Cara Brown Jewelry Designs

Who is Cara Brown? A creative force that you should definitely add to your follow list…a warm, kind Texan who now makes her home in New Jersey…a Vandy Grad whom I had the pleasure of getting to know while I was on Nantucket…the list goes on and I haven’t even begun describing her latest endeavor~! Keep reading to discover the creative treasure that is Cara Brown…

Cara Brown designs the most unique jewelry that expresses her love for historical or vintage objects being given new life. And, I love that about Cara- the stories behind her show-stopping pieces are just as important to her as the new designs that she creates with them as they take center stage in her incredible necklaces. Each necklace is made with the intent of being for every day wear- but don’t expect something subdued or discreet. 🙂 These necklaces are big, bold, and (literally) brassy! They stand out in any crowd and definitely make a statement!

Cara is the original jewelry designer to use horse brass as as a focal piece for necklaces. The large, brass centerpieces in this line of Cara’s jewelry were all once decorations used for horses in England. Horses were prized possessions and their owners would decorate the horses for festivals and parades. The brasses often depicted the lifestyle of the owner- the more decorated or elaborate, the more successful the owner. Cara sources the horse brass for her jewelry from a source in London that verifies the history of each piece. Cara then includes a handwritten synopsis of the brass’s history on each necklace.

And, let’s talk about those beads! How beautiful are the beads that Cara chooses and hand knots for each necklace? She offers such a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures in her beads- each necklace is a stunning example of old and new mixed together to create a fresh look with historical staying power. I, personally, find myself drawn to objects that have meaning or a story behind them- but usually to add to my home. With Cara’s necklaces, I can also incorporate the same idea into what I wear each day.

In addition to the horse brass line of necklaces, Cara also finds unique vintage objects and creates necklaces with those, too. Because she scours vintage markets to find just the right pieces, Cara simply and aptly names this line of her jewelry “Found Objects”. These are so interesting to see because each one is something that was once used in another way and has now been repurposed and made new!

Seeing the necklaces in her “Found Objects” collection is always fun to me- take a look at some of the designs in her latest show at Space – a boutique on Nantucket. The beauty of it is that this collection is always changing based on what Cara finds!

I especially liked the necklace on the far left with the interesting buckle and the beads that Cara chose. And then, there is the 2nd one from the left that also caught my eye- it looks like a barrette that was beaded and given a new life as a necklace. How pretty and creative are all of these?

In the grouping above, I am so drawn to the necklace on the far right. I love how it would go with so many outfits from casual to dressy. What a cool piece to wear and such a conversation starter. I love the other two necklaces, too! There is nothing ordinary about any of Cara’s designs with her finds or with her beading. Cara’s jewelry was even featured in Harper’s Bazaar~ she is quite a style setter!

And so, where do you find Cara Brown Designs? I caught up with Cara at Space Boutique on Nantucket. Space is owned by Elise Gura, and Elise invited Cara to be a part of her curated boutique…soon after, Cara’s necklaces were being sold at Barney’s New York and at Saks Fifth Avenue stores. I have to give props to Elise (show below, left) for her keen eye on discovering Cara’s jewelry! Space continues to carry Cara Brown Designs and you can contact Space at 508-228-8880.

Cara will also come to your town and host a trunkshow with her jewelry at your home. That idea sounds like a fun way to see an array of styles and designs and enjoy shopping with your friends. Cara’s handmade jewelry is also available on her website, of course! Carabrowndesigns.com has many of her latest one-of-a-kind necklaces and be sure to contact her for info if you have questions or would like to host a trunkshow.

