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How this Chinese founder is reimagining social commerce and outdoing Instagram and Pinterest for more than 220 million users

For striking the right balance for influencers and international brands to tell their stories and sell merchandise, Xiaohongshu founder Miranda Qu is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2019.

How this Chinese founder is reimagining social commerce and outdoing Instagram and Pinterest for more than 220 million users
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]
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China’s “post-’95 generation”—as Miranda Qu, cofounder of the social commerce app Xiaohongshu, calls the country’s young consumers—are digitally native, educated, and open-minded. They’re also “a consumption force,” she says, and “they don’t want anything mass market.” On her Instagram-meets-Pinterest platform, now valued at $3 billion, influencers share their lifestyles and stories about the products they use (hard selling is discouraged). Today, more than 220 million users treat it as a product search engine. Qu has added the ability to buy products directly, allowing international brands to operate in China without a local banking relationship or warehouse. Last fall, U.S. makeup brand ColourPop launched on the platform, which does all the importing and product fulfilling for cross-border products. Qu recently let brands create their own pages and debuted a feature connecting influencers to marketers.