January 17, 2021

Makeup Without the Markup

“I’ve had some good ones in the past,” Ms. Kilgore said. “I’m proud of them all. But Beauty Pie? Beauty Pie eclipses the rest.”

Beauty Pie, which has its headquarters in London, began operations four years ago, is a buyers’ club for beauty addicts. Members pay a monthly membership fee for backdoor access to some of the world’s best fragrance, skin care and cosmetics factories, many of which supply big-name luxury brands that go on to charge sky-high multiples for the products once they are stamped with their logo. With Beauty Pie, members can get regular deliveries of Japanese skin cleansers and South Korean serums, Italian lipsticks and perfumes sourced from Grasse in France, all of which arrive in signature rosy pink packaging.

The idea came to Ms. Kilgore one afternoon in a Milan train station as she made her way back from a beauty manufacturing region in Italy known as Lipstick Valley. She had about $5,000 worth of free samples from local factories in a shoulder bag.

“I suddenly thought, ‘What if all the women who usually buy these products in Sephora or department stores could have this feeling that I have right now?’” Ms. Kilgore recalled. “That they were getting a great deal by cutting out the middlemen. That they could access beauty at real cost, meaning they could go on and afford and explore so much more in terms of great products. I knew making customers feel good like that had real power, even if it would also put some noses in the industry out of joint.”

After all, making clients feel good is what energized her businesses from the beginning. Ms. Kilgore was born in 1968 in Saskatchewan, Canada. Her father died when she was 11. Money was tight, and after high school, she moved to New York with $300.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/16/fashion/makeup-without-the-markup.html

Just When Restaurants Thought 2020 Couldn’t Get Any Worse …

“The blanket shutdown is a little bit of a betrayal,” said Mr. Winterman, who had supported Mr. Cuomo’s strategy of targeting small geographic areas based on their case rates and hospitalization numbers. Mr. Cuomo undermined his case for a citywide shutdown when he acknowledged that restaurants and bars accounted for less than 2 percent of new Covid cases, while saying that “74 percent of new cases are coming from household gatherings and living room spread.”

Outdoor dining, which is allowed to continue for now, would be safer in theory if all restaurants were following regulations that call for at least half the wall areas to be left open. But many aren’t, and enforcement has been scarce. The colder it gets, the more the streets and sidewalks are covered by dining areas so fully walled in by plywood and plexiglass that anyone who sits in them is, as far as the virus is concerned, eating inside a restaurant.

Mr. Cuomo did promise to extend the moratorium on commercial evictions, which would have expired on Jan. 1. Congress did pass the CARES Act, which wasn’t perfect but kept many unemployed restaurant workers afloat, as long as they weren’t undocumented. But the Paycheck Protection Program was a disaster for many restaurants, as industry groups pointed out, repeatedly, each time Congress had a chance to fix it, and declined. Another bill that would budget up to $120 billion to bail out independent restaurants and bars is slowly gathering cobwebs in Washington. Congress hasn’t explicitly told restaurants to drop dead yet, but then the year is not quite over.

Hellish though this is for restaurateurs, it’s no better for their employees, whether current or former. Those who were not hired back when dining rooms were allowed to run at 25 percent of capacity but were hoping to return when the limit was raised to 50 percent or higher must now be worried that they won’t have jobs before spring. Many of those who were waiting tables indoors were facing stressful conditions and an elevated risk because they had to spend their whole shifts breathing the same air as customers who took their masks off the minute they sat down.

Some of those servers may be able to get work outdoors. Will their tips cover the cost of the cold-weather gear they’re going to need when winter really digs in? Already in the past two weeks, with early-evening temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s, the crowds have been thin. Most outdoor tables are empty long before the 10 p.m. curfew, although some owners are asking to stay open later to make up for the lost indoor revenue.

The only silver lining I can imagine is that those jerks who won’t put their masks on when they’re placing an order may decide to cover their faces with scarves when it gets cold.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/14/dining/restaurants-indoor-dining-coronavirus.html

A Rare Pandemic Silver Lining: Mental Health Start-Ups

“It’s a crowded space,” Alex Katz, the founder of Two Chairs, which opened its doors with a single clinic in San Francisco in 2017, said of the mental health start-up scene. Nonetheless, he said, “because the problems are massive, we need a lot of great companies working in innovative ways to address the different populations, diagnoses and delivery of care.”

Mr. Katz, another Stanford graduate, began working at Palantir, the data analytics and software company, but sought to understand mental health services when his partner “was going through a tough time in her life.” He eventually quit his job and began to tap into his network of friends and family to understand the mental health care system.

