Meet the millennial and Gen Z founders dressing Jill Biden, opening NFT art galleries, and raising millions in funding

"Star, Rising" with the world map behind it on a blue background with faint glowing stars scattered around.
“Star, Rising” is a series highlighting early entrepreneurs and businesses.

  • Insider’s series Star, Rising highlights early-stage entrepreneurs and companies who are gaining popularity.
  • So far, Insider has profiled founders all over the world who are innovating their respective industries.
  • Here are the 15 burgeoning business owners in Insider’s Star, Rising series.

The pandemic spurred a new wave of entrepreneurship, prompting people to start their own companies, and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

The US saw 4.3 million new business applications in 2020-a 24.3% increase from 2019-and 3.8 million so far this year, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s in addition to the rise in hustle culture, as the gig economy grows and social media paves way for more virtual shops and accessible marketplaces. In particular, many millennials and Gen Zers are disrupting the industries they work in as they find their place in the protean landscape of entrepreneurship.

With so much change, it can often be hard to track the new innovators seeking to redefine the world around them. That’s why Insider has started profiling them in its series Star, Rising, which explores how these entrepreneurs built their businesses, who they call mentors, and what advice they would give others looking to follow in their footsteps.

So far, the series has introduced Oladosu Teyibo, who is sourcing African talent for his software company to increase representation in tech, and. Sharmadean Reid, who launched a female-centric financial news publication to educate the rising crop of entrepreneurs. Here are the 13 other burgeoning founders in Insider’s Star, Rising series.

Sharmadean Reid’s new business aims to empower entrepreneurial women.

Sharmadean Reid
Sharmadean Reid

Reid is the founder of The Stack World, a female-centric financial publication that aims to be the stepping stone between Cosmopolitan and The Financial Times. Based in London, the outlet is on track to hit 10,000 subscribers by next year and has more than 420,000 followers on Instagram.

In 2019, Reid raised nearly £4 million ($5.5 million) in a funding round led by Index Ventures for BeautyStack and has since rebranded and expanded the platform into The Stack World’s marketplace. That milestone made her one of 10 Black female entrepreneurs in the UK who’s raised venture capital between 2009 and 2019.

Two Gen Zers turned a $2,000 investment into an art gallery that sells $600K pieces. They want to usher in a new generation of art collectors.

Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)
Alexis de Bernede (R) and Marius Jacob (L))

Based in France, Alexis de Bernede and Marius Jacob are the founders of Darmo Art gallery. This summer, their two shows netted six figures each, and they are now planning future exhibitions in Paris, the French Riviera, and at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, an exclusive report in Germany.

The millennial founder of a software company on track to net seven figures this year is fostering Africa’s rising tech stars.

Oladosu Teyibo stands wearing a black shirt in the middle of the street smiling
Oladosu Teyibo

Oladosu Teyibo is the founder of Analog Teams, a software development company focused on hiring talent from underrepresented communities. The company is on track to net seven figures in revenue this year and has already expanded into six African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Hogoè Kpessou worked as an Uber Eats driver before she launched her handbag brand last year. Now she’s on track to net seven figures.

photo of Hogoè Kpessou
Hogoè Kpessou

Luxury designer Hogoè Kpessou is best known for her backpacks emblazoned with a gold bumblebee. Before starting her eponymous company, she held weekend shifts at a local restaurant and delivered food for Uber Eats. Now she expects to hit seven figures in revenue by the beginning of next year.

The 24-year-old cofounder of an NFT art gallery raised $7.6 million in funds on his quest to create the ‘Instagram for NFTs’.

Alex Masmej headshot
Alex Masmej

Alex Masmej made headlines last year after turning himself into a token on crypto-platform Ethereum. Now, he’s working on his next venture, called Showtime, which is an art gallery that focuses on highlighting non-fungible tokens. In April, he raised $7.6 million in venture capital and hopes to make Showtime one of the biggest NFT art galleries in the world.

Three millennial cofounders created a job platform that looks like TikTok and works with Panda Express, H&M, and Everlane.

Three men sit in a grocery store looking at the camera smiling
(L-R) Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf and Cyriac Lefort

Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf, and Cyriac Lefort are the cofounders of the job platform Heroes, which allows individuals to submit video job applications and lets employers share day-in-the-life videos of workers. The platform seeks to help Gen Z workers get jobs at retailers such as Panda Express and H&M. What’s more, last year it closed a $6 million seed round, led by Greg McAdoo of venture capital firm Bolt.

Entrepreneur Anne Onyeneho turned a cookbook into a meal-prepping business and soon a restaurant.

Anne Onyeneho standing in her kitchen posing
Anne Onyeneho

Last November, Anne Onyeneho authored a cookbook full of plant-based recipes called PlantBaed to help people prepare their own healthy dishes at home. Four months later, she launched a meal prepping service, named after the cookbook, so customers could buy healthy dishes directly from her. She’s on track to net six figures in revenue by the end of this year and looking to open a restaurant.

Millennial fashion designer Alexandra O’Neill is seeing cocktail dress sales skyrocket as customers prepare for the new Roaring 20s

Markarian designer Alexandra O'Neill sits in front of clothes

Alexandra O’Neill is the founder of luxury brand Markarian and made headlines this year after First Lady Jill Biden wore a custom Markarian piece for Inauguration. Since then, the company has seen sales skyrocket. What’s more, O’Neill held her first New York Fashion Week presentation in September, showing off a collection inspired by Lauren Bacall in the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire.”

