Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hand crafted Panama Hats just arrived!

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A Montecristi Hat is a unique, handpicked treasure of flawless craftsmanship and classic style that is custom designed and fitted to your exact head shape and size and we have them at a fraction of the cost of big name department stores.

The straw in Panama hats comes from the leaves of the carludovica palmata or “paja toquilla”, a type of palm indigenous to Ecuador. The art of weaving the straw has flourished along the Ecuadorian Coast since the 1600’s. Over generations, master craftsmen perfected many of the delicate weaves we see in only the finest Panama hats. The exemplary Panama must be nearly flawless, of good color and consistent weave, exhibiting numerous enjiras, concentric or spiraling patterns radiating outward from the center of the crown. The body must be supple and delicate, yet strong. Unfortunately, the masters of this craft are now passing into old age and due to modern Ecuadorian economy, few are taking their place.

The quality on these are insanely good!  I have only 18 of each weave, fino and ultra fino.

You can pack these, reshape these and even clean them with a baby wipe.

Fino only $32.99 (compare to $82)

Untra Fino only $49.99 (compare to competitors at $180!)

Call the store today or I will have them all online by the weekend.
Montecristi Town

17th Century  – The Montecristi Hat
Spanish colonialist used native labor to produce European style hats, replacing the traditional Toquillas that covered ears and neck. Skilled weavers were located in the towns of Jipijapa and Montecristi (Manabi Province) and soon these villages turned into hat weaving centers and named their hats after their towns. Until today, the Montecristi Hat is recognized as the finest panama hats

18th Century – Scientific Name was defined
Spaniards started to use Toquilla Straw Hats and they became popular with the colonial nobility. Soon, the King of Spain ordered several bolts of toquilla straw for his wife. Botanist discovered that the straw that was used to weave the hats came from a palm species that only grows in the coast of Ecuador, between 100 and 400 meters over sea level, and they gave the palm the scientific name of Carludovica Palmeta in honor to the King Charles IV of Spain and his wife Ludovica

Eloy Alfaro1835 – First Modern Hat Business
After Ecuador gained independence from Spain, an entrepreneur called Manuel Alfaro settled in Montecristi in 1835 and established a hat production business using his own straw plantations and hiring skilled weavers. His business went well and soon he started exporting to Panama, since it was becoming an important commercial center. Later on he opened shops in Panama, which attracted the attention of buyers from around the world, who soon associated this Ecuadorian product with the country of Panama.

Gold Rush1848 – The Gold Rush
In 1848 the Gold Rush began and people rushed to California by the easiest way in that time: crossing the Isthmus of Panama. While passing through, they often bought hats on their way and spread the word about Panama Hats in the USA. Eloy Alfaro, son of Manuel Alfaro and later the President of Ecuador, took over the family business and in 1849 Ecuador exported 220.000 hats to California

.World Fair in Paris1855 – World Fair in Paris
A Frenchman who lived in Panama exhibited the hats at the 1855 World Fair in Paris and since Ecuador was not mentioned as a participating country the hats were baptized as Panma Hats. The French fashion soon adopted the panama Hat and even Emperor Napoleon III wore a Montecristi Hat spreading the trend to other European countries. In Great Britain, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) also became a Panama Hat

.Cuban Sugar Plantations1863 – 1898 Export Expansion
Ecuador continues to export panama hats to the USA and Europe but expands its market to South America, the Caribbean and especially Cuba, where hats were highly needed for the workers of the sugar and tobacco plantations and huge amount of hats were bought every year.

Spanish American War1898 – Spanish American War
The US Government bought 50,000 hats to protect its soldiers from the intense sun of the Caribbean during the Spanish American War.

Panama Canal1906 – The Panama Canal Construction
During the Panama Canal Construction many hats were bought for all the US workers and engineers that arrived in Panama. The popularity rose all over the world when a photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt wearing a stylish Montecristi Hat during a visit to the canal, appeared in the world press.
As a curious fact, in 1925, Turkey’s modernization laws banned wearing the traditional fez and forced the use of Panama Hats.

