Saturday, April 12, 2014


It looks like Charlotte Style will be taking a small break during a temporary reassignment.

Ann Doss Helms will be focusing on a special project in the lead-up to the Observer's May 5 "Solving it Together" forum on teacher pay in N.C. I'll be lending a hand covering CMS in the meantime.

Still know of something stylish happening around CLT? Email

Charlotte Style will be back soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Civic Duty Shoes at CLT's SilverFly

Who would have thought that Tyvek - that papery-looking material usually used in FedEx envelopes and home construction- could be so stylish?

But the New Jersey-based brand Civic Duty found a way to be fashion-forward while creating shoes with uppers made entirely of Tyvek.

Designer and brand founder Steven Weinreb said that Tyvek, which is made by DuPont, was an appealing material for his casual footwear line for several reasons:

It’s water-resistant but breathable. Extremely lightweight, yet very durable, and full of unique characteristics such as its ability to be scrunched up (perfect for packing) then “fluffed back up” and be ready to wear, Weinreb said.

Also, because the material takes print very well, it’s great for printing bright colors. (Have you seen the company’s hue of orange? Love.)

Plus, the papery appearance is just fun.

The line has been featured in Oprah’s “O” magazine and has been a hit with a number of customer bases: the trendsetters - who gravitate toward the bright colors - the eco-conscious (the shoes are completely recyclable) and the animal lovers (all styles are entirely vegan), among others.

It looks like patent leather, but is actually a cruelty-free synthetic.

Weinreb started tinkering with Tyvek years ago while working for an international distributor near his home in New Jersey. They were distributing a casual travel shoe in the U.S. and he found himself more interested in the shipping bag than the shoe itself.

The recession ended that job at the close of 2008, he said, and searching for a new one revealed that Weinreb’s age and level of expertise essentially made him unemployable in a market trying to stay afloat.

So his interest in developing Tyvek into shoes was prompted by job necessity and, voila, Civic Duty Shoes was born. The small company got its official start about four years ago and now his line is the one with international distribution.

Weinreb will be at SILVERYFLY at the Metropolitan Friday and Saturday, helping pair people with their perfect shoe.

Civic Duty Shoes founder Steven Weinreb

He’ll bring numerous styles (for men and women) and colors in a variety of sizes for the trunk show. While customers won’t walk out of the store with a new pair, he said, their order will be shipped (likely directly to SILVERFLY) within the week.

Weinreb said he enjoys visiting the stores that carry the shoe line because he values the customer feedback. "It gives me really good insight on what we're doing right, wrong and suggestions customers have and would like to see."

The casual footwear brand is partially known for its trademark argyle strip down the back of the shoe, which made more sense than a large logo typically found on athletic shoes, which Civic Duty shoes are not, he said.

“If you go try to play basketball in them, forget about it,” Weinreb said (with perfect New Jersey phonetics). “It’s not going to happen.”

But just because the shoes aren’t meant to run a 5K in doesn’t mean they’re not comfortable. One thing he hears most often from customers is how surprised they are with the comfort level, as casual sneakers typically don’t offer much arch support, he said.

Real life example? Weinreb said he can walk all over New York City visiting boutiques that carry Civic Duty (we’re talking up to 60 city blocks in a day) and the shoes remain comfortable for hours

Civic Duty Shoes usually retail between $50 and $60, come only in whole sizes and – despite their delicate appearance – have the lifespan of any other shoe, Weinreb said, adding he's had pairs that have lasted more than two years.

“They’ll wear down the same way other sneakers will, but it won’t be the upper that wears out," he said. "The more the rubber hits the pavement, the more it wears away ... It depends on how hard and how often you use them."

At shows such as the one this weekend in Charlotte, Weinreb said, they've invited people to pour water on the shoes or challenge them to "tear the Tyvek," to demonstrate the shoes are much sturdier than expected.

"It's really taken a good bit of education to let the consumer know it's okay to buy these shoes. First thing they think is 'It's paper, it'll tear, it'll disintegrate,'" he said.

