The next time you find yourself raving to friends about that incredible fisherman's sweater you found online or that lusciously creamy pistachio gelato you tried at the new Italian food shop down the street, why not turn your recommendations into dollars for a cause? That's the idea behind Mulu.me, a curation-meets-social media-meets-e-commerce site that opened to the public on Monday.
Founder Amaryllis Fox explains:
Mulu is a social platform for sharing the things you love while supporting your favorite cause. It's a bit like Twitter for recommendations, so you can curate your own personalized discovery stream by following the people, topics, and questions you find interesting...Every time someone snags one of your picks, a percentage of the purchase goes goes straight to your cause.
After creating an account, users can choose a cause they wish to support before posting pictures of anything they like -- movies, books, clothes, restaurants, vacation destinations -- and, using a Mulu function, link to websites that sell those items. Users can browse Mulu looking at other peoples' picks (including those from celebrities and well-known tastemakers including Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, author Jonathan Franzen, artist Eric Fischl and actresses Busy Phillips and Amber Tamblyn) as well as ask for recommendations. If someone purchases an item via Mulu, a portion of the sale goes back to the site through an affiliate program with participating stores. In turn, the original Mulu member who posted the item receives 50% of that commission for their cause. Ultimately "what's benefitting your cause is your curatorial eye," Fox explains.
Since this might seem confusing (as is often the case with an innovative start-up), here's an example of how it works: Let's say Mr. Mickey decides to create a Mulu page and chooses to support Doctors Without Borders. He then posts a few of his favorite items like sequined pants from AG Jeans. PAPER reader Betty, who's friends on Twitter with Mr. Mickey, sees the recommendation on his Mulu page and decides to buy a pair for herself. After she does, a percentage of the sale (anywhere from 3-15%) goes back to Mulu who, in turn, gives 50% of that amount to Doctors Without Borders.
Though the site debuted Monday, their "official launch" won't be until March when they unveil Mulu and the Mulu iPhone app at SXSW (which was also a launchpad for Twitter and Foursquare). That said, in the spirit of Mulu's tastemakers and early adopters, don't wait until then to share your favorite things...it'll make you feel like Oprah!