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This article was published on December 3, 2011

Consider your holiday shopping sorted thanks to these sweet startups

Consider your holiday shopping sorted thanks to these sweet startups
Courtney Boyd Myers
Story by

Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

New York City is too much fun this time of year. The holiday parties have already began. It’s one glass of Prosecco after another until 2012. Feast on canapés and put on your glittery dresses because it’s time to celebrate. We even killed a 75-year old tree for our city’s annual Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center. Oh, wait…that’s kind of sad.

Moving on, it’s time to get your shop on. The most obvious New York City online shopping destination is Gilt, which includes both Gilt Taste, Gilt Home. Gilt City and Jetsetter. But the $1 billion dollar company can barely be called a startup. We dug a little bit deeper this year to bring you truly awesome gift ideas.

We’ve consulted New York’s finest and most festive startups for holiday shopping advice. Like I said, consider your shopping sorted:


Every day, AHAlife delivers one unique product from categories like fashion, food, beauty, accessories, home décor, tech and travel experiences to your inbox. In a Jetsetter-like quality, AHAlife’s glossy editorial vibe paired with its celebrity curators including Tim Gunn, DVF, Carmindy, Wendi Murdoch, Daniel Boulud, Bobbi Brown, Petra Nemcova, Cynthia Rowley, and Tina Brown cut through the noise in the online fashion world. AHALife’s mission is to provide a curated experience of the best lifestyle products from all over the world where the consumer can come, discover, learn about and seamlessly purchase what AHAlife’s tastemakers love.

For this holiday season, the company has created an awesome Gift Guide, which features Gifts for Her, Him, Corporate Gifts, Hostess Gifts and Gifts under $100. It also provides a list of holiday decorations, travel essentials and gifts that give back.


Artsicle showcases emerging artists and lets everyman art lovers rent fine art for cheap. By joining Artsicle, users like you and me, who don’t have time to keep up with the modern art scene and gallivant around Chelsea, can discover today’s top emerging artists and show off their work in our homes. Users can rent original artwork for just $50 per month or purchase art with prices ranging from $500-$1,500. Artsicle now has 52 artists live on its site.

So how about giving the gift of art this holiday season? Artsicle has gift cards. Options start at 1 month for $40 or a year of rotating art for $480. (Hint: This is a great roommate gift!)


The recently launched BarkBox is a monthly subscription service of hand-selected goodies and essentials for man’s best friend; “the Birchbox for dogs,” if you will. BarkBox works with several small vendors in and around the New York Area including Tribeca’s Charlie Chews, Bag of Bones Barkery in NJ and Acadia Antlers in NJ to fill boxes with carefully selected doggie products and presents- anything from bones and treats to shampoos, leashes and playful new gadgets. Currently boxes cost $25 per month and $3 from every box is donated to a local rescue organization. Donations from this month’s box, which is winter themed, will be sent to Waggy Tails Rescue, a foster home that saves dogs from puppy mills. We always give our pets Christmas gifts so ordering this box was an easy decision.

Bespoke Post

Bespoke Post is “Shoedazzle meets Thrillist”. The subscription service startup send its members a recurring box of awesome every month. It’s filled with “mancessories” like a skinny tie, a grill set, fine wine, or a slab of bacon. Bespoke Post puts the discovery process for men’s goods in autopilot. “The goal is to turn our members into the most interesting man in the world one box at a time,” says Bespoke Post’s founder Rishi Prahbu.

Each box costs $45. This month’s box, which is available for gifting, is called “The Cure” and it’s filled with cured products like pickles, meats, figs and a serving tray made from old oak Sonoma wine barrels and stained with red wine.

Want to order Bespoke Post? Use the discount code: THENEXTWEB to get 10% off any gift purchase or $15 off the first month of a subscription. (Expire 12/9/11)


20110323175826 Birchbox Logo Lessons from 12 New York entrepreneurs after a year in the businessBirchbox founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna met while sitting next to each other during their first semester at Harvard Business School. One year later, they launched Birchbox, an online service that sends coveted beauty samples to members’ doorsteps every month. It is a $10 monthly subscription (shipping included, US only for now) that delivers 4-5 product samples of the top 43 brands like NARS, Benefit, Laura Mercier, Stila, Korres and Cargo. Since officially launching in September 2010, Birchbox has over 45,000 subscribers and customers in all 50 states.

This holiday season, Birchbox is offering Gift Subscriptions and Gift Cards, which are great presents to give to any ladies in your life. Sign her up for a 3-month, 6-month or year-long subscription. Or perhaps there’s a guy in your life who could use a little sprucing up? Birchbox recently released its limited edition Birchbox Man box, which costs just $45 with free shipping.

