AC Milan boss Giampaolo: Players must give their lives for the shirt, not for meby Carlos Volcano21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveAC Milan boss Marco Giampaolo is not seeking excuses for their start of the season.Giampaolo’s job is on the line facing Genoa this weekend.He said, “After four defeats in six games it is normal that everything is black. Even in this case we must have balance, I don’t think it’s time to make definitive judgments. “I know that the team has a lot of room for improvement, especially from the mental point of view, learning to do certain things in a certain way.”The players have to give their lives for the shirt, not for me. The team believed and believes in my ideas. “You have to be strong in defeats, you have to suffer and be attentive to details.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
Twitter/@derekjstevensCollege basketball fans will tell you to never bet against Tom Izzo in March. One Las Vegas casino owner, Derek Stevens, placed a $20,000 bet on Michigan State to win the title back after the team’s 79-78 overtime loss to Notre Dame on December 3. The 5-3 Spartans were at 50-1 to win it all at the time, giving Stevens a potential payout of $1 million.I’ll be @theDlasvegas #LONGBAR to #SpartyOn THX @GoldenNuggetLV & @Gollumlv for giving me the shot @darrenrovell pic.twitter.com/GjK1ueQfin— Derek Stevens (@DerekJStevens) March 31, 2015In an article by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, sportsbook director Tony Miller admits that this is a big risk for the casino.…Miller accepted Stevens’ $20,000 bet, never thinking he’d be sweating the possibility that the Spartans could pull it off. “In my nine years at this sportsbook, I never accepted a bet that could result in us paying $1 million,” Miller said. “The most I’ve ever seen won here was a $100,000 parlay.”…Miller and Stevens have become good friends over the years, which makes the fact that the Spartans have two games to win it all a bit awkward.“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”Michigan State is a five point underdog against Duke on Saturday, and would play either Kentucky or Wisconsin for the title on Monday night. Stevens still has a long way to go to cash in, but it is definitely impressive that his bet is still alive.[ESPN]
Ian Somerhalder teamed up with Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt event in Lafayette on September 22.Ian Somerhalder and friend at the Strut Your Mutt eventCredit/Copyright: Jonathan Bachman/Invision for Best Friends Animal Society/AP ImagesThe event raised funds for local animal welfare groups and Best Friends, as well as awareness of the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets initiative.Ian Somerhalder Takes Part In Strut Your Mutt eventCredit/Copyright: Jonathan Bachman/Invision for Best Friends Animal Society/AP ImagesBest Friends Animal Society is a national nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets. Their leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from their Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.Ian Somerhalder Struts His MuttCredit/Copyright: Jonathan Bachman/Invision for Best Friends Animal Society/AP ImagesBest Friends started Strut Your Mutt as a fundraising event 17 years ago in Salt Lake City. Three years ago, they introduced Strut Your Mutt events to New York and Los Angeles and changed their fundraising model so that Strut Your Mutt would help local animal rescue groups raise critical funds to continue their life saving work. This year, Strut Your Mutt is being held in nine cities across the country and includes a virtual Strut Across America, with the goal of raising $1 million for rescue organizations nationwide.Money raised from Strut Your Mutt helps Best Friends and participating rescue groups – all part of their No More Homeless Pets Network – support adoption and public spay/neuter programs that impact and save the lives of animals in shelters.For more information on Best Friends, including their Sanctuary and the work they are doing around the country, visit bestfriends.org.
Four of the 10 students presenting at Art2Wear work on their garments for the upcoming show. from left: Sydney Smith (senior), Sara Clark (junior), Gillian Paige (senior), and Sarah Cannon (senior).by Justin LeBlancphotographs by Benjamin ScottApril is crunch time at the N.C. State College of Design and College of Textiles. Student designers, models, and event planners are working overtime to prepare for our 13th annual Art2Wear Runway Show on April 25.Art2Wear is very special to me. The event contributed to a career-changing decision, when, as a student nearing graduation, I transitioned from architecture to fashion. Art2Wear gave me the opportunity to fulfill my passion for functional art, becoming an important stepping stone in my career. It led to my appearance on Season 12 of Project Runway and to my Spring 2014 collection presentation at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.This year’s Art2Wear will give a new group of students their chance at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: To have control of a stage where they can make their own dreams a reality. It’s a showcase for the best of the best and provides a perfect opportunity for the audience to meet top-notch designers in their transformative years.Art2Wear is also an educational event for the students, where they learn just what it takes to put on a major runway fashion event. With their imaginations running at full throttle, students have the chance to showcase their diverse interpretations of style, all centered on the event’s theme: Accelerated Evolution: Speed.I must tell you, there is no shortage of imagination. The energy has been buzzing for the past several months leading up to the event. Last year’s runway show, Hypernatural, drew more than 4,000 attendees. The atmosphere and mood were electric.We can only speculate, but the theme of this year’s show conjures up many possibilities: motion, change, technology, time, and transformation. I get goose bumps just imagining it.There will be 10 new collections featured at this year’s event designed by students from diverse disciplines ranging from Art and Design to Industrial Design.Will it be art? Will it push boundaries? Will it tell a story?I believe Art2Wear will be all of that and more – a celebration of style, art, and talent.
by Kevin Barrett, cocktail director at Foundationphotograph by Nick PironioA few months back, when spring and summer were meeting, I took a trip to Central America to visit my friend Lazlo and climb some volcanoes.He would prefer I not mention which country. He has high demands for anonymity. We’ve known each other a while. Lazlo’s gotten me into and out of more trouble then I’ll ever admit, and he had been pestering me to come see him in Guatemala — whoops! Oh, well, he’s already relocated.Lazlo and I met up in Guatemala City, because that’s where my plane landed. It’s a mostly charmless city with few redeeming qualities. But at the time – with the promise of travel and adventure in front of me – it held a certain allure.After salutations, we checked into a hotel and went about the town eating and drinking and catching up. Lazlo’s not much for the phone, and I’m not much for heartfelt emails, so we had a lot to catch up on. We ended up at the hotel balcony drinking Gallo beer and Ron Zacapa rum into the wee hours.Our original plan to scale several volcanoes got sidetracked immediately because the rainy season started early. Lazlo’s alternative plan seemed reasonable to me at the time: After we spent the night in the capital city, we would do something epic. We decided we weren’t just going to get drunk together in yet another country. Or maybe he let me think we decided that.First thing the next morning, we caught a chicken bus to Antigua. Yes, a chicken bus, just like on TV, but with an elaborate paint job, and without the animals. The driver whipped around skinny mountain roads while another guy hung out the door yelling, “Antigua, Antigua, Antigua…”After a few days in Antigua, we took a 12-person shuttle van – basically an express chicken bus – to San Pedro and got a room at a hostel. One of the many endearing things about Guatemala, besides the people, the food, the culture, the climate, and the volcanoes – is the hammocks. They’re everywhere, and it just feels right.We bounced around San Pedro for a few wet nights, drank Ron Botran rum, and smoked Guatemalan cigarettes. I told Lazlo that this might not be the best way to prepare for our epic feat.“It’s part of your training,” he told me.From there, we chicken bussed it to Quetzaltenango, or Xela, 7,500 feet above sea level and Lazlo’s home base. This is where we were going to do something epic.That turned out to be hiking to Lake Chicabal in the crater of Chicabal volcano. It’s a sacred place to Mam Mayans, surrounded by ceremonial altars. It’s also 9,000 feet above sea level.Lazlo has a good set of lungs, a long gait, and doesn’t sweat much. I have a hard time keeping up with him on a flat surface at sea level. The steady, gradual climb destroyed my will. Every once in a while, Lazlo would look back and say, “You doing all right?”Around every corner I suspected we would reach the top. I was disappointed many, many times. None so much as when I dragged my feet past a woman of 80 who wasn’t breaking a sweat.When we reached the top, I let him know his training regimen wasn’t working for me.“Doesn’t it, though?” he said.I asked him how he climbed so steadily.“It’s the way down that gets you,” he said. “Bad on your knees.”I couldn’t believe him. The way down was going to be cake. Maybe I’d be ahead of him on the way down. That was my gift, going downhill. I was going to excel at that.I didn’t. Lazlo was ahead of me the whole way down.The next day, we made the awful decision to climb Santa Maria, 12,250 feet above sea level. Three and a half hours into the climb, when my hands and feet started tingling, I finally asked how much further. I was pretty sure my body was sending all my blood away from my limbs and to my organs to try to keep me alive a bit longer, thus the tingling. I was drowning in the clouds.The last stretch was done on my hands and knees. The incline was so steep even Lazlo had to get his hands dirty. The moment it was over, and we had reached the top, and I was sure there was no more climbing, I wondered why I’d done this to myself. Maybe I did it so I could write a story about it. When I finally saw where we were, above the cloud line, I knew. How many people got to see this?The climb down went a bit faster, but left the soles of my feet bruised and my left big toe swollen and bleeding. I wanted to tell Lazlo that he was right – the climb down really does get you – but he was too far ahead to hear. Lazlo’s ClimbThis drink commemorates Guatemala and all of Central America, not to mention Lazlo’s epic climb of the Santa Maria volcano. This is a drink you can easily make at home during an Indian summer in Raleigh. I recommend using crushed ice.2 ounces Ron Zacapa rum1 ounce pineapple or mango juice½ ounce fresh lime juice½ ounce OJ5 to 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters or½ ounce grenadineMix all ingredients, except bitters, in a shaking tin and dry shake (no ice). Pour mixture over crushed ice into a tall Collins or swizzle/pilsner glass. Top with Peychaud’s bitters or ½ ounce float of grenadine for a sweeter October.
