Friday, February 29, 2008

Carrot cake and elephants

Yesterday was a fun day. I got to go shopping with Carla Birdsall, one of our workshop style students. She won a contest a while back to go shopping with me with a $1000 gift certificate from Interior Accents. Carla and her husband have a beautiful home that she’s going to be uploading pictures of. She came to our last workshop and she also registered for our Shop with Focus event because she wants to continue training her eye, so she’s going to be joining us at C.S. Wo next Saturday. With our schedules being so crazy, we finally got together.

I loved that she was very prepared! She was wearing her brand new Style Kit with her inspiration pictures inside, and she knew exactly what she wanted: accessories for the coffee table in her formal living room. After she learned about the 60-30-10 rule at our workshop, she determined that her dominant style would be Asian. So she measured her coffee table, took a picture of it and brought along her girlfriend Judy, who also attended our workshop.

We set off for Interior Accents in Gentry Pacific Design Center. Melody, who helped us, told me she really enjoyed our workshop and was hearing from some of her customers that they loved it too. Judy, the proprietor, said she was really disappointed because she had to work that day. They think it’s great we’re educating people how to shop because a lot of their customers need that extra help.

Carla, Judy and I found a lot of possibilities, lots of unique and interesting pieces, but we just couldn’t find the right thing.

Then as always happens with me, I got hungry and said to think better, I need some sustenance! We went next door to A Matter of Taste, and I had a hot pastrami sandwich—I didn’t bother with the Reubens because I’m so particular about my Reubens. I insisted that Carla and Judy try the homemade carrot cake, which is to die for and they run out almost every day. So they shared a piece and I had one all to myself, and it was delicious. I finished every last bite!

Back we went to Interior Accents and my favorite find of the day—three brass elephants, the hear no evil see no evil speak no evil trio, but elephants instead of monkeys and they were so cute! The see no evil elephant had his big old floppy ear covering his eyes, it was so adorable, a perfect touch of whimsy. I kept trying to push them on Carla, but they were too small in scale for her coffee table.

Just as we were about to give up, we found our inspiration piece—a metal and glass pagoda candleholder lantern, Asian-inspired and very interesting. And her coffee table is sort of a painted wood, so we wanted a different texture to layer on top of it. This definitely fit the bill.
Then we found this really neat orchid that had some dark red tones in it that will tie in with a nearby Asian cabinet. Finally, to complete our trio, Carla loves Chinese fu dogs, and we found this little carved-stone fu dog, and that completed the trio.

They were three different things that made for an interesting, eclectic arrangement. They all vary in height, proportion and finish but what ties them together is the Asian theme.

That’s what it takes when you’re out shopping. You have direction and focus, but sometimes you don’t come across your perfect piece. There’s no point in rushing because things cost a lot of money.

Mission solved! And it was a fun day of shopping and eating, my two favorite things!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Cathy: Well, we did it! A big high-five! The workshop was a huge success and it was our biggest and best event yet. Now that we’ve had a few days to recuperate, Lissa and I are sitting here reminiscing. The day started out a little shaky because of my health.

Lissa: A little shaky? I was really worried about you. I knew you would put on a hell of a show, but you stood up at the podium the night before and nearly fainted, you were so sick! You’re so headstrong, I was worried you would pass out onstage, and then sit up there on a chair trying to finish the workshop and fighting me trying to pull you off!

Cathy: It was pretty cute.

Lissa: Cute?!

Cathy: At one point there were three cups of hot tea on the podium from different people. Doug from HomeWorld passed me some li hing mui, and later my dad handed me lemon peel. My mom was in the audience, she’d been feeding me Korean seaweed soup all week, and she was worried. My husband had an ER doc standing by in case I fainted. But I knew that once the adrenalin kicked in—not to mention a whole bunch of Tylenol Cold and Motrin—I knew I would be fine, because the response I got from the crowd and their enthusiasm kept me going.

Once I wasn’t concerned about my voice giving out, everything went great. People were really present, they were enthusiastic, they were ready to learn and train their eye. It was just so rewarding for me during the breaks, when people were coming up and shaking my hand with both of their hands saying how much they were enjoying themselves and learning, it was heartfelt, and it felt great.