Chloe & Isabel

Chloe & Isabel is disrupting the jewelry sales industry by offering a platform so sellers can make personal pages to sell their own curated collections and take part in a community, interacting directly with customers online. The platform attracts thousands of girls eager to take advantage of a smart platform to earn money selling jewelry to their friends. The impressively backed startup launched in beta on May 1st and we interviewed the founder, Chantel Waterbury here.

Next week, Chloe & Isabel will begin a special promotion called “The 12 Days of C+I.” On each day, the company will announce a different sale for its top styles. The jewelry comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee. For the ladies looking to get decked out for holiday parties, C+I just released its holiday collection of sparkly silver, shiny gold and crystal Vintage Deco pieces.

Craft Coffee

Craft Coffee is a monthly subscription service, which delivers 12 ounces of coffee each month from 3 different roasters. The company works with top coffee industry professionals (think wine sommelier but for coffee) to evaluate literally dozens of coffees from the very best roasters in the country. While I’ve been off the bean for a few months now, I ordered my coffee-loving mother a 6-month subscription for her birthday. The day she received the box I regained the title of Favorite Child. Check out the company’s limited edition Holiday Tasting Box ($29.99) or sign up your loved one for a 3-month, 6-month or year-long subscription.


Lot18 is oft referred to as “the Gilt Group of the wine industry.” The beautifully executed, members only site offers up epicurean delights from wine to fancy cheese and chocolates- all at a flash sales style discount- delivered to your door. Just recently, Lot18 launched a new Experience section offering wine and gourmet-themed travel excursions, exclusive dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants and other local and national packages designed to help Lot18 members indulge just a little bit more.

I recommend buying during “Wine Friday”, where between 1-5pm EDT, you’ll have access to a silly amount of limited time offers. And don’t miss the company’s Top Gift Ideas section, which includes wreathes, wine, cheese plates and gift cards.

Of a Kind

We covered Of a Kind’s launch as “The world’s first Tumblr store” in November 2010. Since then, the NYC fashion start-up has been bringing high-end, exclusive fashion to the social media scene. Of a Kind combines storytelling and exclusivity, and by latching onto the power of a viral, rapidly tumbling web tool, it’s attracted over 35,000 followers. The company has begun launching 2 editions a week and has a big redesign with Hard Candy Shell in the works. Early next year, Of a Kind will be launching a capability for its featured designers to upload their own products from their collections to the site, significantly upping inventory and revenue.

Of a Kind Holiday Grab Bag for Boys ($45) includes Socks by Richer Poorer, a set of three neon notebooks by Field Notes, Stumptown Coffee bar by Mast Brothers Chocolate, travel-size shave cream and face wash by Ursa Major. Fancy a smoke? Check out Matt Singer Lighter Covers ($40 for a set of 4). Not a smoker? How about Cashmere bangles by Yarbie? ($75). Or my favorite yet are these leather wine tags designed by Clare Vivier and produced as a special partnership with Apothic. ($20 for a set of 4). (I just picked up a set for my roommate!)

Warby Parker

How socially good can a good-looking, successful company really be? So, so good.Warby Parker is the kind of company you’d want to take home to your Mom. The New York City via Wharton Business School startup was just named one of Huffington Post’s 2011 Game Changers ranked among “the 100 innovators, leaders and role models who are changing the way we look at the world and the way we live in it. Read about the company’s new Do Good site here.

Warby Parker is a humanitarian eye wear company that sells brilliantly designed glasses for $95–a quarter of most high-end retail prices. And just like TOM’S Shoes , for every pair you buy, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need, working with non-profits like VisionSpring.  For this holiday season, why not give a gift that keeps on giving? Warby Parker lets you choose up to 5 different kinds of glasses for your recipient to try on so you can feel safe buying such a personal gift. Still don’t want to buy someone prescription eye ware? Warby Parker has a sweet sun wear line. Each pair costs just $95 and includes polarized lenses.

This is my favorite style here:

Other great New York City startups to check out for gifts include JackThreads, a members only site for guys fashion backed by the dudes at Thrillist; Samplr, a monthly box of local artisan foods; BaubleBar, which has every type of jewelry you could need – rings, necklaces, bangles, pendants, earrings, etc. of every size and type; Emily Books, where smart people curate monthly book selection that downloads automatically to your e-reader; and 20×200, which sells series of limited edition prints and photos. And don’t miss Svpply, which moved to NYC from Boston this year and has the most incredible Gift Guide I’ve ever seen for cool shit from around the Internet.

Still can’t decide?

Check out Buyosphere, which soft launched last month to help people shop. It’s an engaging website with a playful design. You could call it the “Quora for Shopping.” It’s meant to help find more specific products when you just don’t know where to start: shoes to go with a dress, a great new handbag, or a gift for a mother-in-law that’s under $75. Also, check out OpenSky, known as the “Twitter for shopping,” where you can follow celebrities and experts in home, style, wellness and food categories and buy their favorite items and products.