Houston has this amazing network of local indie markets that take place intermittently throughout the city. Mini Pops is one of them, a monthly European style market that is in conjunction with twice-yearly Pop Shop Houston- the city’s premier craft, indie, art and music festival. I checked out the one last month, where it was held in a small parking lot in the hip Montrose/Westheimer district. Two boutiques- Pavement Clothing and Leopard Lounge Vintage host the market every SECOND Sunday of each month. Some local vendors that were there include: Vida Antigua, Milk & Honey Vintage, Zayver Jewels, Traci Lavois (she writes poems for you on the spot for sale, barter or trade), The Barking Bunny, Guerra Girl, CultGrrrl Creations, Sam Wish, Laundry Line, The Boy and Her and others. Of course, no outdoorsy hipster market cannot be without the food trucks, which included: The Golden Grill and Juice Girl. There were also DJs and local bands playing throughout the day. As an added bonus, a DIY station was set up (each month the activities change) to do DIY Valentine’s Day cards and make your own terrariums (which I did and LOVE my little low maintenance “garden”). The market is a great place to hang with friends and enjoy your “Sunday Funday.” It also pays to shop the amazing local brands and artists. For more information, check out PopShopHouston.com.
A short time ago, Houston stylist Ashley Dunn launched her namesake ready-to-wear collection at Archway Gallery to an intimate crowd of influencers, friends and family. Local KHOU 11 personality- Courtney Perna was on hand to host the event. Ashley showcased fourteen looks, which she said were inspired by street style, simplicity and bold bright colors. “I was really inspired by women on the go; women that wear many hats but look chic and effortless while doing it.”
Proceeds from the show went to benefit NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) in hopes of raising awareness on the issue, which affects millions (including Ashley). “I was always a curvy girl. Even when I was younger. Which is when the body image issues began. I felt early on that I was different from my peers because of I was curvier & short & they were naturally thin, so in my mind to help me to look like my peers I began throwing up my food, this started in first grade and I didn’t stop until my early twenties after college. My weight was always something I struggled with and I thought that somehow throwing up or getting rid of my food was the answer. My faith played a key role in my journey to becoming a better woman in which helped me to fight my eating disorder of bulimia. I feel it is my duty to share my story in hopes of helping someone struggling like I did.”
The designs and silhouettes were simple and clean, yet chic and versatile. You can mix n’ match pieces and probably could style a week’s worth (if not more) of outfits out of the entire collection. Being a gal who enjoys wearing color, this collection was a breath of fresh air. I especially loved the mid-length flounce skirts, the strapless jumpsuit with semi-skirt, 3/4 sleeve sleek red jumpsuit and crop tops. Another great thing about the brand is that it is manufactured locally in Houston. The price points for looking and feeling great won’t break the bank either, ranging from $29.99- 129.99.
“I try to promote positivity through fashion, empowerment & confidence. So my brand says just that, when a woman wears an Ashley Dunn Piece, that’s how they should feel. Ready to take on the world. I kept my pieces simple yet bold; so that the piece isn’t overshadowing the person but adding to.”
At press time, you can shop the line by emailing the product name and size to email@example.com. After the invoice is sent, expect 2-3 weeks to receive the order. Soon, you will be able to shop the line via her site- www.ashleydunnstyle.com.
E! Fashion Police star and celebrity stylist George Kotsiopoulos paid a visit to the Houston Premium Outlets recently, as the celebrity emcee for an “Exclusively Styled” fashion event hosted by Gap Factory Store. Back in March, he was chosen as the brand’s Style Editor for Gap Factory Store’s Spring 2014 collection. The campaign is expected to cover over four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. During that span of time, he will share product picks, expert tips and styling insight via social media.
The event, held under a large white tent and complete with models on stilts; started out with an intimate Q and A session with George and a select group of Houston’s top influencers. George was dressed in head-to-toe Gap Factory, straying away from his usual focus on preppy all-over prints that he usually wears on Fashion Police. He spoke about his ‘must-have pieces’ for Fall, like shearling (real and faux) and bright colors. He also spoke about his top picks for Gap: jeans, denim motorcycle jacket, boucle “Chanel-esque” jacket, white distressed denim, embellished sweater and black jumpsuit. When asked about which celebrity he would like to dress, he mentioned the classics- Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and then the moderns- Rhianna and Emma Stone. “They love clothes and fashion…they ‘are into it and get it.’ When asked about his picks of ‘worst-dressed,’ he mentioned that he doesn’t focus on that. He’s not waiting for someone to look bad. He also provided tips on styling yourself if you are an educator, as well as over 30. After the interview, we were able to get photos with him and mingled, while waiting for the show to begin.
