I love products. Not just shoes and bags and dresses, but products. My significant other and I together own about six Apple computers, an iPad, four iPhones (we're trying to sell the old ones, if you're interested!), as well as a million weird little knickknacks, from a carved wooden image we picked up in Japan to several Smorkin' Labbits. We like stuff.
But I must admit, there aren't many sites out on the Web that carry such stuff, whether it's the wood block LED alarm clock we recently put on our registry or a very, very specific lavender oil my future mother-in-law has been bugging us to unearth. In fact, sites that do carry such cool finds aren't comprehensive, or they're not well-designed, or worse, they refuse to ship internationally. (Let me put it this way: There's a reason we're doing an Amazon universal registry instead of pick stuff out at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.)
Enter AHALife. Founder Shauna Mei wants to create an online space where you can learn about new products--hand-picked by 80-some curators, including Diane von Furstenberg and Tim Gunn--and maybe even buy something. Mei, a former business consultant for fashion labels, came up with the idea while living in Europe. "I noticed that there were very few e-commerce sites targeted towards the aesthetic consumer--the busy, savvy, in-the-know woman or man--who loves fashion but is not a slave to fashion," she explains. While sites like Net-a-Porter made it easy to shop for clothes and accessories, what about furniture, art, home goods?
The major twist: Unlike most e-commerce sites, the products are made-to-order, limited edition, or otherwise difficult-to-find. And one new product is introduced daily. (Although they live on the site for seven days.)
Mei believes the easiest way to sell something is to tell its story. Which means she's brought in a crack editorial team, headed up by fashion journalist Lauren David Peden, who serves at the site's editorial director. Gilles Bensimon is its creative director, while former Style.com-er Nancy MacDonell is a contributor. Featured items will include everything from artisanal foods to scarves to desk lamps. But each is promised to be special.
Another element: Mei and Peden's workspace, an industrial loft in downtown Manhattan, doubles as a product showroom. A display space for items featured on the site, the showroom also serves as a place for buyers and industry insiders to check out new products, some of which have never before been available in the US.
AHALife officially launches later on this month, but Fashionista readers get early access. Click here to check it out.