Year in Review 2016

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Well its the last day of 2016. I hear many of you saying “Thank God it’s over!” But this day for me is that day every year that I take time to look at all the amazing things that happened in my life over the last 12 months. Even more than that, it’s the day I celebrate our successes and share my gratitude for all those who helped make the year so great! (Settle in friends, this post is always my longest of the year.)

But this year I am thinking of this look back a little differently. That’s because 2016 has been a “doozy” as we say in the South. I have seen so many people say how ready they are for this challenging year to be over. And I would be lying if I didn’t agree that there were some crazy and difficult moments over the last 12 months that I would like to forget. But the optimist in me just can’t paint the whole year with a broad brush and call it all bad. I think some of my most difficult moments of my life happened in 2016 and also many of my most exciting and most joyful moments came this year. It is in those difficult moments that I found some of my biggest blessings or what I like to think of as Silver Linings.

So here is a look back at some of my most exciting moments in 2016. As I review them, I think of all the joy I found this year and especially all the things I learned. Thanks for taking a look back with me…

JANUARY

When I started the year I claimed Focus as my word for 2016. I said “2016 will be a year of FOCUS for me. Similar to 2012 when I turned inward and became extremely disciplined about what needed to be done to make a huge leap. 2016 will be a hyper-focused year of up-leveling all over again. I think every few years you have to have a head-down approach to business and to life. So this year is it!”

And you know what? Focus I did. But not just on my business. 2016 became a year of focusing on my family, my marriage, my home, and what I really want for the future. I’ll tell you a lot more about this in the next few days as I announce my word for 2017 and talk about my goals and resolutions.

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But let’s talk about how 2016 started with a bang! I was thrilled to be featured on the January cover of At Home in Arkansas for the second year in a row for their Design Issue. This time I was among a handful of Arkansans recognized for creating national product lines. What an honor!

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And out on the web, Shutterfly asked me to be part of The Hottest Hues for Your Home. It described the best colors to use in your home, and how to effectively use color to give your rooms some va-va-voom! And as you all know, that was right up my alley so I was thrilled to be included.

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January also marked my 44th birthday and Paperless Post asked me to design an invite and describe what my perfect birthday celebration would look like. I can’t believe it’s almost time to celebrate another one soon! I better get started on this year’s party wish list asap.

FEBRUARY

febOne of the BIGGEST moments of 2016 was when my Tobi Fairley for Duralee fabric collection debuted in style on the streets of Paris. YES, PARIS!  As in France. They were bright, bold, and tailored in Duralee’s Pop up shop on Rue Jacob as a part of the Paris Deco Off trade show and I could not have been more excited.

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And the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Newspaper did a fabulous (and huge) feature in their Saturday Style section in February about me, my firm, my accomplishments and my new product lines. How fun being honored in my hometown newspaper!

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It’s always thrilling when my work is published internationally and my Pleasant Valley project appeared in Hungarian magazine A Mi Otthonunk. I can’t tell you what it says, but it sure looks great!

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I taught my Mastermind class in Naples, Florida in February and was joined by the fab guys from Madcap Cottage and my dapper friend Scot Meacham Wood as speakers for my group. It was great fun, especially the cocktail party hosted for us in the Duralee Fabrics showroom.

MARCH

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March was also exciting when my National Ad Campaign for Duralee kicked off with a fun photoshoot in the historic Terry Mansion right here in Little Rock with my favorite photographer, Nancy Nolan. It was surreal seeing my fabrics (and me) on the pages of major national magazines like House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Veranda and others all year long.

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And one of my all-time favorite projects, my Crestwood project, appeared in an 8-page feature in Midwest Living magazine in March.

APRIL

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My Duralee fabrics debuted at High Point Spring Market in many showrooms including on my furniture at C. R. Laine. And I loved adding new pieces to both my C.R.Laine and Woodbridge collections for Spring including the Hayden sofa shown here.

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I enjoyed adding about 30 new pieces to my Tobi Fairley for Soicher Marin art collection including these fun dot pieces for Spring Market too. Stay tuned for more new Soicher Marin pieces coming soon.

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I had the fun privilege of moderating a panel discussion at HPMKT for Antique & Design Center with several of my designer friends. We laughed so much and I learned a lot too!

