- More celebrities are launching personalized online marketplaces.
- Cortina enables celebrity marketplaces like Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh and Graydon Carter’s Airmail.
- These marketplaces may soon replace department stores, Cortina founder Keith George says.
In a few years, you might be buying everything from loafers to hair masks from celebrity marketplaces like Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh and Graydon Carter’s Airmail instead of Macy’s or Nordstrom.
Those new online stores use Cortina — a platform founded by Keith George, an alum of retail giants like Gap and Gilt Group, that helps celebrity marketplaces like Poosh and Airmail sell products to customers.
“The names Macy’s and Saks, I think will have less influence over time than names like Kardashian, Drake, LeBron James,” he told Insider.
Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop, which launched in 2008, set the celebrity-marketplace precedent. Unlike Amazon, it offers a more curated selection of products (think an LED sign handwritten by Paltrow herself or sateen sheets) alongside lifestyle-related content like recipes, workout tips, and relationship advice.
Over the years, Goop has evolved into a cultural phenomenon that has inspired admirers and incensed cynics alike. It’s even parlayed itself into a noun— “Goopification” means to imbue anything and everything with Paltrow’s fastidious, if not overpriced, approach to wellness.
George predicts that in the next era of retail, celebrities and influencers are going to become “virtual brokers of cool.”
Several celebrity marketplaces have popped up in recent years. Kardashian (now Kardashian Barker) launched Poosh in 2019, selling items like royal jelly and collagen cream and publishing articles on topics like increasing your attention span and making fashion more sustainable.
Former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter also launched Airmail in 2019, a digital weekly newsletter with a “highly selective” online storefront.
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 sign-up list of athletes, musicians, and big names he can’t disclose yet, but anyone with over 10,000 followers across existing social media channels can monetize their platform with Cortina.
Celebrity marketplaces also might help traditional brands have faced in acquiring customers. In recent years, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have driven up the costs of acquiring customers, so more brands have turned to influencers or celebrities to lure in paying customers.
“A celebrity or influencer has an audience that trusts them for their advice and their position,” George said. “They’re able to say, these are the brands that I really support and love and being able to actually put them all in one place.”
However, there’s also some risk in giving celebrities too much control over the brand. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out about Kanye West’s parting with Gap, many celebrities are commanding “more of a say” over the brands they team up with. The Journal noted that while lesser-known celebrities may not ruffle as many feathers, “megastars,” like West, Rihanna, or the Kardashians, are often in control of power balance between them and a brand.
Graydon Carter believes this reflects that the rules for succeeding in business have changed.
“For decades, magazines had tremendous influence on what people bought. Readers trusted us but we couldn’t interact with them,” Carter told Insider.
With Airmail, he said he’s able to connect with readers (and shoppers) more directly.
“I’d remind you that an underwear mogul named Kim Kardashian just announced she’s starting a private equity firm. You ignore change at your peril.”