Archives for November 2017

Diner en Blanc: A dinner party like no other

What originally started nearly thirty years ago as a handful of friends gathering for dinner dressed to the nines in all white in Paris, has exploded to the famed Diner en Blanc celebration of food, friends, fun and all things fabulous.  Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Houston edition, however this traveling dinner party has stops all over the world including previous locations at the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees.  But utilizing the elements of surprise and the host city’s natural beauty the event draws crowds of the city’s movers and shakers all with a have fun while “you see and be seen kind” of attitude.

As much of the event is hazed in mystery that quickly intrigues you and pulls you in I walked into the experience still in the fog.  And by experience I do mean the entire process as it is more than just one night.  It starts with registering, or trying to register, and if you have not been before waiting to see if you are pulled off the waitlist.  Then quickly moving to buy your tickets and as a newbie finding out that they supply the place and the party but it is your job to bring everything else.  And when I say everything else I do mean the whole shebang.  From chairs and tables to linens and plates the work is on your end to get things done within the all-white guidelines provided to you by your section leader.  As I opted to bring my own food I spent the day of the dinner in full panic mode.  From finding plates to putting together a dinner menu that would work on the move to my dinner date making table arrangement plans for the entire week.  After all of this and the huff and puff of moving yourself, your settings and your food to your space you are left with your heart and mind pumping with the following question: Is it worth it?????

Fortunately for the Diner en Blanc brand the answer to that questions is a resounding YES!!! As people began to pull out their table settings I knew I was in for a treat.  The average park we arrived to was transformed to all the elegance and glamour you would imagine on a beautiful night on the River Seine. With everyone pulling out all the stops from their outfits to their table décor the ability to just sit and peek the scene is absolutely thrilling.  The added bonus surprise is that all the work and hassle that it takes to get people prepared for Diner en Blanc has an amazing effect on the crowd.  I think its easiest to describe as the work makes attendees humble and hungry.  Not just hungry for food but for experiences, for laugher, for the opportunity to check into their friends and check out of social media, for the break  in their life where in a room full of other grown and sexy folks they can kick their shoes off and just enjoy life.  At the end of the day I believe this attitude is what the Diner en Blanc brand is built upon and without question after attending this reputation is on solid footing.  If you hear of Diner en Blanc coming to your city start doing the work to get in the know, it is well worth the work!

Martell Cognac H.O.M.E. making libations an experience

Martell Cognac has gone on tour over the US and is reminding those who were not in the know how they became a Cognac Powerhouse.  Yes the master crafting began over three centuries ago in 1715 but Martell has proven they have a product that is not just timeless but actually connects an amazing range of demographics and cultures.  With the foundation being in a smooth cognac the passion for the Martell products is indeed contagious and the Home event was no exception to this legacy.

Set in a sleek, modern, luxury home the Martell Home event was a perfect clean slate to paint beautiful palettes of cognac. Every room housed a different way to enjoy Martell.  So you can could start smoothly at the door and enjoy a Huncho Punch and then let it flow as the night and vibe takes you from rooms busy with beautiful peoples or rooms pulsing with fun.  With exciting rooms featuring dry iced concoctions and bustling rooms full of the city’s movers and shakers not only were guest enjoying the cognac but the elegant, one of kind atmosphere the cognac produces.

My favorites without questions were the rooms where I got a chance to really explore the Martell brand. First up was a chance to get in the driver wheel of my nights libations.  Yes we were put in charge and taught by master bartenders to become your own mixologist.  With our choice of fruit selection, freshly made sour mix, and of course a heavy or light pour of Martell you could really allow your taste preference to meet Martell in the middle.  Definitely on the best drinks of the night if I do say so myself.  Last but not least, tucked away in a closet of your dreams, you had a chance to get intimate with the pure cognacs without the mixers and extras taking away from the smooth flavorful Martell Cognac.  Straight up or with ice you not only got to sip the Martell of your choosing you had an opportunity to chat with brand ambassador who already know and love the Cognacs and who could share this passion with guests..  To top off an already memorable night the guest of honor Quavo from Migos insure guest had a night as unforgettable as the cognac.

Yahoo Lifestyles Feature

5 Attorneys

1 Clinical Researcher

8 Graduate Degrees

5 HBCU Graduates

5 Entrepreneurs

All living proof that you can define yourself and be who you want to be, despite how the world will try to peg you.

Wine on the move with Premesi Wines

When a seasoned, serial and successful entrepreneur invests tons of money and time in something you have a pretty good bet its going to be outstanding and with my introduction to Premesi wines that is definitely true for Al Rucker.  Al Rucker has built a name and brand in the Houston area for his undeniable business savvy, creating brands throughout the city from bail bonds to comedy clubs to radio shows.  Now he is investing these same gifts into a new avenue, the wine business.

