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 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.