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FGI Houston Presents- Shop Talk: A Big Talk on Small Businesses
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Bulgari’s “130 Years of Masterpieces” Exhibit
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Lily Rain Flagship Store Grand Opening
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Hanh Collection Preview Benefiting “Heroes & Handbags”
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Nine West x In Style Magazine Bash
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“Pay It Forward Fashion Exchange” with Glam Authority
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Recap: All the Wire Preview at Pomp and Circumstance

FGI Houston Presents- Shop Talk: A Big Talk on Small Businesses

Fashion Group International of Houston recently held a panel discussion regarding “small business.” The event was co-hosted by Tout Suite, a bakery and cafe that is new to Downtown and will be opening soon. The panel was moderated by Sarah Gabbart of Houstonia Magazine and featured five key small business owners: Brandi Garcia of Do or Dye TX, Cheryl Schulke of Stash Co., Davina Tweedy- director of marketing for Langford Market, Jackie Adams of Melodrama and Jenny Morgan of Settlement Goods.

After a few opening remarks by the lovely Sydney Dao, the panel discussion began. Here is a synopsis of the topics and advice that were discussed throughout the evening…

*Branding and Building Buzz Before Opening the Store

- Free Fridays (usually during first year).
- Discounts on back of business cards for first year.
- Martini Mondays (usually during first year).
- Networking, handing out flyers door-to-door, trunk shows.
- Pop-up shops, professional womens networking groups, selling via Facebook and Instagram.

*Marketing

- Instagram is such an amazing and free resource.

*How to Stay Current and Keep-Up with Changing Market

- Sometimes you have to change as the economy changes.
- As your long-term clients grow in life, you need to change and grow to fit their needs as well.

*How Do You Maintain Store Presence?

- Do charity and beauty events.
- Network.
- Trunk shows.
- Emails (like constant contact) and social media.
- Be consistent on social media.
- Keeping up with the customer (such as sending birthday cards).

“It’s not always about ‘sell, sell, sell;’ but also enriching your customer.”

*Long Term Goals and Advice to Future Business Owners

Jackie of Meladrama and Cheryl of Stash Co. had some very enlightening advice on this topic.

- Write down your ideas. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, it’s probably already been done. Put your own spin to it.

- Do something that you are passionate about.

- Always try to give back to the community.

- Do the research.

- Start out small, while building your clientele.

- Create your own experience when you own a business.

- “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

- Check out books (and their websites) by Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin.

- “Do the best you can, until you know better and then do better.” – Maya Angelou

- “Don’t push the river.” If it doesn’t feel right or if you are pushing/working too hard, it’s probably best to rethink your business.

- Don’t go into business with the wrong person. Always trust your gut.

- Budget out operating expenses a year in advance.

The event concluded with some closing remarks from the owners (and gracious hosts) of Tout Suite and Shop Talk Chair- Trang Nguyen. Followed by a continuation of networking and mingling.

HUGE thanks to the folks at FGI Houston, Tout Suite, Sarah, Brandi, Cheryl, Davina, Jackie and Jenny!

Bulgari’s “130 Years of Masterpieces” Exhibit


The only Italian word Elizabeth {Taylor} knows in Italian is Bulgari.
-Richard Burton



I first want to thank Shalanda of Live Life in Style for inviting me to this truly magical {press preview} of this exhibit, which celebrated legendary jewelry brand-Bulgari and their 130 years of jeweled masterpieces. The exhibit is being hosted by the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) Before the start of the preview, we were treated to a welcoming reception, complete with coffee and light bites. We then were introduced and officially welcomed by Joel A. Bartsch- president of HMNS and CEO of Bulgari- Jean-Christophe Babin.

Because the Houston Museum of Natural Science is home to one of the finest collections of natural gem crystals in the world, I have a deep appreciation for the quality and diversity of the gems that Bulgari uses when creating their jeweled masterpieces. Equal parts art and science, historic and modern, Bulgari not only pays homage to the great masters of the past, they also continuously push the envelope in jewelry design and cutting-edge technology into the future when so many others are content to merely rest on their laurels,”Joel stated.

We were then given a tour of the exhibit, stopping by each piece and listening to its provenance, or source of origin. We saw gems that dated from the company’s beginning in Rome in 1884 to the present. Portions of the exhibit include stunning jewels from the collection of Elizabeth Taylor and either belonged to or were worn by Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Jennifer Aniston, Claudia Schiffer, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Hurley, Rachel Weisz, Meryl Streep and others. Two of Houston’s own icons- Lynn Wyatt and Joanne King Herring- also have diamonds and gems from their collections in the exhibit. I was so fascinated in seeing examples of each of Bulgari’s timeless collections (such as the Serpente and Monete collections) because they are a piece of fashion history and VINTAGE! It was interesting hearing the company’s history and how it has grown and evolved over the decades. To also momentarily step into the shoes of the iconic women and hear their tales of wearing the legendary Bulgari ornaments. If you are a fan of jewelry and love learning about the history of anything fashion, you’ll definitely enjoy this exhibit.

