By Invitation Only: VonRosen
An interesting invite came across my desk recently. Inside the leather-bound envelope was a card with a Web site address, www.vonrosen.com, and a private access code. Logging on, I was asked to provide a password and some personal data, after which I could shop what site founder David von Rosen calls its classic, high-quality basics: a loose-fit silk dress, a kimono blouse, a stretch cotton poplin button-down. But not everyone’s so lucky. VonRosen does members-only shopping sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La one better; it’s an invitation-only shopping site. Anyone can apply, but a heartfelt letter of appreciation for its subtle logo, a small metal oval on the right hip engraved with your own initials, isn’t necessarily going to get you in. Of course, the agony of rejection is exactly what VonRosen is banking on. In Berlin, where the brand is based, the company invited successful people from all sorts of backgrounds, from acting to business to medicine to architecture. And in return they’ve received requests for access that have included actual curriculum vitaes. “All customers have the right to choose a brand,” von Rosen told me. “We wanted to turn the perspective around and choose our customers. We don’t want money as the only hurdle to exclusivity. Yes, we’ve turned down people who’ve applied, like a good club would.” Turn down business in times like these? Von Rosen acknowledged that it’s a long-term approach, but still, he said, “we believe in the idea of it.” His innovations have proven successful in the past. Before launching VonRosen, he founded CareerConcept AG, which provides higher-education financing that allows student to pay back their debt as a percentage of their future income. It’s not as sexy as cashmere, but the business did get him elected Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum Davos. Invites to VonRosen are going out to U.S. VIPs within the next week or so. Did you make the cut?