3 Gen Zers created a competition to connect young creatives with cash and careers amid the pandemic.

(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan
(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan

Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan launched the competition Prospect 100 last year to help young creatives showcase their work as the pandemic shuttered the arts industry. Since last May, it’s held six competitions with more than 15,000 participants from 82 countries. Additionally, past judges include Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Yeezy design director Steven Smith.

Brittni Popp’s 6-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian.

Brittni Popp

Brittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that’s a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. In the two years since she launched her side hustle, she’s landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian, and is on track to make six figures in revenue this year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Coach says it will stop destroying ‘unsaleable’ handbags after a viral TikTok revealed demolished merchandise discovered in a dumpster

Coach handbags
Coach handbags.

  • Coach said it will no longer destroy “unsalable” handbags after a TikTok video criticized the practice.
  • The viral video showed several slashed Coach bags that were found in a dumpster outside a mall.
  • Coach denied that it destroys bags that are in usable condition or that can be donated.

Coach said it will stop destroying “damaged and unsaleable” bags after a viral TikTok video accused the company of slashing handbags and throwing them in a dumpster outside a mall in Dallas.

Anna Sacks, who posted the video, which has also been shared on Instagram, told her followers that Coach asks employees to deliberately destroy handbags per company policy. She alleged that the company used this tactic as a method to write down the value of its inventory for tax purposes. A spokesperson for Coach said this statement was inaccurate and that there was no tax benefit to destroying the bags.

A post shared by Anna Sacks (@thetrashwalker)

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Coach said that it would no longer destroy “in-store returns of damaged and unsalable goods.” These items would instead be donated to its reuse handbag repair program, which it offers in stores.

A spokesperson told Insider that employees were previously asked to destroy handbags that could not be used or donated. These are damaged or defective items with issues like holes in the leather, the spokesperson said.

Coach currently offers a repair workshop in 40% of its stores that offers to fix broken bags or accessories. A spokesperson told Insider that the repair team can also deconstruct unusable bags and reuse the materials in other ways.

When Insider asked why the bags found in the dumpster in Dallas were not sent to the repair program, the spokesperson said the company did not have the capacity to handle the repairs. Going forward, however, all bags will be sent to this service, she said.

Other retailers have come under fire for destroying inventory, including Amazon, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, and Eddie Bauer.

Some companies have used the tactic to protect their brand image by preventing unsold products from ending up in thrift or discount stores.

London-based brand Burberry sparked backlash after it was revealed in 2018 that it had burned $37 million worth of products. In a statement at the time, a Burberry spokesperson said it has “careful processes in place to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce.”

“On the occasions when disposal of products is necessary, we do so in a responsible manner and we continue to seek ways to reduce and revalue our waste,” the spokesperson said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A luxury travel trailer maker unveiled its latest $250,000 model that can charge EVs – see inside the 2022 Living Vehicle

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

  • Luxury travel trailer maker Living Vehicle has unveiled its multi-room 2022 model.
  • The company has seen persisting demands for its travel trailers throughout COVID-19.
  • The trailer- which starts at $249,995 – comes in four models with varying energy capabilities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Living Vehicle – a luxury travel trailer maker – has unveiled its latest 2022 model following the success of its previous trailers.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

RV makers have been seeing a boost in sales, but California-based Living Vehicle isn’t new to this skyrocketing market success.

two people standing on the balcony of the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Living Vehicle’s previous 2021 model sold out a quarter and a half ahead of schedule, Joanna Hofmann, co-founder and CMO of Living Vehicle, told Insider in an email interview.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

And the luxury company doesn’t expect its latest model to stay on the market for too long either.

a person sitting on the bed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s media lounge.

Like other RV makers, Living Vehicle saw a boost in demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company now expects its new model to potentially sell out faster than its predecessor.

two people laying in bed watching TV
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s bedroom.

Source: Insider

And 20% of the upcoming trailer’s production slot was already sold during its pre-release, Hofmann said.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

“With the spike of covid cases brought on by the Delta variant, demand continues to increase as people are making long-term plans to adapt to a new way of living, traveling, and working,” Hofmann said in an email statement.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Besides leisurely road trips, some Living Vehicle customers have used their trailers as a second home or as a way of living off-grid, Matthew Hofmann, the co-founder and CEO of Living Vehicle, told Insider in an email interview.

the top of the trailer with solar panels
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Compared to its previous iteration, the refreshed off-grid, four-season capable trailer has upgraded power capabilities, including new or updated energy, solar, and energy storage systems.

a person opening a full refrigerator
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s kitchen.

Now let’s take a closer look at the upcoming trailer. The 2022 model looks like a sleek aluminum trailer on the outside …

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

… but heading inside, the interior is more akin to a hotel than your classic RV.

a shower surrounded by windows
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s shower.

The RV is fitted with 232 square feet of space, which includes a kitchen, bathroom, lounge, and living room.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Let’s start in the kitchen, which has an island, a refrigerator, a three-burner stovetop, and a microwave, to name a few amenities.

a person in the kitchen and another standing by the glass door
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s kitchen.

The island can also be moved outside or onto the trailer’s deck for open-aired meals.

two people standing on the balcony of the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Speaking of, the outdoor deck – which can be deployed automatically – sits right across from the kitchen past a glass sliding door.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

But if you’d rather dine indoors, you can have your meals in the lounge adjacent to the kitchen.

a person taking food out of a basket with another on the laptop int he back
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s kitchen.

This lounge space also doubles as an additional bedroom when it’s converted into a queen bed.

two people sitting on a bed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s media lounge.

