Scarlett | January+February 2021

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January+February 2021

CELEBRATION the issue you’ve been waiting for

The latest in women’s fashion, beauty, home decor, lifestyle, and health.

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What’s Inside Features 47





Join Kim Brundage as she gets dressed up for a Valentine’s date.

Get in shape with this new year workout from KerriAnn Robertson.

Get Ready with Me


Get the Look

Stranger Sessions Leighann & Trevor

Would you ever have your photo taken with a total stranger? Watch as these “strangers” go on a photoshoot for their first date.

See something you like? Here’s a closer look at some Scarlett fashions.


Get to know Sinfonia’s music and artistic director Demetrius Fuller in this deep-dive Q&A.


Raise a glass to some amazing women in our community.

Find out how to bat those lashes with Amazing Lash Studio.

Leaders, mentors, partners, gentlemen ... a few good men.

A Few Good Men

Home Decor



Read any good books lately? Here are our picks to get you started.

Take a peek at Sandestin’s new Hotel Effie, opening February 1.

Sinfonia’s 15th Anniversary



Hotel E

Notes from the Maestro



About Face


Let’s Get Physical


Tour of Homes

Come inside The Happy Trails bus with Matt and Erika Stone.



Mardi Gras is all about the King Cake. Here are our Top 8 Bakeries.

Cover to Cover


The Clique

Learn more about this issue’s group of remarkable women.


Happy Hour

Get Love Drunk with these aphrodisiac cocktails.


Anything He Can Do...

Elena Kontor is a leader in a maledominated industry. She’s got this.

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January+February 2021




Aletha’s Legacy is on a mission to provide the underprivileged children of Liberia with education and, by extension, a reason to have faith.

We love it, and we know you’ll love it too. Take a look at what we’ve chosen for this issue’s musthaves.

Before diving in, turn up this specially curated playlist inspired by this issue.

Be the Change

Wishlist Haul

Listen Up!

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| There’s Something About Mary


ay it with me — 2021. It’s finally a new year y’all, and with a new year comes a new beginning. So much has happened in the past year, and it’s time to start fresh. Whether that be a fresh new look, a fresh outlook on life, or fresh and amazing ideas, it’s time. And that’s what Scarlett is — something fresh. We at Scarlett aren’t afraid of something new, we aren’t afraid of being different. The idea of a women’s magazine just seemed so right. We started Scarlett for you. Scarlett is your new best friend. So you’re thinking, “OK, Scarlett is my new best friend, but who is this gal?” Allow me to introduce myself: I am Mary Aho, editor of Scarlett, mother, wife, daughter, sister, best friend, pastry chef, writer, dreamer, adventurer. You name it, I’m either it or want to be it. I’ve been fortunate enough to call the beautiful Gulf Coast home for 17 years. I am the mother to two beautiful children and married to the most amazing man. I am surrounded by family and friends, and I love every minute of it. I am not doing this alone. Steve Barber, photography by: Mason Brunner my father and best friend, is the publisher of Scarlett. We have always wanted a project to work on together. When he came to me with the idea for a women’s magazine, I squealed with excitement and answered with a “YES” before he could finish his pitch. We are a tight-knit duo and passionate about what we do. We are always at a wonderful local event, and it’s our hope that if you see us out and about, you’ll stop us and say, “Hi.” Scarlett is so important to me for many reasons, but the most important would be that it is so inclusive. We don’t care who you are, who you love, or what you look like. We want to empower women of all shapes, sizes, and walks of life. We want you to feel beautiful and confident — because you are! I look forward to sharing each issue with you. I just know you’ll love Scarlett as much as I do. I promise to bring you exciting and wonderful content each issue. So, grab a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream and enjoy our first issue.

Mary Aho Editor

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On the Cover January/February 2021

Confident, classic, beautiful. Those are just a handful of words we would use to describe our cover girl, Kim Brundage. For our inaugural issue of Scarlett, we put a lot of thought into our cover. As soon as we saw the proofs from this session, we knew we had our shot.


Kim has her bachelor’s degree in fashion design and product development. With more than 26 years in the fashion industry, she knows a thing or two about style. When Kim isn’t slaying fashion, she enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, her two daughters Mackenzie and Payton, and their rescue dog, Rudy. photography by: Shanna Magnuson model: Kim Brundage location: Blue Mabel Smokehouse and Provisions 13

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Who is Scarlett? The Team

Steve Barber

Mary Aho

Jessica GraĂąa

Sheila MacDiarmid

Kristin Frazier

Shanna Magnuson


Graphic Designer


Copy Editor

Creative Director

Lead Photographer

Subscribe Today!

For subscription information, email Steve at

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Contributors Here they are ... Our amazing team of contributors. Smart, talented, opinionated. The strength of this group is incredible. Scarlett is possible because of their wisdom, vision, perspective, and passion for their work because, frankly, we know you give a damn. We are proud to surround ourselves with this incredible talent:

Steve Barber, Publisher Mary Aho, Editor Jessica Grana, Creative Director Kristin Frazier, Copy Editor Sheila MacDiarmid, Graphic Designer Shanna Magnuson, Lead Photographer Harrison Barber, Distribution Mason Brunner, Photographer Zhalman Harris, Photographer Courtney Murray, Writer Liesel Schmidt, Writer Erika Stone, Writer Matt Stone, Photographer Zandra Wolfgram, Writer Kristina Wright, Photographer

Special Thanks The Breakers of Fort Walton Beach, Kay Phelan, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Lynn Wesson, Hyatt Place Sandestin/At Grand Boulevard, Blue Mabel, Connie Connelly 15

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Get Ready


Kim Brundage

Coastal Date Night for Valentine’s Day photography by: Shanna Magnuson

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Kimberly Brundage is a Texas native but has lived in the Destin area for 20 years. She graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and product development. With more than 26 years of industry experience including previously owning two fashion boutiques and a personal styling company, it’s no surprise that she’s a pro at getting ready for date night.


aving been together for 27 years and now married for 22, Chris and I met the summer of 1993 when we were both recruited for an entrepreneurial program for university students. He had worked with The Southwestern Company for several summers before, and I was placed on his team. He was essentially my boss! We have been together ever since. We have two girls, Mackenzie age 20 who attends Auburn University, and Payton age 18 who is signed to the record label First Note Entertainment.

TOP 3 TRENDS FOR 2021 > > >

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Faux Leather

Statement Coats in Bold Colors & Textures Elevated Lounge Wear

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We live on the coast, so our date nights look a little different than they do up north. We have to think outside of the LBD (little black dress) and play with more relaxed silhouettes that work for our lifestyle. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re getting ready: > Jeans are effortlessly cool. Darker denim is a little more formal. We are used to throwing on jeans with fl p fl ps or cute tennis shoes, but you can easily elevate your daytime wardrobes with date-night looks by adding a heel (all shapes/sizes). > Chances are you already have something in your closet that you love and feel fabulous in! Take this opportunity to pull out something you love but save for special occasions. We all do it — that really cool jacket in the back of the closet that’s a little “much” for most events. Take some time to lay it out and create around it. Th s night is about you feeling beautiful and special!

> Don’t have time to shop for a new outfit? Elevate with accessories! Just add a little dazzle to your look with a sparkly purse or flashy pair of earrings. Date nights shouldn’t break the bank, so just adding a little glam accessory will make him feel special and you feel noticed.

do a “sit test,” walk a few paces in those heels, and make sure you aren’t worried about a thing! Confide ce is the most beautiful accessory you can wear.

> Biggest Rule: Wear something comfortable! There’s nothing cute about constantly tugging at your short skirt or covering up your neckline. Before you leave the house

> Block Heels. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t used to wearing heels everyday at the beach, and we get a little nervous about the prospect of throwing some on for date night. If this is you, splurge on a pair of block heels rather than stilettos. They are so comfortable and offer that extra bit of height you might be looking for. 19

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ur favorite date night is heading to Blue Mabel for some nice wine and the most amazing dinners. Chris and I are foodies! We order a little bit of everything and share. It’s always too much food, but it comes home with us for the next day. We love supporting local restaurants, which is easy to do around here since we’re lucky enough to have so many amazing chefs in our area.

“Making each other feel special isn’t just for date night.” >

Chris brings home fresh roses from the grocery store a couple times each month for me. He has done this for years. He’s not handy with house repairs so he makes up for it in other ways (ha ha)! > He brings me occasional chocolate, and I bring him his favorite red wine! It’s not the grand gestures that make us work, it’s the daily rituals that keep us connected. > Chris surprised me with a one night stay-cation at the Pearl this fall. Off -season is great for local specials and discounts. He set the whole thing up, including bringing a cooler of my favorite champagne and wine so I could have “choices.” It was nice to not worry about anything except having fun!


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Make your date night reservation at Blue Mabel Smokehouse & Provisions by visiting

2260 W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach (850) 744-0040 23

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Grandma F

written by: Courtney Murray / photography by: LaFleur Photography

irst there was Myspace, then Facebook, followed by Instagram and Snapchat — and then there was TikTok. The app taking the world by storm is now available in 150 countries and has been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States alone. Brands are using the app for marketing to the 13 to 40 age group — although TikTok doesn’t discriminate age. Destin local and TikTok star Bobbe Young Stewart Windham is 87 years young and is taking the internet by storm. With her witty commentary and sassy spirit she’s garnered a cold 2.9 million followers waiting to watch her sipping a White Claw while wearing her latest rhinestone shades. This outgoing Kentucky native moved to Tennessee before transplanting to Fort Walton Beach in 1972, then to Destin in 1976 and has never looked back. Bobbe is affectionately called “GB” for Grandma Bobbe by her grandson, Matt Stewart, who recalls fond memories from his childhood of them going fishing and taking trips to the zoo, the Gulfarium, and the movies. Now Bobbe spends a lot of her time around home doing puzzle books, watching game shows, fishing, and of course … creating hysterical TikTok content! On TikTok you can be popular for your dance moves, being really funny, super creative, or being a triple threat like the Destin GB. She can be seen in her videos talking about getting “beautimus;” a phrase she created to describe her weekly visits to the beauty salon. The 18-year-old TikTok stars have nothing on this spirited, sailormouthed, southern grandma who just fell into social media by accident. Matt had lived with his grandma for

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four years when he began putting up videos on Snapchat. When TikTok came around, Matt posted a funny video of Bobbe trying to give him gas money, and everything changed from there. She went from 180 followers to 160,000 followers overnight. Bobbe grew a fan base of almost 3 million in nine months. Her followers are all across the country. They never thought it would ever get this big, but people continue to fall in love with her over and over. She has become the “world’s grandma” who is filling a void in hundreds of people’s lives. Whether you’ve lost a grandparent or are struggling in areas of your life and need a little joy or laughter, Bobbe is there to put a smile on your face. Overnight she began to receive fan mail and gifts from all over the country. “I love the fact that I can touch people’s hearts in a positive way,” said Bobbe. Not only does she spread joy all over the internet, she is constantly making Matt and his girlfriend, Morgan, laugh. She can be seen making friends with McDonald’s workers and even being recognized at the local hospital. Social media wasn’t something that Bobbe ever sought out, but she was a natural. She’s seamlessly stepped into her role of fame being featured on talk shows, the news and starring in commercials! She even has a merch site with “Beautimus” T-shirts and face masks, “GB and Me” coffee mugs and “Sunday Funday” die-cut stickers. And, after bringing a casserole dish full of White Claws to Thanksgiving, Bobbe may have just coined her next new word — “Clawserole.” It has been viewed 1.1 million times! If you need a little Grandma Bobbe love in your life you can follow her on TikTok @stewiez71.

