Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Gatsby Effect

From The New York Times:

Fashion Fit for Executives, as Well as for Gatsby

The new film version of “The Great Gatsby” may renew interest in 1920s fashion, but for some contemporary businessmen, elements of that look never went away.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some Like It Hot

My Favorite Entrepreneur Story In A Long Time


Sunday, April 21st, 2013
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Mark Suster (@msuster), a 2x entrepreneur, now VC at GRP Partners. Read more about Suster at his Startup BlogBothSidesoftheTable.
If you don’t like it hot, use less,” he said. “We don’t make mayonnaise here.” 
This morning I was reading my social media and came across an article that Christine Tsai had posted on Facebook.
Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 8.07.30 AMIt was about the founder of Sriracha sauce, David Tran, displaced from Vietnam when the North’s communists took power.
As the son of an immigrant myself, I am a sucker for an immigrant story.
Moving to the U.S. with nothing but hard work and ambition. Having a strong sense of values. And wanting to build for the next generation.
It is of course why immigrants power so many successful businesses in the US and why we need to embrace them. They have nothing to lose. They bring new ideas, new cultures, new business practices. But they mostly want to be – AMERICAN. That’s all my dad ever wanted for us. Even while he clung to his native traditions and culture himself.
If you ever want to read the great American generational immigrant business story read American Pastoral by Philip Roth, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was voted by Time Magazine as one of the best 100 books of all time.
It also chronicles the forces behind the decline of the American city (which has been revived in the past 10-15 years) and the rise of global manufacturing.
My own fascination with hot sauces began a few years ago. I was never into spicy foods growing up but after living in the UK for nearly a decade and having so much great Indian food around me all of the time I developed more of a taste for it.
I moved back to the US and after a stint in Palo Alto / San Francisco I moved to LA where I started to notice Cholula sauce at some of the best Mexican restaurants I visited.  I absolutely love the stuff. Addicted.
So I started noticing hot sauces more and the more I looked the more I noticed this funny rooster bottle with a strange sounding name I couldn’t pronounce and that familiar green cap. Sriracha.
Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 8.31.08 AMWhere was it from? What did it mean? What nationality was it? It seemed to be in every kind of ethnic restaurant.
The company name sounded Chinese – Huy Fong Foods. Was this the latest Chinese product to take off in the US?
Turns out it is a family-owned business started by a refugee from Vietnam (of Vietnamese and Chinese roots) and named after a small village in Thailand Si Racha. So grateful was David Tran for the people who provided safe passage from Vietnam for him that he named his company after the Taiwanese ship that carried him away.
Tran moved to Los Angeles and started his business in Chinatown with a need he personally had. He noticed that Americans didn’t have good hot sauce. So he made hand-made batches in a bucket and drove it to customers in his van.
But his goal wasn’t to make a billion dollars. He wasn’t driven by quick riches. He was driven by wanting to provide a great product. How much could the new generation of entrepreneurs learn from that?
I know it’s what I look for when I want to back companies.
“My American dream was never to become a billionaire,” Tran said. “We started this because we like fresh, spicy chili sauce.”
And build a great business he did. While still owning the business he now does $60 million in annual sales built from nothing.
Could he have grown faster with outside money? Or by selling to a big company and taking it international? Sure.
But it wasn’t his ambition.
You’ll absolutely love this quote:
“This company, she is like a loved one to me, like family. Why would I share my loved one with someone else?”
How many of you could say that?
He didn’t want to compromise on product, as he knew he would be forced to if he had to expand too quickly. He wanted to keep his prices low (apparently he has never raised his wholesale price in 30 years).
What I learned from the article? What touched me? What lessons could you learn from a Vietnam refugee who makes chili sauce? Quite a bit it turns out …
1. Extreme product passion. When his packaging suppliers tried to get him to change his product to make it less hot or more sweet for American customers he refused: “Hot sauce must be hot. If you don’t like it hot, use less,” he said. “We don’t make mayonnaise here.”
2. Uncompromising product quality (he processes his chilies the same day they are harvested)
3. He had a guiding principle for the company
4. Focus on the customer and provide value - ”We just do our own thing and try to keep the price low. If our product is still welcomed by the customer, then we will keep growing.” He said this in response to the fact that several other companies are now stealing the Sriracha brand name. He can’t trademark it since it’s the name of a city. By the way, he has never spent a dollar on advertising
5. Provide something distinctive. What will you be known for? Given the brand dilution going on with the name Sriracha how can he still grow his business? The distinctive design of his packaging. That crazy rooster. All those freaking languages on the bottle – the mystery of it all! And the green caps.
But I have to say, despite it all, and it’s impossible to take away from the success of David Tran, I kept wondering if modern business practices couldn’t solidify this into a global product. Branding matters. Organic word-of-mouth worked until this point, but I wonder as this becomes an international product line. I wonder how agressive they are with digital distribution. I wonder if they could trademark a broader name than Sriracha so that they can get some defensibility.
I hope the next-generation Trans have some thoughts on these topics and more. I would love to see this company continue to succeed.

