All posts in “Culture”

Lifestyle goods resale marketplace StockX raises $110M, pushing valuation past $1B

Detroit-based StockX, which provides a way for people to resell luxury and lifestyle goods including streetwear, bags, watches and shoes, is now valued at over $1 billion based on its most recent raise of $110 million, just revealed by the New York Times. Alongside the raise, StockX is bringing on a new CEO – ecommerce vet and former eBay SVP Scott Cutler.

Cutler replaces co-founder Josh Luber at the helm of the company, but he’ll continue to be the “public face” of the company according to the NYT, which is not unusual for a founder-led company when it brings on more traditionally experienced executives to steer the startup through periods of aggressive growth and business maturation.

StockX’s success rode the sneaker culture boom of the past half-decade or so, as the startup first focused exclusively on acting as a resale source for shoes with high levels of hype. Their unique value prop, for consumers, was offering a verification service so that you knew when you were buying (often at a premium, and often so-called ‘deadstock’ or stuff that’s new in condition but not available through typical consumer sales channels) was the real deal.

The company expanded from there into new categories, first with watches, then handbags, and most recently streetwear – all categories where high potential for fraud mean that consumers are willing to pay more for some assurance of authenticity.

Also unique to StockX is its treatment of the marketplace as analogous to a public stock exchange, with shoe releases, watch, bag and clothing SKUs replacing companies as the trade commodity. The app for StockX displays charts trending value and features bids and calls, making it similar in concept to another company where new CEO Cutler has experience – the NYSE.

With this funding, the company will focus on growing its international business and also do more with selling new products, which it has done on occasion for select releases, but which hasn’t been a primary focus of its business to date.

Armoire is angling to become the everyday Rent the Runway

When Armoire first emerged from MIT’s accelerator program back in 2016, the company’s vision was already fully formed — combine StitchFix and Rent the Runway to give women a low-cost, sustainable way to get a high-fashion, high-functioning wardrobe for every day.

Ambika Singh, the Seattle-based company’s chief executive, set out to solve two problems: the amount of time wasted on shopping, some 216 hours spent in stores or online, and the waste associated with the impulse purchases and fast fashion that have become the byproduct of an accelerating consumer culture.

Carried along by two trends — the proliferation of direct to consumer brands trying to capture the attention of a new customer and the rise of the rental movement — Singh thought Armoire could provide a daily wardrobe for professional women at a price point that could be attractive enough to switch from an ownership to a rental model for fashion.

(Or as The New York Times put it in a strong contender for headline of the year: “They see it. They like it. They want it. They rent it.“)

It may have taken three years, but investors are now renting out some space of their own on the company’s cap table. Armoire recently raised a $4 million seed round from investors, including Jesse Draper’s Halogen Ventures; Zulily co-founder, Darrell Cavens; Vijay Talwar, the former chief executive of BlueNile; and Rajeev and Jill Singh, former executives at Concur.

A subscription to Armoire’s service costs $149 per month and covers four items per shipment. The company’s average customer (Singh would not disclose how many of those there are), typically receive between 12 and 15 items in a month by swapping out the clothes they order.

Singh says this $149 per month is a discount to inventory that would otherwise cost around $300 if bought directly from stores.

The other benefit, says Singh, is that the company focuses on women-owned brands. Current suppliers include Of Mercer, Brass Clothing and Zuri.

While the relationship between the company and its clothing providers is more of a wholesale model (Armoire buys the clothes at a discount), Singh envisions a time when the company could reduce costs or add revenue by marketing styles from its clothing suppliers to customers.

Other companies that are also taking the rental retail model to the masses have a consignment relationship where their suppliers are getting a portion of rental revenues.

The number of companies pitching rental retail has grown significantly since Armoire’s chief executive first stepped on the MIT pitch competition stage in Boston years ago. Now there’s Gwynnie Bee, Haverdash and the grand dame of rental fashion, Le Tote.

Why enter a market when there’s already a global contender backed by more than $62 million in venture financing?

Some competitors and retailers have a consignment relationship from which they’re getting a portion of a rental revenue.

