Wednesday, September 7, 2016

green is the new black, and it's sexy as...

Fragrances in fashion are an interesting category.  Some smell fabulous; others, not so much.  Some invoke positive memories and emotions; others, not so much.  Some are made with rare ingredients and are created with time-honored traditions; others, not so much.  When it comes to fine fragrances, there is only one master.  And his name is Tom Ford.

From years at Gucci and Yves St. Laurent, to his own brand for more than a decade, Mr. Ford gives 100% of his attention to every single detail.  His demand for excellence and superior design are unrivaled.  If his name is on the product, you are guaranteed to fall in love.  From fragrance to footwear and everything in between, the quality and integrity of each product go above and beyond expectations. 

This same commitment to exceeding expectations is found especially in the service you'll receive with Tom Ford employees.  I've never seen a brand with so many dedicated, loyal, and knowledgeable staff.  It's as if each associate is also an ambassador for Mr. Ford himself.  Case in point: Kerin, Clarence, and Tonya at the Tom Ford Beauty boutique inside Nashville's Nordstrom.  The love these beautiful people have for their brand, let alone their industry, is infectious.  Before new product even arrives in store, I get phone calls and messages filled with excitement and anticipation, as if an old friend was calling to tell me the best news of their life.  It's absolutely awesome to build a relationship with such fabulous people, especially when they share my love of looking good and feeling better.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to the new Vert private blended fragrances.  Even the descriptions of the fragrances go above and beyond, detailing the overall notes of the scents, plus specific emotional feelings and images.  You don't just smell a fragrance; you're transported to an imaginary world of fabulosity and grandeur.
Bright.  Ethereal.  Divine.  Sparking and infallible like a jewel gleaming in the sun, private blend Vert Boheme is Tom Ford's interpretation of green at its most free-spirited.  Sicilian Mandarin and Magnolia exude bohemian femininity, exquisitely enhanced with Gustavia, also known as the tree of heaven, known for its spectacular single blooms that last for just one day.  The fresh vibrancy awakens a divine first bloom, crystal-clear and exposed.
Expressive.  Indelible.  Deep.  Private Blend Vert Des Bois introduces provocative woods at their most expressive.  An inventive ingredient in modern perfumery, poplar bud extract infuses avant-garde edge to traditional green.  The extract from the unopened buds is further driven by spiked ouzo, evoking the deepest thicket of snow-laden forest. 
Aromatic. Distinguished.  Wild.  The unbridled nature of the Corsican coast, known as the "Perfumed Isle," inspires a distinguished scent at once sophisticated, aromatic and wild.  Smoky incense, pine resin, and fir balsam evoke the dense forest and rugged peaks, while delectable heliotrope and woods heighten the grand atmosphere of sea and shadow.  

I always joke that cosmetics brands can't hire ugly people, since the product they're selling is supposed to be beautiful.   Kerin, Clarence, and Tonya aren't just physically beautiful, with flawless skin and gorgeous makeup - they exude beauty.  Always gracious, happy to demonstrate products, and providing fabulous service, they are my one-stop-shop for all things beautiful.  To place an order or book a consultation, phone +1.615.850.6700.  

With these new Tom Ford private blend fragrances, Green is the new Black, and it's sexy as...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

big pancake, bigger taste

Sometimes the most impressive foods are the simplest.  With the right tools, an adventurous palette, and trust in the process, you can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.  This week, I've turned leftover breakfast burritos into both fried rice and quesadillas.  Building upon flavor profiles and incorporating fresh ingredients is the name of the game.

Yesterday's mid-morning snack lead to an updated flavor of one of my favorites: the Dutch Baby Pancake.  I had some fresh figs and a bit of Gorgonzola, so I gave it a shot and made the most delicious fig and Gorgonzola pancake, topped with a fig and balsamic caramel syrup.  Here's the base recipe:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 425F/218C.  Place the cold butter in the cold oven safe pie plate or skillet and into the oven.  For this recipe, I use the 10" All-Clad D5 frying pan.  It's layers of stainless steel and aluminum make for consistent, even heating, plus it's oven and dishwasher safe.

While the butter is melting and the oven is warming, this is where you can get creative with your toppings and fillings.  I've made the traditional way and topped the pancake with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar, as well as more inventive flavors, like diced rhubarb in the batter and covered with fresh strawberries.  The possibilities are endless - fresh lavender topped with honey, brie with fresh cherries or sauteed apples, pistachio topped with get the point, anything you love can be mixed into the batter or topped onto the finished cake.   

Today I am trying out a Gorgonzola and fig combination.  I diced the figs into eight wedges and broke up probably an ounce or so of cheese.  Side note: make sure your knife is very sharp, so you don't crush the figs.  I used my Shun santoku - it's a combination chefs knife and cleaver, and perfect for slicing, mincing, and chopping.  Plus, the steel is hand-forged and ice-hardened, so you get incredible strength and durability.  I also really like the plastic Dexas cutting mats as shown below - they're dishwasher safe and help keep your butcher block or counter from getting dirty or contaminated.

When the butter has melted, remove from the oven.  Meanwhile, mix the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and salt.  Add whichever flavors you prefer and fold gently.  Pour the ingredients into the hot pan/butter.   Don't worry - it'll look like you've messed up.  I know I always second guess myself the instant I pour the batter into the hot, melty butter.  I think there's no possible way that this is going to turn out right, let alone anything I'll want to eat.  But trust the process.
Return to oven.  Bake 18 - 20 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. And do yourself a favor - remember that the pan is going to be HOT from the oven, so I leave my pot holders right on top of the stove as a gentle reminder. 

While the pancake is baking, think about your toppings.  Today I added a few small wedges of fresh fig with a tablespoon of sugar and a quarter cup of Lucero's fig infused balsamic vinegar.  I cooked it in this cutest, tiniest little Staub cocotte - the enamel coated cast iron controls temperature over extended periods of time, and makes for the perfect single serving of syrup.  I stirred the sugar into the vinegar and figs, and warmed over medium-low heat for the duration of the baking time.  Ultimately, the liquid reduced by about 2/3 of the original amount and made a very thick, syrupy style caramel glaze.  I've also made a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) and added fresh lemon zest and juice.  Any citrus or mint work well, too. The possibilities are endless.