Courtesy of Needlepoint.comNeedlepoint Retreatby Jessie AmmonsSerious stitchers will convene in the mountains this month for Elizabeth Bradley Home’s annual needlepoint retreat October 2-4 at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn. Attendees will dive in to two full days of instruction on a seasonal needlepoint kit design. With breaks for wine and cheese, coffee and cookies, open stitching, and a Kirk & Bradley and Elizabeth Bradley Home trunk show – brands known for the botanical pillows seen at local shops like Furbish Studio – the getaway’s organizers sure know their audience.They ought to. Needlepoint.Com is well known to avid needlepointers as the parent company of both Elizabeth Bradley Home and Kirk & Bradley. Its website is also a top place to find needlepoint canvases, kits, and threads. Even dedicated stitchers, though, may not realize the operation is based in Raleigh on Hillsborough Street, and that its retail store has a far broader selection than its website.Courtesy of Needlepoint.comThe store often offers classes and welcomes beginners, but the annual fall retreat tends to attract serious hobbyists. While transportation and accommodations are not included, a discounted rate at the Grove Park is available. There’s also an optional upgrade to attend classes with Joan Lohr, an artist and popular needlepoint canvas designer. The whole shebang is a luxurious spin on a familiar pastime. The 2015 Needlepoint Retreat is $980, and the Grove Park Inn rate begins at $299 per night. For more information and to see what other local, beginner-friendly events are offered, visit needlepoint.com.
In addition to antique glass, Louise uses different metallic parts: coasters from a chair, irons from a fireplace, old chandelier bases. She buys her pieces from all over – eBay, auctions, antique malls. Sometimes clients give her a piece that they would like refurbished. Raleigh interior decorator Susan Tollefsen had a client with an old family chandelier that was pretty but tired. With Louise’s finesse, it became a new, more interesting chandelier, but lost none of its history.Gaskill has never marketed herself and relies solely on word-of-mouth advertising. She sells only to designers and to a few retail shops in Raleigh, including La Maison in North Hills. Her client roster covers the entire country – from Chicago to Florida, Charleston to Raleigh – and she plans to showcase her 70 new lighting designs to decorators at the High Point Market October 17-22.“Louise designs unique fixtures that can combine lots of different time periods together between the traditional, transitional, and modern,” says Tula Summerford of Raleigh’s Design by Tula. “Her pieces work for any style house.”Where to Find Louise Gaskill’s Work:Louise Gaskill By appointment only:2023 Progress Court, RaleighLouisegaskill.comSusan Tollefsen Interiors2025 Progress Court, RaleighSusantinteriors.comLa Maison4209 Lassiter Mill Rd., Suite 132 RaleighLamaisonraleigh.comDesign by TulaDesignbytula.com by Katherine Connorphotographs by Catherine NguyenAsk Raleigh’s Louise Gaskill the secret to her artistry in lighting design, and you won’t get far. “Oh, I don’t know how I do it, I just sort of taught myself and I learn as I go,” she says humbly, with a smile. It’s hard to believe that such a masterful creator – her handmade, one-of-a-kind fixtures are sought after by interior designers and clients all over the country – could deny her skill, but that’s another of Gaskill’s gifts: making it all seem simple.To call her a lighting designer is to tell half the story. She’s also an alchemist, creating of-the-moment lamps, sconces, and chandeliers out of antique glass, seashells, found fragments, and metal fixtures. When she talks about her designs, her silver-blue eyes radiate.Louise Gaskill in her studio, filled with her collection of vintage glass, metal components, and found fragments.“I cannot say enough good things about Louise,” says prominent Chicago interior designer Julia Buckingham. “We have the same design aesthetic, which I describe as vintage antique with a modern vibe. She’s highly creative with her vision and yet she makes it seem so simple, so effortless.”Originally from New Bern, Gaskill graduated from Meredith with a history degree and launched a career in software sales in Raleigh. She fell into lamp design after creating a few pieces for herself, then kept it up as a hobby.She says her love of history has always fueled her work. “Perhaps that’s something that ties all of this together: the history and the stories of the glass and the different pieces of lamps. I love the story behind old pieces,” she says. There were no artists in her family, no crafts passed down through the generations. Instead she taught herself to design new fixtures by deconstructing lamps she wanted to work with, then reconstructing them and learning as she went.At one point, Gaskill considered creating larger pieces of furniture, but sage advice from her husband,Robert Sheldon, convinced her to stick with lighting: “Don’t ever buy anything that you can’t pick up yourself,” he said. Though her pieces remained manageable, her workshop quickly overtook the garage and storage shed where her husband once tinkered with cars. After 14 years, she still picks up every piece herself. And in the process, Gaskill has become a revered artist within a niche industry – a niche industry with big competitors.“That really is probably the hardest part of this whole enterprise, that I’m all by myself in this field, and I’m competing against large corporate companies with big budgets and mass forms of production. My pieces are works of art and can take up to one to two weeks to complete, but this is an heirloom and something that will stay in your family for generations to come.”A piece of Murano glass is the starting point and inspiration for a new chandelier.The fun partIt all starts with the hunt, and that’s “the fun part.” Gaskill says there’s nothing better than finding a great piece of antique glass – some come from other lamps, fixtures, or vases. Glass dictates the piece: Every lamp, chandelier, or sconce has some piece of glass in it. It’s her inspiration and her signature touch.Her workshop is filled with it: cobalt blue cylinders, bulbous German bases, Italian teardrops. And there’s more: a pile of gold kitchen sifters found at an antique fair will eventually make their way into the base of a lamp. A wall is filled with various pendants and knickknacks that will make a piece uniquely hers.Gaskill starts with the frame, or the base of a piece, adds a lamp pipe down the center, and then starts stacking things together, seeing what works and taking it apart again until it “fits.” This is where her joy comes: in the unexpected merging of components.
Courtesy Jason CraigheadJason Craighead has long had a leading role in the Raleigh art scene as an an artist, as a member of the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, as a collaborative studio founder, and as a former gallerist. Now his reputation as a contemporary artist has grown beyond North Carolina. This fall, Craighead’s work made a splash with Beyond Myth, a solo show at the prestigious Cheryl Hazan Contemporary Art gallery in New York, and next month, he’ll have another solo show at Tinney Contemporary in Nashville, Tenn.Lately, Craighead says, his work has been influenced by myths of heroes and adventurers, those who “answer the calling within and venture down a path that is filled with challenges.” Bending Time (above), from his most recent body of work, reflects some of those ideas. “When we choose to seek our very own personal adventure and find our very own personal voice,” he says, “… our hearts have room to rise.”Jason Craighead’s work is represented locally by Flanders Gallery, 505 S. Blount St., flandersartgallery.com.His Nashville, Tenn. show opens Dec. 5 at Tinney Contemporary, 237 5th Ave. North, Nashville, Tenn.;tinneycontemporary.com. Read more about Craighead at jasoncraighead.com.
