November 30, 2011

Christmas Is Here!

While home for the Thanksgiving holiday Sister reminded me (and the rest of the family), how she thinks the psycho Target shopper is me.... So I'll embrace it... for now...

In the spirit of the season (as it starts tonight with the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree), I thought I'd post about all the companies making ornaments for this holiday season. With last week's Black Friday, this week's Cyber Monday, I can't even begin to tell you the amount of emails I've received from so many companies touting their Holiday wares.

I like a good Christmas Sweater, or mitten set just as much as the next prep, but I REALLY love ornaments! I love putting up my tree and having it glitter at me while I wrap presents and listen to holiday music. Also, ornaments don't require fitting rooms which will likely remind you, you probably ate too much turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving... but that's neither here nor there.

One of the companies that recently came out with their own line of Christmas ornaments was Smather's & Branson!

S&B do a phenomenal job when it comes to needle point products and these are no exception. I've purchased many a key fob and flask, if not belt from them in the past, and these ornaments look awesome. 
This reminds me of something you might find tucked away from the 40's in your grandma's old ornament stash. I love the old timey Santas! Especially the old Coke Commerical one!
I'm a sucker for Nutcrackers. My Mom used to take us down to the Atlanta Center for Performing Arts to see this every so often and I just love the story of Clara looking for her Prince!
And for $25, these things are a steal, because no way (even as crafty as I am) do I have the skills or the time to try to replicate these!

Vineyard Vines also has some pretty cute ornaments this year. I can't say if it's their first year doing this, because quite frankly, I don't recall, but they did a great job!
Of Course I'm going to show the awesome Whaler! Got to represent the Brand!
But Most particularly, I LOVE their mini-ties!

Prices vary, but either way your tree would look super studly in these!

And of course, I have to include the ULTIMATE in all Sterling Silver.... TIFFANY'S!
These will obviously be a BIT more pricey, but they're just so PRETTY!

If you see any more BEAUTIFUL Christmas ornaments you think I might like, PLEASE pass them along! I'm an avid collect!

Happy Holidays!

November 29, 2011

Brand Profile: Collared Greens

I recently came across Collared Greens while looking for ties for the BF. Their mission and story is unique and powerful, illustrating their passion to provide great products, express their love for the outdoors and the environment, and get others to do the same.
Although they offer women's polos, clutches, men's shirts and belts, I'm particularly drawn to their ties.
You may have caught on by now, I have a slight obsession with ties; ironic considering BF rarely wears them, however I just feel a sort of southern comfort from the gentile idea (that, and I had a Communications Professor in college who compared writing to tying a bow-tie, and it's stuck).
Collared Greens Silk-woven, American made ties are as plain or vibrant as you'd like! Some of the ones that stuck out to me are:

(This one reminds me of Purdue!)

Randolph "Randy" Ashton was kind enough to take the time to talk with me recently about how he got started and what led to the launch of his company. 

When did you first decide to start your company?

About three years ago, Randy came up with the idea while working on a photography book. Now they’re at 85 retailers. “Sales are picking up and we’re just trying to keep up with demand.” After starting the company in SunValley, ID, they’ve moved to High Point, NC to be closer to their retailers and manufactures. When asked why they created the company, Randy had this to say, “We created this to raise money for the environment and create jobs in America. It’s our generation’s responsibility to create jobs here and bring this country back.”

Check out Randy's Photograph books here!
What is your inspiration?
“The inspiration is really to make nice quality product that makes a man look sharp. In terms of the environment, I was working on that Atlantic Salmon book. I was sitting in the woods waiting for the light to be just right to take the pictures, and came up with the idea for a company that takes into account.”

Where did you first develop your style?
“We learned our style from our parents and the institutions of the schools we went to. I think what really inspires us is American made products. Patagonia, LL Bean, etc. We’re just trying to create classic American made products for our generation. Our favorite things are to be in the middle of the river fly fishing, biking, in the outdoors, but we grew up in coat ties and we wanted to provide a mix between those.”

“ The first generation of polo shirts were made in Florida, and the second were made by a ton of awesome sewers in Idaho. The third generation, our latest, is coming from cotton grown and made in North Carolina. We’re all about supporting American businesses.”

