I Rented the Runway

It’s becoming impossible to pull off the same dress twice. With the proliferation of shared photos via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. — everyone’s seen it. And though it’s unlikely you’ll be tagged in a “She Wore it Twice!” post in a gossip magazine, your friends WILL notice. Ten years ago, you could rotate the same dress for years among different social circles. Today, not a chance. Many of us had doubled, tripled our wardrobes in college due to the close proximity of suite mates and sorority sisters.  But after graduation, our choices became limited to our own closets.

I had heard of Rent the Runway, but was wary of receiving a dress without having tried it on first and then having to return it immediately after wearing it. Too much pressure. What if it looked nothing like the picture? Was too tight? What if I doused it in wine after a night out? But recently, I put those worries aside. With a week-long work engagement approaching in Las Vegas with many high-profile events, I needed a solution. I didn’t want to empty my checking account on dresses I’d only wear once.

So I did it. I Rented the Runway. I viewed tons of dresses and styles online, but the part that really sucked me in were the personal reviews — and pictures of real women, fellow renters. It’s one thing to see a 6′ tall, 90lb. airbrushed model shot against a green screen. It’s quite another to see  how real women rocked the dress at a wedding, at a party… for their engagement photos. It was so much more intimate, and helpful. I could say “Ok, silver shoes worked better than the black… She wore a size 6 and a red clutch and she looks about the same size as me. And she said to wear a strapless bra with this one.”


I reserved two dresses and they were set to arrive two days before I took off for my work trip. There is a 4-day and an 8-day rental option, the latter a little bit more $$, but when you’re traveling out of town, that’s your safest bet.

While I waited for a courier to deliver my dresses in Manhattan, I received an email that one of my reserved dresses had been returned damaged and that they had personally picked out a nicer dress in a similar style to send me. The curiosity killed me, I was online in seconds to search the name of the dress on their web site. Wow. It was 100x nicer than the original dress I had picked out — and more expensive. But they covered the difference. It’s the dress displayed above.

Both dresses I received came in two sizes. They will include a second size at no charge, which is super smart. Did the dresses look brand smackin’ new? No. They were definitely pre-worn, but in good condition and drycleaned. For night-time events, I think they both worked perfectly. For daytime, I might be a bit more cautious. But I definitely recommend this service and will use it again.

Rent The Runway RainbowRent the RunwayRenttheRunway_Haze

Here are my tips:

  1. Pick a dress that is less popular. The dresses with the most reviews had obviously been worn the most.
  2. Rent the accessories to go with it, especially a nice clutch.
  3. Order a few dresses for a week-long trip.
  4. If you’re not completely satisfied with anything — call or email Rent the Runway right away. They’re extremely responsive.
  5. Don’t tell everyone you’re wearing “Rent the Runway” like I did. Keep it your little secret.

Kudos Rent the Runway, you’ve made my DigiDay!



Did Someone Die in Your House?

After a recent marathon of American Horror Story and the thriller flick Mama starring Jessica Chastain, I just need to know ONE thing.  Was anyone killed, murdered, and/or dismembered in my 100-year-old townhouse??

Sure, when you’re the first tenant to ever rent or live in a brand new property, you think, “Ah, clean slate.” But let’s not forget what we learned from Poltergeist — your new home may have been built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground! You’re never safe from the tortured souls of the past. Maybe you don’t believe in any of that or could care less if someone was strangled in your bedroom as long as it brings down the asking price, BUT if you are mildly curious, there’s a search program for that. Of course, there is.


With justifiable marketing savvy, DiedinHouse.com launched a week ago. For $11.99 for one search, why take any chances when on the house hunt? Some states are not required to disclose this fact…and if you knew a homicide occurred behind closed doors, it could actually help you close. Though personally, I could never stomach living in the shadow of a former crime scene.

