-year to $77.9 million as expected and in line with Q1 trends. Performance by revenue line is as follows: Advertising revenues declined 33% year-over-year to $35.4 million, in line with first quarter trends as expected, as increased competition for both audience time and ad dollars have contributed to lower demand and ongoing pricing pressure. Content revenues declined 22% year-over-year to $31.5 million, with year-over-year trends improving relative to Q1, driven by a higher number of branded Content clients quarter-over-quarter. Last quarter, we introduced the KPIs to represent net branded Content advertiser revenue retention, which is a function of both the number of clients we serve and the spend per retained clients. This metric reflects current period trailing 12-month branded Content revenues as a percentage of prior period trailing 12-month revenues for branded content customers that spent a minimum of $250,000 in the prior period. Q2 retention was in line with Q1 trends. Commerce and other revenues declined 17% to $11 million, almost entirely driven by the metaverse experiential event ComplexLand in the year ago quarter which did not repeat in Q2 2023. In terms of adjusted EBITDA, we were able to mitigate nearly all of the lower revenue year-on-year with successful execution against the cost actions we announced in April, delivering breakeven adjusted EBITDA in Q2, $2 million lower than the Q2 2022. We also incurred charges that did not impact adjusted EBITDA. A full reconciliation of our GAAP to non-GAAP measures can be found in today’s press release available on our Investor Relations website. We ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of approximately $41 million, $9 lower quarter-over-quarter, including approximately $8 million in payments related to the cost actions we announced in April. Further, on a year-to-date basis, before restructuring payments we achieved breakeven operating cash flow. Turning to audience engagement and Time Spent. In terms of audience Time Spent, we continue to report U.S. Time Spent across our owned-and-operated properties and third-party platforms according to Comscore. This metric is intended to be viewed in conjunction with our advertising revenue performance. In Q2, U.S. Time Spent as reported by Comscore declined 9% year-over-year to 96 million hours as we continue to face increased competition for audience time. However, we once again outpaced peer digital media companies in our competitive set by a significant margin. In terms of creator-led vertical video, ahead of scale monetization, we are continuing to build audience momentum around newer platforms and formats, including YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok. In the second quarter, use of our short-form content across platforms doubled year-over-year to reach a new quarterly record. Before I share our financial outlook for the third quarter, let me first provide some context. Starting with revenues. We expect the underlying year-over-year trends in both Content and Commerce revenues to remain consistent from Q2 to Q3. We expect further softness in advertising revenues relative to Q2 as lower client spending trends across our core sales verticals persist into Q3. Additionally, as Marcela discussed, from the time we start engaging with customers until the campaign is executed, it takes about six months. So although we are encouraged by client feedback and pipeline activity following last quarter’s sales road shows, we do not anticipate a material impact on Q3 revenues. In terms of adjusted EBITDA, we have included the full benefit of the restructuring actions in our cost of revenue and operating expense assumptions for Q3. As a result, despite lower year-on-year revenues, we expect to drive year-on-year improvement in Q3 adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin. With that, I will turn to our financial outlook. For Q3 2023, we expect overall revenues in the range of $73 million to $78 million or 25% to 29% lower than the year ago quarter. We expect adjusted EBITDA in the range of $1 million in losses to $4 million in profits, up approximately $5 million year-on-year at the midpoint. And finally, I just want to reiterate Marcela’s remarks regarding cash and liquidity. We continue to be laser focused on preserving cash. As we exit Q3, we expect to realize the full cash benefits of our restructuring on an ongoing basis. Thank you. I’ll now hand it over to the operator so we can take your questions. Q&A Session Follow Buzzfeed Inc. Follow Buzzfeed Inc. We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: [Operator Instructions] I’ll now hand it over to Amita Tomkoria for any web or questions. Amita Tomkoria: Great. Thank you. We have received several questions already, which I’ve gathered here. So we’re going to go ahead and jump right in with the first question for Jonah on the topic of first-party data, Jonah, can you talk about how BuzzFeed is looking to leverage first-party data today? And what advantage this could pose in 2024 as cookies are deprecated. Jonah Peretti: Yes. Thanks for the question. So in 2022 — in 2022, our first-party data solution known as Lighthouse has served more than 150 advertisers and delivered over 1 billion impressions. And when we — when our partners use Lighthouse, it drives really meaningful results on average, when partners use Lighthouse — our first-party data targeting. To power their media campaigns, they generate 2x to 5x higher impact across the brand and business metrics that matter most. We’re also seeing encouraging signs with new AI models that are enabling us to better understand all of the content on the pages of our site and use that to create better contextual advertising opportunities and having that flow into Lighthouse is a nice tailwind for improved targeting over the long haul. And I think overall, the biggest challenge for cookies going away. It will be for sort of the nameless ad tech and brandless types of companies. But having strong brands with really strong contextual alignment and the ability to apply new AI technology is something that will allow us to do a really great job of targeting for our advertisers. So we’re excited about the way that first-party data can be applied to our business. Amita Tomkoria: Great. Thank you. Our next question is around advertising revenues. Maybe Marcela, starting with you, with short-form content gaining traction yet again, how is that impacting the business? Can you share some thoughts on monetization in the second half and into 2024. And then could you also walk through some of the current trends in short-form ad adoption versus owned-and-operated advertising trends. Marcela Martin: Sure. Thank you, Amita, for the question. So I’m going to start giving some information about what we see in regards to short-form. And then maybe, Felicia, you can jump in to talk a little bit about advertising revenues and the trends that we see. So in terms of short-form, we are excited that the major platforms have already taken the first step to share monetization with publishing partners. And as we discussed last quarter, we were selected as one of the first publishers to participate in TikTok Pulse Premiere vertical video monetization program for publishers. So this is the first time that publishers will be able to earn passive revenue from organically published content on the platform. And — but it is one of a select group of premium publishers invited to participate. So we are quite happy about that. And we have already been monetizing a short-form vertical video by selling directly to advertisers via creator-less branded content product. As you have also heard earlier on the call, which we will continue to scale for our clients. And last, I mean, I would like to say that we are well positioned to continue to monetize short-form format. We surpassed 1 billion quarterly views on TikTok for the first time and Tasty’s short-form vertical video content surpassed 1 billion quarterly views yet again in Q2. So Felicia, do you want to go on the second part of the question? Felicia DellaFortuna: Thank you, Marcela. So in terms of overall advertising revenues, the vast majority of our revenue is still driven by our owned-and-operated properties across buzfeed.com, huffpost.com and the rest. Q2 advertising revenues ended in line with Q1 trends in terms of year-over-year with the decline being driven by increased competition for both audience time and ad dollars, which contributed to both lower demand and ongoing price pressure. However, we are pleased with the short-form momentum in terms of output and audience engagement. In the second quarter, views of our short-form content across platforms doubled year-over-year to reach a new quarterly record. And we have begun to generate advertising revenues on YouTube and TikTok for vertical video, as Marcela discussed. However, we do anticipate it taking time to scale for generating sizable revenue contributions on a go forward. Amita Tomkoria: Thanks, Marcela. Thanks, Felicia. Our next question is on the topic of AI. Jonah, can you discuss some of the early feedback from AI usage. You mentioned some of the — how some of the work is pacing. But specifically, what are you seeing in terms of consumer engagement and also anything on cost benefits as well. Jonah Peretti: Sure. Thanks. So I think to take a step back, when we think about AI, like any major technology trend we try to think where is the industry headed over the next year, two years, three years, five years. And with these new generative AI technologies, it’s clear there’s going to be a lot of impact on Digital Publishing and Content. And so building towards that future and aligning our business with that positive trend is something that we’re very focused on. And so we’re starting to see some really strong project progress for our early work. And I think a good way to understand where we think things are headed, is to look at the work we’ve done so far, and you can start to get a sense of how we’re seeing this AI technology and what we think it’s good for. So I kind of peak into where things are headed. A lot more personalization, customization and interactivity. So BuzzFeed Quizzes were already interactive. But now with AI, they’re infinitely interactive. And so that was the first product we launched. Then we expanded to chatbot games where you could create new kinds of conversational interfaces that we found our audience really love and would spend 2x, 3x, 4x more time interacting with a chatbot game than with a static piece of content. And then AI assisted imagery that allows us to participate in a big cultural moments like the Barbie Dreamhouse example I mentioned earlier on the call. And so those are examples of just new things we can do that enhance our products to make our products more vibrant, more personal and have really worked well with our audience. On Tasty, you can see we added the Botatouille app — to our app, the Botatouille bot to our app where you can have three form conversations with this bot about what kind of food might cheer up your friend or what kind of things you can cook with a particular ingredient you have in your fridge or for tips or suggestions for making food better. And it’s just a more engaging way of interacting compared to sort of search that you would find on a traditional food site. I mentioned before, Complex launched this interactive Sprite album creation tool, and we’ve seen other brands who have gotten excited about this new kind of interactivity like a dream interpreting bought for Serta and other kinds of interactive types of content that advertisers and partners have paid us to codevelop with them and launch and distribute with them. It’s still pretty early. And I feel like we’ve figured out how to make some good cakes, but we still have to build out the bakery that can scale this and make more content experiences like this widely distributed across our network. And you also asked about cost benefits. So in terms of cost benefits, One of the big areas we’re seeing is in workflow. So our programmers are using copilot tools to be more efficient in their coding. The sales and business team has just recently started to use an in-house tool that we developed that allows them to take RFPs, match them to our product set and turn around a response to a client. In one case, recently, we turned around a response and won a deal in 24 hours when ordinarily, that process would have required bringing lots of teams together and having lots of meetings and maybe a couple of weeks of work, we were able to turn it around in a day. And all of this is using the technology for what it’s good for, which is for example, out of the dozens of products we have, matching it with the RFP and what the client might want and then we bring in creative teams to brainstorm and add that human element to make sure the quality of the work is even better than it would have been had we not had this AI-assisted process. And so those are just a few examples. And I think when you look at both AI and creators, it’s helping us build a content curation model that can be more efficient and more scalable than the traditional models in media. And it is a long road, and we’re seeing a lot of early success, but we’re building this for a longer time horizon because we feel strongly that this is where media is headed and that there’s a lot of ways to enhance the products that we’re building to delight our users more and also to find more efficiencies where we can have much more output with the same amount of labor by having copilots and other tools that give our people superpowers to be able to make more and create more, do more, and serve our clients better and serve our audience better because of these AI tools that are assisting them. Amita Tomkoria: On. And then so moving on maybe to the go-to-market strategy, Marcela, following the reorganization and some of the changes you guys discussed last quarter. Can you provide an update on how that’s going in terms of sales productivity cross-sell trends? Any other impacts or improvements that you guys are seeing across the business? Marcela Martin: Yes, sure. Thanks, Amita. As you may recall, we announced a restructuring in April. And at that time, we also decided to reorganize the sales team. And this restructuring or reorganization of the sales team in the way that they were organized it was finalized or completed in May. So what this restructuring meant for that team was a reduction in layers and the organization of the teams around two mega verticals, products and services, with five underlying sales verticals. And right after that, the team engaged in nationwide roadshows, meeting with hundreds of clients and ad sales representatives. And so far, the response from clients has been positive and we are seeing increased pipeline activity for the back half as well as the positive momentum related — relative to Q1 in branded content. And as a reminder for the audience sales cycle, it takes about five to six months. So while we expect that it will be potentially reduced with the use of AI in the future, as Jonah gave an example earlier, we are still managing through this time line. And we expect to start seeing the impact and effects of the latest reorganization probably in Q4. Amita Tomkoria: Great. Thank you, Marcela. And we have time for one final question on the financial outlook, Felicia. Back in May, you guys had — at the Investor Day, you guys had shared outlook for full year profitability and expectations for high teens adjusted EBITDA for the full year. Do you have an update on that? Or can you speak to how your expectations have changed or not since then? Felicia DellaFortuna: Sure. So broadly speaking, last year, we saw compression through the year with top line revenue being challenged in the back half and in Q4, specifically, which had a very muted typical seasonal lift that we would expect going into Q4 from a revenue perspective. As of today, we are expecting a return to normalized seasonality as it relates to the quarter-over-quarter lift from Q3 into Q4 as compared to 2022 when we saw the muted seasonal lift in terms of revenue. As it relates to bottom line guide for Q3, we expect to drive a year-over-year improvement of $5 million at the midpoint on adjusted EBITDA. And we will continue to drive additional OpEx savings through real estate and other non-headcount cost initiatives in the back half of this year. Amita Tomkoria: Thank you. Jonah Peretti: All right. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today, and we look forward to speaking with many of you over the coming weeks. That’s our call. Thanks. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation today. This concludes today’s program. You may now disconnect. Follow Buzzfeed Inc. Follow Buzzfeed Inc. We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 15th, 2023

Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE:RL) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE:RL) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript August 10, 2023 Ralph Lauren Corporation beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $2.34, expectations were $2.15. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Ralph Lauren First Quarter Fiscal Year 2024 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only […] Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE:RL) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript August 10, 2023 Ralph Lauren Corporation beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $2.34, expectations were $2.15. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Ralph Lauren First Quarter Fiscal Year 2024 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn over the conference to our host, Ms. Corinna Van der Ghinst. Please go ahead. Corinna Van der Ghinst: Good morning and thank you for joining Ralph Lauren’s first quarter fiscal 2024 conference call. With me today are Patrice Louvet, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Jane Nielsen, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. After prepared remarks, we will open up the call for your questions, which we ask that you limit to one per caller. During today’s call, our financial performance will be discussed on a constant currency basis. Our reported results including foreign currency can be found in this morning’s press release. We will also be making some forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including our financial outlook. Forward-looking statements are not guaranteed, and our actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Our expectations contain many risks and uncertainties. Principal risks and uncertainties that could cause our results to differ materially from our current expectations are detailed in our SEC filings. To find disclosures and reconciliations of non-GAAP measures that we use when discussing our financial results, you should refer to this morning’s earnings release and to our SEC filings that can be found on our Investor Relations website. With that, I will turn the call over to Patrice. Patrice Louvet: Thank you, Corey. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining today’s call. We started year two of our next great Chapter Accelerate plan with continued progress on our long-term strategic commitments. Our solid first quarter performance highlights both the power of our iconic brand around the world and our diversified engines of growth. First quarter results exceeded our expectations on both the top and bottom line in what continues to be a highly dynamic global operating environment. We delivered positive comps, stronger value perception and luxury credentials and targeted ecosystem expansion across our top cities in the period. Our growing brand desirability also drove double-digit AUR growth on top of last year’s strong gains. And we will continue to invest in our product quality and sustainability, selling environments and authentic brand messaging to sustain our growth and long-term pricing power in the marketplace. At the same time, we continue to balance this growth with a relentless focus on agility and operational discipline to respond to evolving market dynamics. This enables our operating profit and margin expansion even as we invest for the long-term. We continue to be mindful of macro inflationary challenges facing our more value-oriented consumers, particularly in North America. That said, we are more than offsetting softness from this cohort with growth in our full price businesses. Turning to the first quarter. Our solid performance was guided by our 3 strategic pillars to drive long-term growth and value creation. These are, first, elevate and energize our lifestyle brand, second, drive the core and expand for more, and third, win in key cities with our consumer ecosystem. Let me take you through a few highlights across each of these strategic pillars. First, on our efforts to elevate and energize our lifestyle brand. We are investing in our most powerful asset, our timeless iconic brand to inspire and engage our consumers, drive brand desirability in the market and ultimately grow lifetime value. We continue to diversify and optimize our marketing across a variety of media and platforms as we deliver a clear, differentiated story to our target consumers in order to trade them in, across and up our lifestyle portfolio. During the quarter, first, we drove some of our highest engagements globally through iconic celebrity dressing moments. This was led by Jennifer Lopez at the Met Gala in May, delivering over 8 billion global media impressions and her look landed on multiple best dress lists across TV, digital, social and print outlets. Other celebrity highlights included Taylor Swift, spotted on the streets of New York in our Wellington bag and all white Polo Ensemble; Singer and Actress, Crystal Young in Cannes. First Lady, Jill Biden at the Coronation of King Charles. And you may have caught a recent episode of, And Just Like That, which features characters Charlotte and Rock, outfitted in Ralph Lauren at a fun fictional polo photo shoot, highlighting the multigenerational appeal of our brand. Second, we have worked to reinforce our luxury lifestyle positioning through iconic lifestyle partnerships and activations in key global cities. We paired our recent Milan flagship openings with key campaigns to fuel excitement in this influential fashion capital this spring. This included the return of men’s Purple Label to Milan Fashion Week in June and our second annual participation at Salone del Mobile, part of Milan Design Week, where we showcased our emerging home business. Similarly, across Europe and Asia, we drove brand heat through experiential events like our California Dreaming key city takeovers, exclusive private client events and influencer campaigns to build our presence in both new and existing ecosystems from Paris to Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. And most recently, we reinforced our leadership in the world of sports with another successful Wimbledon sponsorship, where we delivered our highest ever results on social conversations on-site merchandise sales and global PR impressions. Ralph Lauren truly embodies the heritage and tradition of this iconic tournament. In addition to our beautiful Encore presence, we also captured our iconic spectator style on celebrities and influencers like Ariana Grande and David Beckham, which we amplified globally. Together, these activations are both reengaging existing customers, while also attracting new high-value consumers to our business. In our DTC businesses, we added 1.2 million new consumers in the first quarter consistent with recent trends. This continues to skew increasingly toward next-generation under 35 consumers. And we reached 53.5 million social media followers globally, a high single-digit increase to last year driven by Instagram, Line, TikTok, WeChat and other key platforms. And our online search trends continue to outpace our peers globally, driven by spring icons and accessories. Moving to our second key initiative, Drive the Core and Expand for More. Ralph and our design teams continue to create sophisticated timeless products that meet our customers’ modern lifestyle, underpinned by the quiet luxury that is a hallmark of our brand. Starting with our iconic core products, which typically represent about 70% of sales and are a consistent driver of our business, season after season. Our core grew mid-single digits in the first quarter, ahead of total company growth and penetration to total sales increased by 350 basis points, underscoring the importance and resilience of our icons through choppier times. This was led by our iconic cable knit sweaters and cardigans, linen shirts and chinos, double net sweatshirts, rugby shirts and tailored suit separates. We continue to see evidence that consumers are turning to brands they know and trust and styles that have longevity beyond one season. Our roots in quality and timeless style remain a competitive advantage in this context, supporting our strengthening value proposition. Our core also establishes the foundation and credibility to grow our high-potential categories. These include women’s, outerwear and our emerging home business. Together, these high potential categories increased low double digits in the quarter. Women’s, our largest long-term opportunity, continues to outpace total company performance, supported by our Spring ’23 California Dreaming collection inspired by the natural beauty, optimism and glamor of the West Coast, Polos, day dresses and lightweight skirts in seasonal florals and silks, newer wide-like bottoms and encouraging growth in our Polo ID handbags. Other special releases this quarter included the launch of our Polo Mirum sneaker, our first luxury sneaker that is 100% plastic-free. Leveraging our investment in natural fiber welding, Mirum is made with an innovative combination of natural rubber, cotton, cork and plant oil. Looking ahead, we will continue to leverage the breadth of our brand and assortments to meet consumers’ evolving lifestyles. Switching to our third key initiatives, winning key cities with our consumer ecosystem. We remain committed to developing our key city ecosystems around the world, with a focus on elevating and connecting all of our consumer touch points across every channel. At the same time, we are clearly pivoting our business toward direct-to-consumer, which already represents about 2/3rds of our sales. Our investments in high-quality new customer recruitment and increasingly elevated distribution are working. Our full-price retail channels led the growth in the quarter, consistent with recent trends. This is helping to mitigate near-term inflationary headwinds facing a subsegment of more value-sensitive consumers. Our positive retail comps were supported by continued momentum in our core Polo products and luxury collections, along with improving foreign tourist sales and successful clienteling by our dedicated sales teams. This performance more than offset continued pressure in our outlet comps, which were challenged by a more promotional North American market. We opened a select number of iconic World of Ralph Lauren stores in the quarter, notably in Amsterdam, Tainan and Kuala Lumpur, featuring an elevated assortment and prime luxury adjacencies. These stores are designed to anchor our city presence and drive desirability and engagement with consumers. We opened a total of 28 new stores and concessions, focused on our top cities globally this quarter, with the majority again in Asia, particularly in China. China sales accelerated to more than 50% growth with easier compares following last year’s Shanghai lockdowns. We were particularly encouraged by our strong 6/18 performance, which outpaced peers and reinforced our new customer acquisition in the market. And over 40% of our transactions were generated from new consumers. Looking ahead, we still expect China to remain one of our fastest-growing markets. Within our digital businesses, sales for our total Ralph Lauren digital ecosystem, including our directly-operated sites, departmentstore.com, pure players and social commerce were flat this quarter. Strong growth in our international markets more than offset declines in North America, where the digital channel has also become more promotional. This quarter’s digital performance was clearly below our long-term targets, and we implemented key interventions during the quarter, which will continue into the fall season. Encouragingly, we started to see improvement in our North America digital trends from June onward, as Jane will discuss in a moment. And finally, touching on our enablers. In addition to our strategic priorities, our business continued to be supported by our 5 key enablers. I’ll share a few highlights from the quarter. As part of our ongoing work to deliver superior operational capabilities, we are implementing process improvements and new tools to streamline our value chain and drive long-term margin opportunities. Our recent work has resulted in a 25% reduction in our overall Spring ’24 SKU count, even as we continue to develop our high-potential categories. Within citizenship and sustainability, we were proud to be recognized as a top-rated ESG performer by Sustainalytics as we work to embed sustainability in all we do. And within our people and culture, we were recently named a best company for women to advance by parity.org for the fourth consecutive year. In closing, Ralph and I are energized by our team’s solid start to this fiscal year. We continue to focus on offense, agility and pragmatism in these dynamic times. And we believe Ralph Lauren is firmly in a position of strength to deliver on our strategic commitments. Underpinned by Ralph’s timeless vision and the strength of our iconic brand, we have diversified levers of growth across geography, channel and category, a broad lifestyle portfolio of products that consumers know and trust and that we are actively flexing with consumer needs, and strong foundational enablers to support long-term growth and value creation from our talented people, innovative technology and supply chain to our balance sheet and muscle of operational discipline. With that, I’ll hand it over to Jane to discuss our financial results, and I’ll join her at the end to answer your questions. Jane Nielsen: Thank you, Patrice, and good morning, everyone. We delivered a solid start to fiscal ’24, with first quarter results ahead of our expectations. This quarter’s performance demonstrates the broad-based strength of our strategy and the agility of our teams in a highly dynamic global operating environment. This gives us confidence in delivering on both our long-term commitments as well as the fiscal ’24 outlook we outlined in May. We drove positive first quarter revenue growth, exceeding our guidance. We returned to gross margin expansion this quarter with clean inventories, all while overcoming peak raw material costs and our culture of cost discipline enabled us to deliver 100 basis points of adjusted operating margin expansion to 13.7%, with operating profit dollars up 9%. We continue to make important investments in our business while delivering strong shareholder returns, including roughly $100 million in the form of dividends and share repurchases this quarter. Our first quarter financial performance underscores our position of strength through dynamic times. Let me take you through some of the highlights from the quarter. Total company revenues in the first quarter increased 1% above our outlook. Strong performance in Europe and Asia more than offset a decline in North America, which was negatively impacted by a wholesale timing shift into the prior quarter, as noted on our last call. Our digital ecosystem sales were about flat with growth in international offsetting a decline in North America. Total company adjusted gross margin expanded 130 basis points versus last year to 69.3%. This was above our outlook, driven by lower freight expense and 15% AUR growth, along with favorable channel, geographic and product mix. The cost of raw materials, notably cotton, continued to be a headwind in the quarter as expected. Looking ahead, we plan to continue leveraging price to offset cost inflation, which will moderate this fall from peak spring ’23 levels. As a reminder, our long-term approach to AUR continues to be a multipronged strategy driven by product mix elevation, more personalized and targeted promotion, select like-for-like increases based on competitive benchmarking, disciplined inventory management to limit excess and favorable geographic and channel mix shifts. We expect these drivers to continue delivering positive, albeit a more modest level of AUR growth longer term. Adjusted operating expenses increased 40 basis points to 55.6% of sales in the first quarter. Marketing was 6% of sales compared to 7% last year. As noted on our last call, we are shifting a higher proportion of marketing and ecosystem investments into the second quarter of this fiscal year, driving expense deleverage in Q2. However, we continue to expect full year marketing at around 7% of sales, consistent with our long-term guidance. Moving to segment performance, starting with North America. First quarter revenues decreased 10%. This included about 5 points of negative impact from the normalized timing of spring wholesale shipments following last year’s supply chain disruption, as previously noted. The rest of the decline was largely driven by continued inflationary pressures on our more value-oriented consumers. In North America Retail, first quarter comps declined 6%, following a 5% increase last year. We continued to deliver strong growth in our Ralph Lauren stores while performance was softer than expected in outlet and digital. In our channels with exposure to value-oriented consumers, notably outlet, inflation continues to pressure consumer spending and the competitive set has grown increasingly promotional. Our North American digital business was also pressured in April and May. However, we delivered improved trends toward the end of June, as we implemented key actions to improve our sales and conversion in the channel. Looking ahead, we expect to drive modest sequential improvement in our retail business through the rest of fiscal ’24. We have proactively adjusted our Fall ’23 buys to focus on our core. We are launching new digital enhancements as well as our Canada digital flagship this fall. And we are making key investments in personalized communication and leveraging selective promotions to drive conversion and keep inventories healthy. These actions remain consistent with our initial guidance for fiscal ’24. In North America Wholesale, revenues decreased mid-teens to last year. The return to a normalized cadence of spring deliveries had a 12-point negative impact on our growth in the channel this quarter. Our wholesale AUR increased 11% as we continued to elevate our product mix while keeping our wholesale inventories clean. We remain cautious on the channel through the rest of this year on softer reorders and broader challenges in the channel. Moving on to Europe. First quarter revenues increased 7%, while this was ahead of our expectations, the first quarter included a roughly 5-point benefit from earlier timing of Fall ’23 wholesale deliveries. Retail comps were up 2% on top of a strong 34% compared to last year, which benefited from a sales resurgence post-Omicron. Brick-and-mortar comps rose 1%, led by Ralph Lauren stores. Europe AUR increased mid-teens in the quarter. Our Europe’s digital ecosystem grew mid-single digits in the quarter, driven by an 8% comp in our own digital