Randy went to The Gunnery and Jeremy went to Ravenscroft, though they originally met through Hampton Sidney College (one of the last all male schools in the country), and met playing Lacrosse for a year. They kept in touch over the years, and Randy was working on Collared Greens and Jeremy wanted to move out west. So they’ve been working together to grow the brand ever since. Their latest project is making the official George Bush tie for the George Bush Library.

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
“I hope the products convey ‘Not only am I successful, but I also care about our environment and our country’.” Successful, American Made, and environmentally friendly.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
“It’s really managing the back end of the business. I think the easy part, for me, is getting out there and meeting people and introducing the brand. I was a photographer and love to show people our products. But the hard part is the financing making sure we don’t go over budget.

Another really tough thing is finding American manufacturers. Back in the 80’s and 90’s there was so much outsourcing it killed towns that relied on those jobs. That’s why we moved to NC, because they were really struggling, and we wanted to help our country. I think that hopefully people will be asking more for American made products which will help our country overall. There aren’t that many companies that do American made, many won’t work with American manufactures, especially the big companies. We only have one product made in china, our hats, because there are no companies in the US that make them. All the manufacturers that make hats in the US make them for the military, because the government requires that.”

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
“First and foremost we’re going to nail down the Carolina polo. Then we want to get into casual sportswear, button downs, khaki’s, shorts and slacks. We’d love to get into women’s wear, and we’ll look into it, but we might leave that up to the women because they know what they want possibly more than us guys.”

How would you define today's 'Preppy' and how do you think it compare to the preppy past decades?
“I don’t think much has changed. True preppies don’t use the word ‘preppy’. It’s beautiful that nothing has changed. It’s a lasting and classic. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to add a little more color to it. We consider ourselves a classic American company. The colors, and who we are, it goes along with the word preppy.”

Is there anything else you'd like mentioned?
“The key point we’re trying to make is that Collared Greens isn’t about any one person, it’s about a generation. We’re very team oriented, GO USA.”

What to learn more about Collared Greens? Check them out here:
And as always, if you have any companies you think I should check out and feature on my blog. Please let me know!

November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Deals 2011- Preppy Editions

I've compiled some of the Cyber Monday deals that I've found for our favorite Preppy Companies. If you've found any others, please let me know and I'll update throughout the day!

Tucker Blair LINK - 30% off using code: CyberMonday

Starbucks LINK - Free Shipping on orders over $10 using code: CYMONFS11

Duckhead LINK - Free shipping on orders over $100

Cash Robinson LINK - 3 for $50 polos & 50% off Accessories using code: cyber

Vineyard Vines LINK - 20% off any order of $200 or more with code: FUNDAY

Anchored Style LINK - 20% off your order + Free Shipping using code: CyberMonday

Knockaround Sunglasses LINK - Free Shipping using code: Cyber Monday

Cape Madras LINK - 50% off entire site

J. Crew LINK - 25% off entire site + Free Shipping using code: SURPRISE

Brook's Brothers LINK - 30% off entire site

L.L. Bean LINK - 20% off entire site + Free Shipping

Kiel James Patrick LINK - 20% off entire site

Salmon Cove LINK - 30% off entire site + Free Shipping using code: cybermonday

Rifle Paper LINK - 20% off entire site using code: cybermonday20

Am I missing something you've seen? Let me know!

Weekend Recap (and a bit extra) - Turkey Day!

I'm going to include a little extra in this week's Weekend Recap as it encompasses Thanksgiving, therefore elongating the overall weekend experience :)

