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From the Desk of Dixie

Activity Printable Day 1: Notes to Neighbors

These are certainly unusual times and the Dixie team is here to navigate it with you! With almost half our team comprised of moms with kids who will now be home for the upcoming weeks, we chatted at length yesterday about creative ways we could offer a few tools to help get through the long days. While we wish we could do more, we are excited to offer Activity Printables each of the next few days. We will be doing these activities with our own kids and we would love for you to share them on social media and tag us in your posts so we can see your adorable children enjoying them.

And in an effort to encourage note writing to help pass the time and stay connected, we're offing 15% off all notecards so that moms and dads can join in the fun! Use code NOTELOVE15 at checkout.

Our Dixie community of customers and friends is a bright spot in this otherwise unfamiliar territory. We hope coming together in even a small way will add some “happy” to your day.

xo,
Jennifer Hunt
Dixie Founder and Fellow Mom

Our first activity is “Notes to Neighbors.” We love the idea of printing these templates and asking your child to include a drawing and a note and then deliver to each neighbor’s mailbox while on a walk. Sending a note to a nursing home resident is also a favorite idea as well as dropping one in the mail to a best school friend who will be missed over the next few weeks. As adults, we have social media and can still feel connected during an extended time at home. We hope this activity will help allow the kids to feel connected as well. And while we realize notes can be written on any paper, we adore the artwork included on these templates and we hope it will bring an extra bit of joy to your recipient. 

Click the link below each template image to print the design on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. 

Click HERE to download and print Fly In Thunderbolt by Holly Hollon

Click HERE to download and print Hot Air Balloon by Evelyn Henson

Click HERE to download and print Woodland by Inslee Fariss

Click HERE to download and print Pink Cosmos and Ladybug by Gina Langford

Jennifer Hunt's Week with the Tory Burch Foundation

As summer comes to a close and routine is restored, I’m finally sitting down to write about one of my most incredible experiences - being selected as a Tory Burch Fellow. It still feels surreal and I think it’s taken me more than 10 weeks to process the week I spent at the Tory Burch offices with my cohort, the Tory Burch Foundation team, the incredible speakers they curated for us and, of course, Tory herself.

Why the Tory Burch Fellows Program?

Tory Burch started the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 with the purpose of supporting the empowerment of women entrepreneurs through resources that help them grow and sustain their businesses. The Fellows Program is specifically designed to provide a community of business support, not only within the group of 50 Fellows but also within the Foundation’s network of innovative founders and business experts. I know all that now, but when Holly Hollon tagged me in an Instagram post promoting the Fellows program and encouraged me to apply, I was clueless. I researched the program, basically fell in love with it, and spent several days on the meticulous application. Receiving the acceptance phone call was both exciting and overwhelming. The year-long Fellowship includes a week of workshops at the Tory Burch offices, a $5,000 business education grant and access to the Foundation’s online peer-to-peer network.

My visit to the Tory Burch offices

The visit to the Tory Burch offices was just as exciting and fun as you think it would be! Not really knowing what to expect, I was quickly impressed with all the details that were so thoughtfully considered, the first being that we were greeted on Sunday with a Tory Burch handbag, sunglasses and an #EmbraceAmbition bracelet and t-shirt. I’ve been a longtime Tory brand fan, so I was thrilled!  

Our days were packed with Q&As, presentations, site visits and dinners, all while meeting and greeting throughout. It was exhilarating, exciting and exhausting. The level of quality information and opportunity they put in front of us was remarkable. While I won’t attempt to cover everything, I’ll mention a few highlights.

Lunch with Tory Burch
This has to be at the top of the list, because, well….Tory. She is stunning, grounded, approachable, funny and lovely. I was encouraged by her conversation with us, facilitated by Laurie Fabiano, the Foundation’s President, where she offered all sorts of business and personal advice, even letting us in on some challenges she’s faced along the way. It was inspiring to see her realness and learn what she has experienced as an entrepreneur juggling the work-life balance. After lunch, I was able to talk with Tory for a few minutes and she’s genuinely kind and thoughtful. She asked about my company, which I tried to convey briefly, and it made me realize I need to have my “pitch” ready! One of the things emphasized throughout the week was “determine your six-word elevator pitch.” I think that will continue to be a work in progress for me – I may need a few more words – but it’s super important to consider. When you meet Tory Burch, how can you quickly and concisely convey the premise of your company in an engaging way? I think I managed well enough, but a solid pitch is an important takeaway from the week.

