Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bye Bye Website

Nooooooh!!! That was the wail from our office the day we decided, after years of discussion, to develop a new website for Huff Harrington. We have a lot of history with our old website and the decision to move to a new one was not taken lightly. In fact, you could say that one of us greeted the new venture with less grace and maturity than a cranky child: kicking, screaming and boo-hooing all the way.

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Maybe some of you who have been with us from the beginning will relate to our sentimental attachment. Do you remember Ann’s home based gallery, “Gal-du-Sud” (which she thought was such a sexy and clever name, until she realized her clients were pronouncing it “sud” like soap sud)? That little website ended abruptly, with a thud! But the seed was planted and the four-page website for “Gal do Thud” morphed into the new and improved Ann Huff Fine Art, which eventually blossomed into Huff Harrington Fine Art.

Ann Huff Fine Art ID

That’s when we both started having a blast creating the website, adding inter-connected pages upon pages with our new found knowledge, until anyone who had the patience to do so was forced to bounce from one page to another, often with no point of return. We knew we’d gone overboard when we heard, “it took me 26 clicks to get to the page with the house in Provence, and now I can’t find it.” We now admit that our new found gadget turned us into little techno monsters, a little like when we first started using word processing software and discovered all the different cool and exciting fonts (remember that?)

But still, this was our website which we built from scratch and were proud of it. In fact, it’s embarrassing to admit that the website has been -- and continues to be -- a rather significant source of pride for one of us who is so technically challenged that she can’t even operate the universal remote control for the TV (shown here with all the instructions her patient family has left for her, next to the remote).

Remote control

Even our IT guy, who initially rolled his eyes when we couldn’t distinguish the modem from the router on our computer, was visibly impressed that we’d created the website from scratch. “You did this?” he asked, incredulously, “I couldn’t even do this!” and went on to anoint us the defacto techno queens of Huff Harrington Fine Art. (That is, until the younger generation came along – and the baton was quickly passed on, along with the crown jewels.)

Still, we have both enjoyed maintaining the light, fun and conversational tone of our website and having complete and instant control over its content. We know our website’s quirks, foibles and personality disorders, and are intimately familiar with how to work around them. We’ve also enjoyed the comments from our readers which have been mostly so positive and supportive. So as we struggle to give up our old website, we want to make sure that we don’t lose that wonderful dialog we’ve established along the way. In fact, giving up this control is one of the toughest things for us, as we are admittedly ever so slightly controling (no, really?).

Unfortunately, our little website has huge design limitations and we realize that especially now, with Huff Harrington Home, it can’t do justice to our growing product line or reflect the look we seek. It’s kind of like a first home: A little too small but entirely reliable, utterly familiar and completely comfortable. Giving it up is tough, but in order to accommodate the growing family, we realize it’s time to move to the new neighborhood – which is a horrible scary feeling, even if the house is bigger and prettier and on a fancy new street.

So while everyone else is jumping up and down, some of us have been whining a little, dragging our feet and rolling our eyes. We’re not quite ready for the new house yet even if we do get to pick out all the colors and finishes.

I mean really, do we want to leave the comfort of this:

Old Website

For this?

New website

Oh gosh, look at Meg. She’s already packing her bags and ready to move!

photo meg

That leaves just one of us, kicking and screaming by herself, and that’s never a good thing. Maybe I need to give it one more chance. Hmmm ... an "Artists' Page" with all artists listed alphabetically. I could get used to this!

HHFA ArtistPage

Or this – a section for the home store:

HHH Home Screen

Or this? (With all the categories of merchandise cleanly labeled for the home store)

HHH Merchandise

OK, I'm ready to move! What about you? Will you join us in the new 'hood? We certainly hope so. Stay tuned and we'll send you the address!

Ta ta,

HH

PS. Oh and by the way, they’re making noises about having to change our blog now too. Noooooooooo!

Monday, February 20, 2012

It’s a Tough Job but Someone’s Gotta Do It…

We always kidding that our little businesses are all work and no play. And we mean it when we say we’re kidding. How lucky are we to be doing what we love?


