Monday, January 12, 2009

Celebrity designers we all love!

My friend Susan called one night last week to tell me she was thinking of going to AmericasMart of Atlanta for their big gift show on Friday and wondered if I might like to go as press. Susan, who serves as a buyer for her mother's retail business, said there was a session titled "Tea is Hot!" and a few other things she thought I might be interested in. We pulled out at 7:30 a.m. and made good time getting to Atlanta. Soon we were headed to our first session when I saw a beautifully appointed showroom for Anna Griffin products! Now, I L*O*V*E all things Anna Griffin, but I was stunned when I looked inside and realized that was Anna herself talking to a few ladies! We went in, and I asked one of the assistants if we could meet her, and they were only too happy to oblige. So here are Susan, Anna and myself. (No, I'm not wearing an ugly choker. That was my sad attempt to get my press-badge-on-a-string out of the photo.)

Now I have been buying Anna's products for years, including these scrapbooking papers, and one of her Nina Wedding invitations is the one I chose for my wedding. She's been featured in many magazines we all read, such as Victoria, Home Companion and Southern Lady, and I can now attest that she is just as lovely as the products she creates. She seemed sincerely surprised at being asked to speak at the recent Southern Lady Celebration, and I probably gushed a bit much as I told her how I so appreciate all the beauty she has brought to this world. She laughed it off, but I meant it. Her stationery, rubber stamps, needlework products and desk accessories have long been my favorites. We both bemoaned the fact that Home Companion magazine has gone out of business, and I told Anna she should start her own magazine. Wouldn't you subscribe? I know I would. I was so starstruck I forgot to take a photo of a beautiful vintage teapot that caught my eye on the way in her gorgeous showroom. She has so many pretty new things, including laminated floral craft organizers and tote bags, gorgeous giftwrapping papers, some cheerful pink croc designs, and more. If she ever stops designing, I'll be at a real loss for pretty things to wish for.

We said goodbye to sweet Anna, and then Susan and I were off to see ... (drum roll, please) ... Colin Cowie! We managed to get there early and got front row seats. A woman was going around handing out pink tickets, and someone said this was so we would have first dibs on buying one of his books afterward. This gorgeous table was set up near the podium. Colin Cowie himself didn't decorate it, but isn't this elegant?

The silver tablecloth sparkled in the light, and I'll bet a few dozen of us photographed it before Colin arrived.

He was just as handsome as he looks on TV, was dressed impeccably, and was quite a good speaker. I wondered if perhaps he would show a little ego, but I didn't sense that at all -- quite the opposite in fact. He showed a lot of slides, including a few of his fantasy weddings that were just breathtakingly beautiful, as well as photos from "Colin Cowie Chic" that show how he has decorated and organized his home.

Here are some things I thought might be of interest to fellow tea lovers:

-- "I love to entertain. My favorite thing is to have people over." He keeps 24 organic chickens on hand at all times so he can throw a dinner party at a moment's notice.

-- When he's hosting overnight guests, he likes to print out information for them listing local places they might like to visit, the schedule for the week, and other things they'll need to know to have a pleasant stay. "A well-informed guest is a happy guest."

-- You should see this man's closets! (In fact, if you get a copy of "Colin Cowie Chic" you can, because the photos he showed us are in there.) And I hung my head in shame when I saw his bathroom toiletry drawer and recalled the jumbled mess I'd plowed through that very morning in search of an eye pencil sharpener. But my favorite storage solution he showed was of plastic bins containing various sets of placemats labeled according to color. I often have placemats all over the place, so I am going to try his idea.

-- "I always invest in a good napkin. Why? You're going to play with it for an hour and a half."

-- Here's a good quote: "We don't set tables, we should dress tables." Don't you love that? Colin said he's been known to use an Indian sari as a table runner. He spoke of building a "wardrobe" for the table, starting perhaps with a great piece of white china, adding placemats in a couple of colors, he likes good silverware and glassware, and then he will add other accent pieces such as colored tumblers, more placemats and runners, etc. I like his approach a lot!