After 18-20 minutes, your pancake will look just like this!  I immediately remove it from the pan and place on a large plate.  There will probably be a bit of melted butter left in the pan, which I always dump right on top of the pancake.  Add your toppings or syrups.

I like showcasing singular ingredients in multiple ways - diced fresh fig baked into the pancake, with fig infused balsamic syrup and topped with raw, fresh figs.  You really get to taste the different layers and levels of flavor this way.  Plus, the Gorgonzola adds a tangy bite and is like the exclamation mark to the figgy flavors!

What flavors will you try?  Let your imagination run wild!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

giving good gifts

I love giving gifts.  Whether for an annual celebration, like birthdays or anniversaries, or more singular occasions like weddings or housewarmings, or out of kindness to show welcome or appreciation, giving a little something that reflects your recipient's interests and your tastes is always such a warm feeling for everyone.

You don't have to spend a lot of money or stress out to put together a little something.  And if you constantly keep your eyes out for great quality products and ideas, you can build your own small stockpile of options to hand select the perfect gifts on a budget.

One of my favorite gifts is a tea (kitchen) towel, with a cooks tool and a bit of fresh flowers, all wrapped into one bundle of joy.  If I know the recipient loves to entertain or drink, I'll include a corkscrew, bottle opener, muddler, or something similar.  If they love to cook, a spatula or nice pair of tongs will make a lovely addition.  For bigger occasions (and budgets), I'll add a wine aerator or even a great kitchen knife.  Regardless, I try and select something that reflects the recipient's lifestyle or interests.

For more than a decade now, I've come to know and love my Garnier-Thiebaut linens.  If you don't know the brand, imagine the most vivid and vibrant colors woven with heirloom, quality expertise and the greatest commitment to excellence in all aspects.  With roots back to 1833, Garnier-Thibeaut has pioneered many of the textile industry's design and technology inventions for the production of fine linens. Today, the company's manufacturing facility in Gerardmer, France is Europe's most advanced center for the design, color and production of fashion fabrics — notably, table linens, bed linens, and other textile accessories — for the hospitality industry and the home. Renowned for its luxurious damask designs, Garnier-Thiebaut is the only fine linens company that produces more than two complete collections each year. So you get the quality you would expect with the colors and trends you hope for.

A great tip: if you have the space and a little extra cash, keep your eye out for sales.  Many department and specialty stores are constantly updating their assortment of kitchen tools, accessories, and linens.  I love popping into Williams-Sonoma stores anyway, but I'm constantly checking out their sale areas for brightly colored kitchen towels, napkins, and kitchen gadgets and tools.  I keep a small closet stocked of these items, plus candles and skincare.  I like finding everyday items of the best quality I can afford, keeping them for gift giving occasions.  Then when it's giving time, I can select the perfect pairing for my recipients. 

About the two photographs above - I like to keep things simple and personal.  The two GT tea towels pictured are from the top of my stack in the kitchen.  After more than a decade of very frequent use, they still look brand new - and feel even better.  The colors are beyond vibrant, the fabric super soft and absorbant, and doesn't leave behind pesky lint when drying glassware or glossy surfaces.  As for the spatula - I'm almost exclusively using WS silicon spatulas.  They're won't chip or crack, resist heat up to 600F, have removable handles for easy cleanup (including in the dishwasher), are anti-microbial, and make for the perfect pop of color in the kitchen.  Their available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, but the spoonula is my favorite.  The stainless steel tongs pictured with the thistles and lily are from All-Clad, and a part of a "cook and serve" set.  When it comes to the kitchen, I like form and function.  And All-Clad hits the mark every time.  Whatever gift assortment I select, I always try to include a sprig or two of fresh flowers, herbs, or greenery, and tie them together with some leftover ribbon, string, or even butcher's twine. 

There's something so fun about giving something you'd use yourself, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Do you have any signature gifts?

Friday, July 15, 2016

always thinking, always thankful

First let me begin today's post with a moment of silence and reflection for the tragedy in Nice, and for all those around the world who are suffering, unsafe, or are unwell. 

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying a quick lunch and getting some work done remotely at Chickfila, and overheard the owner/operator conducting a few interviews.  Miss Laurie was looking to hire a community relations type manager, and conducted each interview the same way.  She began by explaining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the business, the direction she was hoping the position would take, and engaged in dialogue to really get to know the candidates as people, and not just professionals. 

It's one thing for an owner / operator / manager to define expectations for their employees and their business, but it's another for them to lead by example.  I can't tell you how many times I've been to this location and witnessed Miss Laurie walking around the dining room, talking to customers, refilling beverages, and cleaning tables, let alone working the cash register, taking orders, or busy in the kitchen.   When most quick service restaurateurs are hoping to turn customers in and out as quickly as possible, Miss Laurie fosters and encourages a community atmosphere, where customers are encouraged to take their time, relax, and enjoy their meal and the pleasure of their company.  From students doing homework, to older customers visiting with their friends over weekly coffee and biscuits, people are welcomed to the restaurant just as warmly as they would be in Miss Laurie's own home.  How many times have you been to a business, let alone a busy restaurant, and felt like there were no employees working, let alone a manager supervising? 

When you lead by example, you not only intensify your location's business plan, but you also show your employees and customers that you care.  You care that employees have the right tools, at the right time to accomplish their jobs.  You care that customers' needs are not only met, but expectations are exceeded.  You care that the experience for all is positive, professional, comfortable, and complete.

In any business, but especially luxury retail, your mind must always be moving.  Don't just limit your observation to businesses in your same demographic or neighborhood; push your growth by observing multiple types of businesses in your community.  Which businesses have a comfortable atmosphere for their clients?  Which businesses think creatively to market their brand, intensify their awareness, or redefine their image?  What can you do to make your store / business more marketable, more profitable, or more efficient?

Take a hike.  Literally walk out to the parking lot.  See what greets your clients.  Do you see trash, litter, and dead plants?  Are carts scattered throughout, making more of a hazardous obstacle course, rather than an easy place to leave the car?  Are signs lit, doors operating properly, and accessibility easy for all?  Walk in your facility. What's the first thing that you notice?  Are the lights all burning brightly? Is the floor shiny, free of dirt, debris, and dust?  Is the fragrance of your store pleasant?  Do signs make sense, encourage and entice a purchase, or spark a conversation between associates and customers?  Each week, I try to walk with my teammates, encouraging them to "think like our customers" and focus to the customer experience.  As operators, it's so easy to get lost in a sea of never-ending tasks, to-do lists, floor updates, and reports.  The more we walk and work on the floor, the better. 

