Chinese TikTok star Xiao Qiumei dies after falling 160 feet from a crane while recording a livestream video

AsiaWire
Xiao Qiumei, an influencer from China, died after a fall.

  • Xiao Qiumei, an influencer who was popular on the Chinese version of TikTok, died after a fall.
  • The Sun reported that the 23-year-old was filming herself in a crane cabin when she fell.
  • Xiao was known for regularly sharing videos of her job as a crane operator on social media.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Xiao Qiumei, an influencer from China, reportedly died after falling from a 160-foot tower crane while recording herself for a social media video in the city of Quzhou, China.

The Sun reported that the 23-year-old was speaking into a camera in what appears to be a crane cabin when she fell.

Footage obtained by the outlet shows the camera suddenly switched to blurry images of equipment flying past the lens.

The Sun reported that witnesses saw Xiao fall to the ground with her phone still in her hand on Tuesday 20 at around 5:40 p.m. when most of her co-workers went home.

Xiao was the mother of two children and a tower crane operator. According to the Sun, the family confirmed her death, stating that she fell as a result of a misstep.

She was well known on social media sites, including the Chinese version of TikTok, known as Douyin, for regularly sharing videos of her daily life and profession with a large amount of followers, according to the Sun and other outlets.

Earlier this month, an influencer from Hong Kong reportedly died after falling from a waterfall while taking a picture. While taking photos near the waterfall on the Tsing Dai stream, Sophia Cheung slipped and plunged into a 16-foot-deep pool, The Daily Mail reported.

A Mexican fitness influencer also recently died after undergoing a botched medical procedure to treat excessive underarm sweating, according to reports. She suffered from a cardiac arrest while being anaesthetized, the New York Post reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I canceled my subscription to Amazon Prime right as the pandemic lockdowns began and 12 months later I don’t miss it at all

Jeff Bezos
Amazon cofounder and former CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • It turns out that Amazon Prime isn’t necessary, even if you’re ordering from Amazon frequently.
  • I canceled my subscription in May 2020, and it has had zero impact on order speed or pricing.
  • On the plus side, I’m saving at least $120 annually on the expensive membership fee.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In April 2020, just as the pandemic lockdowns were taking effect in New York City, I canceled the Amazon Prime subscription my wife and I shared.

In the year-plus since that subscription ended, I’ve not missed it a single time – and we’re saving $130 annually, plus tax, by not paying for the service.

We aren’t anti-Amazon crusaders by any means: This year so far, I’ve placed 15 separate orders for products delivered through Amazon. Last year, the total was 20 orders.

How much were my shipping costs for all of those orders? A grand total of $17.57 for 2020, and a whopping $12.26 in 2021 so far.

That includes two air conditioners (with free shipping), two large Tommy Bahama beach chairs (again, free shipping), and a variety of gifts sent to a relatively remote town in Pennsylvania.

Email from Amazon after canceling Amazon Prime subscription.
In the email confirming my Amazon Prime cancelation there is a massive button to re-join Amazon Prime, naturally.

While it’s true that some of those items we purchased would’ve come with a slight discount through Prime, or that some would’ve been delivered the very next day (rather than two or three days later), it’s extremely unlikely that those discounts would add up to the over $100 difference between what we’re paying in shipping now versus what we were paying for a Prime membership.

Moreover, even without a Prime membership, most items we buy through Amazon are delivered shockingly fast.

Living in Brooklyn, not too far from a major Amazon distribution center on Staten Island, assuredly doesn’t hurt! But I’ve had similarly positive experiences sending gifts through Amazon to family in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where packages arrived days ahead of projected arrival times.

But what about Prime Video? Frankly, we weren’t using it, and we’re already paying for Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. I can name specific reasons for those subscriptions – shows, movies, or entire libraries that justify the ongoing subscription fee. With rare exception, that didn’t happen with Prime Video for us.

More often than not, the video we did want to watch on Prime Video still required a rental fee. That happened enough times that we stopped turning on the service altogether.

My context isn’t everyone else’s context, of course. My wife and I don’t have kids, we live in a major city, and we own a car. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of good reasons for us specifically to pay for Amazon Prime.

Do we really need the Frankie’s Spuntino cookbook delivered the next day, or is it okay if we wait a few days? I kinda think we’ll survive.

But maybe you’re a new parent and you need diapers tomorrow, no matter what? Or you’ve got a job that keeps you from getting errands done during normal business hours? Or any other number of perfectly reasonable situations? I get it!

There is more to the calculation here than strictly financials, and the decision depends on a lot. For $120 annually, though? It’s a decision worth considering.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A koi fish seller says business is booming, thanks to his careful attention to detail. He sometimes visits 20 breeders a day to source fish that can sell for thousands.

Koi carp
A large koi being handled by one of Waddington’s colleagues.

Sourcing and selling koi carp – some of the most expensive pet fish in the world – can be both a profitable business and an enjoyable pursuit. This is especially true for Tim Waddington, the owner of Quality Nishikigoi, which is one of the UK’s largest importers of Japanese Koi.

As previously reported by Insider, the most expensive koi fish ever sold was worth $1.8 million.

Originally raised in Japan during the 1700s, koi gradually moved through the rest of the world over the years as people began to take an interest in the vibrant and colourful species.