After 21 years as Dean of the College of Design at N.C. State University, Marvin Malecha retires this month and will become president and chief academic officer at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, Calif. It seemed fitting in this interview with Walter to have the design visionary sketch his responses.What do you look like?A flash of white hairAgainst a black imageDefined by the geometry of eyewearFueled by an open spirit?But what does it matter?Do you have an alter ego?Yes and no. It is a circus.FriendsMentorsRole modelsComposed into an idealized aspiration.My alter ego has wings.Which building in Raleigh do you most admire?A building is a marker of life. It is architecture by its relationship to life. The vanishing tobacco barns are genuine. The Fadum House has a simple reality. The memory of the Catalano House haunts us. Dorton Arena reminds us of our better spirit, and the Hunt Library transforms our understanding.What’s your favorite thing to eat?In my personal quiet spaceA rich Italian red – Brunello and a bold cheeseWith my joyA soft black licorice with my granddaughterSo it depends …What are you afraid of?FEARTo restrict my curiosityTo cup my wingsThe authority of those who would seize my independenceCYNICISMTo drain me of my energyDriving color from my mindWhat’s on your feet?A message, a dialogue of Van Gogh,Heidegger, and Charlie Chaplin …Cole Hahn high tops todayMephisto for comfort yesterdayAsics from my son for exerciseMy identity!What is your favorite season?The season I am alive in! I am moved by the quiet of a snowfall and the crackle of the first steps in it. Who cannot be astounded by the brilliance of the color of a youthful spring? The lustiness of summer speaks for itself. But the beautiful subtlety of fall … the mature spectrum of color … the instigation … the demand for reflection – makes it my favorite.What’s on your mind?The past near and farToday … NOW!The transition to the future.Satisfaction for what has beenImpatience to be betterPossibilitiesColor!
Nicole Wilder/Bravoby Mimi MontgomeryAfter serving as executive chef at The Umstead’s Herons restaurant, Scott Crawford opened Standard Foods last fall with business partner John Holmes. The space is a hybrid restaurant, grocery, and butcher shop, featuring a variety of ingredients and goods from local purveyors and growers. Crawford places an emphasis on clean simplicity when it comes to his menu, incorporating healthy ingredients into Southern-inspired cuisine.Now the three-time James Beard award semifinalist’s creations will reach a much wider audience: Crawford will be a contestant on the new Bravo culinary competition series Recipe for Deception, which premiered last month. The show pits four chefs against one other in three elimination rounds where each is challenged to create a dish showcasing one main ingredient. The catch? The chefs have no idea what that main ingredient is. Each competitor is allowed to ask another three yes-or-no questions to determine the secret addition, but two of the answers will be truthful and one a lie.It’s a culinary twist on the old Two Truths and a Lie game, and Crawford will appear on the February 11 episode. Following the broadcast, he’ll offer the mystery dish he created on the show at Standard Foods throughout the month. Of course, since he’s bringing his creation home to Raleigh, he’ll put his own local spin on it: Ingredients will be sourced from North Carolina and most will be available in the grocery section of his business. No lie.Catch Crawford on Bravo’s Recipe for Deception February 11 at 10 p.m. Visit Standard Foods at 205 E. Franklin St.; standard-foods.com
“To share the joy of music with others is a privilege.” –Sylvia Wiggins, director, Helping Hand Mission marching band (far left, front row)by Jessie Ammonsphotograph by Travis LongSylvia Wiggins has always had a penchant for band music. But as a high school student, she couldn’t muster the courage to audition for her school’s mostly-Caucasian ensemble. “I told myself that one day I’d have a band where everyone can come,” says the founder and executive director of Helping Hand Mission, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing, furniture, shelter – and band music – to Southeast Raleigh.Wiggins was working on an anti-gang initiative for Helping Hand when she remembered her adolescent hope and founded the mission’s marching band for 7- to 17-year-olds. “We have black kids, Hispanic kids, white kids. We want everyone to feel comfortable.”The marching band fluctuates between 50 and 70 members, and teens must complete community service projects to join. No musical experience is required, and the band relies on donated instruments. “We practice a few times a week, but the kids hang out a lot, too. We have a lot of activities that … we don’t put under the title ‘practice,’ but are band-related. They dance all the time.” That dancing inspires the marching: Often, members compose and freestyle original music inspired by what’s on the radio.Wiggins leads the troupe, despite an already-packed schedule running the nonprofit’s headquarters and shelter on Rock Quarry Road. For her, it’s a non-negotiable commitment. “Teens are my favorite kind of kid,” she says. “That’s the age when a lot of people give up on them, but I know what they can be. I like to see the outcome, when they realize their potential. Band is a safe place and a structured place.” Visit helpinghandmission.org to learn more about the marching band and to donate instruments.
Emerson, a tiger, came from a roadside zoo in Missouri. It was shut down due to safety concerns after a volunteer went to the hospital with a bite wound supposedly from a dog, but actually from one of the zoo’s tigers.text and photographs by Nick PironioTucked away just off NC-64, between the town of Pittsboro and Jordan Lake, lies Carolina Tiger Rescue. To visit this 55-acre refuge for rescued lions, tigers, and other wildcats is to enter a surreal foreign land. More than 40 neglected or abused wildcats have found safety in this vast sanctuary, just down the road from the farms and churches that dot the otherwise-familiar North Carolina landscape. With their growls and roars, territory-marking scents, and majestic beauty, the place sounds, smells, and looks like a world apart.The entrance to Carolina Tiger Rescue.Carolina Tiger Rescue was founded in the 1970s as a research institute by UNC geneticist Dr. Michael Bleyman. His task was to breed keystone species (those that perform a crucial role in the life of a particular ecosystem) as a way to protect the population of those animals until their home habitats could support them once more. As time went on, the organization decided the need to breed wildcats was less important than the need to rescue abused and neglected wildcats.Roman, a lion, prowls about. He came to North Carolina from a rescue in Ohio that shut down due to lack of funding.How does a lion or tiger wind up in North Carolina and need rescuing to begin with? There’s an online market for these big cats, which are bred (often excessively inbred, resulting in deformities) to be sold for a profit. It’s made worse by the lack of state regulation on the ownership of a non-native species. Some counties in the state including Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties have made it illegal to possess these animals, but it’s usually only when these animals happen to be found – often in the wake of their owners’ brush with another law – that they are taken into custody.A note that was attached to Elvis, a serval, or medium-sized cat, when his owners left him at the rescue. The note documented his care, which Carolina Tiger Rescue realized was inaccurate based on the animal’s actual health.As I photographed the wildcats, many hobbled around in pain from arthritis caused by years of abuse. Some were declawed by their owners, or locked in small cages for long periods of time. Once-mighty creatures, they now live out their days riddled with aches and pains. Spending time with them – which I did several times over the course of the last few months – was both a humbling and disheartening experience. It’s no wonder the rescue, which employs 17 people, has a list of approximately 160 volunteers to help them care for these beautiful animals.Fenimore, a tiger, gives a big yawn. He was rescued from the same Missouri zoo that Emerson came from.But it’s not all sadness there. Many of the wildcats are still playful and energetic, despite their circumstances. Some even played a game of “hide-and-seek” with me as I tried to photograph them through the mesh of their spacious cages. Once, when I turned my back, a tiger named Madonna playfully pounced on the cage wall behind me.Madonna, a tiger, eyes the photographer from behind a tree.Still, they’re dangerous, and never in direct contact with any humans. And only half of the wildcats at the rescue are on view for what the organization calls “The Show,” which is what visitors see when they take a tour of the refuge. Those with anxiety or aggressive tendencies are kept out of view, and spend their time alone being cared for by the staff.After emerging from her hiding spot, Madonna reclines in her rescue’s habitat.Safety cages are scattered throughout the complex, and are used to protect people in emergency situations or any time a wildcat is moved.Elvis, a serval, in a contemplative pose.Tarzan, a lion, reigned over the first floor of a hotel in Mexico until he was one year old. When he became too large for that task, he was locked in a cage in front of the hotel that was 3-feet tall, 3-feet wide, and 6-feet long. He spent two years there, and now cannot stand up or fully extend his legs.Tarzan curls up for a late-afternoon snooze.Star, a cougar, gazes through a fence. Star came from a roadside zoo in Mississippi that was shut down due to numerous violations of animal welfare and human safety.Aria, a tiger, was a privately-owned pet in South Carolina for 10 years. She became sick, and her owner’s neighbors called authorities, who contacted the rescue. She was found to have a pancreatic deficiency that required a specifc diet. The family eventually gave her to the rescue so she could receive better care.The memorial gardens at the resuce, where each brick bears the name of a wildcat that has died.A well-loved toy.