Do you ever go on vacation, and know that every day was absolutely awesome but you were so relaxed that you can't possibly remember everything that happened? Yea? That's me. So here's what I remember about my long vacation with the fam.
Last Tuesday (yea, a week ago), BF was working, I was helping Dad with leaves, and Sister was coming home from USC (the original - aka South Carolina). Much past that general description, I can't much recall. We had come up to the farm on Monday night after a great day of brunch and shopping with Nana. It felt really good to get back to the Farm; as I think I've said before it's my little piece of heaven.
Mom and I did some grocery shopping for the week, including our Thanksgiving dinner. Dad had sent out a 'survey' to the group the week prior to determine whether we would have sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, and pecan pie or pumpkin pie; we ended up getting all of them.
During some of the down time, I took BF out to enjoy the 4-wheeler a bit... something he'd never done before which he liked, however he had to get back in for a call. Then Wednesday I helped Dad with some leaf collection, there are like 12 old oak trees in the front and back yard that continuously rain leaves throughout the fall and winter. Dad said this was his week of leaves and tire changing because throughout the week we dealt with the leaves, and changed 3 tires.... We also dealt with strong winds that brought Aunt Joan's leaves up to our yard (from next door) after we had just cleared ours. The weather though was mild most of the week staying in the upper 50's to mid 60's... a pleasant change from the 30's & 40's expected in Chicago.
Wednesday night, BF was going a little stir crazy from being cooped up working the first half of the week, so we met sister out in downtown Greenville. She was out giving a friend of her's a 21st birthday party. Sister is a bit more familiar with the whole state of SC than I because she's in school there, and I had never gone downtown, especially not at night. I know, it seems weird but I'm such a homebody and typically just do projects with mom and dad at the house when I'm there. Downtown Greenville is definitely interesting. It was a cute little main street they had all decorated for the holidays, with a boutique shops and a few bars/restaurants.
Thursday was packed with cooking our delicious Thanksgiving meal of:
Sweet potato crisp
Mashed potatoes
Green bean casserole
Aunt Joan's Mac & Cheese Casserole (something I've tried to duplicate, but have never gotten just right)
Homemade Cranberry sauce
Turkey (of course)
Our INCREDIBLE spread (with Aunt Joan in the mirror)
Mom sets a good table ... PS that's Sister's china set... mine is the lilacs in the china cabinet :)
Out Holiday family... doesn't BF look SHARP!
We all kind of crashed after dinner, although Mom got all the china/silver hand washed before I woke up from my Food coma... that's right, my momma has gone southern making it a point to bring ONE of the silver sets up to use. She's so southern "Martha"; you can tell by the sprinkled leaves on the table ;)
Friday Mom, Sister, BF and I made our way up to Asheville, NC to the Biltmore Estate. Mom and Dad had gone 30 years prior, but the rest of us had never been. We got an early start on the 80 mile drive, and thanks to google maps (iphone), we went some weird back road rout that took longer than expected. But we made it.
It was gorgeous!
For those of you that haven't had this opportunity, they do charge a Disney ticket to get in... i.e. like $59-$69 big ones for a single day pass. It was a little excessive, but the lands and architecture are pretty amazing!
BF & I in the side yard that overlooks the beautiful NC mountains!
Sister & I out front... mom insisted...
Sister & her standard Phi Mu Lion photo op :)
Mom & Sister before we entered the conservatory.
Some of the stunning flowers in the hot house.
The whole place was decorated for Christmas and was just incredible. They don't allow photos inside, they say because it stalls the self-guided tours (they have 160 people enter the house ever 15 mins), however they also charge you for photos:
BF & I in the morning room.
You can check out more of the interior here:
I drove both ways, and on the way home it was getting late, and I was a little slap happy (we did do the wine tasting after lunch) and I heard this song on the radio... I HAD to share!
It's a take on the song "A little More Country than That"... AWESOME!
Saturday was jam packed with finishing up some of our projects. Mom & I are notorious project starters with multiple irons in the fire. I got her on these couple while we were there (nothing from her original list):
1.) I showed her this site I had found that has like 15 gifts under $2 for the holidays and she fell in love with the "I 'Wisk' you a Merry KISSmas". So we made a few for her admins:
2.) Homemade Tapenade: I made my Testa's Tapenade for mom to stick in little Christmas baskets.
3.) Rolo treats for sister to take back to school:

I even got a good start on my 2011 Christmas Letter, however I've got at least another paragraph to write and the editing. I need to look for my address list to get it updated. As I mentioned last year, this is something I do every year partly because I enjoy it, and partly because it allows me to look back and appreciate what I've accomplished in that year.
BF, Mom, Dad, & I spent the evening grilling out and watching the Purdue game on BF's laptop while enjoying some of the awesome wine we picked up at the Biltmore. As dad put it, we got a 3 way win! UGA, Purdue, & USC all pulled it out on Saturday. I insisted upon closing out the night using the bonfire pit that Dad has in the back of the house. It was just a perfect way to end a much needed week of family.
Sunday we got up fairly early, sent sister back to school, grabbed breakfast at Cracker Barrel, before heading back to ATL to prepare for our flights back to Chicago. BF was Mr. Crabby pants as he had a 10pm flight out (I love you babe, but it's your own fault for picking the late flight and waiting so long to purchase tickets), however I was able to talk a Delta attendant into letting him on a 4:15 flight out right before my 5:25 flight. I made it back in time to do some weekly grocery shopping & start working my way through my backed up DVR.
I couldn't be more pleased with my overall time at home. I miss it already....
What did you do for the holidays? Did you go anywhere fun?

