Morning Brew - ☕ Pin consequential

How the safety pin became ubiquitous.
February 24, 2023

Retail Brew


Happy Friday. If you’re not in the office today, chances are your favorite restaurants are feeling the effects. While hybrid work means customers are venturing back out to eat and drink, it seems it’s only when they’re in the office—aka Tuesdays to Thursdays—as many restaurants in big cities have seen their sales dip on Mondays and Fridays. Well, at least we know we’re not alone come Monday when those famous blues set in.

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, Jamie Wilde


Tools of the Trade: Lynchpin

A gold safety pin is pinned to the slit in a pink Versace skirt worn by  model. n Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

There are devices in the retail world we take for granted. Let’s stop doing that.

Safety pin

  • Patented: 1849
  • First patent holder: Walter Hunt

Pincoming: At a fashion show, you’d expect the safety pins to be hidden, a last-minute adjustment to make pants or a blazer fit just right. But at the Tory Burch show at this month’s New York Fashion Week, they were loud and proud: oversized safety pins that served as design flourishes on skirts and dresses.

Long before the safety pin, there were other ways to clasp clothing shut. For millennia, primitive forms of brooches called fibulae were used to keep cloaks and—fingers crossed—togas secured.

But the pointy bit of the fibula often was exposed, posing a hazard to both wearers and anyone who brushed against them.

One day in 1848, Walter Hunt, a New York City inventor, was distractedly twisting a brass wire, according to an account in America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World by Kevin Baker. Hunt, who had coiled one section, noticed how the coil created tension and the wire would spring back.

It was, Baker wrote, a “Eureka!” moment. Hunt went to his machine shop and coiled the middle of a wire, sharpened one end to a point, formed a clasp at the opposite end, and tucked the pointy end into it—what we’d recognize today as the safety pin.

Hunt was granted a patent for what he called a “Dress-Pin” in 1849. He didn’t call it a safety pin, but in his patent application wrote that one of “the great advantages” of the objects was the “perfect convenience of inserting these into the dress, without danger of…wounding the fingers.”

The safety pin would become ubiquitous, but it didn’t make Hunt rich.

Keep reading here.—AAN



Raising the retention bar


Keeping customers comin’ back for more isn’t easy. After 200 days, there’s only a 20% chance your average e-commerce shopper will darken your digital doorstep again. The solution? Subscriptions, which retain a whopping 45% of customers in roughly the same amount of time.

And Recharge has the scoop on subscriptions and retention. Their 2023 State of Subscription Commerce report has tons of info on how merchants of all sizes and verticals performed in 2022, as well as the tactics they used to create more valuable customer relationships.

Want a peek inside? Here are some highlights:

  • Subscription merchants’ LTV increased by an average of 11% across verticals.
  • Among merchants who offered subscriptions, 32.4% of their customers subscribed.
  • The average subscriber held over 4 total subscriptions between 2 different merchants.

Ready to retain? Read the report.


Not just for laughs

Cynthia Rowley BFA/Cynthia Rowley

On a cold Monday evening last week at the Sony Hall in NYC, a lineup of women comedians gathered to do stand-up on stage.

But the women were there to show off more than their comedy skills. Away from the typical Spring Studios venue that hosts the majority of New York Fashion Week, the occasion was actually Cynthia Rowley’s Fall/Winter 2023 show.

After hosting a few comedy nights at her Montauk, New York, store last summer, the designer sought the help of her friends from Saturday Night Live, among others, to curate her fashion stand-up and present her latest collection.

On stage were seven comedians, including Rachel Feinstein and Nikki Glasser, dressed in Rowley’s creations, who also did mini comedy routines. “People are like, ‘Why did you do stand-up comedians?’ And I said, ‘If it’s not a 50-50 chance it’ll be epic or the end of my career, why bother?’” Rowley told Retail Brew after the show.

We spoke to Rowley about the motivation behind showcasing her designs as part of a comedy show, her evolving customer base, and adopting new retail strategies. And she had some insightful takes.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview:

“There’s two things in fashion: It’s the product, and then the spectacle. I think designers go into the industry with two different points of view. And a lot of designers do create spectacle with the product. It’s entertaining, but harder to monetize—or harder to relate to, maybe—for an audience. So my way of thinking about it is to create the clothes that people want, but then entertain our audience with something that is a spectacle, but that includes the clothes.”

Read the whole story here.—JS



Milking it

A carton of oat milk Francis Scialabba

“Products labeled as ‘milk’ do not have to come from an udder, according to new guidance issued by the FDA yesterday. The rules are still in draft form, but if they get finalized, it would be a blow to Big Milk—which has been crying over spilled alt-milk for years,” writes Morning Brew’s Jamie Wilde:

Despite the rising popularity of nondairy milks in the US (almond is No. 1, but oat is gaining on it), the cow-based kind still outsells it five times over.

Read the whole story here on Morning Brew.



Today’s top retail reads.

Future-focused: Coca-Cola is embracing AI in a bid to enhance its marketing and creative capabilities as it looks to leverage tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E. (Marketing Dive)

Vegxit: From lettuce to tomatoes, a country-wide shortage of salad ingredients across the UK is hitting both farmers and customers hard. (the Washington Post)

Forging ahead: How a Ukrainian pet-food maker survived and thrived despite the war and all the disruptions that came with it. (the New York Times)

By popular demand: You asked, we delivered. If you missed our bestselling Financial Forecasting course, we’re bringing it back for round 2. Secure your seat now and learn how to build a budget that will make your retail business succeed.


  • Target will spend over $100 million to enhance its next-day delivery efforts.
  • Beyond Meat’s Q4 sales surpassed expectations as stocks jumped.
  • Consumer inflation in Japan hit a 41-year high as companies passed on costs to customers.
  • Farfetch’s YoY sales declined but still beat analysts’ estimates.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. PepsiCo is debuting an at-home DIY Cheeto-making machine that can produce more than 10 pounds of Cheetos at a time.
  2. More than 300,000 bottled vanilla frappuccinos were recalled by Starbucks for potentially containing glass.
  3. Cadbury is looking for rescue pets to enter in its Cadbury Bunny tryouts.
  4. Jameson Irish Whiskey is offering to create life-size cardboard cutouts of customers that can be placed at their workstations so they can take St. Patrick’s Day off.

Keep reading for the answer.


Catch up on the Retail Brew stories you may have missed.


Not going to lie, an at-home Cheeto-making machine would be sick.


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Written by Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, and Jamie Wilde

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