Houston stylist Ashley Dunn co-hosted the fashion show. The first group of looks featured denim heavy and sporty separates with an uptown edge. I loved the ‘Canadian Tuxedo’ paired with a white jacket and silver oxfords. Another look that caught my eye was a look that consisted of striped track pants, a striped top and denim motorcycle jacket. The show then transitioned over to a semi-military grouping, with camo print and a variety of browns and neutrals. The last grouping was more for a night on the town or even office-appropriate. Black denim, embroidered skirts, embellished sweaters and a show-stopping black jumpsuit, paired with a thin belt from the boys department (hey it works), with multiple necklaces for a layered look; were the name of the game.
The event concluded with some giveaways and an invitation to shop the runway at the factory store (it was tax-free weekend after all).
Located right off 288 and Holly Hall in Houston, Texas lies a hidden gem that is starting to receive local recognition. Top Vintage LLC is a wholesaler that caters to the vintage and second-hand clothing industries. They aren’t like your average “rag house,” they are more of an “upscale warehouse” in that they have an air-conditioned facility that is clean, organized by clothing category and even has a small sitting area and dressing room.
Top Vintage LLC was founded by longtime friends and vintage buyers- Andre Milioto and Nico Cid in February 2014. They have always loved fashion and it’s a way to combine their passion for fashion and recycled clothing. They can’t stand looking like everyone else in Houston, where fashion is more cookie-cutter and vintage/second-hand is slowly (but surely) gaining popularity. “We wanted to start something that we’ve never been to, that we would like to go. This (warehouse with AC and clothing at wholesale prices) doesn’t exist, so we thought ‘screw it, let’s start a revolution!'” Andre said. With that being said, their warehouse covers 6500 square feet and caters to retailers all over the world. The warehouse is exceptionally organized by clothing categories and offers a diverse range of vintage and second-hand clothing that focus on global trends. The guys themselves are very trendy yet stay true to setting themselves apart. They believe that it’s not about what you wear, it’s how you rock it.” I wear womens jeans because they look great on,” Andre stated. “If you think you can rock it, rock it. It’s all about confidence.”
They launched the concept of ‘Last Saturdays’ because they wanted a cool event with good loud music, alcohol, food, friends, fellowship and threads. It is a great way to get their name out there while also flipping product at a wholesale price. I’ve been to a couple of the events and I’ve enjoyed them. Usually, they’ve had either a blogger or stylist curate a collection and then have a local brand do a pop-up shop. I love shopping with them because there’s always something new and I love the thrill of digging and finding those gems. Plus, you can’t beat the prices for quality clothing that likely no one else will have. The staff is also friendly and ready to help style you or point you in the right direction. For event info (usually it’s the last Saturday of every month) check out their Facebook or Instagram.
For further information and to book a shopping appointment, check out their website.
Doting Mother and cookie culinarian- those are the words that describe the owner of one of Houston’s latest local bakeries. Meet Cristal Ordonez- founder of Heaven on Earth Gourmet Affairs, an exclusive gourmet gifts and treats company that specializes in exquisitely delicious butter pressed cookies and now- edible statement necklaces.
Ordonez wasn’t always into baking. She has several years of managing a business under her belt. But let’s backtrack to when she was fourteen years old, she started out by making smoothies and then graduated on to cookies. She has always been a picky eater and found that most were too sweet. Armed with a starter recipe from a friend, she went on to experiment on her own. After numerous trials (one had too much sugar and would harden too fast, another just took too long to bake), she perfected her recipe.
For twenty-two years, she gifted the cookies as gifts. It wasn’t until about five years ago, that a friend of a friend had requested a tray of cookies for a company party. Eventually, she continued to get calls requesting her cookies, thus prompting her to launch Heaven on Earth Gourmet. The company officially launched on September 1, 2013, after the Cottage Food Law passed in Texas.
She recently took on jewelry making, but with a twist. One day, while baking, she had a batch of cookies that had broken. She noticed that they resembled beautiful beads. “To me, every piece of my cookie (including the flavor) is beautiful,” Cristal explained. Then, the idea just sparked. “Oh, I’m going to make me a necklace.” It took her a year to assemble. The concept evolved from cookie, cracker or some other type of dough to shape the base. After trying many different blends, she found that fondant worked best for holding onto the cookie without ruining it; or bleeding it or infusing it with any other flavor, smell or color. She likes to only use natural ingredients, natural flavors (there are 10 so far) and only uses dyes upon request. She puts her heart into baking, hand-carving and cleaning the cookie masterpieces, which she calls- The Gemmes Collection. The collection celebrates women and she wanted to do something that hasn’t been seen. She’s named necklaces after her Mother-Mireya and her bestie- Claudia (of Mio Boutique). The necklaces have a temperature and humidity base and have withstood up to two hours without dripping. The necklaces can also be made to hold up longer, upon request. Prices range from $50-100, just depending on how simple or complex you want the design to be. She can put up to five different flavors in one necklace. At Heaven on Earth Gourmet Affairs, nothing is stocked…EVERYTHING is fresh and made to order. Give Cristal a shout next time you are needing or just in the mood for a “heavenly” cookie…
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.
– 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.
– 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.”
– “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!
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.)