Shopping in Seattle

So, if I created the Perfectly Packed clothing system for folks who hate to pack or hate to shop, why would I be writing about the terrific shopping trip I recently made to Seattle?  Because I hate to shop when I have to, but love it when I can just wander and see what interests me.  So I took myself on a solo shopping trip to do both and it was the most fun I have had in a long time.

I stayed at the Sheraton in the heart of downtown.  The location was perfect for easy access to the major stores; the hotel was attractive; the staff helpful; and the rooms nicely appointed and comfy:

Gracious, comfortable, and convenient....

 

 

 

 

 

First stop, Nordstrom…… I stepped off the elevator at the Special Occasion section and was immediately approached by a very stylish and attractive young woman, Krystal, who proved to be the most amazing sales associate I have had the pleasure to work with….ever…….bar none!  I found the perfect dress right away but actually purchasing it turned out to be quite the adventure.   Suffice to say, it was through Krystal’s determined  assistance that the adventure had a happy ending mere hours before I flew out!  More on this in another blog.

With the special dress looked after, it was off to ‘shop until I dropped.’  So next stop, Macy’s….

Retail Therapy

 

 

 

 

 

 

……..and all the stores in between.  Happily I emerged with shoes….okay, more than one pair!!

The day was young, so I zipped over to J Crew, shopping all the while, where I cruised for ideas before chancing on a fashion show in the mall and bumped into a fashion blogger who gave me the inside scoop on some of the designers.  Although there was a bit of shopping time left, my feet refused to go any further and back to the hotel I went.  Fatigue and sore feet meant a bag of M&M’s from the mini bar and a cup of coffee from the great in-room machine for dinner that night.

Good to go....

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out early the next day and back to J Crew where the lovely Lisa helped me sort through way too many choices.  I walked out with jeans, tees, a sweater and a J Crew credit card….very dangerous!  Clearly I did not restrain myself as my purchases necessitated a trip back to the hotel to drop my finds before I could head  out again to see what other damage I could do.  Fortunately I was lured away from the stores to explore Pike’s Market, always a must when I am in Seattle.  I dodged a few fish as I strolled past.

Gone fishin'...the easy way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also spent a few minutes watching a life-size chess match

Hmmm....tough move....

….pretty much like watching paint dry but it was a lovely day and I hated to go back in.

 

 

 

 

 

A few more purchases – travel robe and pyjamas from Nordstrom; ballet flats from Banana Republic; brilliant turquoise lucite drop earrings (Norstrom again;) and another trip to the room to drop the day’s haul; rest my feet; and decide where to go for dinner.  Looking for a pub type meal took me into a place called Von’s…. which turned out to be a well known Seattle landmark specializing in slow roasted meats and special drinks.  With some skepticism, I ordered a pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich with fries…

Deliciousness....

…seriously, meat and coleslaw in a bun??  Turned out to be a heavenly combo….and very filling!

 

 

 

 

My final day gave me time to pick up the dress I had ordered and squeeze in the purchase of a black boyfriend jacket (again, thanks to the knowledgeble Krystal at Norstrom) before heading to the airport.  Here’s the sum total of my hard core shopping trip.  Talk about satisfying….

It's in the bag!

 

Now will it fit into the suitcase?

 

Yeeesssssss....it WILL fit into the suitcase!

 

Brand…..and Rebrand

Interesting times…..I am learning how nimble a business must be.  I started Perfectly Packed to meet a need many business people have – what to pack for a one week business trip.  I wanted to create a solution that was fast and required virtually zero thought but that ensured the client would end up at his/her destination with clothes that coordinated and were versatile enough for any occasion without sacrificing style and quality.  Mission accomplished!

So, what’s the problem?  Why rebrand?  Turns out that we solved more than the conundrum we identified.  These capsule wardrobes can be worn to the office on any given day; are the perfect gift for the new business graduate; provide a maximum wardrobe for minimal closet space; are a smart, cost effective solution for the woman returning to work; and so on….who knew?