So, a couple weeks ago, we jumped on the 6 p.m. Air France flight (our favorite flight: pretty good food, we can usually get a good seat and Air France is generous with the bubbly) and headed to Paris for some serious spring shopping.


We went to one of the Europe’s best-known gift, furniture and design shows. Eight enormous buildings were filled to the brim with thousands of people from all over the place and hundreds and hundreds of vendors and manufacturers.



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It was a feast for the eyes and we’re thrilled with what we saw, loved and decided we can’t live without at Huff Harrington Home.



Nothing says La Belle France like toile de jouy and we couldn’t resist a sampling of clever items, like these cute sling chairs that will work perfectly in the garden and in the house:



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What about this adorable little hat, which the French call “le bob femme” (“le bob homme” is for the guys…)



We love the idea that toile is getting hip and cool and we’re predicting these will be a big hit.

Would Air France have upgraded us if we strolled on board carrying these super-chic carry-ons?


We picked up some fabulous linen, canvas and leather luggage from a lovely old company based in Southwest France (we’re anticipating a smack-down over these classic totes which are perfect for beach, country, mountains, carry-ons…you name it…)


(We realized we might be turning into a bag store….)



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And, we’d been searching and searching for the famous Ice Bag which, in France, is always chilling bottles of wine in a perfect mixture of ice and water. It’s a totally handy, plastic tote that keeps your wine perfectly refreshing.




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We picked out some fun and Frenchy patterns and also a great Stars and Stripes design that we’re picturing in good use for the Fourth of July.


We fell in love with a luxe line of cashmere and faux fur that we’re holding off on until the fall, but the colors had us drooling:



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We saw lots of glass accessories with polished nickel and leather or rope accents:


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We met a nice lady from whom we buy our favorite foutas. Foutas are amazing Tunisian cotton towels/throws/tablecloths/sarongs that we are simply nuts about. We went crazy over the juicy line of colors we saw. Can’t wait to have these monogrammed at HHH. They will look so sensational by the pool or on the porch this summer:


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In between all the shopping, we had to have lunch, of course. And, even in a very businesslike setting, we were delighted to find this:



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A real menu!


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A darling waiter who kept our glasses full…


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What were we saying about it being a tough job?


After lunch, we had to visit our new BFF, Tina Frey. Tina creates the most amazing pieces in resin and we are CRAZY about her stuff:


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A very jet-lagged Meg and adorable Tina Frey


Among other fabulous objects, Tina creates the ultimate cool cuff. We love the crisp white one.




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Tina’s designs are so sleek, elegant and clean and we’re all over this cool wine bucket: smokey gray resin with leather handles.


There was plenty of stuff you definitely won’t be seeing at Huff Harrington Home like this over-the-top riot of bad florals.


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After all that shopping, talking and looking, we took a couple hours off and headed to Les Puces, the famous French flea market (where we heard we missed Rod Stewart and his wife by minutes. Darn!) We wanted to go to Paul Bert, one of many little sections that make up Les Puces – mostly because there’s a great restaurant there that Meg was dying to try and Ann had promised we could go. But before lunch, there was more exploring to do:


Oh, the glorious crunchy, crusty, beat-up and beautifully Frenchy stuff that was all around.



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At the bus-stop (yes, we absolutely took the bus and it was so much fun) we made friends with a stall-owner. The stall had been in her family for decades and she was just lovely.


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It turns out Ann had bought some pieces from her on the last pre-HHH opening in the summer. Friends reunited!


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We look like twins but we were warm…


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oh la la! How French can you get? Look at the little pet rodent the pug has sitting next to him.

And, we were drooling over these gorgeous, mossy and old looking pieces.


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There was plenty of weird stuff, too, like this giant skull made from lots of small jaws, skulls and bones.


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And the bowl of glass eyeballs:


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After that, it was back to business and we had the excellent fortune to run into a nice group of young, smart, ambitious and very, very cute Frenchmen selling a cute line that we simply couldn’t (ahem…) resist.


