SPLENDORA’S INTERNET INDULGENCES
Byline: Kate Bowers
LOS ANGELES — Entrepreneur Gina Pell and partner Zem Spires have spent the last eight months getting their teeth bleached, their pores purged and their taste buds tantalized.
They’ve done it all in the name of Splendora.com, a new online directory of the best in fashion, food and beauty indulgences.
The directory is Pell’s brainchild and is set to launch Aug. 1 with listings for New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It comprises 56 categories of indulgence, ranging from Shoe Fetishista to Homage a From-age.
Also in the works are directories for Paris and London, scheduled to go live online this fall.
“Gina and I travel a ton, and we became friends basically by reviewing [for each other] all these places we’d go to, sharing what we thought of a restaurant or a spa,” said Spires, who has lived in London and Paris as well as Milan, and who is serving as vice president of business development for the Internet start-up. “Women love networking and sharing their secrets with other friends,” she noted.
Each indulgence selected for the site undergoes a rigorous selection process, Spires explained. First, the pampering treat must come recommended by a trusted friend. Then a “tastemaker” — whom Spires defines as “a person who has shown to have perfect taste” — is dispatched to scope out the location.
If the spa or shop looks the teensiest bit frumpy, the process goes no further. If it passes, a separate reviewer is sent out to taste the chocolate, browse the racks or get her tresses trimmed — and if the experience is indeed fabulous, a gossipy and informative review is posted online.
Spires says she anticipates the site being especially helpful for travelers, who can tap into it from cell phones or Palm Pilots.
A beta test site for San Francisco has been up for two months, drawing roughly 1,500 hits per day. Going forward, the site will use a membership program to generate revenue, by requiring an annual fee of $80. Members will get site “extras” such as information about trunk shows and store openings as well as discounts to top shops, and certain spa services gratis. The reviews are independent, Spires emphasized, but she said that she and Pell are considering allowing selective advertising on Splendora.
“We’ll only allow advertisers that fit with our brand,” Spires added. “Cloud 6 or whatever that motel chain is won’t be allowed.”