Thursday, September 6, 2012

Trunk Show - Hammitt Los Angeles

You don’t have to travel to the runways of Milan or New York City to glimpse the hottest trends in handbags this season.  Zoey Bloom – South Tampa’s premiere accessories boutique—is hosting an exclusive Hammitt Los Angeles trunk show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. September 15, and you’re invited to see for yourself why stylists are snapping up these in vogue designs for their celebrity clients. Tony Drockton, Hammitt’s creative director and CEO will be on the premises to personally present the collection.
The Westwood
Featured in InStyle, People Style Watch, WWD, Lucky, OK Magazine, The New York Times Style section and more, Hammitt Los Angeles handbags are being toted by Hollywood style icons such as Angelina Jolie, Ashley Greene, Paris Hilton and Kristin Bauer. When US Weekly asked One Tree Hill’s Chelsea Kane to show readers the contents of her bag, the purse she poured was Hammitt’sWestwood satchel.
So what’s all the fuss about?
In a sea of satchels, clutches and totes, Hammitt Los Angeles boasts a modern approach to classic design, with signature rivet detailing that is immediately identifiable.
“And in this era of outsourcing, socially conscious style enthusiasts will appreciate that each bag is American-made,” said Zoey Bloom co-owner James Sontag. “Each bag is organically crafted in Los Angeles from the finest imported leathers and suede. Hammitt continues to gain recognition in a sea of accessories brands for its quality and strong design, while remaining true to its made-in-Los Angeles roots.”
A breath of fresh air in the luxury leather handbag market, Hammitt’s attention to detail includes luxurious suede lining and gold plated hardware like grommets and studs.
“You know it’s a Hammitt without having to ask,” Sontag said. “Every piece has a very distinct look. Every piece is a standout!”
The Montana
Each design is affectionately named for a location in and around the Los Angeles area and pays homage to some of the city’s best known attractions like Hollywood, the Sunset Strip and Bel Air. Each season, classic collection staples like the Montana, the Brentwood or the Westwood are updated with new leathers to stay chic and contemporary for the modern woman.
But what really makes Hammitt handbags so unique is their versatility. Hammitt designs are rare in the way they transition seamlessly from season to season, from day to night, and from the red carpet straight on to the after party.
The perfect fusion of fun, function and sophistication, Hammitt’s playful yet edgy designs have been featured in more than 30 top television shows, including Gossip Girl, 90210, Pretty Little Liars, Entourage and The Newsroom. Last year, the company was even contacted by the makers of the HBO cult-favorite, True Blood, to create a five-piece collection that honed in on the individual style and essence of the show’s characters. 
Hammitt Los Angeles handbags retail for between $200 and $800 and are sold at 300 handpicked boutiques across the world. Zoey Bloom is the only Tampa boutique that carries the line. Located at 1710S. Dale Mabry Highway in South Tampa, Zoey Bloom’s Hammitt Los Angeles trunk show will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. September 15.
For more information on Hammitt Los Angeles—or to get a glimpse of this season’s collection—go to

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fashionable ‘Hope Clips’ Support Women and Children Worldwide

Sweep up your hair with a Hope Clip and you not only make a unique fashion statement; you support free trade and stand up against sex trafficking!
Hope Clips are hand-beaded, one-of-a-kind African butterfly hair clips, handmade by South African women who are paid Fair Trade wages for their goods.  With an innovative interlocking design, they are incredibly comfortable to wear and work great in all types of hair – from long and thick to short and thin.  And they are so durable, they even come with a one year guarantee!

So how does a hair clip come to make a political statement?
In 2009, Lauren Smith of Fairfield, CT discovered these amazing clips at a craft fair. On a mission to support women and children worldwide through fashion, she tracked down the company that employs the African women who make the clips.  Scoring an official distributorship, she named the clips Hope Clips, using “HOPE” as an acronym for “Helping Other People Every day.”  Hope Clips, LLC donates a portion of its proceeds to Hopes & Dreams International, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that helps prevent, rescue and heal victims of child sex trafficking.
Hopes & Dreams began in 2006, after Dateline NBC aired the story of an American doctor buying young children in Cambodia for sex.  The organization started out by trying to empower families in Cambodia, in order to prevent the sale of their children.  Hopes & Dreams provided food, shelter and the opportunity for families to become financially self-sufficient (several girls were sent to learn the trades of cosmetology and sewing).