"But to have these big macho guys trying to tear this piece of paper, it's kind of fun to watch. Obviously there's a tearing point for everything. It does happen," he said. "But 98 out of 100 people can't do it."

Weinreb said the brand's offerings are growing slowly, typically adding one new style per season. They’re experimenting with messenger bags and backpacks, as well as exploring creative marketing methods to boost brand exposure.

"I'm not enamored with the traditional 'Lets buy a billboard' (approach)," Weinreb said. "I like to try to find other creative ways to do things ... To let people know these are fun, comfortable shoes."

More trunk show details here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Charlotte salon says, 'There's an app for that'

I occasionally worry that I've become overly-reliant on smart technology. (Usually after I can't remember something important or easy, such as my husband's phone number.)

But then I'll use Taxi Magic, or check the weather, hit up mobile banking, or call up a recipe from Pinterest and all I'm left thinking is how easy that was.

KM and Company Salon knows what I'm talking about.

The South End salon is scheduled to launch its own app today, which will allow customers to request and confirm appointments, see the menu of services, the photo gallery with before and after pictures, buy and send gift cards, get driving directions and more.

Available free for iPhone and Android, the app has been developed by Web Cloud apps.

Salon owner and stylist Karla Kuhlmann anticipates the app making things easier both for the customer, as well as staff.

"I think the greatest benefit to our salon guests will be the ability to contact the salon whenever they want, even when we are closed, basically, 24/7," Kuhlmann said.

"We can also send an 'App Kick' when we have a special offer or a last minute savings."

The idea was seeded after reading a trade industry article about salon-specific apps, Kuhlmann said, and she eventually was put in touch with a developer. It took just over three months to get to this point, she said.

"The more I thought about it, and about conversations I’ve had with our guests about 'meaning to call' the salon to make an appointment or something else, it just made sense," she said.

Kuhlmann said one of her favorite aspects of the app from the business side is the alert feature.

"We can target all or specific guests (and notify them) of something, like their stylist is sick. Or, like recently, the salon closing because of bad weather."

KM & Company has been around nearly a decade, and Kuhlmann said being one of the first in town (if not the first) to have a salon-specific app will take her "service-based business into the digital age."

She expects it won't be long before other local beauty businesses launch their own apps as well.

"The cost wasn’t cheap, but I was expecting it to be much more expensive. I think this might just catch on if the salon is willing to invest in their future."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fido fashion show

Oh, dogs in clothes...

This was an April Fool's joke by Scarves Dot Net, but it wouldn't have surprised me had it been legit.

Love or hate puppies in people clothes, dogs will be dressed to walk the runway tomorrow as part of the Humane Society of Charlotte's Pet Palooza.

The annual fundraiser is the organization's largest, setting a record last year by raising more than $97,000.

Courtesy of

The 2014 Pet Palooza will be rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Independence Park, Seventh and Hawthorne, Charlotte.

In addition to an adoption fair and $15 microchipping, there's a 2k dog walk, dog contests, paw painting, the Triple C beer and wine garden, live music, food trucks and more than 70 vendors, among other activities.

For the full schedule of events, click here.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

'Style Under the Stars' Charlotte

Want to to mix fashion and philanthropy with a sneak peek of one of uptown Charlotte’s newest rooftop venues? On Friday night, the inaugural “Style Under the Stars” runway show to benefit the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage promises to roll it all together at Rooftop 210.

Effie Loukas, owner of Lotus and mastermind behind the annual Style Night Out fashion show, is producing “Style Under the Stars.” In addition to raising funds, Friday’s show is meant to be a simple, but fun, showcase of spring.

“We want to get people excited to come out and support a really great cause,” Loukas said.

Jamie Kimble, 31, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend on Labor Day 2012. Her parents - Charlotte’s deputy city manager, Ron Kimble and wife, Jan - established her namesake foundation to raise awareness of domestic violence issues, to help other victims of abuse and fund programs that curb the spread of domestic violence.