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ot all heroes wear capes, some wear fabulous heels. Being a woman can be a difficult job. We are often expected to be everything to everyone. Work hard to reach your full potential in your career field, but also raise a family in-between. Make sure you meet all of your deadlines at work, but also bake a casserole and join a book club. While it may seem overwhelming to “do it all,” there are a few local women who seem to have it figured out. And, for that, they are my heroes; or should I say heroines. Malala Fund said, “I want every girl to know that her voice can change the world.” This group of women are bravely climbing to the top and making a difference in the lives of those around them. In these articles we are raising a glass to some amazing women in our community. As successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs, these women are the examples that we need for our youth. Some are mothers, some are bosses, some are adventurous, some lead quietly from the sidelines, but there is one thing they all have in common — they are heroines. The leaders, the path blazers, the extraordinary women that always go a step above the rest. A heroine is defined as a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. These fearless women do that and more.

strong adventurous mothers daughters leaders bosses wives queens courageous loving fearless women


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| Heroines

Kali Davis

Owner & Personal Chef for Plate To Plate written by: Courtney Murray photography by: Fantasia Lyons, Little Miss Creative

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ome people are just naturally driven to succeed. One of those people is local businesswoman Kali Davis. Growing up in the Destin and Fort Walton Beach area with her family and extended family, she never thought she’d land in Freeport. As an up-and-coming area that is centrally located for her business though, it’s the perfect fit. She became the independent woman she is today by defying the odds. For every person that said it wasn’t possible, she worked 10 times harder. Whenever she faces a problem, instead of giving up, she falls back on the “three Rs” she came up with — regroup, reorganize, and refocus. Kali had a great role model to follow. “I was inspired by my mom. Growing up I saw her go from one successful career to the next, with little-to-no experience in them,” she described. “She will accomplish anything she puts her mind to, and if it doesn’t work at first, she figures out a way to make it happen.” Kali does the same and always puts her entire heart into her endeavors. Being a personal chef isn’t a new thing, but Plate to Plate, the corporation that Kali has built it into is something that she’s created from scratch. Following in the strong footsteps of her mother, Kali went on to own and operate a private chef corporation. They facilitate private dinners along the Emerald Coast, mainly for people on vacation, making hundreds of people’s intimate dining dreams come true. Kali is lucky to have many strong women influencing her like her therapist, Naomi. “She keeps me in the right mindset and keeps my head in the game. Owning a quickly growing business, being a single mom, and still having a social life takes a little bit of juggling, and sometimes you just need someone to set you straight,” she explained. “I’m all about mental health and the meaning of life combined, so it’s vital for me to have someone to bounce ideas off of and vent too. I’m also lucky to have my girl squad; I have a huge support system.” It’s always best to be able to recognize the areas in which you can explore and improve upon. For Kali, community outreach is one of the branches she plans on expanding in the next year. She is currently contributing monetary donations to Food for Thought and Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, but would love to contribute more personal and physical involvement in the post-pandemic world. Kali considers her children and her business to be her greatest accomplishments. “I try to set the best example I can for others both personally and professionally, and I try to inspire people around me to go after their dreams and visions,” described Kali. “I also try to provoke the confidence in them that they need to take that first step, and in my opinion that’s the hardest part. So, I call that a success.” If she could go back in time she would tell her 20-yearold self to stop comparing herself to others and limiting where she should be. That is excellent advice that we could all stand to take to heart.

• Last Google Search: My last Google search was a recipe for a job. Simple crepe recipe. I originally thought about changing it to something cooler, but let’s face it ... I’m not that cool. CREPES IT IS! • Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Rocky Road hands down, but the kind with the chunks of marshmallow, not the marshmallow flu . That stuff is for the bi ds. • Dream Vacation: My dream vacation would be in Fiji in one of those huts, on top of the water with all my friends! • Childood Dream Job: When I was a kid, I was pretty convinced I was going to be a lawyer, and I still consider it when I get my invoices from my current lawyers lol! It was almost my answer giving my 20-year-old self advice... just go to law school! Hah! • Go-to Cocktail: My go-to cocktail is a simple Vodka martini with a splash of olive juice. Least amount of calories and carbs, and it’s a classic. 29

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| Heroines

Cynthia Arnold

President of Gulf Coast Environmental & Engineering, Inc written by: Courtney Murray photography by: Kristina Wright


ocal humanitarian, Cynthia Arnold, is a firm believer in paying it forward to help others as she’s been helped. Her incredibly giving spirit is prevalent throughout our community by her involvement in Children’s Home Society, IMPACT 100, C.A. Weiss Community Partnership School, Pensacola Humane Society, L&R Rescue, AHOPE of Santa Rosa County, and Manna Food Pantry. She says she owes a lot of who she is to the amazing people that God has placed in her path. “I am a Christian, daughter, sister, wife, friend, animal and nature lover,” Cynthia said. “I am the woman I am today through my relationship with God, lots of prayers, faith, loving, and living and always continuing to learn. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have had the help and wisdom of good people along the way.” Cynthia grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and currently resides in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where she firmly planted her roots and established Gulf Coast Environmental & Engineering, Inc, an environmental consulting company in Pensacola, Florida, in 1998. Believing that you only have limited reach as an individual, but knowing that as a whole we can make a big difference in our communities has inspired Cynthia throughout her life. “I believe we are on this earth to serve, help one another and bear each other’s burdens,” she said. This outlook on life led her to see the need in her community and the gaps where she could help. Cynthia saw a need in the lives of local families and children as well as abandoned dogs and cats and felt compelled to help. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Cynthia was inspired by her mother to work hard and have a generous spirit. Her mother taught by example how to be grateful and

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appreciate the simple things in life. She also taught Cynthia the love of dressing up and the need for a great pair of high heels. As a good role model should, her mother encouraged her to be strong, independent, and to be resilient in hard times. She formed the foundational steps that Cynthia built her life upon. Cynthia has served on the Children’s Home Society Board of Directors Western Vision for the past six years and currently serves as the board chair. This has been a huge accomplishment in her life, but she’s most proud of her self-employment and the ability to help clients achieve successful solutions and outcomes on their projects. “I’ve been in this business for the long term; it’s about building good relationships and the importance of working with others the way you would hope to be treated,” Cynthia said. “Building good relationships has helped sustain my business and enriched my life as well as enabled me to have the resources and means to help others.” If you’re able to meet your goals professionally and personally you have achieved the ultimate dream. If Cynthia could go back in time and talk to her 20-year-old self she would say, “Everything happens for a reason, there are no coincidences. Trust that every life experience, good and bad, is not wasted and that God will use it for good.” I think if we could all adopt even a little bit of Cynthia’s positive attitude and giving spirit, our world would be a better place. .

• Go-to Cocktail: My favorite cocktail for the weekend would be either a Grey Goose Cosmo or a glass of good Champagne. • Dream Vacation: Definitely one of the Maldives esorts. • The Beach or The Pool: I prefer our beautiful local beaches! • Soundtrack to Your Life: Journey’s Greatest Hits Album


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| Heroines

Hong Potomski

Executive Director for Andrews Research & Education Foundation written by: Courtney Murray photography by: Barnes West


or Pensacola, Florida-native, Hong Potomski, getting further involved in the community really started back in 2006 when she joined the Pensacola Young Professionals. It was through the organization that she learned so much about what the community had to offer as well as the needs of the community. The Pensacola Young Professionals helped plant the seed, and from there Hong grew and flourished. She now serves as the executive director for Andrews Research & Education Foundation, which is the orthopedics and sports medicine research and education division of Andrews Institute. “I’m part of a stellar team that is patientfocused and driven by innovation, which provides for a very exciting and rewarding environment,” she said. “Prior to my time at Andrews, I was fortunate to have a rewarding career at Baptist Health Care, spanning roles in strategy, business development and cardiology operations.” Hong is especially proud of when she led an incredible, multidisciplinary team at Baptist Hospital to launch the only Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program in the area. After years of planning, the program was finally opened in the summer of 2017. Putting together an amazing team of physicians and a clinical team were key to the program’s success. This was evident when, after just one week of going live, they helped save a young man’s life. Since then, the team at Baptist has gone on to help many critically ill patients through some of the most challenging moments. Hong attributes her strength as a woman to her amazing parents and surrounding family. The support of her husband, coupled with incredible mentors, have also helped to shape her. She considers her mom to be the fiercest, most loyal and caring woman in her life and also knows that she can always count on her amazing Lean In circle of ladies. Having a strong village rallying around you is so important. The more Hong got immersed into the community, the more she saw where help was needed. One of those areas is supporting the transition facing young adults graduating high school to the next chapter of their life. Over the next five

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years, Hong wants to continue to be involved and focus on helping bridge that gap for our area youth. “I am passionate about investing time, talent and treasures into nonprofit organizations that are going above and beyond to further the quality of life in our community,” she said. “Over the years, I have volunteered and supported many organizations. Most recently, I was a mentor for five-plus years and chair of the Governing Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida. I am currently on UWF’s Alumni Board (Go Argos!) as well as the Citizens Advisory Committee for The Florida Bar.” If she could go back in time to talk to her 20-year-old self, she would say to seize the opportunities, eat all the good food, travel as much as your pocket book will allow, and embrace genuine friendships.

• Guilty Pleasure: I have the biggest sweet tooth and love all the “good” candies – Now & Later, AirHeads, Sour Belts, and the list goes on. Please do not tell my dentist! • Go-to Cocktail: Spicy jalapeno margarita martini • Favorite Dish to Cook: Breaking bread is my favorite thing to do with family and friends — I love to make Tom Yum Hot Pot. Not only is it an experience for all at the table, but it is delicious!

“I am passionate about investing time, talent and treasures into nonprofit organizations that are going above and beyond to further the quality of life in our community.”


