Let's talk about your job title and industry:
I'm an editor-at-large for Southern Living, have written seven books
on a variety of style and party planning ideas, and I author a blog
that I really enjoy.
Did you always have a vision of being a lifestyle expert?
Actually, no. I thought that I was going to be an art historian or a
curator and I studied art history in at SMU. I never really thought
of style as path until I had this 'aha moment,' like Oprah always
talks about. When I was a debutante, we were planning my party
and my mom bought beautiful plates and things because she
couldn't find what she wanted to rent for it locally and buying
them cost about the same amount if we had rented from out of
state. So as several friends began borrowing these items, I very clearly remember the moment where my mom was handing me something and she mentioned that we should be charging for this. And I thought, "Oh my gosh, we totally should." It was the moment I knew what I should do. So I started a party rental business and I was literally renting out my mother's things to her friends. And everyone was so supportive and so sweet. And after 10 years in that business I ended up selling it right after I got married. That business had grown to the point where we had a huge warehouse and a big staff. We had a really legitimate business after awhile, so that was pretty exciting.
How did owning that business translate into where you are now in your career?
I started the party rental business, which also meant being involved in the party and event planning industry. One day I was having lunch with a friend of my mother's who had written several books on interior design. During that lunch, I mentioned how I really wanted to write a book at some point, and she said, "Well you know, why not now?" She told me that her publishing house had just asked her to do book on entertaining and she told them that it wasn't her forte, "... but I'm going to tell them that I found the right person!" So it was just such an exciting opportunity for me and I wrote my first book. It was a very cool, very fun experience. And it just kind of snowballed into what I do today.
What or who had the biggest impact or defining moment on your career?
I have good friends that really helped me. Betty Lou Phillips was my mother's friend that suggested me for my first book, who is now my friend. She held my hand during all of that process which was just such an amazing thing for her to do. She didn't have to do that and it opened a door for me that then opened so many others. Also Carla McDonald, who writes the blog The Salonniére out of Austin, is the person who told me about the Southern Living position and recommended that I apply.
Can you just explain what "editor-at-large" means for Southern Living? What do you do in that role?
Oh sure, there are several of us. I'm in very good company along with Rick Brag, Jenna Bush Hager, and James Farmer and the four of us have different ways that we contribute to the magazine. In my role, I do a lot of television segments and speaking engagements on behalf of the magazine.
That's so cool. When you are doing the speaking engagements or making television appearances, does Southern Living tell you the topic and you develop content around that topic?
Honestly, it's different every time (like the rest of my career) and that's one of my favorite things about it. I'm just up for the adventure and for whatever new project comes up. I think the best part is that it's clearly designed and it's a fun field to contribute in all sorts of different ways. For instance, in the December issue I got to contribute some ideas for Christmas and having guests in your home for Christmas morning and that kind of thing. It's an exciting part of my job and I really enjoy it.
How did your parents (laughs) influence your career? Sounds like they were really instrumental in the beginning of it at least, right?
Oh, they absolutely were. They always made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to do. They have supported me in business ideas that I've had or have wanted to do. They have a lot of experience in business and have been really helpful that way. In addition, of course, they were always very, very encouraging an empowering.
What are you most excited about in your career now?
Well, I think probably the start of Halo Home, a linen company, is very, very exciting for me. We just launched it and it has really taken off. My partner, Jen O'Neal, is wonderful. I've enjoyed working with her. I've never really had a partner so it's been fun for me to have someone close to bounce ideas off of and to brainstorm with. We've learned each other's strengths and weaknesses and it's just been really exciting.
Who or what do you believe has been a strong influence of your style?
I mean so many people. I've worked with Jan Showers on several interior design projects and she has always let me try things and I've learned so much from her. She's just an amazing lady. In addition to being our interior designer, I certainly consider her a good friend as well. One of the things that I really learned from her is knowing and experiencing what my own style is. She's so good at clearly defining what her style is, but also at experimenting with other things. I love learning that from her because I have a tendency to just love everything and she really taught me to be more particular and thoughtful about what really suits my style and what doesn't.
How do you determine what you are going to wear to work each day?