There’s even a 42-inch television right by the living room for dinner and a movie.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Now let’s move on to the bathroom, which has upgraded versions of the classic bathroom amenities, such as a skylight-equipped rainfall shower and a toilet that can come with a bidet.

a shower surrounded by windows
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s shower.

The bedroom is just past the bathroom, and comes with a memory foam queen bed, a skylight, a dresser, and nightstands.

two people laying in bed watching TV
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s bedroom.

When the main bedroom is used in conjunction with the lounge, the trailer can sleep up to four people.

a person opening the closet and washer
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s laundry.

In total, there are 228 cubic feet worth of storage space throughout the tiny home on wheels, including the bedroom’s dressers, under-bed units, and a closet.

two people working on wooden chairs
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s office.

This bedroom space can optionally turn into an in-home movie theater with a 70-inch screen and speakers …

a 2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

… or into a two-seater office when the pull-down bed is tucked away into the wall.

two people working on wooden chairs
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s office.

There’s a long list of other possible upgrades besides the option for an office.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass among trees
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Amenities like a washer and dryer, dishwasher, extra sleeping loft, and oven come optional …

a person taking food out of a basket with another on the laptop int he back
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer’s kitchen.

… as well as pet-friendly upgrades, such as a litter box and an outdoor shower that can be used by both animals and people.

a 2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

In terms of off-grid travel, the new trailer has four models differentiated by their energy capabilities: the Core, Max, Pro, and Pro-EV.

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

According to Joanna Hofmann, customer feedback shapes the annual models, and “since day one, [the] customers have asked for more … solar, energy storage, and the ability to thrive in extreme climates for extended periods.”

the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer outside on a patch of grass with an outdoor setup
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

The trailer’s solar panels can even charge electric vehicles, a necessity if you plan on towing your tiny home on wheels with an EV.

the back of the  2022 Living Vehicle trailer
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

And if there are daily “adequate sun conditions” out, the trailer could theoretically “sustain power indefinitely,” according to a press release.

a 2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

The cheapest $249,995 Core model is equipped with 1,320 watts of solar, 14.4 kilowatt-hours of energy storage, and a five-kilowatt inverter …

a 2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

… while the $429,995 Pro-EV has 3,520 watts of solar, 57.6 kilowatt-hours of energy storage, and a 20-kilowatt inverter, among other upgrades.

a  2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Despite its bulkier price tag, the more expensive model has been attracting the majority of customers, according to the Hoffman’s.

a  2022 Living Vehicle trailer on a tree-lined street
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

If you’re interested in owning one, be prepared to wait: All of the company’s builds are custom-made, which means the trailer has a lead time of up to a year.

a 2022 Living Vehicle trailer being towed
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

“With so many remote working opportunities, people are redefining their criteria for where they want to live,” Joanna Hofmann said. “Access to outdoor recreation and being closer to nature are at the top of that list for many of our customers.”

two people standing on the balcony of the 2022 Living Vehicle trailer
The 2022 Living Vehicle trailer.

Read the original article on Business Insider

From celebrity entertainers to speed boat rides: the rise of the expensive pandemic wedding

couple, bride and groom at wedding
After a long quarantine, couples are opting for showier weddings.

  • Couples are going all-out on extravagance and luxury after enduring long pandemic lockdowns.
  • Wedding planners have seen revenues soar with the swell of bookings and more expensive requests.
  • Ultra-luxury wedding planners say couples now invite fewer guests, but offer even ritzier experiences.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

From llamas, exotic cars, and speed boat rides to flower arrangements that cost more than a year’s college tuition dangling from ceilings, a wave of unusually lavish nuptials is giving the wedding industry a cash windfall that was badly missed during COVID-19 lockdowns.

“It’s the roaring 20s for weddings,” Alicia Fritz, the owner and a wedding planner at A Day In May said. “In 2020, we were taken away from gathering and celebrating happy moments, and weddings are one of those crucial times where people are truly present, filled with love.”

More couples are getting married in 2021 than in any year since 1984, and the post-vaccine wedding rush is boomeranging professionals in the wedding industry from simply surviving the coronavirus pandemic to raking in skyrocketing inquiries, bookings, and profits from increasingly expensive ceremonies.

“They’re going all out,” Marisa Guerrero, the vice president of Debbie’s Bloomers, said. “They want unique touches and a special wedding different from what they’ve seen in other places.”

Couples are paying a premium on statement-making structures like flower arches and chandeliers, taking photos on llamas, driving away in exotic sportscars, and splurging on unusual wedding buffets like doughnut walls and mac and cheese bars.

With clients on average spending about $5,000 on flower arrangements, almost double the amount compared to 2019, Guerrero said she’s working seven days a week and often up to 12 hours a day to keep up with the torrent of requests. The trend is echoed among other wedding vendors, who told Insider their revenues surged 40% to 50% compared to 2019.

However, those who plan weddings for millionaire and billionaire clients with seemingly bottomless budgets say they haven’t seen costs increases per wedding, which often cost millions of dollars each. Instead, couples often invite fewer guests but give a more lavish and bespoke experience for those who make the cut.

“We’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Alison Laesser-Keck, the creative director of the wedding planning company Alison Bryan Destinations, said.

Some of the big-ticket items weddings have included meals cooked by Michelin-starred chefs, speed boat rides through picturesque slot canyons in Utah, paid-for guest accommodations, and performances by celebrities like Miguel and Janelle Monae. Her clients usually work in finance or entertainment, and some are household names.

“They do well, and they want to treat their guests,” Laesser-Keck said. “It’s about how can we take care of our family and friends, and give them an experience they could never have on their own.”