commerce and the wholesale timing shift, which also benefited our digital accounts. Europe wholesale increased 11%, driven by the earlier fall shipments. While this timing shift will negatively impact our wholesale sell-ins by an estimated 4 points in both Q2 and Q3, respectively, it should also position us well to capture full price sales in season. Aside from the wholesale timing shifts, we are maintaining our full year fiscal ’24 Europe outlook of low single-digit growth reflecting our continued caution on the macro environment and digital wholesale channel. Turning to Asia. Revenue increased 18% with growth across each of our key markets, led again by China. China accelerated to more than 50% growth as we lap significant COVID-related restrictions in the prior year period. Our brands demonstrated strong momentum during the Golden Week and 6/18 Festival. First quarter sales in Japan increased high-single digits despite a slow recovery in inbound tourism and our continued near-term caution on the market. Within our other nonreportable segments licensing revenue declined high single digits, in line with our plan. The decline reflects the previously disclosed transition out of our Lauren Men’s suiting license as part of our broader brand elevation strategy. The exit will continue to impact segment results for the remainder of the fiscal year until we lap it in fiscal ’25. Moving on to the balance sheet. Our balance sheet continues to be an important element of our Fortress Foundation, enabling us to balance strategic investments in our brand and business with returning cash to shareholders. We ended the first quarter with $1.7 billion in cash and short-term investments and $1.1 billion in total debt. We are tightly controlling our inventory levels and driving efficiencies with net inventory up 1% this quarter, in line with our top line growth. Increases in Asia and Europe were largely offset by a high single-digit decline in North American inventories. We expect second quarter inventory growth to continue moderating, which should position our brands well ahead of the important holiday season. Looking ahead, our outlook remains based on our best assessment of the current macroeconomic environment, including inflationary pressures and other consumer spending-related headwinds and foreign currency volatility among others. For fiscal ’24, we still expect constant currency revenues to increase low single digits. Foreign currency is now expected to negatively impact reported revenues by about 20 basis points due to unfavorable shifts in Asian exchange rates versus our prior outlook. We continue to expect top-line growth to be led by Asia, up double digits, followed by low single-digit growth in Europe. We still expect a low single-digit decline in North America based on softer spring trends in the first half and wholesale timing shifts in Q1. We continue to anticipate operating margin expansion of approximately 30 to 50 basis points in constant currency to 12.3% to 12.5%. Foreign currency is expected to have a roughly neutral impact on full year operating margin. We now expect gross margin to expand about 100 basis points with reduced freight costs, favorable geographic and channel mix and continued growth in AUR, more than offsetting cotton inflation. Gross margin expansion is anticipated to more than offset higher operating expenses as we invest in the key strategic initiatives outlined at Investor Day, particularly around digital and key city ecosystem expansion as well as marketing and sustainability. Relative to our Investor Day base period, guidance implies about 80 to 100 basis points of operating margin expansion when compared to fiscal ’22, holding currency constant, on track with our long-term targets. For the second quarter, we expect revenues to be flat to slightly up in constant currency, led by growth in Asia. We remain cautious on North America but expect sequential improvement following Q1’s negative timing shifts. Conversely, we expect second quarter Europe and digital ecosystem sales to be sequentially weaker, both due to the earlier fall shipments reported in Q1. Excluding the shift, we expect underlying trends in Europe to be more in line with our full year outlook for the region of low single-digit growth. We expect second quarter operating margin in the range of 9% to 9.5% in constant currency and 9.5% to 10% on a reported basis. We expect constant currency gross margin expansion of 40 to 60 basis points to be more than offset by higher operating expenses due to the timing of strategic investments as previously indicated. This includes key digital ecosystem and marketing investments, notably the shift of our fashion show into the second quarter from the third quarter of last year. From a cadence perspective, our outlook implies stronger revenue growth in the second half of the year, driven by our merchandising actions, marketing activations for fall holiday and the investments just noted. In addition, we will start to lap negative inflationary impacts from the second half of last year. We continue to expect operating margins to expand in Q3 and Q4 and for the full year on both a reported and constant currency basis. We now expect our tax rate to be in the range of 23% to 24% for the full year and roughly 21% to 22% for the second quarter. And capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $250 million to $275 million. In closing, inspired by Ralph’s enduring vision. Our teams around the world continue to demonstrate agility and dedication every day as we execute on our next great chapter, Accelerate plan. While we remain acutely attuned to the near-term challenges facing certain areas of our business, we believe in our strategic priorities, investing in lifelong consumer relationships, leveraging our powerful core products in high potential categories and developing our key city ecosystems. These priorities, combined with our passionate teams, put us in a position of strength to continue to deliver our commitments and drive long-term value creation. With that, let’s open up the call for your questions. Q&A Session Follow Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) Follow Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: [Operator Instructions]. The first question comes from Matt Boss with JPMorgan. Matt Boss: So Patrice, to take a step back, your first quarter total company results outperformed expectations on a consolidated basis. But your first quarter and your outlook are still below the long-term guidance for North America. So do you believe you can still achieve your long-term Investor Day top line algorithm? And then Jane, any change or just what is your confidence in mid-teens operating margins next year for the company? Patrice Louvet: Mike, thank you for your question. Yes, first of all, overall, our teams did a very good job delivering on our top and bottom-line commitments. For this quarter, even with ongoing challenging backdrops across the different regions. As you know, our strategy has multiple growth engines, meaning resilience is embedded in our strategy and in our plan. If you look at it across regions and then we’ll zoom into North America. Our second largest business, Europe continues to hold up well despite macro headwinds. We’re also feeling very good about the way our performance came in on China and broader Asia. You saw China up 50% this quarter. And while North America is facing some pressure in the near term, our core consumer, which is a more elevated consumer continues to be resilient, and we have the right strategies in place to drive growth well beyond these headwinds. In fact, a couple of data points to illustrate that. First of all, our value and also our luxury brand perception scores are growing faster in North America than any other region in the world. And if I provide additional perspective, if you look at it from a channel perspective, our emphasis and investments are in DTC and which is now about 2/3rds of our North America business and where we have the biggest growth opportunity. From a product perspective, we have multiple opportunities across high potential categories from outerwear to home and to women’s more broadly. On brand, we continue to invest in new customer acquisition. You saw that this quarter again, $1.2 million overall, a good chunk of that coming from North America, as well as key brand moments like our upcoming U.S. Open partnership and our upcoming fashion show early September. And then finally, our key enablers here are also quite important. Our inventory levels are healthy. We go into back-to-school. We’re going to go into holiday in a really good place. And our operating discipline and balance sheet give us the flexibility to continue investing in our growth to continue investing in our [indiscernible]. So we’re also well positioned as conditions improve in North America and beyond. So I would say even with the near-term pressures, Matt, we’re confident that we’re in a strong position to perform and deliver over the long term, and that’s really where all our focus is. Jane Nielsen: Yes. And just to follow up on the second part of your question, I would say, yes, we’re on track. We are still working towards our Investor Day targets. Although our performance is likely to remain a little choppy given the volatile macroeconomic conditions, we’re really encouraged by our first 5 quarters of top-line and margin progress in constant currency. Importantly, I think we feel that we have the right strategy and that our multiple engines of growth give us the flexibility to lean in where we need to and where we’re strong when some parts of our business are challenged. So I think that those things are what’s giving us confidence. And as we look forward, we still see opportunity to reach our long-term financial algorithm. Operator: The next question comes from Jay Sole with UBS. Jay Sole: My question, Jane, is for you. The company continues to report strong AUR growth after 6 years of consecutive gains, how much further can the AUR journey continue? And how much runway do you realistically have? And then maybe if I can add a second one for Patrice. You touched on high potential categories in the prepared remarks. Can you just kind of take us into a little bit deeper dive on that and just tell us what’s changed over the 90 days, the last 90 days, give you more confidence that those categories can be meaningful revenue growth drivers for the company over the next year plus? Jane Nielsen: Sure. Thanks for the question, Jay. Stepping back a bit, we are really confident in our long-term brand elevation journey. As we said at Investor Day, we have three key drivers of long-term revenue growth, new customer recruiting, select unit growth and AUR growth. So with regards to your question and AUR specifically, we’re confident in our AUR strategy and expect our multipronged approach to drive continued, albeit a more moderate level of AUR growth as we look ahead. You’ve seen us elevate across products, the consumer experience, stores and our brand positioning. And AUR is an output of this journey. Importantly, as we’ve elevated our consumer value perception metrics have continued to increase, even again this quarter. These factors taken together are really what give us confidence in our long-term AUR trajectory. That said, we’re keenly aware of the current environment, and we continue to keep a really sharp focus on the value we are driving and delivering. With some of these pressures, we’re seeing some of our more value-oriented consumers needless to lean in a bit more during select key consumer value-seeking moments like back-to-school and holiday and our guidance contemplates this as we move forward. As cost inflation starts to moderate ahead, we’ll adjust our like-for-like pricing elements of our [AURs] [ph] strategy accordingly. And we’re not expecting double-digit AUR growth every quarter from here. But overall, the elevation strategy hasn’t changed, and we plan to continue AUR growth this year and beyond. Patrice Louvet: And then, Jay, on your question regarding high potential categories. We’ve been really pleased with the continued strength on those businesses. If you kind of zero in on the three that we called out, so outerwear, women’s more broadly with handbags being an element for that. And then, also home. Those categories delivered ahead of company trend, both in Q1 and as it did last fiscal year, actually low double digits across the board. So all 3 are in a good position. The standout is clearly women’s where we have fantastic momentum across all brands within our portfolio, with probably Polo being even further highlight. And I think as we look at the capabilities needed to win across all 3 of these, we feel very nicely positioned not just for the next 2 or 3 quarters, but actually for the years to come in terms of tapping into the significant growth opportunities. Operator: The next question comes from Laurent Vasilescu with BNP Paribas. Laurent Vasilescu: Jane, I would love to ask about the 2Q guide. I think that’s where the focus is, unfortunately, near term. But just can you give us a bridge on the — from the first quarter marketing spend I missed that number. But if you can give us a little bit more color why the operating margin will be 9.5% to 10% constant currency. And then, I saw the increase to gross margin for the full year on a CC basis. I would have expected that you saw had foresight on commodity and freight cost 90 days ago. So is the increase due to geo-mix or less promotions in the marketplace because of their inventory levels. Jane Nielsen: All right. Laurent. Could you just repeat your question on marketing, you broke up a bit. Laurent Vasilescu: So sorry about that. I’m overseas. I was asking if — what the marketing spend was for 1Q as well as how do you think about the 2Q marketing spend because there’s a shift with the fashion show. Jane Nielsen: Sure. So Laurent, as we look at the second quarter, what we’re seeing is we continue to be cautious about the overall consumer environment. You’ll see, as we called out in the first quarter that the wholesale timing shift in Europe will impact us in the second quarter. You will start to see sequentially from here some improvement in what you saw in North America wholesale. And in fact, as we look at North America more broadly, I think you’ll see a sequential improvement while we’re still cautious, sequential improvement on the top line as we move through. And just to keep in mind in our second quarter guidance, APAC is overlapping its strongest growth of the year last year as we came out of some of the COVID-related shutdowns. On the marketing side, what you’ll see in terms of our spend, this first quarter, we were about 5.7% of sales. You’ll see us go to 8% of sales in marketing in the second quarter. On a dollar growth basis, that will be our peak marketing dollar growth that is as our tradition, our highest dollar spend in marketing will be in Q3, aligned with the holiday quarter. And then, as we look at your question on our second quarter OI margin, what you’re really seeing is in that second quarter, you’ll see the impact to OI margin of the shipments in Europe into the first quarter coming out of the second quarter. Also, as we’ve seen some softness in North America wholesale, we’ve been able to lean into our DTC channel, specifically in North America, which has a gross margin benefit, which we’re calling out in our full year guidance. But carries heavier SG&A expense but is OI margin neutral. And that’s playing through what you’re seeing in terms of expense to leverage. And that said, on SG&A expenses overall, as Patrice mentioned, we are playing offense. So we are not pulling back on our investments in our digital platforms in Q2, we are investing to make sure that we can go live on a new website in Canada and that we will implement later in the second half, a new search engine, as well as our continued advancement of store opening. So we’re not backing off building growth into the future. I do understand the investments are in Q2, but these are both long-term benefits and some benefits that will play out in the second half of the year. And then just in terms of gross margin, we’re confident in our gross margin guidance. Mix shift plays a small role, but we are realizing the benefits of freight, which we called out in May, will give us about 100 basis points benefit as we move through fiscal ’24. That’s about offset by cotton. But as we look forward to FY ’25, we expect cotton to turn into a tailwind at the very end of the quarter. We’re also seeing with our AUR up 15%. We’re really confident in our ability to continue to elevate with AUR as an outcome of that. And we’re confident in that as we move forward, although I said it will moderate as like the need for like-for-like pricing due to inflation also moderate. Operator: The next question comes from Dana Telsey with Telsey Advisory Group. Dana Telsey: As you talk about the pressures of the value consumer and the AUR increases, what are you seeing globally that value consumer, whether in North America, Europe or in Asia versus the more higher-end consumer and helping to drive the AUR growth. Is there a difference? Patrice Louvet: Dana, so we actually are really pleased to see how our core consumer, which is a more elevated consumer is responding to our product offering, particularly as we pivot more towards sophisticated casual, which is really where the interest is at this point and which really plays to our core strengths of think chinos, suit separates, cable knit sweaters, Oxford shorts and those kind of things. And consumers responding well to that elevation and the core consumer represents the bulk of our business. And this is true both in Asia and even in China, where we have our highest AUR, we’re continuing to drive AUR. But this trend in Europe, it’s