October 21st, 2014

Southern Fashion on the Rise

I read a blog called The Love List regularly – do you know it?  If not, it’s highly visual, thoughtfully written and just fun to read.  Check it out here.

Jess, the author, posted about “southern style” and the lack of substantial coverage it gets from mainstream print and digital media.  I know some amazing southern designers – they’re sharp, savvy in business and supremely talented, so this really hit home.  Why are designers and retail store owners dismissed and as frivolous while chefs are celebrated to epic proportions?  Jess posed this question so well – read on…

Jess Nell Graves

Jess Nell Graves

“I’m a teeny bit miffed with the level of street cred the “Southern style” space gets in publishing, both in print and digitally. So I want to publish a little mission statement about The Love List, what it’s about, and why I think using it to lend my little voice to a much larger conversation is important. 

Style is an is an especially pivotal cavity in the South right now. It is only beginning to emerge, and thus, define itself on the national stage. That means every person invested – editor, blogger, writer, designer, or shop owner – is someone who can contribute to setting a precedent. We are collectively carving something out here, and believing in it is the only way to keep pushing the proverbial stone up a very steep (and bias) hill. Is that an easy “cause” to call silly? Sure, but (paraphrasing Sofia Coppola) one can certainly be substantial and still interested in frivolity.

Just to draw a little comparison for y’all here, I expect there was a time where recipes only appeared in magazines for women who cooked dinner for their husbands every night by 6:00 P.M. Boy, have times a-changed. Now, chefs are the proverbial toast of the town – revered and respected – and the food writers covering them sometimes take their 800-word meals with a side of self-flagellation. Recipes? Now served with a bio, an elegant photo, and a twee artist’s rendering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just flatly observing, not hemming and hawing. I know Southern food is as vital to the fabric of this place as oxygen, and I heartily revel in Atlanta’s food culture on the regular. The mission these folks are carrying out is important on nearly every significant social level there is, so I intend no disrespect. My point is that it is space that gets every last lick of legitimate coverage you could dream up, and I think the scales are tipping.

So why don’t the arbiters of Southern style (especially those operating outside menswear) often get the same respect – or pages? The idea that we’re a bunch of silly girls covering dresses and lipstick is about as antiquated and disparaging as saying Southern food writers only talk about grits and bourbon.”

I set out to get some perspective from a few clients and friends respected in the fashion community.  Here’s what I dug up…

Lauren Lail

Lauren Lail

From Lauren Lail, designer of Library by Lauren Lail, “While fashion may seems frivolous – it is important to everyone is some small way.  There is a story every to facet…there’s the designer, the store that carries the brand, the buyer that is choosing the collection, the facility where the garments are made – it goes on and on.  There is so much love and hard work behind every process and each person’s role.  Plus, there’s a lot more edge and flair in the South than there’s ever been – let’s celebrate that!”

 

Deidre Zahl

Deidre Zahl

And we got some insight from jewelry designer and vintage collector Deidre Zahl of Candy Shop Vintage.  Here’s her take, “It’s funny because I have perspective about this as both a born and bred New Yorker and now someone living and and designing from the South.  Unfortunately it can be very hard to legitimize yourself as a designer when you are not operating out of New York City.  Both because I think the way New York operates there’s an instinctive “turning one’s nose up” at anything not born out of there – like the caliber could never compare, etc. Obviously you can find great success elsewhere but it seems the pulse of fashion publications still primarily comes from New York and major European cities.”

Lindsey Carter of Troubadour

Lindsey Carter of Troubadour

Troubadour designer Lindsey Carter shared some thoughts as well…”I think people are unsure of Southern fashion because it is not coming from New York. Since forever, “fashion” has been viewed as something that can’t possibly be coming from anywhere else….I think that attitude is changing but it is still prevalent. Whereas there is a lot of heritage in Southern food – grits, bourbon, okra – that has been trending for quite some time now.  I think it is going to take longer for people to embrace and feel secure of new fashion coming out of the South that they realize is not seersucker, gingham, pearls and Lilly dresses…but I do think it is happening!!  It IS changing…Southern Living is doing it, and I think that with Haskell at Garden & Gun, we will start to see more of it there too.  The more and more people see it, the more they become comfortable with it.”