Sarah Crowell, the lead planner of Mavinhouse Events, said she’s seen an uptick in multi-day weddings, where activities traditionally reserved for only the bridal party – like sunset sailboat rides, brunches, and seaside hikes – are opened up to the entire guest list.

This thriving wedding season is a result of weddings being rescheduled from 2020 and people looking to splurge money they’ve saved on celebrations with family after over a year of quarantining, wedding professionals said.

The deluge of bookings has also allowed some vendors to change their businesses and personal lives.

Angela Lauren, the owner of Angela Lauren Photography, went from struggling to keep her business alive during the pandemic to looking for a house, and Teresa Eoff, the owner of Figure Eight Events, said the extra revenue may launch her company out of her garage studio and into a warehouse space.

Demand can far outpace what companies can handle. Over 90 inquiries per month have rolled into Laesser-Keck’s every month since January.

“We opened up inquiries and within a week we got enough business to last the next two years,” Laesser-Keck said. “The demand for all companies is through the roof.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

15 luxury items worth the money, from an espresso maker to a fancy bidet

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Image of woman fixing lipstick on private jet best luxury items 2021

The Insider Reviews team typically focuses on testing products that will add value to the lives of the average consumer. Occasionally, we come across luxury items that may be impractical for most people but are worth every penny.

Whether you have a sizable income or are just looking to splurge, we’ve compiled a list of luxury products we have tested that are deserving of their price tag. From a $2,000 do-everything espresso machine to $99 flights on a private jet, you’re sure to enjoy these finer things in life.

A super-automatic espresso machine

luxury products 2021 Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine, $2,019.94, available at Amazon

I’ve used this espresso maker four times a day for three years now, and I love it. It can make 15 different coffee drinks with the press of a button. Plus, you can customize the drinks to match your preferences for strength, foam quantity, milk quantity, and more. It also lets you create up to six user profiles for storing your go-to drinks. I’d never be able to afford this on my own, but my life would be less enjoyable without it. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

A classic champagne

luxury products 2021 Veuve Clicquot Rose Champagne

Veuve Clicquot Rose Champagne, $63.97, available at Total Wine

I love this champagne and drink it often for special occasions and dinner with friends. It’s not super dry, but it’s not sweet either — think of the most perfectly balanced glass of champagne ever, and this is it. — Sally Kaplan, executive editor, Insider Reviews

A leg-massaging system

luxury products 2021 Hyperice NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Recovery System

Hyperice NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Recovery System, $899.99, available at Best Buy

This elite recovery system single-handedly saves me from lead legs after a heavy lifting day and reduces my soreness significantly to let me more readily ski back-to-back on powder days during the winter. The advanced compression and patterns somehow reduce soreness better than any foam roller, massage gun, or yoga class I’ve ever tried. You can train or race seriously hard one day, sit in the NormaTec that night, and — rather than cringing every time you stand up or sit down — get back to it the next day. It’s worth every penny for any serious athlete. — Rachael Schultz, health, fitness, and outdoors updates editor

I’m training to run a 5K in under 20 minutes. This requires a lot of running, and the NormaTec Pulse Recovery System helps my legs recover faster so I can get back on the road. I use this every evening while watching TV. The strong compression works my muscles and keeps them from getting too tight. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

Read our full review of the Hyperice NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Recovery System.

A private flight

Several passengers sit in the waiting area inside the Burbank terminal.

Private or semi-private flights, starting at $99 each way, check out our full coverage

I hate flying, and commercial flights have become increasingly uncomfortable with cramped seating, long security and boarding processes, and extra charges for seemingly everything. I had the opportunity to fly private once, and it was a world of difference. It was quiet, comfortable, and so fast — no long security lines or people queuing to board. The experience made the process of flying enjoyable for once. Fortunately, flying private or semi-private isn’t as cost-prohibitive as it once was. Companies like JSX offer semi-private flights for as little as $99 each way, with all baggage, food, drinks, and pets included. It’s now something I consider every time I need to fly. — Lauren Savoie, senior editor, home and kitchen

An indoor garden

luxury products 2021 gardyn indoor vertical garden

Gardyn Indoor Vertical Garden, $799, available at Amazon

Gardyn arrived in December — not the ideal time for growing produce in Michigan. To make matters worse, I don’t have anything resembling a green thumb. Yet, within two months, I went from a few seeds to harvesting large leafy greens for fresh organic salads. The Gardyn system automatically waters the plants three times a day, supplies lighting 20 hours per day, and even has cameras so you can view your plants’ progress remotely. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

A spa robe

mirror selfie of four seasons spa robe the best hotel luxury womens bathrobe 2021

Spa Robe, $249, available at Four Seasons

Everything about this bathrobe screams indulgence, from the buttery microsuede exterior to the ultra-warm and soft microfiber lining to the embroidered Four Seasons chest logo that switches you into vacation mode. The packaging is beautiful, too: It comes in a nice, hefty box with a gift tie, and it’s wrapped in tissue paper stamped with a wax seal. Treat yourself (or a loved one); trust me. — Connie Chen, senior reporter, home & kitchen

A premium soda maker

luxury products 2021 aarke premium carbonator

Aarke Premium Carbonator, $219.95, available at Williams Sonoma

SodaStream and plenty of other brands make effective carbonators for half the price of this one by Aarke, but none of them look nice out on your countertop. My kitchen opens up to the living room, so it was important that my appliances look elegant. Not only does the Aarke do that, but it also works exceptionally well. — Sally Kaplan, executive editor, Insider Reviews