also true across North America. So core consumer is resilient around the world, responding well to our overall product offering and AUR expansion. As a reminder, our AUR is a combination, as Jane mentioned earlier, 4 different factors. Product mix, channel and region mix, were targeted like-for-like pricing and pull back on promotional activity. As far as the value-oriented consumer is concerned, we really see that dynamic primarily in North America. And that group is becoming a smaller and smaller part of our overall customer makeup because, as you know, as we recruit new consumers are recruiting new higher-value customers. I think what we’re seeing with that customer, which frankly isn’t surprising given the inflationary context is pressure on what they invest in, in terms of the choices that they make. Where we’re seeing the greatest price sensitivity that is on our basic categories. which I might point the COVID categories. So we’re seeing pressure on tees, on fleece, on shorts. But, overall, we’re continuing the AUR expansion journey we are seeing our value perception continue to increase. So we’re not just taking land pricing like maybe other players might. We are actually being very deliberate on elevating product elevating our storytelling, elevating our shopping experience, which drives value enhanced value perception, which then enables us to drive AUR, which gives us to change earlier for confidence that we can continue to do that as we continue to enhance the makeup of our customer base, higher value customers, resilient customers around the world. Dana Telsey: Okay. And then just kind of get your perspective on the wholesale channel and when you see it return to stabilization even growth go forward given the timing shifts that have occurred. Thank you. Jane Nielsen: As we look at wholesale, Dana, I think it’s really a story of different regional factors. So overall, what we’re expecting is that in North America, as I mentioned, Q1 will be the low point in terms of wholesale growth, and we expect to build roughly sequentially as we move through the year while exiting in flat to positive range for North America wholesale. And then with Europe, we’ve obviously called out that the plus 10% that we saw in Europe this quarter had some opportunities that we took for full price selling to ship in a little earlier. That will have about a 4-point impact to Europe in Q2 and Q3, but we would expect Europe overall for the year to have some flat to down low single digit in our wholesale business. Operator: The next question comes from Chris Nardone with Bank of America. Chris Nardone: So in terms of your North America retail business, how should we think about the level of promotional activity that you’re embedding in your outlook for this upcoming holiday season compared to last year? And then, how should we think about top-line in North America retail? Should we also see potential improvement starting in 2Q? Jane Nielsen: Thanks for your question, Chris. I think what we’re calling out both in our guidance and in our intent is that as Patrice mentioned, we are seeing value-oriented consumers really responding during the sort of what I would say, consumer moments. And so what we’ve left in our algorithm is contemplated in our guidance is some select targeted promotional activity, specifically for that value consumer. So you’ll see us go sharp back to school. You’ll see us be sharp in key holiday moments. Black Friday, specifically. A few days leading up to Christmas, especially Cyber Monday. But what we’re calling out is that we’ll continue AUR growth, albeit at a more moderate rate and AUR growth that leads to gross margin expansion. So this is not at all moving away from our brand elevation strategy. It’s about being agile, responding to key consumer moments in a targeted basis. And you’ve seen us go to the top-end of our gross margin range. So we’ve got a good handle on where we need to be. And I would say that if you look at our inventories up 1% this quarter, you don’t have pressure to be promotional. We want to go where the consumer is going, respond to the consumer need for value at select times, but not at all be pressured in terms of moving backwards. We’re about brand elevation and AUR growth, while being smart and pragmatic in this current environment. So from North America, top-line standpoint. As we’ve called out and we’ve looked at revenue, we expect North America as we put in place some key interventions like outlet interventions that we just talked about, like the digital ecosystem investments with Canda going live in Q3. Like key brand moments like the fashion show, we expect North America revenues to increase, especially in the second half where we would expect them to be in positive territory. Operator: The next question comes from Bob Drbul with Guggenheim. Bob Drbul: Jane, I was wondering if you could spend a little more time on new customer acquisition sort of success that you’re seeing both domestically and internationally and sort of how you expect that to unfold over the next few quarters? Jane Nielsen: Yes, Bob, and then I’ll turn it over to Patrice. We were really happy with the 1.2 million new consumers that we saw engaged with the brand in Q1. As you look backwards, you’ve seen us be pretty consistent on that trajectory. I think it’s really an outcome of, one, the investments we’ve put in the brand; and two, the investments we’ve made in our consumer intelligence group and our use of AI and elasticity models to really drive more personalized communication with these new consumers and is really an important part of our AUR and revenue growth turn. We’re now, if you think back when we used to promote to drive new consumers, our next great chapter strategy has really been about enticing higher-value consumers into the brand with content and products that they respond to and being available in channels where they want to shop. Patrice Louvet: Yes, Bob, I would add probably three things. First of all, we’re seeing this growth of new consumers consistently over time, right, because every quarter, we are talking about 1 million to 1.5 million new consumers. So we’ve got an engine that’s delivering consistently. And it’s delivering consistently around the world. This is not just dependent on more emerging market growth. So we’re excited about that, both in our core markets like North America, Europe and also Asia. The second point is this is really the outcome of how we’ve expanded our marketing activity portfolio, which now ranges from powerful experiential fashion moments like the one we’re about to do early September, what we just did in along with men’s. Two, high-impact celebrity dressing. You saw some of the highlights for the past quarter and we’re doing this consistently. Through partnerships with key sports platforms they’re really resonating particularly with that younger consumer. Two, now presence in gaming and metaverse related activity that’s also helping us engage in a different environment. Two fantastic work by our teams in the markets on social media platforms, right? You heard the numbers earlier today, 53.5 million, new followers on social media across all the different platforms around the world. So this engine that’s been put in place that has a diversity of activities that’s targeted to different generations, different genders. That’s enhancing brand equity is the engine that will consistently drive new customer acquisition. We talk a lot about AUR when it comes to Ralph Lauren, but it’s important to remember that our growth algorithm is dependent on three elements. New consumer recruiting, select unit growth and AUR and we feel really good about all three. Operator: Sitting in for Paul Lejuez, we have Tracy Kogan with Citigroup. Tracy Kogan: Two questions. I was hoping you could just detail some of the drivers in the women’s business. And what’s the growth in the Lauren brand versus the Polo product? And then, secondly, I was hoping you could talk about, I think you said your U.S. wholesale AUR was up 11%. And I was wondering what you expect for wholesale AUR for the year and whether you’re getting any pushback from your wholesale partners on price increases you may have taken in the U.S. Patrice Louvet: Sure. So the key success drivers behind our overall women’s portfolio are really the three key factors. First of all, we have a product offering that’s really resonating with our target consumer. And if you think about what’s happening around the world right now and there’s a lot of conversations around quiet luxury. What Ralph Lauren has stood for from the time this company was founded 56 years ago, has been quality, has been timeless style, has been confidence in what you’re buying, and that’s what consumers are looking for today, and particularly what women are looking for today. So the way this is translating from a product category standpoint, is Growth in Linen, growth in suit separates, growth in our dresses business. We’re starting to see some early exciting momentum on our handbag business, and this is playing out across both collection, Polo and Lauren. The other element that’s actually really supporting, particularly our Polo and our Lauren business is the elevation work that we’re doing. It’s really moving up in terms of product proposition is moving up in terms of storytelling, is moving up in terms of how we present the product, both online and in-store. I think the consumer is responding really nicely to that. As I mentioned earlier, within our high potential categories are actually our highest performing category is actually our women’s business. So we have a proposition that’s resonating with consumers around the world. This elevation journey is clearly connecting the product line that we offer is relevant for what consumers are looking for today, and we’re very excited about what the future holds for this business. Jane Nielsen: Yes. I would just add, Tracy, that Polo Women’s significantly outpaced both our total growth and led our women’s growth with up high single digit with Lauren pacing about at company level of growth, a little bit ahead. So we’re very encouraged by that. The second part of your question, which is wholesale AUR up 11% this quarter, we still see a strong trajectory for AUR at wholesale. But like in our DTC business, we expect that AUR growth to moderate as the like-for-like pricing moderates as inflation pressures abate. We called out the fall with our peak pressure in terms of cotton costs, we’ll start to see those moderate into spring, and you’ll see some moderation in our wholesale AUR. I would say the support from our retail partners has been tremendous. This has been a multiyear journey that we’ve partnered together on. They see the power of elevating the brand. They see the power of the brand, and we’re both benefiting from improved consumer desirability that’s pulling through into migration of the consumer into higher-end products. So product mix has been a factor in that. And so continued AUR elevation but similar to BGC’s moderation. Operator: Our final question comes from John Kernan with TD Cowen. John Kernan: Jane, how should we think about inventory dollars? It looks like they’re sitting around $1.2 billion as of the first quarter. Still you’ve got some easier compares, I guess, as we go through the rest of the year. Where do you think inventory dollars should land as we head towards the back half of the year? And when do you think we’ll start to see some meaningful declines off of what was fairly elevated levels last year. Jane Nielsen: Yes, John, I think that as we called out last year, you’d start to see our inventory levels moderate and align with sales. We’ve achieved that. Now throughout the year, I think what we plan is that you will see inventory declines as we exit the year as we start to focus on getting weeks on hand in line with pre-COVID levels. And we feel very good, not just about our outlook for declining inventory dollars, but also about the health of our inventories, how we’re positioned in core, that really gives us the flexibility to be agile with demand variability. So we feel good about how we’re positioned. We think we’re in excellent shape relative to some of our industry peers and expect higher inventory trends as we exit the year. Patrice Louvet: Okay. Well, listen, thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We look forward to sharing our second quarter results with you in November. And until then, take care. Have a great day. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude your conference for today. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect. Follow Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) Follow Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 12th, 2023

20 Expensive Places to Retire That Are Worth It

In this article, we will take a look at 20 expensive places to retire that are worth it. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis on retiring rich and the most expensive places to retire to, you may go to 5 Expensive Places to Retire That Are Worth It. When it comes to wealthiest […] In this article, we will take a look at 20 expensive places to retire that are worth it. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis on retiring rich and the most expensive places to retire to, you may go to 5 Expensive Places to Retire That Are Worth It. When it comes to wealthiest cities in the world, New York emerges at the top with over 340,000 millionaires. Tokyo, and of course San Francisco’s Bay Area follow the lead, with 290,300 and 285,000 millionaires respectively. But do these millionaires prefer these cities for retirement, or do they have second-homes elsewhere? Read on to find out. Retiring Rich Retirement is a multifaceted term carrying diverse connotations for retirees. For those without substantial savings, downgrading lifestyles and relying on social security is largely what reaps retirement. Such individuals, or even those with moderate nest eggs, end up facing the decision of rejoining the workforce, or worse, emulating the paths of their less fortunate counterparts. Conversely, the affluent tend to embrace a more autonomous working lifestyle in this period, instead of completely relinquishing their professional pursuits. For such affluent retirees, money still comes from investments, businesses built, and ventures started. They pay taxes and build on their wealth while enjoying a slower pace of life. However, CNBC notes that becoming such a high-net-worth individual may seem farfetched for 74% of US adults. The impossible dream takes more than making a good salary or diverse income streams. In fact, CNBC reveals that retirement investing plays a significant role in the portfolios of the elite. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) are few financial institutions offering individuals with retirement accounts for their golden years. Many high-net-worth individuals have contributed as much as 55% of their wealth through such retirement accounts. Michelle Brownstein, a certified financial planner and vice president of Empower Private Client Group working with high-net-worth clients, reveals that “The strategies needed to get rich are different from the ones required to stay rich and eventually earn on your money”. Therefore, a diversified investment portfolio can go a long way in expanding wealth. Maxing out your retirement account can also help your money grow through the magic of compound interest. For those who are employers themselves, companies such as Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) offer traditional and Roth IRAs to allow you and your employees to start saving. Expensive Places to Retire to A complex question every potential retiree faces when nearing retirement is where they should be retiring to. Many affordable options have been popping up over the years, from the sunny state of Florida to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. The average retiree finds affordable options to help make the most of their retirement income. However, not everyone tends to think this way. For the rich retirees, the top priority isn’t affordability; it’s luxury. Due to this reason, this time, we’ve been rounding up on the most expensive cities to retire to, such as New York, Paris, Nice, and Monaco City, to see which ones classify as the best places for the affluent to retire to. Not only are these some of the best places to retire if you’re rich, but also the best options for retirees to socialize with like-minded individuals. For those who wish to stay in the States, Ney York’s Big Apple, New York City, is home to the most number of millionaires in the world. This fact grants it the title of the wealthiest city in the world, according to a report by Henley & Partners. CNBC has also crowned New York as the most expensive state to retire in, followed by New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland. California is also an expensive state to live in. Wealthy individuals love to retire to such places, offering them the best of shopping, dining, and other form of leisure. There are many expensive retirement communities for the wealthy in other parts of the states too, such as Promontory Club in Utah, White Sands at La Jolla, La Jolla, California, and The Clare in Chicago. Wherever you choose to retire, you must start saving immediately and have enough savings in your retirement accounts. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE:SCHW), and Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) not only offer retirement accounts but also offer a range of resources to help you maximize your retirement savings. JCStudio/Shutterstock.com Methodology To compile the list of expensive places to retire that are worth it, we began by checking out the most expensive countries in the world. We narrowed our parameters to top retirement choices for the affluent, their seasonal hotpots, and the wealthiest cities where the centi-millionaires are buying their primary and secondary homes. Henley & Partners and other sources, helped us make the list. Centi-millionaires refers to individuals with investable wealth of USD 100 million or more. Next, we crosschecked our list with what users were raving over various forums and assessed them on factors such as modern amenities, beaches and golf courses, and luxurious properties. After scoring them individually on these factors, we totaled our scores and ranked the places in ascending order from the least to the most scores. Here are the most expensive places to retire that are worth it. 20. Park City, Utah, USA Insider Monkey Score: 26 One of the wealthiest small urban areas of the US, Park City is home to wealthy retirees and millionaires with second homes. Residents get to enjoy the marvelous mountain life in the summers, as well as enjoy skiing in the winters. Catch celebrities and other elites from around the world at the annual Sundance Film Festival, a major cultural appeal of Park City. From luxurious resorts, charming boutique shops, and exquisite fine dining establishments to top-notch medical facilities, the city offers everything an affluent retiree could desire. 19. Villefranche-sur-Mer, France Insider Monkey Score: 30 This quaint seaside town, Villefranche-sur-Mer, is located on the French Riviera, less than a half hour away from Nice. Associated with exclusivity and luxury, Villefranche-sur-Mer is favored by celebrities, high-profile individuals, and all sorts of elite. It is also revered for its gastronomy, and residents like to engage in gourmet dining experiences, savoring the exquisite flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine. Villefranche-sur-Mer also offers the most luxurious real-estate properties, allowing retirees with an opportunity to live in grandeur. 18. Saint Tropez, France Insider Monkey Score:32 A gleaming jewel on the Côte d’Azur, Saint Tropez is one of the most expensive places to retire that are worth it. A wealth of recreational pursuits await the affluent in Saint Tropez, from world-class golf courses, sailing and yachting activities in the coastal vistas, or getting warm in the sun-kissed beaches. The culinary escapades in Saint Tropez are exclusive, offering the best of gourmet food and fine dining. 17. Monaco City, Monaco Insider Monkey Score: 33 Monaco is another one of the most expensive places to retire. Enjoying a beautiful Mediterranean climate, well-developed healthcare, and a luxurious lifestyle is certainly a dream for the retiree seeking extravagance. The place boasts countless upscale restaurants, high-end shopping, and cultural events that entertain residents. Real estate options are exclusive, with retirees having plenty of options to suit their needs. 16. Antibes, France Insider Monkey Score: 42 Retirees who seek sophistication and charm can choose Antibes, France; enjoying a prestigious location on the French Riviera. Retirees get to experience an exclusive lifestyle, a sophisticated social scene, and fine gourmet dining in the city. They also have a chance to indulge in intellectual pursuits through the many historical sites, museums, and art galleries. Lastly, the real estate is quite exclusive, and the affluent retiree can find an opulent residence to spend their golden years. 15. Lugano, Switzerland Insider Monkey Score: 43 The picturesque Swiss town of Lugano, Switzerland, is home to many millionaires who live in the city or have second homes for spending vacations. Retirees get to enjoy the highest quality of life here, with panoramic views of the Swiss Alps and scenic sights of Lake Lugano offering them a beautiful escapade. The city is also culturally rich, multilingual, and secure for its residents. An affluent expat community has slowly developed over the years, offering retirees the chance to socialize with like-minded individuals. 14. Lisbon, Portugal Insider Monkey Score: 46 Lisbon is no longer the affordable city it used to be, owing to rising taxes, tourism, and wealthy retirees moving there. According to Henley & Partners, over 35 centi-millionaires live as permanent residents in Lisbon, and more than 150 more centi-millionaires pop in to spend their vacations. Plenty of upscale real estate options are available for the affluent, offering lavish living spaces according to individual needs. Healthcare is also high-quality, while the infrastructure is excellent. 13. Paris, France Insider Monkey Score: 48 Quintessential French lifestyle, luxury shopping, and architectural marvels make Paris, France, another expensive place that is worth retiring to. Dine in expensive Michelin-starred restaurants, explore the diverse cultural scenes, and live in luxurious mansions in the prestigious neighborhoods of Paris. Residents get to enjoy living with like-minded individuals from around the world here. 12. Cannes, France Insider Monkey Score: 49 Retirees get to enjoy an active lifestyle in Cannes, France, on the beautiful French Riviera. This prestigious retirement destination attracts the affluent worldwide, offering them an exclusive and sophisticated lifestyle. Upscale villas and elegant apartments come with scenic views of the sea, marinas, and yachting facilities are abounding, and there is a diverse international community to socialize with. All these factors make Cannes one of the best places for rich retirees. 11. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, France Insider Monkey Score: 50 The French Riviera is overflowing with prestigious options for the affluent retirees, and another addition to our list is Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, one of the top luxury places for retirement. Offering a picturesque coastline, a peaceful Mediterranean lifestyle, and plentiful recreational opportunities, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat can be a beautiful place to call home. It is already home to Russian oligarchs and Hollywood A-listers and is one of the most expensive locations in the world. 10. West Palm Beach, Florida USA Insider Monkey Score: 50 One of the wealthiest cities in Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach offers retirees the best of amenities, real estate, and lifestyle. It is also a golfer’s paradise, a beach hub, and offers plentiful modern amenities for retirees. Numerous luxurious waterfront residences, high-end condos, and gated communities are available for retirees to choose from. The healthcare system is also robust, and overall the active lifestyle makes it an attractive destination for retirees. 9. Zurich, Switzerland Insider Monkey Score: 51 One of the best cities for the wealthy, Zurich offers retirees the highest quality of life, the lowest crime rate, and a diverse expat community. The healthcare system is top-notch, the international airport is well-connected to various European destinations, and the cultural scene is extremely vibrant. Its beautiful location on the shores of Lake Zurich, surrounded by the Swiss Alps, offers retirees a chance to enjoy nature and indulge in plentiful activities as well. 8. Holland Village, Singapore Insider Monkey Score: 52 This prestigious and upscale neighborhood in Holland Village, Singapore, is one of the most expensive places to retire that is worth it. The vibrant Holland “V” is a lively destination for international dining and nightlife. There are plentiful parks and green locations, a range of amenities, and a world-class healthcare system. It is also one of the safest cities in the world, so retirees can stay with a relaxed peace of mind. 7. Boca Raton, Florida, USA Insider Monkey Score: 53 The affluent city of Boca Raton is another expensive place worth retiring to. Home to upscale and exclusive neighborhoods, the city offers a warm climate, beautiful beaches, and many recreational opportunities. The city also houses world-class museums, designer boutiques, and fine dining establishments. It is one of the most expensive places to retire that are worth it. 6. Mornington Peninsula, Australia Insider Monkey Score: 54 Australia’s popular retirement spot, Mornington Peninsula, is an expensive place worth retiring to. White sandy beaches, picturesque views of Port Phillip Bay and the Bass Strait, wineries, and lots of golf make it an attractive retirement destination. Luxurious spas, wellness retreats, and natural hot springs are also good additions for retirees. Click to continue reading and see 5 Expensive Places to Retire That Are Worth It.  Suggested articles: 20 Countries With The Highest Dairy Consumption 11 Best Medical  Stocks Under $10 12 Most Luxurious Cruise Lines Disclosure. None. 20 Expensive Places to Retire That Are Worth It is originally published in Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyJul 30th, 2023

Elon Musk has condemned Twitter to a fate worse than death — irrelevance

From rate limits to Threads, it's clear that Elon Musk's "new and improved" Twitter is losing the one thing that made it special. Elon Musk was always going to destroy Twitter. The real surprise is how fast he was able to wreck it.Jenny Chang-Rodriguez/Insider; Chesnot/Getty ImagesElon Musk has killed the one thing that made Twitter specialIt's been less than a year since he bought it, and Elon Musk's Twitter is already well on its way to suffering a fate worse than death — irrelevance.The platform, which Musk promised to turn into a free-speech, bot-free haven, is glitchier, bottier, and spammier than ever. In May, when Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced his presidential candidacy on Twitter, a parade of malfunctions turned what should have been a historic moment for the company into a mess. Twitter hasn't even been able to hold it together during the news-making events it's known for — such as while Rihanna was performing at the Super Bowl halftime show. And pretty much every new "feature" that Musk rolls out — from an increase in the length of tweets to the now infamous "rate limit" that prevents users from seeing more than a set number of tweets a day — has made the product worse.Twitter is at its core an advertising business — the last public financials showed that over 90% of its revenue came from ads. To succeed in that business, it needs both the users who generate content and the clients who buy ads to believe it is a stable, reliable place. If an advertising platform can't be trusted during the Super Bowl of advertising — the Super Bowl — then what good is it?And now there is growing competition. On Thursday — a couple of weeks after Musk challenged him to a cage fight — Mark Zuckerberg's Meta launched Threads, a social-note site fused with Instagram. In less than 24 hours, Threads had over 30 million users, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jennifer Lopez, and Steph Curry. For Musk, this should be more embarrassing than getting wrecked in the ring. Clearly in some kind of mood over Threads' overnight success, he wrote on Twitter: "It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram."Yeah, OK, chief.Being relevant was Twitter's core strength as a platform. It never really made money, and it was never the biggest social network. But when something was happening, people immediately went to Twitter to know more. Its appeal was its ability to collect information about the present moment, whether it was the death of a notable member of society, a weather event, or traffic. Unfortunately, Musk's fumbling is rubbing all that relevance away and giving other platforms an opening.Musk has said he might turn Twitter into an "everything app" — a one-stop shop for anything from ride-hailing to shopping. But what's more likely is that he will turn it into former President Donald Trump's Truth Social — a digital megaphone for a single, raging narcissist and all the people who fawn over him.How you do a turnaroundIn the early days of Musk's Twitter takeover, I told you he was overpaying for the company. Once the deal went through, I said he had no real plan to turn the business around. In those respects, I think it's fair to say I was right. That said, all this is unraveling much quicker than I thought it would.Twitter certainly needed a turnaround. Even before the takeover, it needed new management, a reevaluation of the business, and investment in product innovation to bring in new users. Unfortunately for Twitter, Musk is not a traditional turnaround guy. In fact, he's not a turnaround guy at all. All the businesses he has started were first movers in nascent industries. What made those businesses successful won't work at Twitter, but Musk tried it anyway. He fired over 70% of Twitter's staff with absolutely no respect for their institutional knowledge. He acted as if he alone could be the advertising business (like he was at Tesla). And he didn't bother to get to know what users wanted out of their Twitter, assuming instead that his hopeless addiction to tweeting had already given him all the answers. But unsurprisingly, being a billionaire "reply guy" does not give one a clear sense of why everyday people are using the product.I'll give you an example. For years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that controls New York City's subways and buses, used Twitter to send out automated alerts about emergencies and service changes. It was a symbiotic relationship for the site — users depended on the platform for timely updates about stalled trains and late buses, while the MTA had a quick, reliable way to reach customers.Musk decided in April to abruptly cut off access to the Twitter program that allowed the MTA to send out automated alerts after it ran relatively smoothly for years. Musk — who is frantically looking for cash in Twitter's couch cushions — wanted to charge users for access to this feed, known as Twitter's application programming interface. He thought that national weather services, governments, and emergency-response agencies all needed Twitter more than Twitter needed them. The MTA estimated it could cost it $50,000 a month to retain access, but instead of paying up, it called his bluff. The MTA returned only when Musk reversed his decision and allowed government agencies to come back at no charge. The situation forced Musk to show his hand, and it was a weak one."The only difference with Twitter and Musk's other companies is that he's treating Twitter users worse than he treats his employees," Vicki Bryan, the founder of the bond-research service Bond Angle, told me over the phone.Twitter's product is also suffering because Musk notoriously doesn't pay his bills on time, a tendency that has frustrated Tesla's suppliers for years. Now it's frustrating Twitter's landlords and Goldman Sachs, which is holding bad property loans because Musk refuses to pay the rent for a handful of the company's offices. And if you read between the headlines, there are whiffs of Musk's miserliness everywhere. Just before the July 4 holiday, he announced that the site would begin limiting the number of tweets users could see in a single day. He claimed it was to improve the experience and get at those pesky bots. If that's true, Musk is sacrificing Twitter's reputation as a trusted destination for breaking news and free-flowing conversation to fight spam. That's like lighting a house on fire to get rid of termites. The strategy makes more sense if it's actually a misdirection from Musk's penurious mismanagement. As of late June, Twitter hadn't paid its database provider Oracle in months. And last month, CEO Linda Yaccarino had to settle Twitter's outstanding bill with Google Cloud, which provides a home for Twitter's data as well as other computing services. It's unclear how the company would survive without the infrastructure these companies provide, and it's almost certain that these are not the only critical business relationships Musk has put at risk. So sure, maybe limiting user access to the site is about the bots. Maybe, to Musk, that's a crusade worth sacrificing the very thing that makes Twitter special. Maybe he thinks fighting the bots is worth shrinking Twitter — a social-media site that has been trying to grow its user base for years. But it seems much more likely that the site is under pressure from understaffing, weak infrastructure, and a C-suite full of cheap dilettantes.If anyone has any bright ideas over at Twitter — aside from charging for a blue checkmark no one wants anymore — now is the time to share them. In May, Fidelity, the giant mutual fund that retained its stake in Twitter through Musk's purchase, marked down its valuation of the company in May to $6.5 million from about $20 million in October. That's about one-third of what it once was. Bryan has been following the saga of the $13 billion worth of debt that Musk had to load onto Twitter to take it over. She told me that in her decades of experience, she had never seen a company deteriorate in value so quickly.Twitter's true price isn't the $44 billion Musk paid; it's a falling knife — and everyone on Wall Street knows it. That's why banks such as Morgan Stanley, which signed on to sell Twitter's $12.5 million in debt, are simply sitting on piles of bonds and hoping for a miracle, rather than suffering the debasement of selling them for pennies on the dollar. According to The Wall Street Journal, Twitter's debt makes up the majority of what's left of the $80 billion pile of "hung debt" sitting on banks' balance sheets — bonds from various acquisitions that no one wants to buy because now that interest rates are higher, the whole deal market has slowed down. Higher interest on debt also means Twitter's debt payments are more expensive. That leaves little room for error or experimentation when it comes to investing in Twitter as a product."If Elon asks the banks for more money, they're going to say, 'Sorry, driving through a tunnel, can't hear