November 09 2010
Shauna Mei’s background in investment banking (she was responsible for the selling and financing of Neiman Marcus while at Goldman Sachs), and her co-founding of boutique investment company The Aronsson Group, meant that her foray into “e-tail” was only ever going to be focused on luxury. But rather than hedging her bets with a wide selection of goods, her website, AHAlife, features only one product at a time – be it a fashion item, art piece or home accessory – and for just 24 hours.
“We want to foster conscious, not conspicuous, consumption,” says Mei of the online space, which she describes as being “collectively curated” by a diverse group of tastemakers such as fashion consultant Tim Gunn, make-up mogul Bobbi Brown and businesswoman (and wife of Rupert) Wendi Murdoch, and which aims to “cut through the noise” of traditional e-commerce outlets.
Mei has set up partnerships with established brands and has introduced exclusive or limited-edition products from Rachel Roy, Marchesa and Cynthia Rowley. She also uses the site to shine a spotlight on niche brands and creative artisans, featuring statement pieces such as handmade Swarovski crystal-encrusted horn earrings by Alexis Bittar, which have a magnetic closure rather than hooks or butterfly backs (second picture, $395) or a limited-edition pin-up girl fabric shower curtain by New York artist Lisa Yuskavage ($1,500).
Typical of the personal choices picked by the curators is a Canon Powershot G11 (first picture, $600), customised by Diane von Furstenberg in Andy Warhol-inspired lips logo and a custom carry case. “Diane loves photography and she obtains much of her inspiration for her prints through her own photographs,” says Mei.
Users of the site can also submit product suggestions, and if their item is selected, they can sign on as a guest curator.