Nick Pironioby Fanny SlaterOnce upon a basket of cornbread, I made a decision that would forever change the course of my life. I slouched into the cozy, familiar booth at Margaux’s Restaurant and asked my family: “What about some kind of tangerine chicken?”My mom looked up from her Caesar, puzzled. It was now three days before the finale of Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition. I was one of two remaining contestants, and we had been sent home and given one week to choose our final recipe. For some bizarre reason, I couldn’t let go of tangerine chicken. I had never even made tangerine chicken before in my life. This was clearly the moment when I began grasping for anything. Anything at all. In this case: tangerine chicken.After winning Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition, Slater appeared on the show. Here, she is shown with Jacques Pépin and Rachael Ray. Slater’s book will be available March 1.My boyfriend Tony slid the shiny basket of still-warm cornbread under my nose. I peeled apart a crumbly, golden square and swiped it through a ramekin of whipped butter. I looked up at my dad – whose expression was solemn (unusual for someone who wears cartoon rotisserie chicken socks). “Why don’t you end where you began?” he suggested.I thought back to the first recipe I’d submitted for the competition: “The Tin Foil Surprise.” It was my spin on our family’s favorite to-go English muffin breakfast sandwich. My updated version featured creamy taleggio cheese and floral, homemade orange lavender fig jam. I stuffed the fluffy cornbread into my mouth and grinned. “If the rest of my life is riding on an English muffin,” I declared, “I think everything is going to be okay.”Many of my richest memories have taken place over a basket of Margaux’s cornbread. I grew up with a dad who prepared top-notch homemade meals on a near-nightly basis, so naturally, my family’s restaurant expectations have always been high. But it’s never been pretentious, complicated cuisine we’re after – just good food made with soul. And butter, of course.Margaux’s opened its North Raleigh doors in 1992 and instantly became our second kitchen. It was where we boogied for my sister Sarah’s post-Bat Mitzvah brunch (and for mine four years later). It was where my parents celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. It was where we even broke our cardinal ritual of a homestyle Thanksgiving to unapologetically surrender to the sinful buffet one memorable year. And it was Margaux’s where we took “Macho Man” Randy Savage to dinner. No, seriously. But that’s another story.Apple; treeIn 1975, my mom founded the nationally-acclaimed bakery business Rachel’s Brownies. In the beginning stages of her eventual business partnership with my dad, she would tenaciously re-wrap the brownies he’d dutifully tried to wrap to meet her impeccable standards. For her, each chocolate morsel was a work of art. My dad, while not a whiz-bang brownie-wrapper like my mom, was a highly-experienced marketing guru and self-taught kitchen wizard. He kept a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking on his nightstand. When I was four, he scooted a chair up to the stove and handed me a spatula. In first grade, he came into my class at Ravenscroft and taught us all how to braid and bake homemade challah. That’s pretty much all I remember from first grade. Needless to say, I grew up on good eats, and it was only a matter of time before I took the cooking into my own hands.As a Ravenscroft first-grader, Slater performs a cooking demonstration with her father.My last year at Peace College (now William Peace University), I was assigned a final writing project to fulfill my English major. Sitting in my advisor’s office, I talked in circles until I somehow convinced him to allow me to intern at my favorite Raleigh restaurant and write about it. Several weeks later, I found myself standing in that esteemed kitchen, looking out onto the dining room where I had spent many meals enjoying cornbread, peppered duck, and delicate profiteroles. In Margaux’s kitchen, I felt as though I had been granted entrance to a mystical universe where few elite members were allowed. I silently bowed my head at the crab cakes.A few years later, right around the time I turned 25 and moved to California, the restaurant movement in the Triangle began to erupt. When I came home to visit, I thought I’d be eager to dive into the trendy new hot spots. But it turned out it was familiar flavors I craved. Between my dad’s sublimely-seared scallops and Margaux’s expertly-wrapped shrimp summer rolls, I was happy. After all, I had a short window of time at home and only so many pairs of stretchy pants in my suitcase.I eventually returned to the East Coast (downtown Wilmington to be exact), where I got close enough to sample the exquisite fare of Raleigh’s most gifted chefs. This is how Ashley Christensen became my best imaginary friend. As Julie Powell, of Julie & Julia, once said, “I have this fantasy that she comes for dinner and I show her my new lemon zester. We become very close.”Slater prepares a root vegetable frittata in her Wilmington home kitchen. “I always have eggs and veggies and cheese on hand,” she says. Maybe it’s because Ashley’s food is full of imagination – but also reminds me of home – that I daydream of this citrus-inspired friendship. Because at the root of it all, I am still influenced by the flavors that have stuck with me all of this time. The anecdotes and recipes you’ll find in my cookbook,Orange, Lavender & Figs: Deliciously Different Recipes from a Passionate Eater, are modern tributes to the food moments that have shaped my life. Case in point: to honor Margaux’s succulent, butter-slathered cornbread – which has provided me with countless memories – I crafted these honey cornmeal pancakes with vanilla bean-fig butter. But first, back to the beginning… I decided to submit “The Tin Foil Surprise” as my final recipe for Rachael’s competition. I think you can guess how it all turned out. I knew that if I stayed true to myself, my love for nostalgia, and my whimsical spirit, I couldn’t lose. After all, coming from a family who relentlessly encouraged my silliness and my love of cooking, it’s no surprise I come up with eclectic, playful food. Can you blame me? Because, well, with a name like Fanny – it’s pretty hard to fit into the crowd.But I’m okay with that.
