Posts tagged ecommerce

Inspirare’s Store is Live!

Earlier this year I introduced readers to via a Q&A with the CEO and design team. The concept operates on a business model that leverages social media to promote fashion designers so much so that the most popular designs get vetted through the Inspirare team – and soon after a handful of pieces will be produced and sold under the designers label on Inspirare foots the production bill. The designer gets a cut of every sale made.

Just this week Inspirare’s eCommerce store launched with a selection of pretty dresses by five of the winning designers (of a hundreds of entries). Check out the items, and learn more about each designer, their inspiration, and the Inspirare team story today.

image of Bella dress by Nami

image of Miss Marble Dress by Alejandra De Coss

image of alexa dress by lila and june

*phone source:  Mark Rutherford

Crane and Canopy Launch Party

Bay Area-based Crane & Canopy debuted just last week with a collection of ten San Francisco neighborhood inspired bedding designs. Congratulations to founders Karin Shieh and Christopher Sun, who have pioneered a remarkable new line for the home goods market. With a beautifully simple business concept and a smart, tech savvy, and user friendly interface to boot, the sky is the limit.

See more of the attractive details and photos in Nicole’s post from a few days ago.

The launch party hosted some forty or so friends and family, including yours truly, in addition to Crane & Canopy staff at Axis Café to celebrate the company’s official online opening for business.

The party, just like their signature product, was simple, elegant, and well-styled. Beds in an understated garden were romantic, not fussy.  It was a typical San Francisco night and the air was brisk, making the bedding all the more tempting. Somehow, I managed to resist wrapping myself up in the dozens of beautiful options around me.

In scoping out the signature designs and stats ahead of the event, I admit I was intrigued and maybe a little incredulous. A new eCommerce store that cuts out the middleman but still manages to produce an excellent high quality product – was there a catch?

Setting my disbelief aside, I met the products in person, and the quality spoke for itself. Being able to see and touch the bedding first hand, I appreciated that the goods fully lived up to their promise — in every style, the textiles are top shelf in quality. Everything looks and feels luxe. All bedding is made of durable long staple cotton in weaves of 300 to 400 Thread Count. In addition to incredible fabrics, the line includes unique and exquisite details such as tailored edge piping and original embroidery.

If you don’t believe me, ask Gus, Crane & Canopy’s resident pug. Once he gets comfortable he’s apparently impossible to move!

The current ten designs break down into four categories: Geometric Shapes to Classic Solids, Elegant Florals and Delightful Textures. Stay tuned, Crane & Canopy plans to unveil a new design every two months so your bedding always stays fresh whatever the season and on point with changing fashions and trends.

Additionally, form meets function. Their signature duvet cover includes easy ties at the corners to ensure your duvet stays put from the inside. Instead of buttons on the sides, this duvet uses a patented hidden closure positioned on the front of the duvet for better access. What’s more, you can have the layered look, where the flat sheet appears to be folded over like you have your own hotel turn down service. Here you get the look with laissez faire effort. Check out the video featuring the handsome Noe Green bedding.

Crane & Canopy’s talented designers come from a variety of industries including home goods, textiles, fashion and interior design. Lead Designer Johnny Moallempour, who has roots in fashion and a long-standing interior design background, was among the crowd. What SF neighborhood might inspire the next design? Lucky for us, Crane & Canopy takes suggestions. Indeed, Johnny encourages it! Just ask.

Crane & Canopy: Quality Home Decor At Attractive Prices

San Francisco based Crane & Canopy launched earlier this week as a new online retailer in home decor.

What was the impetus? 

When I purchased my first home, I wanted to decorate it with superior quality and beautiful designs at a price point that didn’t make purchasing home goods seem like an investment… I talked with many of my friends who were also decorating their homes, and almost all of them were frustrated by the same things – expensive price tags and limited selection of affordable styles. That was my ‘aha!’ moment for creating Crane & Canopy. Karin Shieh, co-founder and head of marketing at Crane & Canopy.  