“We’ve got a particular focus that a woman post-30 needs. We focus on maternity and nursing and we have a focus on fit,” says Singh. “And the fact that rental has major headwinds around us and we have this consumer that is underserved and finding her voice in her wallet.”

Armoire’s team is 90% women and was hired from places like TheRealReal, Amazon, Zulily and Rover. The company owns all of its own inventory, and is targeting a 30-to-60 year-old woman who’s typically a working mother.

Singh uses a $70,000 median household income as its targeting proxy on Facebook, but says she’s hoping to bring the price point down for middle-class consumers. “This is a good way to get the volume ‘she’ might desire with a fixed budget,” says Singh.

And Armoire does have an option to buy the clothes that customers are renting — should they feel inclined. Singh expects the company booked roughly $200,000 in May.

24 everyday products you never knew you needed — all on sale

If you were recently inspired to purge all the little things that don’t “spark joy” (thanks Marie Kondo), you’re not alone. As a result, you likely have quite a bit of newfound space in your home — and there’s nothing better than filling those empty drawers and sparkling surfaces with new things that you *do* love. Case in point, check out these 24 must-have items that improve your life in all sorts of random ways.

Perfect for hiking, camping, and emergency preparation, this 3-in-1 lantern also doubles as a wide-angle flashlight. Mount it to use it as a bright area light or a mood-setting flickering flame — and collapse it for easy carrying when you’re done. 

Usually, this lantern is $24.95, but you can get it here for $17.95 — that’s $7 off the sale price. 

Who says you need to take up space with all your tech gadgets? This wireless charger and speaker combines three features in one device: it can charge any Qi-enabled device, play music and audio clearly, and keep everything organized as a stylish docking station. 

Usually, this charging stand is $79.99, but you can get it here for $59.99.

Add some flair to the standard Apple Watch with this special band that pays homage to the final level of the original PAC-MAN™ arcade game. It also includes a code to unlock a special collection of dynamic and static watch faces for more PAC-MAN™ style.

Usually, this watch band is $49.99, but you can get it here for $29.99, or 40% off. 

If you’re one of the folks who still miss your headphone jack, you’ll love this clever dual-function splitter: you can use it to listen to your headphones and charge your phone at the same time. It’s perfect for those times you want to stream media and listen to it privately — without being forced to watch your phone battery die. 

Usually, this adapter is $17, but you can get it here for $9.99 — that’s 41% off. 

Upgrade your sleep instantaneously with this luxurious multi-use body pillow. It provides maximum comfort and contours to your body, whether you’re using it to sleep, read, watch TV, study, and more. Position the pillow up to seven different ways, and experience immediate comfort. 

Usually, this jumbo pillow is $113.99, but you can get it here for $49.99 — that’s 56% off. 

If you haven’t had much luck developing a green thumb, it might be what you’re using to cultivate your house plants. Keep them watered even when you’re away with these glass bulbs: just fill them up and insert them into the soil for reliable watering you don’t need to think about for up to two weeks. 

Usually, these watering bulbs are $24.99, but you can get them here for $7.99 — that’s 68% off. 

Skip the spa and relax at home with this electric foot massager: it uses kneading rollers and massagers to soothe tired feet. You can also use it for a continuous massage depending on where you place it: whether it’s your spine, legs, or anywhere else that could use a massage.

Usually, this massager is $295, but you can get it here for $139.99 — that’s 52% off. 

Perfect for summer and grilling, this handy defrosting tray makes quick work of frozen meat, fish, poultry, and more. It’s made of high quality thermal conductive material to speed up the thawing process naturally — no electricity, chemicals, or heating required.

Usually, this tray is $25, but you can get it here for $12.99 — that’s 48% off. 

Go to the beach without destroying all your stuff (and getting sand in everything) with these multi-purpose beach bags. They include everything you could possibly want for a full day outside, including built-in USB ports, a bottle opener, unique sand discharge mesh, and lots of other features — plus, they’ll keep all your possessions dry and out of the sun.

Usually, these beach bags are $129, but you can get them here for $79 — that’s $50 off. 

