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Market Street in The Woodlands Blogger Preview- Holiday 2015 Edition
Shop. Taste. Empower. Holiday Event @ The Cottage Shop
Shop. Taste. Empower. VIP Blogger Preview Party – Holiday Edition
Houston’s Retail Market Goes Global with Souk Chic
“Catwalks & Classrooms” Inaugural Event Hosted by Magpies & Peacocks
Tootsies Celebrates Launch of the Susan Scarf During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Curated Cotton

Market Street in The Woodlands Blogger Preview- Holiday 2015 Edition

The folks at Market Street The Woodlands invited bloggers out for an exclusive holiday preview at select retailers. This year’s retailers were Johnny Was, Elaine Turner and Cos Bar. It was my first time visiting the open-air mall and it was nice to get there early before the crowds. The award-winning town center, which reminded me of The Grove in LA, was all decked out for the upcoming holidays, large Christmas tree and all. Myself, along with fellow bloggers: Melissa, Jillian, Angela and Paola, were a part of the intimate group of previewers.

Johnny Was was the start of our preview. Johnny Was is a bohemian and vintage inspired brand based out of Los Angeles. It was founded in 1987 and encompasses quintessential California lifestyle with free-spirited bohemian edge. They are known for their higher quality easy-to-wear clothing, as well as their scarves. I fell IN LOVE with the hand-painted kimonos and obi belts. The lovely associates showed us some products that were available for the holidays. One being their signature scarves and a gift set that includes: the How to Tie a Scarf book and Talia Fragrance Oil. The gals also demonstrated ways to wear the silk scarves, as seen in the video below…

Our next stop was the Elaine Turner store. The Houston-based brand was founded in 2000 by Elaine and husband Jim. In just 15 short years, the brand has grown exponentially. Elaine is a huge supporter of breast cancer awareness, so pink is seen throughout the stores and even in the interiors of the handbags. The associates highlighted some of the holiday pieces, such as: the “Celeste,” which is a nod to her original handbags. It has a natural bamboo handle and can be converted into a shoulder bag, cross body and back pack. The new apparel line was spotlighted, which included the Ponte knit Diane Blazer, the Kate Tunic and the Sienna Faux Fur Vest. Shoes were also highlighted (such as the Carrie Boot and the wedges) which are constructed of all Italian or Brazilian leathers and have double layer memory foam insoles. The brand pursued “Gifts under $100” (and under $200) especially for the holidays, that included coasters, mousepads, picture frames, wrap bracelets and more! The store also raffled off a Kassidy crossbody bag, which I was the lucky winner.

The last stop was Cos Bar. Cos bar is a beauty emporium that was founded by Lily Garfield in 1976 in Aspen, CO. The brand was since expanded to thirteen stores located throughout the United States (with plans on building more stores) and offers the finest skincare brands for men and women. The store had an intimate environment, with expert consultants who also allowed for us to sample and try out.

Huge thanks to Alicia for the invite to the event and to Johnny Was, Elaine Turner and Cos Bar for spoiling us!

** I would also like to recommend the Tommy Bahama Cafe for their wonderful service and patio dining! The fish sandwich was rather large, but pretty yum-tastic! **

Shop. Taste. Empower. Holiday Event @ The Cottage Shop

The Cottage Shop recently held their Shop. Taste. Empower event in celebration of the upcoming holidays. Guests enjoyed shopping gently used clothing (men, women and children’s) and home goods; as well as newer clothing, accessories and gifts that have been generously donated (thank you Francesca’s and Tres Chic), at incredible deals. For guests who wanted some tips on holiday (or general) styling, they could turn to vintage style expert Dawn Bell, Houston Chronicle‘s Joy Sewing or fashion designer Becky Hollands. Yummy treats were provided by Jodycakes, Paulie’s and Whole Foods Montrose, while sips were provided by Greenway Coffee and Topo Chico. Guests also had the opportunity to bid on a Happy Hour for 8 at Boheme, Barista 101 class for 15 guests taught by David Buehrer of Greenway Coffee, jewelry from Burdlife, plus much more.

I had a photo shoot after the event, so luckily, a complimentary beauty bar and its’ Holiday Glam Squad were on-site to give shoppers a makeover, while hairstylists demonstrated quick holiday up-dos. Beauty blogger Nicole Kestenbaum used LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and gave my lips and eye lids a fresh start, while Dani- makeup artist for By Terry Cosmetics finished off the look. The other makeup artists on hand were: Lydia Lutz (Artistry by Lyd), Justine Hernandez and Kenya Hunt (Makeup by Kenya). Special thanks goes to The Make-Up Artist Project and Shany Cosmetics for also helping to sponsor the Beauty Bar.