November 22, 2011

Brand Profile: Volunteer Traditions

Volunteer Traditions offers a wide range of state themed products from ties and coozies to t-shirts, hats and belts; and they're adding more all the time!
The products take inspiration from the shape, flags, and symbols of each state they have.
The bowties include symbols that are unique to each state.
Their Georgia flag belt is embrodiered and classic!
Mason, one of the founders and visionaries behind the company was kind enough to help me better understand how they got started and what inspires him. Check out his answers to my questions below:

When did you first decide to start your company?

A friend and I were in class one day and saw one too many South Carolina products and thought "we need to make some great designs for other states" we started with Tennessee. We had some cool things come together as we started with belts and expanded from there.

What is your inspiration?
We try to keep traditional concepts with the designs...we don't want to make products just to make them. We try to take each state and make sure it's got its own feel...some do better than others.

Where did you first develop your style?
I have a pretty laid back style, partly because in starting a business you don't have tons of money to spend on keeping up. I think one of the keys to style is wearing clothing that fits YOU can wear nice brands and still look like a goon if it doesn’t fit well. I’ve been lucky/unlucky in that I haven't really grown since 8th grade so I've been able to find some great fitting pieces to my wardrobe over the years.

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
I hope they convey a pride in where someone is from. It's been cool to hear from people who get excited about the brand because they have always wanted to let people know they are proud to be from "insert state"...I think that's huge when guys/gals go off to college out of it's no coincidence that college students are a big market for our company.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
The hardest part of the business, as with most things, the hardest part is the best part. It's hard to explain to people what I do on a daily basis...and it's always a challenge when things are tough, as I can't really complain about my boss.

I've been blessed with a great community of friends and family that have been supportive...and made it clear they will be around regardless of business success...which is great for perspective of what really matters.

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
We'd love to add a variety of things in the future...we're working on ties/bows for all states...beyond that we've looked at more made in the US products that may expand the brand/designs beyond just "state" products. We would love to expand states, but to be honest we're much more focused on expanding the breadth of the line within the states as I don't want to just have a couple of random products for each place but build a base for each, which is much more of a line than hodgepodge of halfway decent products that fit.

How would you define today's 'Preppy' and how do you think it compare to the preppy past decades?
I think most people look at preppy of the past to include traditional WASP Ivy League as they desire to be part of that lifestyle...the George Bush/JFK who wears short shorts and a crew sweatshirt on a sail boat, but with increased exposure to the WASP styles, I believe more individuals are pulling in pieces of "preppy" styles which has lead to some good things and bad things. There’s always people who try too hard and there's always people who do it well, those things will never change. More brands producing pastels makes as many bad looks as it does good looks ha!

With our products...I hope we don't go over the top. I love that Governors sport our caps and belts when they make trips to Iraq and want to show where they are from look classy. I'd be happy to see George Bush sporting a belt with short shorts and a sweatshirt on a sail boat in Maine, but I'd be just as excited or more to see him riding around the ranch in Texas sporting a cap with the nice broken-in look.

Is there anything else you’d like to include or mention?
We try to do our best to make products in the US when possible - ties, belts, etc. We have people ask if things are American made, almost as an attack...I could tell them 9 out of 10 things are US and they will still get Toby Keith angry. Sometimes the companies we've found that make the best fitting products are overseas and as a small company we don't have the leverage to get someone local to work with chic as it would be.

I believe many brands portray a certain image and sometimes it just doesn't work with the products they are making - We found a niche of producing products for people who are proud of where they are from "where state pride meets quality"...we're happy to help people with that niche of a product and do our best to make sure the products match the positive feelings the individual has for his/her state.

What to learn more about Volunteer Traditions? Check them out here:
Twitter: @Vol_Trad
And as always, if you have any companies you think I should check out and feature on my blog. Please let me know!