How about shifting from the female to the male perspective.  We tapped two Charleston-based accessories designers to weigh in – K. Cooper Ray of Social Primer and George Ackerman of 79 Ashley for their thoughts.  Starting with Cooper…

K. Cooper Ray of Social Primer

K. Cooper Ray of Social Primer

Cooper states, “The whole idea of ‘fashion’ is born of frivolity. From the  earliest courtiers up to today’s blogger, those who followed the fashion were believed to be not serious. Serious pursuits and attending to Fashion (capital F inclusive of all new trends) were mutually exclusive. Add to that the fact that the public personalities of those in the business are usually bigger than life/eccentric/flamboyant. From designers to models to editors to attendees, fashion people are … colorful. It is huge business and it is serious business but the players wear very different public masks than other business leaders. And we are alright with that.”

George Ackerman of 79 Ashley

George Ackerman of 79 Ashley

Last but certainly not least comes from the New York fashion veteran, George Ackerman whose career has brought him from Ralph Lauren to Donna Karan to Calvin Klein.  He says this, “The South is not particularly aspirational yet, at least not like WASPY New England or jet set/sexy LA so it’s challenging to build a lifestyle brand here. For now it’s too egalitarian, not enough sex and status to create a mythical world that everyone aspires to be part of.  Anyway, food is about a meal…fashion done properly is a fantasy world you can be part of everyday and you can sell it all over the world.”

And I’ll hand the mike back to Jess to close this – “I think you can make style matter when you shift the focus to the folks behind it, because they are a huge part of the fabric (pun intended) of the “New South”. Telling people’s stories and celebrating their work is never foolish or trivial. There is such a thing as Southern style with substance. That, my friends, is the precedent.”  Amen.

September 16th, 2014

Connections: A Big T Coastal & Southern C Case Study

In our business, we’re always on the hunt for connections and connectors for our brands.  Our goal is for all of our clients to have valuable relationships and links to:

media and bloggers

strategic partners

outside branding opportunities

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Cue The Southern Coterie!

Through The Southern C Summit model, The Southern Coterie is offering burgeoning and established businesses and brands the opportunity to do all three.  When Cheri Leavy and Whitney Long of The Southern Coterie came to us in February 2013 with the concept for the inaugural Southern C Summit we saw far beyond the amazing line-up of editors and speakers slated to present in Jekyll Island.  We saw the opportunity to bring so many brands we work with directly in touch with their target consumers, strategic partners and top media.  We couldn’t wait to start working on promoting TSC  as well as help to suggest brands that could benefit from their platforms.

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Tracy Blanchard of Big T Coastal Provisions presents the perfect case study.   With the family’s new crab dip just debuting in Fall of 2012 and a media launch in full swing, we were researching additional ways to increase Tracy’s exposure and most importantly – get that wild caught crab dip in influencers mouths.  Talk authentic story all you want in the gourmet food world but what sells great products is the product itself.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.52.26 PMThe Southern C Summit guaranteed an almost perfect trifecta for Tracy:

brand reinforcement – the Big T logo was included on materials to promote The Southern C Summit bringing better recognition for her brand before she even had the opportunity to participate in the event.  By the time of her lunch tasting, attendees were primed with her story and ready to dig in.

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target your consumer – with a plugged in audience of bloggers, media and small business entrepreneurs, Tracy and her story of quality, wild-caught seafood and a growing family business resonated with consumers in an organic way.  Seafood lover or not, attendees were ready to spread the word to their friends, audience, and grocers and gourmet food shop owners.

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influencer connections – over the course of three Summits, Tracy was able to have face-to-face conversations with close to a dozen influential magazine editors (above – Erin Shaw Street and Whitney Wright of Southern Living) and dozens of other brands that wanted to help reinforce her unique product and tell her story.

Valuable time spent with Southern Living editors helped both Tracy and editors find a perfect fit for Big T Coastal Provisions crab dip in their September 2014 tailgating issue.  So in that vein, we’re sharing with you one of Tracy’s tastiest tailgating recipes – Big T Roasted Jalapenos – link to recipe!

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There are lots of phenomenal events available to entrepreneurs so go on a search and see what’s a fit for your company.

The Southern C Summit has offered valuable exposure opportunities for leapfrog as well many of our other clients: Schermer Pecans, Tara Guérard, The Glass Onion, VanJean, Callie’s Biscuits, Grey Ghost Bakery, King Bean Coffee and others.  Mark your calendars for April 29-May 1, 2015 and we hope to see you there.  – Libba

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September 11th, 2014

Bringing a Brand to Life

Morgan Hutchinson, founder of www.shopburu.com

Morgan Hutchinson, founder of www.shopburu.com

There’s no better way to engage media and buzzmakers than a little face-to-face time, so this fall we helped to create with first annual #burubrunch during New York Fashion Week. Because BURU caters to new moms, we invited the chicest of the media set to join us at Café des Artistes near Lincoln Center for a little respite between the shows.  An amazing crew of pregnant editors, new mom bloggers and like-minded brands joined us for a full on celebration.