Since its beginning, the Hopes & Dreams rescue team has recovered hundreds of children, including 50 American children.  The organization is in the initial stages of building Healing Centers on the east and west coasts of the United States – sanctuaries that will be dedicated to helping heal these broken children.
So how prevalent is child sex trafficking?  According to UNICEF, it is a global market of more than $12 billion a year with more than 1.2 million child victims – more than in the transatlantic slave days.
Zoey Bloom in Tampa, FL., is proud to carry a wide selection of Hope Clips and to help Hopes & Dreams make a difference in the lives of these children … one clip at a time. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Help for the Overstuffed Handbag - How Mesh Purse Pouches Saved My Life!

My overstuffed disgrace of a handbag

The other night, we were one our way to a working women’s girl’s night out and, being in the passenger seat, my friend Jo Anne made me her designated handbag holder. As she reached over to fish out her keys, I couldn’t help but notice how disturbingly organized it was in there. (The odds of finding a pen, better yet a credit card, in my bag are about as good as making it up that rope ladder to win a giant stuffed Tweety Bird at the state fair!)

Jo Anne's disturbingly neat bag
Jo Anne’s bag was filled with colorful — almost weightless — mesh pouches that not only allowed her to group like items, but to see through the pouches to the contents. I was nothing short of amazed at this simple solution to a problem I’m sure dates back to Mrs. Caveman trying to organize the inside of her hollowed out coconut.

Realizing her wallet was the heaviest thing in her bag, Jo Anne made the bold decision to eliminate it altogether. I’ve spent years thinking the wallet was the piece de resistance of the handbag. But despite trying every style known to mankind, I always end up with a wallet that won’t snap or zip, because it’s overstuffed with change, cards and hundreds of receipts. I admit it. I’m a receipt keeper. Why I hold onto every piece of paper that tells me I spent $1.07 on an unsweetened tea from McDonald’s, I don’t know. I just know I need it. Don’t judge me.

But I digress. Jo Anne’s life changed when she discovered, Walker Products' sturdy colorful mesh pouches in assorted sizes, shapes and colors. She uses the pouches to group and color code like items.
“I have a green dollar-sized pouch for my money,” she says. “I could do bills in one pouch and coins in another, but I don’t. I put it all it one, because it’s easier to just pull out one thing.” Enlightened moment: My GOD, she’s eliminated the change purse too!

“Then, I have two colors of the credit card size pouch — one pink, one orange,” Jo Anne says. “I put my driver's license and the credit cards I use all the time in one pouch. In the other, I put the cards I rarely use … my library card, my health plan card, my beauty card from Sephora . . .”

Instead of having only one pouch for receipts, Jo Anne uses two different-colored pouches — one for everyday receipts and one for business expenses, “so everything’s easy to keep track of,” she says.
Finally, there’s a pouch for makeup and a small pouch for business cards. She uses the pockets built into her handbag for easy access to her phone and gum and the built in zippered pouch holds her keys, so she’s never scrounging. 

The colored pouch system serves a lot of purposes. Not only does it keep a handbag organized; it also lightens the load and helps maintain a bag's shape.

“A lot of today’s sophisticated handbag styles are very slim,” says Jo Anne. “You don’t want to overstuff them. The style is lost if your bag looks pregnant. These thin mesh pouches allow me to be organized, while keeping a slim silhouette.”  (Oh no, I’m thinking. My handbag has to look slim, too? I’ve lost 60 pounds since last March, but it never occurred to me that I need to Jenny Craig my pocketbook!)

So here I am, with my entire handbag world turned upside down — literally. Yesterday, I stopped into Zoey Bloom for a handbag makeover. The first thing we did was put my bag on a postage scale. It was pushing 7 pounds! That’s a baby! (And most people use wheels to haul around their babies!) My wallet alone rang in at a pound and a quarter. No wonder my neck and shoulders always ache. That’s what happens when your bag weighs the same as the chicken you roasted on Passover.
Jo Anne’s bag, with it’s colorful, mesh organizers weighed just 3 ½ pounds.
We emptied the contents of my purse onto the counter, and our fundamental difference in philosophy became clear. Jo Anne limits what she carries to essentials.  I’ve always thought the bigger the bag, the more I can haul.

Inside my bag were four hand lotions; two pain relievers; a wallet/change purse; a stand-alone change purse; a case for overflow credit cards; an iPod; checkbook; phone; Bluetooth; keys; gift cards still attached to the display cardboard; months of receipts; a Swarovski-studded credit card case; sunglasses; reading glasses; 2 lip balms; cuticle cream; 3 bottles of hand sanitizer; and enough feminine hygiene products to distribute to a small nation. There was a nutritional guide from Larry’s Subs, a brochure from the Seminole Heights shopping district ... 

My husband asked me if Jimmy Hoffa was in there.

