Houston Business Owners: Julie Verville and Nikki Navarro

Memorial BNI Thanks a MIllion

I’m in a networking group that meets every Wednesday morning. It’s the Memorial chapter of an organization called Business Networking International, or BNI. We recently reached a milestone in our quest to close $2,500,000 in business for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Our leadership team wanted to celebrate our achievement, and as the social chair, I was happy to plan the party.

Because we were celebrating closing $1,000,000 in business since October 1st, I wanted the theme of the party to be Thanks a Million. While I had a general idea of what I wanted things to look like (green and white balloons, small flower arrangements, some sort of party favor) I didn’t know how to pull it all together, so I reached out to Julie Verville, owner of an event planning business called Crowning Details.

Julie is a wife and a mom of three kids, Harrison, 3, Nora, 2, and Leo, who was three weeks old when she did the party for me! A former financial executive, she is a serial entrepreneur. Her first business was an international company that made fun, retro-chic candy. After years of throwing over-the-top parties for her kids, friends and family, she decided to turn her passion into a business with Crowning Details. For her daughter’s second birthday, Julie did a western theme, perfect for a pink, pony-loving cowgirl:

Nora's Party Collage Logo

I love the darling horseshoe plates, and OMG, the cake! Stacy Fuller from Whoo’s Bakery baked the too-adorable-to-eat masterpiece.

Nora's Pony Party close up plate with logoNora's Pony Party cake large logo2

After a brief phone conversation during which I explained my vision for the party, Julie got to work, pulling together a proposal for decorations, cake, cupcakes, flowers, and party favors. She recommended Whole Foods for the flower arrangements and catering, including food, cake, and cupcakes, and she helped me select the menu – petite baguette sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, chips and guacamole, and a fruit tray with vanilla dip. Julie also ordered balloons and put together the items for the party favors.

The day of the party, Julie and her assistant picked up the food and decorations and set everything up at our venue, a bar called Fox Hollow in the Heights. Fox Hollow has live music and dancing, but that doesn’t start until after 9:00, so the owner was happy to have our little happy hour crew from 6:00-8:00. We only got a few pictures of the event – the cupcakes and cake stand, a flower arrangement, and several of the party favors. The favors were small treat bags filled with crinkle paper and a lottery ticket.

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Our group is pretty entertaining by itself, but when I met Nikki Navarro, owner of an open-air photo booth, Shindig Photo, I knew she would add a fun element to the party. Nikki had a long career in human resources before starting Shindig Photo in August 2014. She wanted to do something creative she could call her own and to model for her kids, Giovanni, 18, and Alexandra, 15, the value of working hard to achieve your dreams. She recently set up her photo booth at AIDS Walk Houston 2015, where Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker, posed for a few pics!

The Shindig booth is different from other photo booths. It’s open and can fit 10+ people in one shot. Nikki used a standard backdrop for our photos, but she can create a background with your logo or party theme. She can also add a logo, theme, or graphic to the customizable photo strips printed after each session. You can even post pictures directly to your Facebook page during the party! We had a blast with the props and will definitely have Shindig back at another event!

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BNIShindigGroupMeLikeBNIShindigToddWifeBNIShindigBNIAngelsBNIShindigSandraKellySaraBNIShindigMooseLisaBNIShindigMikeJeffChickenMeBNIShindiA-MLauraTweetMeBNIShindigGirlsGroupViking

That’s Nikki in the bottom left corner. ;) The party was a lot of fun, and I had a great time planning it with Julie and Nikki. I would definitely work with both of them again! Special thanks to Patrick from Fox Hollow for letting us hang out at his bar for a couple of hours.

For more information about each company, click the icons below.

Crowning Details Logo with writing

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Fox Hollow pic

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Start your career as a Stella & Dot stylist!

The Best is Yet to Come

Due to overwhelming traffic to our website following Jessica Herrin’s appearance on Undercover Boss, we are extending our best sign-up special yet through February 4! What does that mean for you? It can mean anything from getting to wear and share an incredible line of jewelry and accessories for free and half-off to making new friends and expanding your social and professional circles to loving your part- or full-time career as personal stylist. The great thing about running your own social selling fashion business is that YOU determine the path and what you will do to reach your goals.