“My father pioneered bringing Japanese koi to the UK. He opened the first koi-only retail outlet in the ’80s,” said Waddington. Now, with more than 30 years of experience, Waddington has become an expert in the trade and told Insider about how he runs his rapidly expanding business.

Koi carp
Koi have become increasingly popular over the years.

There is consistent demand for koi, according to Waddington. “People are always looking to buy the fish,” he said. To capitalize on that demand, Waddington said he provides customers with the highest quality Japanese koi that he sources himself, which are sometimes valued at thousands of dollars.

Some of the fish Waddington sells are priced up to $2,700. But like anything expensive, people are more likely to buy pricey items as a one-off purchase. This is why selling cheaper koi is generally more profitable in the long run, Waddington said.

A higher price can also mean a greater loss, however, because there’s a lot of things that can go wrong with fish, Waddington said. “You’ve got to take losses as some fish may die.”

Waddington has had some of the same clients for over 20 years. “I’ve got clients in South Africa, Trinidad, Dubai, America, and most recently, India. It’s very much word of mouth which takes time and experience,” he said.

Since Waddington’s main business consists of sourcing high-class koi, frequent travel to Japan is essential. He has visited Japan more than 70 times in his career, spending about four weeks there for each trip.

“When I go to Japan, I’m looking for fish for my own shop but I’m also looking for fish for other dealers. I’m also looking for individual fish at certain sizes, ages, and varieties,” he said. “I might visit 20 breeders in a day.”

Koi carp
A Japanese mud pond where koi carp are grown over the summer months.

He looks for koi with vibrant colours and takes a list with him on trips to find specific koi – perhaps ones with a particular colour or pattern – for customers.

As a result, sellers need to choose koi with prized bloodlines that can only be obtained from selective breeders.

While some may buy koi as a household pet, others purchase the fish to enter them in competitions to name the champion koi, just like in racehorsing, Waddington said.

In fact, one of the fish supplied to a client recently won the South African National Koi Show.

“That’s what people want me to do: find them these fish where they can win shows with them or just to appreciate them,” Waddington added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The history behind how Area 51 became the center of alien conspiracy theories

Following is a transcript of the video.

In the early 1950s, US planes were conducting low-flying recon missions over the USSR. But there were constant worries of them being spotted and shot down.

So … in 1954, President Eisenhower authorized the development of a top secret, high-altitude recon aircraft dubbed Project Aquatone. The program required a remote location that wasn’t easily accessible to civilians or spies. Area 51 fit the bill perfectly.

It was in the Nevada desert near a salt flat called Groom Lake. No one knows exactly why it’s called Area 51, but one theory suggests it came from its proximity to the Nevada Nuclear Test Sites. The Nevada Test Site was divided into number-designated areas by the Atomic Energy Commission. The location was already familiar territory for the military, as it had served as a World War II aerial gunnery range.

In the summer of 1955, sightings of “unidentified flying objects” were reported around Area 51. That’s because the Air Force had begun its testing of the U-2 aircraft. The U-2 can fly higher than 60,000 feet. At the time, normal airliners were flying in the 10,000 to 20,000 feet range. While military aircraft topped out around 40,000 feet. So if a pilot spotted the tiny speck that was the U-2 high above it, they would have no idea what it was. And they would usually let air traffic control know someone was out there. Which is what led to the increase of UFO sightings in the area. While Air Force officials knew the UFO sightings were U-2 tests, they couldn’t really tell the public. So they explained the aircraft sightings by saying they were “natural phenomena” and “high-altitude weather research.”

The testing of the U-2 ended in the late 1950s; but, Area 51 has continued to serve as the testing ground for many aircraft, including the F-117A, A-12, and TACIT BLUE.

No one knows for sure what Area 51 is up to these days. The government never even publicly acknowledged the existence of the base until 2013, with the release of declassified CIA reports. But if you’re ever at the Las Vegas airport, keep an eye out for some small, unmarked, passenger planes in a fenced-off area. They’re how Area 51 employees get to work from their homes in Vegas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2017.

Read the original article on Business Insider

One of the world’s most famous restaurants is cutting meat and fish from its menu

Eleven Madison Park
The meal follows recipes by chef Daniel Humm.

  • Eleven Madison Park will no longer serve its famous lavender-and-honey glazed duck or butter-poached lobster.
  • The restaurant will be entirely vegan except for the option to have milk with tea and honey.
  • It will be the first three-Michelin-star restaurant to do away with meat and seafood.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Daniel Humm, a world-renowned chef and the owner of one of the world’s most famous restaurants, Eleven Madison Park (EMP), released a letter on Monday announcing that the restaurant would reopen on June 10, but with a twist.

Humm told his patrons that the New York restaurant would no longer serve meat and seafood, becoming only the second three-Michelin-star restaurant to turn toward almost entirely plant-based food.

While EMP is working to eliminate all animal byproducts from its menu, it will not count as entirely vegan because the restaurant will still provide milk and honey for coffee and tea.

Humm said he did not take the decision to remove meat from his menu lightly. For EMP, it will be the ultimate test whether people will be willing to pay top dollar for vegan food options in a restaurant tier that has been dominated by meat and seafood.

“I’m not going to lie, at times I’m up in the middle of the night, thinking about the risk we’re taking abandoning dishes that once defined us,” Humm said. “It’s a tremendous challenge to create something as satisfying as the lavender honey glazed duck, or the butter poached lobster, recipes that we perfected.”