by Mimi Montgomeryillustrations by Addie McElweeIn the interest of journalistic transparency, I’ll start this article off with a disclaimer: My knowledge of the flora and fauna that populate our local environment is slim. It can be narrowed down to a few identifiers – grass, leaves, a few varieties of common trees, and the occasional pine cone. It’s not enough to say I don’t have a green thumb. I am more akin to a creature without any sort of digital appendages at all, perhaps a sea cucumber, or a snail. I once bought a succulent, forgot where I put it, then found it three months later on the back of a shelf gasping in a pool of dehydrated, hungover misery like a college kid back from Cancun. If the horticultural world had a form of child protective services, it would have been sent knocking on my front door. So when I went to Raleigh City Farm to take a “foraging tour” with the Piedmont Picnic Project in March, I was, needless to say, completely out of my element. Headed by co-founders Elizabeth Weichel and Amanda Matson, the Project focuses on urban sustainability and increasing awareness about food history, teaching practices like gardening, foraging, preserving, and fermenting. Its aim is to provide Raleighites with simple ways to eat locally and sustainably. Raleigh City Farm, which also aims to increase accessibility and local awareness, was a fitting spot to embark on our trek. You don’t have to live on a rural farm to know where your food comes from, both groups point out, or to learn the history behind it. They believe anybody can and should be an active participant in finding and growing local, healthy foods. Clearly, I was a prime candidate for this “anybody” demographic. Other than the time I ate all the leaves off one of my mother’s house plants (at the tender age of six), my foraging experience has been contained to the produce aisle of Trader Joe’s. I’m definitely more of a Lucille Ball than a Bear Grylls, but I laced up my walking shoes, packed my pockets with enough nasal spray for an antihistamine overdose, and was ready to go. I was joined on the trek by Adrian Fisher, an urban agriculturist from Raleigh’s sister city of Hull, UK and hosted by the Raleigh Sister Cities group; Douglas Johnston, a Sister Cities representative; a crew of Meredith College Kenyan exchange students; Rebekah Beck, general manager of Raleigh City Farm; and a sprinkling of other intrepid foragers. We stood around until someone called out, “Let’s go Cro-Magnon!,” and off we went, heeding the bugle cry into the downtown wilds. Our merry gang of hunter-gatherers first stopped at a patch of grass between the curb and sidewalk outside the parking lot of Yellow Dog Bread Co. and Edge of Urge. What to me looked like a furry patch of weeds under a power line was in fact a gathering of henbit, Matson told us. A member of the mint family, henbit has a square stem with an almost-Elizabethan collar of purple flowers. It’s a common snack for chickens, hence the name. You’ve probably seen smatterings of these across your front yard, but I bet you don’t consume them raw, cooked, or boiled into a tea. Who knew an unassuming patch of sidewalk weeds could yield something with such potential? Clearly, those outside our tribe had no idea, either: Drivers beeped their horns at us as if we had the phrase “Honk if you love foraging!” taped to our backs, although they were probably just baffled to see us congregated animatedly around the base of an electrical pole like wild boars in hiking clothes snuffling for truffles. We plucked some of these newly discovered greens and continued on our way. Our next stop was the front yard of a beautiful historic home on Mordecai Street. Those were no measly weeds in the front yard, we quickly learned, but actually clumps of chickweed. It’s good to sauté or toss raw in salads, and it gets its name because – you guessed it – chickens like it, too. Naturally, we grabbed a few handfuls. Now you’re probably wondering if this was all on the up-and-up. Matson was quick to let us know that it’s always wise to ask before foraging a plant from someone’s private property. Apparently, foraging without permission can be considered theft, and some public spaces won’t even allow it. I could only imagine the conversations that would ensue if I had to tell my lawyer that I wasn’t being ticketed for speeding or an expired license this time – I was an agricultural outlaw, nabbed for smuggling leafy goods from a neighbor’s yard. Luckily for us, we managed to avoid any run-ins with the fuzz. We continued down the street to the historic Mordecai House, where we wandered through the vegetable garden in the back of the home and stopped to admire a clump of hoary bittercress growing along the picket fence. Apart from sounding like the name of a medieval disease or a potion ingredient from Harry Potter, hoary bittercress is a member of the mustard family and can be consumed cooked or raw for an added peppery taste to dishes. Its tiny white flowers are edible, as well. We added several handfuls to our growing cornucopia. Down the hill from the Mordecai House we mosied into Mordecai Spring Park, a grassy clearing full of foraging potential. I was beginning to look at lawns and strips of grass with a different set of eyes – as not just overgrowth idly passed-by, but as all-you-can-eat buffets in a wild-grown food court, ripe for the plucking. With our newfound perspective, the park became a veritable Whole Foods salad bar. We scooped up wild onions; chestnut pods; purple deadnettle (which can be used in salads and boiled as a tea); ground ivy (used as a spice and sometimes as a substitute for hops in breweries); and cleavers, those fuzzy leaves that stick to your clothes – and, it turns out, have seeds that can be ground into a substitute for coffee. Our baskets full of leafy plunder, we headed back to base camp at Raleigh City Farm. We’d worked up an appetite on our urban safari, and we were ready to dig in. Weichel and Matson had prepared snacks made with ingredients they’d found on their own local foraging expeditions, many of which consisted of the same types of plants we had just encountered. So we loaded our plates with a wild salad; honey wheat bread with jellies made from kudzu, muscadines, honeysuckle, and black locust; green pesto with field garlic, black walnuts, hoary bittercress, and purple deadnettle; and shortbread cookies with ground ivy. The spread was topped off with kombucha made of persimmons and rosehip, and a tea of ground ivy, henbit, dandelion flower, and wild shiso seeds. It was wildly delicious. Now that I can proudly add “foraging veteran” to the short list of accolades next to my name, I have a greater appreciation for the sustainability movement that’s happening here in Raleigh, especially in the downtown area. It truly is a simple matter of increasing awareness and knowledge about the topic – once you know what to look for and where to look for it, you find yourself seeing opportunities for fresh, local food wherever you go. Plus, if we are ever submerged into a post-apocalyptic dystopia, we foragers won’t be stuck eating canned beans and Twinkies like the rest of you. Actually, if it comes to that, you can hang with me – I know where we can find a mean patch of hoary bittercress.Piedmont Picnic Project: piedmontpicnic.comRaleigh City Farm: 800 N. Blount St.; raleighcityfarm.com
courtesy Thinkstockby Mimi MontgomeryI’ve never had the best luck with cars. I actually consider mysself a good driver, but I seem to be a walking, breathing manifestation of an automotive Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will surely come barrelling toward me and usually in an extremely public setting. On my driving record we have: three failed driving tests; uprooted mailboxes; fender benders; countless keys locked behind closed car doors; an incident with a flying bug and an air conditioner (don’t ask); numerous expired registration tickets; several middle fingers administered by portly, aggressive older men who could clearly use a hug; confrontations with neighbor’s trash cans; dislodged door handles; and a brief run-in with a boulder that I still maintain was not my fault (it was a very ill-placed boulder).Considering my colorful automotive past, I was a little intrigued when I took my car into the shop to be repaired for a week (yes, you don’t have to ask – another fender bender). What would it be like to commute without a car in a city like Raleigh? I’ve often thought that the parameters of inside-the-beltline Raleigh were just small enough to be pretty conducive to getting around car-less. Sure, you may not want to walk everywhere, but most places are within a decent bike-ride’s distance, and they’ve already got all the painted bike lanes and sidewalks set up for you. It’s clearly a city that wants to be bike-friendly, so why aren’t there more Raleighites who travel by two wheels or two feet?It seems that most distances that people drive here are stretches that big-city dwellers would stoically walk or bike in a heartbeat. When I lived in Manhattan for a summer, I would walk 30 minutes to work every day in the kind of sun-beating heat that leaves you praying for a solar eclipse. I frequently showed up to work looking like I had just ended an eight-month sojourn in the Amazonian wilderness: I would stumble in everyday loaded down like an urban sherpa with my gym and work bags, sweating like a nervous pig in a steam room, and grimy head-to-toe with city sludge.It was either that or take the subway, which during that time of year was basically like submerging one’s self into the subterranean molten lava of the Earth’s core. In fact, I would have rather licked the concrete sidewalk in Times Square than spoon the subway passenger standing in front of me in that overcrowded, overheated catacomb. But the thing is, I couldn’t really complain. I was hardly alone in this endeavor; everyone did it. No one thought twice about a half-hour’s walk in the middle of summer to wherever you were going.Part of that has to do with practicality, yes – it’s extremely expensive to keep a car in a large city, much less grab a taxi everywhere. But I also think Manhattanites all know something that I didn’t fully realize until that summer: There’s a certain paradoxical stillness to commuting outdoors in a city, to finding yourself perfectly aware of and in contact with your surroundings. Traveling unencumbered from a car, I was forced to actively participate in the world around me, to see the Hare Krishnas chanting in Union Square, the Middle Eastern man selling bananas out of a cart on my corner, the woman who put fresh flowers out every morning in front of the local bodega. These were the talismans of my morning walks, my own personal New York souvenirs, the bits of life that ingrained themselves into my own existence – steadily, slowly – like water-worn grooves on a rock.At the risk of sounding like Thoreau on a Transcendentalist ramble, I will confess this: I am an American consumer through-and-through. I have the carbon