I’ve used SodaStreams in the past, and they work fine, but they don’t compare to the ease-of-use and attractive appearance of the Aarke. I just press down the lever until it makes a rude sound then release. I like my soda extra carbonated, so I go for three spurts. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

A warm yet cute winter jacket

luxury products 2021 Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket

Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket, starting at $299.98, available at Backcountry

This winter jacket does the impossible of keeping you incredibly warm — thanks to 600 fill power ethically sourced down — while also looking incredibly cute with a faux-fur hood and adjustable interior waist cinch. The jacket is water-resistant, has a ton of pockets, and, as with everything Fjällräven makes, is designed to last years, if not decades, so it is both sustainable and a long-term investment for the high price. — Rachael Schultz, health, fitness, and outdoors updates editor

An adjustable air bed

Image of the Sleep Number 360 i8 smart bed from the side

Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed, $3,699 (queen), available at Sleep Number

I test a new mattress every two weeks, but I’d sleep on the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed every night if I could. It’s the best adjustable bed in our mattress guide, and I like that I can customize the firmness. When I shift positions in the night, the air automatically adjusts to provide consistent support and pressure relief. There’s also a built-in sleep tracker that gives me tips for improving my sleep. If you can afford it, this is the bed for you. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

A versatile satin dress

luxury products 2021 AllSaints Hera 2-in-1 dress

Hera 2-in-1 Dress, $319, available at AllSaints

I don’t usually spend this much on dresses, but with three small weddings coming up, I decided to splurge on an AllSaints satin dress that comes with a cropped matching pullover. Not only is it luxurious, but it’s elegant and practical for fall weather. I know I will wear the dress and sweater separately, so it’s one of my favorite purchases ever. — Anna Popp, home & kitchen fellow

A custom floral arrangement

floracracy flower delivery service review 2021

Custom floral arrangements, starting at $155, available at Floracracy

While testing numerous flower delivery services for our guide, I fell in love with Floracracy, which makes some of the most beautiful, luxurious arrangements I’ve ever seen. The personalization and small details make Floracracy arrangements feel like a truly special gift, and it’s now my go-to stop for flower gifts. — Lauren Savoie, senior editor, home and kitchen

Read our full review of Floracracy.

A cozy sheet set

luxury products 2021 magic linen striped in natural linen sheet set

Striped in Natural Linen Sheet Set, $281 (Queen), available at Magic Linen

I know over $300 seems ridiculous to spend on a sheet set, but trust me when I say these are worth it. I’ve owned my Magic Linen sheets for nearly four years, and they’ve grown softer and cozier with every wash. The linen is breathable and cool but still comfy enough to snuggle up in on cold nights. I know this set will last me for decades to come. — Sally Kaplan, executive editor, Insider Reviews

A texturizing hair spray

luxury products 2021 Oribe dry texturizing spray

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $23 for 2.2 ounces, available at Sephora

I have straight, flat hair, and this is one of the only products that will reliably give me volume and body — which isn’t surprising considering Oribe’s cult-following and luxe reputation. It’s perfect for zhuzhing before a night out, lasts for hours even in humidity, and it doesn’t make your hair stiff or sticky the day after. — Rachael Schultz, health, fitness, and outdoors updates editor

A self-emptying robot vacuum

Image of iRobot Roomba s9+ robot vacuum near dog best luxury items 2021

iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum, $1,099.99, available at Amazon 

I’ve tested dozens of robot vacuums, and while the Roomba s9+ is the most expensive, I think it’s worth every penny. It’s the best vac for hardwood floors in our robot vacuum guide. It also features a self-emptying dustbin, which reduces the amount of maintenance you need to perform. You can also set no-go zones, and the extra-wide brushes and strong suction pick up dirt on a single pass. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

An electric bidet seat

luxury products 2021 Bio Bidet Discovery DLS Electric Bidet Seat

Bio Bidet Discovery DLS Electric Bidet Seat, $674.25, available at Best Buy

After testing dozens of bidets, I can say the $800 Discovery DLS bidet toilet seat has the most high-end features of any I’ve tried. In addition to the usual water-temperature adjustments, heated seat, warm air drying, and nightlight, it automatically opens and closes. If you want to see what washing with water (instead of just dry toilet paper) is all about, this is the luxurious way to try it out. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hogoè Kpessou worked as an Uber Eats driver before she launched her handbag brand last year. Now she’s on track to make seven figures.

photo of Hogoè Kpessou
Hogoè Kpessou

Name: Hogoè Kpessou

Age: 22

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Business: A luxury brand known for backpacks emblazoned with bumblebees.

Backstory: Black entrepreneurs continue to stand out in the luxury industry, which is estimated to be worth 297 billion by 2026, according to research firm Global Industry Analysts. Continuing that trend is Hogoè Kpessou, founder of the eponymous brand that sells handbags and accessories.

Kpessou was born in Togo and immigrated to the US when she was six, where her peers ridiculed her name and heritage. When she launched her brand last October, she named it after herself to wash away the negative association she harbored toward her name. Now, it’s an emblem of luxury.

“I have people asking me how to say my name properly and asking how to spell it,” she told Insider. “That was a good choice on my part.”

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model

Growth: Kpessou used $10,000 from her mom to start the business and expects to hit seven figures in revenue by the beginning of next year.

Since its launch, the company’s made nearly $500,000 in sales, seeing a 3,900% transaction increase, according to documents seen by Insider. Meanwhile, social traffic has grown 31,000% and direct site traffic climbed 50,000%. Additionally, she released a collection of bags adorned with fireflies and expanded the color selection of her bumblebee backpacks this year. Now, she’s prepping to show at New York Fashion week before jetting to Paris and Milan for their respective fashion weeks.