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| Heroines

Heather Ruiz

Senior Director of Marketing and Leasing at Destin Commons written by: Courtney Murray photography by: Marcia Wright Reynolds


eather Ruiz was born in Victorville, California, on George Air Force Base, but has called the beautiful shores of the Emerald Coast home most of her life. She grew up in a family full of intelligent, strong, and philanthropic men and women who set a resonating example for her early on. “Couple that with some incredible professional mentors, a tribe of close friends, and the support of my immediate family, I had no choice but to step up and reach for the stars,” she said. Throughout her journey she’s had her share of highs and lows, but has always used these as teachable moments to propel her forward. Each stepping stone along the way in her career has led to her becoming the senior director of marketing and leasing at Destin Commons. After graduating college, she began working at the Northwest Florida Daily News where, through the newsroom and marketing partnerships, she garnered herself a front-row seat to learning about many of our local nonprofit organizations. “The way this community rallies around a cause and all of the people who volunteer and donate their time and talents were such an inspiration to me. I couldn’t help but make sure to get involved myself,” said Heather. And get involved she did. Heather has fully immersed herself into our community and has served on nonprofit boards, in government organizations, task forces, committees, and as a general volunteer when needed. She served on the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Board of Directors from 2015-2019, was bestowed the Eglin Air Force Base 53rd Wing Honorary Commander from 2017-2019, and since 2017 has served as an Okaloosa County Take Stock in Children Mentor. Heather’s proudest professional moment took place last year when, after being on the board since 2017, the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce voted her as their 2021 Chairman of the Board. “I couldn’t imagine my life without being involved and working to make our community the best it can be,” said Heather. In addition to being a member of the Okaloosa County Tourism Development Council since 2017, working at Destin Commons also gives her the opportunity

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to give back in a major way both financially and promotionally through their Coins for a Cause program each year. When she wasn’t busy being a boss babe or spreading her love for philanthropy, she also managed to complete a marathon — completely barefoot! Women like Heather are strong individuals because of the positive role models in their life. For Heather that influence is her mother. “Growing up she was an incredible student-athlete and volunteer, and now as a schoolteacher, wife, mother and friend, is one of the most selfless people I know,” she described. “Being the mother of four, wife of a military spouse, and working full time is no small feat. I consider her one of my best friends and can’t thank her enough for everything she does for me and our family.” Her mother helped shape her into the leader she is today, serving as a mentor for many others who have gone on to thrive and take on leadership roles at other companies and even start their own businesses. Heather is the type of well-rounded woman that our community needs more of.

• Dream Vacation: My dream vacation would be to have the opportunity to visit all of the Seven Wonders of the World and Seven Natural Wonders of the World. (Yes, there’s a diffe ence!) And, spend a few weeks in each destination to soak in all that the local culture has to offer • Guilty Pleasure: A pint, and yes I will eat the whole thing, of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. • Favorite Show to Binge Watch: I LOVE The Offic • Currently Reading: I typically have two books going at one time, one physical book and one kindle version. Right now I am rereading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and Delia Owens’ “Where the Crawdads Sing.” • Hogwarts House: As a huge Harry Potter fan, I know unequivocally, I would be sorted into Gryffindo


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| Heroines

Ashlyn Stanford

Director of the Birds of Prey program at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center written by: Courtney Murray


ot all heroes wear capes; some wear protective gloves for American bald eagles to land on. Ashlyn Stanford grew up in the Destin area before moving to Freeport. As the director of the Birds of Prey program at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, Ashlyn has the honor of following her dreams of spreading environmental education to youth of the area. Her education programs involve teaching local fourth and seventh graders the importance of sustaining the Longleaf Pine ecosystem. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center is a 501(c)(3) environmental education center whose mission is to teach the importance of biodiversity, to promote sustainability, and to encourage conservation, preservation, and restoration of ecosystems. Her passion for wildlife and the environment led her on the path toward volunteering and giving back to the local wildlife refuge. As time passed, Ashlyn was given the chance to interview at the Biophilia Center for which she was overjoyed, but proceeded with trepidation due to her lack of experience with teaching. When Ashlyn was offered the job she was shocked, but the director quickly assured her that she was the perfect fit for the role. Over time, Ashlyn discovered joy through teaching and has gained more experience and knowledge through the job than she ever thought possible. Ashlyn says she was motivated by her supportive family who always reminded her of her potential. She’s had to endure a few hard lessons along the way, but they’ve ultimately brought her to where she is today. “If I could go back in time, I’d tell my 20-year-old self that it’s okay to not have your life planned out. Everyone moves at their own pace and trying out a few different

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paths to find one that really brings fulfillment is far more rewarding in the long run,” said Ashlyn. “Also you are never too old to learn something new!” As she continued her personal growth, Ashlyn began her work at the center. Despite having essentially zero experience working with birds, especially large raptors, she was thrown into the beautiful, aviary world. She was quickly able to overcome a lot of nerves about her ability to properly handle and train the birds for the program. Building confidence is always a process, but the hard work paid off when she was offered the position to take over the program as director. “I have a breakthrough moment every time a bird responds to training and does something new for the students,” Ashlyn recalls. “I am reminded that I really do know what I am doing and that makes me proud.” Behind every strong woman are talented women who paved the road before them. For Ashlyn, that woman is her mother, Tracy Stanford. She is a hardworking, headstrong, independent woman who has always been a best friend to her daughter. She is a business owner and inspires Ashlyn to follow in her footsteps by consistently bettering herself. Ashlyn’s big heart shines through her selfless nature; from accepting donations for the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge in lieu of gifts at birthday parties to beginning her volunteer work at local refuge centers. Her cup continues to be filled with love by fostering puppies through Alaqua Animal Refuge. Ashlyn describes the feeling her job gives her saying that, “Leading hikes through the woods with kids where I get to open their eyes to the nature that surrounds them, while creating an interest in science that perhaps they didn’t know they had, is truly a rewarding experience.” There’s never a point where growth ends.

• Go-to Cocktail: My go-to cocktail would have to be a Moscow Mule. Ginger is good for you, right? • Currently Reading: I am currently reading “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. Like I said, you are never too old to learn. • Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: I guess not technically ice cream, but I crave custard with waffle cone chunks om Shake’s in Destin always. • As a Child, Dream Job: As a child, I always said I was going to be a marine biologist. • Favorite Dish to Cook: My partner grew up in the Middle East so I’ve really gotten into cooking a lot of food from that region. I very rarely make the same thing twice though because I don’t measure things and, I’m bad about saving recipes. My specialty is throwing together whatever I can find in the pantry and just making a mea out of it. 37

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en — can’t live with them, can’t live without them. But luckily we’ve found a few good men! Leaders, mentors, partners, gentlemen. There are approximately 161.6 million men in the United States. That’s a big number, but all we need is a few good men to make a difference. We are lucky that the Emerald Coast has as many good men as they do palm trees. Our area is booming with strong male role models helping to lead the way and to guide the younger generations down the right path. These men are out there in our community making a real difference. They are running businesses, they are volunteering, they are working at the local nonprofits, they are fathers, and they are husbands. These men are juggling all of these jobs and are doing it with style and grace. Being a good man is more than just following the rules, it’s being the individual who goes above and beyond. It’s being the man who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right. A truly good man is one whose traits perfectly balance out. He is both strong and sensitive, he is a leader but can also take direction. A good man is someone you can look up to.

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dependable fathers strong sons leaders brothers husbands courageous loving understanding fearless men

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James Briscione

A Few Good Men |

Owner and Chef at Angelena’s written by: Courtney Murray


aul Theroux said, “Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation – experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.” For local chef, James Briscione, cooking is a passion that was discovered by accident. Born in Tom’s River, New Jersey, he moved to Pensacola, Florida, when he was 5 years old. James is now a nationally renowned chef, cookbook writer and Food Network personality, but it hasn’t always been so glamorous. He worked his way up from the bottom, working his first job as a dishwasher at Jubilee on Pensacola Beach. “I fell in love with the culture and fast pace of working in a kitchen, but never imagined it as a career path,” James said. Over the course of 2 1/2 years James blossomed from dishwasher to lead line cook. As time went on he tried out a variety of jobs, even moving to Birmingham, Alabama, to go to college to study sports medicine. But, the culinary world kept calling him back. In the end, he decided to change his degree to nutrition/ dietetics and sought out the best restaurant in Birmingham with the goal of getting a job. In 2000, he began working with Frank Stitt at his acclaimed Italian restaurant, Bottega. Over the course of six years he worked his way up to the flagship location, Highlands Bar & Grill; eventually serving as chef de cuisine. It was then that fate stepped in when James had a chance encounter with his fourth grade summer camp sweetheart. Even though he hadn’t seen her for 15 years, he recognized Brooke Parkhurst immediately and quickly talked her into a date to the Farmer’s Market the following morning. The romance was put on hold when she had to go back to her life in NYC a few days later. Separation couldn’t stop their love though, and they ended up having a longdistance relationship for a year before James made the plunge and moved to NYC. It was in the Big Apple that he began working for Daniel Boulud at his four-star French restaurant, Daniel, in 2006. In true New York fashion things moved quickly from there. By 2007, James and his wife had begun the process of writing their first cookbook, “Just Married and Cooking,” and James was cast in the pilot for an unknown cooking competition show that would become known as Chopped. So much life happened for the couple in New York City. They were married in 2008 and had their daughter in 2009 and their son in 2015. James loved his time working at The Institute of Culinary Education, eventually becoming the director of culinary development. After 14 years in NYC, James and his family

decided it was time to move back to Pensacola where they would open the restaurant Angelena’s. This modern Italian restaurant is the much anticipated addition to the Merrill family’s Great Southern Restaurant Group. James says he has learned countless things about life, culture and food through travel. If he could go back in time, he would tell his 20-year-old self to get out and travel more, to explore, and just “be.” In this fast-paced world, we are only young once. He is one of the lucky ones to call his spouse his best friend, his inspiration, and motivator. Brooke works alongside James at Angelena’s as the wine director where she thoughtfully curates an Italian wine list that compliments her husband’s exquisite dishes. When asked what his proudest accomplishment is, James simply says one word — Life. “It may sound silly, but it is a combination of all the big and small steps that my wife, Brooke, and I have taken together to be exactly where we are right now,” he described. “We have two amazing children and will soon finish building our dream home that we worked tirelessly to create. It all happened through many hard years in NYC teaching cooking classes, getting up at 3 a.m. to do network and cable morning shows, spending long hours at the stove and in the library to write drafts of books, etc. Now, we’ve come back to our home town, created an award-winning restaurant, sold cookbooks and had shows on Food Network. It’s more than I could ever imagine,” he added. In addition to all of the personal success, Angelena’s has given them the opportunity to help many local charities by donating meals directly to those in need. Brooke, the Angelena’s staff and James also work together to create special dining experiences for fundraisers and auctions with the proceeds going to help local children. James and Brooke are the power couple that exemplify what it looks like when hard work truly pays off. They’ve put their heart and soul into their personal and professional lives and are now living their dream come true.


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| A Few Good Men

John Russell

President of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation written by: Courtney Murray


orking with a charity AND enjoying incredible wine? Sounds like a win-win to me. For John Russell, the act of serving others is his primary occupation as president of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. “When I moved here and joined the board of directors of DCWAF, I was so impressed with so many of the core supporters, but especially Joan and Steve Carter,” he said. “They have made giving back to others a full-time job and the rest of us just try to keep up with them!” It looks like John is doing an amazing job “keeping up.” Growing up in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, as the only boy alongside five sisters, John is no stranger to strong females in his life. Although his wife, Michelle, has by far had the most profound influence in every aspect of his life. They’ve been together 22 years and reside in Miramar Beach. “Michelle is a lifetime learner, coupled with an innate street smart outlook on life. Her thoughtful advice, council and love is the keystone of my life,” said John. They made the decision to not have children, so in a lot of ways the young managers that John mentors are like his children. He’s been so grateful to get to watch them grow and flourish under his supervision seeing many go on to senior level positions in the hospitality industry. As an organization, DCWAF takes great pride in the support they are able to provide to the front-line charities helping kids in our community. DCWAF has donated more than $23 million to 16 charitable organizations, and those funds are saving lives and leveling the playing field for thousands of children in our area. “There is nothing we can do as a community that is more important than giving children a fair chance to be successful,” said John. John says he’s always inspired by the three, hard working, staff members of DCWAF saying, “Their commitment, energy and talent are amazing to watch; even during the very trying environment of 2020.” When he isn’t occupied with DCWAF, John wears many hats

as a partner in Russell and Russell Consulting and Russell Vacation Rentals. The consulting company keeps John in touch with the hotel sector in our area, an industry he’s worked in for more than 30 years. And, the rental company ties him to the real estate and tourist industries which are a vital component of our beautiful community here on the Emerald Coast. John said if he could go back and talk to his 20-yearold self, it would be a very long conversation. Out of everything he could pass on, he would say to enjoy the journey and make more time to spend with family. His career caused him to move locations more often than most and in turn to miss many family gatherings over the years. “Now that my parents have passed, I wish I would have made more time for them as I was coming up in the hotel industry.” He also would’ve recommended buying land in northwest Florida! John has chosen to live his life to the fullest, always putting others first — an example we should all put on our New Year’s resolutions.