I never really have a typical day and I feel like I have two modes of dressing. If I'm going to be running around a lot and I don't have appearances scheduled for the day, then I typically wear jeans or pants and a playful top. If I have business meetings or a television segment or something like a charity luncheon, then I'm definitely a dress girl. I like one piece dresses that I don't really have to think too much about. I like to be able to throw it on, add an accessory and go. Also I love color. Where most people are trying to reduce the amount of black in their closet, I am always trying to wear more black because I have the tendency to be attracted to color.
Heels or flats?
I wear mostly flats to be honest. So either a Chanel ballerina flat or Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots. I live in both of those.
Where do you like to shop and when do you find the time?
I love the Dallas staples such as Forty Five Ten and Neiman Marcus, but I also love shopping online at Moda Operandi. It's one of my favorites. I do a lot of trunk show shopping on Moda. So you order from their online trunk shows, and you pay a deposit and then all of a sudden four or five months later you'll get a notice that whatever you've bought is on its way to you. So it's very exciting because you're kind of thinking out a season ahead. It's a lot of fun.
What are some of your favorite brands that
you rely on?
One of the things I love about Moda and
Forty Five Ten is that they have new
designers that maybe aren't as well known.
They're emerging designers, right?
Yes, and I love that. I love having things
a little bit different that not everybody
has seen. Then I also invest in pieces
like a Chanel jacket or dress - something
that will really stand the test of time. And
they're certainly investments, but I wear
my things over and over. I love having
classic pieces that I know I'll still like
next year or the next.
Do you have anything on your wish list
for an accessory or some clothing?
Definitely a necklace from Irene Neuwirth.
What type of daily tote or bag do you carry every day and what is inside?
I am carrying the Elisabetta Slouch bag from Mark and Graham. It has terrific bamboo handles, which I really like. Beyond the usual staples of my phone and wallet, I always keep a big scarf with me because the air conditioning in the office drives me crazy. It's either really cold or really warm.
What is something that you wear that instills more confidence on days when you are not quite feeling yourself?
I love wearing a bold, bright color. It makes me feel more confident.
Lipstick or lip gloss?
Both! I love a good lip product.
What are your favorite brands and shades?
I wear Mary Kay lip gloss in Fancy Nancy, Laura Mercier lip shine in Tempting Coral, Lancôme lip gloss in Chromed Pink, Clé de Peau lip luminizer in a smokey rose shade, and Edward Bess lipstick in Blushed Orchid.
What is the most important part of your beauty routine that you feel helps complete your look?
I love my hot rollers. If I didn't have time to put my hot rollers in my hair, I wouldn't feel quite so put together.
What's your mani/pedi style?
I always use a neutral on my nails. My favorite right now is Baby Love from Deborah Lippmann and I usually do red toes.
What hair products do you use most regularly?
I love this new Living Proof line. I keep their shaping hairspray handy and also their conditioner is really nice.
What's your approach to jewelry? Do you have standard
go to pieces that you wear most of the time, or do you mix
I'm really bad at putting my jewelry on for work because
I hate it when my bracelets clank when I'm trying to type.
But I love jewelry so much. I have this funny relationship
with it. I love jewelry and I feel like I can't get enough of
it, but I just don't wear it all that often. I wear it when I'm
dressed for an occasion.
Who are your favorite jewelry designers currently?
I got a Hannah Ferguson monogrammed cuff bracelet
when my book came out, so that's really special to me. I
love the Van Cleef and Arpels Alhambra necklaces and the
Kimberly McDonald geode jewelry. And obviously the
Irene Neuwirth necklaces. Monique Pean is another one
who I really enjoy. I love it all, and I get really sentimentally
attached to these pieces. They are just so special.
What do you do in the morning, prior to your office hours, that helps you prepare for the day ahead?
I don't know that I really have time to do anything that helps me prepare beyond just like spending the morning with the children and Justin and then definitely coffee.
So that is your morning beverage?
Black coffee. No sugar, no milk.
What kind of transportation do you use to get to your office?
I have a Lexus GX in silver.
Do you have a favorite song, artist, or playlist that you listen to on your way to work?
Definitely right now I'm listening to the holiday station on Sirius Radio, but I have a tendency to have CNN on in the car. If the children are with me then we don't listen to anything. We talk.