Next, she plans to enter wholesale, create apparel, and catch the eye of Beyoncé, whose nickname is Queen Bee. “That would just be perfect,” Kpessou said.

Before the brand: She sold candles and poetry books online while working as a sales representative at the insurance company Florida Blue. She also held weekend shifts at a local restaurant and delivered food for Uber Eats.

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by models
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by models

Challenges: Kpessou’s challenges are learning to separate her brand’s identity from her personal one and establishing boundaries between herself as a person and as a founder.

“I’ve always been a yes-ma’am, no-sir type of person,” she said. “But I can’t rely on people who don’t necessarily know the challenges of starting something from the ground up telling me how to proceed.”

Business Advice: “Keep the vision of what you want your business to be at the forefront.” she said.

Business mentor: Tavia Kelly, a business planner, taught Kpessou the importance of branding, while consultant Reka Naomi Szabo taught her the ins and outs of the fashion industry.

Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model
Hogoè Kpessou backpacks worn by a model

Why is now the best time to start a business: Kpessou points to a few facts: First, there has been a rise in the number of Black-owned businesses launched since July 2020, while self-employment continues to increase, and customers continue spending money at companies they support. “We’re entering a renaissance,” she continued. “I think it’s a beautiful thing.”

On hiring: She runs the company alone and is looking to hire at least five more people in the next two months to help with customer service and packaging.

Managing burnout: Kpessou writes and sees her therapist often. She also enjoys learning new languages and taught herself Korean. Next, she’s trying to get back into exercising. “I need to find out how to make the gym my comfort zone again,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 Gen Zers created a competition to connect young creatives with cash and careers amid the pandemic. Now, luxury giant Kering is getting involved.

(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan
(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan

Name: Alexandre Daillance, Harry Beard, Adam Flanagan

Age: 24, 21, 20

Location: Paris, France; Bedford, England; Edinburgh, Scotland

Business: A Gen-Z target competition that helps creatives find jobs and funding.

Backstory: The creative sector was hit hard during the pandemic, as art shows closed and fashion runways went dark. As a result, Gen Zers saw their prospects for economic and professional mobility hindered.

Margherita Missoni as judge for the Kering Prospect 100 competition
Margherita Missoni as judge for the Kering Prospect 100 competition

This gave Alexandre Daillance, Harry Beard, Adam Flanagan two ideas. The first was a free virtual competition called Prospect 100, which connects young creatives working in film, design, innovation, and music with career opportunities and cash prizes from powerhouses such as ViacomCBS, Vogue, and most recently, the luxury conglomerate Kering.

The second idea was for FutureLabs, a consulting firm seeking to help established brands connect with next-generation audiences. The firm serves as the parent company to Prospect 100, which allows the competition to be free for participants.

Growth: Prospect 100 has held six competitions since last May, seeing over 15,000 participants from 82 countries, Daillance said. Additionally, it has at least four more contests planned throughout the next two years, expecting to attract nearly 30,000 participants.

Past judges included Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Yeezy design director Steven Smith. It’s partnered with Nickelodeon to offer winners masterclasses with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, and next is working with Kering on a competition promoting sustainable fashion. Retail heiress and creative director Margherita Missoni and Vogue fashion editor Rawdah Mohamed are set to judge.

Meanwhile, FutureLabs works with 12 clients and netted more than six figures from last September to today, according to documents verified by Insider.

Alexandre Daillance sitting with his computer
Alexandre Daillance is the founder of fashion label Millinsky Edition and streetwear brand NASEASONS, the latter of which has worked with The Rolling Stones, Lil’ Wayne, and Guns N Roses.

Before Prospect 100: Daillance created fashion label Millinsky Edition and streetwear brand NASEASONS, which is sold in over 70 retailers throughout the world.

Beard previously ran a social media management company called OPEN while Flanagan interned at McKinsey and worked as an investment analyst at financial firm Creators Fund.

Challenges: Initially they wanted the competition to be in-person, but the pandemic forced it online, making the trio rethinking their business strategy.

They also had to find ways to make it inclusive because not everyone has access to the same technology. “It was so important an artist from Bhutan feels they have as much a chance of winning this competition as a graffiti artist from LA,” Beard said.

Business Advice: Daillance said shoot for the stars to hit the moon, while Flanagan said never be afraid to pivot the business if needed. Beard added, “you truly need to have fun to be able to go all the way.”

Business mentor: They count Carmen Greco, former managing director at Goldman Sachs and current founder of the Gen Z -targeted production company Thred Media, as a mentor. They also go to Miles Young, head of New College, Oxford, and former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather.

Posters for the competition Prospect 100

Why is now the best time to start a business: It’s especially a good time to connect with others throughout the world and find cofounders in which to help build and expand, said Daillance.

On hiring: Prospect 100 is a team of five and receives about 30 resumes a month, Daillance said. The company seeks to gain more traction in the US, where many companies are still struggling to hire talent amid labor shortages.

Managing burnout: Each clock in outdoor time. Flanagan is learning how to skateboard, while Daillance likes watching Formula 1 races. Beard, meanwhile, likes to play squash.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I stayed at luxury treehouse resorts in 4 different states. My favorite perk was the outdoor hot tubs – here’s what they were like

Vermont Tree Cabin on Walker Pond in Coventry, Vermont Jessica Kelly
The author at the Vermont Tree Cabin in Coventry, Vermont.