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A Few Good Men |

Michael Stickler, M.D. Owner of Dermatology Specialists written by: Courtney Murray


or many people it only takes one trip to the breathtaking shores of the Emerald Coast to be hooked on its charm and beauty. Michael A. Stickler, M.D. and his wife were some of those people. Growing up on the south side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was very different from Niceville, Florida, where he currently calls home. “I was inspired to relocate to the area during my dermatology residency at the University of Florida,” remembered Dr. Stickler. “On a weekend visit to the area, my wife and I fell in love with the community and decided right then that this was the perfect place to raise our family.” Over the course of the15 years that Dr. Stickler has been living here, he has immersed himself in the community. He has served on several local boards including, most recently, the Seaside Neighborhood School and Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. One of his greatest accomplishments is graduating as valedictorian of his medical school class. But nothing is as important to him as being a husband to his wife, Johnna, and a father to his three wonderful boys — Noah, Christian and Silas. Dr. Stickler says he has strong female influences from both his wife and mother. “My mother pushed me so hard to succeed academically,” he said. “My father was a coal miner but never did my mother limit what she believed I could accomplish. She used to tell me ‘there is no ceiling unless you make one.’ When I met my wife as a 21-year-old medical student she continued that unwavering support and belief. Johnna is the type of wife that is willing to have date nights at the library and romantic dinners in hospital cafeterias,” he added. The years of sacrifice have paid off because Dr. Stickler is now the owner of Dermatology Specialists, practicing in the Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City Beach, and Fort Walton Beach locations. Physician-owned, the dermatology practice has grown to 25 locations throughout Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Mentoring the younger generation has always been at the forefront for Dr. Stickler. “As the years have passed, I have seen my role as a young physician convert to a leadership role as a mentor to those I employ. I have had a number of my employees who began as new to the medical field go on to continue their training with advanced nursing degrees, and three employees going on to become physician assistants,” he said. “It is extremely satisfying to provide the support and encouragement to those individuals that was so important to find their calling in a career in medicine.” Dr. Stickler always councels his young students and residents to listen to the wisdom of those who have traveled the path before them. If he could go back and talk to his 20-year-old self, he would say that you can learn so much from both the success and failures of mentors and those that have already been down the road before. Dr. Stickler is so grateful for all of the success he’s experienced and has made it a priority to give back to local organizations and charities. Since opening the practice in 2006, more than $1 million has been given to local charities and organizations. His giving spirit will only continue to grow. 43

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Scan the QR Code to start listening to Scarlett’s curated January + February 2021 issue playlist.

Auld Lang Syne - Ingrid Michaelson Celebration - Kool & The Gang I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root Happier - Marshmello Good As Hell - Lizzo The Best - Tina Turner Love on Top - Beyoncé Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Supremes Walking To New Orleans - Fats Domino Go To The Mardi Gras - Professor Longhair Shake It Off - Taylor Swift Dreams - Fleetwood Mac Thank U, Next - Ariana Grande IDGAF - Dua Lipa

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Stranger Sessions |

Leighann & Trevor written by: Mary Aho / photography by: Shanna Magnuson

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ating can be hard. There are so many ways to meet people these days and those ways aren’t always successful. Do you try and meet someone the “oldfashioned” way? Or maybe you try a dating site? What about a blind date? Wait — What about a blind date followed by a couple’s photoshoot? Yes, you heard me! Stranger Sessions are a new craze in the photography world. And, the Scarlett team was excited to try it out. The results were shocking! The session went so well, it’s going to be an on-going feature in the magazine. If you think this could be a fun way for you to meet a potential life partner, fill out an application and send it in.

Meet our first couple: Leighann & Trevor


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Leighann is the event manager for The Village of Baytowne Wharf and the co-owner of RaeBird Weddings + Events. She enjoys brunch and spending time with friends and family. She is a Young Ambassador for Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center and is very active at her church. Trevor is a real estate agent with Re/Max Gulf Coast Realty. He loves crossfit and college football. When he’s not working, you’ll find him outside and enjoying our beautiful beaches.


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When asked about her Stranger Session Leighann said, “It was a fun experience and like nothing I have EVER done before. The Scarlett team made me feel super comfortable, and I am thrilled that I was chosen to be a part of it. Trevor was a trooper and kept me laughing the entire time. And for those asking, YES ... Trevor and I have gone on a second date.� Since our shoot, Leighann and Trevor have been on several dates. They look forward to what the future may bring for them.

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To book a photoshoot with Shanna visit If you’d like to participate in Stranger Sessions and have a chance to be featured in Scarlett, send your request to

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| Let’s Get Physical


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New Year Workout


Kerriann Robertson written by: Mary Aho / photograhy by: Mason Brunner

Girl, the holidays are over, and so are those excuses! This new year is all about a new you. This is a full-body workout designed to kickstart your health journey and get you on track. The set starts with a quick warmup to get your blood flowing, followed by an easy-to-follow workout to get you toned and fit. These are some basics to start with, and you can do everything at home with just a set of weights.

20 jumping jacks


air squats




20 jumping jacks 15 air squats 10 pushups 15 toe touches 20 shoulder taps in a plank position

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toe touches


shoulder taps

Workout Do each exercise for 40 seconds with a 20-second rest between each exercise. Complete the entire workout 4-5 times. Half burpees - no push up Weighted shoulder press 1 ½ goblet squat Dead bug hold Renegade row in plank position Reverse lunges High knees Legs-up crunches

half burpees 59

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Workout Cues need a little help getting started?

weighted shoulder press

1 ½ goblet squat

check your form

Proper form is essential to getting the most out of your workout! Don’t worry if you have to workup to the full 40 seconds, just keep going!

Squats - Weight stays in your heels and the outside of your feet. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes at the top. Toe touches - Legs slightly bent and keep back straight Any exercise that involves a plank position - make sure your hips don’t sag. A good cue is to imagine a can between your rib cage and your hip bones that you’re trying to crush. This will keep your core engaged and ensure that your back doesn’t arch. Banded or weighted shoulder press - Make sure to keep your core tight and engaged. 1 ½ goblet squat - Keep the weight in your heels. Elbows should come down to your knees if possible. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Dead bug hold - Arms straight. Legs should be at 90 degrees. Try to think about pressing your lower back into the ground and bringing your rib cage to your knees. If you can get your shoulder blades off the ground, that’s ideal. Renegade row in plank position - Make sure to maintain strong plank position, core stays engaged. Think about bringing the weight up and back to your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Reverse lunges - Keep chest tall. Keep your front knee directly over your ankle, making sure it doesn’t go over your toes. Try to keep your front knee aligned with your middle two toes. High knees - Keep your chest tall but don’t lean back too much. Think about using your abdominal muscles to bring your knee up versus just raising your leg. Legs-up crunches - Legs stay straight and the goal is to try to touch your toes. Press your lower back into the ground and bring your shoulder blades off the ground. 61

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dead bug hold

renegade row in plank position

new clothes for a new you KerriAnn’s workout pants are available at Velia Lala Designs. Shop all Velia’s wearable art at

reverse lunges

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high knees

legs-up crunches

for a full workout, complete the entire workout 4-5 times.

post-workout care Don’t forget the post-workout stretch! Take 5-10 minutes to stretch, letting your muscles cooldown. This will help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury by getting rid of built up lactic acid in your muscles. 63

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Cover to revo C Who doesn’t love to curl up with a good book? They’re the perfect excuse to snuggle under your favorite blanket, sink into your favorite chair, or relax in your favorite nook, and get lost in a different world. We’re always up for a new adventure, so whether your genre of choice is romance, self-help, history, or mystery, this list has something for everyone. book picks by: Mary Aho


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Simmer Down by Sarah Smith

Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach-goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten — or the competition to be so smoking hot.

[Love Story]

The ‘Baby Dolls’: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition by Kim Marie Vaz

The “Baby Dolls” formed around 1912 as an organization for African-American women who used their profits from working in New Orleans’ red-light district to compete with other black women in their profession on Mardi Gras. Her book celebrates these organizations’ crucial contribution to Louisiana’s cultural history.

[Mardi Gras]

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Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

In a compilation of essays “about how American culture treats black women,” Cottom writes about her personal experience as a Southern Black public intellectual, and writes on topics such as the loss of a child, sexual abuse, body image, and beauty politics.

[Black History Month]

The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

Now, a year and a half later, Nina has found love again and hopes she can put her shattered world back together. Simon, a widower still grieving the death of his first wife, thinks he has found his dream girl in Nina, and his charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal.



by Mitch Prinstein A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness — and why we don’t always want to be the most popular.

[Self Help]


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Read any good books lately?

If you’d like to recommend a book for review in Cover to Cover, send to

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G written by: Liesel Schmidt / photography provided by: Hotel E

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reeting guests with a sense of luxury the moment they walk in the door, Sandestin’s new Hotel Effie is the soul of sophistication and class. That feeling of refinement extends to every aspect of the property, from its celebrity, chef-driven culinary concepts to the rooftop pool. It’s an homage, really, to the spirit of hospitality embodied in owner and developer Tom Becnel’s grandmother, Effie Burns, for whom the hotel is named. A perfect hostess hostess, Effie was a welcoming presence who made every guest feel like part of the family and lavished personal attention, always ready with a charming smile. It is that welcoming and sophistication that is at the very essence of Hotel Effie — giving great honor to its namesake. Opening Feb. 1, 2021, Hotel Effie is situated on the banks of the Choctawhatchee Bay inside the gates of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Reflective of Southern grace and charm, the coastal-inspired hotel is filled with details that show careful planning and thoughtful curation. Textures and patterns, finishes, and colors are all given great