We began eliminating the unnecessary clutter weighing me down. Whenever I go out, for instance, I throw in the lipstick and liner I’m wearing that day, but I never take them out. I just keep adding to a cosmetic stockpile.

We took out four pens, a highlighter and the Sharpie I carry just in case there’s a celebrity autograph opp. We removed rewards cards and library cards from the last two states I lived in, old receipts, brochures and handfuls of heavy coins. I need to go through this process weekly, because “stuff” accumulates. There were jet ski brochures from a Long Boat Key vacation more than a month ago.

Grouping like items, we figured five pouches should do it — one for money, one for receipts, one for the credit cards I use all the time, one for the cards I use only occasionally, and a big miscellaneous pouch for a my lip balm, pen, breath mints, hand lotion, sanitizer and other “floaters” which routinely end up at the bottom of my bag. I opted out of a make up pouch, because I really don’t reapply anything but lipstick, and that can go in my catch-all pouch.
My bag makeover
 I love being able to see through the pouches to the contents.  The one exception is my feminine products, which I opted to keep in a thin fabric cosmetic case, so they wouldn't be on display for every cashier in town.  And now I carry enough for a day, not a two-week Mediterranean cruise!

With my new zippered mesh pouches in contrasting colors, when I reach into my bag I now know what pouch to pull out in any given situation. My new handbag lost about four pounds!  And in case you're wondering:

Jimmy Hoffa’s still missing!

Walker mesh carrying cases in a variety of colors and sizes at Zoey Bloom:
3” x 4” (slightly bigger than a credit card or a business card)
4” x 5 (slightly bigger than a phone or iPod)
4” x 7” (slightly bigger than a dollar bill or a checkbook — perfect for receipts, pens and makeup brushes)
9 x 7 (a great size to fit all of your miscellaneous must haves)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Not Your Granny's Straw Bag!

Good news, girls! Summer’s straw bag has gotten a makeover! Say goodbye to those boxy or trapezoidal bucket-like bags that make a grown woman look like a college prep. And if straw gives you ‘Nam flashbacks to that shapeless tote granny brought back from the Bahamas — the one with the colorful 3D flowers or embroidered island women carrying fruit on their heads — think again!
Gone are the gaudy designs that seem like a good purchase after a few margarita’s in Cabo —those Mexican market finds snatched up in the excitement of travel, only to become knitting bags when we return to real life. 

The 21st Century straw bag is sophisticated and sleek. And sometimes, it’s not made of straw at all. Today’s “straw bag” can be crafted with raffia, reeds, sea grass, rattan, even aromatic roots.
One definite bonus to today’s straw-like bags is that they are not only stylish, but much lighter to carry than leather. Different weaves create different patterns and textures, and many are topped with exotic wooden closures that add sculptural elements that turn your bag into a work of art.

From a loomed seagrass clutch to a rattan satchel trimmed with rosewood and brass, there’s a straw-like bag to fit every personality. And if you’re worried that these bags can’t be sturdy, think again. Rattan is used to make furniture!

Zoey Bloom’s unique collection of summer bags includes an adorable framed wicker satchel by Serpui Marie. Made in Spain, this is definitely not your granny’s straw bag! It features a bright orange handle that gives it a pop of color and a fashion edge! With a stitched leather flap and antique brass turnlock closure, this retro chic satchel is lined in soft khaki duckcloth that is so durable, they make tents out of the same material!

More exotic designs include a line of exquisite handbags made of vetiver root. Vetiveria zizaniodes is a scented tufted grass with an abundant fibrous root system. For centuries it has been used in cosmetics, aromatherapy, botanical pesticides, disinfectants, herbal drinks and, more recently, in handicrafts and home décor.  

Famous perfume brands like Guerlain, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy use vetiver oil as a valuable ingredient. In traditional medicine it is known for its calming effects, as an antidepressant, and as an aphrodisiac. And in Asia it is also commonly used as insect repellant.

Mountain grown and harvested in Java, Indonesia, the vetiver roots are dried in the sun and hand woven by artisans. Each bag features a hand loomed cotton lining and rosewood accessories and/or handles. The shoulder bags use genuine cowhide straps for comfort and durability.

One of our favorite designs is the elongated, east-west bag (shaped like a canoe) with a rosewood and brass decorative bar. This handbag (featured at the top of this article) not only looks fantastic, but its soft, aromatic smell is refreshing. We can’t promise it will replace Prozac, repel mosquitoes or attract Mr. Right, but it sure will get you compliments when you wear it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dizzy for Drusy!

Stopping by jewelry designer Claudia Lobao's booth while on a buying trip in New York turned out to be much more than perusing a collection of exquisite jewelry. Claudia and I talked about one of our favorite trends in fashion jewelry right now — a product of mother earth, called drusy (pronounced "dru: z"). Also spelled druzy and druse, these tiny multi-faceted quartz crystals are found in the center of agate geodes and other minerals.