Site visit to O Magazine
On Monday afternoon, the Fellows were split into groups and each visited different company headquarters, including Google, Whole Foods, Spotify, Hearst and the New York Stock Exchange. My group headed to Hearst, one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines. Not knowing which magazine we would visit, we speculated on the way and got off the elevator at O Magazine! As it turns out, I was perfectly seated at the end of the conference table where we were meeting with Adam Glassman, the magazine’s Creative Director. Adam and his fellow “Oprah’s Favorite Things” associates, Rae Ann and Raena, spent time talking with each of us about our companies and then discussed general topics like how to best pitch a magazine. Within a few minutes, Gayle King walked in and sat right next to me! She is exactly how you imagine her – delightful! We were told she is the hardest working person at O so after a fun convo, she headed out to one of her many engagements. Adam then gave us a tour of the offices where we hung out in the product closet, saw where they lay out the magazine spreads and the clothing closet where they pull the latest collections to shoot. It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes peek! And for those of you interested in pitching a magazine, make sure your email is short, to the point and includes good product photos. Follow up within a few weeks if you do not hear back. And be aware that magazines typically work at least 6 months in advance of issue releases.

Dinner with the Tory Burch Foundation team and Board of Directors
On Monday night, we ate dinner at Pondicheri, an Indian restaurant in the Flatiron district. I was seated at the table next to Gabrielle Raymond McGee, the Chief Operating Officer of the Tory Burch Foundation. When describing Gabrielle, warm, considerate, sincere and genuine come to mind. It was clear she had spent time learning about my company and engaged in a candid and thoughtful conversation with me about Dixie, sharing ideas she felt would be helpful as I move forward. She also made sure I met certain people on the Tory Burch Board who could provide advice or offer support. She was the perfect example of a mentor to me that evening and it made a lasting impression.

And remember that pitch moment I had with Tory? We had to also give our six-word pitch at dinner. Thankfully, it was quick and painless. 

Networking Breakfast
Our final morning included a breakfast with industry experts, investors and senior executives from Tory Burch. I was lucky enough to meet Tory's husband and new CEO of Tory Burch, Pierre-Yves Roussel, who was gracious and generous with his time talking with me about Dixie. I was thrilled to then get to visit for a while with Honor Brodie, Creative Director of Tory Burch, chatting about all aspects of my business and her role within such an amazing company. We even share some mutual friends and business associates, so it almost felt like a conversation with an old friend. Overall, I was impressed with the approachability and warmth I felt with each person I encountered throughout the week. The team and network Tory has built is remarkable and it's full of people who care and are fully invested in her mission and brand.  

A Couple of Impactful Workshop Moments

“If failure isn’t an option, then most of the time success isn’t either.” – Seth Godin

If you’ve made it this far, I promise it’s worth your while because I’m going to introduce you to quite possibly the most riveting business and marketing expert I’ve ever heard speak. Seth Godin is an author (19 best-selling books!), speaker and entrepreneur. He’s a word magician and can analyze a company and its marketing efforts in mere moments, giving a peek at what that company could be if any one of his suggestions were implemented. You MUST listen to his podcast and read his blog. He’s been writing a blog post per day for over a decade and each post takes only a couple of minutes because he’s the king of getting to the point and doing so with an impact. I wish I had a whole post worth of quotes to give you from his talk but honestly, I was so captivated that I didn’t write one thing down. Thankfully, I found the powerful story Seth told us from his book, Footprints on the Moon, which he used to open and close his presentation:

Snug around a campfire, illuminated by the night sky, Buzz Aldrin recounted the moments leading up to the landing. Buzz paused as the moon rose above his shoulders and remarked, gesturing to the Moon, "I've been there." Not until the moment his foot made contact did the world believe it was possible. So, remember, when you're looking into the night sky feeling hopeless, overwhelmed or fearful of your next step, there are footprints on the moon.