footprint of a diesel 18-wheeler – there’s nothing better than hopping into my fuel-eating Jeep SUV, turning on the air conditioner full blast, drinking out of a plastic water bottle I probably won’t recycle, and emitting some serious greenhouse gases as I easily cruise to my next destination and the ozone layer slowly withers away above me. Of course I feel a bit guilty about this, but it’s the kind of guilt I feel when I don’t floss for a few days or purposefully “forget” to set the trash cans out before the garbage trucks come – a certain apathetic cringe and knowledge that I could do better, while ultimately allowing sloth convenience to reign.So, when my most recent car misadventure forced me to revert to my ancestral state as a weary bi-ped traveler, I got strangely excited. This would be kind of fun, I thought, my mind racing: There I’d be, biking to work on a beautiful spring day on a cute beach cruiser with an adorable little basket, wearing some sort of chic ensemble like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. As you’ve probably already guessed, that’s not how it panned out. Since I don’t own a bike of my own, I borrowed my roommate’s, who is a small, lithe girl about four inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than I am. When I hopped on her bike, it groaned like an old Grand Canyon pack donkey resigned to the fact that it had to take another obese person on a trail ride. The bike sagged to the ground and my knees were practically up to my ears as I took off, low-rider style, down my street.I tried to practice some Zen mindfulness as I cruised down Brooks Avenue onto Hillsborough Street, doing my best to take in the spring morning and the sights around me. Look – there was a beautiful collection of spring flowers, and some pretty birds perched in that tree, and was that an early morning dew I felt softly misting my face? No – that was sweat. A massive quantity of sweat, spurting from my pores like a ruptured water pipe.As I cruised by the N.C. State belltower, the cars beside me slowed down to get a good look at the girl in the highly-bike-inappropriate summer sandals wobbling on a bike clearly made for an undersized toddler. It became apparent that even though there are lanes specifically denoted for bike riders on Hillsborough, the majority of Raleigh drivers are still confused and frustrated by bike riders. Many cars veered too close into my lane or just lurked slowly behind me, unsure of what to do. Honestly, the way some people stared, you’d think I’d decided to ride a unicycle topless through morning traffic.One of the good things about this commute, though, was that I gained some major street cred with the Raleigh hipsters. As I got closer to downtown, they began springing up like mushrooms in the grass after a rainstorm, easily identified by their rolled-up jeans, purposefully nerdy glasses, canvas NPR tote bags, sustainably sourced coffee cups, and Bernie 2016 campaign stickers. As I passed by on my eco-friendly steed, they gave me a cool, vaguely visible nod as if to say, “Right on, man. You’re one of us,” before whooshing off toward whichever local start-up or alternative coffee shop lay on the distant horizon. If they had seen me in my Jeep, they probably would have given me a withering glance and mentally condemned me for driving something not fueled by hemp-seed oil or recycled kombucha.My embrace by the hipster subculture aside, by the time I got to work, my knees were aching like a geriatric and I looked like I had just emerged from a swamp, with enough perspiration covering me for three grown men combined. And I still had to bike home at the end of the day!Was it worth it? Yes and no. Raleigh is definitely a bike-able city, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it bike-friendly. Sure, you can get around where you want to on a bike if need be, and there are a good number of painted bike lanes and sidewalks for your use, but I would say bike transportation is nowhere near an expected or accepted norm.But maybe it should be – ridiculousness follows me like an ever-persistent shadow, sure, but there was a stretch of time on my commute where things seemed to fall into place (however briefly). As I rode past the North Carolina Democratic Party building, that old, white house sitting full of history and charm, and down along the various shops and businesses that line Hillsborough Street, I had that feeling of shimmering, full joy that comes from knowing you’re exactly where you need to be when you need to be. We live in a great city, full of life, vibrancy, new things, and kind, interesting people, and getting to see it from a new perspective reminded me of that all over again.Outside of a car, you simply catch things you wouldn’t otherwise. For better or worse (for my own well-being and that of the city of Raleigh), I’m sure I have some more bike rides ahead of me. If you happen to pass me on the open road, give me a honk – I’ll be the grown adult with training wheels and a padded crash suit.
Art2Wear is the culmination of months of work. Designer Leeza Regensburger takes a walk down the runway with her models and her line, Moth.by Liza Robertsphotographs by Robert WillettWith the wave of a visionary wand one night in April, ambitious students at N.C. State’s College of Design transformed Talley Student Union into a glamorous showcase for their manifold design talent. The event, in its 15th year and known as Art2Wear, was the culmination of a year of intense work by a team of nine designers chosen by a jury. These students spent months creating, sewing, knitting, and refining capsule clothing collections that ranged from stylish contemporary eveningwear to cutting-edge sportswear and flights of creative fancy. The theme: “The virtue of obsession.” “You can feel the energy,” says designer Justin LeBlanc, the show’s faculty advisor and chief cheerleader, as he watched a dress rehearsal. “This year is probably the best I’ve seen so far.”Olivia Brown models a piece from designer Bailey Knight’s line, MycoLogic.Art2Wear faculty advisor Justin LeBlanc rallies the troops.Designer Kathleen Davis adjusts her creation on model Ryan Burt. The fashion on display was the event’s obvious highlight, but the show’s success also relied on a fleet of accomplished students who directed, produced, promoted, choreographed, photographed, fundraised, and modeled. They made films to spotlight the individual designers and to open the show. The highly produced event they created was a fitting forum for a range of fashion designs as unique as their creators. Designer Bailey Knight took her “obsession and romance for the earth and the magic it produces” and her love of Henry David Thoreau to craft an homage to mushrooms with a fanciful collection she called MycoLogic. Backstage, surrounded by friends modeling her creations, she pointed out the inspiration behind a ripply, mustard-hued coat: a Chicken of the Woods mushroom. A white cape with a blue pleated interior was an Indigo Milk.Designer Meaghan Shea takes a walk down the runway with her models and her line, Tetra, in a dress rehearsal.Model Emory Cooley is made up by Isabella Zazareei before modeling Angele Gray’s Vert collection. A few feet away and a world apart stood Leeza Regensburger, whose collection, Moth, included hip sportswear: plushy pastels, crop-tops, pom-pom-drawstring hoodies, fleece gym shorts. Meant to evoke “a moth to a flame,” Regensburger says she imagined the woman wearing her clothes as an insomniac running out in the middle of the night to grab something to eat from a corner store. Young, thrown together, unfussed, but stylish. In another realm was Angele Gray’s Vert, which took its cue from “Paris during the rise of Formalism and Modern Art.” This translated to a restrained palette – mostly black and white – and a focus on line, composition, and texture. The result was a series of body-skimming dresses and ensembles that would be at home in any elegant setting.More fitting for an urban walk to the gym were the creations of former soccer player Grace Hallman, who based her collection, Mia, on “the obsession of being an athlete.” She dressed her fit and confident models in laser-cut, close-to-the-body synthetics that put a futuristic spin on the athleisure trend.Designer Bailey Knight prepares a piece in her MycoLogic line.Sketches for Gena Lambrecht’s line, Gold.her inspiration. Her collection, Kingdom, which also included designs for men, included carefree silhouettes with a childlike aspect, including fabrics like pique and tulle, embroidery, and knitwear.Tanna Aljoe, center, is one of several models showing Grace Hallman’s line, Mia.For her part, Quinan Dalton took her own childhood home and “the obsessive sense of nostalgia many tend to feel when they think of their past” as her inspiration. Her collection, Kingdom, which also included designs for men, included carefree silhouettes with a childlike aspect, including fabrics like pique and tulle, embroidery, and knitwear. Gena Lambrecht’s collection, Gold, was all grown up. The glittery metal “has motivated some of history’s greatest conquests and caused the downfall of entire civilizations,” she says. Her ensembles, shown to the tune of Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, comprised a series of strutting, gold-hued looks, including a showstopping waterfall-pleated tulle gown. Dionysian Contagion by Kathleen Davis was unique: a creative explosion of recycled plastics, gas masks, and light, meant to evoke the powerful effect live music can have. She described it as: “Movement. Silhouettes. Illumination. Color. Music. Your entire soul shifts. The infection spreads, until you awaken anew.”Wearable paper creations by first-year students at the Design School open the show.Angele Gray’s designs for her collection, Vert.Designer Bailey Knight’s line, MycoLogic, celebrates her obsession with the earth with an homage to mushrooms.Indeed, inspiration for these makers came from very different places. Susan Stephens, with her 1919 collection, honored her own great-grandmother, who was born in that year, and the tradition of crochet she passed down through the generations. Stephens’ large-scale, knitted pieces were architectural and striking, paired with tailored pieces made of printed fabric Stephens created herself. Meaghan Shea also printed her own fabrics, and used “a single print, color scheme, and endless iterations” to inform her refined and carefully tailored clothes. Each piece spoke to the others through geometry and shifts in color. Together, these nine designers and their fellow students who put on the show showed “what the College of Design has to offer,” says LeBlanc. Art2Wear, he says, is “more than a fashion show … it showcases the talents of our students and their ability to transform their vision and dreams into reality.”Sketches for Quinan Dalton’s line, Kingdom.Designer Susan Stephens’ 1919 line features large-scale hand knits and custom-printed fabrics.Patrons including Linda Dallas and Susan Woodson applaud.