Become a Stella & Dot Stylist

We’ve had sign-up specials before, but we’ve never given new stylists the chance to earn their starter kit fee back! You can start a business, receive hundreds in free product credits, and earn back the $199 kit fee within 30 days when you sell $1000. You will also earn $250 in commission, making your business profitable after one month. There isn’t another business out there that offers that opportunity!

If you are curious about how Stella & Dot might fit into your life, please visit my website and click on Become a Stylist. You can contact me through the Connect with Me link on the pop-up tab and ask me anything about my job as a stylist. I’ll be thrilled to  hear from you! If you sign up to be a stylist on my team, I’ll be your mentor and will help you make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

don't wait for opporutnity

Stella & Dot on TV!

Are you a fan of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? Lisa Rinna hosted a Stella & Dot trunk show on the January 27 episode. You can read about it here and watch the episode here if you have a subscription to Bravo. My friend, Susan, was on the episode with a small group of stylists who showed the jewelry to the guests and helped take orders. Here are some stills from the trunk show:

RHOBH with Lisa Rinna

Stella & Dot Director, Ali McNeely, sat down with Lisa Rinna to plan the show.

RHOBH Trunk Show

In the top left picture, Lisa and Ali are wearing on of my favorite bracelets, the Renegade Cluster in gold.

RHOBH

My friend, Susan, is the stylist on the far left.

Real Housewives is not my cup of tea – too much drunken yelling – but it was fun to see all the Hollywood ladies ooh and ahh over our jewelry, and Lisa’s house is gorgeous. The show was in her backyard, and the view was amazing!

Stella & Dot was also on Undercover Boss last night! Our CEO and founder, Jessica Herrin, went undercover in our distribution warehouse, design studio, and our customer service call center. She also posed as a new stylist and went to a trunk show with one of the Senior Directors in our company (who didn’t believe Jessica’s disguise for a minute!)

Jessica UCB

No amount of bad blonde wigs, dowdy clothes, and glasses could fool someone into thinking our fashionable CEO was just a regular employee!

You can watch the episode here. The episode was very positive, different from some of the other episodes I’ve seen. No disgruntled employees (I saw an episode in which the CEO fired someone on the spot for his poor attitude and performance,) no major problems in any of the four places Jessica visited, and I think people got a realistic look at what this global, billion-dollar business in the making is all about.

Undercover Boss collage

I think you can see why I love this company and my job as a stylist so much!

Southside Living Magazine

In August, I began advertising in a new magazine for one of the inner loop neighborhoods in Houston, Southside Place. Located near Rice University and the Medical Center, Southside Place is an established neighborhood with residents of all ages. N2 Publishing is an innovative company turning neighborhoods into communities by connecting homeowners and local businesses through a monthly publication exclusively for residents:

Our objective is to provide homeowners and communities with a superior publication that is informative and useful, while providing businesses with an exceptional way of promoting their products and services.

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The magazine always features a family from the neighborhood on the cover. What’s unique about this family is that the couple is living in the husband’s childhood home!

Southside Living January 2015

Southside Place is a walking neighborhood; residents can walk to restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, schools, and gyms. The neighborhood has its own police department and volunteer fire department – do NOT drive even one mile over 30 miles an hour in Southside Place or the bordering neighborhood of West University or you’ll be sorry! (Not that I have any personal experience with this….) Southside Living’s features include a page with important phone numbers, a list of local events, articles about neighborhood kids and pets, resident recipes, and yard of the month. As a business owner and sponsor, I have a 1/4 page ad and am listed in the index of preferred vendors.

Once a month, residents and business partners gather at a nearby restaurant for a Restaurant Review. The event is free and open to anyone who lives in Southside Place and to business owners who advertise in the magazine. I’m attending my first mixer later this month, and I’m excited to connect with homeowners and other sponsors!

I wrote an article for this month’s issue. Since you can’t read it online – the magazine is print only – I am retyping it here. Houston is having a cold snap this week, so the fashion tips in my article couldn’t be more timely!