Lissa: I had people pulling me aside. They kept telling me over and over, she makes it easy to understand, and I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing, but now I feel like I have the tools. I even had a real estate agent pull me aside and say this should be a must for every Realtor. They go through so much training. She said she thought this was going to be boring, but she was so excited she couldn’t wait to go back and start decorating her office and her house.

Cathy: So as they day began, I think everyone on the team was excited, the crowd was phenomenal, we were sold out, the room was packed, we had three Jumbotron screens, the centers of the tables were full of samples and materials to play with during the interactive portions, and everybody who registered got a voucher they would later redeem for their Style Kit. And then when we broke up into teams, at our tables, everybody was able to actually put into practice some of the things I was teaching, like putting colors together with their sample area rugs, and determining whether the colors were warm or cool.

Lunch I heard was great, I didn’t eat a bite. I think there was salmon and chicken, and a mushroom risotto…

Lissa: That was not bad, I scarfed it down. I kind of pity you, you didn’t get to all those cakes and pies.

Cathy: And during lunch people had the opportunity to eat with some of the sponsors. I think my only regret there was that with so many people in attendance, sometimes that’s the catch-22, a lot of people but a lot of chaos, and some of the people couldn’t eat with the sponsors they wanted to and pick their brain over lunch.

I really enjoyed the fact that even after a full meal, people were raring to learn, and when I called out OK, everybody back to your seats! They were right there and eager to get started. I decided to play a game, get the adrenaline flowing, and we had one of our sponsor games that get people out of their seats.
Lissa: Things really got going again! I heard women were actually crying when they didn’t win that $10,600 sapphire-diamond pendant.

Cathy: Wasn’t it gorgeous?

Lissa: I wanted to hide that! I like that kind of bling, you know.

Cathy: Dale Cripps and Robert Palma, they donated that, and men were pushing women out of the way to win…

Lissa: I heard people say it’s not fair! It’s so chaotic!

Cathy: The game was chaotic, but how do you not have a chaotic game when you have a $10,000 prize on the line? One team got everything right first and they came up onstage and ultimately there was one winner. She was from Maui and we’re going to do a little writeup on her on the new Workshop wrapup page we’re putting together, on the story behind how she actually came. She was kind of shy up there, but she told me she had a great time.

Lissa: I think she was overwhelmed—just showing up at a workshop and walking away with the grand prize.

Cathy: Afterward we got back to learning. People said they really enjoyed the Shop with Focus segment, where I took them step by step through the considerations of putting a room together. And finally we went through Quick Fixes and then our Style Kit giveaway. How awesome was that?

Lissa: One person told me they were so thrilled they ripped it open as soon as they got back to the table and started to wear the shoulder bag.

Cathy: I always wanted my Oprah moment, where Oprah yells, ‘…and everybody gets one!’ And that’s what we were able to do with the Style Kit.

Lissa: You, you even drank tea to clear your throat for your Oprah moment.

Cathy: And you guys rolled out those huge carts of white boxes and people rushed up and within minutes all the Style Kits were gone!

Lissa: I had an e-mail, somebody called you Oprah Lee—they said I loved the Oprah Lee moment!

Cathy: And we got some e-mails from people saying they love their Style Kit and bag and they’re carrying it with them everywhere. Isn’t it going to be fun, Lise, to be walking around town and see somebody with our bag?

Lissa: Yeah. That would be neat.

Cathy: All in all it was a great day, from the enthusiasm of our attendees to the generous spirit of our sponsors for their generous participation, especially the Honolulu Advertiser, to our staff at RSVPstyle, especially Kara who kept it together, and the front table that was so organized with Mel and Randi, and our awesome production crew—just everything went off without a hitch. And I just found out that awesome Melissa Chang, who wrote the cover story about us for Homescape, wrote about the workshop in her blog today at ! To read the blog click on Urban Mix Plate.

