Livestream Shopping Is Here to Stay. Here’s How to Nail the Art of Making Sales Entertaining

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, if you wanted real-time advice on how to style a trendy Rebecca Minkoff sweater with an equally fashionable handbag, your best bet was to head to a retailer, such as Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s, and track down a clerk. Post-Covid, Rebecca, the founder of the eponymous brand, will show you herself, right from her closet.

Minkoff is one of many retailers leaning into an e-commerce trend that the pandemic has helped accelerate: livestream shopping. Think of it like a QVC broadcast where brands and influencers pitch products but specifically for social media and e-commerce platforms where you can instantly click through to make a purchase. 

In China, livestream shopping is already a massive business, estimated at $63 billion. Thanks to Covid lockdowns, the trend is finally taking off in the U.S. Retailers now have a plethora of platforms to try. Google, YouTube, Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook have all launched live shopping offerings. Meanwhile, venture capital-backed startups NTWRK, Popshop Live, ShopShops, Moda Operandi, and others cater to more niche audiences. Some of these platforms are invite-only; others are open to any company who wants to start broadcasting.     

The payoff of making a live, direct pitch to potential customers is real: Minkoff says that generally every live video the brand produces, whether it’s on Amazon or Instagram, generates a 20 percent lift in traffic to its website. Lillebaby, a Golden, Colo.-based maker of baby carriers, has been using Amazon Live since the e-commerce giant rolled out a beta test with select retailers in 2018. On Amazon Prime Day Oct. 13, the brand says it saw an average video click-through rate of 20 percent, with 9 percent of those viewers making a purchase. 

To find out what it takes to succeed on livestream shopping platforms, Inc. spoke with both the entrepreneurs using them and the ones who created them. 

1. Figure out what your audience finds compelling. 

“We’re in the business of entertainmentizing retail,” says Aaron Levant, founder of Los Angeles-based NTWRK, a live shopping platform launched in 2018 that focuses specifically on curated product drops. NTWRK, whose audience is about 75 percent male, saw its revenue double between March and April. The platform features only products that can’t be found elsewhere, so retailers benefit from exclusivity and scarcity as part of the sales pitch.

The most successful product drops on his platform are the ones that have a great story, Levant says.

“Does it matter? Is anyone going to give a shit? Does it evoke an audible reaction?,” he says. He recommends that brands experiment with, say, showing the process of how a product is made or even pulling back the curtain on your own struggle as an entrepreneur. 

Minkoff says her customers want something much more practical: “Our girl wants to know the good, the bad, the ugly about the bag,” she says. “She wants the goods and wants to know where buy them and at what price.”

Lillebaby does a mix of content, from baby-carrier fit

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Holiday Gift Guide 2020: The Best Art Books

This holiday season, there are many books for the art-obsessed on your gift list to enjoy. From Andy Warhol drawings to Salvador Dalí paintings and DIY art projects to do at home, there’s something for everyone.

Judd (The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

The companion catalog to MoMA’s retrospective of American sculptor Donald Judd (on view through January 9)—the first in 30 years—is a stunning tribute to the late artist.

Dalí: The Impossible Collection (Assouline)

This tome spotlights 100 works by surrealist Spanish painter Salvador Dalí by exploring his myriad influences and inspirations from Old Masters to realism, Impressionism, to his obsessions with religion, science and stereoscopy.

B. Wurtz: Pan Paintings (Hunter’s Point Press)

Edited by artist and publisher Barney Kulok with an essay by art historian and curator Erica Cooke, this monograph centers on the work of New York-based artist B. Wurtz. The artist is famous for transforming nondescript disposable aluminum roasting pans and to-go containers into works of art by painting on them.

Open Studio (Phaidon)

At a time when we’re all stuck at home, this book offers a behind-the-scenes look at leading contemporary artists at work in their studios, with original art projects to recreate at home. Written by Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Amanda Benchley, you’ll get an inside look into the art practices of John Currin, William Wegman, Rashid Johnson and George Condo.

Andy Warhol: Love, Sex, and Desire (Taschen)

We all know about Andy Warhol’s Pop Art paintings and sculptures but, long before he created those iconic works, he made many drawings celebrating the male form. Now 300 of these rarely seen risqué works on paper (done in pencil and ink) are showcased.

Mary Weatherford I’ve Seen Gray Whales Go By (Gagosian)

The catalog for Mary Weatherford’s recent painting show at Gagosian (her first solo exhibition with the gallery) features her masterful works of sponged paint on heavy linen canvases.

Helen Frankenthaler (Abrams)

Curator and historian John Elderfield writes about the work of abstract American painter Helen Frankenthaler in this beautiful book.

Cy Twombly: Making Past Present (MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

The catalog for the Museum of Fine Art, Boston exhibition this year features a selection of the American artist Cy Twombly’s paintings, drawings and sculptures alongside works of classical antiquity, including a number from his personal collection.

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Meet The Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Art & Style Honorees

From a gender nonconforming comics publisher with a $5 million Kickstarter to a Michelle Obama-loved Black jewelry designer, the next generation of art and style leaders are as powerful as they are diverse.