Shieh and partner Christopher Sun are using the “no middleman” approach to eCommerce, a trend that seems to be sweeping the retail industry. This direct-to-consumer model allows them to sell department store quality and design at attractive price points. High quality at low prices should appeal to their target market: young, urban females. I’m thinking their market is probably a lot like you and me: shoppers of West Elm, CB2, and local decor boutiques.
The company launched with their inaugural bedding collection inspired by San Francisco neighborhoods. Why bedding? After conducting research, Karin and Christopher learned that shopping for bedding is a big pain point for women. Check out some of my favorite designs:

image of Crane and Canopy Bedding

top: The Ashbury. middle: The Sunset. bottom: The Marina blue.

Crane & Canopy Bedding Details:

  • Signature two-toned duvet is an easy solution for dressing up any bed.
  • Standard duvets have hidden zip closures and ties to keep the duvets in place.
  • Prices start at $99 for a queen/full sized duvet cover.
  • Bedding features 300+ thread-count, 100% cotton, extra long staple cotton.
  • Sizes range from Full to Cal-King.

Inspirare Fashion Design Contest Winner & Judge Favs!

Social networking site,, launched in April with the goal to help emerging designers get exposure and launch their design careers.

How it works: Fashion designers create an online portfolio on where they upload fashion sketches and images of the finished designs. Inspirare users browse through portfolios and vote on their favorite designs. The most popular designs that are approved by the Inspirare team will be produced and sold exclusively on Inspirare provides 100% funding and share generous royalty with designers.

Fashion designers are encouraged to continuously add new designs to their portfolios as Inspirare will produce the best items from portfolios regularly and sell them at the Inspirare Shop (scheduled to launch in September).

The site launched with a fashion design competition, which closed in May. There were over 150 submissions from 23 countries for the competition.

After intense deliberation, the Inspirare team and their judging panel (which I was part of!!) agreed on the winning design. Fashion designer Alejandra de Coss of Puebla, Mexico won the competition for her design, Miss Marble. will produce the dress and sell it exclusively on their eCommerce store. Designer Alejandra de Coss will receive 20% royalty on the sales.

Inspirare’s fashion director, Kate Blank, has this to say about the Miss Marble dress,

You can see this dress is a nod to several trends such as peplums, cutouts and sheer paneling; but it’s exploring them in a unique way. The dress offers both an interesting print and a two tone colorway allowing us to see it’s versatility and well placed design lines. I also really love the presentation of her fashion illustration. All the images in this design submission are visually interesting and serve a purpose. I think the Miss Marble dress will be a piece that many different women will lust after as it’s a perfect party or event dress.

Alejandra de Coss SKETCH_MARBLE
Alejandra de Coss MARBLE
Alejandra de Coss MARBLE3

I fell in love with Texas based Crowned Bird’s Pipit Pencil Shirt. I think the Pipit Pencil Skirt print is so original, yet so commercial. The cut will be flattering for many body types and the length is just right. As soon as this skirt is worn on the streets it’s going to be a quick hit!

Pipit Pencil Skirt by Crowned Bird scored high enough by the judges that it may be considered for production by I really hope it gets produced because I’m totally going to buy it!

Inspirare Judge, Lorraine Sander’s, of SF Indie Fashion, Digital Style Digest, and San Francisco Chronicle column Style Btyes favored Anca Miron’s design RDVB. Lorraine says,

The multi-wear possibilities of this design immediately got my attention. While it’s an urbane look that would most likely appeal to a customer who already loves to take risks with fashion, there’s a great deal of versatility in the cut and shape of the garments. They could fit in as easily on the streets of Stockholm as they could in New York or Tokyo. The creativity in the construction, versatility and global appeal made this look stand out.

image of anca miron rdvb2
RDVB by Anca Miron scored high enough by the judges that it may be considered for production by

Academy of Art University Style Coordinator and Inspirare Judge, Flore Morton, is a fan of Denis Predescu’s Pink Architecture dress. Flore says,

The dress is urban but sophisticated. The construction is very architectural, and is perfectly executed. The choice of fabrics and colors is modern, and gives a new spin on color blocking. The garment proposes a true personal vision from the designer. The photo shoot communicates a good taste level and a simplicity that balances well the dressy garment. I regret that the 2D drawing is not as strong as the dress itself.

Denis Predescu Dress
Pink Architecture by Denis Predescu scored high enough by the judges that it may be considered for production by

All designs submitted to can be viewed within the Discover section of the site.