  • Jessica Kelly is a freelance food and travel writer and photographer from Buffalo, New York.
  • Over the past year, she’s vacationed in treehouse-style resorts in four different states.
  • She says amenities like steam showers and outdoor hot tubs made each treehouse modern and cozy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I always research different locations when I travel to find unique, one-of-a-kind properties that will make the trip memorable. Over time I’ve noticed more luxury treehouses popping up in hotel searches and on Airbnb. After my first stay in one, I was hooked.

These properties are the best of all worlds: They have a rustic charm and are often quiet and immersed in nature, and most of them are completed with modern luxury amenities. Recently, I’ve stayed at four treehouse resorts in four different states. Here’s what each experience was like.

The Treehouse Suite at Winvian Farms in Morris, Connecticut

The Treehouse Suite at Winvian Farms in Morris, Connecticut Jessica Kelly
The Treehouse Suite at Winvian Farms in Morris, Connecticut.

The Treehouse Suite is just one of the many unusual experiences offered by Winvian. The property is full of unique options, including a fully-restored 1968 Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican helicopter that has been transformed into a suite, but the treehouse really stuck out to me.

After climbing the stairs with our bags, my boyfriend, Max, and I threw open the door to find a huge king-size bed, a beautiful terrace overlooking the forest, a steam room, a double fireplace, and a spacious jacuzzi tub, all within the treehouse.

We had an incredible dinner on the property, a relaxing Swedish massage at the spa, and visited the nearby Thorncrest Farm & Milk House Chocolates for delicious sweets made on site.

The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio

El Castillo at The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio  Jessica Kelly
El Castillo at The Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio.

The Mohicans were one of the first luxury treehouses I visited and probably the most impressive due to the variety of options available within the property. Each treehouse is extremely different and distinctive, with its own style and interior design.

The Little Red Treehouse has stained glass windows and was featured in an episode of Treehouse Masters. There’s even a treehouse with a full retro Airstream Van in the tree. With so many options, it was hard to choose a treehouse, but we landed on El Castillo.

With full plumbing, two terraces, a flatscreen TV, hot showers, AC, and an outdoor shower, it had wonderful amenities. The outdoor shower was incredible. After an evening of wine and movies, a hot steamy outdoor shower while hearing the crickets chirping felt fantastic. We enjoyed our days in Glenmont kayaking, ziplining, and repelling.

Hidden Pond Resort & Tree Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine

Hidden Pond Resort & Tree Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine Jessica Kelly
Hidden Pond Resort & Tree Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Although not as high as some of the other properties the Treetops Lodge is still technically lifted and immersed in forest greenery. The award-winning luxury resort, Hidden Pond, has a variety of different accommodations, outdoor swimming pools, a Tree Spa, and a delicious restaurant on property, Earth.

The layout was stunning, and there were plenty of places to ride the free bikes around on the property, bonfires to roast marshmallows for s’mores, and relax by the pool during my two night stay. The cozy cabin treehouse vibe, blending in plaid and earthy tones from L.L. Bean’s design collection and the amazing cocktails at Earth were definitely my favorite aspects of the property. The outdoor shower was also incredible, complete with trees swaying above.

Vermont Tree Cabin on Walker Pond in Coventry, Vermont

Vermont Tree Cabin on Walker Pond in Coventry, Vermont Jessica Kelly
Vermont Tree Cabin on Walker Pond in Coventry, Vermont.

This Airbnb property was magical when my boyfriend and I visited just before the holidays in late 2020. The weather was quite chilly, but the cabin was heated and had a cozy fireplace, a spiral staircase, hot showers, a comfy bed with plenty of blankets, and the best part – an outdoor cedar hot tub overlooking a pond.

The hot tub proved to be the perfect way to relax in the evening during our one-night stay. Although surrounded by snow, it felt romantic since we were kept warm by the steamy water, and finished the night with a Christmas movie on the TV.

The owner Andrew, who runs the property with his wife, built the entire treehouse himself, including the hot tub. I was very impressed with the property’s beauty and attention to detail, from the cute decor sprinkled throughout, to the cabinet and fridge stocked with ingredients for homemade Belgian waffles and local Vermont maple syrup for guests to enjoy.

If you’re thinking of booking a treehouse getaway, now’s the time

On top of these properties being rustic and unique, their luxurious and modern amenities make for a perfect secluded retreat. They all have something incredible to offer and I’d visit all four of these properties again.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How a Vietnamese woodworker built a drivable wooden Bugatti

  • Vietnamese woodworker Truong Van Dao built a fully drivable wooden Bugatti.
  • It’s smaller than an actual car, but a near replica of the $8.9 million Centodieci hypercar.
  • Built as a toy for his young son, the entire project took just 40 days to build.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This is a fully-drivable all wooden Bugatti. About one third the size of an actual car, Built by Vietnamese woodworker Truong Van Dao, it’s a nearly perfect replica of Bugatti’s $8.9 million Centodieci hypercar. And he built it in just 40 days.

Truong Van Dao: As a carpenter, I often make little toys for my son to play with. I bought some small car models for him to play with. He loved playing with these cars, especially this particular Bugatti.

To make this car, I had to prepare for a long time, like going online to find the pictures to draw it. Besides referring to photos, I looked for the exact parameters of this car, then I scaled it down.

Narrator: Dao started with the vehicle’s undercarriage and chassis. Without any pictures to go by, he used his best judgement based on similar car projects he’d done before, like this Ferrari.

Dao: It took about a week to finish the bottom. I used machines like chainsaws, wood planers and a few hand tools.

I use oak as the main material for most of my products because oak is quite durable, cheap and legal in Vietnam. I have tried other woods before, but I feel oak is good because it is light, which makes the car not too heavy. Second, oak is tough so it is pretty easy for me to chisel close to it.