To be on top of our game, we must constantly assess and observe.  Perform a SWOT analysis and encourage your managers, supervisors, and teammates to periodically conduct their own assessment.  Celebrate your strengths, identify your weaknesses and formulate a plan to turn them into strengths, highlight opportunities for growth and improvement, confront threats head-on with a concise plan of action.   Not only will this effort make your own brand more marketable, more profitable, and more efficient, but you'll also build a strong team and provide the opportunity to develop talent from within your own organization. 

Who do you look for inspiration?  What companies go above and beyond?  Who impresses you?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

it only takes one.

The experience is everything.  You must constantly strive to create the culture and ensure success.  It's no longer enough to have the right products in the right place at the right time at the right price.  You must pay special attention to the lighting, the music, and music.  You must host events, offer refreshments, and meet your clients in their own environment.  You must do what it takes to go above and beyond.  The products/services may get the clients in the door, but your service and their experience are what keep them coming back.  You don't want to push too hard or you'll push them away, but you do want to control and maximize the experience.   There is a formula to "clienteling" and this is just the beginning.

In the 1800s, shortly after his parents died, a teen-aged Louis Vuitton walked nearly 300 miles to Paris.  The long journey took over two years.  When he arrived, Paris was bustling with the industrial revolution, and he quickly became an apprentice with an established box-maker.  Back in the day, box making was a very lucrative business - each box was handcrafted, and the better box-makers even packed the items for transport themselves, ensuring a secure and perfect fit.  After 17 years, Monsieur Vuitton started his own business, specializing in customized boxes and trunks.  The competition primarily had round tops; Louis's versions were mostly square or rectangular in shape, allowing multiples to be stacked for more efficient transportation.  Because of his quality and innovation, he became an official supplier to the fabulous and famous Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III.  It was this relationship with Empress Eugénie that opened the door for Louis Vuitton to the luxury demographic - securing future business and the future of his company. 

You never know who you're going to meet, what opportunity may present itself, or who is watching. 

You don't just "network" at work or for work. You're constantly meeting new people, representing yourself, your interests and industry, and profession. You're assessing what others are doing, actively engaging to discover why they're doing what they're doing, and amassing best practices as often as possible. You capitalize opportunities to maximize business, knowledge, and growth, whilst minimizing expenditures. You might not always be armed with business cards, but a firm handshake, a smile, and the courage to say hello.

After all, the answer is "no" until you ask...

This is the art of clienteling. Let's stay in touch.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

black is beautiful, a-peeling, reparing

Just as we change our wardrobes as the weather changes, so to should our skincare and haircare.  As you're exposed to the elements, especially sunny, sweaty environments, it's important to stay protected, hydrated, and fresh.  Here are a few things I'm loving that'll help put your best face forward:

Ouai Repair Shampoo

What it is:
A moisturizing shampoo that replenishes and nourishes for strong, healthy-looking hair.

What it is formulated to do:
This nourishing cleanser is infused with Ouai’s unique Smart Technology Complex™ to replenish moisture and fortidy breakage-prone strands. Hair is left looking shiny and feeling stronger.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

What else you need to know:
This product is ideal for chemically and mechanically damaged hair, and also nice to keep in rotation if you're going to be out in the sun, swimming, sweating, or exposed to the elements.  Added bonus: it makes an incredible, rich lather and smells fabulous.

Ouai Repair Conditioner

What it is:
A mega-moisturizing hydrator that feeds damaged hair without adding weight.

What it is formulated to do:
This nourishing conditioner repairs damage from chemicals, color, and heat. A super-moisturizing hydrator, it is infused with Ouai’s unique Smart Technology Complex™ for nourished, healthy-looking hair.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Phthalates

What else you need to know:
This product is ideal for chemically and mechanically damaged hair.  If you apply any face masks or treatments, be sure to apply the conditioner first, massage well into the hair and scalp, and let sit for a few moments while you treat the face/body.  This makes for optimal efficacy and luxurious results.

boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser  

What it is:
A warming gel cleanser that deeply cleans and detoxifies the complexion.

What it is formulated to do:
This Black Cleanser heats up on contact with skin to effectively open and de-clog pores. Its gel texture transforms into a gentle and effective lather to dissolve oil and makeup, rinsing away pore-clogging surface debris, impurities, and excess oil. It refines skin texture, brightens skin clarity, and minimizes the look of pores over time.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel 

What it is:
A lightweight peeling gel that delivers gentle exfoliation for deeper, more thorough cleansing results.

What it is formulated to do:
Get the benefits of a peel—without the harsh side effects. This peel gel acts as a physical peel to remove the outer layer of dead skin, as a chemical peel to penetrate deep into skin for in-depth exfoliation, and as a treatment to firm and brighten for a healthy complexion. It’s triple-activated to get the best results with outer exfoliation and chemical exfoliation deep within pores while a brightening treatment can penetrate deep into skin. It bonds together so you instantly feel outer layer of skin being fully exfoliated. After rinsing, it lets skin appear smoother, softer, and brighter-looking after a single use.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

What else you need to know:
This color-free product is free of preservatives, artificial fragrance, ethanol alcohol, gluten, and it is dermatologist tested.  Very important: apply this product to a dry face with dry hands.  If your face or hands are damp or wet, the product gets incredibly sticky and doesn't apply correctly.

boscia Luminizing Black Mask 

Which skin type is it good for?
✔ Normal
✔ Oily
✔ Combination

What it is:
A groundbreaking, mineral-rich mask that peels off to deliver powerful detoxifying, purifying, and brightening effects.

Solutions for:
- Enlarged pores
- Oiliness
- Dullness and uneven texture

If you want to know more…
This jet-black, mineral-rich mask creates a unique peel-off effect that delivers powerful detoxifying, purifying, and brightening results. Made with a premier-quality clay, its deep-cleansing properties draw out dirt and oil. Other natural ingredients go to work exfoliating skin and refining pores. Powerful antioxidants shrink the appearance of pores, firm skin, and reduce inflammation. Once dried, the mask strips away dead skin, impurities, and excess oil to reveal immediate and visible results.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

What else you need to know:
This product is also free of artificial fragrance and color, gluten, and ethanol alcohol. It is dermatologist tested.