EMP has long been known for its luxurious meat and seafood dishes. A tasting menu at the restaurant costs about $335 per person, not including drinks, and the affair often stretches into a four-hour meal.

2020 05 22T000000Z_720923773_RC2NTG9YBORY_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH CORONAVIRUS USA NEW YORK MICHELIN.JPG
Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park

Humm said EMP is working to change the mentality around eating meat by showing plant-based meals can be just as satisfying.

“We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways,” Humm said.

By the time it reopens, Humm’s restaurant will have been closed for over 16 months. Since the onset of the pandemic, Humm told The Wall Street Journal that it was uncertain whether the restaurant would ever open its doors.

In 2020, restaurants were among the industries that were hit the hardest. A survey from December by the National Restaurant Association found 54% would close by June if they did not receive government assistance.

EMP was forced to lay off most of its staff in March, but Humm said the remaining chefs took those months to not only perfect vegan menu options but also give back to the community. EMP prepared meals for first responders at Elmhurst Hospital Center, in Queens, New York and then later for hungry people throughout the city. Humm plans to continue providing meals to the hungry. When the restaurant reopens, each tasting menu will cover the cost of five meals which will be delivered to food-insecure New Yorkers in collaboration with Rethink Food.

“Everyone who touches EMP – the staff, the guests, the purveyors – will help feed the city,” Humm told The Journal.

Read the original article on Business Insider

People – not process – are the drivers of transformation, according to business leaders from Microsoft and Accenture

HIBT 2 image

Historically, business transformation has been a top-down endeavor largely focused on technology, process, and operations. As savvy leaders know, there’s another essential component to successful reinvention: People. By empowering their employees to be catalysts for change, and inviting them to help reshape their organizations from the bottom up, today’s business leaders are finding that culture and purpose are key.

As head of global employee, leader & culture communications at Microsoft, Letty Cherry’s primary goal is to keep employees informed, engaged, and proud of their association with the company. With Microsoft currently employing more than 160,000 people worldwide, this is a significant task. Cherry and her team have managed to increase engagement and invite outside perspective via activities like employee town halls, company hackathons, and “Outside in,” a cross-company learning event wherein business leaders on book tours stop by the company to talk business philosophy, creativity, mindfulness, and more.

Reaching this point required that Microsoft get a drum beat on its mission.”The mission of the company is everywhere,” Cherry says. “It’s printed on our employee badges. We talk about it a lot in terms of empowering every person and every organization on the planet. But the culture needs to ladder up to it.”

Company culture needs to evolve over time as you see gaps or as circumstances change, Cherry explains. As such, a central team monitors Microsoft’s cultural attributes, ensures employees are familiar with them, and makes sure leaders are exhibiting them. Microsoft prioritizes diversity and inclusion, and works to teach its people how they can be “good allies to each other,” Cherry says. Providing employees with channels for different topics of conversation is critical, too, even if they don’t always agree with each other.

Abiding by the company’s values, which include respect, integrity, and accountability, helps employees in a number of ways; it creates a sense of security so they can be free to maximize their potential, but it also “clears away the clutter” so they can innovate. But Cherry notes that in order for companies to effectively convey these rules, their managers must learn to embrace them.”

Making culture and purpose real

You can roll out whatever you want on culture. If the manager of your individual team isn’t living by that culture, it causes problems,” she says. Her advice to business leaders unsure of how to activate their workforce? “Check your bias at the door.” Empathy, vulnerability, and promoting two-way dialogue are all critical to removing barriers so you can develop both your talent and your brand.

At Accenture, Amy Fuller, chief marketing and communications officer, takes a similar approach. She manages everything from how the company markets to how it communicates to its talent brand, but the latter is increasingly important. As Fuller puts it, “For anything to work at a professional services company, it really needs to work with the people because they are the brand.”

There’s a lot of focus on the concept of purpose at Accenture, which Fuller calls “the topic of the moment.” For purpose to endure, she says, it has to embody the value of your business: who you are, and what you do.

“In the past couple of years, purpose has almost become a marketing cliché,” Fuller says, adding that “The value of a cliché is that everyone hears about it.” Still, when the company surveyed its workforce of 500,000 global employees to find out how they defined Accenture’s purpose, not everyone was on the same page. Some employees were unable to communicate it, while others defaulted to citing the company’s advertising tagline. “It was an open door for us to articulate something that was important,” Fuller says.

“Technology plus people”

Naturally, being purposeful as a business requires the help of your employees. “What we hear from our clients is that it’s all about people and technology. Not just one of those components – it’s actually both,” Fuller says. “That is the moment we’re in, in the world. It’s technology, plus people, and how they coexist.”

As Fuller notes, one thing many CEOs concern themselves with when it comes to their people is assessing how they collaborate. “How our people operate is actually the core of Accenture,” Fuller says. “[They] are not simply those who work at Accenture; they are literally the product and our distribution channel, all at once.”

In theory, that should make the task of empowering Accenture’s people to help grow the company feel monumental, but Fuller has cracked the code. It’s all about living those coveted values from the inside-out.

“For our purpose to become real,” Fuller says, “the number one thing is that it cannot just be words. When we’ve done additional research to ask people, clients, and our talent what would make this notion real, (the answer is), “I need to see it in my daily life. I need to see my leaders actually be using it to guide decisions. It needs to be extremely relevant.”