I ended up making a beeline for the vintage section (obvs) and picked out an adorable pastel green with lace and bows on side nightgown (thanks Dawn!) and a two-piece floral duster and long nightgown lingerie set…all for under $20. Not only do I LOVE thrifting, but knowing that my money goes for such a great cause really made the experience more worthwhile.

Next time you are in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, definitely check out The Cottage Shop!

Shop. Taste. Empower. VIP Blogger Preview Party – Holiday Edition

The Cottage Shop in Montrose invited local bloggers to attend their Shop. Taste. Empower. VIP Blogger Preview Party- Holiday Edition last night to shop the store and check out the newest arrivals before their big Shop. Taste. Empower. event on November 15th. Guests enjoyed sweets provided by Phoenicia Foods and sips provided by Topo Chico. A make-up artist was on hand demonstrating the By Terry cosmetics line. Francesca’s also generously donated items that we were able to pick 3 (necklace, bracelet or earrings, scarf or accessory) pieces as gifts, while the rest was available for purchase.

We enjoyed discounts on top of the already generous prices:

50% off regular clothing and shoes (Monday)
25% off vintage and boutique clothing
25% off jewelry and accessories

We mixed, mingled and of course… shopped. Proceeds from The Cottage Shop go to benefit The Women’s Home.

If you are local to Houston and would like to check out their actual Shop. Taste. Empower. event on Sunday November 15th from 1- 4pm, go HERE to register for tickets. The free event gives shoppers an opportunity to find incredible gifts, receive styling advice from Houston’s fashion experts- Dawn Bell, Becky Hollands and Joy Sewing and nosh on sweet refreshments provided by: Greenway Coffee Company, JodyCakes, Paulie’s, Topo Chico and Whole Foods. Most importantly, donate women’s winter clothing to those in need.

** The first 250 guests to bring a clothing donation to the event will receive a free swag bag! **

The Cottage Shop first opened its doors in 1971 and has been a gem in the Montrose area. It provides job training for the residents and generates 20% of The Women’s Home’s operating income. Since it’s most recent renovation, it now sells new and gently used clothing, accessories, furniture and household goods. There is also a designer and vintage boutique within the shopping area. The Cottage Shop is located at: 811 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77006.

The Women’s Home was established in Houston in 1957 and built around the mission to help women in crisis to regain their self-esteem and dignity and empower them to return to society as productive individuals. Their programs are targeted to women in the Houston area who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness, with many residents suffering from addiction or mental illness, or both. With nearly 60 years of service, they have helped countless women through their long-term residential treatment program in Montrose and their permanent supportive housing program in Spring Branch. Both programs offer a solution to women who seek a safe, sober and drug-free community where they can recognize and reach their unique potential for success. For more information, please visit their WEBSITE.

HUGE thanks to Nikki, Bethany, Tina, Cherie, Chau and the The Cottage Shop for hosting us!!

Houston’s Retail Market Goes Global with Souk Chic

While Ashley Srouji was living and studying in Lebanon, she was amazed by all the local designers and brands there; most of which were not available in the U.S. These designers and brands were typically inspired by their surroundings and not by mass fashion. The concept of bringing pieces from abroad came to her and it wasn’t until after she returned and settled in Houston, that she decided to move forward with that concept.

Ashley officially launched Souk Chic May 2015 and has since held numerous pop-up shops at local businesses, as well as in her home. Think of Souk Chic as an international market, but in a more personalized setting (and without the hefty plane fare). Ashley has a keen eye for choosing styles for her inventory, which include divine Moroccan rug clutches, handbags by Lebanese-based Sarah’s Bag (including the ‘Tawleh’ style, which has been seen with Amal Clooney), Ukrainian vyshyvankas by Foberini, cheeky straw totes and hats by Caren Lola, Middle-Eastern inspired caftans by Biba & Marmise, handmade book clutches by p.s. Besitos, sandals from Greece and Spain and evil eye bracelets from Mono and Me.

Other brands include:

Aelia – Grecian handmade sandals.

BLTRX (Bellatrix) – leather handbags designed by Tamar Friedman. Each handcrafted bag is based on a take of a triangular shape, mixing 3 kinds of materials or textures, leathers and textiles.

Mola Sasa – clutches made with the traditional print by Kuna (indigenous communities of Colombia and Panama) women artisans.

KinaMania – founded by Kristina Zouein. The sandals are handcrafted in Spain and are based on the traditional Spanish sandal, the albarca.

The Souk Chic website is coming soon, but in the meantime, check out the FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM to shop and get more information!