Here’s what we did – we first collaborated with BURU owner Morgan Hutchinson to talk about the event goals.  The “why,” if you will. BURU is an online retailer stocking fashion-forward lines hand picked for new mothers, so we decided that this event would be a powerful way to engage an audience of like-minded moms in New York on the opening day of the fall shows.  The event gave us the opportunity to increase awareness on social media (we created a hashtag solely for the event #burubrunch), introduce Morgan as the face of the BURU brand, meet editors and bloggers that we have only emailed and partner with other amazing businesses and mom entrepreneurs.

Cafe des Artistes

Cafe des Artistes

Did I mention the amazing space where we hosted the event?  Café des Artistes is one of the oldest and coolest venues in New York on the Upper West Side.  They provided the tasty food, delicious drinks – served in goblets from the new Oh Joy! for Target line (thank you Joy!) – and incredible service.

#OhJoyforTarget

#OhJoyforTarget

Once the “why” and the “where” were settled, we began to tackle the “who.” We set out to partner with brands that we genuinely admire to sponsor the event – businesses that would also benefit from reaching the same audience we were attracting.

Enter Bugaboo, the incredibly chic and functional line of strollers, and The Laundress, a line of specialty detergents started by an old friend, Lindsay Boyd.  Bugaboo was launching their new Bee3 stroller and The Laundress re-launching their baby detergent line, so timing was perfect.

We also love the Oh Joy! collection for Target and Joy’s mom style, so we wanted to feature pieces from her new line for our signature cocktail.  Adorable, right?

#OhJoyforTarget

#OhJoyforTarget

Once those details were settled, we decided to forgo the ho-hum “step and repeat” for photo opps and instead create an eye-catching floral design for BURU.  Enter the ever talented Taylor Tomasi Hill (street style star and former Teen Vogue and Marie Claire editor) and her TTHBlooms.  After admiring her tiny masterpieces for months on instagram, we tapped her to create a display of the BURU letters made of peonies, succulents, garden roses and other floral lovelies.  It’s incredible, right?

@TTHBlooms by Taylor Tomasi Hill

@TTHBlooms by Taylor Tomasi Hill

Last – but certainly not least – the ever important guest list.  We love this part – compiling the perfect mix of creative, talented and supportive women was fun (if not daunting).  See some of the chic ladies in attendance below…

Morgan Hutchinson (BURU), Brianne Manz (Stroller in the City), Latham Thomas (Mama Glow)

Morgan Hutchinson (BURU), Brianne Manz (Stroller in the City), Latham Thomas (Mama Glow)

Morgan Hutchinson (BURU), Caroline Tell (NYT, WSJ, Style.com), Claudia Mata (W)

Morgan Hutchinson (BURU), Caroline Tell (NYT, WSJ, Style.com), Claudia Mata (W)

Chassity Evans (Look Linger Love), Jackie Thomson (Leapfrog), Alexandra Macon (Vogue), Hunter Bell (Hunter Bell)

Chassity Evans (Look Linger Love), Jackie Thomson (Leapfrog), Alexandra Macon (Vogue), Hunter Bell (Hunter Bell)

In the end, we walked away with many new friends and BURU fans.  Cheers to that!

September 5th, 2014

Organize: The All Important Friday Brain Dump

 

I’m all for a good challenge and this week the ladies behind The Southern C Summit decided to do a 30 day instagram challenge.  From a day 1 “selfie” (taking me out of the comfort zone on that one) to day 29 “can’t live without,” there are all sorts of gems in between.  Day 5 “organize” falls on today – Friday – and couldn’t be more appropriate.  In my world of small business ownership, multiple clients, looming media deadlines and small children with schedules more complicated than my own, Friday is all about planning for the upcoming week.

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All hail the Friday Brain Dump!

It’s not the prettiest of terms, but it’s exactly what it is.  I read an article on efficiency probably on Inc.com (can’t live without it), and it had the most amazing graph on how to assign your time and prioritize.  I tweaked the graph into a printable page and viola! It’s an action plan for the upcoming week.