Lissa: This one took our workshops several notches higher. My old boss told me, I was so proud to say I know you. He was so impressed with the production. From the time people walked into the ballroom it just kept building and building til the very end.

Cathy: I’m so glad we did it, but I’m so glad it’s over, and it’s time to look toward our next event, our Shop with Focus event, because I knew everybody would want more, and they did. So I hope everybody out there is putting their inspiration photos in their RSVPstyle book.

Lissa: I hope they’re uploading. I hope they’re going online and if they’re having any problems, e-mail me.

Cathy: Thanks again to everyone for participating in our workshop and helping us to celebrate the launch of our brand new Style Kit—use it in great health and great design!

Lissa: I have to say thank you to my husband and my daughter just for being so patient about not having a mommy for several months. Danny and Megan, thank you. Thanks for understanding, thanks for sacrificing, thanks for helping. And thanks to our parents, for picking up our kids, picking up dinner, picking up the printing the night before the workshop.

Cathy: Our families have been so patient and supportive, the best. The kind of hours we’ve been putting in, especially going into this workshop, it’s been insane. And everybody’s had to sacrifice, from our kids to our husbands to our parents.

The girls came up onstage while we were doing the Style Kit giveaway. We all have daughters. I have Nicki, Lissa has Megan, and Mel’s and Kara’s daughters were there too, so they all joined us onstage for a moment—they’re not shy either!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Exhilarated and exhausted

Two words that describe exactly how I’m feeling today, the day after our workshop. It was an incredible day and the response from attendees was really so overwhelming and so heartfelt. Many of you came up afterwards and told me how much you enjoyed it and how much you learned and how inspired you were. You’ll never know how much that meant to me. It made me feel so good.

I started out by telling everyone I had good news and bad news. The bad news was that I’d been fighting a cold the entire week, and the good news was it wasn’t going to stop me! I appreciated everyone’s patience with my froggy voice.

And a very pleasant surprise: when we told people about the contest we’re having for workshop attendees, a Shop with Focus event at C.S. Wo, we didn’t realize that so many would immediately come to this website to register. We were overwhelmed with emails! In their enthusiasm it seems people thought they could just register to qualify, but in actuality they need to post photos or comments to Cool Finds, Places, Design Dilemmas or Showcases, so be sure to read your flyers carefully. Also please know that posts to this blog will not count because they’re all anonymous, so please post elsewhere on the website.

So many people are already asking when’s the next workshop? Well, this one was a doozie and all of us are exhausted, so the answer is not for a long while! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to doing smaller future events with RSVPstyle members. Just register here and you’ll be the first to know.

Today and tomorrow I’m going to be resting up and spending some much-needed time with my family, but we’ve got lots of pictures to share with everybody, so check back in the next few days.

Thanks to all of you who came. It was a sold-out crowd with 350 people in attendance. It was great to meet so many of you and to have the support of the Honolulu Advertiser and all of our wonderful sponsors. I had a great time and I hope you did, too. And now I’m going to bed for the next two days—I’ll talk to you soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thank you KITV4 Island Television News This Morning!

What a way to start my morning! Today was my interview with Mahealani Richardson at
KITV (check out the full show title above—I just wanted to say it once). I was there at 5:40 a.m. for my 6:15 segment. I parked outside the studio and was struggling with my "props" when Dan Meisenzahl saw me and came to my rescue. What a sweetie!

It was nice to see the rapport that Dan and Mahea have with the crew. You could see that everyone enjoys each other’s company—which is hard to believe so early in the morning!

Mahea was a joy to work with. She was very professional but personable and fun at the same time. I did my best to add a little style, color and texture to their set. My only regret is that I underestimated the size of their coffee table and brought accessories that were a little too big. Oh well, it was only temporary!

After my segment, they told me that I should come back, and I offered to make over their side set for real the next time. I would love to create a space that reflects their personalities: unique, bold and fun. They really need it! Mahea was thrilled and said let's talk soon. OK, Mahea—as soon as I find the time.

The segment was only a few minutes long—boy, did it go by fast! It's a good thing I didn't have to promote our workshop this Saturday because we are sold out. As soon as I was done at the studio, I headed back to the office for an early start. We may be sold out, but there are still a million and one things to do to get ready for this event.

Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh I hear the clock ticking!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sapphires are everybody's best friend!

Today was an absolutely beautiful Presidents' Day holiday. The weather was pristine and I know a lot of people were out enjoying the beach and sunshine--which is great because those of you coming to our workshop this Saturday are in for a full day and an early start!

I've always been a big believer that whatever you do should be fun, and that includes learning. We have a big day ahead of us, from 8:30 to 3:00, and there's no way I want anybody to be bored, so I'm going to make sure everybody's learning valuable, useful skills and having a great time in the process. Our games always get people laughing, communicating and jumping out of their seats!

I've already told you about some of our fabulous prizes. I finally got the details of the beautiful piece of jewelry we're getting from Dale Cripps Jeweler and Robert Palma Design. It's our most sensational prize yet--a sapphire and diamond ballerina pendant necklace worth $9500! The sapphire is a gorgeous stone. It weighs 1.8 carats and is surrounded by 1.5 carats of diamonds. We appreciate so much this lovely donation.

Everybody here at the office is drooling, but I told them sorry, you don't qualify! Boy, is somebody going to be really happy when they leave this workshop--it's an amazing piece!

Just wanted to get you salivating even more!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Strike a pose

The day finally arrived when Lissa and I were to be a part of the Year of the Rat celebration at C.S. Wo: we would be “guest models” helping to show Monique Zhang’s Cicada Fashion Collection. As we were getting our hair and makeup done, I had to kiss up to Lissa to thank her—if not for my partner’s generous cooperation, I would have been the only mature “guest model” at the show. So thank you, thank you Lissa! (Lissa: “You owe me big time. I had to walk down three flights of stairs in stilettos, smiling and sucking in my gut, without tripping!”)

We each modeled four outfits. I have to admit that after we got over the self-consciousness of modeling alongside these 18- to 22-year-olds, we got into the flow of things and had a good time. I saw lots of friends and people I knew who were shocked to see me in the fashion show—I was supposed to be just a guest at this party! Lots of people were offering me drinks and food as I strutted around the showroom. I was so tempted to whip the chopsticks out of my hair and reach for some deep-fried sushi! The food looked great, but we were not to partake in any of the festivities—after all, we were the hired help, except “guest model” means you don’t get paid!

Lissa looked fabulous in her silky, velvety caftan. She had to wear a bustier body suit and leggings under it, but I thought she looked very glamorous and I wanted to wear that outfit! At the end of the show we took a picture with RSVPstyle’s Kara and Melanie, who came to cheer us on and giggle when we were out of sight—we heard you guys! They got to enjoy all the great food and drinks while we were working the runway—or should I say the stairway!

The fashion show consisted of us and our somewhat younger colleagues informally modeling over three flights of the furniture showroom while guests enjoyed gourmet food, a martini and sake bar, fortunetellers and lion dancers. It was quite a festive, fun evening. We’ve got great respect for designers and stylists and those models, all of whom worked hard and put in at least 8- to 10-hour days for those few minutes of glamour!

Our great friends, Larry Campman, C.S. Wo store manager, and the Wo brothers personally thanked us, but we really have to thank them for being such great supporters of RSVPstyle. We had a great time and were thrilled to be a part of their celebration.

(Lissa: “And you’re off the hook, girl, since you took me to Nobu’s and treated me to sake. I have to say, I’d do it again!”)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I had a great morning—lots of love and kisses from my husband and daughter. Since I’ve been too swamped to be very domestic lately, I went out of my way to make Nicki a wonderful Valentine’s breakfast. I made her a heart-shaped chocolate chip pancake with bacon, blackberries and raspberries. She ate every last bite and I got syrupy kisses to prove it!

And you are going to love some of the prizes that we’re getting for next week’s workshop! First of all, thanks to the Indich Collection, we’re giving away a beautiful, hand-woven Tibetan wool and silk pile rug with a retail value of $5400. That’s handspun wool, heirloom quality, woven exclusively for Indich. Some lucky person will leave the workshop with this 6x9’ rug! And if it’s not your style or color, Indich is ready to replace it for you with a rug of similar retail value in a different style or color!