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The speaking engagements continued in Dallas and Houston at events featuring my friend Barry Dixon and me. We had fun promoting our fabric lines with Duralee and Fabricut and seeing great friends!

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I love helping creatives and entrepreneurs with their businesses, so I was thrilled to launch my new Financials for Creatives Master Class in April.

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My Wells chair for C.R. Laine in my La Petite Roche fabric from Duralee was featured on the cover of Furniture Today’s market issue.

 

MAY

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After 8 months of condo living, we moved back into our fabulous, newly remodeled house. This was THE highlight of the year for sure, especially cooking in my new kitchen for my family and friends!

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I had a fabulous time hosting my Designer MBA class in Atlanta and I especially enjoyed the lovely party hosted by the Duralee team at their ADAC showroom while we were in town.

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Elle Decor featured my mom and me online with the best decorating advice from Mothers and Daughters in honor of Mother’s day.

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And how much fun to be on the cover of Refined Home magazine and a great feature inside for my Riverside Penthouse project.

JUNE

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House Beautiful magazine was great to me all year long. In June it was my Lucy bed from CR Laine that was featured on their pages.

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Chicago was the site for our June Mastermind session at Eastern Accents Headquarters. And it was great fun having Tiffany Brooks, winner of HGTV’s Design Star as our guest speaker.

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And I was especially thrilled to have Denise McGaha (my best friend and former mastermind member) present her super smart “Designing with a Deadline” approach to our members. What a great career Denise has built and our members loved her insights and strategies for making their business progressive for the future! Love you, Denise.

 

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I extended my stay in the Chicago area for speaking engagements at two Toms-Price furniture locations promoting my C.R Laine Upholstery line including the Taylor sectional I’m sitting on here.

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And the rest of June was spent with my toes in the sand and focused on my family. It was the perfect mid-year dose of R & R!

JULY

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My La Petite Roche fabric from Duralee (named for my hometown of Little Rock) was featured again, this time on the cover of the High Point Market Style Guide! That’s also my Hudson Stripe fabric in the background, both of which were used in CR Laine’s showroom cafe this Spring. And as if that wasn’t enough – my new Channing chair from CR Laine is ALSO featured inside!

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La Petite Roche was on a roll. The coral colorway of the fabric was featured in a fun dress from the brand Love Lilly!

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Rue Magazine was so kind to feature my new Duralee fabric collection. It definitely got loads of press this year!

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Including New England Home featuring my Langdon fabric (named after my brother) from my Duralee collection in its pachyderm roundup! Who doesn’t love an Elephant print, even if you aren’t of that political party. ha!

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My love of pink – and my collections of furniture with CR Laine and Woodbridge – got me into the Chicago Tribune, and syndicated into my local paper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in July.

AUGUST

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Better Homes & Gardens asked me to round up my favorite peach-and-mint combos for a fun color story in August.

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TRADHome (the digital magazine by Traditional Home) featured my chinoiserie panels from Soicher Marin in August, too.

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And in Real Simple magazine, I shared my favorite white paints with their readers. Yes, even this color lover has her go-to whites.

SEPTEMBER

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More House Beautiful love came in September with my Riverside Penthouse project powder bath featured with a full page.

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And a big milestone came this year, I wrote my 2000th Blog Post.

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After 17 years of working outside of my home, in September I began the big project of moving my office and my team into a space on the back of my newly remodeled home. There is a studio on the back overlooking the pool that makes the perfect design space. And I absolutely LOVE working from home! Plus I can cook my team and me healthy food for lunch, I am here with my pups all day, and I’m here when my daughter and her nanny get home from school. I have to say it’s this working mom’s dream come true.

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September was also the month I helped celebrate Thermador’s 100th birthday as their Brand Ambassador. Using all my new Thermador appliances was the perfect way to celebrate this amazing company. Particularly with cupcakes baked by my daughter and me in our new Professional Thermador Range.

 

OCTOBER

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My Crestwood project kitchen and it’s lovely seashore-inspired color were featured in House Beautiful in October.

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My new outdoor furniture – the Carlyle collection- debuted with Woodbridge Furniture company to rave reviews at Fall Market.