Research results:
After 4 weeks of use:
- 91% reported their skin felt softer
- 91% reported their skin felt less oily
- 82% reported their skin appeared brighter 

I tried all 5 of these products last night, and am really impressed.  I started with the peel, then in the shower used the cleanser, shampoo, luminizing mask, and conditioner.  Afterwards, I followed up with my everyday Skin Revitalizing Concentrate from Tom Ford and a sample of the super moisturizing and repairing Premier Cru The Cream from Caudalie.   What're you loving this summer?

Monday, June 13, 2016

cooks tools

Continuing with my cooking recommendations theme, we move along cooks' tools. With the right implements, instruction, and inspiration, any recipe is possible. Here are a few I'm loving: 

I can't say enough good things about All-Clad.  I love when tools are functional and beautiful, and the All-Clad Cook and Serve set is exactly that. The heavy-grade 18/10 stainless steel construction makes for durable function and easy cleaning (dishwasher safe, too!) behind the scenes, while the mirrored finish adds a dash of style and class for the table.  Comes as a set of six that includes a fork, ladle, spoon, slotted spoon, tongs and storage caddy.  For an added bonus: the caddy can be monogrammed. 

Silicon spoonulas are the perfect mix of spatulas and spoons. I'm notorious for leaving the spatula in the pan or on hot surfaces, so I'm comforted knowing these brilliant bits are heat-resistant to 600ºF, dishwasher safe, and won't chip or crack. They're super handy and come in a variety of colors and sizes each season. I prefer the wooden handle options, because the silicon portion is removable, but the stainless steel options are nice as well. In my opinion, you can't have enough. 

Favored by bartenders and restaurateurs since 1882, Bar Keepers Friend is a premium cleanser and polish makes household surfaces shine like new. They’re the ideal kitchen cleaners-- for countertops, sinks, cooktops, appliances, cookware and more. Working without harmful chlorine bleach, this magical mix removes rust, lime, and hard water stains, as well as tarnish from copper and brass. With a little BKF and a lot of elbow-grease, everything will be sparkling clean. (Side note: BKF works great cleaning the bathtub and shower, too!)

I've sung the praises of the garlic peeler on multiple occasions, and must recommend again. Don't underestimate this peculiar piece - one use and you'll see how easily this floppy tube peels a clove of garlic. Simply insert whole unpeeled cloves, press down firmly, and briskly roll back and forth for a few seconds, until you hear the peel snap. Each week I'll peel and mince 3-4 heads in less than 5 minutes. 

This is a definite luxury, and I absolutely love it. Beautiful and practical, this box keeps up to 8 oz. of cooking salt within close reach. Handcrafted by Bérard of richly grained olive wood with an oil finish, it has a swiveling magnetic lid for easy one-handed access. Makes an incredible gift for house warnings, hostesses and thank yous, and anyone who loves to cook or appreciates great spices. 

I absolutely love cooking, and might have an arsenal full of goodies. These are just a few of the many I love. What tools do you use in your kitchen? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

best Fathers, best faces

In the United States, Father's Day is this Sunday. Help Dad put his best face forward with an upgrade to his everyday skincare routine. These products are straightforward, easy to use, and incredibly effective. The sheet mask from Farmacy Beauty is incredible! And since its pre measured and packs the best that Mother Nature has to offer, it'll help maintain his healthy, radiant skin all summer long without requiring multiple toners, tonics, potions, or lotions. Same goes for Dr. Gross's supercharged exfoliating wipes. They're perfect for Dad's travel back or gym bag, beyond easy to use, and make such a positive result. The Art of Shaving's shaving cream makes for the most luxurious, comfortable shave and only takes the tiniest dollop. The rejuvenating serum from Tom Ford is simply beyond - a few tiny drops melt into the skin and are literally the fountain of you. And help Dad protect his investment and live longer with Lancôme's fabulous sunscreen for face. It's water resistant for 80 minutes, so he won't need to reapply while out for a summertime splash or fun in the sun. Finish it all off with a new razor handle and pack of refill cartridges. Voila: instant upgrade of the best things he'll actually use. 

(Clockwise, from bottom left)

The Art of Shaving Ocean Kelp Shaving Cream, US$25. 

The Ocean Kelp Shaving Cream generates a rich and foamy lather that helps protect the skin from irritation by improving razor glide. It softens the beard for a close and comfortable shave. The Shaving Cream hydrates your hair for shaving and leaves your skin feeling smooth. It can be used with or without a shaving brush.


Coconut Acid, Essential Oils and Extracts from natural origin. Contains a high concentration of Glycerin.  Free from synthetic dyes and alcohol

When your skin is depleted of dry, adding a multifunctional tray ending oil into your regimen before moisturizing is one of the simplest ways to energize and regenerate it. This concentrate contains the highest concentration of the atom Ford skin calming and infusing complexes, plus essential oils and other enriching natural ingredients. It deeply hydrates and nourishes the skin and it conditions it before shaving and soothes it afterwards. Your skin has fewer fine lines and greater resilience against damage. 

What it is: 
A supercharged oil-control solution for oily, problematic skin. 

What it is formulated to do: 
Carrot extract contains lycopene, which is believed to control the over-production of sebum, helping normalize the elements that contribute to oily, problematic skin. It is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes harmful free radicals. The formula also contains Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a unique, patent-protected variant of echinacea purpurea that contains the highest known concentration of cichoric acid. This acid helps protect the skin by supporting collagen and promotes a more evenly toned complexion. Coconut gel provides intensive hydration and restores the skin’s balance, while the bio-cellulose sheet releases the complex of components to provide the skin’s surface layers with a penetrating surge of active ingredients. 

This pro-strength ferulic and retinol peel rapidly retextures the appearance of skin and supports natural repair for your best complexion ever, while a replenishing moisture complex keeps skin in perfect balance. Multitasking while you sleep, this advanced treatment supports collagen production, reduces the look of wrinkles, and restores the feel of firmness so you can wake up to a remarkably smoother, firmer, and radiant complexion. 