Do you have a Qumarion?


We don't expect there's a huge market for the Qumarion Humanoid Input Device, but if you happen to be one of those people who could use it, it will likely be a game changer. Like the ubiquitous artist models, the Qumarion is a pose-able, human-like figure — but unlike the artist models, it communicates directly with a computer. As a result, you can use the Qumarion to move and pose on-screen 3D characters, making once challenging poses and movements as simple as adjusting an action figure. Great for animators, illustrators, or people who just enjoy collecting unusual gadgets.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

$5800 iPad Case


Custom Alligator iPad Case: in 3 Colors


The Trafalgar Alligator iPad Case is the epitome of luxury. Hand-made from wild American Alligator, this iPad case’s lustrous supple skin with its hand-polished sheen will have the well-appointed man carrying his high-tech needs, in the most impressive style.  Made-to-order, please allow 5-6 weeks for delivery.

  • Genuine wild Louisiana alligator; vegetable-tanned, heat-glazed and hand-polished
  • Fits iPad, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, excluding the iPad Mini
  • Please specify what version when ordering
  • Edge-stitched; fully-lined genuine leather interior
  • Magnetic closure
  • Made in USA
  • 7 ¾” W x 9 ¾” L x 1” H
  • Made-to-order; allow 5-6 weeks for delivery
  • made-to-order items are non-returnable
  • FREE iPad of your choice with purchase.

Retail Price: $5,800.00

Pocket Square is the New Tie

The Pocket Square is the New Tie

“You’re wearing a tie, are you?” my friend asked. There was no surprise in his voice. He knew my proclivities regarding clothing. There was, however, a crackle of concern.
It was a Saturday night. We were going out in a smart district of London. To me, a tie seemed appropriate. I informed my friend, who was tieless, that he was underdressed. “Yeah, but” he began “no one wears ties anymore, do they.”
“And what would you wear?”I asked him, regarding his blazer and cord ensemble, accented only by a coloured shirt and a pocket square puff.
It was a pointless question of mine. His chosen ensemble was as far as he would go, and not just on a Saturday night. “I don’t really wear ties any more, unless I have to.”
‘Unless I have to’ is the sad subtitle to the tie’s decline. Although I always hope for a complete revival, for all men to take pleasure in decorating their person, to enrich their palette with a superior arch of fine silk, the sad truth is that most men nowadays think that the tie is unnecessary. Even the chic gentlemen of the town, those blessed with a splatter of sprezzatura, often dispense with the tie. But why? How could these knights of style do without such a long-standing friend? How can they combat indifference and inelegance without a ‘blade’?
The answer is simple; the pocket square.
The resurgence of the pocket square was always seen to be an advance for men’s style. A return to the days of accepting gentlemen with feminine gimcracks, a rejection of the utilitarian and an embracement of all that is splendid and superfluous.
However, the square is a sneaky devil. Despite the early alliance with the tie, and the natural pairing of the two, the reality is that, for many, it was a replacement for the tie, not a partner. And it’s not hard to see why. A man can still cut a figure of casual elegance with an artistic puff in his jacket pocket, and now that they have become so commonplace, even the fearful are more prepared to stuff in a square of silk than knot a tie.
This is not a usurping which I rejoice in reporting. In fact, I am rather disappointed that the pocket square’s return has weakened the hold of the necktie rather than strengthen it. That a man can now be considered ‘overdressed’ for a business meeting by wearing an open-necked shirt with a polka dot handkerchief, says a lot about the demise and of the necktie and an increasing desire to de-formalise every aspect of clothing.

2 Trillion New Customers

2 trillion new Randa customers, coming to a mall far far away...

Three newly found planets are some of the best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system, according to NASA scientists.

NASA's Kepler satellite, which is keeping an eye on more than 150,000 stars in hopes of identifying Earth-like planets, found the trio.

"Earth is looking less and less like a special place and more like there's Earth-like things everywhere," said Kepler scientist Tom Barclay.

Two of the planets, described in the journal Science, are 1,200 light-years away; the other is 2,700 light-years away. A light-year, the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year, is nearly 6 trillion miles. 

Show me your neckwear...

Monday, April 15, 2013

A $91,000 T-Shirt

The latest Hermes collection includes one luxury T-shirt that costs a cool $91,500. The item is a black crew-neck men’s shirt made out of crocodile skin.

The luxury shirt made its debut last fall on the Spring 2013 runway as part of the label’s chiffon crocodile shirt line, but only hit the company’s Madison Avenue flagship store recently.

The Awl, who managed to snap a photo of the t-shirt’s price tag, noted that just the sales tax on the shirt could amount to $8,000.

“Literally, the entire shirt is just luxurious, beautifully sewn swaths of crocodile. This makes it possibly rather uncomfortable, and perhaps a little heavy, for a t-shirt.”