Here’s a sample description you may receive on a property:

DiedinHouse.com description

Their Facebook page seems to be more engaging than their web site. Check it out and see if you recognize any of the homes:



Nice niche you’ve found there. Congrats, Died In House, you’ve made my DigiDay!


Michael Kors Gets in Front of Gmail Change


Michael Kors smartly addressed the recent changes Gmail made to its email platform, because as the question above relayed some people are so busy they may not have even noticed. What did Gmail do?


Gmail divided all your incoming emails into three categories:

  •  Primary: Emails from known contacts (friends, family, work)
  •  Social: Emails and notifications from all social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest
  • Promotions: Emails from online retailers, travel sites, etc.

While this does unclutter my desktop inbox, I often forget to even look at the other tabs. While browsing Gmail on my mobile, all messages flow into one feed, so when I get home and check my messages again on my desktop — I get confused.

“Didn’t I see an email for a $50 spa day earlier? Where did it go?”

I’m also more likely to make an online purchase on my desktop when I get home. And if that Michael Kors email is not in my Primary tab, but in Promotions — it’s forgotten.


This is obviously affecting retailers’ email open rates and conversion, such as Michael Kors, who decided to get in front of the challenge with this email sent to its users. They wisely illustrate how to move ALL Michael Kors emails to Primary going forward with 2 simple steps — Drag and Confirm:


Michael Kors clearly demonstrates an email best practice — communicating changes to your subscribers, and provides a solution in 2 Easy Steps. Michael Kors, you’ve made my DigiDay! And yes, I will move you to “Primary”.


Emails That Make Me Shop!

In an attempt to restrict my online shopping addiction, I unsubscribed myself from all flash sale type emails over a year ago. Goodbye Gilt Groupe, Living Social, Google Daily Deals, Bloomspot, etc. Since then only one has won me back —  Rue La La.

In an inbox inundated with offers and junk, their subject lines continually attract me. Here’s today’s:


This email subject line has all the key components to click success:

  • Alliteration
  • A number (countdown) providing a sense of urgency
  • And quirkiness — “ship (and shop) with abandon.”

Just when I thought I couldn’t stuff one more thing into my suitcase for Memorial Day, they had me reconsidering…and I CLICKED right into all of today’s sales. The big bonus is when you sign up for Rue La La, they offer 30 days of Free Shipping, hence the 7 day countdown and personalized email for me. I’m sure my email address was pulled out of a very organized database for today’s offer. Big data works and they’re doing a great job.


They also provide multiple boutiques to visit daily, “Today’s Fix” and the opportunity to sign up for flash sale reminders (text or email alerts) — genius! “Cole Haan starts at 11am!”


Rue La La, you’ve made my DigiDay!


Trader Joe’s Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Social Media!

Is it arrogance, laziness or pride in the printed word that prohibits some of the country’s biggest brands from going social? When it seems as though everyone has a social media presence (even your dentist) how do the biggies like Apple, Trader Joe’s and Viagra still shun it? Well, Viagra I can see why some users might want to keep their fandom in the drawer…but the others?

Last week I was pulling out crumpled up paper from my tiny NYC mailbox when I spotted Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. The printed black and red flyer expanded into one full sheet that was covered in text. My eyes glazed over and I was about to toss it in the trash with the rest of the direct mail directly ignored by me — save for my new digital project. The project of finding a social media strategy for one of the last holdouts, Trader Joe’s.

The printed flyer (made out of recycled paper) is chock full of recipes and interesting historical tidbits about their products. Who would have known? No one under 50!


A Twitter search produces multiple Trader Joe’s handles — none of which the company monitors itself. Savvy marketers are creating their own Trader Joe’s handles with recipes to capture fans of the company’s products and then drive to their own web sites and blogs. If you don’t “own” your social media, other enterprising individuals will. Go ahead, let “Cooking with Tracey J” take your fans for free:


@TraderJoe’sList has 34,000 followers, and Darth Vader holding a recyclable bag, and drives to someone’s Tumblr blog:


I snapped a couple photos when I passed the Trader Joe’s in Union Square earlier today, capturing their storefront advertising:


Ah, they’re directing traffic to their web site — ok, maybe this is where the magic is. Check it out they have the Fearless Flyer in 3D!


