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Sander MunstermanThe NextWomen is proud to present an expert for its mobile theme month, founder & CEO of XS2The World, Sander Munsterman.

Before the iPhone changed the smartphone industry, inventiveness with mobile was key to solving practical problems. In 2007, Sander Munsterman and Jan Willem Vaartjes travelled to China where they were confronted with a significant language barrier. To tide them over, they recorded several standard phrases on their Nokia N70s as they carried their phones with them everywhere they went. They could then play these phrases back via the loudspeaker to convey a destination to a taxi driver or place an order in a bar, for example.

The NextWomen is happy to be able to provide information on Christmas gifts through knowledge partner Vistaprint. 

While Christmas is one of the most anticipated times of the year, it can be stressful, particularly when it comes to buying staff Christmas part gifts. It is often challenging to buy presents for co-workers or employees, particularly if you do not also have a personal relationship. To take the hassle out of corporate gift shopping this year, check out these unbeatable ideas for the best staff Christmas party presents.

Personalised Notebook

As aforementioned, it can be difficult to buy gifts for a staff Christmas party, particularly if your company is all business and not so tightknit. A personalised not book is an affordable and thoughtful present. Many online printing companies offer a service that allows you to personalise both the front and inside cover, with text, your own design and even photos.

Something Yummy

For those who are completely lost on buying a gift, stick to the safe option of a tasty treat. Everybody loves a yummy box of chocolates or an assorted gif hamper, providing a perfect gift idea for the person who has everything.

Becky John with one of her seamstressesThe NextWomen Food & Fashion Theme.

Hatty Richmond meets Becky John, whose ethical underwear brand, Who Made Your Pants? employs refugees from countries such as Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Last month, a well-known British department had a promotion/deal/short sale on its very well-known and much-loved underwear. Regardless of existing price or multi-buy discount, THIS WEEK ONLY they were offering a further tantalising 20% off.

Along with a sizeable sector of the knicker-buying nation, I hot-footed it into the nearest branch and made my way past the food section (and therefore also the chocolate mini-bites) up to Lingerie. Having bypassed some suspiciously inexpensive bras, I happened upon the perennial range of £5 each or 3-for-a-tenner stretch lace ‘boy shorts’. With the 20% discount applied, this was a wallet-soothing 3-for-£8 and therefore almost irresistible.

Last week Birchbox the US sample-box subscription service acquired the European based Joliebox. Time to tell you the succesful story of two young female founders and to understand their growth strategy.

Rolemodels for the new generation of female founders, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp (photo), graduated from Harvard Business School in 2010, and started the company right after that, so the company is not yet 3 years old! With Birchbook they hit the newest coolest thing: e-commerce online subbscription service

In building & growing Birchbox, Hayley & Katia put in practice some valuable theory learned at Harvard: build, borrow or buy?

First they defined their brand, this is their elevator pitch:

Launched in 2010, Birchbox is the discovery commerce platform redefining the retail process by offering consumers a personalized way to discover, sample, shop and learn about the best products and brands available. Birchbox members have first-touch experiences with products each month and access to educational content to help them get the most out of their products.

The first time I met with Carla and Kimberly it was the day that Prince WIlliam married Kate Middleton. It was a warm day and all day long I wore a very Katesque piece on my head. It was the only day that I wore it and now it is stashed away in my closet. Funny enough many NYers stopped me on the street that day and told me how much they loved my headpiece and when I pointed out I was wearing it because of the wedding most of them didn't make the connection. 

Both Kimberly and Carla were very excited about launching their first concept the following week. At that point it was called Wingtip. They were both very driven but I didn't like the idea or the name. The concept was that you could create an online closet by dropping items from any retailer and purchases into your virtual closet. Friends and family could shop with you.

The idea was based on the fact that retailers were having a hard time converting customers on line (btw they still are). The revenue model was around an affiliate fee.

Suppose you are a fashion founder and the marketing budget is tight. What do you want? You want word of mouth marketing. Preferably by a fashion guru, a fashion designer, a fashion stylist, anyone that has authority in the market.
Yesterday, I discovered that this just happened to fashion startup Upperstreet, a do-it-yourself-website for design shoes: they were marketed through word of mouth, by a fashion editor of Grazia.

Charlotte Semler

Can you elaborate a bit on: "How did you fund it, with how much money, and what is the business model?  This is for a lot of people great to read, how you did it, what route you chose, which hurdles etc. as for many this is a thing to consider when starting out. Also, on how you are dealing with the growth is interesting.

This is what I asked Charlotte Semler-West, serial entrepreneur and founder of Charlotte & Co, and prior thereto, founder of Myla. She replied:

I chose the fund the business start-up myself. I had previously founded and run a VC backed business start-up and I really didn’t want to go that way again. I can say the following….(probably more than you wanted!!!) (see further down in the interview, ed. SGB)

When Monif Clarke initially launched her plus size clothing range in 2006, she would pitch her design ideas to the major retailers, only to be told again and again that no-one would purchase her clothing: it was too trendy, too colorful, too sexy and their plus sized customers weren’t that fashion conscious.

The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series features Michelle Madhok, Founder, CEO & Chief Editor at SheFinds Media, which publishes, and

Distributed via e-mail and blogs, these online publications help millions of busy women everywhere shop the web for the latest fashion and style finds. 

A widely regarded shopping expert, Michelle has shared her expertise through channels such as The Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, The New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Prior to launching SheFinds, Michelle was the Director of Entertainment
Marketing for CBS Broadcasting New Media, then Group Director of
Editorial Products for women at AOL, where she oversaw all women's content. 

Her book Wear. This. Now. will be published in August 2012.

Shopping meets social this Christmas with introduction of innovative new Facebook application

With the Christmas season well and truly upon us, last week saw the launch of Shopcade, an unique, fun and interactive Facebook application which, for the first time, combines the elements of social media and shopping to create a truly social shopping experience that consumers can begin enjoying this Christmas.