Today I am delighted to welcome Kimberly Schlegel Whitman to The Glam Pad! Kimberly is a lifestyle expert, TV host, author, editor-at-large of Southern Living Magazine, blogger, and philanthropist. She has been named one of the 10 Best Dressed Women in Dallas, and she is one of Southern Living’s 75 Most Stylish Southerners. She also happens to have graduated from Southern Methodist University a year ahead of me, and I have been inspired by her career and exquisite taste ever since.
Kimberly’s career began as a clever idea for party planning, and it has grown into an entrepreneurial empire. While planning her Debutante Ball in 1998, she found an undiscovered opportunity—a lack of quality goods for party rentals. So she launched her own event company, RSVP Soiree Luxury Event Rentals, which she sold in 2006. She also took Dallas’ century old RSVP Social Calendar online in 1999 and continues to maintain this comprehensive list of the city’s finest charitable events.
Kimberly’s success led to the publication of eight books on entertaining, countless television appearances, a daily radio segment on Dallas’ number one morning show, co-host of the television talk show Texas Living, and her position at Southern Living. Last year Kimberly joined forces with friend and calligraphy artist Jen O’Neal to create Halo Home, a line of table linens that brings classic designs to the modern hostess found in over 200 stores across the country. (She recently sold Halo Home to Mariana Barran Goodall, founder of Hibiscus Linens.) Welcome Kimberly!
Q: I am such a fan of all of your books! In fact, I used your Wedding Workbook when I was planning my wedding. Dog Parties and Monograms for the Home are also favorites. Where do you find inspiration?
A: That is so sweet, thank you! It means a lot coming from you! In regards to inspiration, I love to go through quality blogs and social media accounts like yours! I’m always looking for excuses to celebrate anything and everything, and for each event I’ll find inspiration in different ways. This could include the passion of the person being celebrated, the event theme or even something I come across throughout my day like beautiful linens, artwork or flowers. I’m always looking through vintage books, at old recipes or the ways my mother, mother-in-law and grandmothers entertain and try to put a fresh spin on their established traditions.
Q: Please tell me about your latest book, Parties Around a Punch Bowl.
A: I’m sitting and answering your interview questions now at the same desk I wrote the proposal for Parties Around a Punch Bowl last summer!
I love any party trick that makes a host’s experience easier and a punch bowl is exactly that! Not only does it save a host from making drinks for guests all night long, but it is also a great icebreaker spot for guests to meet and mingle. I love that it takes away the line a bar can create and instead invites guests to stand around in a circle. My other favorite thing about punch is that a recipe can’t be messed up! It doesn’t need to be an exact science and the recipe can evolve all night as it is refilled! I also love the versatility punch bowls bring. My goal with the book was to inspire readers to make use of punch bowls and help showcase ways that it can be used for any type of gathering, whether it is a baby shower or a casual alfresco gathering.
Q: Are there any other “old fashioned” traditions you would like to see make a comeback?
A: I love that so many traditions seem to be celebrated again lately. More and more young couples are entertaining at home and that makes me so happy!
Q: What are your secret key ingredients to being the perfect hostess – whether it is a dinner for two or a fête for 100?
A: Always keep in mind that your event will never be perfect; it is the only way to be a great hostess! There is always something that will go wrong when hosting a gathering, large or small — what’s important is the way you handle the situations. The most important thing a hostess can do is make her guests feel welcome and at ease. I love telling a story about a friend of ours who set a very formal and regal table for an important guest of honor one night. When his guests sat down, he realized he forgot to put napkins on the table! He quickly asked the server to bring napkins out on a nice tray and place them on the guest’s laps. As he did this, each guest commented on the formality of it! On the spot, he made up the story that it was the way Napoleon liked to do it. Everyone was impressed with his special touch and his knowledge of the history of entertaining. He kept the ruse going until later in the evening when he spilled the truth. Everyone laughed and bonded over the hilarious story and his quick thinking. His mistake ended up being a highlight of the party!
Q: What are a few of your favorite hostess gifts to give and to receive?
A: I love to give linens from Halo Home or books signed by the author – I always try to think ahead and buy gifts at book signings. I also like to give/receive great candles, such as Niven Morgan’s Gold or Lavender Mint, or gourmet chocolates. My favorite chocolates are from Vosges!
Q: Your heirloom-quality Halo Home linen collection is so beautiful and unique. Please tell me more about it, and what are some of the most popular items?