Local boutiques Fab’rikKK BloomThe Cheeky BeanDollVestiqueBlank CanvasSloan BoutiqueSaks off 5th and Lotus will each showcase about five of their favorite looks for spring on the runway. Allison Latos from WSOC will host.

The majority of participating models are professionals, Loukas said, but there will be a number of community leaders on the runway as well.

Ron and Jan Kimble, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority Chief Executive Officer Tom Murray, Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance President Mohammad Jenatian and a number of other Kimble family friends will be guest models, Loukas said.

Though there won’t be post-show pop-up shops, there will be a number of silent auctions with items such as tickets to the U.S. Open, she said.

Organizers hope to make the show an annual event. Mike Stephens, director of Full House Productions, said “Style Under the Stars” is part of a series of high-profile events leading up to Rooftip 210’s public grand opening weekend April 11-12.

Ticket sales for Friday night have been brisk so far, Stephens said. While Rooftop 210 can accommodate between 1,200 and 1,500 people, Stephens said, organizers expect between 600 and 700 guests Friday night.

In the event of rain, the show will likely move to another EpiCentre venue, such as Whiskey River, Stephens said.

General admission tickets (i.e. standing room) are $20 and prime-seating VIP tickets are $40.

VIP tables are also available by contacting contact Shane McKee: 704 - 526 -5845 or

Event attire is cocktail/fashion forward, doors open at 8 p.m. and the show will likely get started around 9:30 p.m. Rooftop 210 is on the third floor of the EpiCentre, 210 E. Trade St.

Friday, March 28, 2014

That 'J. Crew model' glow

You either love J. Crew or you really don't.

My cousins trend towards the love side, and they both look great in those print skirts, bright, preppy sweaters and seemingly endless layers. (It probably helps that they're waif thin, too.)

If it didn't take an act of congress to get me to tuck a shirt in, I'd probably wear more of their clothing, especially if it were a bit closer to my price range.

Collection pencil wrap skirt in cubist print
Me + this look = not going to happen
Regardless of your feelings on their apparel, J. Crew models are apparently renowned for their fresh-faced, natural looks.

 Marled linen V-neck sweater

I hadn't ever really given them much thought (beyond cursing their baby giraffe thighs) but the beauty world went nuts last week when the clothing line's stylists revealed their secret weapon.

The dewy (yet not greasy) glow comes courtesy of RMS Beauty. The organic makeup line's Living Luminizer and Lip2Cheek tint are credited for the models' "lit from within" look.

Lip2Cheek tint in Demure ($36)

RMS Beauty's Living  Luminizer ( $38)
Prices vary depending where you're buying from, but J. Crew is also selling both items.

Byrdie has a tip for those who want a faux-glow without spending money (assuming you already have it in your toolkit): Use the same light-colored eye shadow that you use on your brow bone as a highlighter.

Master a Quick Glow

Will have to test that theory, though I suspect the shadow finish - matte vs. pearl, etc. - would make a difference. (And I'd assume that either way, the lighter the hand, the better.)

Happy weekend, stay dry!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Your handbag can make you a hero

"There's change in your purse."

Love the clever duality, it's the perfect summary of Purses with a Purpose. The local, annual sale of gently used handbags started six years ago, when Kelly DeMario was fundraising for her Relay for Life team. 

Uncomfortable asking others for money, even for a reputable cause, DeMario was looking for “an easy ask, something you could ask a girlfriend,” she said. “Everyone has a purse … We take everything as long as it's still intact and someone can get a little life and use out of it.”

Kelly DeMario among a wealth of donations

All proceeds, then and now, go to the American Cancer Society. Purses with a Purpose always holds its annual sale the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend.

This year's sale will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway. The website is under construction, but the video link is live.

That first year, DeMario only asked friends and family for donations. She hosted the sale in her front yard, with hundreds of purses strung on a clothesline between two trees. The inaugural sale brought in roughly $1,000 and loads of contacts.