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attention, resulting in the perfect mixture of furnishings and décor. Inspired by the locale, the hotel boasts sandy limestone floors with a pattern reminiscent of water along the shoreline, a palette of natural textures that serves as the canvas for bold chartreuse highlights, and light fixtures that are evocative of the quartz crystal that makes up the white sand of the local beaches. Hotel Effie comprises a team of impeccably trained staff and 250 rooms and suites artistically designed for a coastal, contemporary feel with modern luxury as a priority. Each guestroom features residential touches and expansive windows that flood the space with natural light and offer fantastic views. There are a wide array of room choices to suit the needs of any guest with amenities as equally abundant including such luxuries like pillow-top mattresses and linens, in-room safes, Lavazza espresso machines stocked with coffee and tea, steamers, mini-fridges, wet bars, and LCD televisions. The ensuite baths are equally inviting, boasting bath amenities by Lather, custom robes and slippers, Egyptian cotton towels, fully lit bathroom mirrors, hairdryers, and full-length mirrors. No vacation is complete without a bit of pampering, and Spa Lilliana is everything one would expect of a hotel with such sophistication, offering an extensive collection of luxurious spa treatments designed to relax and rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. From facials, scrubs, and massages to manicures and pedicures, every need is taken care of. With ten treatment rooms, one couple’s treatment room, four flexible rooms, a coed relaxation lounge, and private men’s and women’s relaxation lounges, Spa Lilliana is the soul of relaxation and the perfect way to start or end the day. Atop Hotel Effie’s rooftop, guests will find Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge, which offers a full menu of wine, craft cocktails, and bottle service. Singular in the fact that it is Northwest Florida’s only rooftop pool, Ara is also remarkable for its stylishness and spectacular views. An interactive game space encourages competitive fun and generates a sense 73

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of liveliness, while luxury cabanas and chaise lounges around the pool perimeter offer the perfect place to let the cares of the world float away. Beach lovers will naturally want to take advantage of the area’s true crown jewel — the beach itself. Hotel Effie’s guests are also given access to the amenities of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, including golfing, tennis, use of the marina, kayaking, jet skiing, fishing, and boating. As tempting as it may be to stay inside the hotel, the outdoors are just as inviting. Back inside, fitness enthusiasts will appreciate a state-of-the-art fitness center that features Peloton bikes and treadmills, Life Fitness machines, a free weights and machine circuit, and even pop-up fitness classes led by an instructor. With access to the facilities, guests need not worry about missing a minute of their fitness routine. In keeping with its signature Southern charm balanced with sophistication, Hotel Effie has partnered with Chef Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Foundation award winner, for the planning and launching of the hotel’s four culinary outlets. Showcasing the fresh, local seafood, the menu at Ovide is Acheson’s creativity at its best, fusing coastal cuisine with a sophisticated French influence while displaying a passion for unique ingredients. For a more casual experience, Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge opens daily to the public at 5 p.m. and offers a curated wine selection, hand-crafted cocktails, and a menu created by the chef. The Lobby Bar (TLB) is ideal for socializing over creative drinks and signature small plates, and Sweetbay Coffee offers a menu of gourmet, grab-and-go selections and coffee drinks. Naturally, the hotel is an exceptional venue for meetings and events, with 20,000 square feet of meeting space and an event staff to coordinate every step of the planning. Clearly, a stay at Hotel Effie is an experience to remember — and one you’ll want to repeat.

Hotel Effie is lo ted at 1 Grand Sandestin Boulevard, Miramar Beach, FL 32550. For more information, call (833) 873-3343 or visit

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The Clique Sis, these are the women, I mean, THE women. These are the gals to keep your eye on. They are the ones who Get. It. Done. The Clique is a group of women that come from all walks of life and all industries. Get to know them...

Nancy Bown

Joy Adams


f you know her, you know that Joy is more than just her name. If you don’t know her here are some things to highlight how wonderful she truly is. Joy has called Destin home for 19 years. She is an established interior designer and is currently using her talents at Lovelace Interiors. She received her degree in interior design from Auburn University. Her proudest accomplishment is having her previous 25,000-square-foot home, that she designed, featured on HGTV’s “Magnificent Homes of the World.” One of her favorite projects was the design of Destin Plastic Surgery. When it comes to design, Joy loves using neutrals that have accents of color pulled from art or fabric. In her extensive travels through Europe, Joy has taken inspiration from old world antiques and enjoys incorporating them into modern design creating a more contemporary feel. In addition to being a premiere designer, she is also an avid equestrian. Her love for horses hasn’t always been just a hobby. Joy previously showed world-class Arabian horses. When Joy isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ron, her daughter, Samantha, and her two chihuahuas.

Lovelace Interiors

850.699.3191 • 12870 US Highway 98 W Miramar Beach


ancy Bown, CPDT-KA, is the founder of Dog-Harmony and a certified dog trainer. They say dogs are an excellent judge of character and knowing Nancy, we know that to be true. Nancy has lived in Destin for 50 years and has made a wonderful home here with her three dogs. She loves dogs more than she likes most people. As the founder of Dog-Harmony, Nancy’s mission is to “help dogs rescue people” by building mutually nurturing relationships between dogs and humans. Using humane education as a tool for ensuring that dogs find loving, lifelong homes is one of the main focal points for Dog-Harmony. Nancy graduated from the Animal Behavior College in Southern California with a certification in dog training and now acts as a mentor for student-trainers. She is recognized by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and is an active member of the professional organization. Nancy is a firm believer in using positive training methods that include not using prongs or shock collars. She is also an instructor and evaluator for the Intermountain Therapy Animals as well as an evaluator for the AKC Good Citizen Test. Nancy is a voice for dogs in shelters along the Emerald Coast and an excellent resource for their future families.


850.376.4190 • 237 Market St, Santa Rosa Beach 77

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The Clique Debra Henry


ebra Henry is known by all as an avid dog lover, a sun worshipper, a mega Auburn fan, and a huge community supporter. She has been a practicing CPA in both Florida and Alabama since 1982 and is the owner of Debra Henry CPA located in Miramar Beach. The majority of her professional career has been working in public accounting with an emphasis on tax planning and compliance for individuals, self-employed business owners, small business corporations, LLCs, and nonprofit organizations. Debra is also experienced in representation of clients with IRS issues. Her award-winning firm has a commitment to client service and development of close client relationships. Debra takes a proactive approach to helping her clients make better decisions to decrease tax liability with effective tax planning. She also helps small businesses improve profitability by assistance with accounting, sales and payroll tax needs. A graduate of Auburn University, she is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, Florida Institute of CPAs, and Alabama Society of CPAs. Debra is very active in the community serving as treasurer on the Alaqua Animal Refuge Board, Sinfonia Gulf Coast Board and Scenic Walton Board. She is also actively involved with the annual Alaqua Sip N Shop event.

Debra Henry CPA

850.687.4461 • Miramar Beach

Teresa Halverson


eresa is the director of marketing and admissions at The Manor at Blue Water Bay in Niceville, Florida. She has more than 28 years of professional service in the healthcare industry. The Manor at Blue Water Bay is the only locally owned and operated skilled nursing and rehab facility in the area. The facility specializes in short-term rehab (post acute care) with a dedicated team of compassionate and talented professionals who work together to help the patient achieve their highest level of functioning prior to returning home. Involvement in the community and the opportunity to give back is extremely important to Teresa. She is so honored to have worked for more than 16 years for an organization that supports the community and believes in giving back. Teresa serves on several nonprofit boards in the community. Teresa was recently elected to the board of directors of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Destin Chamber of Commerce. She is the new chairman of the board for the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. Teresa lives in Niceville with her husband, Bob, who is retired Air Force. They have one son, Garret, an F-18 pilot and daughter-inlaw, Courtney.

The Manor at Blue Water Bay

850.897.5592 • 1500 N White Point Rd, Niceville

Jennifer Howard


ome people believe my job as a Realtor® is a combination of HGTV and unlocking doors, stretched over a few hours a day. Nope. It’s less shiplap and demolition days, but much more satisfying. — I bring knowledge, not data, to your transaction. Knowledge means knowing a fixer-upper coming on the market soon. A short list of buyers interested in houses like yours. A pre-construction buy at 8% below market. Anyone with time and stamina can wade through the internet to collect data. Of course, not everything on the internet is exactly true and correct. Shocking, right? Maybe not the best basis for one of the largest purchases of a lifetime. Knowledge is closeto-impossible for the average person (or cousin who has a real estate license but a day job as a dental hygienist) to obtain. It’s dayto-day immersion in market knowledge, plus training, plus close attention to what others might not see. — Then I listen to what you say. I hear your plans, goals, and ideas. Then I apply my knowledge to your advantage, giving you the edge of a well-versed and educated professional adviser. I won’t show you 35 houses, but five houses that best fit your plans. I won’t bring 20 random people through your house for sale, but 8 wellqualified buyers.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed

850.585.7334 • 9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Unit 18 Miramar Beach

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The Clique Cynthia Laurendi


ynthia Laurendi has called the Florida Panhandle home for the past 22 years. While serving in the United States Air Force, she was relocated here from New York, and the beautiful white sandy beaches kept her here. Cynthia is a realtor with Re/Max Gulf Coast Realty, located in Fort Walton Beach and is on the Jim Gilliland team with more than 15 years of real estate experience. She has her ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) and GRI (Graduate, Realtor Institute) certifications and specializes in first-time home buyers and military buyers and sellers. She services the Panhandle including Gulf Breeze, Navarre and Fort Walton Beach/ Okaloosa Island to Destin and South Walton/30A. When Cynthia isn’t working, she stays active enjoying scuba diving and paddle boarding. On the weekends she enjoys going to concerts and running in races that support local charities.

Re/Max Gulf Coast Realty

850.499.3534 • 28 Walter Martin Road NE, Suite A, Fort Walton Beach

Cheyenne McMahan


heyenne is the newest addition to the Social ICON team lineup! With a seasoned background in graphic design, website development, operations management and communications, she makes wearing multiple hats look fancy! Cheyenne is a Gulf Breeze native, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of West Florida. She is active in her community and was recently elected as president of Pensacola Designers, a local creative community that supports the growth and development of local freelancers. This nonprofit organization is also responsible for Pensacola’s annual creative conference, DesignXL. “Cheyenne is a phenomenal asset to our company, and I foresee her becoming a pillar for our team. Her leadership encourages growth and vision while running a tight ship. I’m excited for what’s ahead,” says CEO of Social ICON, Briana Snellgrove. Cheyenne is happily working remotely with her husband Cody, her six pups Ike, Ren, Yuki, Loki, Zoey, and Bear — and one very spoiled cat, George. Her favorite phrases are: “That’s Gonzo” and “Fancy,” and she is rarely without a cup of Irish black tea.

Social ICON

850.290.3132 •

Kimberley Sabens


imberley Sheffield Sabens is an entrepreneur, copywriter, feminist, and mother of two. She was raised in the deep south in Alabama along the rocky edges of the Coosa River. Shaped by Southern women in the kitchen and by works from Poe, Angelou, and Camus in the libraries, this poetess and wordsmith followed her calling and became published at an early age. She is a quirky and animated storyteller and passionate about languages and the arts. She earned a double master’s degree in English and political science but left dreams of fighting social injustice as a civil rights attorney behind her, deciding to forego law school for motherhood and writing. Still working on that best seller, Kimberley transplanted to the Emerald Coast in 2014 and is a lifestyle and food writer, as well as the product listing manager at TripShock, a Destin, Florida-based, tour and activity company. Her team is responsible for creating beautiful products that cater to adventurous travelers, primarily in the Southern vacation markets. Proud mom, self-starter and survivor, Kimberley is also a member of the National Organization for Women. She wants to inspire young generations of women to fight for gender equality and to break through those traditionalist barriers that have held women back and at bay for far too long.