Encouraging your leaders to embody your company’s culture and demonstrate the optimal mindset, while also giving people – your most valuable asset – a voice, can transform businesses for the better. As Cherry puts it, “We look at our employees as a force for change.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

We’re living in the golden age of pajamas

GettyImages 992250636
Caroline Daur in printed pajamas during Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019.

  • If you splurged on a matching pajama set for the first time over the last year, you’re not alone.
  • Those fortunate enough to maintain an income shifted “scheduled spend” from normal routines to indulgences.
  • People also satisfied their “skin hunger” with silks, satins, plushes, and Peruvian cottons.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In March 2020, Vanessa Diaz was supposed to be in Mexico getting married. Instead she was quarantined in her Los Angeles apartment with her fiance and their chihuahua/pug mix, Raisin Bran. But she had just splashed out on a new set of pajamas she was planning to wear on her wedding weekend, and with no reason to leave the house she started wearing them more – like, a lot more.

Soon, Raisin Bran had his own set, too.

Diaz didn’t stop there, deciding to treat herself when she had to postpone her nuptials. Since she chose a lower-price-point Target set for $22 and kept her job in PR, Diaz was able to splurge on more sets, and over the course of a year she spent more than $100 on new pajamas. She said she’d never bought this much sleepwear before.

Prior to the pandemic, Diaz said, her leisure clothes consisted of oversized T-shirts. On the subject of pajamas, she said, “I just thought it was kind of like an unnecessary, luxury purchase, you know?”

Yes, we all know. Last April, PJ sales spiked 143% compared to March, launching an intimates-fueled year of quarantine. And in the year leading up to January 2021, market research firm NPD Group told Insider, pajamas priced at $50 or more grew at triple the rate of the total pajama market. In 2019, the global industry was worth more than $10 million, and it’s projected to reach more than $18 million by 2027.

Even the ultrawealthy got in on the action, fueling a boom in $1,000 pajama sets for the 1%.

The durability of this golden age for modern pajamas may even be a part of the new normal as the world reopens. That will depend on how long “skin hunger” and disruptions of “scheduled spend” continue to change the shape of the economy.

A post shared by Raisin Bran The Dog (@raisinbranthedog)

From unnecessary luxury, to comfort and self-care

When Ashley Merrill founded the pajama brand Lunya in 2014, she said her biggest task was convincing people to pay nearly $200 for something to wear around the house.

“They’re very comfortable spending $250 on a cocktail dress, despite the fact that they’ll maybe wear it once or twice, and very uncomfortable with the idea of spending $200 bucks on a sleep set which they will probably wear 197 out of 365 days a year,” she said.

That changed in a big way in 2020, as pajamas took the place of office clothes, red carpet glam, and streetwear. Those in the $50-to-$200 range from brands like Lunya, Eberjay, and Lake brought luxury to middle-class bedrooms, and sub-$50 sets from the likes of Target and Marshalls also served as a self-care indulgence for many in quarantine.

The market has shifted, Merrill said. Her brand, which has historically sold its washable silk sets in solid, neutral colors, is launching its first pattern. Merrill said she believes people have proven they’re willing to splurge on at-home clothes and are ready for a little more distinctive.

“We’re playing with some things that are a little more special, a little novelty, because we’re realizing, people are ready,” she said. “They now get the value of what it would mean to have something that they feel great in around the home.”

We’re suffering from ‘skin hunger’

In the last three months of 2020, searches peaked for pajamas on the shopping app Liketoknow.it, with over 200,000 unique queries for the term. A spokesperson for the company said shoppers are on the hunt for “silk pajamas,” “pajama sets,” and “satin pajamas” – all of which had triple-digit month-over-month growth last year and still sit in the top searches today.

These fabrics satisfy what Lorna Hall of London-based trend forecasting firm WGSN calls “skin hunger.”

“Many of us are starved of touch,” Hall said, “so tactile fabrications become really important, because they sort of mimic touch.” She said silks, satins, and plushes are examples of fabrics that satisfy this need.

The spokesperson for Liketoknow.it separately agreed with Hall. “Our consumers are very much still in the cozy mindset, with search data for things like loungewear, matching sets, nap dress, and home bedding all trending since the start of lockdown last year,” the spokesperson said.

Anne Read Lattimore and Cassandra Cannon, the cofounders of pajama brand Lake, said their most popular product had a blowout 2020. They sold 38,816 Peruvian pima cotton short sets, contributing to a 136% year-over-year increase in revenue. Lunya, which Hall credits with bringing washable silk to the masses, claims it has doubled revenue every year since launching in 2014, but declined to share exact figures.

The pandemic disrupted our ‘scheduled spend’

Among a certain set of customers, Hall told Insider, the pajama splurge could be the result of “lots of cash, nowhere to go.”

“The luxury pajama really fulfills a way to spend that makes sense, because you can wear them straight away, which, with a lot of apparel at the moment, you just can’t,” Hall said. “And you don’t have the event to wear something luxury and decadent to, because those events really don’t exist.”

Self-care items like pajamas took the place of what Hall calls “scheduled spend” or the purchases people regularly made in their pre-pandemic routine, like coffee, commuter fare, and lunches out. As routines changed, so did our regularly scheduled budgets. After all, Hall said, “bedtime is a thing that comes around every day, and lounging around in the house certainly is like a ubiquitous state for many of us.”