Hollywood Golden Age1944 – Hollywood Golden Age
The Panama Hat exports reached its peak during 1944 when it became Ecuador`s number one export item, also due to a decline of the cocoa exports. One of the main reasons for the sales to boom was the effect of the Hollywood Golden Age, many stars wore panama hats on and off screen popularizing the use of the stylish panama. The  panama hats appeared in movies such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Key Largo, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Man Who Would Be King.

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Fair Trade Tagua Nut (Palm Ivory) Handcrafted Jewelry from Ecuador

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In 2012 the top 10 jewelry trends are all about classic pieces for the spring as well as natural pieces for the fall collection. 2012 will be all about sustainability, recycled, raw pieces that will range from classic to exotic. We will also see that few trends that started out in 2011 that will continue to be hot fashion items in 2012, such as the big and bold rings as well as mix of vintage with a contemporary flair.

This week I have an incredible assortment of tagua nut jewelry coming in from Ecuador.  This jewelry is exquisite and when I learned a little more about it, I knew it would be perfect for my customers!  I find these little seeds on the beach when diving and walking a lot here in Florida.  The seeds which have inner cavities are very buoyant and get washed down to the Atlantic where they end up on the beaches here in Florida.   Never really knew what they were till today!  I have 4 I picked up from my last dive in LBTS just got I thought I could plant them.


Tagua Nut

Tagua nut is also know as vegetable ivory.  This is because the color, appearance and feel of an aged tague nut is like ivory.  Now we all know that it is ILLEGAL to import and sell ivory so in my opinion this is a fabulous way to get the same look without condoning the killing of elephants.  The endosperm (seed) istraded as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, corozo or tagua. When dried out, it can be carved just like elephant ivory.  The seed comes from a plant that looks similar to a palm.  It’s scientific name is Phytelephas Aequatorialis Macrocarpa.

Tagua grows in the tropical rainforests of some South American countries, mainly Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, being Ecuador the country that fulfills most of the world’s demand.

Ecuador is one of the best places to see the trees, near the Napo River.  This river is a major tributary into the amazon.  The tree grows on under large rain forest trees along the streams and hillsides.  Large pinnate leaves up to 20 feet tall rise from the trunk.  Just like humans, they have male and female species.  The female ones are where the seeds come from.  They bear large fruit the size of melons or grapefruit.  Each fruit has studded horns and will contain four or more of the tagua seeds.  The fruit of the tagua tree is almost completely round measuring 20 to 50 cm in diameter with a blackish exterior. This fruit, also known as “mococha”, has many locular cavities each containing two or more seeds.  The content of the immature fruit is a tasteless crystalline liquid. When it starts to ripen this turns into a sweet and pleasant milky substance, transforming later to a gelatinous viscous consistency and finally becoming an extraordinarily hard product similar in color, appearance and feel to natural ivory.  The seeds are super hard and require a hacksaw to cut into one.
Tagua will take approximately 15 years to produce its first harvest and will not stop bearing fruit for all of the years and even a century to come. A 35 to 40 year old plant measures about 6 feet and produces, in the 3 yearly harvests, between 15 to 16 heads or “mocochas”.
Not only are the seeds of the tagua are used to elaborate buttons, figurines, beads, chess sets, napkin rings, cane and umbrella holders, door knobs, etc. but the roots are said to contain medicinal properties. The leafs are also used for hut roofing and the very fine dust from the “ojalillos” serve as a mix in cattle feed due to its high content of energy.
Another important factor to consider is that it provides work to thousands of people in these poor South American countries giving them and their families a better life and the opportunity of offering their children a better education.  Vegetable ivory furthers important environmental and socioeconomic goals by stimulating the local economies , provides an alternative to cutting doa stand in Ecuador which sells tagua nut cabezas.wn rainforests for farming, and prevents elephants from being killed for the ivory in their tusks.  n their native range, these palms are also used as a source of food and construction wood.  Again, in my opinion all three are a vital alternative to what we are doing to our planet by depleting natural resources that can’t be quickly and efficiently replaced.   The tagua nut is a sustainable and renewable source.  A sustainable material is one that meets the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  It is eco-friendly jewelry.  Cultural Survival, an environmental group has stated that natural rain forest products like the tagua nut can generate up to five times the income of cattle ranches and banana plantations that they are clearing to rain forest to make room for.

