“My personal style is… my own…”
- Ann Mashburn
I have to admit that it was my mother who first directed me to Ann Mashburn. It was just last year when she stumbled upon the most gorgeous tartan plaid dress in a magazine. She directly sent it my way. Ever since, I’ve browsed the Ann Mashburn website at least once weekly and am beginning my own small collection of her pieces.
In three words, Mashburn describes her company as classic, simple, and cool. This company fills a void in the market for women’s clothing. It provides those classically feminine and southern pieces that can remain in your closet year after year. The fabrics are luxurious, the seasonal colors stunning and always on mark, and the cuts – flattering, sophisticated, but never too suggestive. In a world where in-your-face is the norm, the bright collection from Ann Mashburn is a breath of fresh air.
After opening her first store in Atlanta and then another in Houston, it was wonderful to finally catch up with one of my new favorite designers and ask her a little bit about her plans for her company and what’s to come in 2015. And, I can’t forget to mention the dashing line for men – Sid Mashburn (named after her husband whom she co-designs with). If you are looking for the perfect holiday attire to twirl you through the upcoming season of cocktail parties – you’ve come to the right place. You can’t go wrong with the Mashburns.
A Q&A with fashion designer Ann Mashburn.
How did Ann Mashburn, the company, come to be? Can you share a little about the company’s history and its story?
Well, I have been in fashion one way or another my entire career. My very first job was at Vogue working as an assistant for Fashion Editor and Stylist Polly Mellon. It was an incredible experience working alongside Polly and collaboratively with visionary greats like Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Steven Meisel. I then continued at Condé Nast as an editor/stylist at Glamour, and later as an in-house stylist for J.Crew.
Sid and I met in NYC in our early twenties – he himself working as a menswear designer for J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and finally Lands’ End. Sid always knew he wanted to branch out and do his own thing, so after 25+ years in the business, we decided to go for it- opening first the Sid Mashburn men’s shop in Atlanta in 2007- the idea being old-school English men’s club meets Italian tailoring shop, but with a very fun, easy American spirit. We both always had this sort of mental, analog Pinterest board brewing in our heads of all the things we loved and wanted to put together in one place. The very personal mix of passion, product, and that Italian tradition of thoughtful shopping and a certain dependance on the shopkeeper to guide and teach you. It was missing in the men’s market in the US… so we just… went for it…! And then organically, after a few years we made the decision to expand in 2010 and open a women’s counterpart, Ann Mashburn, with a bit of a playful, but sophisticated French flair. I’m a mother of 5 daughters (!!) so it was very important for me to create collections for women of timeless classics and essentials mixed with a curation of cheerful things I’ve found along the way…
Would you consider your company to be a lifestyle brand?
Absolutely. We still have some product categories to get into for our own label, but we try to offer most everything you need except cars or food. In the sense that we are selling a brand & a concept & a look & a mindset much more than pieces of clothing.
A typical day in the life of Ann Mashburn looks like:
I am a mom first… so feed the animals and the children… carpool… quick jog then quick change and off to office. Meetings, meetings, and work, work (with a taco somewhere in between for lunch) then back to momdom to pick up my little basketball player and squeeze in dinner or a piano lesson first…. nothing too glamorous. I have to have a bath at the end of the night, pretty much no matter what… and a little juice glass of wine doesn’t hurt.
What made you choose to start your company in Atlanta first? What brought you to Houston?
When Sid and I decided to take the plunge and do our own thing, we started with a list of 9 cities. Out of the blue, Atlanta came up & Sid jumped on it. We plucked it out of the sky… no connection to the city at all. But when we came down to visit, the crocuses were blooming, the people were so nice & everything just seemed to fall into place. I grew up all over the Midwest, but Sid and I met in New York, where we lived for ages. He is from Mississippi so perhaps we were thinking of the south? I have no idea, except that we visited so many cities, but this was the one that felt really special and right at the time.
Houston came to us in the same way last year – Texas is just so much its own world, and we knew we wanted to be there. One of our daughters went to school in Austin, Sid’s sister & her family lived in Houston so it felt a bit familiar. Again, the people & the feel just led us there. We had such a great customer base in Texas already from our online shops, and we fell in love with our location and the people we met —it just made sense to make it our first “away game.” It’s been an incredible market for us so far… we celebrate our first anniversary in Houston in December. That validation has been great for us, and now we’ve got more cities in the pipeline, so stay tuned.