So, our brand is actually limiting us.  Anyone looking to solve a clothing challenge other than packing, would pass us by….and we don’t want to be overlooked by folks we can help.  So back to the drawing board my creative muses to find a solution…….

A couple of resources that I find really helpful on any number of topics for independent businesses:  Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazine.  Happy reading!

 

London – Pubs and Parades

On my way back from Budapest I had a full day in London.  As much as I like to share the experience of travel with others, there is something sinfully delicious about knowing you just have yourself to please!

I wanted to be close to Hyde Park as I know my way round the places I like to see from that location.  it is a huge park, isn’t it?

My fabulous travel agents, Karen and Christene of Tier One Travel found the gracious Hempel Hotel located on the northwest side of the Park (closest tube station – Lancaster Gate.)  It was lovely – very zen lobby; beautifully redone rooms with distressed hardwood floors; casement windows; oodles of exquisitely white bedding; and outstanding customer service.

I love the London Tube but prefer to stay above ground if possible.  I put on my walking shoes and headed out for a day of reminiscing; sight seeing; and adventure.  First I rambled through Hyde Park checking out the other folks strolling along; really young kids having a rollerblading lesson; elegant equestrians out for a trot; and families feeding the birds on the pond…..including some Canada Geese!

On Piccadilly, half the road was closed for a parade which created some interesting traffic problems and much more interesting behaviour of those there for the festivities.  But I was on my way to the Royal Academy to check out the David Hockney exhibit a friend had recommended (thanks, Sandi.)

Royal Academy of Arts

Apparently many others were of the same mind and, although I arrived reasonably early in the day there was a 45 minute wait to get in.  But it was so worth it…..huge, colourful canvases; a whole exhibit done on ipads; one scene done in different seasons and from different angles; short films….the sense of size, texture, shades was breath taking and I am so glad I went.

I was heading to my old stomping grounds….spent a few months working at the venerable old Barclay’s Bank right at Trafalgar Square many years ago.  It was close to what was then Canada House which provided some much appreciated familiarity when I got a bit home sick.  It was also right across the street from the National Gallery which did not charge admission (and apparently continues with this wonderful policy.)  My lunch times frequently included a half hour wandering around looking at painters I knew of and introducing me to new ones…..including Turner whose work I love.  Of the 3 institutions, the only one still operating as it was then is the National Gallery.

Trafalgar Square remains, of course.

On this day it was the end point for the parade and the revelers were enjoying an outdoor concert on a huge stage.  It reminded me of the New Year’s Eve I spent there with thousands of others ringing in the the new year.  Totally amazing!

Back through Leicester Square, much of which was under construction at the time.

And finally, retracing my steps down Piccadilly and Hyde Park to a pub close to the lovely Hempel Hotel for an evening meal.

Budapest – The Sequel!

Wow, how time flies.  It is over a month since I returned from my trip to Europe and my promise to share some of the sights of my second day of touring in Budapest.

So the second day with Gabi was amazing as well.  Again, clear sunny weather showed off Budapest to its best advantage.  We met on the steps of the magnificent St. Stephens.  He had two claims to fame.  He was a king as well as a saint; and his mummified hand is on display in the Basilica.  I am not sure if there is any truth to it, but according to a tour guide who was talking to another group, other parts of his arm are in different countries.I have no desire to check it out but the Basilica is beautiful beyond measure.  It is also very cool inside which would be a big plus on their extremely hot summer days!

A bit more walking and the occasional short subway ride and we visited Heroes  Square;

 

 

 

the baths which were pretty full of people of all ages in spite of the time of year;

 

 

 

and the most amazingly large and well laid out ice-skating-rink-in-winter-and-pond-in-summer.

We parted company at Heroes’ Square where I lingered a bit longer soaking up the history and architecture and debating whether I had time to do a gallery or museum.  I opted for a leisurely stroll back to my hotel along one of the main thoroughfares.

I knew I had to leave the following day but it was a reluctant departure for sure as I had come to appreciate just how much more there was see and learn.  But I was buoyed by the knowledge that I had a full day in London to come.  And that is never a disappointment……details to follow in my next post.