You cannot simply live on past glories: that’s foolish. To be a success, you have to combine the worlds of the past, present and future. That is the challenge, and there are many horizons.”
– Nicola Bulgari

“BULGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces” exhibit runs from May 2, 2014- October 5, 2014.

Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030

Hours: 9am- 5pm

To purcase tickets, go to the website or call: 713-639-4629. For group tickets, contact Martine Kaye, Director of Corporate Sales, via email: mkaye@hmns.org or 713-639-4768.

Lily Rain Flagship Store Grand Opening

Houston-based retailer Lily Rain recently launched their 3,000 square foot flagship store in the heart of trendy Rice Village and I was on location to check it out. The store was designed by Houston-based MC2 Architect Chung Nguyen, who’s concept was an interpretation of a traditional home, complete with individualized “rooms” or departments and two really large old windows that were most likely re-purposed into mirrors (that I’m personally fawning over). I loved the decor and merchandising of the product, from the cute “floating terrariums” to the scarves hanging on a vintage rusty pool ladder. Lily Rain practically takes care of every need, whether it be fragrances to gifts to home decor and accessories to apparel. I’m a fan of their variety of fragrances, Kate Spade office supplies (bow tie paperclips…I mean…), journals and stationary by Christian Lacroix, jewelry and there are two sequin clutches that are just cheeky. Brands carried at Lily Rain include: Cynthia Vincent, Alternative Apparel, Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Eve Lom, REN, French Connection, Sara Designs, LAFCO, Roosts, Tom Dixon, Jonathan Adler, Deborah Lippmann, Butter London and RGB.

The kind folks at Lily Rain hope to bring a different and unique shopping experience to Houston consumers and hope they leave having discovered something new and unexpected.

Lily Rain Rice Village is located at:

2414 University Blvd. #180
Houston, TX 77005
(main entrance is on Kelvin Dr.)
Phone:(713)523-1902

Hanh Collection Preview Benefiting “Heroes & Handbags”

Self-taught Houston artist Hahn Tran is known for her oil paintings that involve heavy, sweeping brush strokes that make for a strong three-dimensional effect. Her works often involve a self-study of the human form, culture, nature and emotion. It was in 2011 when her career took on a different path- fashion. She couldn’t find the right handbag to go with her dress for a gala one evening and decided to hand-paint one of her own to match the dress. Hahn decided she was definitely on to something when a women bought the bag right off her arm during that gala. Since then, her ‘art empire’ has spread out to not only the handbags, but also hand-painted UZO umbrellas.

We had the pleasure of getting a glimpse of her second collection of handbags at her preview trunk show held at designer David Peck’s headquarters. I thought that the collection was colorful and definitely eye-catching. The accessories are bound to be conversation starters when worn out to an event. I learned that Hahn’s bags are canvas and she uses fabric paint as her medium. Hahn is a fan of David’s designs and thought that merging the two brands would be a perfect match. Proceeds from David’s and Hahn’s sales went to benefit “Heroes and Handbags“- an event held in Houston and Dallas to benefit Heroes and Children. Heroes for Children is a Texas-based charity that advocates for and helps provide financial and social assistance for families of children (up to 22 years old) battling cancer.

Hahn’s bags range from $175 for small bags to $550 for a tote. Check out Hahn Gallery for additional information.

Nine West x In Style Magazine Bash

Houston Galleria’s Nine West store was the setting for one of Houston’s hottest events, in affiliation with THE In Style Magazine. The event celebrated Nine West’s collaboration with In Style Accessories Editor- Leah Karp.

I was able to catch up with Leah and Nine West’s Erika Szychowski, who gave me some insight into the collaboration. The concept came to play during a dinner in Paris between Richard Dixson of The Jones Group (parent company to Nine West) and Ariel Foxman of InStyle Magazine. Ariel wanted to come up with a plan that would take a one-dimensional brand (InStyle) and create it into something that is three-dimensional and beyond where all the other publications were going (digital, social media, etc.); how to beat them, get faster and be nimble. They both concluded that instead of just picking a product, they’d DESIGN a product! Thus, the collaboration with Nine West was born. The small capsule collection was launched in the September 2013 issue and was sold in sixteen stores. The collection was tested by the consumers while Nine West and InStyle listened and learned. “We want to be where our consumer is and make sure we are listening to her, learning from her and growing from that. We have such a marriage between our consumers that this product is what they are asking us for,” Szychowski stated.

The limited-edition collaboration consists of several styles of shoes in chic and edgy silhouettes that are available in select bold colors, as well as clutches and cuffs. Leah’s inspiration for the collection was essentially every woman’s closet. The idea was to have the major key shoe silhouettes, clutches and cuffs that could be taken from day to night and able to be dressed up or down. InStyle also wanted to bring their brand, “Shop Like an Editor,” which was in the magazine every month, to the consumer (because they literally are shopping an editor’s closet).