“Stop committing random acts of networking.” – Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network

Yet another impressive presenter, Kelly Hoey is passionate about building a thoughtful, strategic network and cultivating connections that propel your success. She encouraged us to trust in the extended power of community and avoid the number #1 networking mistake – lack of follow-up. To demonstrate how powerful networking can be, Kelly used me as an example: “Jennifer, tell the group three of your current “asks” and be specific.’” By the next morning, I had been given the direction and contacts I needed to move forward with each of the items I had mentioned. For the record, I was stuck not knowing how to move forward with those three “asks,” so to receive such valuable information that quickly simply by asking my network for help was super powerful and enlightening. Fun fact, one of the answers was offered within a minute after asking from the girl sitting next to me.

There were four days full of powerful speakers, including Tony Tjan, a New York Times best selling author, venture investor and entrepreneur, Mary Kate McGrath, Editor-in-Chief of PureWow, Kathryn Menshew, Co-founder and CEO of The Muse, Emilie Fife who works for Instagram on their Fashion Partnerships team, among so many others  – it’s too much to cover here – but my friend, Rechelle Balanzat, owner of Juliette, wrote a fun and engaging blog post about our time with the Tory Burch Foundation. It’s worth the click through to read and learn more.

Finally, I have to thank the Tory Burch Foundation team for the most thoughtfully planned week where I formed important friendships and gained invaluable insight about how to grow and sustain Dixie. The weeks following have proven that networking works – just like you intended. I especially have to mention Désirée Younge, Vice President of Programs for the Foundation, whose enthusiasm and knowledge are inspiring and who always has me thinking about what's next for Dixie. 

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey!

- Jennifer

Tory Burch Fellow Profile

 

Professional photos by Tiffany Sage Photography

Faces of Dixie: Jennifer Hunt

To kick off our new blog series, Faces of Dixie, we thought it would be fun for you all to learn a little bit more about our founder and owner Jennifer Hunt! Everyone on the Dixie team adores working for Jennifer, and we always love making her get in front of the camera and into the spotlight. Without further ado, read on to get to know our fearless leader Jennifer!

Jennifer Hunt Faces of Dixie

Where is your hometown? Russellville, Alabama...home of the Golden Tigers!

What is your Alma Mater? The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa…Roll Tide!

What was your very first job out of school? As an associate with Arthur Andersen, formerly one of the “Big Five” public accounting firms. I fortunately switched jobs two weeks before the seriousness of the Enron scandal was disclosed. I loved the company and the people I worked with, I just couldn’t endure another busy tax season!

How did Dixie Design Collective come to be? I started Dixie to fill the gap between pricey custom-designed cards and more economically-priced, mass-produced cards. I realized there was a gap in the market when I searched the internet in late 2014 trying to find a holiday card I could customize online that had the high-end look of a custom-created piece, but with a more accessible price and a quick turnaround. Dixie launched with its first Holiday Collection in October 2015. 

What was the first Dixie product you ever ordered for yourself? My first Dixie holiday card in 2015! It was a tri-fold card that featured Holly Hollon’s Christmas Toile artwork.

Favorite date night spot in Birmingham? My favorite date night typically revolves around where we will eat! There are so many great restaurants in Birmingham we love, but if it’s last minute, we’ll probably head to Ovenbird or Bettola.

Favorite place to take your kids? For locals, we recently took the kids to the Birmingham Zoo, which has been undergoing a renovation. We were really impressed! For dinner, Bettola is kid-friendly and The Woolworth is a fun spot for kids and adults. For travel, favorite beach spots the kids love are Amelia Island Plantation and Rosemary Beach, although we try to take the kids on a new adventure each year.

Favorite music to get you in the mood to work? I’m an 80s and 90s music junkie!

What was it like when your husband, Buddy, decided to join the Dixie team full time? I put the bug in his ear for at least a year, but he wasn’t ready to make the move until last Fall and we weren’t ready for him to dive into our Wholesale division until then anyway, so the timing was perfect. People ask all the time, “How do you work with your husband?” It works beautifully for us somehow. I guess maybe the almost 25 years we’ve known each other has prepared us!