 

 

Sightseeing with Gabi……

It has been a dizzying week of activity and I have learned so much…about excellent public transportation, business activities, cultural heritage, and life in another country!
So much to see, so little time……the lovely Gabriella of Gabriella’s Private Tours in Budapest who was referred to me by friends who had recently visited Budapest is kindly showing me the sights of this lovely old city.

Because March 15th was a national holiday, many of the roads were closed and trams and buses were not running, so we mainly walked…..and walked……But apparently not enough, so I met Gabi again the following day on the steps of St. Stephen’s Basilica to pick up where we left off.

Hungarian Snack
Vizsla Astoria Hotel
Different eras with different styles

Our first day of sight seeing included the Castle; the largest pretzels I have EVER seen; an amazing array of architecture that demonstrates the convergence of a variety of cultures over time; and strudel…..who knew there was cabbage strudel? Once I got past the idea that strudel could be anything but apple, I had a taste and totally loved it!

Our tour included a few sights that were somewhat unusual i.e. both ‘national’ dog breeds (the sleek,short haired canines are Vizslas and the one with the perm is a Puli;) a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan…..accompanied by Gabi; and our choice of 3 political demonstrations!

We were so fortunate that the weather was excellent and lured us on to more touring than we might otherwise have done.  My feet were very happy to rest comfortably in my cozy room at the Astoria for a couple of hours before I set off for to forage for an evening meal.

I needed time to recover before the intrepid Gabi had me hoofing it around to places that we missed the first day.  Next time….St. Stephens, Heroes Square, and the baths….

Trams, Underpasses, and Business Connections

Budapest has an astounding array of public transit and I think I experienced pretty much all of it in one marathon day!

The kind folks at TMTE (Society of Textile Technology and Science) arranged for several meetings for me both in Budapest and in a couple of cities within a 3 hour train trip.  That is the good news.  The challenging news is that the two meetings in the other cities were both on the same day!  They prepared me very well having had one of their staff not only give me directions and bus tickets to get back from their office, but actually accompany me to my hotel counting bus stops all the way.

Budapest Tram

The same young lady was charged with the responsibility of escorting me to the train station the morning of my trip.  She speaks no English; I speak even less Hungarian; we smiled at each other a lot.  She lead, I followed….from the hotel through the underpass to the other side of the the street; onto the bus; 2 stops; off the bus; down through the underpass to the middle of the street where the tram runs; onto the tram for 6 stops; off the tram; you guessed it….through the underpass to the train station; onto the train.  And that was just the beginning.

The rest of the day included getting off one stop too soon, doing an immediate about face and getting back onto the train at the other end of the car just barely before it left the station;  getting off at the wrong stop in Budapest – who knew there was more than one train station?; and, in reverse order, counting back 6 tram stations and 2 bus stops with all the accompanying underpasses!

Did I mention that the meetings were great and the people overwhelmingly helpful and hospitable?  More on that to follow…..


The Entrepreneur Goes to Budapest…..

It wasn’t quite love at first sight.  Somehow arriving in any new city on a Sunday, particularly a gray Sunday, can be a downer.  However, I deal with it by focussing on the immediate next steps.  I usually start with organizing things in my room, especially making sure I have an Internet connection (more on that later) and then get a map of the local area and go for a walk.  I scope out where the likely eateries are, find the closest Exchange, make sure I know a couple of landmarks …all in relation to the hotel.

Danubius Astoria Hotel

My hotel, the Danubius Astoria, is very centrally located.  It was easy to get my bearings, exchange some money (both Euros and Florint are used), and wander along to some tourist sites until a lashing rainy wind came up and drove me into a restaurant for cover.  Happily, it was about time for a meal and I enjoyed a bowl of Goulash soup (not to be confused with real Goulash which is thicker and has fewer veg) and a cup of Cappuccino (I swear it tastes better here but maybe it is because my first ever Cappuccino was in Europe.)

