Nearly a year ago, when we wrote about Carmen Webber and Carmia Marshall, the co-founders of the New York City–based clothing company Sistahs of Harlem, they were searching for $5.25 million to kick-start their business (Elevator Pitch, January 2007). No deals have come through yet, so Webber decided to try the reality-television route. She is one of 15 competitors on Project Runway, which began airing its new season in November. The winner gets $100,000 in seed money, a show at New York’s Fashion Week, and the attention of Project Runway’s millions of zealous fans. Because of a confidentiality agreement with Bravo, Webber couldn’t tell her business partner she had been selected to be on the show, so she concocted a story about studying in Paris. “It was completely adios for three months,” says Marshall, “but when I found out I was thrilled.” Regardless of the show’s outcome, Sistahs anticipates a bump in sales and has contracted with a larger manufacturer.
Oxygen Sells to NBC for $925 million
Oxygen Media was gaining momentum when we wrote about the then-4-year-old cable channel and its founder, Geraldine Laybourne (“Thinking Inside the Box,” July 2004). Now it has gained a new owner. In October, NBC Universal announced it would acquire Oxygen, whose programming is directed at women, for $925 million, pending regulatory approval. The deal came on the heels of Oxygen’s strongest quarter ever in terms of viewership, with an average of 316,000 prime-time viewers a night, but the channel has never made a serious run at Lifetime, the category leader, which has 1.5 million viewers a night. Laybourne, who owns less than 25 percent of the company, said in a statement that the deal was the best way for Oxygen to grow. Oxygen’s growth, however, will no longer be her concern: She announced plans to step down as CEO of Oxygen by year’s end.
Last updated: Dec 1, 2007
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Reporter NITASHA TIKU covers technology, finance, green business, and social entrepreneurship for Inc. magazine and contributes to the staff’s daily links blog. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Villager, Chelsea Now, and on nymag.com. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. @nitashatiku