Colin seemed very genuine when complimenting the team of people who work with him and help make him successful at what he does. One of Susan's favorite moments came when someone in the audience asked him if there was ever anyone he simply could not work with. He said he has only one rule: "If you make anyone on my staff cry, you get your check and your contract back." Bravissimo to that, I say.

When he finished speaking, someone announced that those of us who had pink tickets would receive a complimentary copy of his book "Colin Cowie Chic" which he would sign for us! Now I get lots of free books because of my work, but I don't get very many autographed by the author, so this was pretty cool.

Susan and I were also surprised, and pleased, that he took time to pose for photos with anyone who wanted one taken. Although I did introduce myself and get my book signed, I told Susan I was opting out of the photo. I don't mind having my photo taken with a woman who's prettier than I am, but I'll be darned if I'll line up next to a man who's prettier than I am! So I just took a photo of him with my sweet (and pretty) friend here.

We left his session chatting away about what a great guy he was, and who should dash out of her showroom to see us but our new BFF Anna Griffin, excitedly asking what we thought about Colin Cowie and those $25 million weddings he throws! (Susan and I were so tickled over that. I don't think Anna realizes some of us are as impressed with her as we are with Colin Cowie.)

Well, I have rambled on a bit today, haven't I, friends? You know I don't often do this, so bear with me and tomorrow I'll show-and-tell some of the latest teas and teawares coming on the market. There are some real doozies awaiting us!


  1. What a wonderful adventure! Can't wait to see the new teaware!

  2. Wow. Sounds like you had a fabulous day at the Mart. I'm looking forward to hearing more. Isn't it fun to meet these celebrities, especially when they turn out to be genuinely nice people. I had such an experience when I met the author Karen Kingsbury. I didn't expect her to be so down to earth, as well as friendly and kind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos for us to enjoy.

  3. All I can say is "wow"! Thank you for sharing this day. I am as excited as you. It is great getting the "inside" scoop! Also, you are adorable; you should have been in the picture too! You go girl! Great post! :)

  4. As I read your blog everyday.. I think I am fast becoming YOUR #1 fan!

  5. Ah ha! I was right! Susan and Colin. Wow. What an absolute THRILL that must have been. The show sounds awesome. One of these days I'm going to scoot over that way and attend one....

  6. Glad you got to enjoy such a special day with your friend Susan. And Colin Cowie has always been one of my faves...I remember first hearing about him years back when he did a story for Instyle Magazine about...GUESS WHAT...Tea Parties! I cut out the story and the photos and put it into my "All Things Tea" folder, and revisit it from time to time. He's so creative and very inspiring!

  7. Thank you all for tolerating such a long post today! ParTea lady, you make me want to go check out Karen Kingsbury! And Carol, how wonderful that you've read a Colin Cowie article on tea parties! In his book, I noticed that he lists afternoon tea and high tea as recommended ways to entertain. And he understands the difference between the two! (But of course.)

  8. That is SO exciting! Thank you for sharing! I cannot wait to see all the new AG goodies as well as check out the Colin book! So exciting!!

  9. What fun! I want to go next time. The pictures of you all are great! Thanks to Susan for turning me on to "Tea With Friends". I will have to check this out on a daily basis.

  10. oh you luckY! the picture is cute -even with the stylish choker!;)
    ..and a great post.
    I am going to get my hands on those AG papers...and while you are at it, check out Catherine Moore's mad Tea PArty stamps..
    you will love her designs!and she
    lives not far from you.
    happy new year from

  11. Oh my stars, this post is on Fi-YAH! So much eye candy, what a treat! I'm going to have to lay down with a cold compress now! ha ha

    What an absolutely wonderful and lovely day of making memories you had! I'm so jealous I don't live there to join in the fun! Thanks for sharing it all with us, your fans! (smile0

  12. it was my first time to read your blog and it was wonderful.i have fun reading your blog..keep up the good work!!


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