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In fact, this Fall market was one of my favorites to date, because I was Style Spotted 3 times including for my new Tilley chair from CR Laine and also because my husband made his first visit to High Point to see what all the hoopla was about and he had a great time!

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I gave my go-to orange paint colors to Country Living magazine readers, and it was also featured on Yahoo’s news site which was a fun fall treat!

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Traditional Home featured my Stella screen from my CR Laine collection in their curated collection of screens.

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My Blair bar cabinet from my Woodbridge furniture collection showed up looking chic in Home Accents Today and my Lily game table and Grant chairs from Woodbridge were in Furniture Today in conjunction with Fall market!

NOVEMBER

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I enjoyed another trip to Florida in November when I spoke at DCOTA design center sponsored by Duralee. It was great fun meeting many designers and spending time with some of my favorite Duralee team members.

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I finally connected my schedule with the fabulous James Swan and was a guest on his amazingly popular podcast Million Dollar Decorating. This was a highlight of the year for sure.

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My new acrylic and brass Nick table from Woodbridge was chosen as a top pick for the High Point Market Style Report which is a roundup of the best pieces debuting at Fall market.

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And to round out an amazing year, I had an incredible 10 spreads in the latest issue of French Style Magazine with my Shadow Valley project.

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If all these business successes and personal experiences weren’t enough, I truly had my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas in all my 44 years. It’s fun to see how both holidays showed up in my Instagram “Best Nine” posts of the year including my braided bacon covered Thanksgiving turkey, cooked perfectly in my Thermador Steam oven. We hosted family and friends in our newly renovated home all holiday season long. And I have been putting all the finishing touches on my decor in the last few weeks, so I can reveal it all to you in 2017. Plus I can’t wait to help you get to know our brand new pup, Beckett, my daughter’s 2016 Christmas surprise.

Before we bid 2016 adieu, I want to thank each and every magazine, amazing client, licensing partner, designer friend, vendor partner, newspaper, my contractor and subcontractors who completed my home, my unbelievable staff, my close personal friends and my precious family who supported me through this year during all the highs and lows. And I want to thank you for meeting me here every day to talk about life, business and design. I am so grateful for the many, many blessings of this year. And if you are feeling like 2016 wasn’t your favorite year, I hope you will create your own year in review. It sure is hard to think a year is bad when you record all the good things that happened all year long.

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Yes, 2016, you definitely had a lot of silver linings! That’s why my favorite Christmas gift is probably this painting by Arkansas artist Bryan Frazier that is entitled “In the space at the silver lining”. It was a gift from my husband and every time I look at it I will recall all my blessings in the midst of the challenges of 2016.

I wish each of you a very Happy New Year’s Eve and a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 2017. I can’t wait to experience many more blessings with you next year. My prayer is that we can all live in that space at the silver lining all 2017 long.

xo,

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Shopping Guide: New Year, New You

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I love a shiny new year! It’s so full of promise and things-to-come! That’s why it’s the perfect time of year to start something new, or to set goals and intentions. Whether it’s making a commitment to health, learning to cook something new, or deciding to keep a journal through 2017, I’ve come up with the perfect list to help you get your goals on for the new year!

Happy Shopping, and Happy New Year!