Shelby Vanhoy of Pretty in the Pines. Photo courtesy of Shelby VanhoyThe Triangle’s fashion bloggersby Mimi MontgomeryIn The Age of the Smartphone, where social media and viral hits reign supreme, blogging has evolved from a solo, diary-like activity into a lucrative field that allows tech-savvy entrepreneurs to create their own online communities-slash-marketplaces, right from their own homes. Here in the Triangle, style bloggers in particular have a growing toehold. A primarily female-dominated pool, these locals are showcasing their own takes on the fashion, beauty, decor, health, and lifestyle worlds, and contributing to the innovative spirit of the Triangle. This is “a place that just naturally fosters creativity,” says Molly Stillman, Still Being Molly blogger and founder of the Triangle Fashion, Beauty, Food, and Lifestyle Bloggers group (TriFABB), a community of 160 bloggers begun in 2012. The many startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs’ groups that pepper RTP and downtown Raleigh and Durham make for fertile ground, she says. The Triangle is also a place where female blogging entrepreneurs forge friendships and encourage each other. “It’s a really supportive community where a lot of people want to collaborate together, because when you win, I win,” says Meghan Grant of Holly Springs, the blogger behind I’m Fixin’ To and co-founder of the Raleigh Blog Society. “It’s good for both of us.”Meghan Grant of I’m Fixin’ To (both photos above) tries to keep her posts real and fun. “I don’t take myself seriously.” Em Grey Photography With reaches near and far, these women are redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur in the 21st century. Their work may come with a steep learning curve and many late nights, but bringing a dose of style to the Triangle is what they love – and increasingly, it’s a real business, too.Not just a hobby Many of these local bloggers started their sites as sideline hobbies or creative outlets. Working in corporate jobs, they wanted an open space to share their stylish ideas and their writing. “When I was growing up, I used to change outfits like, three times a day, and I always used to have to put on a party dress,” says Angela Keeley-White of Raleigh, who works full-time for a financial planning and investment company and started her style blog Head to Toe Chic in 2011. So she decided to turn that passion into a side gig, writing posts filled with outfit inspirations, style tips, and eye-catching photography. When Raleighite Shelby Vanhoy was rejected from dental school, she took a hard look at her passions and felt the need for more creativity in her life. “I was thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’” she says. “I’ve always had an interest in photography, travel, style…” So in 2014, she bought a camera and starting her blog Pretty in the Pines, which led to her current job managing marketing for Bailey’s Fine Jewelry.Amy Loochtan of Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins says blogging is a “legit career.” Photo courtesy of Amy Loochton Keeley-White and Vanhoy are not alone. What started as an outside hobby for many of these women has quickly become a second career. When they leave full- and part-time jobs at the end of the day, they head home to another one, where they create editorial calendars, schedule and write posts, organize photo shoots, edit photo batches, monitor site traffic, respond to readers, and negotiate brand campaigns and sponsored posts. Angela Keeley-White of Head to Toe Chic; Em Grey Photography “It comes across as so glamorous,” says Chapel Hill’s Lauren Steele of LC Steele. She’s talking about the stylish photography spreads and Instagram posts bloggers are known for. But for the Mississippi native who balances her blog with her job at a legal consulting business, it’s hard work, too. “You don’t see 90 percent of the time it took,” she says. “It is way more time-consuming than people give it credit for.” It’s her job, she says, to make it look easy.Angela Keeley-White’s Head to Toe Chic was mentioned in InStyle magazine. Vanhoy agrees: “It’s like a 12-hour day, every day.” But it pays off: The popularity of these blogs is a testament to the consumer demand for the women’s content. “So far, it’s really been worth it,” she says. “The people you meet, the community you grow, the opportunities you get – it correlates with how hard you’re working.” Brave new world For a successful style blogger, business opportunities can be vast. With the advent of content monetization platforms such as LIKEtoKNOW.it, bloggers can share their outfit details via Instagram, where followers who have “liked” their post will receive an email complete with links to purchase each pictured item. For each piece purchased from a LIKEtoKNOW.it email, the blogger receives a commission. Global companies have picked up on the wide reach of these digital influencers, as well. “As brands begin to trust the influence of bloggers and see the results, social media is becoming much more monetizable for the influencers,” says Jamie Meares, blogger behind the popular i suwannee and founder of Furbish Studio. “It’s created this Wild West effect on blogging – now you can actually make a business out of sharing the things that you love.” Triangle style bloggers are doing just that, negotiating paid contracts with brands to create sponsored product posts. These women have worked with national corporations such as Coca-Cola, J. Jill, Shopbop, Whole Foods, Anthropologie, Henri Bendel, Toyota, Target, Anne Taylor, and Rent the Runway, to name a few, as well as local companies like Cameron Village and The Fearrington House Inn. Using their social clout as an advertising platform makes sense: Each of these women have followers by the many-thousands. “People now understand the value of bringing eyeballs to the page,” says Steele. “I’ve watched social media become so much more integrated in everything. If you have 200,000 followers, you can look at a company and say, ‘Hey, I can basically fill a football stadium for you. How much is that worth?’”Lauren Steele of LC Steele balances her blog with her job at a legal consulting business. Photo by Anna Goodson Apparently a lot. “It’s a legit career,” says Durham-based Amy Loochtan of Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins. “People are flabbergasted by that … Some people think blogging is just taking some pictures of your outfit, putting them online; but it is so much more than that.” Of course, with the meteoric rise of outlets like Instagram and Snapchat, content is moving more toward the social media side, and anyone with an iPhone can try to become a blogger. That can put pressure on longtime bloggers to keep content fresh and readership levels up. After all, that’s where the money is – brands want to work with sites that consistently post original material and reach the widest demographic possible. “Now you have to be out there on all social media channels and keep up with the latest trends,” says Keeley-White. There’s also a fine line between the virtual and actual worlds, especially when personal style is the focus of a business. After a while, life can seem like just a series of potential Instagram posts. “That’s one of the biggest things that bloggers struggle with – missing out on life because of social media,” says Loochtan. “It’s a hard balance to know when to unplug.” Along with separating the personal from private, local style bloggers say they work hard to strike the right chord between stylish escapism and relatability. Because most have longtime readers who feel a virtual kinship to them, they want to maintain those relationships with the relatable voice of an old girlfriend. So in addition to the glamour, local bloggers are also careful to include affordable fashion and DIY projects that appeal to the everyday woman. “I try to be real with my readers,” says Grant. “The style posts are really pretty and they do really well, (but) if you’re behind the scenes with me on a shoot, I don’t take myself seriously … For me, it is really fun.” Bringing it home While these women may work with global companies and have followers across the world, they’re committed to using their brands to promote North Carolina, too. Keeping it local is just part of their spin on things: Many stage photo shoots at local spots like the Boylan Bridge, American Tobacco Campus, and the Leslie-Alford-Mims house; they showcase pieces from local boutiques and clothing lines; they partner with nearby restaurants and businesses; and they provide travel guides to N.C. destinations.Shelby Vanhoy of Pretty in the Pines says the 12-hour days are worth it. “The people you meet, the community you grow, the opportunities you get – it correlates with how hard you’re working.” Photo courtesy of Shelby Vanhoy Vanhoy recently partnered with the Outer Banks for a sponsored, weeklong trip along the coast, documenting her vacation on social media and her blog, and Grant started a blog travel series on eastern North Carolina, focusing on places to eat, shop, and visit while passing through. “People get stuck in the bubble of the Triangle,” she says. “It’s sad to see towns that were thriving when I was little become ghost towns.” It’s her way of using her online presence to benefit the local places she loves. Like her peers, Grant has come to realize that a significant online presence can be a powerful tool, both in terms of business opportunities and simply creating a brand that people love. “Life can be complicated and it can be so cluttered,” says Steele. “I just like to keep things as simple, classic, and elegant as I possibly can.” It’s a lot of work to make things look so good, but it’s worth it, says Loochtan. “You make time for what you love.”FALL PICKS“Big sweaters and ponchos layered over a thin turtleneck, booties, and changing up accessories and shoes for fall colors.” –Shelby Vanhoy, Pretty in the Pines“(It’s) cowboy boots, riding boots, lots of dresses and skirts. I would not be caught dead in a T-shirt and jeans at a football game. That is where you step out and you show up.” –Meghan Grant, I’m Fixin’ To “(I’m) all about layering with blazers and military jackets. And of course, ankle boots. And fun scarves … a bunch of light layers.” –Angela Keeley-White, Head to Toe Chic“Leather jackets, over-the knee-boots, and blanket scarves … (they’re) an affordable and chic way to make a statement with an outfit, plus they are really warm.”-Lauren Steele, LC Steele“A good bootie, black blazer, (and a) really great pair of jeans. If you feel good in it, you’re going to look good.” –Amy Loochtan, Coffee Beans and Bobby Pins
