Monday, March 24, 2008

Seven Random Facts About Secret Leaves

We were recently tagged by our good friend Amy Steinberg of Charming Sam. Now, some may think of this as a bother, but not us! We are happy to talk about ourselves and at the end will tag four other blogs so they have that opportunity as well. So here we go...

First the rules of "tag" are:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share seven random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Since we have been tagged before, we decided it would be fun to give seven random facts about Secret Leaves rather than more tidbits about us personally.

Our response:

1. One of our primary focuses is the reuse of paper and old books. It came to us afterward that what we are doing is, in fact, recycling. This has led us to incorporate green practices into nearly all aspects of our business and our product line.

2. Not only do we love old paper and vintage images, we are also fans of nature's strange beauty. We love things like bats, frogs and snakes.

frog scrap book resized

3. We are primarily a wholesale company. We would love to see our products in a beautiful shop like yours.

4. Our World Headquarters is located in St. Louis, Missouri. We like it here.

TGP3130035 Piper Palm House, Tower Grove Park, St. Louis

5. We are two girls who are happy to be doing what we love.

6. We often have Happy Hour at 4 o'clock on Fridays...because we can.

7. Sharon loves pie and Ann loves cake.

Tag, you're it!


Check My Tag

Adventures of Elizabeth

Cathy Penton Designs Shoppe

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Little Six Toes

Recently I took some time off and traveled to the Sunshine State. I spent a few days in Orlando and escaped without stepping foot in any kind of Disney facility. After that I enjoyed three eighty-degree days in Key West. Of course, I had to check out the six-toed Hemingway House cats. Little did I know that I would love the house they reside in too. There are over fifty cats living on the property and most are descendants of the six-toed cat that was given to Hemingway by a sea captain.

How they all manage to get along remains a mystery to me. I can't even get my two cats to quit fussing. As you can see they are living large and relaxing in the easy life that Key West is famous for. Look at where they get to live. How cool.

There were many bookcases showcasing Hemingway works, but here is a bookshelf housing the works of some of Hemingway's contemporaries.

Many of them are signed editions.

A detail of the beautiful woodwork on one of the bookcases.

I suppose this is where Papa wrote.

Check out the tile in this bathroom! I loved this room.

Kittycats were everywhere. Here's one sneaking a nap on this lovely bed. I don't think she was supposed to be there.

This one is Archie. He was shooed away by a caretaker shortly after this photo was taken. Why this house didn't smell like a giant cat box is another mystery.

The cats are very well cared for, but as you can see they have a hard life.

Not all the cats had six toes. But you couldn't mistake the ones that did. They looked like little catcher's mitts.

They were everywhere. Everywhere, I tell you.

Whether you are fan of the Hemingway writing style or not, the house and surrounding gardens are a treat to go through. And the cats are a large part of the charm.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interview with Elizabeth Maxson

All photos this post by Elizabeth Maxson

To many of you reading this blog, Elizabeth Maxson needs no introduction. She has been involved in making the world a more beautiful place for most of her adult life. She has a natural flair and golden touch.

In late 2002, she opened Elizabeth House in St. Louis, Missouri, a European-style boutique offering antiques, home furnishings, unique gifts, and design services. Elizabeth House projects and products have been featured in major national publications including Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself, Country Home and Romantic Homes.

We were all saddened to see the closing of her bricks-and-mortar boutique in late 2007, but the shutting of that door opened many others. It enabled her to expand her creative horizons through her writing and photography. Her photos are luscious and her talent as a writer is evident through her work as a contributing editor for Romantic Homes, where she writes and produces her national column, Ta Da!
During the Elizabeth House era Monty, Elizabeth's pug, was a fixture at the store and very popular with the clientele.

As if this doesn't keep her busy enough, she also continues to offer design consulting services. This includes helping new store owners with start-up procedures, company identity and store display. Elizabeth keeps us up-to-date on all of her latest through her blog, The Adventures of Elizabeth. She was kind enough to do an interview with us to give us a more in-depth look at what she's been up to.