you,'" Bryan said. "If the people you sold your debt to can't sell it, you're not going to get more debt."Elon's the product nowWhen products suck, users leave, and that's what's happening at Twitter. A May survey by Pew Research found high-frequency users were still around but posting less. Part of the problem is that — like Truth Social — Musk has become the centerpiece of the website. Part of that is intentional. When Musk found out that his popularity was declining among users, he ordered his engineers to make his tweets more prominent. Another problem is that Musk attracts the very bots he complained about ad nauseam. Another Pew survey found that 60% of users had taken a break from Twitter over the past year. Call it what you want, but I'm going to go ahead and say they were suffering from "Elon exhaustion."There have been Twitter alternatives for months, Mastodon, Post, Bluesky (from the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey) — take your pick. Those sites have been picking off Twitter fanatics little by little, fragmenting users and denying any one site the critical mass to match Twitter's ceaseless chatter. They haven't attracted the celebrities, the brands, or all the other cultural kitsch that we love to hate. But the rocket launch of Meta's Threads appears to be the most serious threat to Musk's Twitter yet. The difference with Threads is that — because of its seamless connection to Instagram — it's not picking off Twitter users; it's scooping them away with a dump truck and hauling them over.The Federal Trade Commission may have something to say about this. FTC Chair Lina Khan has tried to sue Meta for copying products from smaller companies to maintain market dominance in social media. But so far, her argument hasn't worked, and somehow I doubt helping Musk will give her heightened impetus to go back to the drawing board. For Musk's part, his lawyers have already written a cease-and-desist letter telling Meta that Twitter will sue if Threads is not taken down — thus offering Zuckerberg the opportunity to beat Musk in a courtroom as well as in a cage. Congratulations to all the lawyers involved.Based on her résumé, Yaccarino seems a competent professional who probably doesn't need my advice, but I'm going to give it to her anyway: Run! Musk is known for micromanaging and penny pinching, which means your expertise will be subverted to his ego in all decision-making. And when you finally want to leave, he'll fight you for every penny you deserve all the way out the door. I've seen this happen at Tesla many times.In the past, Musk has been able to fuse his brand with his products and turn them into a success. At Twitter, that fusion has turned the brand and the product into a toxic mess. And if Twitter is too toxic to be the global watercooler, it's diminished. The lights may be on — thanks to Musk's billions — but the only people home will be him, some misguided men who wish he were their dad, and porn bots. It's unclear whether any app will be the "Twitter killer," but it's already clear Musk's manners and poor product are turning the "bird app" into a zombie. Twitter may not die, but it certainly won't be living. It will need to eat brains to sustain itself, but there won't be enough brains around to feed it. Maybe this is the site Musk wanted in the first place. At least he'll be popular there.Linette Lopez is a senior correspondent at Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJul 12th, 2023

Insider"s most innovative CMOs of 2023

CMOs from Mastercard, Autodesk, and others are shifting budgets to digital platforms and shaking up how they appeal to younger consumers. From left: Heidi Cooley, Raja Rajamannar, Dara Treseder, Kelly Solomon, and Derek Yarbrough.Alyssa Powell/Insider These CMOs are meeting the marketing world's biggest challenges. They're reaching Gen Z customers, dealing with a volatile economy, and testing generative AI. Insider spoke with some of these CMOs to learn how they're bringing fresh thinking to marketing. Chief marketing officers have a tough job.This year, they've been responsible for keeping consumers spending through the economic downturn, reaching coveted Gen Z audiences, and figuring out how new technology, such as generative AI, can transform advertising.Insider's annual list of "Most Innovative CMOs" presents 25 top marketers who are confronting these big challenges. The picks are based on over 70 nominations and suggestions from their peers and industry experts.These execs represent a mix of big brands and smaller disruptor companies from a cross section of industries.Here's Insider's list of most innovative CMOs, in alphabetical order by last name.Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer, ChipotleChris Brandt, the chief marketing officer at Chipotle.ChipotleAppealing to Gen Z's tastesUnder Brandt, Chipotle has driven impactful business results by becoming an early adopter of new technologies — from TikTok to Roblox to Web3. Brandt and his team have positioned Chipotle as a lifestyle brand by quickly tapping into popular cultural trends with creative campaigns and commerce options that cater to changing consumer habits.Last August, Brandt's team created a lemonade-scented candle that looked like one of Chipotle's water cups. It was a hat-tip to Chipotle customers who were filling their free water cups with lemonade at the chain's beverage stations — something Chipotle's social team has acknowledged on Twitter several times over the years."When they see these lighthearted tributes to social chatter and fan behavior, they feel even more connected to Chipotle," Brandt said in a press release announcing the limited-edition candle. The company said the candle sold out in four minutes and generated 2.1 billion PR impressions.In late 2022 Brandt quickly mobilized his team to take advantage of the steak-quesadilla menu hack, which the TikTok creators Keith Lee and Alexis Frost popularized. Realizing its potential, Chipotle added the Fajita Quesadilla to Chipotle's digital menus and quickly trained 100,000 employees across more than 3,200 restaurants on how to create the item. Chipotle leaned into the TikTok origin story, and the launch doubled Chipotle's quesadilla business, resulting in three of its top digital-sales days of all time. It also increased Chipotle Rewards sign-ups by 37% that week.Marketing activations like these have solidly positioned Chipotle as a loved brand among Gen Z consumers. A recent Morning Consult study showed that the brand's favorability among responding Gen Z consumers increased by 15 points between December 2022 and February 2023. Chipotle's market cap stands at $56 billion at the time of writing, up from $8.2 billion in early 2018 when Brandt joined the company. Digital sales now account for 40% of all sales, thanks in part to Brandt's efforts. And, under Brandt's leadership, Chipotle has achieved a growth of more than 35% in return on ad spend, the company said.Damon Burrell, chief marketing officer, GEICODamon Burrell, the chief marketing officer at GEICO.GeicoMaximizing Geico's digital impactBurrell joined GEICO a year ago, bringing more data and analytics to the insurance giant.GEICO has long been one of the largest TV advertisers. Burrell told Insider that he's increasingly interested in digital ads that get people to take action — such as filling out a form to get a quote. GEICO's digital investments also help find people who are in the market to buy insurance instead of targeting a broad group, he said. Burrell cited Google, Amazon, and Snapchat as a few of the platforms where GEICO is increasing its ad budgets."I've always been a marketer that focused on data and analytics and how marketing drives business, and being able to quantify that to show impact," he said.Burrell is leaning into AI to crank out ads faster. An upcoming campaign called "Real Time Gecko" lets people interact with GEICO's gecko mascot on social and digital platforms.Earlier this year, Burrell shook up GEICO's agency contracts to consolidate its budgets with the holding company IPG, which owns GEICO's longtime creative agency, The Martin Agency. IPG's agency, Mediabrands, handles paid media, and Octagon handles sports marketing.Burrell said that he likes to work closely with agencies to develop big strategies. "I view agencies as an extension of my team," he said.Before he was at GEICO, Burrell was the CMO and SVP of North America for The Estée Lauder Companies. He's also worked in marketing roles at Viacom.Heidi Cooley, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, CrocsHeidi Cooley, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Crocs.CrocsMaintained a pandemic bump in salesWhile some brands saw their pandemic-driven sales boosts land back to earth with a thud, Crocs has continued from strength to strength. The company's stock has risen by more than 130% over the past year, and annual sales are up some 200% since 2019."We are very confident being ugly," Cooley said in an interview with the National Retail Federation last year. The brand has taken on an irreverent voice on social media, which has helped it climb up the footwear rankings to No. 5 on Piper Sandler's biannual Gen Z survey.In the past, Crocs has benefitted from the cachet of partnerships with brands, including Palace and MCM, and partnerships with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Post Malone. Riding high from its elevated cultural status, Cooley shifted the company's approach last year to focus more on its own mainline releases, such as the hiking-focused "All Terrain" range and its Crush sandals, Hypebeast reported.Last October, Crocs marked its 20th anniversary with a monthlong Croctober event, which included digital activations and prize giveaways. That month, Crocs sponsored a virtual concert in Roblox by the K-pop band Aespa. The concert notched more than 2.5 million visits, and the post-show meet-and-greet with the group led to 225,000 purchases of virtual Crocs on Roblox. Keeping with the gaming theme, last month, Cooley's team collaborated with Minecraft to launch a pair of physical shoes inspired by the game, which granted access to an AR experience.Late last year, Cooley appointed Digitas to help grow the brand in both the US and Asia — and in particular, China, where it has lower brand awareness than other markets — as part of the company's plans to reach $5 billion in revenue by 2026, up from $3.6 billion last year.Julia Goldin, global chief product and marketing officer, Lego GroupJulia Goldin, the global chief product and marketing officer at Lego Group.Lego GroupIntegrating Lego into the digital worldGoldin has been Lego's top marketer since 2015, and today, she's got a huge purview that includes marketing, product development, managing the in-house creative agency, licensing, and more. Her contributions have helped Lego continue to perform. Like many companies, it got a tremendous boost during the pandemic as shut-in consumers snapped up Lego sets. But while other brands saw their businesses tail off once consumers started to return to their pre-COVID lives, Lego continues to grow.In 2022, its sales were up by 17% over the year prior, it opened 155 new stores, and 48% of its products were new. But one thing that makes Goldin so innovative is how forward-looking she is. On a KidTech podcast last October, Goldin described how her team deals not only with solving challenges that are happening today or ones that will happen over the next two years but also tries to influence what will happen "in the longer-term future.""We're talking about things that will happen over the next three to seven years, and how we shape them, how we invest in them, and how we develop them," Goldin said on the podcast.One of her big initiatives has been integrating Lego — famous for being a hands-on, physical toy — into the digital world. "The kids that are growing up today aren't growing up in the physical world and then a digital world," Goldin said on the podcast. "It's seamless to them." Lego has massively expanded its digital presence in recent years.In 2022, Lego's Builder app, which has instructions on how to assemble sets, notched 13.6 million downloads, a 42% increase over the previous year. And the company announced a partnership with Epic Games to help create a metaverse experience safe for children.Lego has also been at the forefront of diversity and inclusion — earning the ire of right-wing activists. Nevertheless, Goldin is marching forward to help Lego shape a safer future for all children. The company's most recent campaign, "Play Unstoppable," launched in June and partners with female role models, including the star athletes Megan Rapinoe and Sunisa Lee, journalists such as Elaine Welteroth and Jazlyn Guerra, and others. The goal of the campaign is to empower young girls to explore their interests freely.Lesley Klein, SVP of strategy and brand marketing, PricelineLesley Klein, the senior vice president of strategy and brand marketing at Priceline.PricelineHelping the travel industry reboundAfter rebranding Weight Watchers in 2018 and helping rebuild its subscriber numbers, Priceline hired Klein in April 2022 to give its brand a recognition boost among younger consumers. Priceline had lost a lot of consideration among that audience because its marketing strategy had focused on direct response. Knowing that young people were especially keen to travel as pandemic restrictions have eased, Klein spearheaded a data-driven campaign called "Go to Your Happy Price" that started as a marketing initiative and has since influenced Priceline's promotional and pricing strategy. It included a social-media sitcom starring Kaley Cuoco to showcase how easy it was to book trips, and Klein made sure each episode had an interactive element where viewers could find hidden travel deals.Moving the brand forward is a complex task, Klein told Insider, because marketers have to attract new customers without alienating old ones. "It's very easy to swing the pendulum too far, and you have to strike the right balance between retaining the customers that have really been by your side while opening up the aperture to invite customers that have not considered your brand in a long time or maybe never have," she said.During this time, Klein also had to deal with an influx of competitors, with some outspending Priceline five-to-one in an effort to capitalize on consumers' lust for travel. Klein made sure to activate the new brand campaign during the Super Bowl, securing spots during the big game and subsequent press coverage. Since Klein joined Priceline, she has helped shepherd a roughly 300% increase in new customers and has helped drive engagement across online-ad activations, including a 300% increase in click-through rate and a 700% increase in video completions.Klein told Insider how Priceline is looking to use generative AI to speed up its marketing. "Consumers move faster than marketers do, and for years we've been talking about how we can generate creative content and move it in and out of the marketplace at that same speed," she said. "And generative AI allows us to start experimenting and doing that."Jay Livingston, chief marketing officer, Shake ShackJay Livingston, the chief marketing officer at Shake Shack.Shake ShackMaking the burger chain a national nameLivingston became Shake Shack's first CMO in 2019 and has helped the burger chain punch above its weight compared to its giant fast-food competitors.Most recently, he's worked to promote Shake Shack's expansion in cities beyond its roots in New York City. Late last year, Livingston rolled out Shake Shack's first branding campaign in Seattle, which played up the company's ingredients and customers' love for the brand. Most of Shake Shack's previous campaigns focused on promotions and limited-time offerings. Livingston is also marketing a new line of shakes made with the food-tech company NotCo's dairy-free milk.This year, Livingston has spearheaded a partnership with Tennis Channel to sponsor pickleball events in 10 cities to tap into the growing popularity of the sport. People in cities such as Chicago, Denver, and Las Vegas could sign up for clinics to learn the basics of the game and compete in tournaments.Shake Shack has also partnered with shows including "Hot Ones" to promote its mobile-ordering app. And the company is working to integrate itself into the gaming community. The chain created virtual stores and menu items within the video game "The Sims 4" that creators, including the Twitch streamer Kelsey Dangerous, promoted.Livingston previously worked in marketing roles at Bark and Bank of America.Samantha Maltin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Sesame WorkshopSamantha Maltin, the executive vice president and chief marketing and brand officer at Sesame Workshop.Sesame StreetHelping the nonprofit punch above its weightMaltin seeks to amplify Sesame Workshop's small nonprofit budget through partnerships to reach wider audiences. Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit production arm of "Sesame Street."When COVID-19 vaccinations became political and controversial in 2021, Maltin worked with the Ad Council to create a series of public-service campaigns squashing the skepticism. She also worked with the early-learning company BEGiN to create an app, Learn with Sesame, that helps young children develop emotional and academic skills, including identifying colors, shapes, and numbers.Maltin has also integrated recognizable characters from "Sesame Street" into other brands' ads. So far this year, Oscar the Grouch has been United Airlines' Chief Trash Officer in an ad, Count von Count has been a spokesperson for NerdWallet, and Cookie Monster helped Fox Sports promote its pregame Super Bowl show.In April, Maltin's team launched a new website for Sesame Workshop. The website includes information for parents on everything from how to teach kids to brush their teeth to how to support kids who split living between separated parents.Under her leadership, Sesame Workshop has expanded into new platforms. "Sesame Street" launched a TikTok channel in August 2022, which now has over 500,000 followers, with 40 videos. Maltin's team also developed a branded metaverse game for Roblox to promote the spin-off show "Sesame Street: Mecha Builders."Maltin is a former Viacom and A+E marketing exec who joined Sesame Workshop in 2019.Dana Marineau, chief marketing officer, RakutenDana Marineau, the chief marketing officer of Rakuten.RakutenMaking a Japanese tech company into a US shopping destinationWhen Marineau landed at Rakuten in 2020, she took on the responsibility of transforming the Japanese technology company into a household name in the US. Her vision was to establish Rakuten as a leading shopping destination that provides benefits for both consumers — through cash-back opportunities and savings — and retail partners by increasing their sales.In 2023, the company returned to the Super Bowl for the second time. The internal creative team produced a nostalgic ad featuring Alicia Silverstone reprising her role as Cher from the '90s movie "Clueless" to reach Rakuten's target audience of millennial women. Rakuten then expanded the "Not So Clueless" spot, which generated more than 14 billion impressions and 80 million views across different platforms, into New York Fashion Week, or NYFW. The brand partnered with designer Christian Siriano to design the iconic yellow-plaid suit Silverstone wore in the Super Bowl ad, as well as three "Clueless"-inspired outfits for his NYFW runway show.The company said that combined, the Super Bowl and NYFW campaigns drove a 213% increase in search traffic, a 70% lift in member sign-ins, and a 12% increase in new members. What's more, Rakuten marked a record first quarter in the three months to the end of March, generating a 9.3% revenue boost to 475.6 billion yen, or $3.4 billion.Marineau has also worked to help the brand overcome a big challenge: Research showed that consumers were skeptical that cash-back platforms deliver value. Rakuten's in-house creative team, which Marineau created shortly after joining the company, utilized the important holiday shopping season to launch an ad campaign and pop-up store in New York City. The event, which celebrity entrepreneurs such as Kate Hudson of INBLOOM and Jonathan Van Ness of JVN Hair attended, scored heaps of media coverage — nearly half of which came from outlets that had never previously covered Rakuten.Doug Martin, chief brand and disruptive-growth officer, General MillsDoug Martin, the chief brand and disruptive-growth officer at General Mills.General MillsKeeping the CPG giant innovativeMartin helps General Mills stay ahead of newer disruptor food-and-beverage brands.He runs an internal team, Gworks, that works across the marketing, research-and-development, and consumer-insights units. The group's goal is to find new insights and trends. Martin and his team saw that people with diabetes wanted snacks that tasted good but were low in sugar, leading to the 2021 launch of a snack brand called Good Measure that doesn't spike consumers' blood-sugar levels. Later this year, Good Measure will begin rolling out nationally in the US.Martin also finds ways to tie General Mills' core brands to culture. In 2022, he helped promote a line of limited-edition boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal featuring emojis with a campaign starring the Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim, the singer and actor Leslie Grace, and SpongeBob SquarePants. For Reese's Puffs, Martin worked with the luxury-fashion brand Ambush to create a handbag that doubles as a cereal bowl.He is also focused on stamping out misinformation on social platforms where General Mills runs ads. This year, he signed a deal with the adtech firm Zefr that uses a fact-checking engine to find and defund misinformation. Yoplait was the first brand to test Zefr's tools in January, and General Mills is currently rolling out the program to other brands.Martin is involved in General Mills' sustainability efforts, too. He's worked with Larabar on a partnership with the American Farmland Trust that helps find solutions to water-drought issues in California. The $80,000 program helps women-owned farms that grow almonds with regenerative-agriculture practices.Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls, MattelLisa McKnight, the executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel.MattelReinventing BarbieKcKnight, a Mattel veteran, was promoted to her current role in April last year and has successfully reinvigorated the iconic Barbie brand. Not only is Barbie so culturally relevant that the term "Barbiecore" was coined last year, but McKnight and her team have evolved Barbie to become what Mattel calls the world's "most diverse doll line."This year, Barbie released its first doll with Down syndrome, its first doll for preschool-aged children, and a Chelsea doll with scoliosis.McKnight has also led the Barbie Dream Gap Project, its multiyear initiative that has raised more than $1.5 million for nonprofit organizations that empower girls. The effort has directly impacted more than 25,000 girls. McKnight also steered Barbie's "Pink is the New Green" initiative as part of Mattel's goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in products and packaging by 2030. Barbie also introduced a doll of the conservationist Jane Goodall, made of recycled plastics, which made Time magazine's list of the best inventions of 2022.McKnight's marketing expertise has also helped to build up anticipation for the upcoming "Barbie" film. Working closely with Warner Bros. Pictures, the director Greta Gerwig, and LuckyChap Entertainment, McKnight has been seeding content over multiple months. From the first images of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken to the viral Barbie Selfie Generator, McKnight's team has positioned the "Barbie" movie to be a box-office hit.Outside of Barbie, McKnight has also worked to relaunch the Monster High and Polly Pocket franchises. Mattel said that during McKnight's time as head of Barbie and dolls, the portfolio has achieved retail sales exceeding $3 billion.Alice Milligan, chief marketing officer, Morgan StanleyAlice Milligan, the chief marketing officer at Morgan Stanley.Morgan StanleyMaking an old-school brand accessible to everyoneMilligan was an executive at E-Trade when Morgan Stanley acquired it in 2021. She was soon appointed the banking giant's CMO with a daunting directive: To modernize the bank's brand, which meant changing her own preconceived notions about the company."I was a newbie and had certain perspectives about the firm," Milligan told Insider. "That it was my dad's firm, or a firm for rich people, or people who have arrived."But she soon learned that giving back to the community, diversity, and inclusion were among Morgan Stanley's core values, which influenced her marketing strategy going forward.  In January, Milligan launched Morgan Stanley's first global brand campaign since 2019: "Old School Grit. New World Ideas." It aimed to bridge the gap between people's traditional perception of the brand and its core values and to show it could cater to a younger generation. As part of her efforts to modernize the brand, Milligan is leaning into partnerships with notable women entrepreneurs and athletes. Those include the fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff to launch a banker bag, and the 20-year-old tennis player Leylah Fernandez on a program called "Racket Drop" to bring tennis gear to underserved communities.The goal is to make sure everybody has access to as many opportunities as possible, which ultimately extends to making sure Morgan Stanley's banking services reach a greater number of people."There's heightened awareness overall about women in financial services, where traditionally they have not felt as connected because there wasn't a lot of transparency and a lot of jargon," Milligan said.She's also investigating how generative AI can boost engagement with young audiences, especially given their notoriously short attention spans. Milligan said Morgan Stanley could use the tech to quickly build different creative variations for individual platforms and purposes."We can mix and match headlines and a variety of options in terms of content length and test them against each other," she said. "You might need a version that's great for Instagram, but might need a soundbite for marketing texts or a version for newsletters."Andrew Mok, chief marketing officer, TuroAndrew Mok, the chief marketing officer at Turo.TuroDisrupting the car-rental industryMok wants Turo to challenge traditional car-rental companies.He got his start at the car-rental platform 11 years ago as a business-intelligence analyst, handling analytics, data, and finance before moving into the CMO role. Mok used those left-brain skills to build out Turo's performance-marketing expertise and acquire new customers. He's now investing more in brand marketing to make Turo a mainstream name. "Ten years ago, it was very novel to do performance marketing — nowadays every company does it," he told Insider. In November, he launched a campaign called "Open the door to extraordinary" that emphasized the memorable experiences that take place during road trips.Mok also worked on a campaign that let people rent the car featured in the hit Netflix show "Wednesday" — a 1950 Cadillac hearse. Influencers including Vanessa Hudgens promoted the partnership on social media, helping Turo reach more than 13,500 Instagram accounts."These are the types of stunts that I think you would not see traditional rental-car companies do because they don't really put much emphasis on the actual car or the experience," he said.Turo also runs ads on TikTok and Twitch, harnessing user-generated creativity to target younger audiences, he added.In addition to marketing, Mok oversees Turo's 80-person team that works with car owners, who the company call "hosts," who rent their cars on Turo's platform.Michelle Peterson, chief marketing officer, Kendra ScottMichelle Peterson, the chief marketing officer at Kendra Scott.Kendra ScottCombining in-store and e-commerce salesPeterson leads brand marketing and e-commerce for Kendra Scott, the billion-dollar jewelry brand that Gen Z college students on TikTok and celebrities including Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello, and Gwyneth Paltrow love.Since joining the company in 2022, Peterson has focused on the in-person customer experience, using campaigns based on physical destinations to drive earned media, social-media chatter, and cater to its philanthropic initiatives.For this year's Valentine's Day push, Kendra Scott partnered with the Museum of Ice Cream. The pair created a pop-up experience at Kendra Scott's flagship store in Austin, Texas. It featured interactive magnet-letter boards, a letter-writing station, Instagrammable photo locations, and free tastings of the limited edition "Kendra's Sweet on You" ice cream. Kendra Scott and the Museum of Ice Cream also threw ice-cream parties for schools, where classes could create their own Museum of Ice Cream truck.Collaborations have been key to Kendra Scott's success under Peterson. Late last year, Kendra Scott partnered with Mattel to create the pink-hued "Kendra Scott x Barbie" jewelry collection, leaning into the so-called "#Barbiecore" trend. Peterson also steered Kendra Scott to target its male customer base for the first time in its marketing; men represent about 20% of its customers. For the holidays in 2022, Kendra Scott released an ad that poked fun at the awful gifts men have bought their partners, friends, and family members. The "Buy Better Gifts" push was so successful that Kendra Scott launched a second ad for Valentine's Day. The company said the campaign helped drive a 252% increase in revenue during the Valentine's Day shopping period, compared with the prior year, and that it resulted in 23 million impressions.Within the marketing and e-commerce team itself, which Kendra Scott calls "BrandX," Peterson has ensured brand and performance marketing are not treated as separate silos because they both drive sales from brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce.Edward Pilkington, chief marketing and innovation officer for Diageo North AmericaEdward Pilkington, the chief marketing and innovation officer at Diageo North America.DiageoBuilding social activism into marketing campaignsWhen Diageo's longtime CEO, Ivan Menezes, died in June, it hit the company with a sudden, unexpected tragedy. But the spirits giant has a strong executive bench who steadied the company through upheaval. On that bench is Pilkington, who oversees marketing across Diageo's numerous brands in North America, including Crown Royal, Bulleit Bourbon, Guinness, and many others. Under his leadership, which began in 2018, each brand has maintained a unique platform, almost all of them centered around sustainability and social awareness. Crown Royal's marketing initiatives spin off of the idea of generosity and giving back. At last year's CMA Music Festival in Nashville, the whiskey brand encouraged attendees to give donations to a veterans' organization and to send care packages to military members via its Purple Bag Project. The Purple Bag Project continues to be a mainstay for Crown Royal's marketing platform. "In the last year, we smashed our way through one million bags full of goodies we send to the military and other people in need, and we communicated that quite broadly," Pilkington told Insider.Crown Royal also launched its first Super Bowl ad this year with Dave Grohl, the frontman of the Foo Fighters and a fan of the brand, after their rival Anheuser-Busch didn't buy out all the big game-ad slots. The international market-research and data-analytics firm YouGov ranked the ad in the top three of the night based on increases in ad awareness, buzz, and consideration.It was a big year for other Diageo brands as well, such as Bulleit Frontier Whisky, which launched a new multiyear campaign with the Grammy Award-winning spoken word artist J. Ivy to encourage underrepresented voices to continue to innovate and push into new frontiers.Diageo is also integrating AI in its social and search marketing via the company CreativeX. At the moment, Diageo is using AI to inform which images get the best results for campaigns on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest."It's about content optimization, not to write the next Super Bowl ad," Pilkington said. "I can see us using it for more content development, and I think we'll start to move in that space."Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, MastercardRaja Rajamannar, the chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard.MastercardPushing the marketing discipline into new technologiesRajamannar has been the CMO of Mastercard for 10 years and helps keep the brand on the edge of innovation.In April, he launched a Web3 program called Mastercard Artist Accelerator that helps consumers discover new music creators, who then monetize their work using Web3 and AI tools. Musicians also get access to resources, such as learning how to resell their work. More than 100,000 people signed up for the program, Rajamannar said."There has been a rollercoaster in terms of Web3 technology — we've been trying to see the relevance of it within the context of our business," he said.In May, Rajamannar launched a loyalty program in the Asia Pacific region called Mastercard Gamer XChange that gives consumers gaming points in exchange for unspent rewards points. Rajamannar said that the program is intended to reach consumers beyond the younger, male audiences that are typically considered gamers. "Gaming is a growing passion point," he said.When Ukrainian citizens fled the country due to the Russia-Ukraine war, Mastercard rolled out a platform called "Where to Settle" that gives people who fill out a form data and insights about the cost of living in Poland. The idea is to help people understand whether they are financially able to relocate, and Mastercard said that more than 100,000 forms have been completed. Poland's Ministry of Internal Affairs has also promoted the program.Kelly Solomon, global chief marketing officer, Kind SnacksKelly Solomon, the global chief marketing officer at Kind Snacks.Kind SnacksSupercharging e-commerce salesSince stepping into Kind's global CMO role in December 2021, Solomon has built up the brand's e-commerce business. In 2022 compared to the previous year, Amazon purchases of Kind Snacks were up by 21%, and sales across other e-commerce platforms, including DoorDash, FreshDirect, and Gopuff were up by double digits.While Solomon brings e-commerce expertise to Kind, having previously spearheaded online sales initiatives at Estée Lauder, L'Oréal, and Samsung, she has also successfully made sure the company spreads its message on topics gripping the national consciousness, such as sustainability and wellness. To do so, Solomon has built unique activations on channels including Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok.By 2030, Kind wants to source all of its almonds from orchards that practice "regenerative agriculture," or farming techniques that preserve the health of the land. It's a difficult topic for the average consumer to understand, so Solomon used an AR activation via a Snapchat lens to educate consumers.  