The next year, DeMario tapped those contacts “and it became very organic,” she said. “They asked their girlfriends … we had so many (purses) we moved to my daughter’s preschool.” By year three, DeMario knew the sale would require a large space. A blurb ran on the evening news and by the end of the night, DeMario said, “There were people lined up, willing to donate space.”

For the next several years, the former Blake Hotel in Uptown was the site of the sale and groups would hold “girls’ nights” and book rooms so they could be at the sale first thing, DeMario said. As a Mother's Day gift, one gentleman sent a friend at midnight the night before to be the first in line, so his wife could have first dibs when the sale opened.

The majority of bags are priced between $10 and $18 and higher-end bags such as Coach and Michael Kors usually sell for $50. But DeMario said it’s the volume of donations that allows them to raise money.

"People think ‘My purse is from Target or Macy’s it’s not high-end.’ That’s not what we’re shooting for. So many people just want a cute handbag,” she said. “Prices are very approachable, there’s (even) $1 purses.”

Just a few donations available for sale at the 2014 Purses with a Purpose sale May 10.
In the event's fourth year, DeMario called it a miracle when CLT-based handbag designer Martha Clifford donated her entire inventory as she transitioned into jewelry.

DeMario wasn't sure what to expect (five bags? 10 maybe?) and was floored when she picked up more than $30,000 worth of Italian leather, silk-lined handbags, donated by Clifford.

The M. Clifford designs were priced at $100, a steal considering many originally retailed for more than $400.
"I called my husband and said 'There is more value in the trunk of my Jeep than (the vehicle) is worth.'" That year, the sale raised $13,700, DeMario said.

The annual Purses with a Purpose donation kickoff will be 5-8 p.m. April 10 at The Boulevard in South End, (1440 S. Tryon Street) and will feature wine and nibbles. Those who bring a purse donation will receive 15 percent off any full priced item. (If you can't make it to the kickoff, that offer is good through April 30.)

Or, those with a donation can email to schedule a pick up, arrange to meet/drop off, or take your bags to designated donation spots, such as Boulevard. “We make it as easy as we can.”

For about four months each year, DeMario's garage becomes a holding pen for literally thousands of handbags. It's not unusual to receive a donation of 500 all at once.

Together with some friends, Relay for Life team members and volunteers, DeMario said it takes about a week prior to the sale the make sure each bag has been cleaned out, wiped down and tagged.

Last year, DeMario and friends also lobbied celebrities for their hardly-used handbags. "Based on how many requests we sent out, I wouldn't call it a success," she said. I have to beg to differ, considering they did receive donations from Carly Rae Jepsen, Patricia Heaton, Gloria Gaynor, Vivica A. Fox, Catherine Bach, Jane Seymour and Susan Sarandon.

Susan Sarandon autographed her donation to the 2013 Purses with a Purpose sale.
Vivica A. Fox sent three bags and an autographed picture for the 2013 sale.
Patricia Heaton, who played Ray Ramano's wife on "Everyone Love Raymond," was one of the celebrities to donate a bag to the 2013 Purses with a Purpose sale.
Sound like a recipe for shopping disaster? Thankfully, there’s never been any Black Friday-esque madness or what DeMario calls “purse drama.”

Happy shopping!
“It’s really funny, people are very strategic.” The first round of shoppers rush through and scoop up anything that remotely strikes their fancy, DeMario said. “They’ll have like 25 purses on their arm.” They’ll meet up with friends and sift through, while “sharks in the water” stand behind them, waiting to start negotiations. Meanwhile, other shoppers take their time, perusing the tables.

So many choices...
And after five years, aside from finding a location to host the sale, DeMario said the fundraiser essentially runs itself.

"You ask one person and it turns into a 'Let me ask my friend.' It's been organic and fun to do," she said.

"We've got a good team of people, it takes lots of hands to make it happen ...  It's fun to watch it grow as purses come in."