Matthew Cicanese photographed vipers in Sri Lanka for National Geographic, taught lighting tricks as a Canon USA instructor and started his own consultancy—all as a deaf and blind individual. Hafsah Faizal is the New York Times Bestselling sci-fi author of We Hunt The Flame and We Free The Stars—she’s a traditional Niqab-wearing Muslim woman. And Alton Mason is the first Black male model to walk for Chanel.

These honorees, and the 27 others who made the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 Art & Style list, are the new wave of leadership in creativity. They were chosen by fashion designer Tory Burch, supermodel Ashley Graham and artists Kehinde Wiley and Ashley Longshore. “Now more than ever, we need to celebrate creativity and diversity in this country,” says Longshore. “These young, talented powerhouses have blasted the creative scene with authenticity, ambition and brilliance.”

The Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 Art & Style honorees exemplify perseverance and hard choices. Jameel Mohammed, whose jewelry line Khiry is a favorite of Michelle Obama, Serena Williams and Halle Berry, got his start manning the phone at Gepetto’s Pizza in Oak Park, Illinois. Joseph Stillwell, who is non-binary, dropped out of Austin Community College because they found it “incredibly boring” to start creator-owned graphic novel publishing house Hivework Comics. Today, the company has raised over $5 million on Kickstarter and works with over 300 artists.

For many of the fashion founders on the list, smart uses of social media have elevated their brands. Take Boys Lie, named for cofounder Leah O’Malley and Tori Robinson’s relationship woes, which has become a multimillion-dollar brand through influencer marketing; the two send t-shirts and hoodies with sassy phrases to people like Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner, Dua Lipa, who have all been photographed in the brand. Or ‘90s nostalgia streetwear label By Samii Ryan, which is on track to make $4 million this year through partnerships with Nordstrom, Zumiez, Care Bears and others. Founder Samantha Franz started as an Etsy brand, hot-gluing headbands and ear clips. To spread the word, the then-aspiring dental hygienist became a vendor at the Vans Warped Tour, Bamboozle and Bonnaroo. When Nordstrom emailed her to carry her wares in 40 U.S. stores, she dropped out of college to build her brand.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 Art & Style honorees are capturing the resilience, beauty and matter of Black lives in their work. Painter Chase Hall neither attended college nor art school; instead, he became an artist by rendering the Black people he encountered on New York City streets, according to SSense. Today, his paintings of Black resilience belong in the permanent collections at the Institute of Contemporary Art and Rubell Museum, both in Miami, Florida, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Then there’s 23-year-old photographer Faith Couch who intends

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Farmhouse-style barn wood art traces its origins to quilt squares | Features/Entertainment

Much of modern farmhouse style — the shiplap, natural materials and distressed finishes popularized by magazines and shows such as HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” — evokes a simpler time in a vague, nostalgic way. But barn wood art, the latest farmhouse decor peppering your social media feeds, has a very specific and fascinating provenance: a community organizer in Adams County, Ohio.

Barn wood art is generally fashioned from repurposed wood, often from condemned barns. Artists or DIYers arrange small pieces of wood in various shapes and stains in a rustic frame. The result is a beautiful display of patterns, typically with the wood’s natural knots and grains exposed. These geometric, weathered wall hangings can help homeowners achieve that updated farmhouse look.

And they also clearly evoke quilt squares, including those painted on barn sides during the early aughts as part of the American quilt trail movement. Julianne Donofrio, director of “Pieced Together,” a documentary about that movement, says that the idea for quilt trails began when Donna Sue Groves, a rural community organizer, came up with the idea of painting a quilt square design on a barn in Adams County to honor her mother, Nina Maxine Groves, who was a quilter.

“Donna Sue was on a committee to help bring about rural development and tourism,” Donofrio says. Groves pitched the idea of a driving quilt trail to the committee as a way to bring people to the county.

In 2001, the committee commissioned the first painted quilt square: an Ohio Star in red with a white background that was revealed at an annual festival. Soon after, Groves started to receive calls from neighboring counties that wanted to create their own barn quilt trails.

The Adams County barn square movement spread to 48 states and Canada. Today, there are about 7,000 quilt blocks registered as part of organized quilt trails, and there are many others that aren’t registered.

In recent years, Donofrio has noticed barn wood art on social media. “It just feels like a natural evolution of barn quilts,” she says. Typically hung above a couch or used as a focal point on a wall, the cozy, comforting art makes a statement and tells a story.

Scot Brine, a woodworker and artist in Kingston, Massachusetts, creates commissioned and unique sustainable pieces through his business, Hawkeye Woodworks. “Every single piece that I do has reclaimed barn wood in it,” he says.

Brine has multiple pieces that evoke the geometry of quilt squares. He says his inspiration comes from famed Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher.

“I truly believe that wood is in itself artwork, without manipulating it into anything,” he says. Although Brine doesn’t believe that he is influenced by the barn quilt movement, he does see the similarities with his work in terms of the patterns and design.

He started noticing that people were interested in the decorative, rustic pieces of wood around the same time that farmhouse decor became a trend. He saw that more clients

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Holiday gift ideas for the art lover in your life

Holiday get-togethers won’t be the same this year, but there are still plenty of ways to give artful gifts to the people you love.