Inspirare Fashion Design Contest Wraps up 5/31

Be the fashion designer to launch the new INSPIRARE shop! Inspirare is on the lookout for a standout women’s wear design which will be the first style to be manufactured, promoted and sold exclusively on

Designers, start drawing, draping, designing and get your entries uploaded to Inspirare to be in the running to win. Submission deadline is May 31, 2012. Hurry! Time is running out!

Here’s an overview of what can be won!
1st Place – awarded to the best design

  • Designer will receive amassed publicity and a generous 20% royalty from each unit of their design sold.
  • The winner will also have the choice of a trip to San Francisco OR $1600 to spend at the ultimate online luxury fashion destination, Net-A-Porter or other retailers.

2nd Place – awarded to five runner ups

  • $500 to spend at the ultimate online luxury fashion destination, Net-A-Porter or other retailers upon request and approval by Inspirare – OR a choice of an iPad, iPhone or an Android phone.
  • 2nd place styles will also be shortlisted for possible manufacture and sale in future production runs. Check Designer Agreement on the website for royalty payments and promotion details.

3rd Place – awarded to 24 designers

  • $100 to spend at the ultimate online luxury fashion destination, Net-A-Porter or other retailers upon request and approval by Inspirare.

Also, check out my interview with Inspirare’s CEO Sean Peng here.

Interview With The Inspirare Team

image f Inspirare logoInspirare is a local brand that helps expose new fashion designers to shoppers through an exclusive eCommerce shopping experience. *Bonus, designers who sell their goods on Inspirare get fully funded by Inspirare. The site was founded last month, by Sean Peng. I sat down with Sean to get more insight on this innovative concept. Inspirare team members Kate Blank and Anne McEnroe also chimed in to answer a few questions below.

Where did the idea of Inspirare come from?
Over the last few years I noticed many flash sale sites growing rapidly, I wondered how we can use social platform to promote creativity and maintain the value of the product, rather than just bringing consumers discounted merchandise. The last 12 months I’ve been fine tuning this idea of connecting creativity and consumers. This is how the Inspirare model was born. I wanted to build a solid platform for talented, emerging designers to connect with their customer directly. Providing an umbrella company assures both consumers and designers consistent branding, quality and a consistent experience.

How does it work?
Inspirare’s Discover page provides an online network that allows fashion designers to share their designs and reach a worldwide audience at no cost. This community gives members the opportunity to vote and give feedback on work, allowing talented designers and their creative designs to get discovered. The Inspirare team then takes on all the tasks of getting the designs made here in San Francisco, selling online to consumers who seek original designs and support creativity.

What makes Inspirare different from other eCommerce sites?
Inspirare is really unique; it’s different from other fashion eCommerce sites in that it does not limit creativity. Within women’s wear, designers can upload just about any type of design, design submission is free. Also, it’s not limited to predetermined options. For example select 1) A shape, and 2) A color and you have your ‘designed’ end product. Our products are genuinely designed from start to finish, by our Designer members. Designers simply upload their sketch or sample, and we work with them to make it into production.
Also, Inspirare is building a solid launchpad for emerging talents by providing 100% production funding and by managing everything from manufacturing, photo shoots, quality control, consumer fulfillment and support. Both the consumer and designer will have a consistent, high quality experience, ensuring longevity of the designer and satisfaction of the customer.

In your opinion, why should fashion designers work with Inspirare?
We feel we’ve really addressed many of the major obstacles limiting the emergence of new designers. One of the major risks is of course financial. It can be difficult for new talents to find the capital that is required to fund the production, promotion and sale of a collection before any money has come back into their label. By working with Inspirare, Designers get the production of their design 100% funded, so they take no risk but still receive a royalty on all of their sales.
Secondly, the royalty payments are, as mentioned above, generous. A designer can earn from 10% to 20% of the gross sales of each garment sold as well as one off Effort Bonuses.
Third, Inspirare takes care of all of the production, logistics and customer support, which can often be difficult to master in those early stages of label’s development when there are so many areas you need to juggle. Designers can really focus on fine tuning their craft and staying creatively focused, rather than spending 70% of their time tending to administrative, financial and operational details.

How did you pick San Francisco as your manufacturing base?
San Francisco was once one of the major apparel manufacturing cities in the US. As more and more people turned to mass produced clothing and outsourced to Asia, the apparel factories here sharply declined. Currently there is a hint of a reemergence in the area and it’s something that we want to be a part of and support the regrowth of jobs in this specialty industry in San Francisco.
Local production also gives us an opportunity to make smaller runs of unique products. We can closely monitor the quality of our goods and ensure fast turnaround times, getting the most popular designs in store and to the consumer quickly. Developing an efficient online model ensures that we can absorb the higher, local production costs.