November 21, 2011

Weekend Recap - Family Time

This past Saturday, BF & I traveled to the deep south to visit with my family for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Each year, BF and I switch which holiday (Thanksgiving or Christmas) we spend with each or our families. With the being in either Chicago or Atlanta, it'd be pretty expensive to try to do both.
This being said, because I only get to see my family about 3 times a year, I try to spend as much time with them as possible when I can, so BF understands most of my limited vacation days are spent in Atlanta. He's pretty wonderful :)
So we flew early from Chicago on 7am flights... needless to say getting up at 3:30am does not agree with us. We had hoped to meet up with a good childhood friend of mine for the evening but he got stuck in Statesboro (GP - you and LJ owe us a double date when we're in the same city again! Or maybe y'all should just come up to Chicago sometime soon!).
Mom & I grabbed $3 Dollar Cafe ribs for lunch which went perfectly with Football and Family. But almost immediately after sitting down at the house, Nana called frantically because she had gotten a flat tire on her way to work. So dad and I came to the rescue. It was quite the dramatic rescue as she was on 285 which apparently Atlantans now see as their own personal circle shaped NASCAR track... Dad was inclined to point out that even in NASCAR they have a 45 mph zone in the pits to change the tires... they were averaging like 85 mph whizzing by his head, while I played flag-girl getting them to slow down or change lanes. But we got Nana to work only an hour late. 

I don't typically try to be mean or negative here but I'm very upset about this: Nana had just purchased all new tires 3 days prior... I don't care what the garage people say, there's no pothole in Atlanta that would cause the tire to separate from the rim the way it did (maybe in Chicago, but not in Atlanta)... this being said the Goodyear at Macy's Perimeter made my Nana PAY FOR A WHOLE NEW TIRE! They took the whole situation very defensively when I called them out on this BS but refused to budge... therefore DO NOT GO TO THIS STORE FOR YOUR AUTO NEEDS! They were typical southerners, sweet to your face but stabbing you in the back (and I can say that cuz I've done it)... but I expected them to do their jobs. Ok, I'm done. Sorry. :( I was just so upset that they thought they could rip my Nana off without any repercussions. I'm tempted to call the Better Business Bureau on them...

When we got back, since our evening activities got canceled, BF was happy to sit with Daddio watching NCAA football while Mom and I braved the early Thanksgiving shoppers up at the mall. We ran into Macy's and then got Rusty washed. Dad did some great steaks on the grill and it ended up being a fairly jammed packed day for just having arrived.
Sunday, we took some time to just hang out again. BF and I met up with our great newly wed friends LG & CG! We met up with them at this little Mexican restaurant in Dunwoody that apparently is a favorite of some other family friends of ours.
Our Family Friend, Photographer Deb Jansen, even used it as the back drop for her photo session with Nana!
They had the best fish taco's ever! I swear, I've never had better fish taco's than in Atlanta. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with LG & CG and CG's brother AG and mom even stopped by! We then checked out wedding/honeymoon pics at their house.
That night, Nana came over for our early Thanksgiving. Macy's wouldn't give her the time off. :( and since we're planning on enjoying the holiday at the Farm, this would be the only time we got to spend with her.
BF is working today, and Nana's coming over so we can spend the day together. We have brunch plans in Roswell in a little less than an hour, so I'd better skedaddle. I'll post more this week from the Farm!

November 16, 2011

BF Corner - Getting ready

Short and sweet this week folks!  Been a crazy week and I have lots to do before heading down to ATL for the Holidays.

What the BF is watching - Cleaning out my DVR

The Prep and I have a rotate the Holidays between our families and Thanksgiving is going to be down in the dirty south this year.  That means that all of my violent (Walking Dead/Dexter/Boardwalk Empire), boob filled (How to Make it in America/Hung), toilet humor (The League/Tosh.0/South Park) shows will be sent straight to the DVR for the next 10 days.  Going to have to power through all of those one off specials that I recorded on the Food/History Channel.  At least I will learn something.

What the BF is listening to - "I Stand Alone" by Theophilus London

Another song from "How to Make it in America".  Used heavy in the season trailer.  Super catchy
Game of the Week
- Blackhawks at Canucks (Wednesday 9:00 CT)


This is one of the best rivalries in sports right now.  For three years in a row the Blackhawks and Vancouver had met in the playoffs.  Each time the series only gets more and more intense.  The nice thing too is that the Blackhawks are CLEARLY the good guys here.  Vancouver are a ton of choking cheap shot artists and their fans are assholes.


