08 September, 2010

This Mintbox shares sweet deals not candy

In the fashion market place where off-price sites come and go every day there is an exciting concept where fashion brands can share special deals with the consumers all year around. Appropriately, this concept is named Mintbox (use code MBLES) and just like a box full of mints it’s meant for sharing. Recently, I had a pleasure to chat with Mintbox founder, Pialy Aditya about what Mintbox offers to its members, New York Fashion Week, traveling and how to win tickets to a major designer’s fashion show at the Lincoln Center.

Sabina Les: How did the idea to create Mintbox come about? Was it something you developed while at Harvard Business School? 
Pialy Aditya: I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. Like most entrepreneurs, I get energized by a lot of business models only to sit down with my twin sister, Sonaly, and come up with a hundred reasons why they will not be successful. For me it was imperative that the business concept must be sustainable and scalable on a global level. Needless to say, my ideas hit the chopping block well before I ever had a chance to execute on them.
The concept for Mintbox is one that really stuck because it solves a major point of contention for retailers who have beautiful stores that are empty and are losing sales to liquidation channels.
Mintbox is a win-win solution. Retailers attract shoppers earlier in the season into the their own online and freestanding stores as well as retain relationships with loyal Mintbox members by providing hard-to-obtain perks. Members, who want the latest items today and don’t want to wait until the end-of-the-season, get private invitations from the brands they love. Furthermore, members have the option to buy the way they prefer: conveniently online or actually heading in-store to try things on, shop with friends, or get advice from personal stylists.

SL: What are some of the perks members can expect? 
PA: Mintbox members have an opportunity to meet the designers of some of their favorite brands – like Adam Lippes of ADAM at his New York studio or Paige Adams-Geller of Paige Denim at one of her boutiques. Members around the globe can get exclusive online access to pre-season merchandise or early access to sales before anyone else – for example, we hosted a James Perse sale where our members had five exclusive days to snag merchandise before the general public.
Fashion Week in NY is a lot of fun for our members. There are plenty of in-store events for Fashion’s Night Out - including a Mintbox exclusive discount at the Vivienne Tam’s Soho Store. We always give away tickets to Fashion Week shows so Mintbox insiders can sit amongst fellow fashionistas at the catwalk. This season, a few lucky members will also get to go backstage to meet some of the designers in person. Soon, our members will have the opportunity to shop off the runways and put their order in at the same time buyers at luxury department stores place their orders.
Plus, there’s the cash back component to every purchase. And while some offers are for a limited time, Mintbox shoppers are always rewarded with at least cash back. So, for example, if you’re a big Sephora shopper, like I am, then it pays to go through Mintbox because you’re guaranteed we’ll give you a minimum of 5% cash back on your purchase. Depending on how much you shop, the cash back adds up!

SL: It’s Fashion Week here in NYC. What shows are you looking forward to attending? 
PA: We’re attending quite a number of shows this season. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook as we’ll be tweeting and uploading pics and videos from the tents.
I’ve never been to Prabal Gurung’s show and am really looking forward to it this year. He’s on fire! I love his amazing bold architectural style and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. His work even caught the eye of our First Lady and style icon, Michelle Obama. Look out for Mintbox’s upcoming collaboration with Prabal Gurung. We totally love the amazing team he’s surrounded himself with; they remind me of us, a small but growing team of passionate individuals.
It’s great to see Prabal among the growing number of Asian Americans designers that are finally being acknowledged for their designs and becoming household names. This year was an exciting one in the world of fashion as it marked the first time three Asian Americans were named CFDA designers of the year in different categories - Richard Chai, Jason Wu, and Alexander Wang.

SL: The name “Mintbox” makes me feel refreshed. What was the inspiration behind it? 
PA: Ah, Mintbox. It’s all about sweetening up deals and sharing them with your friends.

SL: Do you focus exclusively on the fashion items? 
PA: Right now we focus on well-known fashion brands for men and women as well as beauty. I am a big fan of emerging designers and we know our members are on the forefront of fashion, definitely on the lookout for the next big thing, so we will be collaborating with cool up-and-coming designers. We are still currently in the first stage of our launch; we have lots of exciting new features coming out later this year, at which point we’ll launch a few additional lifestyle categories that are adjacent to our core businesses like children and home.

SL: What is your product/designer selection process? 
PA: Our merchandising team, led by Zoe Neuschatz, has a great eye for fashion and trends. They curate all the items you see on the Mintbox boutique pages. We know that our members are very stylish and have very different aesthetics. They are always requesting perks from various brands and, of course, we do our best to cater to all of them.

SL: Are you exploring social media opportunities such as iPhone or iPad apps? 
PA: Yes. Most of us at Mintbox shop via our iPhones and iPads. Our members are also shopping via mobile applications. We definitely want to be accessible to them the way they want to engage with us. We’re excited about our upcoming mobile app so stay tuned for that. We are certainly active on Facebook and Twitter where we offer tons of exclusives and giveaways. Right now, those following us @Mintbox are entered to win tickets to the THUY fashion show by retweeting our messages. On Facebook, we recently gave away a gift certificate to Flight 001 to those who shared their must have travel accessory.

SL: So what would be your must have travel accessory? 
PA: I’m a total geek. I never travel anywhere without my Travel Scrabble. The smallest, most portable version I’ve found was in London. You can’t buy it here. So, when I can, I buy them as gifts for friends. I can’t say I’m that good. Actually, my older sister, Shoma, beats me every single time. I did win against her once and it felt so amazing that I even captured the moment on video!

SL: You travel the globe. Where were you most amazed at the fashion? 
PA: We all know there are amazingly fashionable women here in New York and, of course, in cities such as Paris, Milan and Japan. But fashionistas are everywhere.
For me, I’m probably biased, but, I love all the amazing creativity coming out of India right now – in art, home, and fashion. The country is finally developing proper infrastructure for designers to flourish on a global scale. Designers can now show their collections at Delhi or Mumbai Fashion Week which is attended by buyers and editors from around the world. Even locally, there are also tons of fashion magazines launching including Vogue, Elle, and L'Officiel.
Indian designers design for the woman who appreciates the craftsmanship that goes into a garment. They’re known for their use of color, exquisite materials, patterns, and embroidery. Manish Arora is one of my favorites. His designs are so vibrant in color and pattern while his shows in Paris are like a fantasy world come alive. So much so that he’s been called “the John Galliano of India. Look out for him!
I look forward to more Indian designers to break out onto NY Fashion Week, including Bibhu Mohapatra, who is showing next week.

Mintbox (use code MBLES)will be giving away tickets to the Vivienne Tam Spring/Summer 2011 fashion show on September 11 at the new home of  New York Fashion Week, Lincoln Center. 

To enter please visit Mintbox (use code MBLES) to make a purchase at any of the participating retailers or brands and you'll be automatically entered for drawing. 
Also, you'll be entered to win tickets for Zang Toi on September 15.

Happy sharing!

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