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  1. “Live Life” Faux Leather Journal– It’s a fresh start with a new year and a new you, so seize the opportunity to start journaling to track your inspiration and how you grow this year!
  2. Kate Spade New York Gold Dots Agenda– We all start out the new year saying “This is the year I will stay more organized!” Well this year, you really can with a beautiful Kate Spade agenda with trendy gold polka dots.
  3. 13” Saffiano Computer Case by Kate Spade– Staying organized can be fun and chic with this crisp linen colored leather computer case with gold hardware.
  4. Classic iPad Case– A bright Kelly green (one of my favorite colors!) leather iPad case is easy for the on-the-go student or business-minded individual!
  5. Metro Leather Strap Watch– Maybe your resolution this year is to be on time? Well you can’t do that without a stunning camel and gold watch that will match every outfit perfectly so you’ll even want to be a few minutes early.
  6. Swissmar Arosa 11-Piece Stainless Steel Fondue Set– Throughout the year, it’s easy to get too busy and lose sight of what is important. Start a new family tradition – fondue night!
  7. 32-Ounce Water Bottle– Drinking enough water is a constant struggle, so make it easier with a cute water bottle that reminds you to “Drink Up”!
  8. ‘Lunar’ Training Shoe by Nike– One of the most common resolutions is to exercise, so let’s start it off right with new training shoes!
  9. Floral-Embossed Yoga Mat, Magenta– You all know I love yoga, so I can’t wait to get back to my routine after all of the holiday festivities with a fresh yoga mat in inspiring, bright magenta!
  10. Moto Full-Length Sport Leggings– A pair of super chic biker-style quilted yoga leggings can quickly go from workout to cute outfit for lunch and errands! It’s impossible to not workout when the clothes are this cute.
  11. Mia 2 – Seabreeze Sonic Skin Cleansing System by Clarisonic– This year is all about you, and making you feel your best. Put your best face forward by cleansing every night with this compact, and easy to travel with cleansing system.
  12. Williams-Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay Wine Glasses, Set of 2– Spend more quality time with the special someone in your life over a glass of wine- whether it’s your significant other, best friend, or your bubble bath!
  13. Schwinn 870 Treadmill– Are you planning a 10K in the near future? Keep your training on track regardless of weather or scheduling restraints with an at home treadmill.
  14. ‘Alta’ Wireless Fitness Tracker– Let’s keep track of all of our fitness goals this year with a Fitbit that will track your distance, activity time, calories burned, and steps! Plus, this model will track your sleep, gently wake you up with a vibrating alarm, and remind you about your workout goals.
  15. Nest Plus 9 Cups and Bowls Set– Is your goal to cook more this year? You’ll need your kitchen to be fully stocked with all of the essentials, which are included in this convenient stacking set of measuring cups and bowls.
  16. Paderno 4-Blade Spiralizer & Cookbook Set– You never knew eating healthy could taste this good! Start off the new health you with a spiralizer and cookbook set to add more vegetables into your diet while serving up some delicious creations for you and your family.
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Tobi TV: 5 Ways That Purple Rules

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I’m known for using color – so much so that my brand is Bright, Bold, and Tailored. So let’s look at a room this week that I saturated with a bright and bold color. Purple is such a great color to work with, and I love every hue from luxurious, rich purples like royal and plum to paler shades like lavender and periwinkle.

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Color psychology says that purple stimulates the imagination and spirituality, which made it the ideal color for the study in my Riverside Penthouse project. I know that, for some, working with color can be intimidating, so here are my tips for pulling off purple:

Oh, I so love that color! Let’s recap those tips for purple:

  1. Purple is great for the bold and daring decorator. It can create a dark, cozy place that is perfect for curling up with your favorite book or magazine.
  2. Purple is an ideal color if you’re letting your fabrics lead the way. Pick the perfect purple textiles and go from there!
  3. If you’re inspired by fashions from Europe, then purple is perfect for you! Moody hues like purple and blue create an amazing continental look.
  4. Small spaces can use a rich hue like purple, too! It will create the jewel box effect and turn your space into a gem.
  5. If you’re a movie buff, purple definitely brings the drama!

Talk about stimulating the imagination! These tips should have you ready to paint your world purple! Let me know in the comments below where you like to use purple.

Wishing you a happy, and colorful, New Year!

xo,

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For more tips and ideas, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel, featuring every episode of Tobi TV!

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3 Ways to Build Future Business

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As small business owners, sometimes we get caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and we forget to look forward and plan for the future. There are just too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. But if you’ve ever gotten a knot in your stomach when you think about your future income and where it’s going to come from, that’s where business development comes in.

We all as designers get so excited when we’re working with a current client – it’s fun and it’s making money for our business! But we tend to forget that once a project ends, the money ends, too. And we can be left with bills to pay and no income coming in. That’s why this is so important to your business. You have to look FAR into the future, past any current clients that are keeping you busy and putting money in your bank account in the short term.

