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December 30, 2011
Part Three: Social Shopping!
Julia Balfour

We’re just one day away from 2012! Ready to ring in the new year? We’ve been wearing our party hats all week.

Enjoy the third and final chapter of our blog series on the coming trends of 2012. It’s time to get shopping!

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Okay, enough with techie crap involved with a cashless future. Let’s get to the good stuff. 2012 will be the year of social shopping! We’ve been watching some pretty darn cool sites find their footing over 2011, and they’re poised to have a killer new year.

You’re going to start caring what strangers buy and why. Don’t deny it. You’re going to do it because they have better taste than you. There’s no shame in it. We’ve been trusting the recommendations of our friends through social media for years. Now the definition of an online friend is expanding to include the influences of those we’ve never had contact with outside of those social media circles. We’re craving something new, and we’re stepping away from our internet comfort zones to find it. Our influence sources have multiplied like bunnies, as has our ability to absorb opinions as content. Social shopping sites give us a peek into the closets of taste-makers, and give us the ability to ruthlessly harvest those looks for ourselves. Gilt has been curating tailored shopping for a while, but the category is expanding, and getting a whole lot chattier.

Those in the know have already been playing with this concept on Pinterest. The site allows users to build pinboards on any subject by gathering images from every corner of the web. Fashion and design have stepped to the forefront as the hot topics. A social community has arisen as Pinterest users follow each other, re-pin images, and comment on the collections. Inspiration abounds. Each image is also linked back to the original source, meaning that you can lust after a beautiful piece of something delicious, and then run right over to the site and buy it.

The idea of grabbing products straight out of someone else’s mind is becoming prevalent on other sites as well. Fab.com is a Julia Balfour office favorite. The designer created items featured in the daily sales are crave-worthy and unique. Their feed page has just debuted, allowing you to covet what other users purchased, and tell them just how much you wish you owned it. Think Pinterest with no unnecessary clicks to get your hot little fingers on the item.

However, the items on Fab.Com are exclusive deals just for the site. Want to open up the playing field a little bit more? Then hit up Wanelo.com. It’s like Pinterest and online shopping had a baby. Users record their shopping finds on their Wanelo accounts for followers to view. Check out the collections compiled by Wanelo if you’re badly in need of gift ideas. You can save your finds for easy access, and head to the retail sites once you’re ready to commit.

Had enough of social shopping? Try on some social selling. If you’re feeling like you ARE the fashionista everyone should be ripping off, start making yourself some money. Styleowner.com offers you the simplified opportunity to open an online boutique and take a 10% cut of everything you personally sell.

There you have it. The team at Julia Balfour proudly present our biggest 2012 predictions. Our bags are going to get a whole lot lighter without having to carry all that cash. Cash we probably spent while social shopping. Did we mention 2012 is also the year we all make it Oprah rich?

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2011, you’ve been a good time. You’ve brought so much to our lives. Charlie Sheen taught us how to keep on winning. Snookie helped us solve our Meatball Problems, and Rebecca Black showed us what happens after Thursday. 2012, we’re ready for you.

Happy Holidays!

December 28, 2011
Part Two: The Cashless Future
Julia Balfour

Welcome to part two of our three part series on what 2012 is going to bring us. Today, we learn the myriad of ways that you’ll be spending your hard earned loot without ever touching a Benjamin.

The future might be cashless, but you’re still going to be spending all your money…

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There have been rumblings of electronic wallets and the cashless future for the past several years, but in 2012 you’re going to see it becoming a reality for many users. 2011 has given us the tools, now it’s time to watch it going into action.

The introduction of Google Wallet applied a huge name to this concept, bringing it from a concept that was gossiped about by professionals, to an idea now loudly wondered about by the masses. The program allows users to access a credit card that solely exists on their Android phone. Currently, that only includes holders of a Citi-Mastercard or the Google Pre-Paid card, but the other major credit card companies are not going to be far behind. Users get the joy of simply tapping their smart phones on the checkout terminal to make their payment. The Google Wallet application will also hold your coupons, customer loyalty cards, and soon (they promise) your airline tickets as well.

Google isn’t the only online player attempting to step into your purse (or your murse, you forward-thinking gents). Paypal recently introduced their offline payment system, which also uses your phone as a direct line to your money. Customize your shopping experience by scanning bar codes and QR codes. This lets you check stock levels to find the perfect size and open deals specifically for PayPal users at certain locations. With 100 million active PayPal users, their entry into this category is not something easily overlooked. On the more traditional side, Visa is in the process of preparing V.Me, their own online/offline payment system, promising an in-depth security integration that does not actually share your card information with retailers.

Further helping you to manage your funds, we have Dwolla. This program will facilitate bank transfers from your phone, and even allow your social networks to contribute to your shopping by sending you funds. Still can’t afford that vintage skirt? Dwolla will even spot you some money. Provided you pay it back, and pay the fee (which is still less than most banks would hit you with an overdraft fee).

Businesses will be reaping the benefits of all these developments as well. If you haven’t looked into it yet, check out Square, and it’s competitor GoPayment. Both apps allow you (yes, YOU!) to take a credit card as payment for anything, anywhere. Essentially, now you CAN charge the creepy guy for wasting 3 hours of your life on an awful blind date. (Good luck deciding how much your life is worth per hour.)The fact that both programs have eliminated transaction fees means that small businesses can get inventive with how they reach consumers, without being hindered by computers or looming fees.

All the pieces are in place for a cashless reality, now it’s just up to consumers to take the dive. A recent Nielsen Report on Social Media revealed that mobile phone users have placed an increased value on their ability to scan barcodes and make mobile payments. However, the idea of turning over access to your money to perhaps multiple internet-based companies can be daunting. The internet is closely associated with identity theft. While Google Wallet touts that they have features in place which make the virtual wallet safer than that old leather thing, they still have a hurdle to face in expressing this message. It’s going to be up to innovative early adopters to get the ball rolling with success stories and direct recommendations.

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Got a handle on where your money is going to be kept? Good, because on Friday, we’ll be telling you how to spend it all on Social Shopping.

December 26, 2011
2012 Predictions Part One: What’s to Come?
Julia Balfour

Welcome to the last week of 2011! It’s those special few days where we all try to give our poor bodies a rest from the Christmas extravagance in an attempt to prepare for New Year’s Eve debauchery. It’s the time to reassess your 2011 goals, and establish new ones for the coming year. Here at Julia Balfour LLC, we’re right there with you. As we get ready for the countdown to midnight this coming weekend, we’re going to share one last holiday gift with you; our 2012 social media predictions.

We’re a verbose bunch over here, so this is going to be a three-part blog series over the course of the week. We understand that holiday hangovers greatly reduce your attention span for marathon blog entries.

So without further ado, we bring you Part One: What’s to come?

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If you’ve ever had the pleasure of spending a bit of time in the Julia Balfour offices, you’ve quickly come to realize that the team is made up of highly creative, and highly opinionated people. Even picking a place for lunch can take 45 minutes of heated debate. Which is why if the team agrees on anything, there is definitely going to be merit behind the subject. When the discussion of 2012 predictions yielded two clearly supported trends, it was time to jump on it.

The Cashless Future is here!

There have been rumblings of electronic wallets and the cashless future for the past several years, but in 2012 you’re going to see it becoming a reality for many users. 2011 has given us the tools, now it’s time to watch it going into action.

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Social Shopping
Okay, enough techie crap. Let’s get to the good stuff. 2012 will be the year of social shopping! We’ve been watching some pretty darn cool sites find their footing over 2011, and they’re poised to have a killer new year.

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Ready for more? Check back on Wednesday to learn all about how very light your wallet is going to get with the Cashless Future. If you can’t wait that long to get your Julia Balfour fix, head over to Facebook and like our page. It puts you in the running to win a customized Facebook Timeline. We’re also over on Twitter chatting it up.

Okay, go back to your juice cleanse now. That champagne isn’t going to drink itself this weekend.

December 22, 2011
Just Another Day in the Office
Alyssa

 

December 17, 2011
Holiday Hangovers
Julia Balfour

Make your holiday hangover special with the holiday inspired labels we’ve just designed for Chamard. Who doesn’t want to bring a bottle of BAH HUM BUG to their holiday office party? Or a case of SILENT NIGHT to your mother-in-law? Not to mention a bottle of FA LA LA LA to your BFF’s soiree.

Chamard Vineyard, Clinton CTChamard Vineyard, Clinton CTChamard Vineyard, Clinton CT

December 8, 2011
All the Trimmings
Alyssa

The best part of our day was trimming the tree and enjoying refreshments and santa hat brownies Leah made.

December 8, 2011
Cut, cut, cut our own Christmas tree
Julia Balfour

Fun trip to pick up our own Christmas tree.

December 8, 2011
The First Annual Julia Balfour Holiday Party!
Alyssa

Happy Holidays! From all of us at Julia Balfour, LLC! We triumphed the awkward faces, closed eyes, and unbearable body heat to bring you a few good holiday photos.

 

December 2, 2011
My Wish List
Alyssa

Christmas turns me into a child enchanted by magic, presents, and shiny things. No matter how old I am, it is still supposed to snow on Christmas like in the movies and cookies WILL be left out at night. However, I have good reasons to justify my behavior. My birthday is Christmas Eve so I spend all year waiting in anticipation for two days out of the whole year. Therefore, when I come across that first house of the season shining with all it’s christmas glory, all of my pent up excitement comes rushing out of me in an elated fit of joy. I take pity if I am not alone in the car at that moment because that person is held against their will as I revel in the fact that the greatest time of year is starting again. From that moment on it’s all decorating, shopping, and Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” all the time. This brings me to the topic of discussion!!! What DO I want for Christmas? Well, I’m glad somebody asked!

A killer closet! My closet is so unorganized and would love for everything to have it’s own place. I don’t need a huge closet just a functional one!

 

Michael Kors… not the brand, the person. I want to have him all to myself so that everything he designs is for me. I love everything he makes and  I want to see the process of his genius.

 

A vintage jukebox for vinyl records

 

All of the free pallets I see on the side of the road so that I can do all of the amazing things I see on Pinterest!

 

To be in Mad Men and keep all of the clothes!