We’re also giving away a $1000 gift certificate to go shopping at Interior Accents—a place where many times I’ve found my focal point piece or my touch of whimsy, or that special something I need to finish off a room. It’s a store I can absolutely get lost in—so many interesting, beautiful and unique things to see.

I’ve also got some fabulous jewelry coming from Dale Cripps Jeweler and Robert Palma, which I’ll get you more details about as soon as I get them. They have the most beautiful designs and although it’s not color or texture, in my book their jewelry is definitely inspiration! Some lucky lady—or a lucky guy for his lucky lady—is going to win that next Saturday!

We’ve got lots of other prizes in store for you, so keep checking back as we count down to our workshop.

Hope your Valentine’s Day is happy! Hugs from Lissa and me and everyone at RSVPstyle!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We’re all winners!

Karen Kitazaki of C.S. Wo contacted me about being one of the guest models for the fashion show at their Chinese New Year celebration party this weekend. With C.S. Wo being one of our major sponsors for next week’s workshop, how could I say no? My only condition was if I was going to do this, so would my business partner, Lissa. (Lissa: “I should have told you no. What made you think I can model?”)

In between all of the preparations for the workshop, we made our way over to C.S. Wo for a fitting. There we were, two businesswomen amongst 18- to 22-year-old Amazons! I’m not going to give our age, but boy, did we feel out of place! Let’s just say we could be their MUCH older sisters. I kept telling Monique Zhang, the gorgeous designer of these fine fashions, and Victor, her fashion show coordinator, that if they had enough models for the show already, our feelings would not be hurt! Unfortunately they didn’t take us up on our offer!

Well, we were flattered to be asked to be a part of this, but I have to say that anyone could look good in these beautiful, one-of-a-kind, handmade clothes. I don’t care if I COULD be those girls’ much older sister—I must say, I do look fabulous in them. And Lissa looks alright too. (Lissa: “You better believe I look alright—and several people told me I look younger than you!”)

Today we drew the name of the winner of our $I000 gift certificate from SoHa Living. At the BIA Home Show we announced this promotion for new people who registered for our free online community. I made a call to our lucky winner: Sunny Lee-Oshiro of Honolulu. Congratulations Sunny!

I had a great time talking with her. I found out she’s a Realtor and even does staging for other Realtors in her office. She told me she’s coming to the workshop and when I asked why, she said because she knows there’s so much more to learn. In fact, she’s buying a home, and said she’s going to use the gift certificate for some new pieces for it. She’s been using our website and loves it—it’s already one of her bookmarked favorites and she’s emailed it to all her friends. She watches all the videos and she even knew about my trip to Vegas from reading this blog! So congratulations, Sunny! I am so thrilled that somebody as enthusiastic as you is our winner!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

KITV, here I come!

Images of blue carpets and boxes have been flashing through my mind. The other day I spoke to Mahealani Richardson of KITV 4 News This Morning—I’m going to be a guest on the show on Wednesday, the 20th of February. Mahealani came up with a really cute idea: they’d like me to make over their side set! I’d love to help them out, but as I explained to Mahealani, unfortunately a makeover is pretty much impossible in a 3- to 4-minute segment. So instead I’ll be bringing an armload of tips.

Mahealani said their brand new carpet made everything else look old. Well, it’s a bright blue (which is not the easiest carpet color to work with!) and in the background are glass windows with green aluminum trim. There are ficus trees—I can’t tell if they’re artificial or real—and in front of those are two chairs that are grayish-blue with oak-looking arms that remind me of the chairs at my dentist’s office. There’s a glass-top coffee table with what looks like an oak base. The strangest thing is when the camera pulls away from the side set, you can see they put these plants up on some kind of blocks, so when they’re interviewing somebody it looks like there’s a little bit of foliage with height, but at a wide angle you see plants on blocks—not the best way to accessorize.