“Catwalks & Classrooms” Inaugural Event Hosted by Magpies & Peacocks

Houston’s only non-profit design house- Magpies & Peacocks, recently launched their inaugural Catwalks & Classrooms student design competition and showcase event. The event took place at JW Marriott in Downtown Houston. Twenty-five students, ranging from junior and college divisions from Art Institute of Houston to The Glassell School of Art and Fashion Camp; participated in the event. Each designer was given a material parcel, containing anything from funky 1980s prom dresses to a vintage Victor Costa for Neiman Marcus garment. They were then instructed to deconstruct and create a new contemporary collection, which was showcased at the culminating event.

The designers were placed with some of Houston’s most notable stylists, including: Dawn Bell (Fashion Camp/Houston Vintage), Lisa Power (StylePoint), Shelly Bishop (Curated Cotton) and Aubrie Layne (Lucky Cat Beauty) as the beauty director. Each vignette also had artwork by various local artists.

Magpies & Peacocks also selected a handful of judges who are prominent in the fashion, retail and design industries throughout the region. The impressive list included: Bridgett Artise (Author of Born Again Vintage and fashion designer), David Peck (#MadeHere fashion designer), Page Parkes (CEO of Page Parkes modeling agency), Sherry Eichberg (One Green Street) and Claire Carmichael (Wardrobe Boutique owner).

The winners:

1st Place- Ebony McCan (Stylist Lisa Powers, Artwork- Nicola Parente)
2nd Place- Shronda Hayes (Stylist- Lisa Powers, Artwork- Steven Silverstein, Handbag- JulieBeth Handbags)
3rd Place- Kenneth O’Veal (Artwork- Richard Blanco, Stylist- Shelly Bishop)
3rd Place- Kim Nguyen (Stylist- Maria Martinez, Artwork- Lyle Owerko)

Junior Division 1st Place- Christina Van Hal (Stylist- Shelly Bishop, Artwork- GONZO247)
Junior Division 2nd Place- Megan Siemann (Flowers- Paper Flower Artistry, Stylists- Dawn Bell and Sarah-Jayne Smith)
Junior Division 3rd Place- Tia-Rose Pezzani (Stylists- Dawn Bell and Maria Martinez, Artwork- Kelley Devine)

Meet the other designers: Shelena Shulterbrandt, Krystle Pinto, Caroline Ramirez, Averye, Tiffany Dilbeck, Tony Tran, Ayo Akorde, Shelbi Campbell, Krystle Rose and Caroline Raimerez.

Congratulations to the winners and everyone who participated!

For more information, check out Magpies & Peacocks HERE and on FACEBOOK!

Tootsies Celebrates Launch of the Susan Scarf During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

One of Houston’s most prestigious and luxurious retailers- Tootsies, kicked off Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month by hosting a chic cocktail party that celebrated the launch of the Susan Scarf– designed by Manoosh in collaboration with the Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation. Over a hundred guests mingled and shopped Manoosh’s Fall 2015 collection, as well as tried out the “build your own” agate jewelry station at the Agate Ranch + Marfa booth. Houston lifestyle blogger, author and ovarian cancer survivor (and Susan Scarf model)- Megan Silianoff was on hand, signing her memoir 99 Problems but a Baby Ain’t One. Fashion Illustrator- Rongrong DeVoe was busy live-sketching guests. Light bites were passed around by B&B Butchers and Restaurant.

Manoosh is the brainchild of three generations of women- Marilyn Biles, her daughter Nancy Guthrie and Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Anna Wilson. The brand was officially launched in September 2014 and is known for luxurious scarves in a variety of colors. The women saw the need for a company that improves the accessibility and exposure for local artists by bringing art out of the galleries and into the hands of the consumer. The scarves are available in cashmere and silk blends and are rich in vibrant colors, as well as more subdued, neutral tones. They illustrate a range of artistic styles including abstract and impressionist. When Anna saw Marilyn’s abstract artwork, she knew it would translate well onto fabric. They usually end up spending months hand-selecting and testing out fabrics to perfect each collection (in collaboration with other artists). For the SPB Foundation collaboration, she met with Buck- who is Susan’s son and founder of the Foundation. Together, they ended up choosing Marilyn Biles’ “Outcrop”- a 25 to 30 year old print for the Susan Scarf. Susan Poorman Blackie was known for wearing bright, artistically designed scarves after loosing her hair to chemo. Scarves have since been known as a symbol of beauty and strength during the rigors of cancer treatment. Susan lost her battle with cancer in 2014. This scarf not only tells her story, but was created to help empower women about the knowledge of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Being a fan of West Texas and Marfa myself, I gravitated to the Agate Ranch + Marfa booth. The wonderfully handcrafted statement pieces resonated the beauty and landscape of the area. Kathy Bracewell launched the brand in 2010, centering her inspiration around her daughter-in-law and stepdaughters, as well as the ranch they bought in the area several years ago. Kathy enjoys walking around the property and looking from Indian artifacts. One day, after gathering up a pile of unique stones, she went into Marfa to the local rock shop – Moonlight Gemstones. The owner- Paul Graybeal, explained that she had a Marfa Agate, which is from the area, but not everywhere in the area. When Paul visited the ranch one day, Kathy and her husband took him for a drive around the property. Paul helped to train her eye to areas specific where the rocks would be. He now plays an important role within her company by cutting the rocks, while Kathy stays at the rock shop and polishes them. The end result is delicately polished Marfa Agates on leather and hand-beaded chains. For the event, she offered a “build-your-own” agate jewelry station, where people could chose from a selection of West Texas agates, various chain styles, vintage Milagros and more. Knowing that teal was the color of ovarian cancer awareness, she included feather attachments, with proceeds from the sales going to the SPB Foundation.