Commandez votre SEE'UP

We loved the concept of fun and sassy eyeglasses that sit in a handy little stand wherever you need them…but maybe it was the glass or two of bubbly they persuaded us with that sealed the deal:


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And, to end the day in true French fashion, we stopped at the local outpost of Fauchon for a restorative (how could you possibly guess?) glass of champagne:


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Then it was back to Ann’s adorable little jewel of an apartment to review and work on all the special things we decided to buy for Huff Harrington Home.

This is really and truly the view from Ann’s kitchen:


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It was time to head home after that but we are excited and happy about the wonderful things that will be filling the floor at Huff Harrington Home.

Yes, it’s a tough job…and we’re so glad we have to do it.



Ta Ta.



P.S. we were absolutely head-over-heels with joy when we saw this in our favorite magazine, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles: http://www.atlantahomesmag.com/frenchfinds

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

CBS News

We were tickled pink to be guests on the CBS Atlanta Better Mornings show on Thursday morning … even if it was at the very crack of dawn.

We were excited about our little story, which was to talk about the sentiment behind Valentine ’s Day, and not the stuff. We were excited about being store owners but not necessarily plugging our products -- although we had plenty of little props along, just in case! We were excited about all the cute Valentine’s ideas we’d gotten from our employees and we practiced over and over again how to incorporate them into our little spiel. We were dying to mention how Sam and her husband Johnny Jones have celebrated Valentine’s Day for the last 42 years, by dancing to Johnny Mathis’ “My Funny Valentine.” And we were excited about ending on a high, with a plug for a favorite cultural institution -- the High Museum.

We thought we could make it so fun, cute and sassy that the producer would get caught up in the moment and decide on the spot to extend our 3 minute segment to fifteen, which would get syndicated and run on all the networks all over the world – and go viral too!

So that was on our minds as we got up at 3:30 a.m., fluffed our hair, changed outfits five times -- and finally went to the studio at 4:30 a.m. where we carefully and painstakingly merchandised our prop table with all of our exciting little products. The adrenaline heated up as we met with the producer and anchor of the show, and then got wired for microphones.

At 5:40 a.m. we heard, “30 seconds to air time” and oh boy, suddenly lost all our lines and totally forgot the things we had practiced.

“10 seconds” and we both started to feel a little queasy.

“5, 4, 3,” (oh no, I think I may throw up), “2, 1” Good Morning, you are on the air!

The next three minutes went by so fast that we have no idea what happened or what was said. All we know is that we were just beginning to feel comfortable and hitting our stride when the anchor said, “Thank you so much … and now on to the weather” and we wanted to scream, “No wait!! We haven’t finished!! There’s so much more to tell you about Valentines’ Day!! Don’t cut us now!!”

When we went back to review our little segment later, we almost died laughing. Meg started off beautifully, but what happened to that practiced script that carefully incorporated all of our employees’ thoughtful ideas? And did we really need to plug Whole Foods’ floral department more than Huff Harrington Home? And why was Ann going on about cupcakes? We are a home furnishings store and don’t even sell cupcakes! What happened to the champagne bucket that is a keepsake and perfect for Chastain summer nights? The jewelry that can be hidden in a clever little basket? The heart shaped necklace that imbues perfume? The adorable valentine’s cards? The candles from France? Or the Amy Dixon Nude that is the sexiest gift of all? We needed at least fifteen more minutes to tell our story!

If nothing else, our first encounter with live television brought us enough giggles to entertain us for days. We loved the opportunity, and relished the excitement of being in a TV studio. Even if we completely neglected to plug our store, we were thrilled to be invited to do so. We’d do it again in a heartbeat and happily give up many more hours of sleep.

And as for our elusive 15 minutes of fame? Well, we only have twelve and a half more to go!

P.S.: Was it a coincidence that Whole Foods posted a 30% gain that very same day? We’re sure it was because of sky-high sales in the floral department – especially cabbage leaves!

Ta ta,

HH

Click here to view the CBS Better Mornings Segment.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What do we really want for Valentine’s Day?