Sponsor Recognition – Kelly Gartner, Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot

Note: I modified this article for my blog, including links to other posts so you, my stylish readers, can read more about each wardrobe staple.

I am a native Houstonian. I grew up in Briargrove, graduated from Robert E. Lee High School, and went to Trinity University in San Antonio. After I graduated from college, I went back to school and got my teaching certificate and Master of Education from the University of Houston. I taught in public and private schools in Houston for 15 years. I still live in the Briargrove area with my dog, Coco. My parents are deceased, and my sister lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. I love to travel and visit them as often as I can!

I have been an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot for four years. What started out as a hobby – a way to socialize, have fun, indulge my inner fashionista, and make a little extra money – turned into a full-time pursuit when I decided to quit teaching.

Stella & Dot is a boutique-style line of jewelry and accessories sold online and at private trunk shows. A trunk show is a pop-up shop in your living room or office. I bring my line of irresistible jewelry, scarves, bags, and wallets to your home or office and do a personal styling session for you and your guests. I also do shows in salons, galleries, restaurants, and wine bars – anywhere women like to gather for fashion, friends, and fun! As a thank you for hosting, my hostesses shop for free and half-off with our generous hostess rewards. As a personal stylist, I help my customers update their wardrobes each season with jewelry and accessories that complement their lifestyles, tastes, and budgets.

One of the comments I frequently hear from my customers is “I have a closet full of clothes, but I don’t have anything to wear!” Sound familiar? I always start with a list of wardrobe staples for each season. If you have a few go-to pieces, it’s easier to put outfits together that look great and flatter your figure. These are the basics I recommend for fall and winter:

  • Leggings, a long tank for layering, and a knee-length tunic or dress. I live in tunics and leggings when it gets cold in Houston. It’s an easy look to pull together, and you’ll always look stylish, as long as you follow a few rules. Leggings are underwear, not outerwear! They should be thick enough that you can’t see through them, and you should wear something long enough to cover your rear end. My favorite brand of leggings is Lysse. They have a wide waistband that controls the tummy and hip area, and they won’t roll when you bend over or sit down. Lysse also makes great tank tops to wear under tunics, button-down shirts, and oversize sweaters. They stay where you put them and give you additional coverage over your leggings. You can find cute tunics at stores like Nordstrom (try their Caslon and Halogen® brands) and GAP and at local boutiques like Marlo Miller Boutique and SoHo.
  • Flats, riding boots, and booties. Leopard print flats are everywhere this season. DSW carries a lot of different brands – I like Me, Too and Kenneth Cole Reaction for their comfort and reasonable prices. Riding boots are a must in black and/or brown. Boot socks are a fun trend; they add an extra layer of warmth and look cute peeping over the top of your boots. If you are looking to add shoes to your wardrobe, try a pair of ankle booties. Pairing booties with tights or leggings in a similar color elongates your legs and makes you look taller and leaner.
  • Scarves. There are so many ways to ear them! Wendy from the blog Wendy’s Lookbook has a scarf tutorial video on YouTube called 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes! (She also has companion videos for each scarf, detailing how to create each style.) Stella & Dot has several great options this season. My favorites are our Union Square Scarf in the Hot Pink Elephant and Spring Green Mixed prints. Plaid blanket scarves and infinity scarves are a huge trend this year. You can find them everywhere from Target to Neiman Marcus, depending on your budget. Because you can find inexpensive options, it’s easy to update your wardrobe with a trendy scarf or two without breaking the bank.

Katherine's trunk show

The photos are from my friend, Katherine’s, trunk show in August.

I meant to write posts for the rest of the items on my list of  14 Staples for Your Fall Wardrobe, but I focused on my Stella & Dot business in November and December and let this blog fall by the wayside. I am working on posts about boots and scarves, and I hope to have them up in the next few days. I have to write some posts out of sequence, which is a challenge for a perfectionist, but we need boots and scarves in Houston this week!!!

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading Kelly Gartner Style!

Happy New Year!

word cloud for year 2015

Wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity in 2015. Kelly Gartner Style will be back in full force with lots of style posts in the new year!