A: While I recently sold Halo Home, the linen business I started with a friend two years ago, to Mariana Barran Goodall, the founder of Hibiscus Linens and an amazing embroidery teacher, I loved creating the Halo Home Line. It was fulfilling to find a gap in an industry that I love so much and worked hard to fill it. I found that there were very few nice and elegant linen designs that could be monogrammed without spending heirloom prices. Along with my business partner, we created a line with products that were meant to be personalized and that complemented the most popular china patterns. I was always surprised that there was such a separation between china designs and colors and table linens that were available. After a wild two years of countless markets, trunk shows and product development, we found ourselves in over 200 stores and in over our heads in orders. We decided it was time to put the business in the hands of someone who could take it to the next level. I am so excited to see what Mariana does with Halo Home. I’ve been a fan and a student of hers and following her work for the last little while and have no doubt she is going to be great!
Q: In Monograms for the Home, you talk about creating a personal brand with monograms. What recommendations would you give to an individual or couple looking to create a custom monogram or cipher?
A: There are so many great resources that can create custom artwork that can be used on almost anything from paper goods to linens to silver. I have a source list in the back of the book that I hope is helpful, but I would also encourage someone to really research what kind of look they want before they reach out to a professional. There are so many talented artists who specialize in different styles, from whimsical to regal.
Q: What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate monograms in the home? And within your daily routine?
A: I love adding monograms to towels and bedding for a decorative touch but I also love the practical element that makes laundry sorting much easier. I monogram my children’s school jackets and sweaters so that they don’t get lost in the uniform shuffle at school.
I cherish the items that have been given to me with my husband’s family cipher and I also love collecting vintage pieces with beautiful monograms, even if they don’t incorporate letters that are in my name. There’s a great story a silver dealer in Charleston told me about a baby spoon that she had in her inventory. It had the most beautiful monogram on it and she couldn’t bring herself to take it off (as many dealers do). She was invited to a baptism and decided to take it as a gift. The letters in the monogram were MPJ and they did not match the guest of honor’s name so she made it meaningful by writing a note to the child that began with “May the Peace of Jesus be with you today and always” and she underlined the M P and J.
Q: I absolutely loved your former home, decorated by Jan Showers and featured in Traditional Home. Can you tell us a little about your new home? I understand you are working with J. Wilson Fuqua, my favorite architect!
A: Thanks! We loved living in that happy house but we are enjoying our new home too. The new house needed a bit of tweaking and we appreciated Wilson’s help with it. He brought great ideas to the project and was able to make our wishes for the house come together. It was so much fun to sit in a meeting with him and just watch him sketch, brainstorm and try things. The hardest part was choosing between his great ideas! He is so great with details and created custom molding designs for us that we love.
We also worked with Jan Showers again! I have been working with her since my first apartment in Dallas. At that time, she encouraged me to invest in some pieces that would really last and I’m so happy I did. I had to make some other sacrifices, but the items I collected then have moved to every home I have had since.
Q: What are five luxury items you simply could not live without?
A: 1. Great Coffee! My husband likes to make it with a French press.
2. Rimowa Luggage (We love to travel and it is the best!)
3. The beauty counters at Neiman Marcus NorthPark. I LOVE spending time there, trying new products and colors. It is such a great “pick me up!”
4. Fresh bed linens. I love to mix it up and have sets for our bed that range from wild D. Porthault prints to simple white Angel Skin from Pratesi.
5. I got a pair of cashmere Loro Piana house slippers as a Christmas gift from a dear friend last year and I am now completely hooked! My feet are always cold, so I’ve tried every kind of slipper and these are the best!
Q: In the hectic 24/7 world we live in today, how do you go about incorporating beauty and elegance into your daily life, and can you provide a few examples?
A: Oh gosh – I try so hard to do this whenever and wherever I can, but I don’t always succeed. We do try our best to set a proper table and sit down for a real family dinner every night. It is getting harder and harder as the little ones get busier with after school activities but I try to make it a priority. I also really love my time putting my make up on. I know that sounds vain but it isn’t really about how I look. It is about just sitting and taking a few minutes for myself. I keep a note pad at my dressing table and make notes of things to do, ideas, etc.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I just love your blog! Thank you for celebrating all things classic and lovely! xo
Thank you, Kimberly, for joining us today, you are such an inspiration! To learn more about Kimberly Schlegel Whitman please follow her blog and @kimberlywhitman on Instagram. I also recommend all eight of her books, listed below!
- Parties Around a Punch Bowl
- Monograms for the Home
- The Pleasure of Your Company
- Dog Parties
- Wedding Workbook
- Wedding Inspiration
- The Party Planner: An Expert Organizing Guide for Entertaining