Frustrated by the seemingly random results generated by most Internet search engines, Hillary Mendelsohn decided to create a comprehensive resource to help online shoppers like herself, drawing on her experience as a busy professional and equally busy wife and parent.
With an education in literature and the law, Mendelsohn began her career in the entertainment industry, co-founding a management and production company before helping to spin off toys, apparel and other products from entertainment properties such as Terminator 2, Mortal Kombat and Baywatch at The Licensing Group in Los Angeles. A year later she launched her own consulting firm, Poetic Licensing, which has since brought its marketing expertise to such clients as Warner Bros., Franchise Pictures, Sega, Imax, and the Vatican.
Several years ago, Mendelsohn's first, late-night attempt at online shopping led her to a revelation — and a new venture. Having typed a "very specific" query into a search engine and received no less than 367 matches, she found that only seven had any relevance. With no available resource guide on the market, she began to create online shopping lists for herself. They proved popular among her friends. So popular, in fact, that Mendelsohn spent three years compiling the ultimate resource: thepurplebook.
As a religious user of guides such as Zagat, Mendelsohn began to create her own online shopping lists for herself, grouping entries into various categories such as Apparel and Collectibles. When her friends started asking for these lists, she realized there was nothing like this available and started to brainstorm a published guide, onethat assessed Web sites and their products based on price, selection, uniqueness and convenience (e.g., Can an item be returned to a brick-and-mortar venue?). In June 2000, thepurplebook began to take form and it now will be published as a Bantam Trade Paperback in November 2003.
During the three years from its conception, Mendelsohn has personally researched more than 25,000 e-commerce sites across roughly 20 categories, culling more than 1,600 listings for the first print run of thepurplebook. As an arbiter of what qualifies she draws from the aforementioned criteria, as well as her discerning tastes and her experience as a busy mother of two.
"You won't find many of the sites listed in thepurplebook on the first ten pages of search engines, so how would you find them?" she says. "The Internet has the potential to offer busy people a way to get the most out of their time, and there are real bargains and unique items out there for the picking. It's a matter of finding just what you want, and that's what this resource guide is all about."
Hillary Mendelsohn is actively involved with several organizations including C.O.A.C.H. for kids, providing mobile medical treatment for low-income children through Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles; and is the executive director of FLASH, a safety and preparedness program newly launched in all of California's 8,000 public schools.