Hoopla, Vegas style:: part 2

Hoopla, part 2! 

For the past 3 years, I’ve gotten to meet up with my “cousin” Katie and her friend Kirsten at Hoopla. Katie and I have grown up knowing each other through our mutual cousin (who would make quite a fabulous Stylist, I might add), so it’s funny that we both ended up working with Stella & Dot, just in different states. I say it all the time, but I just love how S&D brings people together or reconnects them with one another.
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Devon is another shining example of reconnecting — we were hallmates in our dorm freshman year of college and hadn’t seen one another in years. She was invited to a trunk show I did for another girl from that same dorm hall, and Devon ended up signing up as a Stylist on my team. It’s been so fun getting to know each other again and helping her with her business!
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Shannon is one of my Stylist favorites. We met a few years ago at Hoopla and have been friends ever since. 
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3,000 very stylish women packed into a room. This is what Day #1 of training looks like.
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And we have the best leaders out there. Our VP of Training is a crazy Canadian lady whom we all adore and wish we could soak up her incredible energy. She started each day off by entertaining us as a can-can dancer, a show girl, and the King himself — Elvis. None of them disappointed. 
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I’ve never seen so many pairs of colorful flats in my life. And check out 2 of our new bags — the How Does She Do It in painted zebra and the Madison Tech Bag in poppy. Which is your fave?
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My favorite slide from the entire training program. Of course it was courtesy of our crazy VP of Training, Danielle. Doesn’t it just make you smile?
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For our last night, Chateau, the nightclub at the Paris Hotel, was rented out for our company dance party. Stella & Dot knows how to party.
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Perfect view to end our trip — the Eiffel Tower on the Strip.
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It’s hard to believe that another Hoopla has come and gone, but there are so many things to look forward to with the new line and all the goodness that fall brings in this business!

Hoopla, Vegas style:: part 1

Another Hoopla has come and gone… and I’m only just recovering. What is Hoopla,  you may ask? It’s only one of the best trips all year — Stella & Dot’s annual conference for Stylists. This was my 4th Hoopla and the first one that’s been in Las Vegas since I’ve been with the company. I think it’s safe to say the trip lived up to the hype. The conference took place at the Paris Hotel, so the theme of “Joie de Vivre” was very fitting.  Join me on a little trip to Paris (in Vegas)!

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Ok, so this doesn’t look much like work, but it was a fantastic way to start the week.
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Without a doubt, this year had the BEST free swag for Stylists. I received the How Does She Do It tote in Painted Zebra,  Union Square Scarf in Painted Zebra (which now comes with a handy little storage bag), Linda Studs, Moxie Stretch Bracelet, and other fun goodies! 
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We started Hoopla off with the fashion show and debut of the new fall 2013 collection, which is always one of my favorite parts. One of my team members, Devon, attended Hoopla for the 2nd time, and I’m so glad I got to share in the fun with her! (And of course my Stylist friend and roomie, Shannon, too!)
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Who else has legit Vegas can-can dancers at their work conference?
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This year, there was a fun Stylist boutique where we could have our makeup done, portraits taken for new business cards, and sample new Smirnoff flavors. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
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IN LOVE with the new Madison Tech Bag in poppy!!! It has zippers on the sides to make it more compact, the strap is adjustable/removable, and it’s coming out in black in August! This is a definite must-have for the girl on the go. 
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Another favorite thing about Hoopla is the time we get to spend just visiting, celebrating, and learning from with our fellow Stylists from around the country, many whom we only see once a year. I’ve made so many amazing friends through my job with Stella & Dot, and I so look forward to spending this time with them. It’s incredible to see the success that so many of them have achieved over the past year — from earning an incentive trip to Mexico, to being top in sponsoring, or being #1 in sales in the ENTIRE company (I’m looking at you, Alex!). That’s what is so wonderful about the Stylist community — we help and encourage everyone to go above and beyond their goals, and when they do, we CELEBRATE! This year, the Dixie Dots did it in style with a penthouse suite overlooking the Nevada mountains.
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Our Senior Director and leader of the Dixie Dots team, Anna, made awards for lots of our team members. This was mine, which I greatly appreciate. Thanks to Anna for making everyone feel special!
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You can’t go to Vegas without seeing the beautiful Bellagio fountain show. 
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Or the Chihuly blown glass sculptures in the Bellagio lobby.
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That was one looong day, but so fun and so worth it!  Part 2 coming later this week.

restaurant review:: Vegas edition

One might think that my recent trip to Vegas consisted of nothing but eating. They wouldn’t be far off, other than the Stella & Dot annual conference training and celebrations (HOOPLA), which is the actual reason I was there.  I’ve compiled a short review of each of the three restaurants where we had dinner during our trip. Two of the three were at the Paris Hotel, which is where we stayed. I’d never been to any of them, and I was thoroughly pleased with the experience and meal at each one!

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I sort of imagined a menu filled with nothing by candy confections and drinks. That wasn’t far off for the drink menu (think Lollipop Passion Goblets and Blow Pop Martinis, complete with candy garnish), but the dinner menu actually had a lot of great options… maybe too many. I chose a burger with blue cheese and bacon (YUM!) and fries. I was kind of starving, but both were fantastic! The burger toppings gave it just enough salty flavor, and the fries were piping hot and crispy. Almost every girl at the table got burgers and all devoured them. And I got a glass of wine for $8 — in Vegas, I think that’s a steal. Also — there’s a giant candy store adjoining the restaurant.. hence the name.