That is the face of the enemy.  Soak it in.  I am not just being an obnoxious homer here.  Hipsters AND sore losers.  What a terrible combo.  Order must be restored.  By the way you filthy Canucks, here is a reason for a ton of people to gather together in the streets.


Investment of the week - Vikings +1 over Oakland (I am 2-0 right now)

November 15, 2011

Brand Profile & GIVEAWAY!: Southern Tide

Southern Tide is a company near and dear to my roots. They're based out of Greenville, SC... LESS THAN 15 mins from my parent's farm! I came across this company while looking for new polos for BF. I got him hooked out of college with some classic Brook's Brother's, however there's not much give and they can come out of a wash cycle pretty stiff. Southern Tide's Skipjack Polos offer elasticity but a solid structure that maintains a professional shape... overall they're a crazy mix between backyard bbq and Friday's at the office. The below Championship Gold Skipjack polo is one of my favorite colors of their Classic offering:

Link - $75

I've been admiring some of the other sweet gentleman duds, keeping my eye out for some BF Christmas gift options.
If I had a brother.... or Sister FINALLY introduced me to a BF of her own... I'd say this might make a nice gift. LINK - $85

Their V-Neck Sweaters offers a sharp looking compliment to any Holiday ensemble for the man in your life... nudge nudge, hint hint. LINK - $115

I have to admit after my cooler painting project, and being particularly intrigued by a unique 'accessory' such as the below, my mouth waters for hot summer days on the boat (with my Dramamine, of course).

LINK - $219 (20 QT.)

The wonderful gentleman, CEO Jim Twining took  the time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about launching one of the fastest growing companies in the US! Check out our conversation below (Stay tuned till the end of the entry for the GIVEAWAY of a $100 gift certificate for Southern Tide... How PERFECT is that just in time for the holiday season?!)

Southern Tide. Classic. Authentic. Built with a Purpose.
Tell me About how Allen started Southern Tide?
Allen founded the company when he was 23 years old. Allen always had a keen desire to improve
things. For instance, he restored an old jeep when he was in high school (see attached before and after
pictures). He wanted to make sure if was “off road” worthy and built it so he could take it into up to 4
feet of water. In the process he learned to weld, learned about engines, how to paint a car, etc.

As a Junior in college, Allen traveled to Italy for several months and was inspired by the extraordinary
attention to detail and fabrics he found there. After returning from Italy he couldn’t stop thinking
about his idea of starting a clothing company. The next year, when he was a senior in college, he
decided to go for it. He felt he could make a better polo shirt and set out on a mission to do so!

The start of the company was a big risk, but Allen was an innovator and entrepreneur at heart. Soon
after he had the idea, his mother Dianne jumped in to help him. It took almost a year to get the
first Skipjack polo designed and produced, but they finally got it the way they wanted it and ordered
5000 shirts. They actually had them delivered to their house in March of 2007. They started selling
the product to men’s clothing stores and started getting a lot of re-orders. In late 2007 they met and
partnered with Jim and Barbara Twining.

Since the beginning, the company has experienced rapid growth. From just Allen and Dianne to 28
people, from 0 to to over 500 stores, and from that first order of polos in 16 colors to over 3000 items!
They’ve double their business six times since the end of 2007. Southern Tide was recently recognized
as the fastest growing apparel company in America and the 73rd fastest growing company overall by INC Magazine. In November 2011, Forbes Magazine named Southern Tide one of the “25 Most Promising Companies in America” . Southern Tide attributes its growth to consistent innovation, designing great products with a never ending attention to detail, listening to customers, building a great team, and a passion for extraordinary customer service..”

What is the Company’s inspiration?
Allen always loved classic clothing. In college wore a lot of khakis, button downs, polo shirts, and top siders. He dressed like most of the college students in the south. Polo shirts were one of his mainstays and as he started thinking about what to make first, he decided he could improve on what was available. The one’s he had shrunk a lot, lost their shape, wore out over time, and there did not seem to be much attention to detail. .

“We’re all so detailed oriented, I can literally remember days when we’d get shipments in of thousands
of polos in and we would literally inspect every shirt buy taking them out of the bag and use a small pair of scissor and a magnifying glass to cut any loose threads off the shirts.It would take weeks.