After Elizabeth House closed, looking to your future must have been both exciting and scary for you. Can you tell us a little bit about your process in deciding what to do next?

When I opened the doors to my boutique, Elizabeth House, little did I know at the time how many other doors would be opened to me! I have walked through many, many doors to get where I am today. While always exciting and flattering, there is an element of insecurity and fear of the unknown when a new opportunity presents itself. But if it’s something I think is worth at least a try, I always go for it. As a result, I closed my store to pursue new opportunities that had come my way. Scary? Yes, of course! But exciting because I love, love, love new challenges and change. I now have more time to write, do styling and photography for magazines, design and consult. In fact, I just had the wonderful opportunity to consult with a budding store owner, Debi Mattingly. She hired me and flew me to Houston where she "picked my brain" as she likes to say. I would never have been able to do this while owning and running a store. I have many irons in the fire and I am open to everything from hosting a television design show, to writing a book, to consulting, public speaking, designing…and of course a good nap now and again!

You have a very successful blog with a large readership. Tell us, in your experience, what there is to gain by blogging regularly. How does it help your business?

Blogging has its pros and cons (as with most things). Personally, I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who take time from their busy lives to read my blog. Really – how flattering is that? I would never have thought that an electronic medium could provide such intimacy. As a writer, the blog is a wonderful release for my thoughts. I am just happy that I can inspire others. As far as helping my business? It depends on how you approach your blog. Yes, I am a businesswoman, but my blog is more personal. Many businesswomen approach their blog with a business-only feel, which is perfectly fine and most likely helps grow their bank accounts–and we are in business, aren’t we?

My blog is mostly design-related with touches of personal adventures peppered in. It is time-consuming, but rewarding. However, if writing is not your thing and photography is a challenge, a blog could actually hurt your business. Poor choice of topics, wording or poor photography could give a bad impression--even if you have a great business and gorgeous store. There are too many beautifully written and photographed blogs out there that can make a so-so blog look unprofessional by comparison. So the short answer is this: personally, my blog allows me to remain in contact with customers, which is always a good thing. (The trick is, are they interested in remaining in contact with me?) An honest, well-written blog with interesting topics and pretty pictures is always a plus.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Okay, you have me here – why did you have to ask? Oh my goodness, I am going to get into deep trouble, but I have to be honest. I don’t have a favorite blog – that is the truth! There are many, many blogs out there I enjoy for many different reasons. I enjoy pretty pictures and the blogs that show them. I love reading thought-provoking blogs. I enjoy reading European blogs – well, looking at them, since I only speak English. I love reading about other store owners and their challenges. I really enjoy reading the blogs of those who post comments on my blog. I am always curious about those who take time out of their busy lives to write me and so I "visit" my new cyber-friends and read their blogs to get to know them. Okay, I am done. Am I in trouble for not naming a particular blog? (Yes, Elizabeth, you are in big trouble. Clearly your favorite blog is the Secret Leaves blog. Hee hee)

You have many projects in the works right now, including writing a book. Can you tell us a little about that?

I am writing a book…a book that I hope some publisher will want to publish. Do you know any? It is a design book combined with my personal thoughts and advice as a designer, store owner, traveler, shopper and artist. It will be filled with pretty pictures with lots of details. I love shooting detail shots, and luckily, my readers seem to enjoy them as well. There is something about an object, the texture, when shot in extreme detail, that makes you want to reach into the pages of a book and feel it.

When I absent-mindedly find myself touching a photo in hopes of touching the actual object, I know it is a very well-taken photo. Having my readers wanting to touch a detail shot of an object I photographed is my goal. Along with my photography, I hope to also touch my readers with my words. And touch their hearts with a little inspiration. That may be a tall order for a design book to accomplish, but it is my goal. Touching, in every sense of the word, is something we humans are created to do.

Many thanks go out to Elizabeth for this interview and for the lovely photos. We look forward to seeing her future projects come to life and to seeing where her adventures take her.