So we’ll see what I can come up with in 3 to 4 minutes! I’ve got a few ideas and I’m always up for a challenge. People should tune in because if you need help but you don’t know how to begin, I’ll show how you can start with a few simple changes to update and accessorize your room.
I think I’ll be on around 6:15, and I need to be at the studio at 5:45 in the morning. I don’t know how I’m going to do that—I think I’ll need a double shot of espresso!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Back at work preparing for the workshop

It’s amazing how much work can pile up after just a few days away! Since getting back from Las Vegas it’s been madness just trying to get back into the swing of things. As I expected, Lissa was thrilled with her chocolate ‘chips.’ She loved them! By now I think there’s only a few hundred dollars left. Haha. She started with the big money first—she said those tasted better.

With only a few weeks left, our upcoming workshop has been the main priority. Working out all the details really takes time to make sure it’s all done right. Today we had our logistics meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I love going there. Even locals like to visit the Hilton for a quick little getaway every once in a while. We had a meeting with Susan Smith in one of the ballrooms to decide where everything’s going to be and how the day’s going to go. Also there for the planning was our audio-visual guy, Eddie from Techniques Hawaii, and our producer-director, James Brennan from Paradise Marketing (you might recognize James as that good-looking host of Little Grass Shack on Oceanic Channel 16!).

We’re going to have three jumbo screens to make sure everyone has a great seat. I think we did it! I’m starting to get butterflies seeing the stage and knowing that in just a couple weeks there’s going to be hundreds of people learning the fundamentals of RSVPstyle—it’s making me a little giddy! But totally excited at the same time.

For me the most exciting thing of all will be giving everyone our Style Kit. If we’re putting in long hours preparing every last detail of one workshop, imagine the nine months we spent creating the Style Kit! Just knowing that soon people are actually going to take them home and put them to use is beyond exciting.

Before we left the Hilton, I had to stop by to see the penguins. Unfortunately they were napping and none of them were out! That was too bad—I like seeing those cute guys. The consolation prize was seeing some of the exotic birds. They have these really pretty miniature flamingos from Africa, beautiful pink birds, and there were these black-and-white birds that looked like a cross between a black crow and a white dove. The face was like a black crow!

We said bye to our feathered friends—there’s still so much more to be done at the office. Now back to work!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

Here’s how we started our last day in Vegas. We had a 6 a.m. wakeup call because we had an early flight back to Hawaii. Our cabbie was very chatty. He got us lost getting to the terminal and told us about six times it was only his fifth day on the job! Once we got to the airport, Kara started complaining that we had spent the entire trip non-stop shopping and it was her first trip back in 11 years and she hadn’t even put a nickel into a slot machine. I told her hurry up, this is your last chance, so she put a few dollars in the Wheel of Fortune slot machine and I snapped a quick picture. I saw what she was going for—the $1.7 million jackpot—so before she started I made her promise that if she hit the big one, she still comes to work Monday morning!

We rushed off to the gift shop to get some magazines and chewing gum, and I saw some cute chocolate gambling chips. Lissa, my business partner, is an absolute chocoholic. I knew that if there was any way to put a smile on Lissa’s face it was chocolate. While Kara and I have been here, Lissa has been killing herself keeping all the plates spinning at the office. We just wrapped up the huge BIA Home Show and things are BUSY with our Invitation to Design workshop coming up in three weeks. She is doing a phenomenal job. Although our desks are just a few feet apart and we see each other more than we see our husbands and daughters because we’ve worked every day and into the night for over a year now, I can’t believe I actually miss her! If there’s anyone I would have wanted to go through this whole process with, it’s Lissa.

By the time Kara and I got on the plane we were exhausted. I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss the girls back at the office. My mind was already thinking about the million and one things that have to be done. I just can’t wait to get back to prepare for this workshop, because it’s going to be fabulous. Not to mention I can’t stand this weather, it’s way too cold for me!