“We get emails weekly from people who want to start their own companies, and they want to know
where we get our polo shirts so they can buy some and put their logo on it. What they don’t understand is that we designed these from the ground up, and they are 100% unique to our company. Other than a few things like Yeti coolers, which we could not improve, we never find other people’s products and put our emblem on them. ”

“When we decided to make button down sport shirts, we decided to make the first men’s pin-point
shirt with stretch. They are typically 100% cotton and we added a little stretch to it as well as working
very hard on the fit. As far as we know, we also made the first high quality, alterable, khaki pants with
stretch for under $100.”

These are just a few examples of our approach to making authentic clothing.

Why do you think the Skipjack Polo has become the Best Selling Polo shirt in most of the 500 stores where it is sold?The Skipjack Polo remains our most popular product. People rave about the feel and the fit of the product and after 4 years, the growth of the product sales is still incredible. What customers in their emails and letters can be summed up this way –They love the fit – we worked very hard to create a unique fit for every size, rather than just stick to industry standards; They love the way the shirt stretches as they move, since we added a slight amount of stretch to this traditionally all cotton product; and they love the feel of the product – Allen’s goal was to make it as comfortable as an ‘old t-shirt’ that is incredibly soft inside. This same thinking was a big part of our sport shirt development – sport shirts are now our second biggest category and the fit, slight amount of stretch and feel of these shirts are also what people tell us they love about them.

What has been the hardest thing about growing the business? 
“The hardest part of starting the company is to never give up. Keep pushing till you got exactly what you want. Never sacrifice quality to make a buck – this is one of the values we actually have written down and hanging up in about 15 places in our offices. We had one manufacturer of t-shirts who was getting frustrated that we keep sending back the fabric telling him it was not what we wanted. At one point he said, “ ‘it’s just an f-ing t-shirt’ and we had to explain that ‘no, it’s not just a f-ing t-shirt’. It’s sticking to your ideals. We were not going to make a second rate t-shirt. We wanted something really authentic and by sticking to this, we were able to create an unbelievable t-shirt fabric that our customers rave about. Another hard part about hyper-growth is keeping the infrastructure in tact while keeping up with the growth.”
What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
"We released 7 new products in the last 30 days; denim, 2 v-neck sweater models, chinos, 2 new quarter zips, and a new type of sport shirt, . Every 4-6 months there are more products coming out. The most fun thing we’re doing is the light weight denim for spring if 2012. It’s really cool and is made from white denim that is dyed into an array of colors. .” Allen actually created the process of dying and finishing this special denim while at the denim factory working on another project.

Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
"A lot of people always ask, ‘how have you grown so fast’. Stick to your ideals, really listen to your customers, build your team with great people, and never stop trying to improve. The most significant part of this is Finding Great People! We have a fantastic team that shares our ideals and is incredibly focused."

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Giveaway ends 11/28/11 at midnight EST. The winner will be announced 12/2/11.

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And as always, if you have any companies you think I should check out and feature on my blog. Please let me know!

November 14, 2011

Weekend Recap - Volunteerism & Porkchops

This past weekend was one of my most relaxing in a really long time.
Friday, BF was super kind to come over and collect my new chair for delivery!  That evening we went out to dinner and decided to try a restaurant long recommend to me by a former co-worker and good friend: Yu's Mandarine.
BF was especially excited because he's been talking non-stop about how they make noodles ever since we saw and episode of Chef vs.City: Atlanta where they had to make noodles with a long piece of dough basically hitting hit and pulling it like taffy till it took shape. We got way too much food, and the 'Noodle Show' was kind of a let down, but overall it was nice to get out on a 'date'.
Saturday my Junior League hosted an event at the Naperville Barnes and Noble. We had crafts and reading to kids, and handed out fliers so that a portion of the purchases went towards our Book fund. We collect donations of funds and books to disperse books within the community to increase literacy.