What it is:
A detoxifying charcoal gel wash for men that delivers a deep-pore clean. 

What it is formulated to do:
Charcoal Face Wash contains natural charcoal to draw out the dirt and excess oil that can clog pores. The soothing, non-drying lather gently foams away impurities, detoxifies, and purifies—leaving all skin types feeling fresh and comfortable. 

What it is: 
A fast-absorbing, oil-free facial sunscreen that delivers SPF 50+ protection to shield the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays that may contribute to skin damage and premature skin aging. 

What it is formulated to do: 
This high-performing facial sunscreen protects from harmful rays to sustain a guilt-free day in the sun. The lightweight formula is perfect to wear daily over your moisturizer (or under makeup) and even alone. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this super fluid sunscreen is ideal for all skin types, even sensitive skin, and is dermatologist-tested for safety.  

What it is: 
A potent, all-inclusive skin care treatment with innovative grains that transform into a gentle, foaming exfoliating cream with the addition of water. 

What it is formulated to do: 
This gentle cleanser contains unique grains to cleanse, exfoliate, and clarify in one step for fresh, clear skin. Natural cranberry seeds provide a deep clean to lift away surface debris and promote skin clarity, while rice bran powder loosens dry skin cells and absorbs excess oils and surface impurities. A complex of white willow bark, carrot, green tea, and marshmallow soothe, protect, and calm the skin. The formula also contains Farmacy’s Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a unique, patent-protected variant of echinacea purpurea that contains the highest known concentration of cichoric acid, which helps protect the skin by supporting natural collagen.

Friday, June 3, 2016

built to love, built to be loud, built to last

I just realized I've had the same headphones for 10 years.  Ten years of travel, ten years of sweaty exercise, ten years of movies and music, and ten years of pure enjoyment.  When I originally purchased them, I knew they weren't cheap, but trusted B&O's sound and engineering quality.  And after a decade, I still stand by their superior craftsmanship and enjoyment.  I don't know if mine are the original model, but the only improvements I would make have already been added to the current version (a microphone and audio controls on the decide).  Other than that - I love them. 

Technically, the headphone dimensions are 35 mm x 59 mm x 14 mm, have a weight of 22 g, consist of an electro-dynamic intra concha earphone, have a 1.2 m cord, and have a frequency range of 50 - 20,000 Hz.
Anders Hermansen designed them specifically for maximum comfort as well, leaving each piece maneuverable up or down and side to side.  Headphones include a 2-year warranty and free shipping online at B&O.  US$199.  

What headphones do you love?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

haute heritage, haute history

When accessories, clothes, and the like are handcrafted, expertly designed, and made of the most incredible materials, coupled with a real history of elegance and heritage, you instantly see the artistic among the value.

It is these long-established codes, the elements created, curated, and loved by Monsieur Dior himself that continue to guide the designs of the House.   Modern.  Classic.  Strong.  Delicate.  Sophisticated.  And oh so feminine. 

Haute heritage.  Hot history.  Haute Couture.  Christian Dior

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A partnership and lava-like hotness

 Extract - Sichuan pepperTop Note - CardamomHeart Note - JasmineBase Note - Cedarwood and black pepper oil 

"The citrus notes have more "sizzle" thanks to the grapefruit accord on top.  The original spices have been given an unexpected twist with refined cardamom, nutmeg, and a hint of black pepper for a modern, masculine finish."
-- Elsa Chabert, Fragrance Essentielles

Since 1973, London's Molton Brown have made some of the most incredible bath, body, and home fragrance products.  They're expertly blended with exotic ingredients for a truly unique experience for both men and women, while being socially responsible and environmentally friendly.  I've used a number of their products over the years in both hotels and my home, and really enjoy how each product seems to out perform expectations.  With Molton Brown, you'll use much less product than anticipated while having a luxurious, spa-like experience in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

I'm really excited for their newest collection, Recharge Black Pepper Sport.  Each summer, I find myself attracted to the same types of scents - either citrus or aquatic.  But I'm always looking for something new, something not everyone else will be wearing.  This year I'm looking forward to incorporating a bit of this new range from Molton Brown.  And I haven't even smelled it yet!  When I do, you can be sure I'll post a note or two.  

I'm also very interested in various watch collections by Tiffany & Co.  If you haven't noticed, the luxury watch segment is incredibly saturated, with malls and shopping centers dominated by both storefronts and advertisements of each mark's latest watch model or yet another celebrity pushing yet another timepiece.  With the younger generation of luxury shoppers, a brand's heritage and history isn't enough to warrant a sale; quality, service, and experience must also be a priority.  I love how Tiffany & Co. have added a modern twist to their own watch history.  Did you know that the brand's innovative founder Charles Lewis Tiffany installed a clock outside of the flagship boutique in 1853, long before public clocks became commonplace?  Or that in 1868 Mr. Tiffany introduced the first stopwatch in America, called the Tiffany Timer?  And it was a handshake between Charles Lewis Tiffany and famed ultra-luxe watch producer Antoine Norbert de Patek in 1851 that began a partnership committed to unparalleled integrity and excellence.,1,6&defaultImage=NoImageAvailable&&
I'm kind of obsessed with the Patek Philippe + Tiffany & Co. Aquanaut men's watch.  Reference 5167A in stainless steel with an embossed black dial and a black composite hypoallergenic strap. 40 mm case, automatic movement, water resistant to 120 meters/394 feet, Swiss-made. For more information, phone +1.212.605.4036 to speak with a Patek Philippe specialist from the Tiffany & Co. New York flagship store. 

The citrus notes have more "sizzle" thanks to the grapefruit accord on top. The original spices have been given an unexpected twist with refined cardamom, nutmeg and a hint of black pepper for a modern, masculine finish.
Elsa Chabert,Fragrances Essentielles
- See more at:

The citrus notes have more "sizzle" thanks to the grapefruit accord on top. The original spices have been given an unexpected twist with refined cardamom, nutmeg and a hint of black pepper for a modern, masculine finish.
Elsa Chabert,Fragrances Essentielles
- See more at:
The citrus notes have more "sizzle" thanks to the grapefruit accord on top. The original spices have been given an unexpected twist with refined cardamom, nutmeg and a hint of black pepper for a modern, masculine finish.
Elsa Chabert,Fragrances Essentielles
- See more at:
The citrus notes have more "sizzle" thanks to the grapefruit accord on top. The original spices have been given an unexpected twist with refined cardamom, nutmeg and a hint of black pepper for a modern, masculine finish.
Elsa Chabert,Fragrances Essentielles
- See more at:

Monday, May 30, 2016

fabulous french fragrance

"I’ve always loved the duality of rhubarb. A double duality: visual and olfactory. The green color metamorphoses into red. Starting acidic and crisp, its smell becomes smooth and velvety."
—Christine Nagel, Parfumeur
Perfume has been a part of Hermès history since the 1930s. In the library of Hermès perfumes, each perfume is a story and opens up an imaginary world. Acting as both craftsman and artist, Hermès invests its unparalleled savoir-faire and creative freedom in all its perfumed creations.
With Eau De Rhubarbe Ecarlate, Christine Nagel has created her first Cologne for Hermès .  Unprecedented and bold, more vegetal than citrus, it gives us the crisp, acidic freshness of rhubarb made velvety smooth with white musks. 

I've always loved fabulous fragrances, especially the more unique varieties.  My longtime favorites have been from the private blend collection by Tom Ford.  They're simply beyond.  But this time, something is different.  In a good way!  Maybe it's because my childhood was fueled by my Mother's special rhubarb cake and rhubarb pies.  Or because I've always loved the elegance and heritage associated with Hermès.  Regardless, I couldn't have been more excited getting a sneak "sniff" of this incredible indulgence at Nordstrom today.

Great gift suggestion for Father's Day, graduation, or simply just because...

To learn more about Eau De Rhubarbe Ecarlate, phone my tried and true for all things awesome on +1.615.850.6700. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

fashion + function on the road or trail

I am a people watcher.  I'm constantly watching people's interactions, looking at what people are wearing, observing styles and trends, looking for new products and presentations, and generally checking out what's happening.  When I'm out and about, I'm always snapping photos as reminders, making notes of brands or trends to study and research later.  As a businessman, this provides great insight into the competition and often leads to practice improvements and greater efficiency.  As a private shopper, this also leads to incredible entertainment.

In the late 1990s, I kept seeing the coolest backpacks abroad with the funkiest shape.  They looked super durable, lightweight, and generally weatherproof.  Come to find out, these futuristic bags were from a Swedish design firm called Boblbee.  And my first impressions were spot-on; the bags were made of carbon fiber, aluminum, and crazy durable ABS plastics.  Their special shape protects the spine and secures the contents from inclement weather.

A few years later, we ordered one for our Dad for Father's Day.  Our family has always been into biking and outdoor recreation, and it's definitely gotten its use.  From hundreds of miles on bicycles to random city hikes, I definitely recommend the bag.

Other than online, the bags are pretty tricky to find in the United States.  Apparently in 2014 or 2015 they joined forces with another Swedish company called Point 65. If you're looking for a rugged bag that looks cool and feels comfortable, check it out.  I hope to be buying one of my own, soon. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

comfort food

If you haven't yet noticed - I'm super nostalgic. I'm not one of those people who hoards every single item and refuses to throw anything away.  I'm more of a selective hoarder, instead keeping "edited collections" instead of "piles of junk."  I may happen to have boxes of kitchen tools, an overabundance of clothing options, and enough greeting cards and skincare to start my own Hallmark and Sephora.  What can I say?  I like options and to be prepared.

I don't know if "obsessive" is the right term to describing my cooking, but it's much more than a love affair.  Food was always been much more than sustenance - it's been a centerpiece of my life.  From cooking with family and friends, to food shopping, farming and gardening, and managing upscale cooking stores, food is always the focus.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about your favorite holiday.  You may recall a general feeling, a few special memories.  If you were to cook something from that holiday, you'd instantly be transported back in time to the exact places and feelings you experienced.  This is one of the many joys I get from cooking every day - the opportunity to relive great memories and create new ones, as well! 

Here are a few kitchen goodies I'm loving:

garlic peeler
I absolutely love garlic.  There aren't many recipes I make that don't have at least a clove or two (or ten!).  Speed up your prep time with this handy plastic tube.  Break apart the head of garlic, place a clove inside the tube, firmly pressing and rolling.  The skin instantly falls off, revealing the "naked" clove.  I can peel a few heads of garlic in just a couple minutes. And to save even more time when cooking, each week I'll prepare both minced and sliced garlic and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  The garlic peeler rinses very easily and is also dishwasher safe.  US$9 at Williams-Sonoma.

Splatter Screen

This All-Clad splatter screen is a constant in my kitchen.  In short, it's super durable, dishwasher safe, and makes cooking both safer and much cleaner.  It's available in two different sizes, and I chose the larger version, which fits on almost all of my pans and ovens.  Anytime I'm searing, sauteing, braising, or cooking something on higher heats, I use the splatter screen.  From bacon to beef roast and sauces to soups, this kitchen essential prevents painful splatters and pesky messes.  (Side note: a few months ago I was trying out a new recipe for bourbon cheesecake ice cream and needed a fine sieve - a tool I surprisingly don't have.   But with a large mixing bowl, a silicon spatula, and my trusty splatter screen, all was well!)  About US$60 at Williams-Sonoma.

Staub @ Sur La Table

I absolutely love cooking in fabulous French cookware.  In my opinion, Staub's range is the best.  Their enamel-coated cast iron handles heat to 500ºF and is the high-tech version of traditional cast iron.  The interior of all Staub pots are enameled with a matte black finish, which allows for improved resistence to thermal shocks and scratching, making care easier and keeping maximum beauty.  The enamel also has anti-adhesive properties and requires no seasoning before first use, and is incredibly safe - made free of Cadmium, lead, PFOA, and PTFE. Best of all Staub makes for juicier, more succulent food - their lids are covered with little nubs, literally self-braising while cooking.  Staub is made in France, has a lifetime warranty, and compatible with gas, electric, and induction cooking devices.  (Side note: Staub is technically dishwasher safe, but I've always hand washed with Barkeeper's friend and a scrub brush.)  US$319,95 at Sur La Table. 

My favorite knife is all is the Santoku, Japanese for three virtues" or "three uses".  Its blade is typically between 13 and 20 centimetres (5.1 and 7.9 in) long, and has a flat edge and a sheepsfoot blade that curves in an angle approaching 60 degrees at the point. The top of the Santoku's handle is in line with the top of the blade. The word refers to the three cutting tasks which the knife performs well: slicing, chopping, and mincing. The Santoku's blade and handle are designed to work in harmony by matching the blade's width and weight to the those of the tang and handle. 

In short: other than peeling produce or slicing breads, I'm constantly using a Santoku.  My favorite is from a brand called Shun.  Knives must be comfortable in your hand, fitting and weighing perfectly.  When shopping for a new knife, be sure to hold as many as possible to the best fit.  US$225 at Bloomingdale's

 These are just a few of my everyday essentials.  What are some of your go-to goodies that you can't cook without? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

farm fresh faces

I love mission based retail: brands, companies, stores, and designers, who all have a special purpose and motivation behind their business.  I don't just mean having a mission statement; there has to be a greater cause.  For example, (product) RED is a movement to provide really cool products that are no more expensive than the regular versions, but a portion of the proceeds supports AIDS research and provides lifesaving medicine and treatment to pregnant women with HIV and their young children.  Or the Navy Exchange - a semi-governmental agency that sells quality goods and services to active duty, retired, family members, and Department of Defense civilians at a more affordable price, and ultimately donate a large portion of the proceeds to the morale, welfare, and recreation at military installations worldwide. 

Now, imagine a company going "above and beyond" a standard mission and addressing multiple needs simultaneously.  Imagine a company that employed local, small farmers to produce ingredients naturally, with as minimal negative impact on the environment as possible.  Now also prioritize hiring young people, who traditionally avoid the agricultural and farming industries for work.  And then sprinkle in the fact that those fresh, locally farmed ingredients are transported just two hours to the laboratories, where they're cold pressed for maximum efficacy and strength (much like the farm-to-table restaurant movements).  All these incredible aspects only begin to scratch the surface of the ethos at Farmacy Beauty.

Farm fresh ingredients + scientific engineering and formulation = gorgeous skin naturally.  Skincare doesn't have to be fussy, full of fillers and lackluster ingredients, and definitely isn't just for women.  Here are some Farmacy Beauty products I'm loving:

Sleep Tight

Sleep tight!  Literally.  Reinforcing the skin’s natural moisture content, this balm aids firmness and tone while helping to restore elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The texture is super lightweight, which I really appreciate in the warmer weather.   I rubbed a pea-sized amount on the palms of my hands to "warm up" the product, turning the gel into a luxurious oil-like consistency, which quickly melted onto my face, neck, and left just enough to treat my hands as well.  Farmacy Beauty's star ingredient is Echinacea GreenEnvy, a unique patent-protected variant of Echinacea Purpurea.  GreenEnvy contains the highest known concentration of the phytochemical Cichoric Acid, a potent natural antioxidant which helps protect and firm the skin by inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen.  Cichoric Acid is more than just a powerful anti-aging booster - it also normalizes the skin pigmentation process to promote a more evenly toned, smoother complexion.  In short, Sleep Tight packs a powerful punch with vegetable-derived “Retinoid-like” ingredients to help prevent early wrinkles, smooth deep wrinkles, improve skin radiance and texture while restoring firmness.

A New Day has come!
It would be so easy to recommend a cleanser, exfoliant, and toner.  Or you could put your best face forward with New Day.  If you're in a hurry in the mornings, travel frequently and have limited space in your cosmetics bag, dopp kit, or gym bag, or are on a budget, this is definitely for you.  This powdered product is a three-in-one, gently cleaning the skin, sloughing away dead skin cells and pesky pore-clogging debris, then clarifies and tones, leaving skin silky smooth and radiant.  

I tried this out in the shower and can't say enough good things. I poured about a quarter sized amount into the palm of my hand and mixed a few drops of water into a frothy paste.  I then massaged it all over my face, neck, and hands, allowing it to sit for a few minutes (while I conditioned my hair), and rinsed clean.  

Natural cranberry seeds and rice bran powder sweep away dead skin cells and debris and absorb excess oils, while the brand's stellar GreenEnvy protects against anti-oxidants and free radicals.  Plus a natural cocktail of White Willow Bark, Carrot, Green Tea and Marshmallow soothe, protect and calm the skin.

I love face masks.  They're quick, effective, and convenient.  If you travel frequently or are always on-the-go, I recommend getting one of the assortment packs.  This way if you have a sudden breakout or unexpected dry patch, you have a quick and easy solution without having to buy an entirely new skincare regime.  During the summer months, you're more likely to have increased sun exposure as well - so a trip to the "farmacy" may be just what the doctor (or farmer!) ordered.  Natural coconut gel provides natural moisture to help skin look fresher and more radiant.  Kale extract offers a complex blend of minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids that helps re-balance vulnerable, stressed skin. Vitamin A strengthens the skin while active minerals help restore the skin’s ideal oil and water balance.  All in one easy mask.
Lip Bloom lip balm
Smooth, soft, full lips are always en vogue.  And that's exactly what you'll get with this soothing herb-infused balm.  In addition to the anti-aging GreenEnvy, Caster Seed Oil provides a plant-based protective film that helps preserve natural hydration levels, while Sunflower Seed Oil helps maintain the skin’s barrier function with high levels of emollients derived from natural essential fatty acids.  And the best part - it's not glossy, so it's perfect for men and women.  

With Farmacy Beauty, you don't just have to eat your fruits and vegetables - you can wear them, too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

a few faves

All of my favorite things in life start with the same letter: faith, family, fashion, food, friends, fun.  Everything revolves around these categories, and are always a priority in life.  They fuel me, bring encouragement and entertainment, keep me grounded and guided, and supported and safe. 

A few things I'm loving lately:|staub%2Bwhite|8|best|0|1|24||7&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH
I absolutely love cooking.  Whether I'm in the kitchen, shopping for food, eating at a restaurant, gardening, or simply exploring new places, I can't stop thinking about cooking.  I love everything about cooking - especially the conversations in kitchens, the memories made, and the entire experience.  I've had the true pleasure of cooking with a myriad of fabulous people, and in a simple way, cook to honor those I love.

I'm really loving this new white collection from Staub.  It's made from enamel coated cast iron with layers of quartz, so you get incredible heat conductivity, durability, and super easy cleanup.  Not to mention, it's beyond beautiful, made in France, has a self-braising lid, is dishwasher safe, and can stand heat up to 500°F/260°C.  

For a limited time, save 20% on your Staub cookwear from Williams-Sonoma with promo code "COOK" - or for more detail, phone Summer at +1 (615) 292.5066.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to look good.  But if you are able to spend a little more - get the most out of your suiting by mixing it up a bit.  I love this casually chic look from Lanvin.  Mixing a cool t-shirt and designer kicks adds character and confidence to any suit, especially this incredible tuxedo.

Lustrous, pickstitched peak lapels front an elegant wool-and-mohair tuxedo jacket paired with crisply creased flat-front trousers to form a timeless, dashing look.
  • Jacket has single-button closure; front flap pockets; besom chest pocket; side vents.
  • Trousers have zip fly with button-tab closure; slant pockets; back welt pockets.
  • Unhemmed. (And don't forget - when you buy any full-price suit at Nordstrom, basic alterations are always complimentary.)  
  • Jacket is lined; trousers are partially lined.
  • 90% wool, 10% mohair.
  • Dry clean.
  • Made in Italy

There's "little girl glitter" and then there's "big girl glam"'s time to up your game for summer and try this incredible shimmering body oil from Tom Ford Beauty.  Soleil Blanc is the perfect blend of summer white florals with spicy, aromatic sandalwood and amber.  It's lightweight, provides a sultry, sun-kissed glow, and feels amazing.  Phone Tonya at Nashville Norstrom's Tom Ford shop for more details: +1 (615) 850.6700.

Spring has finally spring!  Thank the Lord!  And summer is soon on its way!  Nourish and protect your lips with this awesome lip balm from Farmacy.

What it is formulated to do:
This soothing herb-infused balm forms a protective barrier on the lips, leaving them smoother, softer, and fuller. The formula contains Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a unique, patent-protected variant of echinacea purpurea that contains the highest known concentration of cichoric acid, which helps protect the skin. Castor seed oil provides a plant-based protective film that helps preserve natural hydration levels. Sunflower seed oil helps maintain the skin’s barrier function with high levels of emollients derived from natural essential fatty acids. Super shout out to Nashville Sephora's Jessica who introduced me to this must-have summer secret.  

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

What else you need to know:
This product is formulated with naturally derived ingredients and is free of formaldehyde, and artificial coloring. It is not tested on animals.

No matter what your agenda or budget - find things you love.  Make the most of each day, find the beauty in each moment and person you interact with, and remember we're all in this together.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

sample the goods, sample the service

I've worked in luxury retail for nearly 18 years now.  A friend was asking me if I thought I'd only ever work in luxury.  And my first response was plain and simple: anything can be luxury.  So my short answer: yes. 

Consider this: with the right attitude, approach, and communication, every job can be luxurious. 

The attitude: you must always convey a "can-do" tone with your clients.  The more service you deliver, the more time and resources you invest, the relationship becomes more meaningful and more valuable.  Asking open ended questions will determine not only the immediate needs of your clients, but help you learn valuable details about their life and long term goals.  In luxury retail especially, personal details and knowledge is more than power.  They lead to money in the bank. 

Your approach must be consistent.  You must warmly welcome your clients, quickly determine their needs and wants, and start achieving those goals.  Customers don't buy shovels because they want a shovel; customers buy shovels because they need to get digging.  The quicker you respond, the more time you save the clients, and thus, the most loyalty you establish.  Time is everything, no matter what demographic you may be categorized.

Communication is everything.  What does your uniform or clothing say about your personality and salesmanship?  Are you trendy, polished, and professional?  Or did you just roll out of bed and last launder your wardrobe when Tony Blair was at the helm of the kingdom?  Speak confidently and competently; know as much as possible about the goods and services on offer, what you can do for your clients, and how to achieve their goals quickly and discretely.  When you act with purpose, you'll be viewed more seriously and more favorably.  Ultimately, you should be committed to driving the business and mastering your craft.  And when you do, you'll exceed your own goals and do so with an added dash of style + class.
 In doing so, you'll want to offer your clients either a sample of the goods or services you wish to sell.  Recently I was visiting my favorite Nordstrom store in Nashville with a friend.  While we were browsing the cosmetics and skincare department, an associate quickly and casually greeted us, offered herself for assistance if needed, and told us she'd check back with us.  She was unobtrusive and quite lovely.  A few moments later, upon reapproach,  the conversation turned to new products on offer.  Candy, the associate, asked if we had ever heard of the brand Diptyque.  I had indicated that I had a favorite candle, but that's all I really knew of the brand.  Her simple question turned into the biggest smile.  Apparently the brand wanted to remove their skincare range from the store, but Candy was so excited and had built a loyal customer base for the products, that they were able to keep the extended range.  And since I had never tried the skincare before, she wanted to offer me a few samples.  After a moment away, I was presented with the loveliest little bag of a handful of samples, her business card, and the invitation to follow up and share my thoughts on the products.

I'm so impressed.  Not only was Candy excited about her products, but she knew exactly how to introduce the brand.  And with her fabulous presentation, she not only signaled to me that the products were really wonderful, but she signaled to me that she had established a great relationship with the brand's executives, she was willing to go above and beyond for her customers, and the service she could provide me would be top notch as well. 

Candy could have very easily pointed to a few "tester" products on the shelf and told us to take a look.  But instead, by offering a few samples in a small bag with her business card, and asking the right amount of questions, she created a solid relationship. 

We can all take a few tips from Candy.  If you work at a supermarket, offer to push the groceries out to your client's car.  It'll give you a moment to grab some fresh air, a little added exercise, and you will be able to push the empty cart back in and prevent unwanted dings and dents in the parking lot.  Or if you work at a clothing store, make sure to nicely fold the purchases before placing them in the bag.  Wrap them with tissue paper if available.  And walk around the cash register to present the purchases to your clients and thank them for their business.  Or if you're a travel agent, be sure to follow up with your clients after their return.  Not only will your interest in their happiness solidify business in the future, but you may also learn additional tips or updated information from your clients to pass along to others.

No matter what you're selling, offer a sample as much as possible.  You never know what big successes may stem from such a small gesture.