850.598.7907 •


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The Clique Janie Schmidt


anie is the marketing director and revenue manager for Henderson Park Inn, Destin’s premier, adults-only beachfront boutique hotel, as well as its award-winning, in-house restaurant, Beach Walk Café. She entered this role after years of experience serving in various marketing and public relations roles for small businesses, agencies and nonprofits alike. Janie also serves as the chairperson of the board for a local humane education nonprofit, Dog-Harmony. With formal communications and revenue education from Piedmont College and Cornell, her versatile knowledge and skills allow her to accomplish just about anything she sets her mind to. Born in Miami, Florida, and raised in north Georgia, she was raised by a single, public school educator who originated from South Louisiana. Her mother’s Cajun influence sparked Janie’s love for LSU and the New Orleans Saints as well as gumbo and crawfish boils. She loves dogs, books, coffee, red wine and cheesy romantic comedies. This love often leads her to spending her free days in sweatpants curled up with her dog, a good book, and cup of coffee or a glass of wine. When she’s not doing that or crafting the perfect social media post, analyzing trends or setting room rates, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Josh, and her dog, Finn.

Henderson Park Inn & Beach Walk Café 888.836.1105 • 2700 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin

Mary Anne Windes


ary Anne, broker/owner of two Destin real estate companies, has been licensed since 1993, earned multiple real estate designations (CCIM, CRB, CRS, GRI, RRS, e-PRO), and is a lifelong FWB/Destin resident. Having a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Mary Anne’s early career started in auditing and setting up new businesses. That experience, coupled with her local knowledge, quickly propelled her to the top of the real estate world. She has put those strengths to work with 16 separate businesses including 10 types of commercial boats, real estate companies, a marina, a few retail ventures, plus several political campaigns. An active community leader, she was a two-time chairman of the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority, president of ECAR, chairman of the Destin Chamber, 33rd Fighter Wing Honorary Commander, and chairman of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. She has been a weekly usher at her church for more than 20 years, co-teaches a Financial Ministry series, and is treasurer of the Church of Destin, a nonprofit comprising 17 local churches. Her primary vocation is real estate, handling commercial and residential transactions. Her distinguished designations in real estate signify excellence, education, and experience. She was acknowledged for her achievements by receiving the coveted Realtor of the Year award multiple times by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors.

Real Estate Professionals of Destin, Inc. Real Estate Professionals of NW FLA, Inc. (850) 837-2211 210A Harbor Blvd., Destin Fishing Fleet Marina, Destin

Do you want to be part of The Clique? Join the group every issue in celebration of what’s unique about each woman. Whether you want the community to know about a stand-out employee, highlight a new addition to your crew, or pat yourself on the back after an extraordinary achievement, The Clique is your chance to be part of a remarkable tribe of women! To find out how to join The Clique, contact Mary at

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Q&A with Sinfonia’s Music & Artistic Director

Demetrius Fuller

written by: Zandra Wolfgram / photography provided by: Sinfonia


“ am thrilled to present for you a new sound, a new season, and a new symphony. It is my honor to introduce Sinfonia Gulf Coast as the only full, professional orchestra ready to set the standard for exhilarating entertainment along our Emerald Coast. Sinfonia will redefine the symphonic experience for both seasoned aficionados and those new to the classical genre. Talented musicians, amazing guest artists, and premier events will make this season feel like a breath of fresh air.” Sinfonia Gulf Coast Music & Artistic Director Demetrius Fuller wrote this gracious, yet bold prophecy in his first letter published in the program for the inaugural season, 2006-2007. Fast forward 15 years later, and Maestro Fuller has delivered on his prophetic promise — and more. And, yes, this 40-year-old entrepreneurial music maker is still “thrilled … and honored” to “set the standard for exhilarating entertainment along our Emerald Coast.” The first year, Sinfonia launched a series called Coffee with the Conductor to introduce Fuller to the community and help get the word out about Sinfonia. We invite you to grab a coffee, settle in to hear from the maestro as he reflects and reminisces about the early days of Sinfonia Gulf Coast and how it has evolved since it formed 15 years ago.

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What does making music mean to you? DF: Music is a way to share joy, emotion and feelings and a way to convey thoughts that you can’t use words for. Even before learning piano or clarinet, at 3 and 4 years old, I was singing along to Sesame Street.

Do you believe music is a universal truth? DF: It sounds cliché, but it really is true. You can have a guest artist who speaks limited English, such as violinist SooBeen Lee, a Sinfonia Young Concert Artist award winner. It didn’t matter when we were rehearsing and playing. It’s almost an existential-type experience that translates through music.

Why did you want to form Sinfonia Gulf Coast? DF: It was more than just about the music to me. It was a community endeavor. We created

What is at the heart of Sinfonia’s mission?

DF: Music education is integral to our mission. Over the past 10 years, we’ve focused on our educational outreach, and it’s become a standard staple in Okaloosa and Walton counties as a supplement to their curriculum. Our Link Up partnership with Carnegie Hall is remarkable and impacts nearly 4,000 kids in third through fifth grade. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Obviously, we provide a service to the community, but it’s more than people just buying a ticket. What we do is not a stopgap. Our patrons really understand what Sinfonia does and what their money goes to. They see the value in what we provide. Sinfonia because our area did not have a professional, stand-alone symphony orchestra to serve the community. A civilization is only as good as its arts and culture.

How did you first start? DF: We formed the symphony with an existing contingency of local orchestra players and community members who rallied to the cause. We launched a Founding Partner Program. I went to Mike Freeman’s office at Whitney Bank (now Hancock Whitney Bank), and said, ‘We need a line of credit.’ I didn’t

have collateral, so I signed up 10 partners at $50,000 payable over five years. It was not as difficult as I anticipated. The Howard Group, Destin Commons, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, St. Joe Company and Whitney Bank were among the first founding partners.

How does Sinfonia fit into the local arts scene? DF: I hope locals agree we’ve made a huge impact on the local cultural landscape. We are a destination in terms of one-stop symphony shopping, so to speak. We’re here

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to entertain and become a source of cultural support for the area, but also to become a part of people’s lives. Beyond music, we provide education and a social offering — altogether those three elements are what Sinfonia brings to the community.

Were the early days a struggle? DF: I never thought of it as a struggle. It was something we just had to do. I was not alone. We still have an engaged board of at least a dozen members and there are well over 100 names on our volunteer roster. With our founding partners and board of directors, we laid out a great plan. The first three seasons were a little tough financially. We always had patrons and support. Starting during an economic downturn catapulted the urgency to create a solid, capable

organization. A big reason for our success is that, administratively, we organized a strong ensemble of people running things behind the scenes.

Did you ever have doubts? DF: I was always very confident, which many confuse for ego. Ego and confidence are two very different things. I never paid attention to what people said. I just did it. I said, ‘Yes you can and watch us.’ You figure out ways to turn a ‘no’ into a positive and therein lies the magic.

What is your secret to success? DF: I always joke that talent factors in there somewhere, but that is not the leading force. I surround myself with amazing staff members, artists and sponsors who first believe in Sinfonia Gulf Coast, and not until then can you follow through to produce the highest caliber concerts and events for which Sinfonia is known.

How did you attract the A-list? DF: I was very fortunate to travel the world and guest conduct and meet a lot of people, a lot of artists. I went to conservatories and met many artists on the scene. I think awareness is a critical thing. I didn’t know Bernadette Peters, (Sinfonia’s first celebrity guest artist in 2006), but was aware of her. Kristin Chenoweth (performed for Sinfonia’s 10th anniversary gala) has become a friend. Surrounding yourself with that caliber of talent who respect and agree with your vision can certainly assist your mission.

How did Bernadette Peters, the first celebrity guest artist come about? DF: Carol Gagliardi (founding board member) was a huge fan of Bernadette Peters and her role in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. I figured if I could get Bernadette, Carol would stop talking about her. It was

very bold to think a non-existent orchestra with no performance history would confirm one of the biggest stars on the scene, but I called her agent and that was that. I still work with her agent to this day and he knows that Sinfonia Gulf Coast is a great gem in the booking world.

What milestone moments come to mind as you celebrate 15 years? DF: For our 5th anniversary, we launched the amazing ArtStrings violin exhibit at Grand Boulevard. That was the first real ‘aha’ moment on a large scale because of the compilation of everything it took to get to that point. Founding partner and board member Gale Culling was the catalyst behind that and used her own resources (mainly) to curate an exhibit that rivaled any museum. When the community came together, it was a great melding of art, music and continuity of support. It took us to the next level.

You’ve experimented with creating novel experiences. DF: Yes. Mary Wilson of the Supremes was the first Seagar’s cabaret event. We were trying for a NYC/Café Carlyle vibe and it 83

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worked. That set the stage for the Seagar’s Cabaret series. I think everybody was blown away. Not everything has been incredible, but what we’ve done well is tailored our programming to our audience.

What are some of your personal stand out performance moments? DF: To this day, my favorite concert gala was Roberta Flack in 2008. She was extraordinary. She remains the most standout gala musician. She didn’t miss a beat, literally, she was on it.

What does it mean to you to be celebrating 15 years?

DF: It means so much on so many levels. Most importantly, it means what we’re doing is warranted and relevant to this day. It’s a testimony to the overall picture, the orchestra, education outreach, the social events … all managed with support from our board, our staff and volunteers. It all ties together.

Can you give us a peek behind the scenes?

survives, but thrives during tough times?

DF:The first season, we were presenting a gospel choir as part of our holiday concert called Too Hot to Handel. We had to find a rare B-3 Hammond organ. The closest one we could find was in Tampa. We had to drive a rented U-Haul to Tampa to pick it up, and upon arrival to the locale, the very deepvoiced gentleman that we arranged the entire transaction with, was actually a very elegant drag queen. So there is that. The night of the first concert, the gospel choir was MIA! They took a wrong turn somewhere and two tires on their bus exploded. They arrived at the concert hall about one minute before the show started. They didn’t even have time to change, and I made them throw their robes on and take the stage. We all had a hallelujah moment when they finally took the stage.

DF: Overall, we continue to create a product that our audience finds relevant; and we try to be the big thinker in the arts community.

You have weathered storms, oil spills, economic recessions and now a global pandemic. What are you doing as a leader to ensure Sinfonia not only

What have you learned? DF: Patience, which is not my strong point. That ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever, it sometimes means just not right now, and that good things come to those who wait.

Why has Sinfonia captured the imagination and interest of the community? DF: It’s called FunFonia. That is the biggest key. We pay our musicians well and treat them with respect. We listen to them. They know they are important and valued. We try to make our concerts fun for everyone. ENERGY. We have great energy and that makes a difference. Our concert halls and events are known for cosmopolitans and creativity, not cough drops.

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Yass girl, you know you want it!

Salty Scents

Love Bomb Candle This Love Bomb Candle is a special mixture of vanilla & lavender. All of our products are handmade by us in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. All of our supplies are made in the USA. We make our candles in small batches to improve the overall quality and scent control.

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Viveré’s Signature Collection Artisanal Chocolates

This decadent box of Artisanal Chocolates is carefully selected by owner and awardwinning chocolatier, Robert Bowden. It represents a perfect blend of their best sellers, new creations and fan favorites. Crafted from ethically sourced cacao and ingredients so that it not only tastes good but feels good.