I wore my Cara Brown necklace all over Nantucket and would literally get stopped by people on the street, in restaurants, and in shops asking to know more about it. It is a stunning piece of jewelry that looks great by itself or layered with other shorter necklaces. It is my favorite new accessory, and I am thrilled to have a one-of-a-kind necklace from the original horse brass jewelry designer! Thank you for creating such unique pieces for us to wear, Cara! You have a talented eye for design!

the party wagon logo final
the Party Wagon Re-launch Celebration

Wow, you guys! This past week has been a whirlwind of fun and excitement as The Party Wagon officially re-launched! So much was going on in such a short amount of time, and I want to share as much of it as I can with you!! First of all, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!! It means so much to me to have you here, and I invite you to put your email in and subscribe! This will be the first time I have had an email list. The first time around, I relied on RSS feed only. But, one of the many things that I learned is that with an email list, we can stay connected no matter what turns Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter take. With an email, we can be a team and can interact even more reliably! I want to share with you, and I encourage your feedback! It really wouldn’t be a party without YOU, and so I hope you will sign up for the newsletter to be delivered to your inbox each week! So let’s get this party started with a recap of the ReLaunch Parties!!

Logo Design by Joanna Baker

I was so thrilled to have my logo redesigned by illustrator Joanna Baker. Joanna was a delight to work with, and she captured the feel for what I was hoping to express with a new logo. To create the new look, I styled the cart, photographed it and then sent the photo to Joanna. Because my previous logo was a silhouette of my two children in a wagon- just like the wagon I used to pull them around in our backyard when they were little. I wanted to find a way to still use the sweet, original logo that held meaning for me…and so I asked Joanna to incorporate it as a cake topper on the cake on the bar cart (which I like to think of as my newest party wagon). A bar cart can be used in so many more ways than just for a bar, and I find myself pushing mine all round our house for different uses. It is definitely the most versatile party prop I own, and I highly recommend the bar carts from Society Social for style and function! And, as you can see below…I carried the logo and its colors throughout the party…

Cookies by Bambella Cookies. Styling and Photo by Lydia Menzies

I worked with Tara, from Bambella Cookies, to come up with a way to make cookies that represented my new logo and branding. Rather than make each cookie an exact version of the logo, Tara highlighted each aspect that was represented on the bar cart in the logo. I loved how they turned out and how they shared little pieces of what The Party Wagon is as a whole. From the actual bar cart itself, to the banner, the books, the blue and white vase with flowers, my favorite pink and white compote that I always fill with lemons, to the cake with my original logo as the topper, and the drinks and glasses with straw flags…she covered it all in the most beautiful collection of custom cookies!

The Party Wagon Cookies by Bambella Cookies

I love to fill our house with flowers, but I have to be careful because my son is allergic to several flowers. I have learned along the way which ones to avoid and which ones he can tolerate (he seems to have outgrown a complete flower ban)…and roses and hydrangeas seems to work just fine. I love to temper bright colors with a little bit of pastel or less-saturated color when I decorate, and so I made these arrangements with light pink roses and white hydrangeas.

I used my favorite cache pots from Chelsea House to display the flowers on our tables near the front door of the house. As much as I love flowers in a glass or clear vase, I also love the look of a beautiful decorative vase or pot- it definitely adds interest and depth to a flower arrangement. You can use a floral oasis inside the cache pots or, do like I did here, and drop a vase with water inside the pot and arrange the flowers that way.

To help celebrate the kick-off of the updated website, artist Hannah Betzel joined in on the party and did a live painting at the party. It was so much fun to watch her creative process in action as she started with the blank canvas and painted such a beautiful, lively, playful piece of art! Here she is as the painting is in progress…

Hannah is local to Athens and lives just a few blocks away from us, which made it easy and fun to have her drop in and showcase her talents at the party. I was so happy to have Hannah here! I feel like having an artist paint live adds energy and happiness to a celebration- it gives the artist the chance to share her work and talent with the community and it gives the guests a fun way to interact along with something interesting to watch and chat about. Everyone enjoys watching something come to life, and I was so honored to have Hannah here to celebrate the day!

Speaking of local favorites, I also wanted to highlight some of my favorite restaurants from our town by serving their food for lunch at the party. This also helped me be able to pull off hosting lunch in the afternoon and then hosting my daughter’s Supper Club that same night. Luckily, Athens is quite a foodie lovers town and is full of talented chefs with great restaurants. For this lunch, I served delicious sandwiches from Home.Made along with their famous Suwanee Bites and Pigs in a Blanket. I ordered salads from Maepole- my favorites being their White Bean Salad and the Snow Pea Salad. Plus, I couldn’t resist serving Maepole’s Hibiscus Lemonade along with mini champagne bottles that I got from Five Points Bottle Shop. Each guest was greeted at the door with a little champagne if they wished and then a host of other non-alcoholic options.

