AHAlife has acquired the photo-sharing service Kaptur and merged so that Kaptur’s engineers can drive traffic to the luxury e-commerce site.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kaptur’s seven staffers, including president Tej Bhatia, are now based in AHAlife’s offices on Bond Street in Manhattan, boosting the employee count there to 45. Said to be the largest photo-sharing service on Facebook, Kaptur has aggregated more than 250 million photos from 14 million events touching 60 million Facebook profiles in the past 18 months. Engineers are focusing on perfecting the viral growth mechanics for a brand where there are multiple clear monetization strategies, Bhatia said. (The Kaptur application will continue to service its users and fold into their commerce flow.)
Two months shy of its three-year anniversary, AHAlife.com has raised more than $20 million from three rounds of financing and has a total of 1.5 million registered users thanks to the Kaptur deal, said founder Shauna Mei, who declined to break down that figure. The aim is to have 2 million by the end of the year, by driving traffic through images, she said. AHAlife, a full-price site, currently sells 1,800 labels and expects to increase that figure to 2,000 before January. RELATED STORY: Fern Mallis Named to Board at Ahalife.com >>
Reached in Capri via e-mail last week, Bhatia said the deal came together through AHAlife president Stephano Kim, a longtime friend and adviser of Kaptur. “By combining Kaptur’s patent-pending viral growth engineering technologies with AHAlife’s proprietary commerce platform, we will be growing a marketplace focused on sharing unique and undiscovered brands. My team and I will continue to focus on what we do best, growth engineering for a robust platform as we are now one company,” he said. “By coming together, we can make a bigger impact on helping each brand on AHAlife reach as many consumers as possible.”
Mei said, “Most luxury brands don’t know how to drive this kind of traffic. They will launch a Web site with pretty photos, and it’s a little like opening a beautiful luxury store in the middle of the forest.”
An MIT grad who studied computer science, electrical engineering and artificial intelligence, Mei said her first job, working with Goldman Sachs, opened her eyes to the opportunities in luxury retail. As Goldman Sachs advised the Neiman Marcus Group on its 2005 sale, Mei realized how old school the luxury retail world was when it came to online retailing. “Luxury really has been the last beacon of retail to innovate,” she said.
Another aspect of online shopping that seems to be lacking is a sense of discovery, Mei said. Noting that most consumers hit the Internet to find specific brands or items, they are less inclined to stumble upon lesser-known brands as they might while shopping in a freestanding store, she said. “A lot of women don’t shop offline, especially ones in their 20s and 30s. How many women already know what they want when they go online? That experience of discovery doesn’t exist online.”
In addition to its institutional investors, AHAlife has individual ones like former French Minister of Commerce Renaud Dutreil and philanthropist and filmmaker Abigail Disney. Iman, Donna Karan and Rachel Roy are a few of its curators, and advisers include Fern Mallis and Deepak Chopra, among others.
Although Mei has been regularly approached about selling the business, she said she has no intention of doing so anytime soon. “I always say that we are the anti-Wal-Mart or anti-Amazon, because I feel all these niche brands need a place to sell their unique products and offer a unique store experience,” she said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews