Friday, May 30, 2014

Tory Burch Advice - Please Read This!

I must say I love this woman, even though we've never met.  Her clothes are divine, she's gorgeous, never has even a hair out of place, she has style, great taste, great homes and even better advice.  Here are some excerpts from her commencement speech at Babson. 

Here is what I've learned: We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification, and Instagram, but there is no way to short circuit the path to success. It takes hard work, tenacity and patience.
There are many things you can do overnight. You can write a decent paper. You can put the finishing touches on a runway show. I hear you can even have a pretty good time at Roger's Pub.
But there is no such thing as an overnight success.
It's a myth that glosses over what being an entrepreneur is all about. As Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter, put it: "Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of really hard work will eventually make you look like an overnight success."
The good news is that if you're willing to pursue your passion, put in the hard work, and believe in yourself, you will succeed.

That's something that I didn't know when I was your age.
When I was sitting where you are today, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
I had grown up on a farm outside of Philadelphia. I was a tomboy, who spent all of my time playing outdoors with my three brothers. My interest in fashion was limited.
In fact, I didn't put on a dress until my senior prom, but fashion was clearly in my DNA. My parents had impeccable style. I channeled their love for beauty into a love for art and design, and went to the University of Pennsylvania to study art history.
I applied for many jobs my senior year of college. There was a Yugoslavian designer whose clothes my mother wore. His name was Zoran and three days before graduation, I cold-called him and asked for a job. He said yes, on one condition -- I had to start in a week. On graduation day, all I could think about was finding an apartment in New York.
It was a whole new world. Zoran was a true eccentric with a long black beard that last year's Red Sox team would have admired. He was minimalist. Everything in the office was white, there were no chairs -- and the vodka started flowing at 10 a.m.
As his assistant, I did everything from getting coffee to running interference. People would come to the office, and Zoran would hide in the bathroom. I'd have to pretend he wasn't there.
It was a fantastic entrée into the fashion industry. I was exposed to all the elements of a designer's world, from designing a collection to managing press to learning about the business side. Fashion quickly became my passion.
While at Zoran, I was offered a job at Harper's Bazaar. From there, I moved into PR and marketing - first at Ralph Lauren, then at Vera Wang, and then working for Loewe.
What I learned is what Babson taught all of you: Even if you're not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do. If you view each stop as an opportunity to learn something, there is always something you will take away from that experience.
While at Loewe, I was offered the job of president at about the same time that I learned I was pregnant with my third son. I realized I couldn't do that job and be the kind of mom I wanted to be so I decided to take some time off to focus on my family. It was a tough decision. Having a career was important to me -- and I knew it would be part of my life again.
It was during that time that I began developing the concept for my company. It all started when I noticed a void in my own closet for beautifully designed, classic pieces that didn't cost a fortune. It wasn't just a void in my closet; it turned out to be a white space in the market.
I started working out of my apartment with a small team that could help me turn my concept into a reality.
Like most start-ups, we had to fundraise. I asked a lot of people I knew to invest, including some people who couldn't easily afford it. I was terrified of losing people's money, so I told them "only invest if you're prepared to lose it." Over 100 people said yes.
With the money we raised and a personal investment, we set up an office in Hong Kong for production and sourcing and I traveled there often. When I was home, we talked every evening. Given the time difference, that meant I'd be on conference calls until 3 or 4 in the morning. On those nights, my definition of success was not dozing off on the phone.
We also leased a small space on a low-rent corner of Manhattan--and ordered a first shipment of products to fill it. I was warned many times against opening a retail store. There were a lot of naysayers who thought I should start with a wholesale partner and build the brand from there. But I wanted a unique experience. Retail design at the time was very spare. I wanted to do something different. I wanted the boutique to be warm and inviting, like you were walking into a room in someone's home. It was also unusual to launch with multiple categories and ecommerce, but from Day 1 it was a lifestyle brand.
We opened our first store in February 2004, during New York Fashion Week. My stepdaughters and I worked through the night to get everything ready. We opened our doors at 10 -- without the actual doors, which hadn't arrived. I was afraid no one would come, but thankfully, the space became so packed that women were trying on clothes in the middle of the store. By 6 p.m., we'd sold through nearly all of our inventory.
A few months later, we got a call from Oprah. I thought it was one of my brothers playing a joke on me. "Yes sure, I'll cancel spring break to be on Oprah."
After I appeared on Oprah, our website got 8 million hits. The media called us an overnight success. I guess that made sense -- if you didn't count the 20,000 hours we put into building the business up to that day, or the combined half a million hours we all spent learning the industry in the years before that.
Today, we are a global brand with more than 120 freestanding boutiques and a presence in more than 3,000 department and specialty stores worldwide.
From the beginning, one of the reasons I wanted to start a company was to start a foundation. Social responsibility was always part of the business plan. This was not always viewed as a positive -- some people told me never to mention the word social responsibility and business in the same sentence. That only made me more determined.
I knew our foundation would benefit women and children. We had learned so much from our experiences starting a business that we thought we could help other women who wanted to do the same.
In 2009 we launched our foundation to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families. It has been incredibly meaningful not only to me personally, but to our customer, our employees and our business partners, all of whom care about giving back and helping women.
In 2012, we partnered with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses to offer a nine-week MBA course for promising women entrepreneurs with no formal business education. I am proud to say that the school that helped us design that program was Babson.
This January, in partnership with Bank of America, we launched an initiative called Elizabeth Street Capital, named for the location of our first store. Through this initiative we are providing women entrepreneurs with access to the capital and mentoring support they need to launch and scale their businesses. I hope some of you will come to us when you're ready!
Today, it has been 10 years since we launched and in many ways I feel like we're just beginning, but I never could have gotten here overnight.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my parents is to think of negativity as noise. Believe in yourself and what you're doing.
Remember: If the most unique ideas were obvious to everyone, there wouldn't be entrepreneurs. The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success.
Thank you for the opportunity today to be a part of yours.

Thank you Tory Burch.  You are an inspiration to women everywhere!

Carter's Grove - A "Downton Abbey" in Virginia

Interested in a "Downton on the James" (River)?  Well, Carter's Grove is back on the market. The illustrious plantation, located just outside of Williamsburg, Virginia is headed back to the real estate listings thanks to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  The price has not been released.  The Foundation bought the property on May 21 at auction for $7.4 million.  The previous owner, Halsey Minor, could not keep up with his payments.  The 18,700-square-foot house sits on 400 acres. The property has been appraised at approximately $15 million and the mansion is considered among the best examples of Georgian architecture in the U.S. It was built in 1755 and has ties to the earliest European settlers in Virginia.

The plantation was built for Carter Burwell, grandson of Robert "King" Carter and was completed in 1755. It was probably named for both the prominent and wealthy Carter family and nearby Grove Creek. Carter's Grove Plantation was built on the site of an earlier tract known as Martin's Hundred which had first been settled by the English colonists around 1620.

After hundreds of years of multiple owners and generations of families, and the death of the last resident in 1964, Carter's Grove was added to Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's (CW) properties through a gift from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1969.

Carter's Grove was open to tourists for many years but closed its doors to the public in 2003 while its mission and role in CW's programs were redefined. Later that year, Hurrican Isabel rendered serious damage to the road which had linked the estate directly to the Historic Area of Williamsburg, a distance of 8 miles (13 km), bypassing commercial and public roadways. The foundation announced in late 2006 that it would be offered for sale, under specific restrictive conditions.

In December 2007, the mansion and 476 acres (193 ha) were acquired for $15.3 million by CNET founder Halsey Minor, who announced plans to use the property as a private residence and a center for a thoroughbred horse breeding program with the Phipps family.  Minor's financial troubles put the house in serious turmoil and the Williamsburg Foundation stepped in to save it.  If you want to own a piece of Virginia history, here's your chance, but you'll need staff to run it!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Virginia Horse Connection

If you've spent time in Virginia, especially the central region beyond "Norther Virginia" you'll know that the state has a rich equine history. Our biggest claim to fame is that Secretariat was born just north of Richmond, and that history is chronicled in this wonderful book written Penny Chenery's daughter.

Another book worth reading is Julie Campbell's "The Horse in Virginia" which traces how horses have made an impact in the Old Dominion. A very good read.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No Regrets

 2014 has been a difficult year with the passing of my father in February and the passing of a long-time friend who left this world in April.  I saw the list below and it made me think that life is so very short, it passes by so very quickly and before you realize it our time in this world is gone.

A palliative care nurse came up with the top five regrets people make on their deathbed: 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.

I made a radical change in my life mid-30's, quit a great job, moved to the country, wrote a book, met my husband. It was a difficult choice to make but it was one of the happiest years of my life. Since then, I have been living a life that I truly love, not the one my parents probably thought I'd live but I have a great life, a great husband, a great family, and that one year allowed that radical change.  It was difficult, but just do it!


2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret.

This one is really tough.  In today's world, at least here in the U.S., work expectations are unrealistic and if you don't "do it" your chances of moving up the ladder are dim. Been there, done that.  It's a balancing act, and your have to walk a tight line between doing a great job but having a life at the same time. If you have the answer here please let me know.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

A close friend's brother is ill, very ill, and his suppressed anger all these years over losing a sibling at an early age has been bottled up inside all these years, now he's really sick... very sad. Deal with your emotions before they deal with you!

That's another friend Laura who also left this world way too early, just another reminder in case you need one!

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.

 That's my pal Jessica, at the U.S. Open.  Great friends are just life's gift.  Cherish them!

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

Truman has figured out the happiness part!  
Have a regret-free day and live it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Horse That God Built's Groom

A groom, whether for race horses, grand prix Olympic show jumpers or an amateur horse show rider is worth their weight in gold.  I got to thinking about this as I started reading The Horse That God Built which is the story about Secretariat's groom, Eddie Sweat.

It's one of those "stay up until 4 am" books and I can't put it down.  No one has given us the story of the dedicated Eddie Sweat and the story is fascinating for anyone who has ever had a deep bond with a horse.  Others may not "get it." Author Lawrence Scanlan makes a convincing case that Sweat was instrumental in keeping his horse healthy and happy, a necessary precondition for the success of any equine athlete. Extrapolating from the relationship between Secretariat and Sweat, Scanlan argues, again convincingly, that grooms are the largely unappreciated and universally underpaid bedrock upon which the entire edifice of Thoroughbred racing is built. His point is driven home by the poignant circumstances of Eddie Sweat's death in 1998. While Secretariat's owner and trainer gained both fame and wealth through their association with the horse, the groom died penniless and-until now-unknown to all but a few racing insiders.

I also read somewhere that California Chrome's groom Raul Rodriguez has slept in the stall with
the horse since he won the Derby earlier this month. The Blood Horse did a wonderful story on him, and you can access the video here. 

 (California Chrome and Raul Rodriguez)

In 2010, the New York Times ran a piece about race horse grooms.  It also sheds some light on how hard these people work and how dedicated they are to their horses.  You can read it here

 (Statue of Secretariat with Groom Eddie Sweat, Ky Horse Park in Lexington - How Appropriate is This?)

Grooms are the unsung heroes of the horse world - for anyone who competes at a high level in any horse-related discipline knows how hard it is to do it all by yourself.  I can attest to that as well, as when showing, working, riding, keeping a farm going, you need help from someone who really knows how to properly take care of these athletes.  That's what they are!

 (Eddie Sweat with Secretariat)

I'll be thinking about California Chrome's groom in two more weeks.  How much is he to be commended for his horse's success?  Probably a lot more than any of us think.  We need more people like Eddie Sweat in this world, don't we?

Kennedy "Winter White House" is Up for Grabs

A piece of Camelot is on the market again, this time in Palm Beach.  See the listing here.

For a cool $38.5 million you can own this 15,000-square-foot Atlantic Beach compound which reeks history.  The house was sold in 1995 to investment banker John Castle for a mere $4.9 million but the house was, at the time, considered a "tear down."  Thank goodness the investment banker CEO was smart enough to understand the historical significance of the property and put $6 million into the place. The house was built in 1925 by Addison Mizner for department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker. Joseph P. Kennedy bought the place in 1933 for $120K. According to local lore, the family would come down for "Easter, Christmas and Spring Break," where they would "play tennis and spend time on the beach." Before it became the go-to spot for presidential vacations, Joe Kennedy commissioned an additional wing and also had a tennis court and a swimming pool put in.

Because this was JFK's parents' domain, he and Jackie also rented a nearby house owned by C. Michael Paul for some visits. Still, Kennedy is said to have held "press conferences and presidential meetings" in the oceanfront home.

Interestingly, Jack and Jackie's Middleburg, Virginia home, Wexford, is still on the market and has been reduced to $7.95 million.  If you missed it, read about it here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thrifty Thursday

We all love a bargain, right?  In our Internet age, they're out there en mass, if you just know where to find them.....

Like this $29.95 Joules Polo Shirt on sale at Malvern Saddlery here.

Or this lovely orange chair for your patio at Pier One for $59 here.

I'm loving this dress from J. McLaughlin too. The horse shoe print would be great for the Belmont if you're lucky enough to be going in two weeks.  I think it's going to my closet as well.  It's also on sale here.

Don't you just love a bargain? May all your Thursdays be thrifty!  Safe travels to all heading out for the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hermes Enameled Bracelets

Who doesn't adore Hermes enameled bracelets?  You'll find that some of them are stamped "Made in Austria" and others "Made in France." It's my understanding that the ones made in Austria are made by Frey Wille (formerly Michaela Frey).   Some of the older ones are stamped "Austria."  Maybe they produce them in various places for different markets. 

I would love to own one of these one day. I like the ones with the horse heads in the various colors. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Barn Party


It's that time of the year and I'd love to host a fabulous dinner party in the upstairs section of my bank barn. So, if I could start from scratch and buy everything, here's what I might include.  It all looks like autumn but that's okay, we can do it again in a few months.  Everything I selected I pulled from the Internet and a few of the pieces I already have but it's a start.
  1. Napkins
  2. Burlap Runner
  3. Placecards
  4. Table
  5. Cache Pot for Flowers
  6. Chairs
  7. Dinnerware
  8. Fox Napkin Rings
  9. Inexpensive Bamboo Place Settings
  10. Bamboo Chargers  
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