Shiatsu massages can be expensive — but not when you have this convenient pillow massager. Use it at home or even slip it on at work for some quick relief: it uses four deep-kneading massage nodes over acupuncture points to bring relief, relaxation, and comfort to your aching muscles.

Usually, this pillow massager is $59.99, but you can get it here for $46.99 — that’s $13 off. 

Enjoy a restaurant-quality meal from the comfort of your home with this sous vide cooker, a technique that eliminates overcooking by heating and circulating the water in the pot for the perfect temperature at all times. 

Usually, this sous vide cooker is $199.99, but you can get it here for $39.99 — that’s 80% off. 

Summer is for kicking back and relaxing — or, in the case of this hammock, hanging out. You can set it up anywhere, easily fold it down, and carry it back when you’re done. 

Usually, this hammock is $109.99, but you can get it here for $65 — that’s 40% off. 

Science nerds and people who manage to make even the strongest house plants whither will love this orb filled with luminescent dinoflagellates (living algae). Put it in low to moderate light during the day, and watch it light up at night when you gently swirl it. 

Usually, this orb is $49, but you can get it now for $42.99 — that’s $7 off. 

Keep your fingers safe when you chop veggies in your kitchen with this finger protector: it’s made out of durable stainless steel and is sure to minimize accidents. 

Usually, this finger protector is $24.99, but you can get it here for $9.99 — that’s 60% off. 

Cut precisely and accurately with this pair of laser scissors. You can cut straight lines every time and take up less time cutting paper, gift-wrapping, scrapbooking, making crafts, and more.

Usually, these scissors are $29.99, but you can get them here for $14.99 — that’s 50% off. 

There’s probably no more economic way to shed some light in the dark than this LED flashlight: it transforms an ordinary nine-volt battery into an ultra-bright light that can emit a flashing light if you’re in an emergency. 

Usually, this LED flashlight is $19.90, but you can get it here for $17.99

Get fit with this adjustable kettlebell and work out from the comfort of your home. You basically get seven kettlebells in one: adjust it to 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5 or 20 pounds for the workout you need. 

Usually, this kettlebell is $220, but you can get it here for $149.

Comfortable, portable, and easy to clean, this yoga mat is just what you need to get your zen on. Take it with you outdoors or use it at home — it’ll securely stay in place while you practice. 

Usually this mat is $44.95, but you can get it here for $19 — that’s 57% off. 

If your furry friend is afraid of jumping off the couch or bed, use this set of foldable pet stairs to give them a little extra help. It’s especially perfect for both puppies and kittens, and more senior pets. 

Usually these stairs are $175.98, but you can get them here for $45 — that’s 74% off. 

The best part of rice when you cook it is the crispy bits at the edge of the pot — and this rice cooker comes with a patented and adjustable crispy mode, so you can get the perfect bite every time. Plus, it’s way easier and cleaner to prepare your favorite rice dishes that require any frying. 

Usually this rice cooker is $89.99, but you can get it here for $69.99.

Support efforts to go green and reduce plastic use with these grocery cart-friendly bags. Hook them into your cart, fill them up, and you’re organized and ready to go for checkout. 

Usually these bags are $29.99, but you can get them here for $15.99 — that’s 46% off. 

This one might be a little too frequently used: this easy at-home fryer is designed with cool-touch sides and a one-touch locking lid for clean, splatter-free cooking. Fry up veggies, proteins, desserts, and much more all at home — which makes it better than take-out, right? (Sort of.)

Usually, this deep fryer is $49.99, but you can get it here for $32.99.

Cook like a pro with this 10-piece multi-colored knife set and magnetic bar: the colors make it easy to chop and dice away without the fear of cross-contamination. Plus, the bar makes all the different knives easily visible and organized. 

Usually this set is $48.99, but you can get it here for $29.99

Keep your pets out of trouble (also known as the trash can) with this lightweight, portable wooden gate. The espresso wood finish matches most décor, and the accordion-style operation means no screws or installation required. 

Usually this gate is $129.98, but you can get it here for $35 — that’s 73% off. 