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Hash House A Go Go
Just before heading to Vegas, my friend saw a segment on Hash House on the Cooking Channel (I think — Shannon, correct me if I’m wrong). I’d never heard of it, and given the name, I really wondered where she was wanting to take me. Then I looked up the menu and realized that it’s farm food with a twist, and I needed to check it out…. Chicken and Waffles with bacon cooked INSIDE the waffles? And not just bacon bits, but WHOLE SLICES? Yes, please!  Not to mention the sheer size of the dish — it was as tall as a large ketchup bottle and was held together with a giant steak knife. Talk about presentation. All of the portions were huge, so they’d be great to split. We also tried one of the Stuffed Burgers — we had avocado, cheddar and bacon in ours. A bit indulgent? Yes. Did I feel bad about it? Not really.  The only thing I didn’t love about the restaurant was that it was deep inside one of the casinos called The Quad, so there were no windows, which is something that just bothers me. Personal preference. But the food was fantastic!

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BACON!
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Mon Ami Gabi
We saved the French bistro for last and celebrated Hoopla with one of my “cousins” and a couple of her friends. I’d heard great reviews from several people, especially of the Steak Frites. The restaurant is at the front of the Paris Hotel and the patio overlooks the famed Bellagio fountains. It was a tad too hot for outdoor dining (100 degrees), but we got lucky with indoor seating under a glass roof that was just next to the patio. After having burgers 2 nights in a row, I skipped the steak and went with the Caesar Salad and French Onion Soup… smothered in cheese, as it should be. Since my dinner was fairly light (except for the cheese), I sprung for the Chocolate Tart w/Salted Caramel Ice Cream. The waiter said it was made from “the finest French chocolate” — it was pretty tasty, but too rich to finish. My friend got the White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce, and it was divine.

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Have you been to Vegas? What are your fave places to eat? My #1 will always be N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms.

what happens in vegas…

As soon as my brother and his fiance got engaged last April, their bachelor and bachelorette trips were one of the first things to be planned. Andrew decided on Charleston and Lauren decided on Las Vegas. Both were set for the last weekend in March. We had 11 girls attending Lauren’s trip from all over the country, and most of them had never been to Vegas — so needless to say, there was a lot of excitement going into the weekend. This would be my 4th bachelorette trip there, so I happily took the reigns in planning. Well, that and also because I have an obsession affinity for planning things. And of course “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…. but I had to share some highlights.

I made goody bags for all the girls (thanks to Sarah M. for the great idea on her sister Meg’s bachelorette trip last summer!)… and again, since I love to plan, I had the best time putting these together. I then realized that because we’d be there over Easter weekend, I was essentially giving out miniature Easter baskets… which Craig thought was hilarious and very “mom” of me. I guess that’s fitting since I was one of the old ladies on the trip. The goody bags included: personalized koozies (found them on Pinterest),  glow stick bracelets (because who does Vegas without glow sticks?), pedialite packets (for rehydration…because it’s so hot out there…), Cheez-its, and candy. I think they were a success!

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The lovely bride, all decked out in her white boa at the airport!

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We started off with a late night dinner at Javier’s, a Mexican restaurant at the Aria Hotel, where we were staying. We lucked into this ah-mazing private room, complete with the largest table I have ever seen. We had 11 girls and barely filled half of it. There were gorgeous fresh flowers and candles everywhere. And really beautiful sparkly walls. The salsa was really spicy and good, ritas were delicious, and my food was fine… but I wanted to stay just for the room.

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First stop: Moon at the Palms. Every time I’ve been to Vegas in the past 10+ years, we’ve stayed there, so it only felt right to pay a visit. Moon has always been a busy, fun club on top of one of the towers at the Palms, but it was sort of dead while we were there. It does have a retractable roof and a fantastic view of the entire Strip from their balconies, though. And this is a pretty fun sign for a photo op.

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This was my first stay at the Aria, and omg, I loved it. The hotel is so technologically advanced — as soon as you swipe your room key, the curtains open to reveal a massive wall of windows, the tv and lights turn on, and your name pops up to welcome you on a little directory on the nightstand. They also had a large assortment of restaurants, bars, and the most yummy French bakery. We had brunch at Cafe Vettro the first morning — I got the chicken and waffles… they were so good, I almost ate my plate.

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Pool party #1 @ the Liquid Pool at Aria. Hands down favorite thing we did all weekend.
I love a good pool day, and it can’t get much better than 2 poolside beds with dedicated waitstaff.

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Dancing at XS @ Encore. Prettiest indoor/outdoor club I’ve ever seen. It was like an enchanted garden outside. Didn’t want to leave here either.

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2 visits to Todd English Pub. Make your own Bloody Mary menu, giant soft pretzel sticks & cheese sauce, mini corn dogs…. what’s not to like?

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After pool party #2 on the last day, we had our most favorite meal — pizza delivered to the hotel!
We celebrated our last night with a pizza dance party in our bathing suits and bathrobes, and it was so.much.fun.

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Vegas is such a funny place. There is hands down the BEST people watching in the world. Nobody sleeps and nothing ever closes.
There’s bright lights, dancing, amazing restaurants, over the top clubs and hotels, casinos so big you literally need GPS to find your way out,
and more sparkly clothes than should be allowed in any one place. It’s like adult Disney World.
I could never in a million years live there, but it is so fun to visit — for a max of 3 days. Till next time!