WELCOME banner by Loralee Lewis

For dessert, we all enjoyed cupcakes from our local Gigi’s Cupcake franchise and chocolate bunnies from Condor Chocolate- along with the cookies from Bambella Cookies. Oconee Printing Company made buffet signs telling what each dish was and from which local restaurant. We also had a fun giveaway drawing for gifts from some of my favorite local shops.

Because I was hosting Supper Club later that night, I had the table set and ready for the girls early in the day. The colors that we used on the tables were perfect for spring and for the flower theme that was the Supper Club theme this month. The vases also just happened to be the colors of my logo and are from Parker Kennedy Living- The Cellar. The owners, Lance and David, offered to share the vases with me for the party, and I loaded them with ranunculus from Trader Joe’s.

I wish I had taken more photos of the friends at the party, but I truly soaked up the fun in real life and didn’t take photos while the party was going on. I was so happy to have a chance to chat and visit with the friends who came, and I didn’t want to interrupt the enjoyment! It was such a fun day and it meant the world to me to have friends drop in and share in the excitement. As with any party, helping hands make it all run smoothly and I could not have done it without the help of my friends Lance, David, and Carrie and my favorite college helper, Kathryn. And, thank YOU for attending online with me! I am just so glad to be back to blogging and to be back with you all! Please leave comments below or send me a message telling me what you think of the new design! I was fortunate to have a lovely web designer, Nicely Built, migrate my old site and then design a new look while keeping all of the original content. There is still a lot to do as I share more with you, but I so appreciate that you are here!

Come back for more soon!

XO,

Lydia

Jazz Up Your Life with Ashley Longshore Art

Have you met New Orleans artist Ashley Longshore yet? Let me tell you, Ashley is a force in the world that draws me in like no other. She is equal parts loving and caring mixed with unabashed raw humor and bluntness. Subtle, she is not. But let me tell you what I feel like she IS.

Soaking up the enthusiasm and energy of Ashley Longshore at her show in Atlanta

Ashley is praised for her dynamic use of color while she depicts pop culture icons, makes light of society’s fascinations with luxury items (all the while also making them more enticing and desirable), and sharing her amusements with everyday life. She literally finds the beauty and humor in life itself, embraces it, and paints it in the most spectacular ways. Bottom line, she just draws you in. Sometimes you will hear people say that her wildness is offensive, but I find that her wildness is what MAKES her- she sees life in a vibrant, more exciting way and wants to share it. Ashley’s mouth could be described as more colorful than any painting she has ever created- whatever she is thinking is spoken and whatever she feels… she shares. But, thank goodness that she expresses herself, because that is also the reason we have her art. Expressing herself is a gift she has and she makes it her career ~ a career that she created FOR herself. A career that has her currently as Bergdorf Goodman’s Artist in Residence. At Bergdorf’s in NYC, Ashley had 5 windows showcasing her art and the entire 7th floor- holy cow. She is the first female artist to have a solo show at Bergdorf Goodman’s in the history of the store (which is over 100 years old). She also just teamed up with Gucci on a project- and Diane von Furstenberg asked Ashley to create a collection of portraits of women for International Women’s Month for her NYC flagship store.

Art by Ashley Longshore

And the reason that I love Ashley and her message so much is that Ashley’s story reminds me to be the type of mom that embraces her children’s personalities, qualities, interests and differences – and to remember that they are here to leave their own mark on the world and not necessarily the mark we may have envisioned they should leave. I love the reminder that our kids aren’t simply replicas of their parents to forge the exact same path or the path we have created in our minds for them. I really love that. Ashley is an example of what is possible when you let a child grow into their own rather than trying to force them into a certain mold.