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Business development is completely different from sales, though. It’s the process and strategy that you have in place to produce long-term growth and profitability. So here are my tips for getting your business development plan in place:

1.  Think quantity over quality. You want to send out hundreds and hundreds of hooks to try to catch fish, so to speak. Once they’re on land you can decide if you want to keep them or you want to throw them back. It’s the person who has many poles in the water that’s going to catch the most fish – that’s just logic. I once sent 100 emails in a month to prospective clients, asking if we could meet for lunch. And out of that outreach, I got 10 solid clients! It’s worth the effort, but you have to reach out. Your first outreach should be to your easiest targets. That would be your best former clients and prospective clients who never took the bait the first time around. So reach out to the people closest to you who may know (or may be) that great new client!

2. Look for partners. The next group to reach out to would be those businesses who have the clients that you want – it be could a realtor, builders, or maybe even luxury spa or jewelry store owners. Don’t just think about the obvious people like contractors – although they are a perfect resource for you. I want you to also think outside of the home arena. My one word of warning, though, is that you have to reach out with the idea of how YOU can help THEM. Let me say that again – how can YOU help THEM? It will never work for you if you are constantly showing up with your hand out and asking for something. Imagine how you would react to that from a prospective partner. You want to be sure there is a win-win for both of you so that you both benefit.

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3. Build relationships. Remember, none of this is meant to be a “hard sell.” A big bulk of your outreach should be emails that just check in with the person. Ask how they are, what’s going on in their lives. Send gifts that you think they will like. Ask them to lunch and do not discuss business. Why? Because you are building relationships. You are creating goodwill between the two of you, and you are looking long-term. And you are going to do this without any expectation of a payoff for you. I really mean that! You have to say to yourself that this is just the cost of doing business. That whatever you spend on gifts or materials is going to be done without getting emotional if the other person doesn’t immediately hire you or give you their entire client list!

And you have to remember that it could take a long time before you see any concrete results. You may court a client, a builder, or a partner for months, even years, before it pays off. That’s why business development is a long-term strategy, because if you make it a part of your normal work week, just sending a few emails and having a few lunches, it will bring you business in a much more consistent way!

So get off that income roller coaster! Instead enjoy smooth sailing by building business for your future!

xo,

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Shopping Guide: Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers

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The holiday season is a whirlwind between family, friends, work, shopping, gift-giving, parties, and obligations! Whew! I know I’ve been running around like crazy, trying to get everything done so I can settle in with my family for a quiet holiday at home.

If you’re like me, you still might need one or two more items to fill the stockings. So here are some great ideas for anyone one your list – including YOU! Happy Holidays!

xo,

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  1. LAFCO’s ski house candle – This candle captures the joyful balance of fresh winter air with an added cozy fireside aroma.
  2. Fringe Studio 2016-2017 Planner– Start the New Year off right with this festive confetti 17-month organizer.
  3. Kate Spade iPhone Battery– Get active without being interrupted this holiday with a slim, portable battery bank, accented with two-tone checks.
  4. Moon and Lola Key Chain– Stand out with a personalized monogrammed keychain that comes in attractive bright colors.
  5. Prynt Inkless Mini Photo Printer– Preserve sweet holiday memories in a snap with this iPhone photo printer.
  6. Nordstrom Fur Eye Mask– This luxurious faux fur eye mask will swiftly boost you into deep snooze!
  7. Lumee iPhone light case– Perfect and brighten your next selfie with the vibrant LED lights that line this phone case.
  8. Kate Spade Emoji Earrings– These classic emoji faces bring a playful detail to your look.
  9. Tory Burch face brush– Make your face “glow on the go” with this compact powder/bronzer brush. Great for tossing in your purse in a hurry.
  10. Jonathan Adler Bel Air Cobalt Mini Scoop Vase– Give a funky twist to the usual bud vase with this Lucite cube.
  11. Tory Burch Logo Bead Hinge Cuff– This simple beaded bracelet is timeless and can be layered with all of your jewelry for a trendy look.
  12. Dior Vernis Gel Effect Nail Polish– Use this classic pop of red to make you stand out at any holiday party.
  13. Bobbi Brown Basic Brush Collection– Look like a pro with this set of classic makeup brushes. Good brushes really do make all the difference!
  14. GiGi New York Passport Case– No more searching for the right bag at the airport! Travel in style with a personalized passport cover or luggage tag.
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