The last part of my orientation-to-a-new-city-ritual, is to organize myself for the next day making sure I know where where I am going; that there are no surprises re time differences; that I know how to get to my destination on time; and what clothes I will wear.  And I pretty much feel at home…

Oh yeah…..about that Internet thing.  Seems like the wifi is good during the day but I am on speed dial with the help desk (the better part of 2 hours last night) in the evening trying to get, and hold, a connection.  Sometimes there really is no place like home.

Next time…….trams, underpasses, and business connections……..

How to use your capsule wardrobe to make business travel hassle free

Double decker bus and a Taxi, London
Well, I am having to put my money where my mouth is….or at least my 7 day wardrobe…..  I am in London for a conference and will then be going to Hungary to meet with representatives of their garment industry.  Since I am in the business, the pressure to pack without hassle and to do it perfectly is intense!  So, have I done it?  I am only into day 2 so I can’t tell yet.  I can say that packing was not totally hassle free even with the minimal wardrobe approach.

No worries about the business clothes – the modular wardrobe will totally cover all the events scheduled – but I was challenged to find a raincoat in a climate that values coats more for warmth than for water resistance.  Since I hate to shop I put it off until a couple of days before I left.  Still, I was optimistic that I would be able to default to a basic trench coat and be done.  Wrong!  After an afternoon downtown and a day at a large mall, canvassing virtually every store that had even a remote possibility of coats of any sort, all I had to show for my efforts was a pair of neat new sunglasses which, judging from the lack of sun I see as I glance at my view of the Docklands, I won’t be needing any time soon.

As luck would have it, I detoured into the last store and found a new shipment of raincoats, one of which is perfect.  Thank you FEN-NELLIE!

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Mini Businessmen tackle the Dragon’s Den

Businessmen Tackle Dragons DenEver since several folks suggested I take PerPac on Dragons’ Den I have become an avid follower of the program.  Most evenings you will find me watching episodes that I have taped.  Invariably there are a few folks that make you wonder if they have ever bothered to watch the program  as some of them are completely unprepared for what they must surely know will be a rigorous grilling by each of the Dragons in his/her own way.

……..and every once in a while there is one….or in this case, two folks…..who knock it seriously out of the park!  In this partiucular case, it is two very young fellows named Caleb and Lars.

They have taken the idea of building a better mouse trap, or in this case, hot chocolate mix, to new a new level.  They were calm, well prepared, and thorough in their presentation showing a maturity well beyond their years….and most importantly, nothing the Dragons said unnerved them .  We could all take a lesson!

Perfectly Packed Creates Radio Waves

I am a planner….I don’t just leap into doing something new.  I need to scope things out, organize, make sure I know where to be and when and what I will say when I get there.  So how did I come to be on the radio with virtually no time to prepare?  It was one of those serendipitous moments…..

A stroke of luck introduced me to the hilarious and energetic Patti McNeil, a former radio host and publicist.  Patti advised she had narrowed her clientele to representing a single company …..and two young and very busy youngesters…..but as we got talking, she totally engaged with notion of  PerPac and thought she might come out of retirement for it!  Before you know it, she had me on the radio with her former radio show partner, the affable Terry Dimonte of QR107!

I should mention that Patti and I have not yet met.  We are going to get around to it….soon!  In the meantime, clearly when Patti sees and opportunity, she jumps all over it and it’s done.  She saw a connection betwee PerPac and Terry’s recent and significant weight loss; called him one day with the idea; did an email intro between us the next; and the third day I found myself on the local airwaves! Here’s the result: Perfectly Packed radio interview.

As always, it was a learning experience.  I learned that I did not have to figure out where the radio station was and go to the studio….just called in from my office phone and …bam…on the air!!  I also learned that, in spite of the advent of all kinds of electronic means of communicating, radio really is effective as I received an email almost immediately after the piece aired from a client who was on her way to work (did I mention we got drive time….could it be any better??)   to the radio station.

Sadly for YYC, Terry has returned to CHOM 97 7 – The Spirit of Rock Home in Montreal where his former audience will no doubt be thrilled to drive to work with him again.

Happily for YYC, Patti is still here and focussing her talent and efforts on education.  Check our her new blog:  Confident Calgary Kids pic.