Hey Mama Wines Rosé Calling all mamas (or those who just need a drink)! Not only is this Rosé Bubbles 4 Pack delicious, but a portion of the proceeds are donated to causes that give back to women and children. The taste profile is a full mid-mouth with delicate finish with flavors of watermelon and strawberry. Aromas of strawberry, honeysuckle, honeydew melon. Cheers!

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LadyLike Co

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Lily Chartier Pearls

Mermaid Rope, Sterling, Larimar & Pearls

Lily Chartier Pearls brings you beautiful, high-luster freshwater, Tahitian, and South Sea cultured pearls that have been hand drilled and knotted on fine, hand-cut Kangaroo leather or our signature hand-spun nautical Mermaid Rope.

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Sea Urchin Dish

46 8th St, Defuniak Springs, FL 32435 Iron and Gold-leaf Sea Urchin Dish with Silver Spoon. Use as salt cellar or candy dish. Vault 46 is the home of eclectic home decor, unique objects, accessories, one-of-a-kind jewelry, art, candles and creative gifts.

Wren’s Village Boutique

Handmade Latico Bag A classic leather purse is an essential piece in any woman’s wardrobe. Not only is this purse yet another perfect expression of your personal style, it checks all of the boxes — stylish, affordable, high-quality, and timeless. This Latico Bag is handmade in the USA with natural, hand-dyed leather. 87

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written by: Erika Stone photograhy by: Matt Stone


was not your typical American woman. I had finished backpacking worldwide for six years, single, spontaneous, and living courageously free. The experience of living in all those places changed me. Then I met my husband, Matt Stone. He’s a talented photographer, creative videographer and can do just about anything he sets his mind too. Not only did we connect on the artistic side of life, but there was also an undeniable sense that adventure was in our future. Did I mention he took a massive leap of faith and sold everything to join me in Barbados, where I was living at the time? It wasn’t long before we got married on the island. We then knew we wanted a baby, so we moved back to the states to start our family. That sounded like the best idea, but little did we know, we’d be looking for the next flight out for our next adventure. Obviously, we stayed and had our beautiful baby girl right here at Sacred Heart; however, I still knew the typical white picket fence lifestyle wasn’t for me. I once met a 5-year-old boy who spoke to me in four different languages to figure out which one I understood. I learned later his parents traveled the world with him, and that’s when I knew it was possible for my family. So there we were, deciding between selling what we had to travel freely or “buckle down” and save up to one day live out our dreams on the road. Our decision came so clearly during a walk in

Their Happy Trails

| Tour of Homes

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“I wish there was a way we could live like minimalists, still grow our careers and make a sufficient income, all while traveling as a family.” the park when I said, “I wish there was a way we could live like minimalists, still grow our careers and make a sufficient income, all while traveling as a family.” It was almost comical when the thought of living in a bus hit us both right in the face simultaneously! A mobile living space that would allow us to work and travel while raising our daughter in a consistent environment. Once the idea was vocalized, there was no stopping the motion to get things started. We’ve always been believers in the power of manifestation, where thoughts go, energy flows; thus, it was no surprise that we were owners of a 1996 Thomas school bus within 30 days of our walk in the park. We met Jennifer Nelson in Destin who had a school bus she already gutted but hadn’t finished. To our surprise and gratitude, she gave us the bus at no cost! It was undoubtedly meant to be in our lives. It was time for some creative interior structure and design. We each got to pick a “must-have” space to maximize our experience. Since Matt spends a lot of time editing his visual work and producing content for businesses on social media, he chose a spacious desk area. It includes plenty of room for multiple computer screens, a cubby for his camera gear and a “junk drawer” (that I pretend doesn’t exist). Being a girl that loves to cook for her family and let’s not lie, loves to eat, the kitchen was my must-have. I didn’t want to feel like I was camping or trying to cook in a dorm room. I desired a full-size sink, the most massive upright fridge that would accommodate the space, and enough countertop to provide a comfortable food prep area. Once these two areas were designed, the rest was molded together like a perfect game of Tetris®. Every space has a purpose, and every item has a place. I’m proud to say that Matt built and installed everything himself with minimal prior construction experience. YouTube was his best friend throughout the build. From our folding Murphy bed to the couch with underneath storage that pulls out into a full sleeper. As if that didn’t impress me enough, he took it upon himself to learn necessary

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electrical skills and wired our entire home using a variety of power sources, including solar. After he dialed in the dimming lights, he went to the plumbing and gave us running water within a day! A composting toilet, a cubby for our toddler and a floating bookshelf are just a few more unique additions. We had spent so much quality time building out the interior and putting all the final touches together that moving into our new home felt natural. We’re not new to sharing small spaces, so our daily living is nothing more than a couple of dance moves to get around each other. We also maximize our tight quarters for lots of family hugs. Our toddler can’t speak for herself yet, but who wouldn’t enjoy a giant playhouse! Our minimal living space is the perfect invitation to actually “live” outside, travel, learn, and grow closer together every day. If you are interested in doing something like this, we would love to share any knowledge we can!

YouTube & Instagram - @Their Happy Trails Erika’s Travel blog - Matt’s Social Media Production Company 91

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| About Face

written by: Liesel Schmidt

“Your eyelashes will write on my heart the poem that could never come from the pen of a poet.”


– Rumi

hile the 13th century Persian poet may have had a particular set of lashes in mind when he wrote those words, there’s no denying the power that eyelashes hold. The more dramatic the lashes, the more they attract attention … all to flutter them at you, my dear. And while beauty trends may come and go, eyelashes are one thing that will always be at the top of the list. Keeping that in mind, it’s little wonder that eyelash studios have become a popular haunt for the aesthetically-minded woman. From the subtlest sets to the lushest of lashes, these studios have a fix for all — just sit back, relax, and let the magic happen. Getting in on all the flutter action, Mary-Frances Mullins opened Amazing Lash Studio in Destin in the summer of 2019 and will soon open a location in Pensacola, with a Panama City Beach studio also in her sights. “We offer the lightest lash extensions on the market, which are much safer for your natural lashes,” says MaryFrances. “Other lash extensions that are too heavily stacked will eventually break most clients’ natural lashes. If breakage occurs, not only will the client not be able to get extensions for a while, their natural lashes will also be short and stubby while their lashes try to recover from the harsh weight and excessive glue. We also offer the most diverse selection of length, curl, and thickness of extensions in the Panhandle. As a brand, we favor a classy lash extension. You won’t find harsh, ‘spiky’ or severely overdone extensions at our studio because we are all about longevity and lash health.”

The lash stylists who work at Amazing Lash Studio are highly trained, licensed cosmetologists or estheticians who receive ongoing education to provide their clients with the most up-to-date and effective lash services on the market. Health is a priority for the studio which maintains sanitization standards that exceed state requirements. Both of these things are contributors to the success of the studio, but there’s one big reason that puts them over the top. “We offer the best customer service in the lash business,” says Mary-Frances. Offering lash extensions, lash lifts, full facial waxing, lash and brow tinting, and brow lamination services, Amazing Lash Studio caters to a wide range of needs — though volume lash extensions are the most popular by far. “They give the illusion of a much fuller and darker lash line, so you really don’t need makeup,” Mary-Frances explains. Clients who come into the studio will get a consultation with a lash stylist about the styles and lengths they prefer. Each option takes a varied length of time, with a full set of extensions clocking in at about two hours. Aftercare is a big must and clients are sent home with paperwork, seven-daya-week consultations by phone, and a myriad of products to support their extensions. And while memberships are not required, they do offer benefits. Membership is $119.99 per month and includes two classic refills that never expire. Members also receive discounts on upgrades, waxing and tinting, and all retail products as well as exclusive access to fun promotions and freebies.

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Q: Do lash extensions make eyelashes fall out? A: Lash extensions, if done properly, do not cause lashes to fall out. Lash extensions should accentuate and enhance lashes, not cause breakage and issues. Eyelashes naturally fall out just like hair, but a new lash will grow in its place.

Gorgeous Lashes

Q: Are lash extensions glued to the skin? A: No, lash extensions are individually placed on top of every healthy, natural eyelash a client has. They are placed a few millimeters from the lash line and should never touch the eyelid. Q: How long do lash extensions last? A: A full set of lash extensions lasts about two to four weeks depending on the client’s lash cycle, aftercare routine and lifestyle. We always encourage two-week “refills” — a one-hour appointment after getting a full set — to apply a new extension on new lash growth and replace any “grown out” extensions.

Natural Lashes

Q: What is the difference between a lash lift and lash extensions? A: A lash lift is a perm of the client’s natural eyelashes. They leave with nothing on the eye — just permanently curled lashes for the length of their lash cycle. Most people need a lash lift every four to six weeks to curl the new growth.

Amazing Lash Studio 34940 Emerald Coast Pkwy Suite 108 Destin, FL 32541 850.404.0957

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| Happy Hour

written by: Liesel Schmidt

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hile Love Potion No. 9 may be a fictitious concoction with equally fictional effects there’s something to be said for the way cocktails can make you ... shall we say, amorous? There’s a good reason for that. Science shows that alcohol actually slows reason and cognition by depressing the cerebral cortex (that nifty part of the brain responsible for memory, attention, perception, thought, language, awareness, and the like). To put it into simple terms, that’s why a few drinks may cause you to lose your inhibitions and throw caution to the wind. Case in point, that horribly embarrassing table dance at last year’s Christmas party that has been immortalized thanks to the wonders of the internet. As for the amorousness, sexual desire and arousal is produced by multiple parts of your brain. And, despite the fact that your basic sexual impulses aren’t affected by alcohol,

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the part of your brain involved in your decision-making processes and choosing a mate takes an alcohol-induced vacation. Hence the desire to make out with anyone and everyone. Still, there’s something to be said for the ingredients in cocktails and what properties they might contain. If certain lore is to be believed there are various foods, herbs, and spices that can up the ante when it comes to feelings of amore. Visual symbolism has been an important factor since the Middle Ages, and some foods have been thought to increase desire because of their suggestive shape or texture. Then there are the legends: Montezuma’s storied consumption of more than 50 cups of chocolate before he went off to make his rounds with his harem and Casanova’s famous seduction of a virgin by feeding her a raw oyster. Greek mythology even tells of Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love, being born when she arose from

the sea — hence the belief that seafoods are aphrodisiacs. There’s also the indulgence factor. Ingredients like caviar, truffles, foie gras, Champagne, and bone marrow are indicative of wealth which can be seductive. For the more logically minded, there’s the science behind the aphrodisiacal properties of certain ingredients. For example, cinnamon and ginger are warming and stimulating to the senses, oysters contain zinc (a natural testosterone booster), and alcohol helps you shed those pesky inhibitions. Naturally, many aphrodisiacs have been banned throughout history. In fact, herbs and spices such as basil, mint, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pepper, and saffron were illegal during Medieval times because they were often used in “love potions.” Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then — and we’ve got a few recipes to prove it.

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White Wine Ginger Spritz Aphrodisiac: ginger


Casino Royale Aphrodisiac: egg yolks

This zesty root is known to increase body heat and even heighten heart rate. The potent aroma of ginger is thought to stimulate arousal as well. Ingredients 4-5 oz. dry white wine 2-3 oz. ginger beer Juice from half a lime Fresh or candied ginger (for garnish) Lime wedges (for garnish) Directions Combine wine, ginger beer, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Pour in a tall glass over ice and garnish with fresh or candied ginger and lime wedges.