What does a day in life as owner of Dixie look like? No day is ever the same! While there are areas I work on consistently, each day presents new items and issues to tackle, whether expected or not. I serve as problem solver, coordinator of special projects and collaborations, supervisor of Dixie’s creative and operations directors, overseer of website updates and software creation, financial analyzer, new product developer, marketing and PR liaison, and general manager of all things Dixie. Outside of Dixie, I'm mom and wife, so balancing everything is always a work in progress! 

Favorite Instagram account to follow for inspiration? Pencil and Paper Co. (@pencilandpaperco) is a favorite for both interiors and creative inspiration as well as gorgeous clothing and accessories ideas. I love following Gen’s travel adventures too!

If you could spend your perfect day anywhere in the world, where would you be and what would you do? Right now, I have a major itch to head back to Europe. I think Spain, the south of France and northern Italy are the spots I’ll be researching next. But we also just visited with some sweet ladies from El Salvador when we were at AmericasMart last month. They sold us on their beautiful country and gave us all the info for the best places to visit while there, so I’m super interested in taking the family there soon too! While visiting any place, I love to do more authentic and adventure activities and, of course, eat good food!

What’s your best piece of advice for an ambitious young woman who’s interested in owning her own business? I might have too much advice on this subject!

WHY. Why do you want to start this business? Is it a quality of life issue? Do you dream of working for yourself and setting your own schedule? Do you love your idea so much that you must share it? Whatever it is that’s motivating you, decide what your goal is and then move toward it with an enthusiasm that borders irrationality.

START. Do not let the overwhelming nature of starting a business keep you from it, but do your due diligence and do not take it all on yourself. Get the assistance you need from the beginning – you will keep your sanity and your company will likely propel at a quicker rate. If funds are tight, find an advisor to help guide your decisions. Be optimistic, but cautiously and armed with loads of information.

COMMIT. Go in knowing that your idea is likely not going to take off overnight. Be persistent and have confidence your concept is a good one. It typically takes at least THREE years before you know if your company is going to work. If you go in knowing that, you can put your head down and keep moving toward your goal, even during those tougher early years.

NETWORK. Networking is a major factor in the success of your business. In today’s world that is so saturated with imagery and content, partner with brands and companies where you can both leverage exposure. And don’t underestimate the power of joining or creating a group where you can bounce ideas off like-minded people. There’s room for everyone, so help each other, don’t hinder.

ENGAGE. Positively engage with your team and your customers. Make sure the team you build knows how important they are to you and the success of your company. Your company environment will trickle down to your customers and the service your team provides. Excellent customer interaction is vital – there are too many options for people to go elsewhere if customer service is an issue.

ASSESS. Assess what’s working and what’s not working. Do not be afraid of failure. Failure in areas is almost guaranteed and pushes you to the right decisions. Make necessary, thoughtful adjustments along the way to ensure the desired trajectory for your company.

What do you see as being NEXT for Dixie? We have some fun projects in the works that will be announced later this year and in 2020. Dixie’s 4th birthday is coming up in October and I’m so proud of what our team has accomplished in such a short time. We’ve been taking note of customer requests and we have some exciting things happening soon!

Behind the Dixie Name

I’m a little obsessed with Boston Terriers. You would be too if your family had owned them for five generations! My first two Bostons were both named Dixie and as I was developing the concept for this company, I knew I wanted Dixie included in the name. I also grew up in the South, so I loved that the name would not only be special because of my childhood pets but would also represent a place known for hospitality and entertaining - the place where you want to get the best stationery for the perfect party.

Since my last Dixie, there has been a Molly, Lucy and now Cami - the new names were forced on my parents who wanted to continue the Dixie naming tradition! It’s been many years but you’ll still sometimes hear one of them call out for Dixie instead of the “new” name. 

The company logo was actually designed after our current dog, Cami, and she’s the one you’ll find on our website. The Boston Terrier obsession started on my mom’s side of the family and when my dad met her, he fell in love with the breed too. When my husband and I started considering a dog twelve years ago, we briefly thought about taking a leap into another breed world. Ultimately, he couldn’t do it – he fell in love with Bostons too! Apparently once a Boston owner, always a Boston owner!