Plus, as Paris Fashion Week demonstrated, it’s no longer just about bedtime. Designers brought pajama-inspired looks to the catwalks this year, Hall said. “With pajama dressing and luxury nightwear, there’s a real crossover at the moment on the catwalks,” she said, describing Jil Sanders’ slip dress as “ostensibly going-out wear, but it’s a slip dress that could also be worn as a night dress, or is related to the night dress in terms of its shape.” In addition, Fendi’s wide-legged pants and intimates-inspired dresses fall in this category of “silky, satin-y, easy-to-wear, pajama-type wear as well.”

Hall said she believes the pajama boom will stick around post-pandemic, bolstered by designers’ pajama-inspired going-out wear. “Once you’ve treated yourself to something that’s of a certain fabric and quality level, it’s quite hard to go back when you’ve had the luxury sleep item.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The hottest fashion of the pandemic is the pajama set

GettyImages 992250636
Caroline Daur in printed pajamas during Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019.

  • If you splurged on a matching pajama set for the first time over the last year, you’re not alone.
  • Those fortunate enough to maintain an income shifted “scheduled spend” from normal routines to indulgences.
  • People also satisfied their “skin hunger” with silks, satins, plushes, and Peruvian cottons.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In March 2020, Vanessa Diaz was supposed to be in Mexico getting married. Instead she was quarantined in her Los Angeles apartment with her fiance and their chihuahua/pug mix, Raisin Bran. But she had just splashed out on a new set of pajamas she was planning to wear on her wedding weekend, and with no reason to leave the house she started wearing them more – like, a lot more.

Soon, Raisin Bran had his own set, too.

Diaz didn’t stop there, deciding to treat herself when she had to postpone her nuptials. Since she chose a lower-price-point Target set for $22 and kept her job in PR, Diaz was able to splurge on more sets, and over the course of a year she spent more than $100 on new pajamas. She said she’d never bought this much sleepwear before.

Prior to the pandemic, Diaz said, her leisure clothes consisted of oversized T-shirts. On the subject of pajamas, she said, “I just thought it was kind of like an unnecessary, luxury purchase, you know?”

Yes, we all know. Last April, PJ sales spiked 143% compared to March, launching an intimates-fueled year of quarantine. And in the year leading up to January 2021, market research firm NPD Group told Insider, pajamas priced at $50 or more grew at triple the rate of the total pajama market. In 2019, the global industry was worth more than $10 million, and it’s projected to reach more than $18 million by 2027.

Even the ultrawealthy got in on the action, fueling a boom in $1,000 pajama sets for the 1%.

The durability of this golden age for modern pajamas may even be a part of the new normal as the world reopens. That will depend on how long “skin hunger” and disruptions of “scheduled spend” continue to change the shape of the economy.

A post shared by Raisin Bran The Dog (@raisinbranthedog)

From unnecessary luxury, to comfort and self-care

When Ashley Merrill founded the pajama brand Lunya in 2014, she said her biggest task was convincing people to pay nearly $200 for something to wear around the house.

“They’re very comfortable spending $250 on a cocktail dress, despite the fact that they’ll maybe wear it once or twice, and very uncomfortable with the idea of spending $200 bucks on a sleep set which they will probably wear 197 out of 365 days a year,” she said.

That changed in a big way in 2020, as pajamas took the place of office clothes, red carpet glam, and streetwear. Those in the $50-to-$200 range from brands like Lunya, Eberjay, and Lake brought luxury to middle-class bedrooms, and sub-$50 sets from the likes of Target and Marshalls also served as a self-care indulgence for many in quarantine.

The market has shifted, Merrill said. Her brand, which has historically sold its washable silk sets in solid, neutral colors, is launching its first pattern. Merrill said she believes people have proven they’re willing to splurge on at-home clothes and are ready for a little more distinctive.

“We’re playing with some things that are a little more special, a little novelty, because we’re realizing, people are ready,” she said. “They now get the value of what it would mean to have something that they feel great in around the home.”

We’re suffering from ‘skin hunger’

In the last three months of 2020, searches peaked for pajamas on the shopping app Liketoknow.it, with over 200,000 unique queries for the term. A spokesperson for the company said shoppers are on the hunt for “silk pajamas,” “pajama sets,” and “satin pajamas” – all of which had triple-digit month-over-month growth last year and still sit in the top searches today.

These fabrics satisfy what Lorna Hall of London-based trend forecasting firm WGSN calls “skin hunger.”

“Many of us are starved of touch,” Hall said, “so tactile fabrications become really important, because they sort of mimic touch.” She said silks, satins, and plushes are examples of fabrics that satisfy this need.

The spokesperson for Liketoknow.it separately agreed with Hall. “Our consumers are very much still in the cozy mindset, with search data for things like loungewear, matching sets, nap dress, and home bedding all trending since the start of lockdown last year,” the spokesperson said.

Anne Read Lattimore and Cassandra Cannon, the cofounders of pajama brand Lake, said their most popular product had a blowout 2020. They sold 38,816 Peruvian pima cotton short sets, contributing to a 136% year-over-year increase in revenue. Lunya, which Hall credits with bringing washable silk to the masses, claims it has doubled revenue every year since launching in 2014, but declined to share exact figures.

The pandemic disrupted our ‘scheduled spend’

Among a certain set of customers, Hall told Insider, the pajama splurge could be the result of “lots of cash, nowhere to go.”