While I was participating in this event, BF spent the afternoon watching PURDUE KICK OSU BUTT! YES! And make homemade Giardiniera.... Ok, for those of you who don't know what this is (everyone not  from Chicago or of an Italian heritage), it's basically a spicy oil based relish of peppers that people put on everything from hot dogs to Italian beefs and salads. BF wants to make it to hand out this Holiday season. He got the bug from me last year with my spiced tea and Olive tapenade (recipe per Testa's which they were kind enough to give me over the phone and has become a staple in my holiday cooking and hosting.)
After the event, I made my way to BF's parents (where he and his dad were cutting up the ingredients to the giardiniera) for an afternoon/evening of football and laziness. 
Sunday was spent relaxing and watching a Muppet's Christmas carol & football, but also being a cleaning machine (much needed). I also made a Sunday Supper for the two of us which included:
Mustard Marinated Porkchops
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans (sauteed with green onions and garlic)
Apple & Vidalia onion relish for the chops

I got the Porkchop recipe from the cookbook we received at the wedding last weekend! Who knew that chops were so cheap! (seriously they're so much cheaper than beef or chicken).
Sadly, I was unaware that partially due to his college nickname and partially due to how fraternity houses typically over-cook food, BF is not a huge fan of porkchops. He said mine were pretty good though, although he says that doesn't mean he wants them every night. 

And even though the Blackhawks and the Bears won, I think BF and I can agree the biggest win was the Ohio State game. Overall a great weekend!
What'd you do this weekend? Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving?

November 11, 2011

Prints By Lilly Pulitzer- Best of 2011 (so far!)

Over the last year I've collected different Lilly Pulitzer prints that I use for my computer and social media backgrounds. I always find it somewhat difficult to nail these down and wanted to share some of my favorites from the the past year with all of you! I'm particularly in love with the Delta Gamma & First Impressions prints! As I've said, my mom as a DG and I grew up with a nautical style. And the First Impressions print inspired my headboard craftiness.
Heel Yeah

Delta Gamma
Late Night Toile
Chorus Girl
Gang's All Here
Dark & Stormy
First Impressions
Do you have any favorite Lilly Prints? I love seeing new ones! If you've heard of any coming out for next Spring do share!

November 10, 2011

Weekend Recap: Purdue Wedding of the CENTURY!

This past weekend BF was in his very first wedding. One of his good friends and fraternity brothers married his college sweetheart. We've known the couple for several years now, and love them both dearly.
I was very upset I wasn't able to get out of work for the Rehearsal Dinner on Friday night, but I did make it back to meet up with a good friend at Harry's, and the rest of the gang later on.
After some much needed catch up time, I almost felt like I was back to normal (college style).
Saturday was spent relaxing, gearing up for the big event. While hanging out BF gave me the wedding gift from the couple.... a Cookbook filled with recipes and pictures we were asked to send in with our RSVP's. It's the coolest thing ever, complete with letters to the couple and great memories!
BF had to be ready by 11 to head over to the church with the wedding party. I hung out a bit longer and met up with the rest of the group a bit later. The couple had planned buses to and from both the wedding and the reception (so considerate!). However our bus getting there was a little tardy so I grabbed a whopping 7 people to cram in my car. The wedding was lovely, and thankfully only a half mass. I don't typically cry at weddings, but this was definitely an exception.
The Amazing Wedding Party!
After the wedding, we had 3 hours to kill before the reception, and let's face it, when you stick a ton of old friends (mostly fraternity brothers) together, they're going to want to go to Harry's and watch Purdue Football (it's like if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a pitcher of beer.... or something like that).
So we watch Purdue... not play as great as they should....before grabbing our gifts and heading to the stadium... that's right! They had their amazing reception in the STADIUM! How cool is that?!?! I've only been to a few events up there, mostly for formal or organizational dinners, but this was lovely!
(I thank facebook friends in advance for letting me steal some pictures, my camera is shot and didn't take anything good!)
My good Belden Buddy E.H. met the couple in Atlanta while working there. Small world!
I pretty much hung out with J.B. all night! He has a freaking amazing camera, and exceptional fashion taste ;)
BF and DJ (sorry DJ... can't call you D.B... it's weird)
The couple's first dance was to my dream song...

After dancing and singing till at least an hour and half past when the BAND (LIVE BAND!!!!) was scheduled, a couple of us walked back to the hotel before heading to Harry's!
BF even bought the FishBowl so the couple could come and sit and enjoy themselves!
The bride came in her dress and all.... INCLUDING GLITTERY JIMMY CHOOS!
Overall, it was an amazing weekend that BF and I topped off with a lunch at Triple XXX before hitting the road.
I finished the weekend off with pizza and Once Upon A Time with a friend. FABULOUS weekend!
What'd y'all do this weekend? What are some of the best things at weddings you've experienced or heard of?