Getting a good nights sleep and actually enjoying some downtime sometimes takes a lot of effort if you’re a small business owner.  One step is clearing your head before the weekend, getting it on paper, and staying ahead of what’s next.  This simple one-sheeter is the key to getting you to a better place before you leave the office.

 

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How to use it:

1) Go ahead and move anything from your current list that didn’t get done…yep, that happens.  After all, we are human.

2) Start with broad concepts/goals for the upcoming week

3) Fill in more specifics

4) Take it home – you may want to add to it over the weekend

5) On Monday, let it guide you through the beginning of your week

 

Time will tell – you’ll start to realize that you never delegate or that sometimes you assign added urgency to projects that just don’t need it.

I think you’ll like it!  I’ve already had a few clients show up to meetings with it in hand.    To the talented minds behind The Southern C – thanks for the blog inspiration!

- Libba

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2nd, 2014

Martha Stewart American Made

I take a lot of pride in the amazing companies that we get to work with daily.  From Callie’s Charleston Biscuits a client for almost a decade to Big T Coastal Provisions, a relative newcomer on the specialty food scene.  All of these compelling companies share a common thread – a devoted and passionate entrepreneur is at the helm.

Katherine Frankstone of Grey Ghost Bakery was inspired by the recipes she made with her father and took a leap into the cookie business.  Kurt Weinberger started King Bean Coffee Roasters 20 years ago in his parents garage and now creates blends for some of the most celebrated lowcountry chefs.  Putt Wetherbee of 65+ year old Schermer Pecans is proudly preserving the orchards of his family that date back to the turn of the century. Tony & Tracy Blanchard took their family’s entertaining jewel – crab dip – and  brought it to market as Big T Coastal Provisions.  Biscuit baker, author, and now restaurant owner Carrie Morey with her mother’s recipe created Callie’s Biscuits to share traditional southern biscuits across the country.

My job is to help them spread their message of family brand, artisan product and to share their growth and success.  It’s incredibly rewarding to see these amazing brands showcased as nominees (and 3 finalists) in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards.

At Leapfrog, I get to celebrate the American maker daily in my storytelling.  Now is your turn! On September 15, the Martha Stewart American Made team will turn over voting over to you!

Read up on these truly incredible businesses and cast your vote for your favorite American maker!

Check out their stories and I think you’ll find them an inspiring way to start out your week.  – Libba

 

 

 

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December 16th, 2013

Produce Candles: Joining Scent & Soil

We are happy to introduce y’all to Produce Candles, Charleston, South Carolina’s very own Candle Farmers. Inspired by the earthy aromas of your local farmers market, each candle effortlessly distills the scents of the season’s finest bounty.  From sweet to organic, spicy to crisp, the fragrances are sourced straight from the farm with raw ingredients including vegetables, fruit, and herbs.

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With seven core varietals and more harvest-inspired fragrances selected to reflect the growing seasons, each candle is hand-poured to mimic the notes of freshly-picked produce.  From Radish (a bold & zesty scent) to Carrot (earthy with a clean finish) and from Wildflower (vibrant and floral) to Melon (sweet and bright), each candle is hand-poured in a reusable Mason jar using natural soy wax and a premium cotton wick.

Set to launch in stores across the US in February of 2014, The Produce team has enlisted the help of Kickstarter to raise funds to attend the market for Atlanta’s Winter Home and Gift Show at AmericasMart. This is the largest gift show in the country and is sure to create a buzz around the Produce brand. In order to do so, they will need a total of $8,500.

Produce will be cashing in their crops for…

Booth Fees: $3,800

Transportation and logistic needs: $1,000

Lodging: $1,000

Display materials: $2,000

Print materials: $500

To help Produce reach their goal of $8,500 they have set up various levels of sponsorships and rewards.

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Visit the Kickstarter site to learn more and become a “backer”

Be one of the elite few to receive one of the first cuts of Produce’s core fragrance candles at a limited and exclusive price via Kickstarter, live until January 9th.

 

August 29th, 2013

Sip + Celebrate with Rewined

Next Thursday, you’re invited to celebrate Cos Bar’s launch of Rewined Candles!  As the summer days come to an end, join Cos Bar + Rewined to indulge in one of fall’s tastiest treats – spiked cider. In addition to Rewined’s eight signature scents, they will be celebrating the launch of their seasonal fall fragrance, Spiked Cider!