Hermes crocodile Tshirt

Read more: Herm├Ęs Is Selling A $91,500 Crocodile T-shirt | LUXUO Luxury Blog

8 Nutella Facts

Around the world, the incidence of Nutella-related crimes is on the rise. The chocolate-hazelnut spread made headlines recently in Germany, where thieves pulled off a $20,000 heist, stealing 5.5 metric tons of the sweet stuff from a parked truck. Several weeks earlier, Columbia University found itself at the center of “Nutella-gate,” an expose smearing the school for spending $6000 per week on the spread for one of its dining facilities, where students were allegedly snarfing 100 pounds of it per day. Here are eight things you may not know about this super addictive snack.


Two bloggers in Italy decided to take their love of Nutella to the next level in 2007, and created a worldwide day of celebration dedicated to the addictive substance. Thus, every year February 5th is a day for eating Nutella, sharing Nutella recipes and memories, and looking at photos of Nutella food-porn. It just goes to show that if you have a dream and a spoon, all things are possible. 


According to the Guinness World Records, Nutella's 40th Anniversary breakfast celebration in Germany in 2005 currently holds the title of “Largest Continental Breakfast.” A total of 27,854 people gathered in Gelsenkirchen to enjoy a meal that consisted of little more than Nutella itself. 


One jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds throughout the world. According to the United States Census Bureau, one person is born every eight seconds. You do the math.


Not only is it available for purchase and feverish consumption in 75 countries, all of the Nutella sold in a year could be spread over more than 1000 soccer fields.


In 2009, Nutella reportedly had the 3rd most “liked” Facebook fan page with a whopping two million fans, falling in just behind the fan pages of Barack Obama and Coca-Cola. While Nutella's no longer ranks among the top pages these days, it does currently have a not-too-shabby tally of over 17 million Likes.


Back in 1806, Napoleon tried to freeze out British commerce as a means to win the Napoleonic wars (and take over the world). The result was a disastrous continental blockade that caused the cost of chocolate to skyrocket and left Piedmontese chocolatiers in the lurch (among many other repercussions, like causing the War of 1812). Ever resourceful, chocolatiers in Turin started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate to stretch the supply as much as possible. The ensuing deliciousness was a fateful paste dubbed “gianduia.”
Over a century later, chocolate again became expensive and scarce due to rationing in Europe during World War II. An Italian pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero once again turned to the mighty hazelnut for salvation in 1946 and created Pasta Gianduja, renamed “Nutella” in 1964.  


The chocolate and hazelnut substance gianduia is named after a character from Italian commedia dell'arte named Gianduja. He is depicted as a smiling Piedmontese peasant with a three-point hat who rides around town on a donkey clutching a duja—which in the Piedmontese dialect means “container.” The duja was said to hold wine ... but could have just as easily held a few pounds of that chocolatey hazelnut goodness, no? Gianduja masks are sold all over the Piedmont region of Italy, and his face was plastered all over early Nutella advertisements.


Nutella became so popular in Italy that Italian markets began to offer free “smears” of Nutella to any kid who showed up with a piece of bread. The phenomenon was referred to as “The Smearing,” and while it could potentially double as the name of a horror flick, was a highly successful marketing strategy. No wonder we're all addicted.

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--brought to you by mental_floss! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

World's Most Luxurious Neckwear?

Is This the Most Luxurious Neckwear in the World?
CINABRE, from the Neck Dresser of Paris - BY BUREAU OF TRADE

Finding, curating, and selling quality goods, while educating guys on what it is they're actually buying, is Bureau of Trade's mission and one they do quite well. Each week the site is bringing GQ readers thoughtfully selected items for all of life's needs. Up today: a neckwear line that gives "luxury" a whole new meaning

What kind of man leaves a lucrative banking career to pursue a life making accessories? A man willing to stick his neck out. Meet Alexandre Chapellier, founder of CINABRE, the so-called "Neck Dresser of Paris," whose coveted bow ties, neckties, lapel flowers, and scarves have reset the standard for quality and luxury. They've jazzed up the jugulars of the French fashion cognoscenti, and they've recently made their way stateside. To which we say: bienvenue.

It's not garish colors or overwrought patterns that make these ties stand out (although some of them speak loudly). It's the way they're made. By hand. In three different locations in France. The patterns are created by Chapellier in his Paris workshop. The textiles are then printed in the same workshop where Herm?s prints its accessories. And then every piece is sewn and finished in Chapellier's small factory in the Loire Valley. Like Louboutins for your nape, each piece is backed with bright red silk. There is luxury, and then there's whatever the hell Chapellier is doing to make all other luxury seem cheap.

We've pulled a few pieces from CINABRE's latest collection. In silk and cotton, they're perfect for a summer occasion... less so for the workday. That would be dangerous: wearing these ties makes us want to quit our own jobs to pursue our passions. Namely, vacationing in the places where Chapellier works. For the rest of our lives. - Micah Fitzerman-Blue

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Men Going Soft

Men's Wear Accessories Trend: Soft Sell


Men's Soft Briefcases