Kind also used TikTok and YouTube to drive awareness around the importance of bees as pollinators, which ensures the growth of the world's food supplies. Kind collaborated on its message with the TikTok creators Jeff and Julie Russell, who specialize in bee removal and rescue. The TikTok campaign garnered 19.2 million views, and Kind furthered its online reach with a YouTube video that has since accumulated 2.5 million views.And earlier this year, Kind partnered with Padma Lakshmi — who just stepped down from a 17-year stint hosting "Top Chef" — to come up with recipes at a pop-up kitchen in line with KIND's nutritional philosophy.Patrizio Spagnoletto, global chief marketing officer of streaming, Warner Bros. DiscoveryPatrizio "Pato" Spagnoletto, the global chief marketing officer of streaming at Warner Bros. Discovery.Warner Bros. DiscoveryIncreasing streaming subscribersThis year, Warner Bros. Discovery kicked off its biggest marketing campaign ever: The launch of the Max streaming platform, which combines programming from HBO Max with Discovery's reality shows and documentaries.Spagnoletto, who had previously launched Discovery+ and helped triple subscribers during his four-year tenure at Hulu, was primed for the task. He and his team launched a TV, social, radio, digital, and out-of-home campaign using Warner Bros. Discovery's media channels to draw awareness to the new platform and its programming library."We felt there was a lot of equity in the Max part of HBO Max that was built over time, and we wanted to lean into that equity as we go into this new version of the product," Spagnoletto told Marketing Brew. Around 70% of the HBO Max customer base switched to the Max platform during launch week, JB Perrette, Warner Bros. Discovery's global streaming and games president, told The Wall Street Journal.Last year, Spagnoletto's team introduced another first for HBO Max: a Black Friday promotion. The push helped convince a new audience that hadn't previously considered subscribing to HBO Max to try the service at a lower price. The company said the promotion drove the fourth-highest week of HBO Max and Discovery+ sign-ups. HBO Max and Discovery+ grew their total subscriber base to 96.1 million — an increase of 1.1 million — in the fourth quarter of 2022. Spagnoletto also buoyed HBO last year with the biggest marketing campaign in its history for "House of the Dragon," its "Game of Thrones" prequel. Spagnolett0 is also responsible for HBO's multicultural marketing team, prioritizing community-focused multicultural initiatives, including HBO Max's Scene in Black, recognizing Black creators, the HBO Max Pa'lante! Latino program, and Human By Orientation for the LGBTQ community. At this year's SXSW, Spagnoletto's team hosted a coffeehouse that leveraged the cultural significance of the coffeehouse as a space for multicultural and counterculture communities to meet and exchange ideas.Michelle Taite, global chief marketing officer, MailchimpMichelle Taite, the global chief marketing officer at Mailchimp.MailchimpMaking business software a big nameTaite wants to make the email-marketing firm Mailchimp a mainstream name by using a playbook of sponsorships and activations that big brands typically use.She joined Mailchimp two years ago, around the time Intuit acquired the company. Since then, Taite has hired 100 people, doubling the size of the marketing team.She created two Super Bowl campaigns featuring small-business owners — Mailchimp's core clients that use the firm's marketing tools to run their businesses. In September 2022, she created Mailchimp's first global campaign targeting marketers, including a sponsorship at New York Fashion Week that showed how emerging designers use Mailchimp's tools. The campaign led to a 64% increase in brand awareness and a 50% increase in site visits, according to Mailchimp.Elsewhere, an August 2023 partnership with the singer-songwriter Björk promoted Mailchimp in a podcast series that has been streamed 1.2 million times, according to Mailchimp.Taite is also expanding Mailchimp's creative investments to appeal to the masses, partnering with agencies such as Kin. She is also building out an internal creative agency, Wink Creative.In addition to zeroing in on small businesses, Taite plans to broaden Mailchimp's marketing to target more sophisticated marketers in campaigns over the next few years.Karin Timpone, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Major League BaseballKarin Timpone, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Major League Baseball.Major League BaseballMaking baseball coolTimpone, a marketing veteran, joined Major League Baseball in 2021 as its first CMO in five years as it prepared to overhaul the sport with new rules designed to make gameplay faster and more efficient.Since introducing the pitch clock and other rule changes on its March 30 opening day, almost every team has seen stronger attendance this year compared to 2022. As of June 13, attendance averaged 27,283 per game this season, up by 6.8% from last year, according to MLB. TV viewing and MLB.TV streaming was also up in April compared to last season.Ahead of opening day, Timpone led a campaign the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy created, designed to appeal to viewers' senses and nostalgia. From the smell of a freshly mowed field to the clink of a turnstile, sizzling hotdogs, an Aaron Judge tribute, and plenty of outsized mascots, the marketing effort aimed to remind fans that "baseball is something else."Individual MLB teams also aired their own ads, part of a Timpone-led strategy to increase both communication and efficiency across the MLB's assets."There is a lot of fresh energy to the spots that is matching the vibrance we're seeing on the field and in the stands," Timpone told The Drum in April.Timpone has also shifted MLB's marketing toward a new generation. Her team has identified influencer fans and content creators, and she's introduced events for fans to experience baseball and its stars beyond the league's in-season games. MLB's All-Star week last year included a free event at the Santa Monica Pier, which Capital One sponsored.To reach avid fans, Timpone has leveraged first-party data to power programmatic advertising while also maximizing reach across national broadcasts on ESPN, Fox, Turner, Apple TV+, and Peacock.Timpone has also been focused on developing an MLB-loyalty program, which she said will be more "experiential" than traditional loyalty programs.David Tinson, chief marketing officer, Electronic ArtsDavid Tinson, the chief marketing officer of Electronic Arts.Electronic ArtsBuilding new ways to engage with the gaming communityUnder Tinson, marketing at Electronic Art, or EA, isn't just about selling video games; it's also about selling the communities that exist around each of its many franchises. The cover for the deluxe edition of Madden NFL 24, which comes out in August, features Josh Allen, the star Buffalo Bills quarterback. "That's a visual representation of the concept of putting our fans right on the cover of the game," Tinson told Insider.EA's marketing team has a lot of other ways of working with its fanbase. In 2021, it launched its Creator Network, where users can share gaming-related content. That program continues to thrive with thousands of creators, and on some occasions, their content even winds up in actual EA games. For instance, its battle-royale-style shooter "Apex Legends" celebrated its fourth anniversary last year with in-game items that fans created. One of the biggest challenges for Tinson happened last year when EA lost the right to use FIFA's name for its mega-popular video-game series. While EA retained the licenses to use the names of prominent soccer clubs, it had to rebrand its FIFA series to EA Sports FC. "Our FIFA soccer business is one of the biggest video games in the world, and it's one of the biggest entertainment IPs in the world," Tinson told Insider. His biggest challenge over the last year was generating awareness of that transformation, and he did so with an aggressive PR initiative that got coverage in Forbes, Fast Company, Bleacher Report, ESPN, and others. In all, stories about the rebrand nabbed 10 billion impressions.Whether that translates to business results will soon be put to the test. The company is releasing its first soccer game with the new branding this September.Despite the stakes, Tinson is also excited about the opportunity. Freed from the FIFA licensing agreement, EA might have lost the right to use the name, but it won the right to work with more partners. "We just announced that we're working with Nike and, over time, we're able to collaborate with others in ways we weren't before," Tinson said.Tinson's efforts to engage with the gaming community have contributed to measurable business results, with EA's stock up by about 8% over the last quarter.Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer, AutodeskDara Treseder, the chief marketing officer at Autodesk.AutodeskBringing a little-known brand into the limelightWhile Treseder is relatively new to Autodesk — she came on board as its CMO only last October — she has already had a huge impact. Autodesk is a software company that makes products architects and engineers often use, but its name isn't well-known beyond the professionals that rely on its tools.Autodesk hired Treseder to help the brand make a bigger splash in the public eye, and she's already pulled the company into the spotlight. Within 30 days of joining the company, Treseder worked with Ryan Reynolds' agency, Maximum Effort, to launch the company's first TV ad in over ten years. It was an early test to see if TV could actually drive business results for a company that sells design software, and the conclusion was that it could — Autodesk decided to incorporate TV more aggressively into its media planning.The company's next TV-related success was the "Otto Desć" campaign during the 2023 Oscars, which got over 25 million views. Autodesk increased the reach of that campaign by working with influencers for the first time.Treseder has also been aggressive in making sure people know about Autodesk's contributions following world-rocking events. When fire ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral four years ago, Autodesk's software was instrumental in its restoration. Treseder worked with the French government to launch a campaign on the Autodesk website to make sure consumers knew of Autodesk's contribution. The campaign got two million organic views and, after lots of media coverage, netted 21 million unique visitors per month, which helped with demand generation. "By telling these stories, we're working to develop a robust content engine for Autodesk that will broaden our reach, help our customers – new and existing – envision what's possible with our platform, and deepen the emotional connection and in turn loyalty they have for our platform," Treseder told Insider in an email.Treseder's contributions have gone beyond TV and video ads. She implemented fresh new tactics at Autodesk, making sure all of its marketing disciplines — from press, demand generation, paid media, and more — laddered into the same strategy.Her efforts helped contribute to fourth-quarter revenue of $1.32 billion, up by 12% from the same period prior. And in the first six months of Treseder's leadership, the number of educators and students using Autodesk products increased from 55 million to 65 million.Sean Tresvant, chief global brand and strategy officer, Taco BellSean Tresvant, the chief global brand and strategy officer at Taco Bell.Taco BellLeading fast-food salesTaco Bell continues to fuel Yum! Brands' revenue.It relaunched the Mexican Pizza as a permanent menu item in September, which helped increase the restaurant's same-store sales by 11% during the fourth quarter of 2022.While Tresvant holds the title of global chief brand and strategy officer, his marketing prowess deserves credit for Taco Bell's growth. He helped develop a Super Bowl campaign to promote the return of the Mexican Pizza with the musician Doja Cat, netting 45 million sales of the item throughout 2022.Taco Bell also credited its sales to Tresvant's work with the actor and comedian Pete Davidson to promote its breakfast offerings.Tresvant also spearheaded a recent partnership with the NBA star LeBron James aimed at its competitor Taco John's trademark of the phrase "Taco Tuesday." As part of the campaign, James starred in an ad and signed a Change.org petition challenging the trademark. Tresvant is a former Nike marketing exec who joined Taco Bell in December 2021.Kate Trumbull, chief brand officer, Domino'sKate Trumbull, the chief brand officer at Domino's.Domino’sEmbracing tech to spur deliveriesTrumbull started at Domino's in 2011 leading a Hispanic marketing program and has risen through the ranks to become the pizza chain's first chief brand officer.She is now tasked with keeping Domino's on the cusp of technology and innovation, finding new ways to deliver pizza. Trumbull helped develop an app for Apple CarPlay, which lets a car's infotainment screen display the user's iPhone apps. The Domino's app also lets people order pizza through the infotainment system.Trumbull also builds campaigns to reach new audiences. She led a partnership with Netflix's "Stranger Things" during its fourth season to reach the show's younger audiences. The campaign encouraged people to download a branded app that lets people order pizza — while exploring items from the show's fictional Hawkins National Laboratory. The Netflix partnership generated more than 800 million media impressions, 330,000 app installs, and 1.7 million site visits, according to Domino's.Trumbull has used advertising to tackle Domino's bigger business problems. Facing a labor shortage in 2022, she spearheaded a campaign encouraging people to pick up their own orders from stores by offering a $3 discount. As a result, sales for carry-out orders grew by 14.6% in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2022. The campaign also netted 2 billion media impressions, according to Domino's.And Trumbull has made sure that Domino's is a part of big conversations that grip the nation. The pizza chain partnered with Chevy last November to use 800 Bolt Electric vehicles as delivery cars in the US as part of an effort to offset carbon emissions.William White, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, WalmartWilliam White, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Walmart.WalmartReaching price-conscious shoppersIn tough economic times, shoppers are gravitating toward lower-priced products. It's a time-honored trend that White's team fully embraced with its April campaign, "If You Walmart You Know." The multi-pronged push last year highlighted how Walmart customers were making smart shopping decisions and saving money.The theme continued into the holiday season with marketing that featured real customer testimonials spotlighting the unique traditions and ways customers celebrate the season. It was a different approach for Walmart, which would usually create product-focused campaigns centered around the most-popular gifts of the year. This April, White led a rebrand of Walmart's membership program, Walmart+, to bring greater focus to the savings customers can achieve through the program. The associated marketing campaign to launch the rebrand made 4.6 billion impressions, the company said. Walmart lifted its full-year sales forecast in May of this year, crediting its consistent strategy to focus on low prices.Outside of the value-driven approach, White's team has placed Walmart at the forefront of digital-marketing innovation and partnerships. Last year, Walmart became the first exclusive retailer and merchant to partner with Roku to allow viewers to purchase products featured in ads directly from their TV screens. In September, Walmart partnered with Paramount to offer Walmart+ members a Paramount+ subscription.On the heels of forming a partnership with Roblox to create "Walmart Land" last summer, White's team launched Walmart Creator, a platform that allows customers to earn money from their product recommendations on social media. Thousands of customers signed up when Walmart Creator launched in beta, and the Creator Instagram page has more than 23,000 followers, the company said.Derek Yarbrough, chief marketing officer, J.Crew and MadewellDerek Yarbrough, the chief marketing officer of J. Crew and Madewell.J.Crew; MadewellWinning Gen Z and millennial shoppersYarbrough is making J.Crew cool again.After suffering from sluggish sales and filing for bankruptcy in the past few years, J.Crew is trying to appeal to new audiences, such as Gen Z and millennials — partially leaning on the marketing playbook that Yarbrough created for J.Crew's sister brand, Madewell. Yarbrough is a longtime J.Crew marketing exec who was tapped to lead both brands' marketing in 2021.He helped develop a customer-data platform for J.Crew in 2022 that's similar to Madewell's tech stack. The platform collects data on what people buy, which the company then uses to fine-tune how ads are targeted and connect sales from e-commerce with brick-and-mortar stores. Madewell's e-commerce website and app also use AI to personalize searches and styling.Yarbrough is also betting on membership programs that offer perks such as exclusive access to sales to win over shoppers. J.Crew revamped its membership program, J.Crew Passport, in 2022 with rewards, including free monogramming and shopping credits for birthdays.In 2022, he also relaunched J.Crew's women's line and zeroed in on denim products to promote Madewell. With Madewell, Yarbrough is investing in influencer marketing, out-of-home ads, and streaming TV to appeal to both Gen Z and millennial customers. A 2022 campaign, "When The Fit Hits," ran on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram and promoted fall clothing products with ads tailored to each platform. An image-heavy version of the campaign showing the products ran on Instagram, while the TikTok version featured video tutorials of products that stars, such as the actor Lukas Gage, promoted.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 21st, 2023