How do these seeds become jewelry?  Well, take a trip with me, First the kernels are typically simply picked up from the ground after the ripe fruit has detached from the tree and forest animals have taken care of the pericarp (outer brown husk) or harvested when ripe and the pericarp manually removed.  Have a look at the picture to the left.   As the nut shrinks when it hardens a small hollow cavity can form in the center. It is often not possible to know whether the inside of the nut will have a small cavity in the center until it is cut into. Therefore, when carving, it is common to either incorporate the hole or cavity into carvings or not carve deep enough to reach a potential cavity.  Each tree will contain several cabezas (seed pods).  The artisan will polish, sometime cut and sometimes dye each seed kernel into a work of art.  No two pieces I carry are alike.  Each one is unique and individual.  Also, like ivory, worn over time, it can pick up body oils and have a nice creamy luster to it.  The tagua nut contains natural swirls of color, rendering every slice totally unique.

So, again as you can see, I am super excited about this, look to see some pictures of all the new pieces late Wednesday and I hope to have the earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from tagua nut all on the website by Thursday end of day.  Here is a sneak peak.  Oyeah, I forgot to mention the price, sets of necklaces, bracelets and earrings will retail under $60!  For all 3 pieces…a fraction of what big designer houses are charging.  Andean collection sold in Chico’s charges like $26 for a bracelet alone!  I will have them for under $20.

Stay tuned this week when I unveil everything.


Going – going – gone! 2 Bella Taylor Patterns 50% off

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Ok, we have two new patterns that will be retiring from Bella Taylor Handbags.  Medallion and Summer’s Edge.

These handbags are very popular and ever so cute.  Machine washable quilted handbags at a fraction of the cost of Vera Bradley  under normal prices but with the discount…YIKES! a steal

I have marked these all 50% off while supplies last!  Sale just started so don;t wait, as many of you know, we sold out of Newport (the last pattern to retire) in under 3 days!

2012 fall color alert – tangerine tango is here to stay!

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I have been holding this info for  a while.  I find sometimes it scares my readers to give out to much info early. I am pleased to see Tangerine Tango and Olympian Blue there.  So bright and cheery together.  Also nice that there is a deeper green.  I am a personal fan of green, makes me smile.  Initially I was worried it would be all dark and drab but I think they married colorful bright choices with some staple backdrop colors.

With an unexpected mix of darks, brights and neutrals, colors for Fall 2012 cleverly manipulate reality to transport consumers to an enchanting place, free from the stresses of everyday life. “By playing to consumers’ practical side with versatile neutrals, and boosting their confidence with bold, spirited hues, this skillfully balanced palette has something for everyone,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

fall 2012 women's colors

fall 2012 women’s colors

The top colors for women’s fashion for fall 2012 are:
PANTONE 19-1012 French Roast
PANTONE 15-1142 Honey Gold
PANTONE 18-2133 Pink Flambé
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango
PANTONE 18-5338 Ultramarine Green
PANTONE 14-0445 Bright Chartreuse
PANTONE 19-4056 Olympian Blue
PANTONE 17-4014 Titanium
PANTONE 16-3817 Rhapsody
PANTONE 14-1506 Rose Smoke

After looking at many pictures these color trends will be hot.

Cerulean — Move over, Tiffany-box blue, there’s a new turquoise in town. This bright blue shade is youthful and fresh-feeling, and looks just right with a splash of sparkle.

Venetian Red —  a deep, rust-red scarlet.

Primrose Yellow — This mustard-y yellow is a welcome change to last season’s acid-neon yellow. wear it as a print, or color block.  Works fab with black.

Deep Teal — In rich textures like velvet, crepe silk, and satin, an inky teal is a lovely option for nighttime dressing.

Peach —More badass than last season’s pale pink and less in-your-face than hot pink, peach is going to be the new neutral this fall.

Royal Blue — This striking, true blue is still a designer favorite — but who can blame ’em? This super-saturated hue provides a beautiful contrast to black basics.

Eggplant — Though deep purple lipsticks have been a trend for years now, the color is now making waves on the runways as well.

Burnt Orange — Not quite as vibrant as the oranges of seasons past, we’re kind of feeling this softer, dustier orange that so sharp, paired with black accents.

Israel bans photoshopping models- Believe in yourself ladies!

