- More and more celebrities are launching personalized online marketplaces.
- Cortina supports celebrity markets like Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh and Graydon Carter’s Airmail.
- These markets may soon replace department stores, says Cortina founder Keith George.
In a few years, you could be shopping for everything from loafers to hair masks at celebrity markets like Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh and Graydon Carter’s Airmail instead of Macy’s or Nordstrom.
These new online stores use Cortina, a platform founded by Keith George, an alumnus of retail giants such as the Gap and Gilt Group, that helps celebrity marketplaces such as Poosh and Airmail sell products to customers.
“The names Macy’s and Saks, I think, will have less impact over time than names like Kardashian, Drake, LeBron James,” he told Insider.
Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop, which launched in 2008, set a precedent in the celebrity market. Unlike Amazon, it offers a more curated selection of products (like an LED sign handwritten by Paltrow herself or satin sheets) as well as lifestyle content like recipes, workout tips, and advice on relationship
Over the years, Goop has become a cultural phenomenon that has both inspired fans and infuriated cynics. It’s even been turned into a noun — “Goopification” means infusing anything and everything with Paltrow’s picky, if not over-the-top, approach to wellness.
George predicts that in the next era of retail, celebrities and influencers will become “virtual brokers of cool.”
Several celebrity markets have emerged in recent years. Kardashian (now Kardashian Barker) launched Poosh in 2019, selling products such as royal jelly and collagen cream and publishing articles on topics such as increasing focus and increasing fashion sustainability.
Former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter also launched Airmail in 2019, a digital weekly newsletter with a “very selective” online shop.
Now, platforms that serve as a bridge between brands, celebrities and their audiences, like Cortina, are also on the rise. George said Cortina has a list of athletes, musicians and big names that he can’t divulge yet, but anyone with more than 10,000 followers on existing social networks can monetize their platform with Cortina.
Celebrity markets can also help traditional brands attract customers. In recent years, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have increased the cost of customer acquisition, so more brands are turning to influencers or celebrities to lure paying customers.
“A celebrity or influencer has an audience that trusts them for their advice and position,” George said. “They can say that these are brands that I really support and love and have the opportunity to bring them all together in one place.”
However, there is also some risk in giving celebrities too much control over a brand. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted about Kanye West’s split from Gap, many celebrities have “more say” in the brands they work with. The magazine noted that while lesser-known celebrities may not ruffle as many feathers, “megastars” like West, Rihanna or Kardashian often control the balance of power between them and the brand.
Graydon Carter believes that this shows that the rules for achieving success in business have changed.
“For decades, magazines have had a huge impact on what people buy. Readers trusted us, but we couldn’t interact with them,” Carter told Insider.
According to him, with Airmail he can communicate with readers (and buyers) more directly.
“I want to remind you that an underwear mogul named Kim Kardashian just announced the opening of a private equity firm. You ignore change at your peril.”