For more information on ovarian cancer awareness, go HERE.

Curated Cotton

Curated Cotton came through my radar via Houston Tidbits. I checked out the website and loved the tees (especially the cactus print tees), which are made locally in Houston. I learned that they were going to have a trunk show at Saint Cloud in Rice Village, so clearly I had to go check it out. During the event, I was able to meet with Shelly, one of the co-founders of the brand and also picked up a tee for myself.

Curated Cotton was officially founded June 2015 by Shelly Bishop and Paige Thompson- who are both working in the creative industries. Shelly started sewing and crafting in high school. She graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. Since then, she has held an extensive career is just about every aspect of the fashion industry. She is currently a fashion stylist by day and co-founder of Curated Cotton by night. Paige- also a Baylor grad, majored in Studio Art and Graphic Design. While there, she explored multiple mediums in the art world, which included designing t-shirts. She then moved on to study at Chicago Portfolio School. After graduating, she worked for an advertising agency, before eventually moving on to Nashville, where she is currently based. She is an Art Director by day, and freelance designer, fine artist, and Co-Founder of Curated Cotton by night.

November 2014, Shelly picked up a copy of Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS and finished it in two sittings. This helped ignite the concept for Curated Cotton. She further explains, “There are a few different points she made in the book that really resonated with me, and sparked the idea to design and sell tees. Right away I knew I wanted to ask Paige to help me execute designs, as we’ve worked together on projects in the past, and I love what she does. The timing was right for Paige, as she had also been thinking about starting something on the side. We each shifted our vision a little, and the result is Curated Cotton. Even though I first had the idea for Curated Cotton last November, our site didn’t officially launch until June. There is so much that goes into everything, and we really wanted to take the time do it right. We are based out of Houston and Nashville. Our tees are hand-pulled at Black Swan Screen Printing in the Heights, and shipped out from Houston, but we sell them on our website. I am a night person, and as I was winding down for bed, the name Curated Cotton came to me. I’m a huge sucker for alliteration, so that was a big plus, but I also love the meaning when you break it down. Originally, a curator was someone who was responsible for artfully and meticulously piecing together the best of the best to bring together a fantastic art or museum collection. The term curate is now much more commonly used, especially in the fashion world, to describe something that is thoughtfully and stylishly put together. Using what we’ve learned in school, along with our own experience, Paige and I place so much attention on detail and every decision we make to “curate” our brand. On the other end of the spectrum is cotton, which is casual, organic, effortless…We don’t ever want to take ourselves too seriously, so we thought about how funny it actually was to say that you ‘curate cotton…’ something so simple being so scrutinized.. But it’s actually the perfect way to describe and sum up who we are and what we do.”

Shelly credits her styling background to helping build the brand’s chic ‘west coast’ vibe. “Probably because I grew up in San Diego, I feel best in jeans and a white tee. My personal style is sporty, relaxed, and a little retro. I love mixing high and low pieces to achieve that cool-girl look. Styling for Curated Cotton is very personal for me, since it’s working with our own designs. I think a tee is a super versatile piece. I love to dress mine up and wear them out to events. I like that it’s ironic to wear a tee for evening. Each design we have kinda takes on a personality of it’s own. I like to envision the personality of that tee as an actual girl, and style it from there…how I would picture her wearing it..”

What sets Curated Cotton apart? “I’m a big fan of vintage, and the thrill of the hunt – the feeling you get when you take the time to find those special pieces that no one else has. Paige and I put a lot of effort into researching tees, and selecting the best fit and style out there. We then spend even more time on the design process, going back and forth making adjustments until we are 110% in love with the design. Once the perfect tee and design are in place, our screen printers hand-pull each shirt. When you buy a Curated Cotton tee, you know not a single detail has gone overlooked,” Shelly explained.

The tees range from $40-$55, depending on how many colors and screens are used to make them. Each tee is screen printed by hand on soft, high-quality shirts made of 100% cotton.

Be sure to also visit their Facebook and Instagram for future happenings!

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