Are there any special tips & tricks for designer submissions?
Kate Blank (Director of Fashion Design at Inspirare): Presentation and an individualistic style that runs throughout. I really love when I go to the designer behind a submission, take a look through their profile, and find a clear and concise representation of what they are all about. It’s all about the details.

What can consumers do to help Inspirare succeed?
Anne McEnroe (Part of the Fashion Design team at Inspirare): The success of any business depends on getting the word out there. Telling others about us, becoming a member of the Inspirare community though our website and shopping at our online store are several ways consumers can help us grow. Inspirare is not just about manufacturing and selling clothes. It’s about supporting emerging designers, keeping manufacturing local, and creating a quality marketplace for San Francisco fashion. We believe that our success is everyone’s success, and that’s worth sharing!

Tell us about the Inspirare Design Competition.
Kate Blank (Director of Fashion Design at Inspirare): It’s a really exciting opportunity for designers to win some amazing prizes but more importantly, receive some incredible media exposure and get their name out there. We are on the hunt for a stand out women’s wear design to be the first listed for sale on the Inspirare online shop. We are going to make their design into a product, sell it, promote it and as always, share the profit with the designer. The garment and the talent behind it will benefit from the huge advertising and marketing push that will be in place during our Shop Launch phase. It’s a really great opportunity for someone just starting out. On top of that, there are also some amazing prizes for both the 1st place winner and 29 runners up.

Who can apply for the Design Competition?
Kate Blank (Director of Fashion Design at Inspirare): Anyone who is creative and designs women’s wear. It is aimed at non-professional, emerging design talents so we have left it quite open as far as who can enter. We aren’t accepting garments that have been produced and sold, because we really want to see something new and fresh. The idea of Inspirare is to give a leg up to new designers. We really want to discover someone amazing and feel that this competition will help them on their road to success.

My Weekly Rituals

Day 9 of the 30 Day Lifestyle Blogging Challenge is about my weekly rituals. Aside from doing laundry on the weekends, working out at least 4 times a week and bringing lunch to work at least once a week, my rituals are pretty minimal.

I guess I have to admit I usually have at least 4 online shopping carts going at a time – so this is a bit of a ritual as I can’t imagine life without these open carts. They’re usually on Urban Outfitters, J.Crew, Amazon, and Running Warehouse. Usually once a week I will push one of the carts through to an order, so I have a constant influx of weekly deliveries of clothing and accessories.

Today I received my order from last week, Gap was having a 30% off Sale Items Sale…and I just can’t resist a good bargain. Tyler just shakes his head in disgust. Luckily, we’ve decided that even though we’re married we don’t need to share bank accounts. This has worked out extremely well for me because I can just throw out random amounts each package is worth, and he’ll never know!


10 eCommerce Stores I Shop Most Often

Day One of the 30 Day Lifestyle Blogging Challenge is about the eCom stores I shop regularly. For the record, I try a ton of new eCom stores all the time.  I do AT LEAST 80% of my shopping online – I buy just about everything this way, aside from groceries.

Here are the 10 places I spend most of my money:

jcrew logourban outfitters logo

amazon logo warehouse logo
ruelala logo


madewell logo

asos logosephora logo

Why I love these stores:

  • J.Crew always has great seasonal staples in awesome colors.
  • Urban Outfitters inventory team buys everything in EXCESS – so nearly everything that comes through this store gets heavily discounted. I ONLY look at their sale section.
  • Amazon is an obvious one. I just found out that they sell my favorite moisturizer.
  • ideeli is the best flash sale site around.
  • Running Warehouse ships everything 2-day, and has great deals on everything for working out; not just running.
  • RueLaLa is the second best flash sale site around.
  • is the best place to buy everything for your skin. They share a shopping cart with allowing you to really fill the cart!
  • Madewell is a great store for trendy pieces. But if I buy too much there I’ll look just like Kristyn (Madewell is her obsession).
  • ASOS has the best product pages ever, it’s hard not to buy everything they sell!
  • Sephora is my favorite place to replenish makeup and perfumes.
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