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Love it!  Now it seems like some of our international friends are realizing there needs to be some sort of monitoring of the media and advertising.

You do not have to be 120 pound 5 foot 9 blonde to be beautiful.  Take for instance, British TV.  Have you watched it lately?  My husband is from Wales and we lived there for a while.  I was shocked at how plain and ordinary people looked on their programs.  Ridiculous right?  But in the USA we plaster it on for the camera. Who set the norm and why did we let them without putting up a fight!

When was the last time you told your daughter, she looked great?  Or your wife?  Or your mom?  Makes me feel great when I hear it and I almost certainly smile.

Very eye opening!  As I work every year, I am truly horrified that young and old women do not realize their inner essence or beauty.  I hire girls who have little self esteem and do not realize the power they can unleash if they just believe.  I have had gangly young women not realize the power of a tube of lip gloss or a pretty scarf.  As many of my customers know, I am not a huge fan of shellacked makeup.  However I do believe in a little color to make you smile and radiate.  Even when I am off on the beach, I have a handy lipstick tube to freshen the lips.  I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly loving husband who tells I am beautiful and makes me feel wanted every day.

I also believe in the allure of a woman.  This is something that our younger ladies are not being taught.  It is not dragging your feet around in flip flops or wearing revealing clothes.  It is looking in the mirror and liking what you see.  It is holding a little something back from the male persuasion.  It is eye contact and not letting them see your fear.  It is being able to say no to that fashion faux pair.  ( I have never been one that believes knitwear makes a women look great).  It is creating your own sense of style and developing a wardrobe over the years to show that.

I believe if you tell a young girl of 6 to try that scarf on, she feels beautiful.  I know I certainly used to like to play dress up when I was little.  I believe it is ok to dream the impossible dream.  I believe there is a knight in shining armor for all women, if they take the time to look and are receptive.  (I do not care if that is male or female)

In all my years as a store owner, I think that our shop exudes that.  Candles and fragrance make me feel good and create a mood.  Jewelry, scarves and handbags are perfect little pick me ups and an easy way to brighten up an outfit.  Even gourmet items during holidays have a bright spot.

So, enjoy this article below.  Hurray for Israel!

“What the U.S. Can—and Can’t—Learn From Israel’s Ban on Ultra-Thin Models” (The Atlantic)

“On Monday, March 19, the Israeli parliament passed legislation ubiquitously known in the country as the Photoshop laws. The new regulations on the fashion and advertising industry ban underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index and regulate Photoshop usage in media and advertising. Abroad, the laws have opened new discussion on a government’s right to intervene in these two industries….

The more accepted approach for activism in the United States has been to put public pressure on the fashion industry to change, without government intervention. Some have answered the call for change, such as Dove, which launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004 and a viral video entitled ‘Evolution’ in 2006, which shows the unbelievable transformation of an ‘ordinary’ woman into a Photoshopped super-woman. Its model of positive advertising has brought the brand attention, but it doesn’t appear to have caught on in the wider advertising or media industries, which are still Photoshopping away….”

also after I did a little more research it appears that Vogue is trying to change the norm as well.

The Vogue announcement included the following six-point pact.

“1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.

“2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.

“3. We will help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.

“4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.

“5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.

“6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”

Mom’s Night out tonight

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Hey ladies!

Tonight is Mom’s Night Out at the Indian River Mall.

Come join Indian River Mall and 93.7 The Breeze for Mom’s Night Out! Mom’s, daughters, and girlfriends this is a night out for pampering, fashion, food, and fun! Gather your friends for live entertainment, desert sampling, fashions, door prizes, and much more!!! Classy Cupcakes will be here with gourmet cupcakes along with Countryside Juice with local grown orange juice.

We are giving away a Kindle Fire in a raffle at Mom’s Nite Out on Thursday. Make sure you come for a chance to win this or one of the many prizes we have to offer!

Buy 1 get 1 50% off all jewelry

50% off all Kringle Candle

25% off all windchimes

Join us for 2 for $30 scarves with jewelry.  Save $10!

 

 

Join us in store for a free 20 hours Root votive plus chocolates!

Plus the mall is giving away 100 swag bags to the first 100 ladies.

 

See you there