“Now that October cranks up, it’s a lot of travel and writing in the hunting season, for sure.”–Eddie Nickens, outdoors journalist and authorby Mimi Montgomeryphotograph by Travis LongEddie Nickens is an outdoorsman, award-winning author, journalist, on-camera host, and native North Carolinian. Now a Raleighite, he hails from High Point and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and English. After some time as “a street urchin on Franklin Street,” Nickens took a job as senior editor at Spectator magazine; soon after, he transitioned to freelance work and has been, “as my father-in-law would say, ‘gainfully unemployed ever since.’” Nickens started out writing for the likes of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Smithsonian, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Audubon, and National Wildlife. When Field & Stream magazine asked Nickens to write long-form outdoor journalism pieces, he knew he’d found his niche: Bigger assignments had him travelling across the globe, and the adventures have “been quite steady and quite crazy ever since,” he says. Nickens is now Field & Stream editor-at-large and a contributing editor at Audubon. He has a monthly Our State column, frequently contributes to Garden & Gun, has written two books, and hosted and co-produced the television programs Heroes of Conservation and Total Outdoorsman Challenge. The outdoors beat has taken him to places like Alaska and Canada for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing adventures; in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, he’s covered bird conservation, sustainability, and eco-tourism. “I’m not sitting at a business office or a convention center somewhere,” Nickens says. “Most of these assignments are pretty off the beaten track, if even on the track at all.” This fall, he’s got plenty of pheasant, dove, and duck hunting trips planned, but also looks forward to sticking close to home. He cites Halifax County and Morehead City as favorite local spots, and loves bringing along his black lab, Minnie Pearl, as a hunting companion. His family makes the cut, too: His wife, son, and daughter all love the outdoors. “One of the wonderful things about my job is that it’s evolved into an avenue to spend time with my children,” he says. “That’s been a real blessing.”Catch Eddie Nickens as the featured author at Walter’s latest Book Club event, Tales of the Wild, on Oct. 13; $55 for one ticket, $100 for two; waltermagazine.com
Exploris student Warren Gray delivers fresh kale to Ni Ni Myint, whose lack of access to healthy food inspired an award-winning project. Photograph by Sonja McKayby Settle MonroeA group of students and teachers from downtown Raleigh’s The Exploris School recently set out on a simple mission – to be the change they wanted to see in the world. They kept their focus local, and worked as a team to help Burmese refugees living in Raleigh. What they didn’t know was that their work here at home would gain them recognition on a world stage. The team of 18 fourth and fifth graders were participants in a global program called Design for Change that teaches children how to impact their communities for the better. They started by researching problems plaguing their community. When they learned of a nearby neighborhood with refugees in need of fresh produce, they knew they had found their cause. Their solution was so impressive, and so simple and replicable, that it was recognized as the top Design for Change project in the nation. Last December, three of the students on the Exploris team and four of their teachers traveled to Beijing, China to represent the United States and present the project to teams from 40 countries at the worldwide Be the Change conference. “We didn’t know we would get to go to China when we started helping the refugees,” says fifth-grade student Addie Furr. “But it is really cool that it worked out like it did. The best part was seeing how children all across the world were doing small things to make a difference.” The worldwide program is structured to guide students to address problems and devise solutions through four steps. The first encourages students to empathize with people facing a problem. The second step has them imagine what the problem’s solution could be; the third is to do something about it; and the fourth is to share that solution. Amanda Northrup, a fourth-and-fifth-grade teacher, spent weeks teaching her students how to conduct interviews during the first stage so they could better understand the people at hand and problems they face.When the students interviewed Ni Ni Myint, a 30-year-old wife, mother, and Burmese refugee, they came prepared with researched background information and honed interviewing skills. “We really wanted Ni Ni’s story to drive the students’ actions,” Northrup says. “In order for that to happen, we spent a lot of time teaching the students how to ask thoughtful and informative questions. We had a panel of three students lead the interview, and the rest of the team took notes and followed up with probing questions.” Northrup’s instruction paid off. Even with the language barrier, Myint says she immediately felt comfortable sharing her struggles and needs with the group. “The team was so nice,” Myint says. With her harrowing recent experience, that was vital. “My family was forced to leave my country because it was dangerous. We were very hungry in Burma. No one could help us there.” Since arriving in the U.S. four years ago, though, Myint told the students she’d been living with chronic stomach pains and gastrointestinal problems. She’s not alone. Many refugees suffer from similar health problems when their diet changes from freshly harvested, local produce to highly processed foods in the United States. The interviews left an impact on the students. Schuyler Pettibone, now a sixth-grader, says, “I always thought the problems the refugees faced took place when they were in their home countries, or on their way to the United States. After interviewing the refugees, I learned that they also face many problems once they arrive here.” After interviewing Myint and other refugees, the students moved to the “imagine” stage of the process by brainstorming creative ways to provide fresh food for Myint and other refugees. No idea was too crazy or too small. Northrup led the students through a winnowing phase to determine feasibility. Eventually, they settled on their project. They would gather fresh produce from local farms and deliver the produce to Myint and her neighbors, also refugees. After connecting with local farmers, the team spent an afternoon harvesting and bagging fresh kale. Fifth-grader Addie Furr says the experience was “awesome!” But actually delivering the fresh kale to Myint was her favorite part. “I will never forget the look on Ni Ni’s face when she opened the door and we were all there with fresh produce to help her feel better. That was just so cool.” The students presented their project at the 2016 Scaling STEM conference in Raleigh as part of the program’s final stage, in which they share the results of their work. It was here that Design for Change USA director Sanjli Gidwaney heard their presentation. “Sanjli especially appreciated that the team listened carefully to the needs of the community and developed a targeted plan to meet that need,” says Exploris teacher and Design for Change leader Sonja McKay. “It is a simple project that anyone can replicate. Any volunteer can do this in an afternoon or a day.” The global Design for Change leaders agreed with Gidwaney, naming Exploris’s work as the top project in the United States. Along with the award came the opportunity to attend the conference in Beijing. “It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says McKay. “The children were able to see how others across the world are taking simple steps to do good.” Clockwise from left: Leah Ruto, Sonja McKay, Schuyler Pettibone, Koren Morgan, Trevor Hatch, Annah Riedel, and Addie Furr in Beijing, China. Photograph by Sonja McKay.
Tatiana BirgissonFounder, Mati EnergyTatiana Birgisson is the founder of Mati Energy, the healthy energy drink she created in her Duke dorm room five years ago. Today, a new 30,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Clayton has her brewing as many as one million cans a month for sale at Whole Foods Market and other retailers in 12 states across the Southeast and beyond.She made Forbes magazine’s list of “30 Under 30” in the Food and Drink category this year – unsurprising, perhaps, for a business growing more than 100 percent a year.So what she says she wants to talk about at WINnovation might come as a surprise: “My story really starts with depression,” she says, “and my story is about the mental skill set that I gained to overcome depression.”She did it with perseverance, grit, and focus – not unlike the way she’s built her company, which focuses on health and well-being.“Even though life deals you a tough card, you can become a much stronger person,” she says. As Mati also goes from strength to strength, producing more than 100,000 cans a month of her proprietary combinations of tea and juice for an ever-expanding customer base, Birgisson’s hard-earned success has also resulted in wisdom worth sharing.