He soon learned that one of the system’s biggest challenges was matching a therapist with a patient, something he thought technology could solve. Yet, after interviewing clinicians, he chose to start a physical clinic, rather than a virtual one. In trying to raise funds for his fledgling business, “I joke that I had three strikes against me: I was a first-time, solo founder of a bricks-and-mortar company in health care.” But from its inception, Two Chairs has relied on technology, using a frequently updated proprietary algorithm to match client and therapist after a prospective client’s first intake meeting.

Although both Ms. Safira and Mr. Katz initially focused on in-person care, with virtual therapy as a long-term goal, they had no choice but to change direction once the pandemic hit. Ms. Safira and her small team quickly had to shift from the Manhattan space they carefully designed and renovated, but never opened, to go completely remote. Within eight long days, she produced a remote platform to provide five types of services, largely group-oriented (one-on-one sessions will wait until the in-person location opens). Mr. Katz — whose company had grown to seven locations in the Bay Area, with a new one set to open in Los Angeles next year — also made the decision in March to continue his business by going fully virtual.

Because both had planned, eventually, to offer remote services, they already knew that the efficacy of remote sessions was already proven. David Mohr, the director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who has studied the issue, said that researchers had long found that teletherapy could be as effective as in-person therapy.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/business/mental-health-start-ups-teletherapy.html

Andre Iguodala, N.B.A. Veteran, Develops A Second Career in Tech

“The folks that follow the tech space, they all know the data is king and we all know the importance of data,” Iguodala said. “And not just the importance of data, but how you use it and how you can use it to expand and build your company.”

When this year dawned, all data on the basketball side suggested that Iguodala would not figure in the N.B.A. postseason for the first time in a long while.

The Warriors traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies last off-season, after he had played in five consecutive N.B.A. finals, earning the finals’ Most Valuable Player Award in 2015. The trade created a standoff in which Iguodala and Memphis agreed that he would not report to the organization as the Grizzlies found a future home for him.

For a while, Iguodala appeared more often at the enterprise software company Zuora, where he serves as a board adviser, than on any N.B.A. radar.

“A lot of athletes that do this will stay on what we call the consumer side, the well-known brands, Apple, Instagram,” said Tien Tzuo, Zuora’s chief executive. “I work in more of a space of business applications, business software. It’s not as well known. And he just showed an incredibly strong interest in that. It’s not something that you might approach as a layman.”

The Heat acquired Iguodala in a three-team trade in February and, as he regained his footing, the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season indefinitely.

Iguodala, the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, helped coordinate the season’s restart in a bubble environment at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., collaborating on protocols for a return and fielding phone calls from concerned players.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/sports/basketball/andre-iguodala-miami-heat.html

A Sustainable Beauty Brand Inspired by the French Countryside

But it was Yetunde’s childhood in Berkeley, Calif., that lent her an even more important perspective. Her mother, Eleanor Mason Ramsey, is the president and C.E.O. of an Oakland-based diversity consulting and public policy firm. Her father, Henry Ramsey Jr., was a civil rights attorney, judge, law professor and dean (he also happened to be an early mentor for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris; Yetunde wishes he’d lived to witness this year’s historic election). They both taught her to fight for equality and inclusion at the highest level and, as Yetunde adds, act “with a strong sense of fairness, justice and integrity in everything you do.”

In that spirit, Essènci rejects mainstream beauty ideals centered around whiteness — “As an African-American woman, finding products that hydrate has always been really difficult for me,” she explains — as well as certain marketing myths that reinforce impossible expectations about aging. Rather, its messaging seems more focused on helping people consider what is the safest, and healthiest, way to take care of their skin. And although Yetunde created Essènci with women in mind (the company, with the exception of Michael, is currently staffed by an all-women team), she always envisioned men using its products as well. I first tried the Elixir as a base underneath my foundation; it gave my skin a healthy, dewy sheen that lasted throughout the day. In the evening, I reapplied it to my bare face and found that its gentle, grassy scent helped me drift to sleep.

Lately, the Beutlers are attempting to maintain their own Zen, despite the challenges that come with launching a brand during a global pandemic. Yetunde still finds time for Italian lessons — as well as her outdoor boot camp and ballet classes. Both she and Michael are devoted parents to their four-year-old son, Gabriel, who bounded into the frame at the end of our Zoom call. Seeing them as a family (the couple also have a 20-year-old daughter, Anaïs, who is currently attending Utrecht University in the Netherlands), I was acutely aware of how, these days, we are all forced to confront the tenuous future of the planet — that we must think not just of ourselves but for those who will come after us. “Being a sustainable company on all levels, it’s not easy,” said Yetunde. “It goes beyond just skin care.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/t-magazine/essenci-sustainable-beauty.html

Can These Period Underwear Crusaders Convert You?