All of our spots so far have been incredibly diverse, with great history, great people, and a real space in the market.
As we’re approaching your 1 year anniversary for Houston, any scoop on what’s next?
More new product! Amazing new bags and shoes – the first of which hits the shops this week … but Sid and I are going on a design trip to Italy next week to develop more accessories and footwear.
Where do you source inspiration for your seasonal designs?
Besides the usual, one of the things we like to draw on is our experience. Also, we tend to design from the inside of our closet…so it’s what’s NOT in our closet that we’re kinda musing on. This sounds like such a repeat from everyone else in the industry, but it’s the usual suspects: travel, culture, music, literature, and pop culture from when we were growing up.
What are the most important characteristics the finished product must contain when crafting your designs from start to finish?
Quality of materials. It is just like cooking – if you start with the right ingredients, it makes a massive difference. The quality has to go through to the end –the colors, the fabrics , the trims & then of course the cut, sew, make,fit ,finish – and it all has to be the best. Simple and perfect is hard!
A lot of people look at expensive things and think “you can get that at the mall” and that is often true as far as the way it looks from a distance. But the construction isn’t as careful, the stitching is different, the fabric isn’t as nice, the buttons and thread and trim aren’t the same, and you’re left with something that just doesn’t fit the same or last as long… and ultimately costs so much more in the end when you replace it. We love cheap and cheerful, but we have to stand behind our own product a little more.
Where do you find such luxurious fabrics?
We have been in the business for so long that we’re really fortunate to have fantastic relationships with both established and under-the-radar mills and suppliers. We make it a point to work with the best so that we can be really proud of the finished product. Most of our fabric comes from Italy. Some of our men’s tailored fabric comes from England where they do fantastic wools and tweeds so well. And we love India for handwoven silks and selvedge chambrays.
Ann Mashburn – inspiration board
What are a few of your bestsellers?
Our shirts are really our bread & butter – our boyfriend shirt and popovers and western shirts are a staple. We also have a fantastic line of sweaters which are can’t-live-withouts…
What can we expect to see from Ann and Sid Mashburn in Houston this coming holiday season?
All of our great fall things, plus a little sparkle for evening – super chic gold sweater – gold loafer – boyfriend sweaters – easy wraparound ball skirts in handwoven silk for evening… and Sid has the perfect tuxedo.
It is such a season for formal dressing! I love my ball skirts with a t-shirt and fantastic heels… and closer to the holidays we will be in leggings and socks and heavy-gauge cashmere sweaters around the house. And, then I wear one of my plaid capes almost every day, because it’s like a blanket/coat hybrid, which makes it perfect for Texas winters.
On Sid’s side, he has the perfect tuxedo for all the black-tie events around the holidays. We are big on the navy sport jacket always, and like heavier, softer materials for colder weather like flannels, tweeds, and cashmere.
How do you hope to see your company grow?
We are opening stores in the next few years in key cities — as soon as spring 2015. Watch for us. Houston has been an incredible market for us. And, our online business is growing like crazy along with our brick-and-mortars, which is exciting because there are no geographic locations and the shop never closes.
What’s been the single greatest or happiest moment of the company’s journey thus far?
When you work so hard to design the interior of a store, before any of the product even gets there… you “see” it visually in your head… and then when it comes out even better… that is pretty great. When I have walked into each of the shops at that moment, before we get going I get so excited – and then seeing them filled with happy people.
When you aren’t working you are…
Hanging domestically… I love my home life and I love my husband Sid & my girls so I am usually just living amongst them and happy…
My newest coffee table addition? Photographer and stylist Claiborne Swanson Frank‘s new book of portraits: “Young Hollywood” from Assouline. I’ve been a long time fan of her work and this title certainly does not disappoint. “As a photographer, I set out to document American culture through large bodies of portrait work—and what’s more American than Hollywood? Hollywood has been a driving force in defining American culture—at home and abroad—for generations,” said Frank, “When I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I felt there was an opportunity to tell a new story about Hollywood, about the actresses and insiders who are on the verge of defining the next generation of Hollywood influence.”