“The luxury pajama really fulfills a way to spend that makes sense, because you can wear them straight away, which, with a lot of apparel at the moment, you just can’t,” Hall said. “And you don’t have the event to wear something luxury and decadent to, because those events really don’t exist.”

Self-care items like pajamas took the place of what Hall calls “scheduled spend” or the purchases people regularly made in their pre-pandemic routine, like coffee, commuter fare, and lunches out. As routines changed, so did our regularly scheduled budgets. After all, Hall said, “bedtime is a thing that comes around every day, and lounging around in the house certainly is like a ubiquitous state for many of us.”

Plus, as Paris Fashion Week demonstrated, it’s no longer just about bedtime. Designers brought pajama-inspired looks to the catwalks this year, Hall said. “With pajama dressing and luxury nightwear, there’s a real crossover at the moment on the catwalks,” she said, describing Jil Sanders’ slip dress as “ostensibly going-out wear, but it’s a slip dress that could also be worn as a night dress, or is related to the night dress in terms of its shape.” In addition, Fendi’s wide-legged pants and intimates-inspired dresses fall in this category of “silky, satin-y, easy-to-wear, pajama-type wear as well.”

Hall said she believes the pajama boom will stick around post-pandemic, bolstered by designers’ pajama-inspired going-out wear. “Once you’ve treated yourself to something that’s of a certain fabric and quality level, it’s quite hard to go back when you’ve had the luxury sleep item.”

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GOP politicians lost tens of thousands of followers after Twitter purged QAnon accounts. Here’s who lost the most.

Silhouetted figures stand before large Twitter logo
GOP officials lost thousands of followers after Twitter’s purge of QAnon-related accounts.

  • GOP elected officials lost thousands of Twitter followers over the weekend, as the company cracked down on QAnon accounts in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots.
  • Insider analyzed the Twitter followings of the entire GOP congressional caucus and every Republican governor tracked by Social Blade. 94% have lost followers since January 6th.
  • More than 100,000 of Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul’s followers were purged or defected. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Twitter following dropped by more than 80,000, and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s dropped by more than 70,000.
  • Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the largest share of their followers, with each shedding more than 15%.
  • Congress Democrats did not experience comparable declines, Insider found. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Nearly every major GOP elected official has hemorrhaged Twitter followers since the company cracked down on QAnon accounts following last Wednesday’s riots in the Capitol, according to Insider’s analysis of the lawmakers’ public profiles. Republican congressmen lost nearly 6,000 followers on average over the weekend, with some legislators’ follower counts dropping by more than 100,000. 

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it had permanently suspended more than 70,000 accounts from its platform. “Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon,” the company said. 

The announcement came days after Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, his former attorney Sidney Powell, and 8chan founder Ron Watkins-all of whom have played a prominent role in amplifying QAnon content. They and other banned accounts, Twitter explained, were “engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.”

Twitter took action shortly after banning President Trump himself over a pair of tweets, published during the Capitol riots, that it said were “likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021.”

The large scale of lesser-known removals did not go unnoticed. Prominent conservative figures, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Dave Rubin and Bari Weiss, publicly complained about losing followers. 

The vast majority of Republican officials lost followers after Twitter began purging QAnon-related accounts

Insider analyzed the Twitter followers of 248 GOP congressmen and state governors, using data collected from Social Blade. Our analysis, which does not include newly-elected congressmen who took office on January 3, 2021 or less influential officials not tracked by Social Blade, found that 94% of major GOP elected officials lost followers in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riots.

Democrats, meanwhile, did not experience the same declines. Business Insider performed the same analysis on the Democratic caucus’ Twitter accounts and found that 93% lost no followers over the weekend. Those who did lost no more than 0.15% of their followings.

Dozens of Republican congressmen lost more than 10% of their entire Twitter base, including outgoing Senator Kelly Loeffler, who enthusiastically accepted an endorsement from QAnon supporter and House freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene ahead of Georgia’s runoff Senate races. Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the greatest share of followers, each shedding more than 15%.

By sheer number, Rep. Jim Jordan, Sen. Rand Paul, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy topped the list of legislators who lost the most, dropping by 149,564, 115,770, and 88,627 followers respectively between Thursday and Monday afternoon.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota – who reportedly greeted Trump with a replica of Mount Rushmore bearing his likeness in August – lost more than any other state governor. Twitter’s clampdown cost Noem nearly 48,000 followers, about 12% of her total following on the platform.

A small minority of Republican politicians emerged unscathed from Twitter’s crackdown. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah attracted 24,100 followers over the weekend, while Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois picked up more than 50,000  – a 41% gain.

Twitter’s wave of suspensions only partially explains why Republican officials lost so many followers

The figures cited above are significantly higher than Twitter’s stated number of removed QAnon accounts, suggesting additional factors at play, such as the routine removal of spam bots, or a loss of public favor brought on by the attack on the Capitol.

“It is against the Twitter Rules to engage in spamming behavior, including bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity. That’s why we routinely deploy anti-spam challenges to accounts to fight this behavior and protect the public conversation,” Twitter said. Such removals are temporary, and accounts are restored once the owners verify their authenticity.

Despite outcry from conservatives online, some of whom referred to the measures as the largest online purge in history, Twitter has reacted with greater severity and less transparency in the past. In 2018, the company revealed that it had suspended more than 1.2 million accounts associated with publishing terrorist content since 2015.