Now the jump from his previous ventures to wine may seem like a bit of a leap, however, when it comes to wines there is always one overriding vote…Taste!! To make sure we not only got a chance to experience the wines but the lifestyle that the wine should embody we were treated to a wine tasting extravaganza.  Meeting for a mobile happy hour traveling from the Galleria are to Dolce Ultra Lounge in Cypress guest were able to network, nosh on some superb treats by the Chef to the Stars and of course sample the goods!  Not one minute of the night backed away from the claim of a phenomenal experience.  To first wet our pallets Chef Tiffany spoiled us with a unique box for eating on the go.  With treats like chilled shrimp, chicken salad and waffles, and cornbread and black eyed peas it seems like we had gotten to the main course, but the true super star of the night was the wines.  Chef Tiffany carefully curated two cocktails that had everyone on the bus smiling and deserves a place on everyone’s holiday drink list.  Best of all each recipe gave an opportunity to really explore the depth and flavor of both the Brachetto and Moscato d”Asti.

Even with all of the fun and delicious food on the bus, the party did not stop as we experienced the Premesi lifestyle for a day. As we arrived at Dolce Ultra Lounge the excellence continued with samplings of both their white and red wine and a full blown comedy show that pulled out heavy hitter Michael Colyar.  There is nothing like enjoying a night full of laughter, vibrant ambiance, amazing food, and of course unforgettable wine.  Make sure to get in on the lifestyle and amazing wines that Premesi has to offer!

Dream vacation of relaxation in Cabo

Cabo is full of everything perfect for a dream vacation. There is something for everyone, beautiful beaches for the sun soaker, adventure galore for the thrill seeker, more clubs than you can count for the partier.  For all of these reasons plus the quick flight time from the US makes Cabo a mainstay in weekend getaways.  So for my most recent trip to Cabo what fun did I get myself into??? Well absolutely nothing and it was just what the doctor ordered!

I am all for a vacation that helps me break my normal cycle of business and gives me some of the spice of life I am normally missing. Especially when this destination involves a beach my sites are almost automatically set on getting in some fun in the sun with jet skis or scuba diving to zest up my life.  For this vacation, however, I was all about the R & R and man it looked good on me.

I will admit part of my freefall into my relaxation sabbatical was my hotel. The Cape Hotel is a beautiful luxury hotel nestled into the scenic Cabo Oceanside.  After a long flight and long car ride the Cape offered a beautiful escape.  With clouds and rain in the forecast it all merged together for the perfect storm of why not just chill.  So chill I did.  Yes I chilled at the pool where poolside service can even mean in the pool service.

I chilled in the cabanas when the rain began to pour instead of standard scatter to the room to get out of the rain. 

I chilled on my fantastic balcony with swing included and allowed the sound of the ocean to draw me to sleep.

I even chilled in their soaking tub in the middle of the room as I let the bubble bath take me away.

Pretty much despite my pre-trip plans I took relaxation to a whole new level on the trip.

For me this very, very relaxing trip to Cabo was a great reminder of just how good change is. As I spend most of my days constantly in motion I have convinced myself that this is just a part of who I am.  While this is true it is important to devote time in your life to things that do not come as easy…like being still and relaxing.  By nurturing a less prominent side of yourself you all your body and mind time to recharge and actually take on your life bigger and better than ever.  As I sat starring at the crashing waves of Cabo San Lucas I was reminded that life is indeed filled with wonderful things and most of them are just a reach away if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

Small Business Spotlight: Johnny Dang & Co.

With a healthy mix of income levels, demographics and tons and tons of space Houston is a prime breeding ground for small business success. Companies that can properly transverse through all these factors have the opportunity to move their small business dreams to entrepreneurial powerhouses.  One outstanding example of a Houston local business growth story is Johnny Dang & Co.  By branding himself as the grill king he has been able to take a leap in branding from a jeweler to make him a local powerhouse.

What I love most about success stories like these is all the hard work that goes in that most people are tune deaf too.  In these stories you can see the struggle, growth, ups and downs and failures of taking on your dream, being humble enough to start small and thinking big enough to seize opportunities.  For Johnny the passion began as a watch repair tech at a flea market.  Proof positive that the root is in the dream not how grand you start.  Once the seed was planted Johnny moved to a location in Sharpstown.  If you saw the store you both knew it and remembered it as the bling was definitely the theme.  In this his brand was born but it was his tenacity for building that brand that make his growth unstoppable.  By identifying a need in custom jewelry creation in Houston he was able to attract deep pockets and big names to his shop.

So with the King of Grillz on TV and at a store near you what pearls can we gather in our own businesses?