Overall, Las Vegas was eye-opening and reaffirming. The first thing people asked when they saw our nametag was, what is RSVPstyle? Our opening line to that was always, we teach people how to shop! And that caught people’s attention. What do you mean? Well, we have a website, workshops and a brand new Style Kit, and we teach people how to train their design eye so they can make their homes reflect their own style, and part of that is how to shop with focus. They totally got our concept. We heard over and over again how great it was, and two different people even said bring your workshop to Las Vegas, and we’ll help you set it up right here in the Design Center! These are businesspeople in the industry, and they love that we’re educating, empowering and motivating the average consumer. They said customers come in to their stores and they want to do something with their homes but they can’t make decisions. If they had someone inspiring and guiding them, that would be of value to their customers. It really made us feel good to get that kind of response, being so new.

I just walked in the door and Nicki’s waiting for me. Daddy bought her roller skates while I was away and she wants me to teach her to roller skate. I told her I have to work for about 30 minutes first and she said 30 minutes! That’s forever!

Now I’ve got to go find Nicki. Thanks for checking in and keeping up with our trip. I’ll see you all later!

Friday, February 1, 2008

It’s All About the People

Last day of Las Vegas Market! We got a very early start. The show opened at 8 am and we were right there. We met a lot of fabulous people today. I’m a true believer that the people who bring the passion to a company really make all the difference in its success.

As we started out, a brilliant sparkle of bling-bling caught my eye. I had to stop. It was this really cool mirror that was trimmed in Swarovski crystal. It was beyond fabulous—pretty, feminine and over the top. I’ve never seen a mirror like it. I was fortunate enough to meet the lovely man who is the owner of the line and showroom, and he also happened to be the designer of this mirror! His name is Anthony Montenegro, and it’s obvious he brings passion to his pieces. He has The Casey Collection and Encore Decorative Accessories. I have a picture of him and me, and I’m pointing to him and to the mirror to show that he’s responsible for this fabulousness. I think it could dress up a bedroom, it would be hot in a powder room, ultra modern, luxurious and playful.

Next I want to tell you about environmentfurniture and Jackie Fitzgerald. This is a showroom that I had been to at last year’s Las Vegas Market , and just fell in love with, but I could not remember where they were. I told Kara I’ve got to find this line, I want to share with our online community what they’re doing. I finally found them on my last day! This company does not sacrifice the mission for the look. Their furniture is beautiful, architectural, bold, striking, chunky—exactly what I like. Jackie was wonderful in explaining to us that all the wood is reclaimed from old barns or responsibly harvested in Brazil. They don’t spoil the natural beauty by putting on finishes or treatments. She clearly believes in the company’s motto that nature is the best designer, and I truly agree. She showed us the nail holes in the benches and beds and mirrors and it makes you wonder where they came from and what stories they have to tell. It gives it that much more beauty, knowing that no trees had to be sacrificed.

At the end of the day I went back to Phillips Collection to place an order, and saw Jason Phillips, who is the son of Mark, who I took a picture with in front of the black sheep. Jason is the creative director and one of Phillips’ designers. I took a picture of him in front of a wall with some of his sculptures. He’s a cool young man with a great creative mind and refreshing ideas. I found out he even judges design contests for architecture students. He’s extremely personable and it was just so fun to meet him and his family, and I can see why they have such a successful line, because it’s all about the people. It was the end of a long show and he and his dad were still there, working hard.

That’s how we ended our last day. The market closed early today, at 4. We hadn’t had a single meal because there’s no time for food when there’s so much shopping to be done! We were absolutely starving. I am a Reuben connoisseur and last year I had the best Reuben ever and I wanted to see if it was a fluke or really the best so I went back to The Grill at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, and I’m happy to say it did NOT disappoint! It still ranks at the top of my list. In all its greasiness it was delectable, topped off with a side of fries, so I had to offset that with a diet Coke! If anyone has any Reuben sandwiches they recommend, then I would love to hear from them.

Now it’s 5:30 and I have just 3½ more hours before the outlet mall closes. Kara and I have not done enough shopping. Everything has been about furniture and we’re getting back on the plane tomorrow, so we need a few more hours of retail therapy. Now that we’ve had some nourishment, we’re going to go check out that outlet mall!

I think we did pretty good! We got some great buys.