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We are pretty excited that the CBS TV affiliate in Atlanta has chosen Huff Harrington Home for a segment on Valentine’s ideas, but there are two problems with the request:

1. It will be taped at 5 a.m. (oh no … and the DryBar doesn’t open until 8 a.m.! Will we have to have our do’s done the day before and stay up all night to prevent the flat hair syndrome?)

2. We don’t really have a lot of Valentine’s goodies in the store.

Don’t get us wrong. We have lots and lots of new goodies in the store, with recent purchases arriving daily. But there isn’t a lot of red. There’s not a lot of heart shaped anythings. And we certainly don’t have red roses.


But that got us thinking. What do people really want for Valentine’s day? Is it stuff? Or is it thoughts? And what do we like to give for Valentine’s day? Does it have to be red, sweet or heart shaped? Or should it be something a little more thoughtful, fun, and personal?


We decided to go to our favorite source and ask our Huffington employees what they liked giving or receiving for Valentine’s day. And these are the ideas they came up with:

Linda says:


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I love to give newly sprouted Daffodils or Forsythia to friends.

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My husband and I treat ourselves to a nice bottle of red wine and a seafood pasta dish.



Of course, the “widow” (Veuve Cliquot Champagne) makes an appearance, along with some chocolate.

Veuve Cliquot by Amy Dixon


I’m going to use a recipe from the Veuve Cliquot cookbook this year!


Veuve cliquot cookbook



Colleen says:

Colleen

Don’t go out to the fanciest restaurant, but do stay in and cook a special nostalgic meal with your loved one(s).


Do buy your lady a piece of karen sugarman, but don’t buy her whiskey stones! Kidding! But not really ;-)

Karen SugarmanKaren Sugarman, Prasiolite Earrings


Allison says:

Allison


My wish list (hint, hint to Mark!): Huff Harrington Home jewels (prehnite, labrodite, or lemon citrine) or shagreen skin cuff or turquoise bangle.


Or even sexier -Amy Dixon nude. You know that's my fave!


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Past faves -- including menu items -- have been: silky lingerie, Palace Cafe's White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Capo's Chicken Diablo, and madras pjs. (Editor's note: We need to have great PJ’s at HHH. Oh, guess what! We do! They’re on their way … from Paris … where they don’t call them PJ’s!)

Emily says:

Emily

1. Give a certificate for manicure/pedicure, green fee (men) or favorite restaurant. Wrap it with a couple of cute accoutrements that correspond, such as for the spa a cute book like Daily Candy from HHH to read while getting pampered.


Daily candy



If the restaurant certificate is for a French place include an Eiffel tower bottle opener or our guide to French wines book.


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2. I'm making this for my door and as a gift for a couple of girlfriends: cupcake liner wreath.


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(Editor’s note: Emily, this is adorable!!)


3. What to get the person who has everything? A 'have a little heart' gift. Make a donation in their name to the American Heart Association or their favorite charity and include it in their Valentine card.


Sarah says:

Sarah



First and foremost, some kind of chocolat or sweet treat is required to make it officially Valentine's Day. Oh how I wish Atlanta had a Ladurée ...





The caramel are my favorite.

I love receiving things I normally wouldn't buy for myself: a fancy candle, a beautifully packaged lipstick or perfume, or a gorgeous bouquet of flowers (but not red roses!).

Sparkling objets (of the bauble or bubbly variety) are also always acceptable. I've never been the type of girl to turn her nose up at any kind of gift, let's be honest...

Sam says:

Johnny and I dance to "My Funny Valentine" sung by Johnny Mathis every Valentines Day morning before we go to work. Great way to start the day! A gift you can't buy but worth a million dollars.

Ann and Meg:


Ann and meg compressed

So what will we tell our TV viewers about Valentine’s day?

It looks like nobody asked for or wanted to give red roses. And there wasn’t a lot of heart shaped requests either. Instead what we heard was:

Make it personal. Make it thoughtful. Make it yummy. Make it sentimental. Make it glitter (jewelry!). Make it memorable. Make it a surprise. And if you have the skill and inclination, make it by hand.

To this, we would add that the little heart shaped present we would want most is … make it heartfelt.

Happy Valentine’s day!

Ta ta …


HH