Can’t wait to experience it…and a click leads to:


Oh…a product image that’s been photoshopped to “look 3D”. Trader Joe’s you got me! The execution is just “hokey”. Yes, that’s the only word I can think of. But if that’s their voice, go with it.

A Facebook icon will let me share this with friends, but why would I want to? So my friends can bean me in the head with this can? People like to share what they think is interesting content, a product description is not. Recipes on the other hand are what sharing is made of.


With annual sales of over $8 billion in 2011, Trader Joe’s is hardly headed for bankruptcy, but to sleep on social media is just careless. All it takes is one PR disaster to muddy your reputation and plunge sales. If you can’t defend yourself online and monitor product rumors, your non-corporate corporate ass will be grass. Trust me, the internet is here to stay.

Oh, and Whole Foods with over 3 million Twitter followers, 55K+ tweets is kicking your cyber-butt! Follow them, maybe you’ll learn something.


Trader Joe’s, you did not make my DigiDay, but I’m on the case!


Invent It and Quirky May Build It (if the crowd likes it)

How many times have you seen a new product and thought to yourself, “I had that idea!!” Sure you did…at least some variation, right? But ideas without action are just ideas. Most of my own are fantasy-driven such as the :60 second blow dry (going to the car wash to dry my hair is not an option). I’m equally obsessed with my dog’s paws which are the size of my head. Daily doggy walks with a 115 lb. Mastiff inspire gadgets I’ve dubbed Doggy Bombs and Dirty Pawz, but I’m not sharing. Not just yet.

Introducing Quirky, the innovative company that makes invention possible. Their revolutionary online platform is fueled by the crowdsourcing of user-generated ideas which are then analyzed and driven by a team of in-house engineering, design and marketing experts. For only $10 (less than a salted margarita in NYC), a user uploads an idea and receives constructive feedback from the community. Every Friday, the Quirky team selects two ideas to be reviewed for internal consideration, with the deliberations viewable on Quirky Live. Winning ideas are prototyped, branded, manufactured and marketed. If you’re successful, you’ll be collecting royalties for the duration of the product cycle.


If you’re more the opinionated type, become a community contributor and let someone know why their idea rocks or needs a serious overhaul. Vote for the products you would love to see created. Take surveys. Choose product colors. Track. Comment. Share.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say — but what do I get out of helping someone else besides good karma? Profit-sharing.

By “distributing the power of influence,” Quirky’s founder Ben Kaufman invites individuals to have “a little piece of something huge.”

If the product you collaborated/commented/shared makes it to shelves or an online shopping cart, you will share in the revenue (30-40% is divvied up according to influence and contribution level).  Sure it could be a penny on the dollar, but all it takes is one Snuggie-like fad to make serious dough.


Kaufman, an enthusiastic 25-year-old isn’t just a young guy with a cool idea. He’s been there, done that. In high school. What were you doing in high school, besides sneaking booze out of your parent’s liquor cabinet?  Kaufman’s parents mortgaged their house to fund his invention, he hopped a flight to China and returned to launch a successful iPod accessories company, Mophie, which he later sold. But don’t worry, no need to beg family members to finance your dream. You now have a community and Quirky is it.

While weekly viewings of Shark Tank may light your inner Thomas Edison, Quirky is 24/7 and addictive. Leave Mr. Wonderful, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban on DVR, and check out Quirky’s scrolling user-submitted inventions to get inspired:


Equally addictive: the Quirky Pricing Game. This is for ideas that have made it much further down the product funnel, and gives new meaning to making test metrics fun.