SiriusXM releases a subscription plan for people without cars

SiriusXM is coming for the milllenials
SiriusXM is coming for the milllenials

Image: marcus ingram/Getty Images for SiriusXM

If you’re one of the millions of people in America who don’t own a car and have to rely on terrible public transportation (points to self), SiriusXM is out-of-reach.

Recently, however, the company released a new plan called SiriusEssential that would give people access to SiriusXM on mobile or for listening at home. At just $8 a month, the plan gives people access to over 200 channels. 

Unfortunately for some listeners, the plan will not include premium channels including the NBA, the NHL, the NCAA, and Howard Stern. Listeners who want access to those channels would have to sign up for their Premium Subscription plan, which goes for $13 a month.

Still, it’s well-priced, especially for millennials, many of whom don’t have cars and who turn to alternative streaming services on Spotify or Pandora for their music needs.

Listen. We all know what makes SiriusXM good — their 24/7 Dave Matthews Band Channel. All DMB, all the time. I would purchase a car solely for the opportunity to jam so damn hard to “Ants Marching” on SiriusXM at any hour of the day.

New users can sign up for just $1 for three months. 

Davey boy, here I come.

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The Hear app makes trippy sounds, but it probably won’t help you concentrate

A fun • unique listening experience • Filters can be adjusted for maximum customization
Didn’t really help cut out distractions • Several audio filters were very unpleasant
The Hear app is perfect for a lighthearted and entertaining listening experience. But if your goal is to relax or seriously focus, look elsewhere for help.

👑 Mashable Score
3.75

Anyone who’s ever attempted to write for a living (or for fun) knows there’s essentially no such thing as a distraction-free environment. Coffee shops are busy and bustling, offices are full of noisy co-workers, and personal living spaces are packed with potential procrastination options.

Like many people who are easily distracted, I often find myself struggling to give that task at hand my undivided attention. So when I learned about the advanced listening app Hear, created by RjDj, I was intrigued.

Billed as something that can “harmonize your listening experience” and “help you to be less distracted and stressed,” Hear sounded very promising. I’ve never been one for white noise machines or soothing spa playlists, so the augmented sound aspect of Hear initially had me a bit skeptical. But I hoped the app would help me focus when writing, make noisy public settings more pleasant to be in, and allow me to filter some of the sounds in my office when I felt I needed an extra level of introspection. 

Hear is free and simply designed. It offers seven free sound filters (Super Hearing, Auto Volume, Relax, Happy, Talk, Office, and Sleep,) and two additional filters (Trippy and Upbeat) available for $1.99 each. The individual filters each have their pros and cons, so to give you the most complete understanding of the Hear experience I thought it would be best to break the app down by its different listening components.

Getting set up

To start, you can download Hear from the app store. (It’s currently only available on iOS.) Be aware that only wired headphones are supported at the moment “because bluetooth audio does not support high quality microphone realtime audio.” But Hear audio technicians are reportedly looking into expanding the app’s headphone capabilities in the future.

After downloading, you see the app’s main deep red and orange color theme, and you’re guided through a simple setup. You’ll be asked to enable your mic so incoming audio can be processed through the app, plug in your headphones, and then you’re free to swipe between the various filters just like you would on Instagram.

Super Hearing

After setup, Hear launches right into its Super Hearing filter, which, I must say I was not entirely prepared for.

Super Hearing lets you hear the world “with superhuman detail and quality,” which means every keystroke you make or breath you take is extremely amplified. At first, the heightened hearing felt incredibly strange — like I’d been transported into a seashell. But once you adjust the bass, presence, brilliance, and volume to your liking, it can be pretty damn soothing.

I first tried the filter while I was working from home, and in my secluded environment I really liked the results. It made me feel like a superhero with otherworldly powers, and transformed the clicks of my MacBook Air into an old fashioned typewriter. But when I tried it back in the office — as was the case with essentially every filter — I found the amplified sounds of co-workers talking and laughing to be far more pronounced, and therefore, more distracting.

Super Hearing filter in Hear app.