We hope to see you at Cos Bar next Thursday, September 5, from 4 until 6 pm.  You’ll meet a few members of Rewined’s ‘Candle Crew’ and enjoy their tasty blend of spiked cider while checking out Cos Bar’s fall offerings.

Cos Bar + Rewined Spiked Cider Party

Cos Bar + Rewined Spiked Cider Party

Beginning as a boutique cosmetics store in Aspen, Colorado Cos Bar has grown to 13 retail stores across 8 states offering the highest quality service matched only by the coveted product lines carried online and in stores.

From Creed fragrance and Deborah Lippmann nail polish, to d’Olives and Laura Mercier bath and body lotions, you never walk away empty handed (and always looking your best).  See you on Thursday!

July 24th, 2013

Christmas in July

It is hard to believe that between the 90 degrees heat and sudden torrential down pours the Leapfrog office is abuzz with holiday cheer!

We are knee deep in holiday gift guide mania, and 1437 King is beaming with red bows and mistletoes. Publications are finalizing their lists of top stocking stuffers, hostess picks and edible gifts so that come December while you are searching for the perfect present for your special someone, you can turn to the pages of Southern Living or Food and Wine.

At Leapfrog we craft our very own “Holiday Lookbook” filled with red, green and all our favorite products in between. Aside from the impact this eye-catching, cheerful Lookbook has on editors, we have a grand time creating it! And how could we not, as the warm scent of spiked cider candles and molasses cookies fills the room!?

In all of our time researching various publication’s gift guides we have come up with quite the list of our very own top picks…but you’ll have to stay tuned for that!

Until then.. Feliz Navidad!

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July 18th, 2013

The Southern C in Athens, GA

A while back we posted about our inspiring week in Jekyll Island at The Southern C Summit..well we have some exciting news, The Southern Coterie will be heading to Athens, GA on August 1st! In the first event of the Summit Series Whitney and Cheri have assembled a host of talented speakers to lead other southern creatives while “connecting, creating and collaborating.”

If you are a southern creative or southern brand do not miss this opportunity to join the best of the blogging and media community in learning and networking opportunities. New friendships will be formed among the South’s most creative and talented entrepreneurs, business owners, bloggers of various niches, marketing, sales and media professionals.The daytime event will be held at the Georgia Museum of Art and Georgia Theatre (shown below), some highlights will include educational sessions, panel discussions and keynote presentations from well-known southern names and social media leaders.

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An attendee can expect:

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We would never miss this opportunity to network and develop business relationships, and hope you feel the same! Visit the site for a complete schedule of events and to register for the Summit – see you in Athens!!

June 25th, 2013

Tara Guerard in Lonny

In the June issue, Lonny magazine took a look inside the office and home of successful entrepreneur, event planner, author and mom, Tara Guérard.  The Tara Guérard Soiree studio is located in the historic Mazyck- Wraggborough neighborhood in downtown Charleston and gives a nod to her impeccable taste and unmatched eye for design.

Tara Guerard in her studio

Tara Guerard in her studio

Tara comments on her interesting office décor, “I like to say we’re ruffled around the edges.” Her office is a place where clients feel at ease and employees feel happy to come to work. “You have to be completely crazy to do what I do. My office is a place for me to catch my breath,” Tara explains.

Vignettes from the Tara Guerard Soiree studio

Vignettes from the Tara Guerard Soiree studio

The restore 1740’s Charleston “single house” Tara calls home showcases her personal style.  Tara oversaw the home’s extensive renovations, keeping its original windowpanes, mantels and wide-plank hardwood floors while adding distinctive details throughout. With a home full of three children under the age of five, Tara shares secrets on how to manage a household:

  • Store Spot- “Keep the mess confined to one area of your house. I have a huge chest in my den that holds all my kids’ toys in one place. Whenever someone comes over, everything goes into the chest and the room looks like new”
  • Mirror image-“My oldest kid is five years old and my youngest is 20 months, so I can’t take my focus off them for a second. Mirrors not only help open up a space and make it look bigger, but they also act as a second pair of eyes behind my head”
  • Adults Only- “ we have a formal room that I completely closed off to the kids. Its good to have one area of your home that serves as a sanctuary and that you don’t have to worry about cleaning before people come over”
  • Slip On- “ the sofa in our family room is completely destroyed so I keep extra slipcovers on hand and switch them out depending on the occasion and my mood. I use one for parties and entertaining; it hides stains and can easily be tailored to an event”

 

Inside Tara Guerard's historic home

Inside Tara Guerard’s historic home