Each photograph brings out the personality and character of sixty actresses, directors, stylists, and more. “This is the first generation of actresses who are crossing industry lines and also working as directors, screenwriters, and producers in such considerable numbers,” she said, “‘Young Hollywood’ celebrates Old Hollywood, through the book’s styling and locations, while honoring this new generation ushering in the industry’s future.“ The photographs take you away and capture Hollywood over the decades – then and now with emotion, personality, settings, and of course- incredible style. With a wonderful foreword from designer Michael Kors, this book is a must-have for anyone who appreciates all things beautiful, creative, and chic. “The book is as much about recapturing something lost as it was documenting what’s happening in the moment. It was a honor to be behind the lens,” said Frank. Purchase your copy here.
As a long time fan of the beauty blog Into The Gloss, I was excited to hear about their new beauty line, Glossier. “Over the past four years running Into The Gloss, I saw the need for a beauty brand that speaks to its consumers directly, offering them a chance to engage beyond the traditional touch points of purchase, use and mass marketing. That’s what we’ve created with Glossier—a beauty brand that we want to be friends with,” said Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO, Glossier. “We offer a uniquely immersive brand experience that culminates in our pre-curated collection of products developed for our customers by us, and delivered to them from us.”
Glossier products and the collection will continue to evolve based upon the two-way communication and consumer feedback they’ll continue to receive. The brand has launched with the Glossier Phase 1 Set, which is skincare as makeup. The Glossier Phase 1 Set includes: Soothing Face Mist, Priming Moisturizer, Perfecting Skin Tint and Balm Dotcom, all of which are designed to work together to perfect (not conceal!) skin. The produce prices range from $12-26 and you can purchase the entire set for $80. Shop Glossier here and expect more to come soon!
Cabbages and Roses Pin Tuck Dress / Rag & Bone Leather Trimmed Fedora / Imogene and Willie Kantha Blanket / Hemsley and Hemsley Cookbook / J.Crew Downing Tote in Colorblock Stripe / Tan and Brown Vintage Cowboy Boots from Feather’s Vintage / Shinola Run Well Watch in Rose Gold
I’m super excited to head to Round Top, TX this weekend for the antique show with one of my best friends. I haven’t made it to the tents in a few years and it’s her first time – so it will certainly be an adventure. I’m always inspired by new finds, the scenery, and the people I meet when visiting the area. You can read about a few of my previous trips here and here. Weather wise, it looks like it’s going to be a gorgeous weekend! I will be packing light dresses, a tote, hat, a great book, and of course – vintage cowboy boots. I hope you enjoy shopping my inspiration board for this trip!
As of late, working on a blog redesign has put me at a standstill when it comes to inspiration for posting. However, with chillier temperatures in Dallas and planning a visit to the pumpkin patch at the Dallas Arboretum, I am finally in the autumn spirit. If I could plan my dream outfit for the weekend, it would certainly be these AMAZING skinny jeans from rag and bone with plaid patches. I would pair them with the perfect cozy ivory sweater from J.Crew and gold hammered hoops from Kendall Conrad. As for shoes, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Golden Goose distressed black boots and a slouchy fringe bag from Calypso. Hello autumn!
Tata Harper at the Nordstrom Spa – Galleria in Dallas
I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely and beauty Tata Harper at the Nordstrom Galleria this month. I have been a fan of Tata’s products for the past 2-3 years – particularly her Resurfacing Mask and her Rejuvenating Serum. It was fantastic to learn that Tata’s products will now be sold in all Nordstrom Spas. There will also be several Tata Harper facials available – the Organic Facial (a 60 minute facial treatment) and the Red Carpet facial (for special events – it goes beyond regular maintenance and cleansing). The Red Carpet facial sounds incredible with four different masks!
The aspect I love most about Tata Harper Skincare is her ingredients are of 100% in natural origin and 96% organic. For even the most troublesome skin issues, she’s doing research all around the world resourcing the highest performing ingredients for anti-aging, brightening, brown spots, firming, and more.
nitesurf by Regime des Fleurs
The hot dry Santa Ana winds / Carry the scent of blossoming citrus groves / Across the valley to the light of the full moon / Fractured on crashing waves / of Venice beach
So, I know it’s normal for me to have a long list of “must-haves” for you, but seriously, scratch everything I’ve told you lately and put a fragrance by Regime des Fleurs at the top of your list! The scent I chose, Nitesurf, finally arrived at Forty Five Ten in Dallas. I had the pleasure of meeting the two founders at the store earlier this year. At just $95.00 a bottle, you honestly can’t go wrong. The care and personalized touch that goes into each and every bottle is exceptional. The fragrances are made in small batches. The bottle I received was labeled 25/250.