When you fly for business, what do you do while you're in the air? Do you work, read, sleep or watch a movie?
I usually watch a movie or a TV show that I've downloaded and I try to take the time to veg a little bit. Today when I was on a plane, I was reviewing recipes and prepping for the TV segment. But I never get on the Wi-Fi. I try to enjoy my time in the air as disconnected time.
What are your must haves for your travel?
I definitely like to have a purse that's small enough to go inside my tote bag. And then I also use a Rimowa Rollaboard, which I adore. It's my favorite kind of luggage. It's like bottomless. You can keep shoving things in it. It's unbelievable.
What is your typical morning office routine?
I don't have a routine at all. It's always just go, go, go, go.
And I sneak hours in here and there in the office in the
middle of all the travel and business. I wish I had a really
nice routine but I don't.
What kinds of things do you do on any given day?
It's just so many different things - prepping for a photo
shoot for the blog or for a client, doing a television show,
or writing up a blog post and posting. It could be a trunk
show or a visit to a vendor for Halo Home or a
When you talk about prepping for a photo shoot, does
that involve shopping?
Definitely, but not really for fashion items. More for props.
For instance, I knew I wanted to add to my bottle brush
tree collection for a Christmas post that's going to go live
tomorrow and I saw online that World Market had them
so I ran out and bought those. That kind of shopping.
What essentials do you need for your Halo Home vendor meetings?
We have our sample rings and then my partner loves to take notes on her laptop, but I like having a notebook with me.
Do you have a pre-show routine that you do before going on live TV or radio?
I'm just I'm constantly reviewing what my points are that I want to make and details on what it is I'm talking about leading up to the segment. I don't have a good luck token or superstitious routine that I need to do. I try really hard to relax and enjoy the process because I think that that's reflected in the segment.
How do you handle job-related stress?
I don't know if I handle it very well, but I love what I do. And of course there are times when it gets really stressful, but I feel like I thrive in those problem-solving situations. I like tackling things that are challenging.
Do you have a work pet peeve?
I don't like it when people think that something can't be done. I feel like there are people whose nature is to immediately see how difficult something will be instead of how exciting it will be if we can pull it off. I'd much rather have people around me who like to try.
What is your happiest career moment?
I heard just before Thanksgiving that Monograms has already gone into its fourth printing. So that was probably the most recent exciting moment.
How would you describe your office space?
I love all the windows and that my family is
there with me. It's nice to be surrounded by
people that are encouraging me. It's very
open and clean, so it's a really easy place to
get creative. I love that we have art that is
colorful and fun. That's inspiring.
What is in your office that makes it more
comfortable for you?
I keep that blanket, like a throw, over my
chair because it gets cold. And also my
family because it's nice that we're all together
in the office.
What would you say is your favorite office supply and why?
Well, I love office supplies. I really rely on my notebooks to keep track of ideas for upcoming blog posts and meeting notes from meeting with the Halo Home vendors. I like to separate them into sections with tabs. So those are really helpful. I also use disposable fountain pens, which are great for handwritten notes. The last time I was in the MoMA store, I picked up these cute pencil highlighters, which I just love. They work great, but without having to deal with ink.
What snacks do you prefer at the office?
I never keep snacks in my office because if I do, I'll eat them. But my husband always has snacks in his drawer. And he usually keeps Kind Bars and pistachios, which is great. So, it's not really in front of me but if I really get desperate I can go over there and get something.
Great strategy. What is a work tool that's a must-have for you (app, hardware or software)?
Besides email? I love Instagram for inspiration.
What is your secret to achieving your daily
objectives? How do you get everything done?
I feel like I just keep going all the time. I sort
of plow through. I also make really fast
decisions and I don't know that's necessarily
the best way to do it, but once I decide
something - I execute really fast.
How do you organize the details of your work?
Is it through a to do list, calendar, or in your
I sort of use my email as my to do list. So
even if there's something that I can't forget -
I'll email it to myself. Then when I see
something that I've emailed about - "complete
this story" or "tackle this project" - I'll turn
away from it a little bit and get something done. I really do use my email as my to do list and it just works for me right now. I also have the notebook that I'll take notes in when I'm having a conversation with someone, but if it's not in my email, I'll usually forget.
