Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A beautiful event at Jeffre Scott Apothecary

Jeffre Scott Apothecary next to the Manor Theater on Providence Road is always an oasis of beauty thanks to its expert staff and inventory of special cosmetic brands that you often can't find anywhere else in this area.

When Hollywood's most sought after makeup artist, Julie Hewett, made a personal appearance there in honor of her namesake line of cosmetics, it was the perfect mix of beauty and buzz. I learned so much that night I wanted to share it all with you.

When I shook hands with Julie, my first impression was that she had the softest paws I had ever felt. I didn't want to let go. "My hands are always in pots of creams," she explained. She's also genuinely nice and humble - a true sign of someone who is successful because they're confident without being arrogant or pushy.

With the authority of the head makeup artist for many of Hollywood's hottest films and celebrities, she immediately whisked me into a chair and started working her magic. Within minutes she had subtly transformed me from a beleaguered journalist to someone I almost didn't recognize in the mirror - a glowing starlet ready to walk the red carpet. OK, maybe just glowing, but that was enough.

She brought sheets of paper with faces drawn on them, and then for each person she would take the actual makeup she used and smudge it on the paper with the name of the product written next to it so we would remember what she had done. She signed them and they're so cool I plan to frame mine.

Here are my favorites out of the products she used on me:

  • Ora mineral powder foundation. I had always been told my skin was too dry to wear mineral powder because it contains talc, but hers are talc-free and I truly think it's the best foundation I've ever used.
  • The Aphrodite bronzer is natural but gives a subtle glow that I adore (she told me that men in Hollywood are also fans of her bronzers).
  • The multi-tasking Cheekie is a great tint for lips and cheeks that I now use on busy weekend days when I'm running errands and don't have the time to put on full makeup but need a little color.
  • The Camellia Balm for Lips, Eyes, Face and Hands is brilliant. I'm completely addicted. It's made from Camellia oil and has so many uses. It adds moisture without being greasy. She told me it has become one of her most popular products. The only complaint from customers is that they would like her to sell it in huge jars because they can't get enough.
To learn more, go to or

Get a bunch of people together with a little wine and you also learn a lot of other interesting things. Here are my four favorite bits of new information I walked away with that night:

1. Jeffre is opening another apothecary in Asheville. It's not downtown, it's in the upscale shopping area near the entrance to Biltmore House.
2. The Frock Shop on Central Avenue is the new place to check out. It's a resale shop and I'm told the owners have a great eye for finding vintage and name brand apparel, accessories and shoes all sold in a lounge-like atmosphere.
3. Caci Thompson, an esthetician with Jeffre Scott, is so passionate about what she does. Other guests were raving about her facials. She has beautiful skin, so she's a walking advertisement for her profession. By now, everyone knows to stay out of the sun. But she told me the other best thing we can do is to drink lots of water. She drinks at least a liter a day.
4. Stylist Catherine Horgan of Closet of Style was there in a cute maxi skirt topped with an Oxford shirt she took from her 12-year-old son's closet after spring cleaning because he wasn't wearing it anymore. With the sleeves rolled up and the shirt tail tied at the waist, it looked edgy and adorable at the same time. She also confided that she shops for polo shirts in the boy's department because she likes the fit better.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A sophisticated table centerpiece with a craft beer theme? I'll drink to that!

In honor of Craft Beer Week, which runs through March 25 in Charlotte, I wanted to share details about the sophisticated beer-themed table centerpieces that my colleague Marion Paynter created for her son and daughter-in-law's rehearsal dinner at The Liberty Gastropub. They were a hit and compliments flowed from both the guests and the restaurant's staff.

Marion, a researcher at the Observer who traveled the world in the early 1970s as a Pan Am stewardess, filled me in on the process of creating the unique tablescape.

It started when the bride told her not to worry about doing a fancy centerpiece for the rehearsal dinner, so Marion started thinking about how to do something that wasn't over-the-top but was still special and reflective of the venue and the couple's love for craft beer.

That's how she came up with the idea of using beer glasses collected from brewery visits, beer grains and candles as the centerpieces.

The tables were long, so she used burlap runners and placed three groupings of the centerpieces on each table.

For each grouping, she used a variety of five beer glasses in different shapes and sizes. She filled three of them with beer grains including barley and hops that she purchased at a beer making store. The other two glasses in each grouping were filled with inexpensive beer since the taste didn't matter. She nestled votive candles in the glasses filled with grains and floated them in the glasses filled with beer. To add more interest, she mixed in several small votive candles in glass holders - some filled with grains, some without.

Marion is a smart woman, so she followed her instinct to do a trial run first at a family dinner. As everyone was enjoying their meal, they suddenly smelled something burning. It turns out one of the glasses was too small for the candle, which caused it to generate too much heat, so the grains got too hot and started smoking.

She was able to fix this flaw by using a glass that was larger and wider so the heat wasn't so concentrated.

She estimates that her decorations cost her around $50 per table (each grouping cost $15 and there were three on each table).

What I learned from her Martha Stewart moment is that if you're creative and have great taste, you don't have to spend a fortune to put together something special for an event. And always do a practice run, especially when candles are involved!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Media pioneer Moira Quinn shares her top tips for professional success

Moira Quinn, a force on Charlotte's media scene since her early 20s when she was a pioneer camerawoman for WBTV, was the speaker at a recent meeting of the Charlotte chapter of Femfessionals, a national networking group for professional women.

Quinn shot to national fame when she landed one of the primo jobs of her era: co-host of the nationally syndicated TV show PM Magazine with Bob Lacey. I didn’t know until her Femfessionals talk that she auditioned for that job on a fluke. Even though she didn’t have any on-air experience, she beat out hundreds of other hopefuls, including a former Miss America. The producers knew what they were doing because the show was a hit.