Where you start is no indication of where you will end up. Taking the leap from flea market to three stores is a huge leap but completely possible with a dream to big enough to lift your sites high and the hard work and perseverance to move your engine along.

When you have a relationship with the customer you are half way there. When he first opened in Sharpstown it would be hard to imagine the jeweler becoming a national go to for jewelry. Instead of just targeting a high end client Johnny took the population he worked in, got to know them and see what would interest them. By focusing on their response Johnny Dang was able to build a broad audience in a wide range of quality and prices.

Team work makes the dream work. Where I think Johnny Dang truly shines in his ability to collaborate. From watches to his powerhouse alliance with Paul Wall his associations have been not just strong but lasting and given him the momentum to make a name for himself not just in Houston but in the world of Hip Hop.

With Johnny Dang & Co. recently celebrating their one year anniversary at a flagship store that is over 14,000 the power of these lessons is self-evident!

Girls Trip Fun: Reclaiming our time

Sometimes you just have to getaway and using your escape to reconnect with girl friends who reflect some of the best of you is a great way to reclaim your time, your life, and dare I say your groove? Whoever encouraged me to take the leap into adulthood and failed to mention all the unfun things that get in the way clearly wanted to mislead me. In what I thought would be a glamorous life of an attorney and entrepreneur is instead long days of running around, often in circles, for people I may not like.  It is definitely the life I choose so this is not a complaint just a note that what I want to do is often placed waaaayyyyyy behind all the things I need to do.  So that rare weekend when the stars align and I can get 7 of my friends away from their busy lives to enjoy some fun in beautiful southern California is one of the best ways to tap into the young, carefree Cori often hidden under the driven hard working Eleanor.

So how and why can a girl’s trip help you reclaim your time? Well the most important part is all the things you leave behind.  Yep the best trips are ones where you leave the laptop, pre-warn everyone you will be unavailable and tap into the present.  You only have one life to live and often we forget this message behind all the other things that seem to get priority.  Make money, find love, raise kids! All of these important life requirements but sometimes a little pearl is forgotten along the way… you are as important as all of the things on your to do list.


When you believe that and take occasions, even if they are rare to feed into that amazing things happen. Your step peps up, your smile gets a little more genuine, you remember to have fun and love with power. And for me there are few better people to tap into this part of myself than my good friends.  There is influence in perception and when you surround yourself by those who in the glimpses of you they get see you as smart and beautiful and powerful and competent, you can catch the same feelings about yourself.  As we set out to cheers in LA I laughed and smiled and even was a tad bit bossy, but with women who see all of those qualities as benefits to me and my friendship with them. A weekend with these kinds of reflections of yourself is a great reminder of how strong the best of you is when you untie the teeter and let the balloon soar. If only for the weekend.

Legacy Building

What stands behind when you are no longer here? At some point or another through the passage of time we will get an opportunity to consider what we leave behind.  Perhaps it is when you go to a funeral of a loved one or hear about a senseless killing on the news.  No matter how you might try to ignore it, one day you will have to face yourself and ask what has been the impact of your footsteps in the sand in your life and how will the footsteps continue or be honored once you are gone?

Over this weekend I attended a funeral for a cousin. A man who in life always brimmed with energy and a steady selflessness that you could sense before he even said a word.  In facing such a sad end to such a beautiful story I pondered this question as I have before in the shadow of death from other dear ones I have lost before.  In truth I believe clarity in this question comes while you are facing the sunset of your life but for me there is strand of vitality that has followed all I have loved into the great beyond.  Even the greatest of us may be washed away in the sands of time.  Names people once clamored around will become a distant memory for the world at one point.  And despite the natural order of immediate focus demanded by the present, the legacy that can matter most can still remained intertwined, brimming with the life force from which it was sent. Long after you leave this existence the core lessons of how you treat others remain.

Yes I have seen others pick up the path left by your footprints while yours seemingly wash away. For my grandmother I see the seeds of selfless kindness left in my vision of the world and it directs my path.  For my cousin I see in his children the consistent support of a gently but firm heart left in his children.  And one day I am sure I will see this same thread in his children’s children.  Even after the way we live our life loses all things personal to us, regardless of if your children’s children know just where the contribution came from, the way we treat people remains around as a foundation to those we love most.  And when we live lives fertile in this the best things about us can grow and blossom as its spread.  For those we leave behind it comforts us in our sadness that the long path of life that was walked was not in vain.  Without any fanfare or spotlight, the legacy remains even in something that seems as nameless to the person as kindness or joy or compassion.  A true legacy comes from inspiring others with some of your best habits while comforting them that you faced your worst, as they will have to, with determination and transparency.  The end of the sentence is often the best reminder of just how much the seeds you plant in your life matter, even when it is not destined for you to ever bear witness to the fruit.


In memory of my cousin

Michael Lynn Dotson