So as you get things done, do you just delete the email?
Yes. Or file it.
How do you stay on top of industry news or your career?
Instagram is really one of the best ways to communicate with people in
the same industry.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Instagram or which
blogs and publications to you frequently enjoy?
Well, of course Krystal Schlegel, my sister. I also love looking at real
estate to escape - so Allie Beth Allman is my favorite go-to site for that.
And I recently became a contributor for Culture Map, which I really enjoy.
I know that I work for Southern Living, but it is honestly my favorite
magazine to read.
What is your method for networking?
I don't really have a method for it and I don't like when people are
strategic about it. When I'm meeting new people, I like just being in the
moment and trying to get to know that person. It is far more important
than thinking about how that relationship can benefit my career or me
because I think people just see through that. So, I like to be genuine and
just be myself and really develop a deeper relationship. I've never really
liked the word "networking."
What advice have you received in your professional life that has really
stuck with you?
I think just to be authentic. I'm out sharing ideas and working for brands
and I think it's been really important to listen to my instincts. I've always
sensed things didn't feel right when they weren't. I feel like it showed
through when I was working with maybe a brand that wasn't really
something that I would normally use or select. And so it's really
important for me to be authentic about what I'm promoting and what
I'm writing about, and to share what I love - not what I think others
might want to see.
What is your work motto?
My brother says, "Be a 'get 'er done' girl." I know that sounds terrible but
I always think of that. I'm like, "Okay, get 'er done."
What do you do during your downtime to refresh and recharge yourself?
I don't really have that much downtime, but when I do - I spend most of
my time away from work with my children and my husband, or my family.
I also really enjoy spending time with our friends.
I read that you took a yearlong trip around the world with your parents
as a teenager. How important has traveling been for you personally?
That trip made a huge impact on me as a teenager. My husband and I
love to travel and we like to take the kids. I think it's really important. I'm
so inspired by visiting other places and meeting people who live in
different cultures, and just getting to know how other cultures live. I mean
we certainly do some kinds of travel for relaxation but I would say most
of the time we travel to some place unique or different and to go
somewhere where we can really learn something.
What country do you most enjoy visiting?
I love going to Europe and I love going to Asia. I loved going to Africa. I
don't know if I could really pick one. My favorite thing to do is go to a
place that I've never been to before. We do go to France a lot because
my mother-in- law lives in Paris. Yeah and we go to Canada every
summer so, you know we're kind of spoiled by going to these two
We've been so blessed to travel so much, my husband and I both. Before
we were married and since. And now it's so fun to go back to some of
these places and see them through the eyes of our children. Which, you
know is such a blast.
Where do you want to go next?
That's a good question. We've had so many places on our radar. I would
love to go back to Japan and I'd love to take my children to go see to
experience that. We went to Tokyo a couple years ago and I loved it but
we never made it to Kyoto, and I'd love to do that.
What charities or non-profit organizations are you involved in?
I am on the Board of the North Texas Food Bank, which I really love. Such
an amazing organization. There are a lot of really exciting things going
on and I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's such a cool cause and
organization. And we talk a lot about shortening the line and increasing
efforts to make sure that less people are hungry. It's wonderful and it is
run so well. I get to see the inner workings of what happens there and
it's just impressive.
And then I am also and on the advisory board of a group called
New Friends New Life. And they do really incredible work in the area of
human trafficking and sex trafficking. It's a remarkable organization that
s bringing a lot of attention to an issue that's huge today. It's happening
right in our backyard and we kind of don't think about, or we think, "Oh,
that doesn't happen in our neighborhood." Something like that is a
What books are you currently reading - or are you more of a magazine girl?
I'm definitely a magazine girl, but I also love to read. I love biographies.
I enjoy reading about people's experiences, and people's lives - trying to
take things from it that impact my own. And I love hearing people's stories.
I'm fascinated with biographies.
What currently fascinates you?
I'm totally obsessed with Christmas. I love decorating with the children and doing the gingerbread houses and working on stockings and that kind of thing. I just become emerged and obsessed with it. It's my favorite time of the year.