Nitesurf is my new go-to scent. There are so many layers to the fragrance that I can honestly say I’ve never in my life smelled anything quite like it. It includes Tunisian neroli water absolute, floralozone, phosphorescent petal accord, ginger lily CO2, transparent citrus, nautilus shell destructive distillation (yes, crushed seashells), and grey ambergris tincture. I’ll be wearing this fragrance all through fall to remind me of long windy walks on the beach.
Learn more about Regime des Fleurs here and catch them in the September issue of Town and Country magazine.
This past May, I enjoyed Memorial Day weekend with my boyfriend in Charleston and Kiawah Island for a wedding. We had such a lovely time! We stayed at the Zero George Hotel – which I highly recommend! It’s a boutique hotel comprised of historical buildings with a restaurant on property and delicious cocktails. One evening, we dine with friends at FIG and another at SNOB (Slightly North of Broad). SNOB was absolutely fantastic. It’s a must-visit on your trip and please try the Shrimp and Grits and the cocktails are beyond. Actually, we found it’s difficult to find a bad specialty cocktail in Charleston.
As for shopping, my favorite stores we visited on King Street were: Lily Charleston (for bath, body, and candles!), the Billy Reid boutique (there’s something about Billy Reid & Charleston), and South of Market (home decor). I’ve recently fallen in love with the South of Market blog! I found the offices of my favorite magazine Garden and Gun - so much fun!
On Saturday, we left for Kiawah Island for the wedding. The wedding was outdoors and the reception had the most beautiful sunset overlooking the golf course. And, I’m in LOVE with the alligator place setting. So creative! I can’t wait to visit Charleston again soon.
* images: my own and Zero George from Zero George
The Hundred Event hostesses!
It was wonderful to attend some sessions of The Hundred Event held a week ago in Dallas. A long time fan of the Aspiring Kennedy blog, I was excited to learn that blogger Lauren Bryan Knight was involved in organizing and hosting a bloggers event at the Warwick Melrose Hotel from August 8th-10th. It was such a great group of women (bloggers, writers, and small business owners) and sponsors included Joules, Minnetonka, Twine Room Design, Lily Jade, and media sponsor Bungalow Magazine. A special thanks was also given to Peacock Alley, Love Ophelia, Uber Dallas, and the Warwick Melrose Hotel.
speaking on The Brand Perspective Panel!
On Saturday afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with representatives from Peacock Alley, Fossil, and Lily Jade on The Brand Perspective. This panel was about digital marketing and advertising opportunities with brands (what makes them want to work with you!) and the social media that surrounds them. I attended the beautiful dinner on Friday as well – there was a full weekend of fantastic events! You can see the entire image gallery here.
My quick points:
1. Be sure that the brand is a good fit for your audience. Don’t collaborate with a brand your audience will not receive well because chances are the brand won’t see the results it wants and you could harm your own personal brand.
2. Make it natural.We all don’t like to “read” advertisements on blogs. Think of different ways you can showcase the product and reach the needs and goals of the brand without being too obvious.
3. Multi-platform promotions. Even if you’re working with a brand and the deal is just for Facebook, give the company a chance to see the value you can provide them when they work with you. Be sure to utilize other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and even videos during your partnership with the company. They’ll be appreciative you went the extra mile – even if it’s a value add! It’s often helpful to create a unique hashtag for your partnership, particularly if it’s a longer giveaway or contest.
4. Think like your reader. If you were to land on a blog, think about how you might like to learn about products. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
5. Be Professional. Record activity and statistics on your blog during the collaboration. They’ll be watching, but if you provide the brand with a promotion, contest, or collaboration recap or report, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
6. Understand the Goal. Before launching any partnership or campaign, it’s important that you understand the goals of the brand. Are they looking to drive traffic to their website? Do they want to capture a new audience? Are they hoping to see the different ways you can style their product and share it with your readers? By asking your contact or the brand’s representative about what they hope to achieve through the collaboration, you can better customize your strategy to meet those needs.
Thanks to the Hundred Event team and all involved for the amazing opportunity and on successfully hosting such a lovely and successful weekend!
Photography Credit: Awake Photography