When Ms. Welch turned to period underwear for her child, it was a solution, but it wasn’t perfect. Most pairs ranged from about $25 to $40, and she didn’t want to pay $40 for juniors underwear.

The market’s two dominant brands are Thinx and Knix, both founded in 2013. At one point, Thinx was considered one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. It made headlines for its subway ads and its founder Miki Agrawal, the self-titled “SHE-EO” ousted in 2017 following sexual harassment allegations (which she denied). Another competitor, TomboyX, specializes in gender-neutral underwear, while Ruby Love (formerly PantyProp) was founded to help address urinary incontinence.

The founders of the Period Company said they’re fans of these brands, but, as Ms. Welch has repeated, she and Ms. Markova are more interested in being like Jockey, offering basic no-frills underwear, than like La Perla. Their prices fall between $12 and $14. (Comparatively, a pack of disposable tampon or pads typically costs under $10.)

Their underwear fits tightly but with some stretch, not unlike shapewear, if shapewear had a pad sewn into the crotch between two thick layers of cotton; converting to the underwear seems easiest for those who already rely on pads. There are a few different cuts, including high-rise and bikini. They’re all black, except for two gray junior-size styles. After a day of wear, the product is rinsed in the sink and wrung out, then laundered or hand-washed. Sizes go up to 3X, although the company expects that by the holidays, they will go up to 6X.

“The only way you can really have change is if you’re available to everybody, and you’re affordable and you’re willing to go to a really mass market,” Ms. Welch said. “We don’t want to be posh. We want to be accessible.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/style/can-these-period-underwear-crusaders-convert-you.html

How Tony Hsieh Tried to Single-Handedly Transform Downtown Las Vegas

Natalie Young had quit her job as a chef on the Las Vegas Strip just a few months before she was introduced to Mr. Hsieh by a friend who ran a coffee shop in downtown Las Vegas. She recalled on Saturday that he had once asked her, “What size restaurant do you want?” and had later offered her a $225,000 loan. With the money, she opened her first restaurant, Eat, in 2012, and it became a hit. As her own business grew, she also saw her downtown neighborhood change.

“I remember standing on the corner at Eat and looking both ways and seeing nothing — like, nothing,” she said of the time before she opened her restaurant. But after it opened, and as Mr. Hsieh’s investments attracted more businesses and people, downtown became a destination, she said, and suddenly parents and children were arriving on bicycles at her restaurant’s front door.

As much as she loves the new downtown, Ms. Young acknowledged that it had come with trade-offs; the coffee shop that her friend owned closed in 2016 and was replaced by a restaurant that is part of a California-based chain, exactly the kind of business Mr. Hsieh once said he wanted to avoid in favor of unique shops.

“That kind of stuff made you sad, but it’s also a part of growth,” Ms. Young said.

In recent years, as Mr. Hsieh became less involved in the Downtown Project, it was increasingly run “like a traditional urban planning project,” focusing on real estate and investing in more lucrative projects, Aimee Groth, who penned a book about Mr. Hsieh and the project, wrote for Quartz in 2017.

Leah Meisterlin, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University, said on Saturday that Mr. Hsieh’s project was an early attempt to bring a fast-moving Silicon Valley approach to city planning. Despite his generous investment, Ms. Meisterlin said, the project may have been slowed in its ambition because cities can benefit more from slower, careful changes.

“They didn’t have any experience in urban planning, but what he had was over $300 million of his own wealth that he was ready to invest,” Ms. Meisterlin said. “What he chose as his subject — a city — necessarily slowed him down, whereas many endeavors might not have, and I think that was ultimately for the best.”

Mayor Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas, whose city boundaries do not include the Las Vegas Strip and its many landmarks, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Mr. Hsieh had been a visionary for the city’s downtown.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/28/us/tony-hsieh-las-vegas.html

Can Cannabis Farms Weather Wildfire Season?

Some cannabis farmers chose to stay on their farms, in some cases defying evacuation orders, to try and save crops from fire using methods like watering down the plants. One of those farmers was Ms. Peterson’s father, a retired firefighter.