I love the beautiful place setting with the cheeky message
Artwork by Ashley Longshore Photo by Lydia Menzies
Commissioned artwork by Ashley Longshore

I was originally drawn to Ashley’s story of her childhood that she freely shares. As a child, Ashley’s mom wanted Ashley to fit into her ideal vision and Ashley’s Dad was very happy to see her soar on her own (you can read more in Ashley’s words in the questions below). Fast forward several years, and you can clearly see the results of being allowed to pursue her own vision for herself.

Artwork by Ashley Longshore Art

Ashley is the type of business lady that inspires all business ladies (and men) to step up and strengthen your game. She encourages us all to stretch ourselves to be better than yesterday and to be unapologetically ourselves- while also reminding us to be our best selves on our way to realizing who we are and what we are capable of achieving. But her way of sending that message is unlike what you might imagine it is…it varies from a gorgeous post of her work on Instagram to the craziest meme or video you’ll see all day- and both are typically sprinkled with expletives and captions that will make you blush or make you laugh out very loud. She’s a hoot, as we say in the south.

Ashley is from the south which I also love. She was raised in Montgomery, Alabama (near where I went to college) and went to boarding school in Gainesville, GA (near where I live now). She is now in New Orleans which seems like a perfect match to her unbridled energy. In New Orleans, Ashley has assembled a team of ladies to help her run her gallery, and they seem like one, big, happy family who really get things done- and have a great time doing so! When I was interested in one of Ashley’s pieces of art several years ago, Ashley sent me a video of herself showing me the art but she first showed me around the gallery. I thought it was a brilliant move on her part. What a personable way to share your products and to see the personality behind the art! It stuck with me because it was helpful but also such a treat to receive such personalized attention.

I had a chance to ask Ashley a few questions recently and I wanted to share those with you…I feel like Ashley’s overall message in life is very uplifting just like her art. She is inspiring and unique- and I am so happy to have her work in my home as a daily reminder of all of the good that she shares!

Here is what I am talking about – directly from Ashley’s mouth…

Self Portrait by Ashley Longshore. Photo by Lydia Menzies

1.  You have worked so hard to accomplish goals and you encourage others to do the same…what are some of the goals that you set for yourself for the future?  I want to have a career like Andy Warhol and I want to leave a legacy like Peggy Guggenheim. I want to give lots and lots of scholarships and buy HUGE buildings and fill them with artists for the public to enjoy. I am a big art collector and hope to display my personal collection so that people can enjoy for years to come… I want to help artists understand that giving up 50% to a gallery is NOT the only way to have an art career. I want artists to have MONEY so they can make their biggest ideas come to life!!!!!!!! 

2.  Tell us about your Dad. He seems like a really cool guy to have in your corner. I adore my own dad, and learn so much about life from him. What can other parents learn from your father about raising a child?  He is the BEST. He always let me be me.. and he let me follow my passions… the best gift he ever gave me, was to cut me off and let me figure out how to financially take care of myself….. he is self made…. he taught me work ethic …. he is my favorite human. 


3.  My teenage daughter wants to ask…what is your favorite thing to paint? I love to paint everything.., the act of painting brings me soo much joy…. it is the foundation of my journey to self love… art saves me everyday, it brings me soooo much JOY! 

And, with that, I think my feelings about Ashley’s art have come full circle…her bright, colorful, happy, larger-than-life artwork brings me so much joy probably because it was created out of her joy. There you go! I think it all makes perfect sense! What are your favorite paintings by Ashley Longshore? I am drawn to the “Audreys”. You can see her gallery of work here.

Lance Jackson, Lydia Menzies, Ashley Longshore, David Ecton
Art Birthday Party
Art Parties are usually filled with lots of color and activities.  This particular party by The sTORIbook is no exception!  Full of vibrant colors of the rainbow, and lots of fun crafts, this has to be a party that all little and big kids would love.  I really loved how she used the big letters for her son’s name and for the tables, as well as the paint splatters on the water bottle labels and inside the picture frames.  The art palette cookies are amazing as is the beautiful white cake and the rainbow bunting on it!

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