While museums are closed until at least Dec. 18, many of their gift shops remain open, and some art galleries are hosting holiday sales. Bazaars have moved outside. Online options abound. Here’s our guide:

Art rager: Gamut Gallery’s ninth annual holiday market, “Raging Art On,” features original art, jewelry and home goods by 40 Minnesota artists Dec. 1-21. Artworks range from $5 to $1,000. Check out Las Ranas’ earrings inspired by astrology, tarot and tropical weather — a dangly delight of golden snakes and purple beads. Green thumbs will love Ray Alicia’s air plants snuggled into chunky wooden pots. (11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 717 S. 10th St., Mpls. Select objects available at Private shopping sessions Sun. by appointment.)

Handmade art: The Weisman Art Museum is closed, but its gift shop is open for business. Find jewelry, cards, toys, gifts for home, ceramics and other handmade items by local artists. Don’t miss Wood + Feather Designs’ earrings, made of wood, leather, feathers, stone and metal, and inspired by the elements and colors of Lake Superior. You can see some items on the shop’s Instagram (@wamshop). For personalized recommendations, call the store at 612-625-9495 or e-mail [email protected] Curbside pickup and shipping options are available. University of Minnesota students and staff get 20% off Dec. 3-6. (Noon-5 p.m. Thu.-Sun., 333 East River Road, Mpls.

Ceramic goodness: More than 1,000 pots by artists from across the country are on sale at Northern Clay Center’s holiday exhibition. Thematically, the pieces range from weird to serene. Ashley Bevington’s mucus-green-colored face on a vase has a grill for teeth, and burgers and drumsticks for hair, while Kevin Caufield’s smooth bluish-green colored cups look like the ocean. Ceramic jewelry is also for sale. Contactless curbside pickup or shipping available. (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 2424 E. Franklin Av., 612-339-8007 or

BLM merch: Minneapolis North Side nonprofit Juxtaposition Arts celebrates the season with new Black Lives Matter merchandise, ceramics, textiles and bandannas made in-house by youth apprentices. Check out the black T-shirts and sweaters with “Black Lives Matter” in white text, from JXTA’s Textile & Screen Printing Lab, while the ceramics lab has made bowls and mugs covered in sharp red, black and blue geometric slices of paint. (

Go for glögg: The American Swedish Institute’s gift shop is full of divine Icelandic chocolate, handmade imported art, blankets, ceramics and plenty of Swedish fish. Find a handcrafted miniature manger scene from Sweden or a small lundi (puffin) from Iceland with a magnetic head. Supersoft blankets and a huge selection of socks are some of the warm items available for purchase. (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun., 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls. 612-871-4907 or

Local artists: SooVAC is not doing its annual holiday sale, but the gallery is spotlighting artists such as Amina Harper, Jennifer Davis, Paula McCartney, Suyao Tian, and Elaine Rutherford and John

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This Apex moms creates embroidered hoop art, jewelry, amazing bridal bouquet portraits ::

Valerie Evans worked for many years as a VIP and celebrity tour guide at Disneyland. Today, she’s building a business around her own handmade creations — incredible embroidered recreations of bridal bouquets, embroidered hoop art and jewelry.

You can find her items on her Etsy site — Plaid Loves Threads, which opened in 2015. Evans, who lives in Apex with her husband and two kids, is part of our 2020 Made by Mom Gift Guide. Here’s a Q&A with more information about her work. Stay tuned to Go Ask Mom for more Made by Mom features!

Valerie Evans of Plaid Love Threads

Go Ask Mom: How did Plaid Love Threads get its start? Have you always been crafty?

Valerie Evans: When my husband took a job in the Bay Area, we moved and I transitioned into being a full-time stay-at-mom. I wanted to find a creative hobby to stay productive and add a bit of joy to my daily life. I’ve always been crafty with scrapbooking, cross stitch, and sewing. However, I came to realize I didn’t really enjoy those activities. I liked the calming, repetitive aspect of cross stitch, but wanted to branch out and be more creative with it. So, I researched and taught myself hand embroidery.

Embroidered wedding bouquet

GAM: What all do you offer?

VE: I create embroidery hoop art and embroidered jewelry, embroidery patterns, and DIY embroidery kits. I also specialize in creating hand stitched bridal bouquet portraits.

GAM: How has the pandemic reshaped your business?

VE: I miss doing handmade markets and teaching my embroidery classes. While I’ve started teaching classes online (yay!), I miss that wonderful feeling of being all together and having that hands-on learning experience.

Embroidered jewelry from Plaid Love Threads

GAM: What do you love about what you do?

VE: It brings me joy and calms me. I find it very therapeutic. I love creating beautiful pieces that have the potential to become treasured heirlooms and working with clients to create something special just for them.

Embroidery from Plaid Loves Threads

GAM: What are your hopes for the future of your business?

VE: I’d love to continue to grow and be known for the quality of my work. I’ve even been thinking of possibly partnering with a florist or two and offer my embroidered bridal bouquet replicas as part of their bridal packages.

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