After surviving previous wildfire seasons, other marijuana farms have diversified into additional crops, or focused on growing inside (as the majority of Colorado’s cannabis farms do). But even indoor grows are not immune to wildfire damage.

Ms. Hollingsworth doesn’t yet know the impact of the smoke on her crops, which are grown in climate-controlled greenhouses, but “they’re not perking up as much as they usually do,” she said. Right now, she is most worried about the sky. “Sun rays, they can’t filter through the smoke,” she said. “And we really rely on the greatest resource that the planet has ever known, which is the sun, for us to grow.”

Still, Ms. Hollingsworth has no plans of giving up on her family business. Last year, she and her brother were featured on the cover of Cannabis Business Times, and they appeared on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.” “I hope that we can continue on this pathway of growing sustainable cannabis and showing people that it can be done,” she said.

Ms. Peterson’s family plans to rebuild their house with wildfire considerations, including steel, solar panels and no windows facing the forest. “We’re going to keep going,” she said. “I want to raise my kids on my family property. That would be the dream, to continue the farmstead on to the next generation.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/27/style/cannabis-farms-wildfires-weed.html

9 Ways to Support Small Businesses

There are always times when you need delivery. But on other days, think twice about how you order takeout. Rather than using a delivery app, ask for curbside pickup: Sites like Grubhub and Uber Eats charge restaurants fees that can reduce already thin margins. Instacart and Shipt, two companies that offer shopping and delivery, also charge the merchants who use the sites.

And while it is easy to purchase through a so-called digital shop on sites like Facebook and Instagram, shopping through third-party apps typically reduces the net profit for the merchant. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, has waived selling fees through the end of the year but will re-evaluate the practice in January, a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email.)

Help bolster a business’s social media presence by “liking” hardware stores, dry cleaners and other independent shops on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Write positive reviews, post photos generously of purchases, and don’t forget to tag the businesses. And consider slightly broader efforts, like community email lists and social media groups like Nextdoor.

Retailers are savvy when it comes to selling, but many don’t fully understand that social media plays a crucial role, Ms. Breunig said. Through her Facebook group, she started an “adopt a shop” effort, in which residents select a store and commit to shopping there once a week (with no spending minimum) and posting about their experiences on Facebook. Within five days, Ms. Breunig said, 24 Evanston stores were “adopted.”

You can double the effect of philanthropic efforts by involving small businesses whenever possible. Order meals for essential workers from independent restaurants. Shop local when buying for clothing drives. And even if it’s a bit more expensive, purchase from local markets for food drives.

Suzanne Fiske, the director of on-air development for WHYY, the public radio and television stations in Philadelphia, had yet another idea. “Our listeners care about the mom-and-pop shop next door that is having trouble during the pandemic,” she said, so she asked donors on social media platforms to name their favorite local business when they contributed to be read aloud. The station awarded the two with the most votes — Horsham Square Pharmacy in Horsham, Pa., and MYX, a Bryn Mawr, Pa., start-up that creates a custom-blend beverage dispenser — radio advertising worth $3,500. The promotion also motivated listener donations, with more than 700 contributors calling on the day of the small-business challenge, close to three times the typical number, Ms. Fiske added.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/business/smallbusiness/how-to-support-small-businesses.html

For Small-Business Owners, a Shifting Landscape of Resources

For now, she’s open for business with reduced hours and capacity. “But I’m hanging in there,” Ms. Burns said. “I’m still in a revenue hole, though, for 2020 as compared to last year — about a 30 percent year-over-year drop.

“Coronavirus cases are surging in Ohio right now, so I am unsure how it will play out — we’ll see,” she added.

Here’s a rundown of what resources are available to small-business owners like Ms. Burns. Keep in mind that the rules continue to shift.

The P.P.P. program is closed. For small-business operators who did receive one, the loans are forgivable; in essence, they are turned into grants, if the funds were used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities (a portion of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll).

Originally, the loans had to be used within eight weeks of receiving the money. That allotted time was pushed to 24 weeks through the P.P.P. Flexibility Act, which also extended the deferment date of the first payment on the loan to 10 months after the end of the covered period, and the loan forgiveness application was simplified.

The S.B.A. does have other helpful offerings. Its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program provides up to six months of working capital, with a fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent. Payment can be deferred for a year, but interest will accrue. Loans have repayments of up to 30 years.

The agency is also providing small businesses that have a relationship with an S.B.A. Express Lender to access a bridge loan of up to $25,000.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/16/business/smallbusiness/small-business-loans-assistance-resources.html