Any initial skepticism I had was shoved aside when I viewed their online store. One of Quirky’s bestsellers looked very familiar. That’s because I have three (!) in my apartment, Pivot Power:


Seriously, the sexiest power outlet ever. Browsing their online catalog has me itching to grab my Visa card now. Beware!

What I’d love to see from Quirky next:

Campus Creator Lockdown. It’s no surprise that a large majority of great ideas and hot startups were first sparked in college dorm rooms and born out of grad school theses. Bring Quirky’s masters to campus and lock them up (with food and water) with a group of inventive students for 48 hours and see if they can bring their idea to life.

QuirkyTV. I’d had enough of the Pawn Store spinoffs and Orange-glazed Plastic Wives of Wherever, I’d love to watch a web video series capturing the workday unfolding at this New York City mind meld. I want to see  brain burn, sweat stains, Macs being tossed, round-the-clock building and then finally — the end result! A few video snapshots posted on the site provide a sneak preview, but I want more! And the heck with cable TV, this web series should be pitched to YouTube. With massive fragmentation among TV audiences, who needs the constant pressure of impossible ratings that turn reality shows into scripted BS.


Quirky, you’ve made my DigiDay!


Cole Haan Hits the Rails With #SubwayStyle

If you’re like me, you often find yourself checking out other people on the subway. It’s not because you’re a freak or because you’re in the market for a “casual encounter” (or maybe you are). There’s just NOWHERE else to look.

Like its neighborhoods, New York’s subway lines each have their own distinctive fashion code.  A ride aboard the L into Williamsburg will inspire bohemian chic, skinny jeans on men and bicycles as extensions of one’s self.  Hop on the 6 during rush hour at Grand Central and you’ll be taking a Vuitton briefcase in the back, an Armani suited shoulder pad in the eye and inhaling the scent of a dozen expensive leather bags. The late night subway edition displays ladies en route to their nocturnal destination, teetering in 6 inch heels, sparkly leggings and fur vests with hot-ironed curls peeping out from under their wool berets. The ever-stylin’ city male is clad in dark denim rolled up to show off his short suede boots, one hand tugging at the hem of his tailored sports jacket lined with a gingham pocket square, the other pulling down his dutch boy hat to keep his head warm.

To sink its teeth into this grassroots fashion fusion, Cole Haan brought its “SubwayStyle” campaign online during New York’s Fashion Week. What began with simple subway ads (Cole Haan spelt out in MTA icons) soon transpired into a location-based social media campaign. Influential bloggers were invited to a secret event at the MTA transit museum where they were given a pair of pre-selected Cole Haan shoes and asked to tweet/blog about their evening to get it rolling. The only snag — there’s no service underground, so they couldn’t tweet from the event. Poor insight into the behavior of bloggers, but they did blast it out later.

Cole Haan’s “SubwayStyle” lives on Tumblr, a place where the user can sort by neighborhood, train line and trends to see what’s catching nods underground:

Cole Haan Tumblr

Select “Manhattan”, “B D F M line”, “Winter” and you’ll get a snapshot like this:


A centrally featured poll offers a “This or That?” question to get the user clicking:

Cole Haan polls

#SubwayStyle has grown legs on both Twitter and Instagram, with users linking to and posting photos of city style under the city:


Cole Haan has taken “location-based” marketing and put it in the hands of the influencers — fashion bloggers and their followers.  These influencers  are rewarded with a free pair of shoes and a possible gift card. But, how can Cole Haan leverage this exposure better? By tagging the photos with Cole Haan products. If I like a pair of shoes or a jacket there’s currently no way for me to know what the product is called without doing a search online. Save the user  time and they’ll be filling their shopping cart much faster.

Cole Haan can also reach out to the  individual tweeters/customers. For anyone that uploads a photo to #SubwayStyle, Cole Haan can send them a private message with an in-store discount code that aligns with their “tagged neighborhood”.  C’mon Cole Haan, get even more local!


Cole Haan, #SubwayStyle has made my DigiDay!