I hope you enjoy looking through a few photos of the original "Dixie" dogs. My hope with naming the company after my sweet childhood dogs was that our customers would know the company was created and named with a lot of love and attention to detail. We strive to make your experience with us feel personal and provide you with a product that feels special - from holiday cards to wedding invitations to your baby's first birthday party. And just maybe I can convert a few of you into Boston Terrier lovers! 

Last year artist and creative director, Holly Hollon, created a collection inspired by Dixie and the colonial decor of Jennifer's childhood home, read more about that collection here and shop the Colonial Collection here

A Holiday Spiced Tea Tradition

If you were able to read our post last week, you saw the meaningful design inspiration behind the Colonial Citrus Christmas card suite that Dixie Creative Director Holly Hollon created for our founder, Jennifer Hunt. When Holly initially showed Jennifer the card designs, Jennifer knew that this design would also make beautiful gift tags and recipe cards for one of her favorite holiday traditions - her family's spiced tea drink. 

Jennifer's grandmother, Martha Davis “aka Nonnie,” is the one who began the holiday spiced tea tradition in her family. Nonnie's recipe is based off of the traditional Russian tea recipe, but Jennifer says it is the best version she has ever tasted!  Jennifer now makes a batch of the tea with her family at the beginning of each holiday season, so they can enjoy it throughout the winter. She has also been known to add honey to the hot drink to cure a winter cough!

Jennifer has fond memories of making the tea mix with her mother, portioning out in jars with ribbon and delivering to neighbors and friends in her hometown. Thankfully, she was happy to share the recipe with us here in the hope you could use the gift idea too. For an added touch, she tied the jars with a gold measuring spoon this year. 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Store in an airtight container like the ones we found here.

Tie with ribbon, a gold spoon and Dixie's Colonial Citrus Recipe Gift Tags.

To serve, stir 2 tablespoons of mix into 1 cup of boiling water.

We think this is the perfect holiday gift idea for neighbors, co-workers, or even your children's teachers! Shop the Colonial Citrus gift tags and recipe cards here.

Photos by Mary Margaret Smith

A Look Behind the Design - Jennifer's Colonial Williamsburg Childhood Christmas

 
When our Founder, Jennifer Hunt, was thinking through her Christmas card this year, she asked Holly Hollon, our Creative Director, to include artwork of a Boston Terrier, the dog breed Jennifer and her family have owned for five generations.  So when Holly was gathering design inspiration, she asked Jennifer for any Christmas memories that would help her with creating a card that would be personal and special. 

Jennifer immediately thought about her childhood home in Russellville, Alabama, its Colonial Williamsburg design and how beautifully and thoughtfully it was decorated by her mother, Donna Norris, each holiday season.  Having a deep interest in history and also having lived in Greenville, North Carolina, where home design is heavily influenced by Williamsburg, Jennifer’s parents chose to build the first Colonial Williamsburg style home in Russellville in 1980.  It’s still the house the family calls “home” after almost 40 years. 



Donna’s holiday decorating was also influenced by this design style and Jennifer recalls fruit wreaths on the doors, candles in the windows, lots of holly, magnolia and ivy and certainly the quintessential Colonial Williamsburg pineapple used throughout the house.  Her mother decorated with rich historical colors - blue, red, gold, green and cream - which translated into the colors Holly used in the Colonial holiday card suite she created.

With these visuals of Jennifer's childhood Christmases to design around, Holly created several Colonial Williamsburg-inspired Christmas papers. Jennifer's Boston Crest card ties in the pineapple, glossy dark green Magnolia leaves from her childhood Christmas dinner table and mantle, and it also features a certain Boston terrier that is near and dear to all of our hearts!

Using citrus is a long-standing Colonial Williamsburg Christmas decorating tradition, so Holly expanded the collection to include that theme with her Colonial Citrus collection and her Colonial Pineapple collection. We love the elegance of the cards and the option of either the crimson ribbon or the gold ribbon.

Stay tuned for our post on Monday where Jennifer will share her family's spiced tea recipe! We think it is the perfect thoughtful holiday gift for neighbors and family friends!

All vintage photos taken by Jennifer's dad, Lanny Norris.  Photo inside Boston Crest cards by Holland Williams Photography.