Twitter declined to comment. Most officials highly impacted by Twitter’s recent action did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Rep. Clay Higgins told Insider, “This purge is just Twitter’s latest abuse of power. It’s a suppression of free speech. Twitter wants to completely silence Conservative voices. It’s part of the Left’s ongoing effort to cancel anyone they deem unworthy.”

We will update this article if we receive additional responses.

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, have weathered a tabloid scandal, a lawsuit, and maybe even interference from a foreign government. Here’s where their relationship began and everything that’s happened since.

Jeff Bezos/Lauren Sanchez
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

  • In January 2019, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were publicly outed as a couple the same day Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their divorce.  
  • The National Enquirer had been investigating Bezos and Sanchez for months and had obtained leaked photos and texts the couple had sent, including the now-famous message where Bezos called Sanchez “alive girl.” 
  • In the 18 months since, both Bezos and Sanchez have finalized their respective divorces and have embarked on a whirlwind romance that’s taken them from Wimbledon to a yacht in St. Barths to the Taj Mahal. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s been a turbulent two years for Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. 

In January 2019, the bombshell news broke that the Amazon CEO and his wife, MacKenzie, were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage. Hours later, we learned that Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a TV host and helicopter pilot who, along with her husband, had been friends with the Bezoses. 

Despite a tumultuous few months that involved leaked texts, blackmail, a billion-dollar divorce, and maybe even interference from the Saudi Arabian government, Bezos and Sanchez are still going strong.  

Here’s how their relationship became public and how they’ve spent the 23 months as a couple. 

It all started on January 9, 2019. Shortly after 9 a.m., Jeff and his wife, MacKenzie, issued a joint statement on Twitter that they were divorcing.

Jeff Bezos MacKenzie Bezos
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos.

“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the statement read. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

MacKenzie is one of Amazon’s earliest employees. The couple has four children together. 

A mere few hours later, a second bombshell dropped: Bezos was in a relationship with Lauren Sanchez.

Lauren Sanchez
Lauren Sanchez.

Sanchez started her career as a news reporter and anchor — she was a longtime anchor of “Good Day LA” on Fox 11 and worked as a correspondent on “Extra.” 

More recently, she’s worked as a helicopter pilot and founded her own aerial filming company in 2016 called Black Ops Aviation. Bezos has hired Sanchez’s company to film footage for his rocket company, Blue Origin. 

Sanchez has also had TV and film roles, including as the host of the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” and playing an anchor in movies like “Fight Club” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” according to her IMDB page

At the time, Sanchez was married to Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEO of WME, a Hollywood talent agency.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez Patrick Whitesell
Jeff Bezos, right, with Lauren Sanchez and her then-husband, Patrick Whitesell.

Sanchez and Whitesell had been married since 2005, but at the time the news broke, the couple had been separated since the fall, according to Page Six

The couple was friends with Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos because they had houses near each other in Seattle, Page Six reported. 

The National Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and had obtained texts and photos the couple had sent to each other.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos.

The Enquirer said it had tracked the couple “across five states and 40,000 miles, tailed them in private jets, swanky limos, helicopter rides, romantic hikes, five-star hotel hideaways, intimate dinner dates and ‘quality time’ in hidden love nests.” 

Page Six, which published the news a few hours before the Enquirer, reported that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos knew that the Enquirer report was coming out and had timed their divorce announcement to get ahead of the news.

The gossip site also reported at the time that Bezos and Sanchez started dating after Jeff and MacKenzie had separated the previous fall, and that MacKenzie knew of the relationship. 

The Enquirer said it had gotten its hands on “raunchy messages” and “erotic selfies,” including a text that reportedly read: “I love you, alive girl.” The tabloid said it also had racy photos of both Bezos and Sanchez, including one that was too explicit to print.

FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin's space exploration plans in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos speaks during an event about Blue Origin’s space exploration plans in Washington

Source: Business Insider

Almost immediately, questions arose about the Enquirer’s motives for investigating Bezos and Sanchez and the tabloid’s connection to President Trump.

david pecker
David Pecker, CEO of AMI.

A feud has simmered for years between Trump and Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, a frequent Trump target. The Enquirer’s publisher, AMI, is run by David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally. 

By the end of January, The Daily Beast reported that Bezos was funding an investigation into who had leaked his private messages to the Enquirer. Bezos’ personal head of security, Gavin de Becker, headed up the investigation. De Becker said at the time that he thought the leaks were “politically motivated,” which AMI denied

The investigation initially pointed to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother and an outspoken Trump supporter, as the person who leaked the photos and texts, which Sanchez denied

Then, in February, Bezos dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” in which he accused Pecker and AMI of trying to blackmail him.

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Bezos wrote that the publisher had been threatening him with the publication of explicit photos he’d taken of himself unless he stopped investigating who was leaking his photos and texts to the tabloid.

AMI also demanded that Bezos no longer claim the publisher’s investigation into his personal life was influenced by political motivations, Bezos wrote. 

As a result, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos also hinted in the post that there may have been a link between the investigation into his relationship with Sanchez and the Saudi Arabian government — specifically, that he might have been a target of the Saudis because he owns the Washington Post, which provided “unrelenting coverage,” Bezos said, of the murder of its journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents. The “Saudi angle” of Bezos’ own investigation into the leaks seemed to have “hit a particularly sensitive nerve” with Pecker, Bezos wrote. 

