Money makers: a brand for every occasion

DFM founder Jesse Lee has mastered the art of getting millennials to spend their cash.


Jesse Lee knows how to get millennials to spend
(Image credit: 2016 Getty Images)

American-South Korean Jesse Lee, 36, has found a way to get millennials to open their wallets, says Sheila Marikar in Bloomberg Businessweek. "People don't want to purchase everything from the same brand," says Lee. "You eat at Alma" (his critically acclaimed American restaurant), "you read Mirage" (his glossy photography magazine), "you shop on Basic Space" (his shopping app), "you learn about people on Westwood Westwood" (his lifestyle news site), "but they're all under different brands", he says.

Dub Frequency Media (DFM), founded by Lee eight years ago in Los Angeles, is part marketing, part public-relations company, and brands pay upwards of $100,000 to be featured in its outlets. It specialises in throwing parties with A-listers it was behind the after-party at the Grammy Awards this year, and counted Kanye West, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran among the guests which gives businesses promoting products an air of glamour. There's no hand-wringing over editorial objectivity, Lee admits: "Quite honestly, millennials don't care."

Turning a profit from carpets

In its first months in 1992, Bernie de Le Cuona's textiles firm "was more swap-shop than fabric shop", says Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph. Cash-strapped, she sold her home furniture to create an office. "It was just me. I had no contacts or industry knowledge and, with no internet, I had to look people up in the Yellow Pages," she says. Originally from South Africa, de Le Cuona settled in Britain.

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But it was while in India helping a friend with their carpet business that she was inspired to go into textiles: "I found people who were using really interesting, unorthodox techniques like how they would fold a stiff, hard fabric over an old log and beat it with battens to soften it." Back in the UK, she set out to replicate the look, importing yarn from the subcontinent, and fabrics from Europe.

Today, the company, headquartered in Windsor, Berkshire, has 45 staff and is projected to turnover £10m for the year ending March 2018, up from £8m the year before. Tragedy struck in 2016 when fraudsters stole more than £360,000. "Always be inordinately careful about what you say over the phone," de Le Cuona warns.

The American delivering better broadband to Britain

With its service-based economy, Britain can't afford to put up with sub-standard broadband architecture, Greg Mesch tells Simon Duke in The Sunday Times. The CityFibre founder blames BT for present failings. "The former state monopoly has run [fibre-optic cables] to many of its street cabinets, but the internet signal is carried from there to customers through decades-old copper wire," explains Duke.

"It is like coming off a motorway onto a pot-holed country lane." Earlier this month, CityFibre announced a deal with Vodafone to connect its internet services to five million British homes equivalent to a fifth of the population by 2025. CityFibre's shares jumped by a quarter onthe news.

Born and raised in Colorado, Mesch moved to Dublin in 1993, where he grew his first communications technology business, selling Esat Telecom to BT for £1.5bn in the early 2000s. By 2005, he had sold another company, this time based in the Netherlands and developed with his older brother, Gary, for another £1.5bn. In 2011, CityFibre was launched with its director of strategy, Mark Collins. "I've been digging up streets in Europe for 25 years," says Mesch. This time, the American has Britain's roads in his sights.

What's a turkey worth?

"Are you ready, Drumstick? OK? Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned!" So said Donald Trump on Tuesday. He was talking to a 36-pound turkey, whose life the US president had just spared in a tradition dating from 1989. Ruefully, the president added that White House officials had prevented him from undoing his predecessor Barack Obama's pardons. "Tater and Tot [Obama's spared birds], you can rest easy," he sighed.

Getting an alternative for the Trump table shouldn't cost the earth. A glut of turkeys in cold storage across America has driven down prices by two cents a pound compared with last year, notes Jennifer Calfas in Time. Thanksgiving meals are the cheapest they've been since 2013, costing on average $49.12 for a meal for ten, according to the American Farm Bureau 75 cents cheaper than 2016's average.

Gourmands will have to dig deeper, says Deener Shanker in Bloomberg Pursuits. Unlike the ubiquitous Broad Breasted White "bred for an extremely ample bosom" heritage turkeys are smaller, slower-growing, have better living conditions and have a more robust flavour. Naturally, that comes at a price. They cost $10 or more per pound, compared with an average last year of $1.42.

The higher prices have created a market in "fake" heritage turkeys ranging from birds that lack the proper (though not legally required) certification to cheaper birds marketed as "heirloom". Upmarket retailer Whole Foods is selling "heirloom" turkeys at $3 a pound. Its birds are a mix of breeds from the 1900s, including the American Bronze "not as extreme in form as modern Frankenturkeys", says the Heritage Turkey Foundation's Roger Mastrude. "But it was the first move towards them."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.