Their high value of protein and cholesterol are proven boosters of testosterone and energy. Ingredients 2 oz. gin 1/2 oz. lemon juice 1 tsp. maraschino liqueur Dash of orange bitters 1 egg yolk Directions Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add all ingredients and shake until chilled. Strain mixture into a sour glass and garnish with a cherry and slice of lemon.

Brandy Alexander Aphrodisiac: nutmeg

In India, nutmeg was once used to treat men with low libido. The spice increases body heat and sweetens breath. Most of all, it acts as a stimulant. Ingredients 1 1/2 oz. cognac 1 oz. dark crème de cacao 1 oz. cream Nutmeg (freshly grated) Directions Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass or a coupe glass and garnish with nutmeg.

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Crème de Cacao Vodka Martini Aphrodisiac: cacao

Cacao contains anandamide, which is rich in antioxidants that increases your libido. This chocolatey ingredient also contains phenylethylamine — the so-called “love chemical.” Ingredients 1/2 oz. grenadine 2 oz. creme de cacao 1 oz. vodka 1 oz. heavy cream (frothy cream is recommended) Dark cacao powder or shaved chocolate Directions Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and add the first three ingredients. Shake and strain into a martini glass and top with frothed cream. Garnish with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate.


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12/18/20 12:05 AM

| Be The Change

A Legacy of

Love written by: Liesel Schmidt / photography by: Zhalman Harris


o look at the poverty rates in Liberia, it’s clear that this is a nation filled with struggle. Mortality numbers are staggering, and the statistics for infant death and childhood morbidity are heartbreaking. In a country whose legacy has been war for more than a decade, the future often seems hopeless. But, there are people whose hearts cry out for those in this war-torn land, and they are determined to bring it the hope it has lost. Established in October 2019, Aletha’s Legacy is on a mission to provide the underprivileged children of Liberia with education and, by extension, a reason to have faith. Created by Liberian-born Zhalman Harris, the organization is a very personal undertaking. “I named Aletha’s Legacy after my mother, who was killed by a bomb during the civil war,” says Zhalman, who now lives in Fort Walton Beach. A musician and actor, he has come a long way from his ravaged homeland, a country that left him orphaned. After escaping to Ghana, he spent ten years in a refugee camp before emigrating to the United States where he has used his past to help further the present for the people of Liberia.

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“This work is important for so many reasons,” says Zhalman. “Because of the 14-year civil war in the country the education system collapsed and is still struggling to recover. Liberia is significantly behind most neighboring countries in the Sub-Region, with an estimated 15-20% of young children not in class. Because of that only 54% of Liberian children complete primary education.” Since its founding, Aletha’s Legacy has made great strides in filling the void, nearly doubling the number of children attending school. “Initially, there were 166 children attending the elementary school; we’ve now projected that 300 students will be served because of the new building and the school transforming to a junior high school,” Zhalman explains. So far, they’ve built a two-story, 10-classroom building with an auditorium furnished with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, a library stocked with books, and a cafeteria to feed the kids. All are triumphs, but there are naturally challenges to overcome in such an impoverished part of the world. “Our biggest struggle is raising funds to do our mission work in Liberia because it’s a little difficult raising funds that won’t be 101

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used locally,” says Zhalman regarding the task of finding donations from Americans who haven’t experienced the plight of the Liberian people firsthand. Even so, Aletha’s Legacy has much to be proud of. Their vision to “build a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation,” is one that they are working hard to achieve; and every single child they reach is one step closer to success. Through past mission trips, the organization has improved the living, school, and health conditions of hundreds of children, providing them with clothing, toys, and books in addition to other necessities. While the work is far from done, Aletha’s Legacy continues on bringing hope to a future that once seemed lost.

Want to get involved? Call (612) 616-0143 or visit for information about donation and volunteer opportunities. Join in the fun for Kayla Ray - The Masks and Music Event Night 2 (benefitting letha’s Legacy, Inc.) at the Kelly Plantation Owners Club on January 23, 2021. For tickets, visit

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Traditions |

written by: Liesel Schmidt


s one would expect from such a regal name, King Cakes have a commanding presence in their burst of green, gold, and purple. A longstanding tradition in Mardi Gras country, the rich, bright bread is covered in flash and flair and full of celebratory fun. But there’s far more than simple sugar to this royally robed treat because hidden inside its cinnamon-spiced layers is a baby — a reminder of where the bread got its name. It tells the story of the tiny baby whose birth called ancient kings from afar to bring priceless gifts in the season of Epiphany. While Mardi Gras may not be back on track in all its glory, we can still take part in the spirit of the season with King Cakes. Try out different versions from different bakeries and see which one has the best recipe or buy one to send to friends who would normally celebrate the festival with you. As festival season rolls on, you can always savor the sweet taste of some things that will never change. The King Cake has many versions all over the world, but nowhere in America has this baked confection fully taken hold than in the Gulf states. And, bakeries all over the Pensacola area are getting in on the taste of the season. If you want to make your own King Cake, here’s a recipe to try.

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King Cake

Cake Ingredients 1 16 oz. container sour cream 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup butter 1 tsp. salt 2 pkgs. active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water 1 tbsp. sugar 2 lg. eggs, lightly beaten 6-6 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (bread flour is recommended to achieve a lighter, more airy consistency) 1/3 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon Glaze (see recipe below) Colored sugar crystals (purple, gold, and green) Cake Directions In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together first 4 ingredients until butter is fully melted. Set aside and allow mixture to cool until just warm. In a separate bowl, stir together next 3 ingredients and set aside for 5 minutes. Next, beat the sour cream mixture together with the yeast mixture and add eggs and 2 cups of the flour with a stand mixer at medium speed until smooth. Once fully incorporated, reduce speed to low and gradually add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

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Place dough onto a lightly floured surface, kneading for roughly 10 minutes until it seems smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside, turning the dough ball over until its surface has been fully greased. Cover bowl and place it in a warm, dry place away from drafts of air (the top of the refrigerator is an ideal spot) to rest and rise for 1 hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size. Punch the risen dough, then divide into equal halves. Roll each into a rectangle measuring 22�x12� and evenly spread the softened butter onto each rectangle, leaving a border of 1� around the edges. In a small bowl, combine the last 1/2 cup of sugar with the cinnamon until mixed and then sprinkle over the buttered dough. Starting at the long side of one rectangle of dough, roll into a tight log, jellyroll style. Place rolled dough seam-side down onto a lightly greased baking pan and bring ends together to form the shape of an oval ring. Moisten edges and pinch together to seal the ring, then repeat with the last rectangle of dough. Once both doughs have been rolled, formed, and placed onto baking pans, cover with a clean, dry towel and allow to rise in a warm, dry place until doubled in size, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. When dough rings have risen, bake for 14-16 minutes or until surface is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then drizzle prepared glaze over the cakes while they are still warm. Sprinkle colored sugar crystals over the glazed cakes and then allow to cool completely before serving.

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King Cake Glaze Glaze Ingredients 3 cups powdered sugar 3 tbsp. butter, melted 2 tbsp. lemon juice 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 2-4 tbsp. milk

Directions In a large bowl, stir together first 4 ingredients until fully combined, then add first 2 tbsp. of milk. Stir in additional milk as needed, 1 tsp. at a time until glaze has become spreadable in consistency but not runny.

Scarlett’s Picks for Top 8

King Cake Bakeries Along the Coast

Manny Randazzo King Cakes New Orleans, LA | (504)456-1476

Pollman’s Bake Shop

Mobile, AL Facebook- Pollman’s Bake Shop | (251)438-1511

Warehouse Bakery

Fairhope, AL | (251)928-7223

Rouses Market

Gulf Shores, AL | (251)948-4715

J’s Bakery and Cafe

Pensacola, FL | (850)439-6546

Cake Masters

Fort Walton Beach, FL | (850)862-4911

Andy’s Flour Power Cafe-Bakery Panama City Beach, FL | (850)230-0014

Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe Panama City Beach, FL | (850)236-9276


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| Anything He Can Do...


Can Do...

photography by: Shanna Magnuson

Hometown Navarre, Florida Current Residence Crestview, Florida Occupation Air Force Respiratory Therapist and business owner Special Skills NRA Firearm Instructor, K9 Trainer

How did you get interested in your occupation? I started as a fi earm instructor and dog trainer. I have been in the military now eight years and have been able to combine my skills to give back to the community. I became interested in competitively shooting and instructing after a tough relationship where I realized I did not know how to defend myself. I then paired with a business (Coastline K9) that trains family protection dogs, and I was able to learn dog training. Using the skills together has added a unique security element to my family and my overall confide ce. I was able to set up a Coastline K9 location here locally which has allowed me to train dogs to protect other families as well as instruct correct fi earm use and safety.

How long have you been practicing your trade? I have been instructing for two years now.

Tell us a little about your favorite part of the job you do. My favorite part about the job is training other women to become comfortable behind a gun and master the commands to handle their dog.

Let us in on the least favorite part of your job. The least favorite part of my job would have to be cleaning up dog poop!

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What empowers you as a woman in a typically male industry? I have always been in predominantly male jobs. It is empowering to be able to pick up a rifle r a pistol and know everything about it which has been thought to be a man’s skill.

Did/do you have any role models that inspired you to choose your line of work? I would say I have a lot of role models. The women I served with in the military were all strong and have done amazing things. I always thought of it as my job to never let them down.

What advice do you have for other women interested in your trade? If I had any advice to give to other women it is to never be too afraid to learn how to protect yourself and your family. Learning a new skill such as martial arts or fi earm handling is hard, but women like me are here to welcome you.

How do you think diversity in the workplace helps shape our community? Diversity in the workplace adds to the knowledge of the people that work there. I have learned so much from people that are different than me, and it has opened my eyes to new skills.

Since you’ve started, have you noticed a change in your industry when it comes to opportunities for women? Since I started two years ago, I have noticed a lot more women in our local area specifi ally become more interested in shooting as a sport. I have also seen more women and families look into protection dogs as security options. I believe the industry is opening up to women, and it is up to us to get involved.

Words you live by‌ Words I live by: Success is not found inside your comfort zone.


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Stranger Sessions, pg. 47 Turquoise Enamel Pendant with Pave Diamonds on a Gold Pyrite Chain, Bijoux De Mer. Paperclip Chain in 14k Gold with Interchangeable Lock Clasp, Bijoux De Mer.

Get Ready with Kim Brudage, pg. 17 Antonio Melani Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater in Ultra Pink $119.00, Dillards Elliat Faux Fur Coat in Fuchsia $198.00, Hemline Boutique Grand Boulevard Hudson High Waist Skinny Jeans $195.00, Hemline Boutique Grand Boulevard Moyna New York Beaded Handbag $179.00, Hemline Boutique Grand Boulevard Janis Savitt 6-row Rhodiom “Cobra” Bracelet $175.00, Hemline Boutique Grand Boulevard Gorjana “Taner” Hammered Hoops $70.00, Hemline Boutique Grand Boulevard Michael Kors Glitter Pumps $98.00, Dillards Makeup by Tania Crawford

Let’s Get Physical, pg. 57 Wearable Art Yoga Pants, Velia Lala Designs

Hair by Primp Salon

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