Image: hear

While I was at my desk, Super Hearing allowed me to pick up on the faintest background noises, some of which I wouldn’t have otherwise paid much attention to, such as the unzipping of jackets, popping open of soda cans, beeping of car horns outside, and hushed conversations between co-workers around me.

To test the app’s range out I turned up the volume and slacked my co-worker who sits three rows away from me. I bizarrely requested that he cough to himself. After a bit of convincing he lightly cleared his throat, and it weirdly sounded as though he was seated right beside me.

The verdict: Overall, Super Hearing is a great and even somewhat comforting option if you’re using it alone. I imagine it’d be helpful to use when meditating or deep breathing, since it allows you to look deep within yourself and hear each breath and movement so clearly. But in a noisy environment, it made me much more conscious of each individual sound more — essentially, the opposite of what I wanted.

Auto Volume

The app’s second filter, described as a way to “turn off the background noise, but still hear when people talk around you,” seemed promising. But honestly, it didn’t wow me.

The Auto Volume filter starts off silent and only picks up select noise, resulting in sudden bursts of sound and occasionally choppy feedback. This particular filter didn’t always pick up the sounds I wanted it to, and would occasionally cut out while someone was speaking to me, which got to be pretty frustrating.

Auto Volume filter on Hear app.

Image: hear

The verdict: While I’m not passionately against this filter, I honestly just didn’t see the point in using it. Turning it on in a room alone doesn’t add much to your work experience, and though you can change the volume, suppress noise, and remove hiss, I couldn’t seem to find a settings adjustment that convinced me otherwise. Overall, I found the harsh distinctions between absolute quiet and sound distracting.

Relax

Hear told me its third filter, Relax, would make me “lose myself in harmonic waves of bliss,” and while I was incredibly hopeful at the thought of finally getting a taste of app-induced relaxation, I can assure you I experienced no such thing.

Have you ever seen the episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Squidward screams “alone” in that white room over and over again? Or in Finding Nemo when Dory tries to speak whale? That’s the vibe the Relax filter gave me.

Relax filter on Hear app.

Image: hear

It’s great if you want to hear sneezes, coughs, and other sounds echo through your mind for far longer than they should. But I didn’t find it to be especially helpful when trying to relax. The filter might not be so bad if you’re in the presence of waves crashing on a shore or another soothing sound you’d like repeated. But in an office? No thanks.

The verdict: This filter was fine and the bright side is that there are ways to adjust the settings to make it more tolerable. I highly suggest turning off the echo to get rid of the creep factor.

Happy

The Happy filter is by far the single most trippy experience I have ever had with a piece of technology. The app describes the filter as “turning sounds around you into cascades of happiness,” but to paint you a far more accurate picture, imagine the Relax filter just downed some shrooms. 

The filter repeats sounds back to you in different octaves more than 20 times, to the point where you feel like you have voices in your head. It was low key traumatizing and honestly felt like I was in a living nightmare. Pharell Williams is quoted saying the app is “like legal drugs with no side effects,” and this was the first time I really understood how much he wasn’t exaggerating.

You can adjust the settings on density, spread, space, and volume to make the filter less dramatic, but all using this in my office did was allow me to hear everything my coworkers were saying on what felt like a never-ending loop. 

Happy filter on Hear app.

Image: hear

The verdict: Absolutely NOT. I can’t imagine one single scenario, aside from prepping to star in a straight up horror movie, in which anyone would willingly want to use this filter. It’s a nightmare. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions while trying the Happy filter out, but let me tell you, happiness was not one of them. I was petrified, uneasy, and honestly think a tear rolled down my cheek at one point. So, um, the hardest of passes here, folks.

Talk

The Talk filter is for anyone who’s “fed up with boring voices” around them. Essentially, the app auto-tunes incoming sounds and voices so they sound more musical, which again, is fun as hell, but also super distracting.

With the ability to adjust echo, space, harmony, and volume, you can really manipulate the sounds around you in an impressively cool way, though. Seriously, T-Pain would be proud of this thing.

The Talk filter on the Hear app.