For its part, the Saudi Arabian government denied any role in the situation and called the whole saga a “soap opera.” 

Things quieted down for Bezos and Sanchez publicly for a few months, until April, when Jeff and MacKenzie finalized the terms of their divorce.

jeff bezos mackenzie bezos
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos at the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos both released statements on Twitter saying they had “finished the process of dissolving” their marriage and would be co-parenting their four kids.

MacKenzie said she was granting Jeff all her interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, as well as 75% of the Amazon stock they owned and voting control over the shares she retained. Her remaining stake in Amazon is estimated to be worth about $38 billion, placing her among the richest women in the world, according to Forbes.

One day later, Sanchez and Whitesell filed for divorce.

patrick whitesell lauren sanchez
Patrick Whitesell and Lauren Sanchez.

TMZ reported at the time that the couple asked for joint custody of their two children. The couple reportedly finalized their divorce in October. 

The Bezos divorce was finalized in July. A few days later, Bezos and Sanchez made their first public appearance as a couple at Wimbledon.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos
Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos.

The couple was seated behind the royals at the men’s Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the All England Club. 

The pair was spotted again in August on what appeared to be a fabulous European vacation: They were seen strolling through Saint-Tropez and cruising off the coast of Spain, in the Balearic Islands, aboard media mogul David Geffen’s superyacht, the Rising Sun.

rising sun super yacht
The Rising Sun.

Other guests reportedly included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the founder of Thrive Capital, Josh Kushner, along with his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss. (The group was pictured in an Instagram post that has since been deleted.)

Bezos and Sanchez were then seen on fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht off the coast of Italy. The couple appears to be close friends with von Furstenberg and her husband, IAC Chairman Barry Diller.

Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos
Diane von Furstenberg and Jeff Bezos pose at the the opening of the Statue of Liberty Museum opening on May 15, 2019.

Source: Page Six

In December, Bezos reportedly threw Sanchez an elaborate 50th birthday celebration that included both a private dinner and a star-studded party attended by von Furstenberg and Diller, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, and Timothée Chalamet.

Katy Perry Orlando Bloom
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.

Source: Page Six

Around the holidays, the couple jetted off to French-speaking Caribbean island St. Barths, relaxing on yachts and meandering around the island with Sanchez’s son, Nikko Gonzalez.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos

Source: The Cut

In January, Sanchez accompanied Bezos on a trip to India.

jeff bezos lauren sanchez
Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez in India on January 16, 2020.

Sanchez attended Bezos’ visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb and walked the red carpet with Bezos at an Amazon Prime Video event in Mumbai. 

A few weeks later, Sanchez traveled with Bezos to another international event — this time, a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, France. 

Since February, Bezos has been embroiled in a legal spat with Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez’s brother.

michael sanchez bezos 4x3

Sanchez filed a defamation lawsuit against Bezos in February, claiming Bezos and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, falsely accused him of providing Bezos’ nude photos to the National Enquirer. Sanchez claimed in the suit that Bezos told journalists he had handed over the images to the tabloid, but he says he never had the photos in his possession. 

Bezos said in a court filing of his own that the suit amounted to “extortion” and directly threatened free speech. Bezos sought to dismiss Sanchez’s lawsuit under a California law that’s intended to protect against frivolous lawsuits. 

A judge has since tossed Sanchez’s defamation suit, citing a lack of evidence. 

In the lawsuit, Sanchez used the word “fiancé” to describe Bezos’ relationship to Lauren Sanchez, implying that the couple is engaged.

Jeff Bezos Lauren Sanchez
Bezos and Sanchez outside the Taj Mahal in January.

Here’s the full sentence from the lawsuit (emphasis ours):

“While Mr. de Becker’s initial asserted theory was that Mr. Sanchez had sold out his sister for $200,000, Mr. de Becker soon realized this theory would not hold up because, among other reasons, it was inconceivable that Mr. Sanchez would ruin his relationship with his sister and her current fiancé, the richest man in the world, for financial gain.”

Bezos isn’t described as Sanchez’s fiancé anywhere else in the suit, and Bezos and Sanchez have never confirmed that they’re engaged. In December, Page Six published photos of the couple on vacation, noting that Sanchez was wearing a large diamond ring on her right hand (engagement rings are worn on the left hand). 

At the time lawyers for Michael Sanchez said in a statement, “Michael’s complaint speaks for itself.” Representatives for Bezos and Sanchez did not respond to requests for comment.

News broke in February that Bezos had reportedly purchased the Warner estate, a massive Beverly Hills compound, for $165 million. The purchase was the most expensive home sale in California history.

Jeff Bezos Warner estate Beverly Hills
The Warner estate in Beverly Hills.

Prior to the sale, The New York Post reported that Bezos and Sanchez had been house-hunting in Los Angeles and touring mansions throughout the area for weeks.

The Warner estate was built by Hollywood mogul and Warner Bros. cofounder Jack Warner in 1937. It spans eight acres and is situated in the Benedict Canyon neighborhood of Beverly Hills. It’s an incredibly private property that’s surrounded by tall hedges, blocked off by a large gate, and completely hidden from view from the street.

The compound is home to multiple dwellings, including two guesthouses and a 13,600-square-foot mansion. The estate also features a pool, tennis court, and manicured gardens, as well as a nine-hole golf course and a “motor court” with its own garage and gas pumps, according to Architectural Digest

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