Narrator: Dao relied on the local marketplace and e-commerce sites to collect parts for the car’s drivetrain, which includes a small electric motor, front and rear axles, and small gears to get the wheels rolling.

Dao: The car is powered by a rear axle motor, which means I have a engine installed to allow it to move the rear axle. I failed in the previous model which was a Ferrari. At first the car couldn’t even start and move. When it came to this next car, I succeeded on my first try.

I used a filter to make the wheels round, then I used small chisels to sculpt. I carved small parts so that they had grooves. For the wheels, I divided them into three parts: the tire, the brake disc and rim. I used a special type of glue for wood to attach them together.

Narrator: The most complex part of the project was the car’s body. This includes the hood, fenders, bumpers, and rear, all of which Dao carved most of using just a chainsaw.

Dao: Using a chainsaw really just depends on your skill as a woodworker. Once we get used to the chainsaw, we can move it to wherever we want. The chainsaw helped me to carve the car faster. It especially made it easier for me to build the frame of the car. After that, I used small hand tools that allow me to sculpt faster. But the chainsaw is really a very useful and necessary tool.

I use two different types of glue, one of which is for attaching the parts which need more cohesion. But its limitation is that it takes two days to dry. There is another type of glue which sticks right after pouring but it is not sturdy so I only used it for small details.

Narrator: To accurately recreate the body, Dao scanned online pictures of the Centodieci’s different sections onto paperboard. He then traced those scanned images onto the actual wood. The smallest details he drew manually himself.

Dao: I think the doors of the car take the most time because it will require being able to be opened, sturdy and fit the body. After using the chainsaw, I had to use about five more tools. First, I used a scrubbing machine to flatten it. After that, I used the wood planer to make it smoother. Then I used sandpaper to make it even smoother. In addition, for any details that the chainsaw cannot do, I use chisels to finish them.

Narrator: Those details include the grille, exhaust pipes, sideview mirrors and even a wing almost identical to those found on the Bugatti Centodieci.

After carving out the interior, Dao then added the steering wheel, which even features an almost identical Bugatti logo. Once the wheel was screwed into the car’s wooden steering column, it was then time for the finishing touches.

Dao: The windshield glass I bought at a general store. Then I used a machine to cut it so that it fits the car. Finally, I installed it and screwed it in. On the car there are lights, which I made using plastic. I used transparent epoxy to make molds, to make sure the lights fit the vehicle.

The car can probably run at about 20km/h but I slowed it down to about 10 km/h. I slowed it down to make the car run more safely. Because the car uses wooden wheels, if it goes too fast, it will not be safe.

Narrator: So far Dao’s Bugatti, as well as his other cars, have gained loads of attention online. But despite the requests from collectors, for now, he seems to be happy with them at home in his garage.

Dao: For these cars, apart from giving them to my children to play with, I want to keep them as souvenirs. If I meet someone who really loves this car or has a special connection with it, maybe I will give it to that person. Or I may sell it to someone to get some money for my next car project.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Beyoncé and Jay-Z become the new faces of Tiffany’s as it shakes off ‘fusty’ image to woo younger shoppers

Beyonce and Jay-Z
Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

  • Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the new faces of LVMH-owned Tiffany & Co.
  • The duo will be ambassadors for the nearly 200-year-old luxury brand.
  • Since it acquired Tiffany’s, LVMH has been updating the brand image to appeal to younger shoppers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the new faces of iconic jewelry brand Tiffany & Co.

The couple will work as ambassadors for the brand, along with actress Anya Taylor-Joy and Olympic skier and model Eileen Gu (who recently became a spokesperson for Victoria’s Secret). The news was announced in an interview with Beyoncé in Harpers Bazaar this week.

Nearly 200-year old jewelry chain Tiffany’s is undergoing a rebrand under the leadership of French luxury retail conglomerate LVMH, which acquired the company in January 2021 after backing out of the deal the year before.

A spokesperson for LVMH did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

LVMH has been updating Tiffany’s marketing, stepping away from its signature blue brand image to give it a more edgy, modern look.

This is evidenced in its new ad campaigns, plastered around New York and Los Angeles, titled: “Not your mother’s Tiffany.” Dressed down models in jeans and tank tops stand against a white background wearing items from its jewelry collection. The campaign feels more like American Apparel than anything you would expect from Tiffany’s before.

A post shared by Tiffany & Co. (@tiffanyandco)

According to Business of Fashion, citing comments on social media, this campaign has angered some shoppers who say that the new is look is alienating the most loyal fans who remember it best for its Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s days.

But some analysts feel differently.

“I think making Tiffany more in synch with the times is a smart move,” Bernstein senior research analyst Luca Solca told Insider.

“We were counting that LVMH would know how to inject more content into Tiffany’s marketing, so that the brand could be more relevant to consumers. I don’t believe brands that go through this evolution risk alienating their core audiences – look at Gucci, for example,” he said.

Kering-owned Gucci has become a top brand for millennial and teen shoppers in the past few years under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, who has embraced streetwear and pop culture in his collections.

Tiffany’s has been trying to shake off its “fusty…old-fashioned” image long before it was acquired by LVMH but these efforts were blown off course by the pandemic, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

“Now that society is, hopefully, opening back up, Tiffany needs to drive awareness and trade,” he wrote in an email to Insider.

Still, “this is quite difficult to do with younger groups as while they respond to marketing, they are fickle and will shop around. And there are plenty of younger, aspirational jewelry brands to snag their custom,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider