Archive for the ‘HSN’ Category

Evine Live Jewelry Vendor Samuel Behnam And Our AZ Vacation

November 15, 2015

In the grand scheme of things, and what is happening in the world now, we guess this blog will sound trite. But we wanted to report back on what we found on the jewelry scene when we went to Arizona on vacation last month.

We have not been in AZ — or its areas such as Scottsdale, Sedona and Carefree — in about two years. So our eyes almost popped out of our head when we saw the way prices for jewelry and such have skyrocketed.

Even some of our favorite haunts, jewelry shops a bit off the beaten and tourist-ridden path, didn’t seem to have any deals.

Lucky ladybug

Lucky ladybug

We have a pretty sizable collection of blue turquoise now, and quite frankly don’t want any more. If anything, we keep our eye out for green turquoise, Carico Lake in particular. But Arizona has a lot more than Native-American made Southwestern-style jewelry. Its shops have a wide variety of sterling silver, artisan-crafted pieces from all over. That’s why we can browse at this stuff for hour upon hour.

We did make some purchases, but probably not what you would expect. In Sedona there is a New Agey-crystal store that we’ve been going to for years, which has not only jewelry but a huge selection of rocks.

We were keeping our eye out for Herkimer Diamonds, and thought maybe they would be a new trend in AZ. A couple of years ago, druzy was red hot.

In this Sedona shop we found a small bowl filled with some very large Herkimer Diamonds, 2 to 2 1/1 inches long. Some of them had black carbon spots, which we actually like in this particular stone.

Each Herkimer Diamond was wrapped in a sterling-steel girdle so you could wear it as a pendant. We bought two, one for us and one as a belated birthday present for our friend and traveling companion Deb.

As it turned out, it was a good purchase, because we only ran across one other store that was selling Herkimer Diamonds, and they we weren’t jumbo-sized like the ones we bought.

Samuel Behnam pendant

Samuel Behnam pendant

In Old Scottsdale, a real tourist trap that we still love because of all its jewelry stores, we came across a few finds. One shop had a little corner dedicated to jewelry by Evine Live vendor Samuel Behnam. The store owner began explaining that Behnam was a jewelry maker based in New Jersey, which was news to us Garden State gals.

We said we were familiar with his work, but didn’t mention his home shopping collection. They were selling several Behnam men’s bracelets with dragon heads, which were remarkably similar in style to those made by John Hardy but a hell of a lot cheaper.

But ultimately, we brought a large dog tag-style silver pendant on a leather cord that is probably a piece of men’s jewelry, but we liked it for us. It has several skulls on it, which like the Mexicans we think of as a good symbol, and a background of real stingray skin.

On the other side of the pendant, which we consider reversible, was a pattern of small stingrays.

We were also on the lookout for ladybug jewelry, since we think that critter is good luck. At another Old Town shop, we found a round inlay pendant that looked like a ladybug. We picked that up and have already worn it several times.

Reverse side

Reverse side

The ridiculous prices we were in Arizona made us realize some of the really great deals that the home shopping networks offer us for jewelry and gemstones.

By the way, the Old Town jewelers didn’t seem to know their stuff. In the only shop outside of Sedona where we found Herkimer Diamonds, the sales woman insisted that Herkimer was in Pennsylvania, not New York. You HSN girls know that’s not correct.

In another store, we asked to see a huge gem pendant that was marked as onyx. We held it up to the light, and saw that you could see through it and that it was brown — in other words, smoky quartz, not opaque onyx.

When we told the salesman in that store that the pendant was incorrectly marked, that it was not onyx, he insisted we were wrong.

Shiseido Debuts On HSN, Rival To Leslie Blodgett’s Mineral Makeup

July 22, 2011

Ground-breaking Bare Escentuals is one of QVC’s most successful beauty lines, with Leslie Blodgett often on the air to tout its natural-looking makeup.

We find it amusing that the Japanese makeup giant that bought Blodgett’s company, Shiseido, debuted its makeup line on HSN today. But then, we’re easily amused.

Ta-Da: HSN Rolls Out HSN Arcade, A Gaming Portal

June 1, 2011

HSN is playing games with us.

Wednesday it launched what it called a “new platform (that) will allow people to play their favorite games online while simultaneously watching HSN streaming live in HD, viewing the item currently on-air and quickly shopping the last 15 items aired…all on one screen. In addition, HSN Arcade will integrate with Facebook to allow players to easily share their scores and achievements with their Facebook friends.”

Got that?

HSN Arcade is an e-commerce channel that uses “gamification” — a new word on us– by connecting unique products with gameplay, including the Today’s Special.

Players can apparently win prizes, including the Today’s Special product or a gift card, by being the fastest to complete the daily “Today’s Special Jigsaw Puzzle” and receiving the best score. People will also be able to participate in tournaments with HSN’s celebrity guests, hosts and other players for the opportunity to win other prizes, such as gift cards and products. Winners can be revealed in real time on TV, online and mobile.

“The launch of HSN Arcade is a strategic move to further differentiate the HSN shopping experience…by combining what people currently do online more than any other activities: shopping, gaming and sharing,” Jill Braff, HSN’s executive vice president of digital commerce, said in a canned statement. “We are also excited to be using Facebook integration to allow players to post their achievements and their favorite HSN products seamlessly to their Facebook wall. Other sites have game arenas, but only HSN marries content and commerce in such an innovative way.”

The combination of shopping, social and gaming taps into customer behavior, HSN said in a press release Tuesday.

According to a Newzoo (say what?) survey, currently more than 140 million people play casual games online, which represents 66 percent of the U.S. online population.

“The addition of this platform to HSN’s highly trafficked site and loyal customer base will extend as an online destination ” — or so the No. 2 home shopping network hopes. .

HSN Arcade will host 25 games, including the Today’s Special Jigsaw Puzzle and Lights! Camera! Subtraction! (featuring HSN’s celebrities), as well as Crossword Puzzles, Word Search, Mahjongg, Sudoku, Treasure Hunt, Blackjack and more. The games are free to play. The experience will be further enhanced with the ability to share games, leaderboard rankings, badges and scores with friends using Facebook integration.

HSN partnered with entertainment agency WME to help frame the gaming opportunity with external vendors and serve in a strategic role in evaluating proposals. Arkadium, a leading provider of game solutions, was selected to develop HSN Arcade. Additional games will be created and launched based on feedback and demand from people.

HSN Terminates $1.3 Million Merchandising Chief Lynne Ronon, But It’s ‘Mutual’

May 18, 2011

Those sly pusses at HSN. They waited until after 5 p.m. today to announce that they have parted ways with Lynne Ronon, the network’s executive vice president of merchandising.

HSN filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday that disclosed the news.

“Efective May 18, 2011, Barbara Lynne Ronon and HSN, Inc., a Delaware corporation (the ‘Company’), mutually agreed to end Ms. Ronon’s employment with the Company,” it said. “The Company and Ms. Ronon have agreed to treat this as a termination without ‘Cause’ under the Company’s Named Executive Officer and Executive Vice President Severance Plan which was previously filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Last year Ronon received $1.3 million in compensation from HSN. We assume she banked at least someo of that for a rainy day.

It looks like another big move by HSN CEO Mindy Grossman, the Terminator.

Celebrity Chef And HSN Pot Peddler Todd English Skewered By New York Post Again

May 17, 2011

The New York Post will not let celebrity chef/HSN pot peddler Todd English alone. And we’re more than happy to share the dish, so to speak.

The Post’s gossip column, Page Six, lead off one day last week with an item that said that some of English’s “Boston brethren think the celebrity chef is full of stale air.”

The headline was “Chefs say Todd’s out to lunch.”

Beleaguered chef Todd English

As it turns out, Boston magazine has done some very unflattering stories about English, with jabs such as he has turned into a “tourist-feeding hack” and is just “half the chef he used to be.”

Needless to say thems’ fightin’ words. So English apparently circulated a letter in his own defense, and tried to get his colleagues in the cooking world to sign it. He didn’t have much luck.

According to Page Six, Boston magazine has been brutal to English, who is best known in New York circles for leaving his bride-to-be at the altar. He later took her to court for hitting him in the head with his own watch.

The magazine skewered English for appearing in Michelob ads, hosting the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas and being caught chasing skirts in the Big Apple.

“You claim you got clocked in the eye by a wristwatch-wielding fiancée,” the magazine wrote, charging that English was making a “laughingstock” of himself, according to Page Six.

We Don’t Know Nuthin’ From Country Music, But Randy Travis Will Perform And Launch His New CD On HSN May 27

May 11, 2011

Country artist (is that a contradiction in terms?) Randy Travis will celebrate 25 years of “chart-topping hits,” HSN told us Wednesday, with the exclusive world launch of his latest CD May 27.

The country music icon will perform live on HSN a special one-hour primetime show at 9 p.m. as part of HSN’s first-ever 24-hour Americana Event featuring unique American-themed experiences, brands and products.

“Offering our customers a shopping experience that is both entertaining and relevant is at the core of what we do,” Sandy Conrad, HSN’s senior vice president of merchandising, said in a canned statement. “We’re excited to have Randy Travis kick off Memorial Day weekend and be a part of HSN’s first-ever Americana event.”

HSN junkies can be the first to order a special 2-disc bundle ($14.95) that includes Randy’s new “Anniversary Celebration” release and his best-selling Top 10 greatest-hits CD.

“Anniversary Celebration” includes new songs and remakes such as “Forever and Ever Amen,” featuring the Zac Brown Band; “He Walked On Water,” in partnership with Kenny Chesney; “Can’t Hurt A Man,” featuring Tim McGraw; and “Is it Still Over?,” accompanied by Carrie Underwood.

Canned bio:

Randy Travis is one the most recognizable voices in music with more than 20 million records sold and eighteen No. 1 singles. Other acclaimed artists joining Travis on his first-ever duets CD include Brad Paisley, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Jamey Johnson, Alan Jackson, Don Henley and Kristin Chenoweth.

The special CD bundle will be available at HSN, and via HSN Mobile for $14.95. Travis fans can go to, keyword: Randy Travis, beginning Friday to purchase the CD set, and even send well wishes to Randy for his May 27 HSN debut.

In addition to this special anniversary CD bundle, HSN will also offer an exclusive, limited-edition, Gibson Epiphone guitar with a commemorative 25th anniversary, hand-signed Randy Travis plaque…”a perfect gift for Father’s Day,” according to HSN.

Not for our dad. He got thrown out of the Grand Ol’ Opry when he was down South in the service. We think he was heckling a “country artist” after one too many cocktails.

Anyway, Travis fans can get a taste for what life is like on tour with Randy and his band with “Cooking Memories On the Road,” a cookbook written by Randy and Elizabeth Travis. The book will be available on and feature tidbits and personal photos from Travis’ numerous tours, as well as more than 100 recipes the country star gathered during his travels.

Quitter ‘Apprentice’ Alum Michelle Sorro Is Now Part Of The HSN Family, As a Host

May 10, 2011

HSN has a spanking new host, Michelle Sorro, who is an alum of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”

Since we haven’t watched “The Apprentice” in years, we never saw her on The Donald’s series.

But the blurb about her on HSN’s website cites a quote from great wit Oscar Wilde, which says, “Be yourself: Everybody is already taken.”

The burb says:

While the Oscar Wilde quote above is a favorite of Michelle Sorro, the Los Angeles native is well-known for a short quote of her own. “I quit.” That’s what she told Donald Trump on The Apprentice. “Best decision I ever made.” It’s a decision that eventually brought her to HSN, where she thinks she has the best job in the world.

Wilde is the author of one of our favorite quotes: “I can resist anything but temptation.”

The HSN web site also describes Sorro as a published author and vegan.

HSN Sees Slight Sales Rise, Just 1 Percent, In First Quarter

May 4, 2011

Pardon us for being late with this report, but we were up until 2:30 a.m. covering and writing up a Montclair Township Council meeting. Duty called.

While we still in bed sleeping this morning, HSN reported that its net sales increased 1 percent, to $526.2 million, following comparable sales growth the prior year of 9 percent. Not exactly a great first quarter, it seems to us.

The sales growth, such as it was, was driven by electronics and fashion, partially offset by lower sales in fitness and housewares. sales increased 7 percent over the prior year’s increase of 15 percent and represent 33.2 percent of HSN’s net sales, up from 31.6 percent in the prior year.

Average price point and units shipped increased 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

“The return rate increased 250 basis points primarily due to higher than anticipated returns of certain electronics sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 and changes in product mix,” HSN said.

HSN’s gross profit increased 3 percent to $177.2 million. The increase was primarily attributable to decreased shipping costs due to a new outbound shipping contract.

Adjusted EBITDA increased 4 percent to $52.2 million compared to $50.3 million in the prior year. The increase was due to the 3 percent increase in gross profit, partially offset by a 3 percent increase in operating expenses, excluding non-cash charges.

Operating income was $40.8 million versus $39.3 million in the year-ago period.

“Our focus on maximizing performance through innovative product launches and events, strategic partnerships and increased digital efforts led to HSNi sales growth of 6 percent, e-commerce sales penetration of 40 percent and an Adjusted EPS gain of 14 percent,” HSN CEO Mindy Grossman said in a canned statement.

“We are committed to positioning our business for long-term success by delivering on our strategy of offering unique products and experiences, deepening customer engagement and accelerating e-commerce growth across the portfolio,” she said.

Mmmmmm….no glowing words specifically about HSN, the home-shopping network piece of the business.

We’ll try to catch a replay of the conference call later.

HSN CEO Mindy Grossman Took Home A $12 Million Paycheck Last Year

April 5, 2011

HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is a multi-milllion dollar woman, raking in $12.1 million in compensation last year, triple what she made in 2009.

Grossman’s compensation was reported in an HSN filing, page 37, with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. Her payment package included a $1.16 million base salary, $5.7 million in stock awards, a $2.1 million non-equity incentive plan bonus and $194,000 in other compensation.

The “other” compensation was $114,000 for housing, a $50,000 reimbursement to Grossman for legal fees incurred in connection with an amendment of her employment agreement, and $30,000 for a car.

Mindy, can we borrow $1 million?

Last year’s $12.1 million in compensation was a nice bump up from the $4.1 million Grossman received in 2009.

And it appears that in 2010 Grossman did better than Greg Maffei, who is president and CEO QVC’s parent, Liberty Media Corp. Maffei received $6.4 million in total compensation last year, with a $1.5 million base salary, according to a filing Liberty made with the SEC Monday.

One of Maffei’s performance objectives was “increased focus by QVC on international and Internet expansion.”

Back over at HSN, the rest of Grossman’s management did pretty well.

Chief financial officer Judy Schmeling’s 2010 compensation was $1.9 million, up from $1.4 million in 2009. Her base salary last year was $562,000.

Lynne Ronon, HSN’s executive vice president of merchandising, received $1.3 milllion in 2010 compensation, down slightly from the $1.4 million she received the prior year.

HSN Appoints Mitchell Hara Senior Vice President Of Corporate Strategy

April 4, 2011

HSN Monday named Mitchell Hara senior vice president of corporate strategy, a newly created position, effective immediately.

He will report directly to HSN chief financial officer Judy Schmeling.

In his new position, Hara will assist with the overall corporate strategy, identifying and developing new strategic initiatives and leading the strategic planning process for HSN. He will also evaluate and oversee potential strategic partnerships and transactions.

“Mitch’s 20 years of investment banking and capital markets experience, as well as his deep knowledge of the retail sector make him a great addition to our team,” Schmeling said in a canned statement. “We look forward to working with him to maximize HSNi’s growth opportunities.”

Hara has experience in the retail and e-commerce sectors and a strong expertise in M&A, leveraged finance and equity capital markets. Prior to joining HSN, Hara was a managing director of mergers and acquisitions at Peter J. Solomon Company. Previously, he led the Specialty Retail Practice at Citigroup Global Markets.

In addition, he has held similar positions at Merrill Lynch & Co., Wasserstein Perella & Co. and Citibank, N.A.

Hara holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Syracuse University and a Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.