Today, Quinn is still winning fans as vice president of communications for Charlotte City Partners where her work ethic, upbeat personality, quick wit and non-nonsense attitude adds even more shine to her sterling reputation as one of Charlotte's top business people.

She gave out so much great advice that night that I asked her to boil down her top tips. Although her talk was geared toward women, the advice she shares here is universal and will work for anyone in any career.

Moira's Top 5 Tips for Professional Success

1. Always raise your hand first to try something new. Being unwilling to do that is saying “no” to yourself. What the heck? Try. Always try. You just might succeed. But always have a plan “B”.

2. In a tough situation, there will always be people who will help you. Ask them for help and ignore the rest. Then work your butt off to listen, learn and be the best you can be.

3. Your word is your bond. Never, ever lie. Trust is earned and your most valuable possession.

4. Help others and pay it forward. Be a volunteer. That is how you feed your soul and build community.

5. Favorite quotes will motivate you. Here are a few that are meaningful to me:

"When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?” - Henry David Thoreau.

“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized “I” was somebody.” - Lily Tomlin.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Ghandi

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work…but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery (It’s all about vision, not tactics)

The next Femfessionals meeting is March 28 at the Duke Mansion with speaker Kathryn Heath who’ll talk about her book “Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power.” Register at

Come prepared with plenty of your business cards and be ready to share what the group calls its “Femfessionals 30-second pitch” where you stand up and give your name, profession, the company you work for, a personal tidbit about yourself and your passion followed by an endorsement/testimonial of another Femfessional.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ernest Perry is as good as gold

I certainly don't cover business news - it's not my beat. But when Ernest Perry of Perry's Fine, Antique & Estate Jewelry sent an invitation to a party in honor of the store's new location in the gold building (how appropriate!) at 6525 Morrison Blvd. across from SouthPark mall, I knew I had to be there because he is the hardest working man on Charlotte's charity scene.

He, his beautiful wife Priscilla, and members of his expert staff generously support numerous charity events throughout the year by offering items for silent and live auctions. And now his oldest daughter, Hadley Perry Pacheco, is joining them as a new member of the Perry's at SouthPark team.

That is enough to make them golden in my book, but Ernest takes it to a whole other level by donating his skills as an auctioneer to many charitable live auctions. Talented Observer staff writer Mark Price captured that side of Ernest in a wonderful profile that ran several years ago.
During the eight weeks that Price followed Ernest for the story, Ernest's average was up to two auctions a day that raised $50,000 per event for schools and charities. At that time, his total was already in the millions of dollars raised, and it's probably climbed a few million more since then.

That's an incredible gift that Ernest shares with this community that he and his family love so much. And if you've ever seen Ernest in action doing a live auction at a charity event, you know that his skills really are a gift. It is an amazing thing to watch. He can get thousands of dollars out of people even for items that might not normally create a buzz (he once sold the first spot in a school's car-pool line for $2,000).

One of his secrets is that he constantly reminds those who are bidding that they're not there to get a deal, they're there to give to a good cause. Charlotteans have such big hearts, they practically throw their wallets at him when he starts putting it all into perspective for them.

Another thing I admire about Ernest, Priscilla and Hadley (now that I'm getting to know her), is that they are truly genuine people who are not only sincerely nice but also a ton of fun to be around.

During the opening party for their beautiful new store that's worth a visit whether you're buying or selling jewelry, Hadley and I talked about the plan for her to eventually take over the business one day now that her father is "semi-retiring." I had to put that in quotation marks because I don't believe it, or maybe I just don't want to believe it.

"That just means he's going to work six days a week instead of seven!" said Hadley.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Celebrity makeup artist Julie Hewett

I talked with makeup artist Julie Hewett recently while she was at home preparing for the Oscars. As head makeup artist for two nominated films, “The Descendants” and “The Artist,” she was doubly excited. She is George Clooney’s favorite, so he requests her for all his films, including the 2008 release “Leatherheads,” which was filmed in Charlotte. Hewett will be back here March 16-17 for appearances at Jeffre Scott Apothecary at 607 Providence Road ( On March 16, she’ll do a presentation from 5 to 6:30 p.m. using a model to show off makeup trends and her own line, Noir. It’s free and open to the public. The next day, she’ll be doing private one-on-one consultations.

Q. How did you end up being such a successful makeup artist? I fell into it. I grew up in L.A. surrounded by the movie culture. I thought I wanted to be a designer. I went to fashion school at Parsons in New York, but I couldn’t sew. When I would get frustrated with the technical aspect of fashion – the cutting and the sewing – I would sit around and draw faces, which led me to makeup.

Q. There are so many makeup lines, why did you create your own? It was out of necessity. On the set of “Pearl Harbor” I wanted each of the beautiful ladies (including star Kate Beckinsale) to have their own distinctive red lip color, but I couldn’t find it. When you’re a makeup artist, you’re a mixologist, so I starting mixing and dabbling, and that’s how my line started, with lipsticks.

Q. What is it like to work with George Clooney? He is so much fun. He just called and asked me to work on a movie with him that will film for four months in Europe. All my friends are so jealous.

Q. What is the biggest mistake women make with their makeup? Picking the wrong foundation. That drives me crazy. The best way to make sure you have it right is to take a mirror and go out into the sunlight. If you don’t see it, then it’s perfect. If you have to blend around your chin, it’s not right. It should look just like your skin, but better.

Q. Since you’ve been here before, what is your impression of Charlotte women? I’m a huge fan. I think Southern women are the most pulled together and feminine women. You girls don’t leave the house without looking fabulous. You are so open to wearing makeup and experimenting with new things. You just seem to have more fun with being a girl.