Image: hear

The verdict: This filter was one of my favorites, partly because it was one of the few I felt produced semi-pleasant sounds, as opposed to cursed ones. I will, however, admit that I got very little done while using it. I spent the majority of my time with Talk singing Daft Punk and Imogen Heap songs, but hey, I had a great time, and it helped me recover from the traumatizing Happy filter.

Office 

The Office filter — you know, the one I’d been waiting for — had finally arrived. It’s suggested use is when you can’t concentrate and want to “detach yourself and focus,” but all I could focus on was how artificially extra it was.

The best way I could describe the filter is as a menacing spa soundtrack. It does keep out the harshness of direct voices, which might be helpful for some, but it replaces them with muffled, distant, creepier noises.

The Office filter on the Hear app.

Image: hear

The verdict: I unfortunately was not a fan of the Office filter. In “unhumanizing” sounds, it sort of makes other people sound robotic, which is not something I personally felt my life was lacking. While using the filter I felt like a character in the movies who’s just coming to after having passed out, and that was not exceptionally pleasant.

Sleep 

Remember when I said nothing could be worse than the Happy filter? I spoke too soon because the sleep filter is here to literally haunt your dreams.

I don’t know how exactly to describe it, but some words that come to mind are evil haunted clown dementors, if that helps at all.

The settings on this filter make all the difference, and while they could thankfully be adjusted to stop me from having a full-blown anxiety attack, they can also be turned up to make the filter far more frightening.

The Sleep filter on the Hear app.

Image: hear

The verdict: The Sleep filter is said to “induce the most deep and surreal dreams of your life,” and sadly I will never know if that’s true because I can barely tolerate the sounds it produces when I’m awake. It’s a bold statement, but I think this filter wins the Most Cursed award.

What’s with the paid filters?

While most of Hear’s filters are free, there are two in-app purchases you can make at $1.99 each.

The Trippy filter is said to “distort the world around you” with a “fantastically unusual auditory experience.” But after experiencing how trippy the first seven filters were, I can’t even imagine what this one sounds like. Hear warned it “includes hallucinations without side effects,” so honestly, download at your own risk.

The second paid filter, Upbeat, is said to take the sounds around you and “loop them into a one-off audio experience like no other.” I think the echo in several of the other apps gave me more than enough looping, so I wasn’t really compelled to download this extra, either.

Trippy filter on Hear app.

Image: hear

Upbeat filter on Hear app.

Image: hear

To download or not to download?

Hear is marketed as “a listening experience like no other,” and I can confidently say that is accurate. Hear is, quite frankly, like nothing I’ve ever heard in my life. The only thing that’s even come close to the Hear experience for me is the sound-centric John Krasinski film Nobody Walks.

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Though my experience with the app wasn’t always positive, I can certainly say it is the most unusual app I’ve ever used. But outside of the fact that it’s impossibly distracting and some of the filters are terrifying, the app does have a few other cons.

For starters, if you have a mic on your headphones  it picks up all the sound that gets augmented. So any sounds you yourself make, such as speaking, coughing, etc., can be uncomfortably loud. (If you’re using headphones without a mic, this isn’t an issue.) Another downside is the fact that the settings bars overlap with the pause feature, so if you try to pause the filter when settings are opened you’ll unintentionally raise the volume scale to its max. Ouch. 

It’s also worth noting the app does drain your battery if you keep it enabled throughout the day. 

Super Hearing filter in the Hear app.

Image: hear

But it’s not all bad. I enjoyed the minimalist design — a colorful screen with a circle in the middle that changed size in response to sound waves — and it is nice that each filter can be adjusted for maximum customization.

Several of the filters (like Super Hearing and Talk) were genuinely pleasant and helpful in a solo setting, and while others were more distracting, there’s no denying it was cool as hell to distort sound like that.

Would I recommend downloading the app for a fun and interesting listening experience? Absolutely. Pull the app out at parties, share some laughs with your friends, and use it to take a break from reality every once in a while. 

But overall, Hear didn’t help me cut down on distractions or focus on anything other than the app. So if you’re solely wanting to increase your productivity, look elsewhere.

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