A DJ spun tunes while guests mingled, shopped and partook in the sweeping candy bar and light bites. There were also giveaways throughout the evening. I was actually one of the lucky winners and I chose the Gamin D’Orsay heel in red. I did have to go down in size as the shoes ran a full size too big. I’m also eyeing the Aila and the Izzy. The collection’s price points varies from $79 for footwear to $129 for a clutch. For Fall, expect to see more jewelry, bag shapes and of course- shoes!

“It’s sort of a dream come true for me to have the chance to do this and to partner with Nine West.” – Leah Karp

“Pay It Forward Fashion Exchange” with Glam Authority

The Rice Village branch of Kendra Scott played co-host to the “Pay It Forward Fashion Exchange” that took place a couple weeks ago. The event was spearheaded by Kesha Scott- founder of Glam Authority, Houston’s go-to destination for getting your closet cleaned and organized, while also making it fun and profitable for you.

The event’s attendees were asked to provide designer clothing items to donate and exchange. All donations went to support The Women’s Home, a non-profit organization. They also own and operate The Cottage Shop- a boutique-y thrift store here in the city. The event also featured light bites and bubbly. While waiting for the exchange to begin, guests mingled and had the chance to shop the latest Kendra Scott products and check out the famous “Color Bar.” Giveaways from sponsors like Kendra Scott, Pynk Luxe, Chloe Dao and blogger/author Megan Silianoff were also handed out to a lucky few.

The exchange was divided into groups based on the color of the wrist band received at check-in. We had three minutes to grab items of our choice (but based on the number of items we brought to exchange). I ended up with a cute Nipon Boutique dress and jacket set, who’s bold pink hue stood out to me from across the room. It was fun seeing what everyone ended up with. Megan grabbed the vintage St. John top that I brought and I’m excited to see how she styles it. As we left, we were handed a swag bag, which featured a $25 gift card to Langford Market (thank you!) and other small treats.

Loads of thanks to Kesha Scott, The Women’s Home, the Kendra Scott Rice Village team, the sponsors and volunteers.

Recap: All the Wire Preview at Pomp and Circumstance

All the Wire is a Dallas, Texas based jewelry brand founded by two sisters- Tori Gonzales and Desiree Cox. The name, ‘all the wire’ stems back to the following love story between Desiree and her boyfriend (as told by Tori).

One day, driving down the country roads she {Desiree} asked, “Jeff, how much do you love me?” and of course, typical guy answer, ” a lot.” Which didn’t sit well with my sister. She needed full on detail, so she asked again and got the same answer. They kept driving and he told her to look outside the window, “See how the telephone wire keeps going and going? That’s how much I love you, all the wire….” I think she finally got the answer she was hoping for. These two love birds got married and on their wedding day, he had “All The Wire” engraved in her band.

Tori has always loved the story and the idea to start a jewelry line started to churn. She asked Desiree if she would partner up and the next day they started stamping jewelry. They built their brand with the foundation of that love story and wanted to create simple, yet customizable pieces for people to wear and express themselves. These pieces range from message bar necklaces/bracelets to charming wire-wrapped initial rings/charms to fun pieces with recycled bullet and mini pocket knife pendants. The brand launched in 2013 and has gained quite a lot of recognition. You may have also seen Gonzales on the hit Bravo reality show- Courtney Loves Dallas, which follows her bestie, (and number one supporter of All the Wire) fashion blogger – Courtney Kerr throughout her day-to-day adventures.

The All the Wire girls recently took a road trip down to Houston and hosted a trunk show at Pomp and Circumstance Boutique, where I had the pleasure of being in attendance. Courtney was also there to support her friend. There was a line out the door as trendy Houstonians packed the small boutique and were eager to check out the brand, as well as meet Gonzales and Kerr. I checked out the necklaces and all were simple yet statement-worthy. Tasty bites were provided, as well as delicious Texas themed macaroon pops that were provided by Macaron by Patisse. The Deep Eddy Vodka girls were on hand, serving their famous Texas-made specialty drinks in cute mason jars and striped straws. Outside was a food truck and lounge that was hosted by Houston Tidbits. I had the chance to meet Tori, Desiree and Courtney, who were so sweet and hospitable, taking their time to chat and take photos with guests. The girls only brought along a select few of their necklaces for the trunk show. It seemed that the “H-Town” message bar necklace was the favorite of the show, as everyone I spoke with bought one. I personally like the pocket knife and “Y’all” message bar necklaces. The brand not only stands behind their product and the story behind it, but they also want to be able to share others stories. They also believe in affordability, as the price points range from $30- 50. Besides being sold at Pomp and Circumstance, All the Wire is also available at: Duck and Dressing Boutique, The Buck Commander Store and Jul’s Boutique.

Thank you’s: Pomp and Circumstance, White Park Media, Houston Tidbits and All the Wire (love my ring)!

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