What makes drusy so riveting is its reflective, often iridescent, surface. It's eye-catching sparkle is reminiscent of sugar or fresh snow.

So what exactly is drusy? Drusy is the tiny crystals that form within or on the surface of other stones. It forms when ground water carrying dissolved silica is forced into a porous area of a rock. Tiny crystals form on the surfaces or in cavities of the rock, often on top of previously deposited minerals. This process takes millions of years.

Finding these sparkling treasures can be a tedious process. Agate rocks are dug from the earth, then split open. These are called geodes. The center of these geodes are what we call drusy. Pieces are cut from the irregular-shaped interior surface of these geodes, then cut into shapes, and the back sides are polished to be used in jewelry.

But not every geode is a winner. Many are split open to reveal solid rock that can't be used for anything. It's a laborious process to find the glittering nuggets that make spectacular jewelry. So it's easy to understand why drusy costs a little more than many other gemstones.

Once drusy is cut and shaped, dye is applied which Claudia describes as vivid color that seemingly melts into the stones.

Jewelry made with drusy has a magnificent brilliance that is not unlike diamonds. Thankfully, drusy is far less expensive. And here's another fun fact: drusy quartz is believed to energize and stabilize both your body and aura, promoting creativity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Ultimate Purse Organizer & Jewelry Traveler

For a few years now, PurseN has been recognized for having taken purse organizers to a whole other level - practical and functional, yet stylish and fashionable. (PurseN oganizers are sold at

PurseN organziers expand to fit larger bags, have tons of pockets and ridged sides that don't flop over. For those who like to change their handbags frequently, these organizers have handles to pull them out easily and insert them into different handbags. They are a godsend for owners of those bags where everything falls into a big pile in the bottom of your bag! While the fabrics and prints change seasonally, the basic style remains the same.

PurseN's latest design is the Tiara Vacationer Jewelry Traveler, and, in our opinion, it is already on its way to becoming even more popular than the organizer! With large see-through windows, you can pack even your large pieces of costume jewelry and easily identify your treasures to wear them out for the day or evening.

Inspired by origami, the sides fold in and overlap; each layer offers more protection for each jewelry item you enclose. The bottom windows snap out completely, and there is even a padded bar in the bottom to hold your rings securely. If you bring chunkier pieces, the bottom of the case can be expanded another inch so as not to overcrowd. At $48, the Tiara Vacationer makes a terrific gift.

The Tiara Vacationer is also available at We can't wait to see what PurseN comes up with next!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hammitt Creates Handbag Collection for HBO's Hit Series, True Blood

With well over 7,000,000 likes on Facebook, it's safe to say that the hugely popular HBO series, True Blood, is going to be around for a while. It truly has a loyal following. When HBO went looking for a handbag company to design a unique and edgy collection inspired by the series, they found Hammitt Los Angeles. Handcrafted in the United States, and known for their rich Italian leathers and contemporary urban styling, Hammitt bags had already been featured in contemporary series like 90210, Entourage, Melrose Place & Gossip Girl.

Set to debut this fall, the "Hammitt for True BloodTM" handbag collection features five handbags, each is named after a different character on the show.

The “Sookie” is based on the main character, Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin. Made of pleated dove grey suede, it is a ladylike frame bag made edgy with flat multi-colored rivets on the side gussets. It’s feminine and tough, very much like the Sookie character.

The “Eric” is based on the vampire sheriff, Eric Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgard. This is a crossbody bag and is simple, black, and, appropriately, accented with silver bullet-shaped studs and gold flat rivets on the sides.

The “Alcide,” is inspired by the resident werewolf, Alcide Herveaux. While its exterior of soft leather and faux fur reflects the softer side of the character’s good guy nature, the wolf image printed on the underside of the bag flap and the rivets on the handle reflects his underlying fierce side.

The “Lafayette,” is based on the character, Lafayette Reynolds, the flamboyant cook at Merlotte’s and drug dealer who sells “V” - vampire blood. Like the character, the handbag is flamboyant and fashionable. It features reflective studs, metallic leather with a stamped alligator pattern, alluding the Louisiana bayou and, as a nod to the V dealer, a V-shaped exterior pocket.

“Fangtasia” is a toast to the bar in Shreveport, Louisiana that serves as a hangout for vampires. This bag evokes the Goth nature of the bar with its black leather, rivets, and sexy corseted detailing on the front.

Each bag features a deep red lining printed with the True Blood logo. The bags start at $395 and can be pre-ordered at