Hampton Road Designs’ 2022 Holiday Gift Guide
This year, Bruce and I would like to shine a light on the fabulous creations of some of our friends. What a blessing it is to have so many wonderful people enrich our lives through their kindness and creativity. It would be a shame not to share them with you! Like us, many of these makers have existing careers as lawyers, chefs, and executives but simply had to pursue their true passion for making wonderful things. There is something for everyone in this guide. We hope you enjoy it!
Bryce Murphree I Gluttony Candles
I met Bryce through my dear friend, Cassie. Bryce was not only Cassie’s big brother, he acted as big brother to all of us. He was protective without being preachy, and always got us into the best parties. One story epitomizes Bryce perfectly. In college, he tended bar at the famous Cloak Room in Austin, Texas. One evening, Cassie and I felt like being “mature”, so we sidled on up to the bar and asked Bryce to pour us a couple of Martinis. I’m pretty sure we were both wearing all black and had the Jennifer Aniston haircut from Friends. Knowing neither of us had any business drinking Martini cocktails, Bryce poured us what could only be called diesel fuel with hint of vermouth and a lemon twist. Needless to say, we did not try another Martini until we were at least 35.
Bryce has since focused his love of mixology on being a chef in Aspen, Austin, and Dallas. Several years ago, he began translating the magical smells of a gourmet kitchen into fabulous and fun soy candles. Aptly called “Gluttony Candles”, Bryce’s line features scents ranging from Arugula to Boot Leather. Every candle comes in a recycled soup tin and brings a joyful boost to every room.
Michael Douglas I Douglas Smith Soap Company
I met Michael, co-founder of Douglas Smith Soap Company, through my friend Dawn, his little sister. These two got into a LOT of trouble growing up. To give but one example of his hijinks, in high school Michael decided to sneak out of his parents’ house. To escape from the second floor unnoticed, he used his karate belts as an escape rope. As a counter-weight, he tied the belts to Dawn (who weighed maybe 90 pounds wet). Anyway, down he went like Spider-Man, until gravity took hold and dragged Dawn smack into the window. When Michael tells this story he just laughs and says, “I heard the ‘thunk’ and looked up to see Dawn’s face pressed against the window. She was smiling and waving me off into the night.”
Michael is both a professional ballet dancer and speech pathologist. During the pandemic, he and his partner, Kevin, began developing clean plant-based soaps for people with sensitive skin (like me!). Douglas Smith Soap Company handcrafts luxury bath products for men and women using carefully-sourced, plant-based ingredients and colorants. They donate their soap scraps to the Eco-Soap Bank, a non-profit organization that provides recycled scraps and hygiene education to children in 25 developing countries. Talk about clean living!
For the Foodie:
Jenny and I were pledge sisters at the University of Texas. I remember meeting her on bid day, where I was both excited and nervous to be included in the Pi Beta Phi pledge class. All my new sisters seemed so much more sophisticated than I felt, being a local girl from small town Austin, Texas (back then, Austin was a small town). Over the years, I came to know Jenny as a fiercely independent spirit with a broad smile that hinted at mischief. Her independent spirit shines through her fabulous line of gluten-free baked goods, It’s All Good Goods.
Jenny founded It’s All Good Goods to meet a very personal need – baked goods for people with Celiac Disease and other gluten intolerances. Her delicious baked goods represent her talent in the kitchen, her passion for living healthfully, and her tenacity in finding answers to lingering and misdiagnosed health problems. Jenny gives new meaning to the phrase “follow your gut.”
For the Fashionista:
Laura Foote made a name for herself designing award winning glass fragrance bottles for the biggest names in the beauty industry. After two decades at Inter Parfums, Inc., Laura launched her eponymous jewelry line in 2021 with the singular mission of helping us all “find our happy.” Mixing fine jewels with precious metals, Laura’s line is colorful, playful, cheerful, and fun. Just like Laura.
Bruce and I met Laura at the Coterie Trade Show in New York City. After a very brief conversation, we discovered that we shared common friends and senses of style. I was blown away by her diamond encrusted neck dusters that mixed colors and shapes in imaginative new ways. I also loved her oversized statement rings. Bruce and I invited her to dinner in the East Village where, after cocktails and conversation, we designed the Evie Bag. Bruce and I had a vision for the shape and material for the bag, but Laura took it to the next level when she pointed to my beaded gold necklace and said, “You should make that the handle!” Talk about a stroke of genius! Six months later, we launched the bag and it was an immediate hit. Thank you, Laura, for your vision!
For the Hostess:
Kate Hersch’s line, August Morgan, has become synonymous with the term “Cocktail Party.” She has received international renown for her cheeky embroidered cocktail napkins. From “Champagne-Zee” (a stylish chimp drinking champers) to “Iguana Margarita” (the name says it all), Kate brings playfulness to any party. Which, in fact, is how we met. Thirty years ago (gasp!), Kate came to my first ever “grown up” wine and cheese party. Limited by the fact that I was not yet 21 and had the budget of a college kid, I did the best that I could. A box of white, red, and pink Franzia? Check. One port cheese ball covered in shaved almonds? Check. One link Hickory Farms summer sausage? Check. And, not to overlook the details, one box of butterfly-shaped butter crackers? Check.
Needless to say, it was a splendid fête, and I loved hosting Kate at the affair. Never mind that we drank from wax paper cups, the ambiance was all Mazzy Star and the soundtrack from Singles. We literally put the “ass” in 90’s party “class”. Recently, August Morgan launched a line of needlepoint kits, which allow us all have fun creating. Kate’s products really do make the best hostess gifts, and are certain to bring a smile to all who receive them.
Cassie (Murphree) Kruemcke I WirrWarr Wraps
Cassie and I bonded our freshman year in college over six-packs of Miller Lite, our mutual affection for cowboys, and the music of Jerry Jeff Walker. We lived on the same floor at Harden House, and the instant I saw her dorm room I knew we’d be friends forever. This small town girl from Victoria, Texas had style as big as Texas. With a knack like no other for mixing colors and patterns, I’m fairly certain Iris Apfel has taken notes from Cassie.
After more than twenty years cultivating brands at various high profile marketing agencies, Cassie launched WirrWarr Wraps. WirrWarr means “chaos” in German, and Cassie has mastered the art of creating order within the chaos of gift wrapping. She mixes her own designs with a unique ribbon system that results in a perfectly dis-ordered yet balanced gift that stands out among all the others. We love her wrapping system so much we use it in our Ultimate Gift Wrap Experience! Her love of patterns and colors extends to her earrings, necklaces, and silk scarves. Her love for design and eye for detail shine through everything she makes.
For the Art Lover:
Aiden McMichael I Aiden Mc Art
Aiden McMichael is an internationally trained mixed-media artist whose current focus is on abstract expressionism. At the ripe-young age of 21, Aiden explores core societal, spiritual, and ideological principles with a wisdom beyond his years. While Bruce has known Aiden since he was in diapers, I first met him a couple of years ago. Bruce told me about “Aiden the Artist” many times, and when I met him I understood. Standing 6’4” with a shock of curly red hair, Aiden soaked in everything being said around him. I could literally see the wheels turning behind his clear blue eyes – it was as though he was hearing what people said through the images in his mind.
Intrigued and wanting to be supportive of an emerging young artist, we commissioned Aiden to design a commemorative scarf for Austin City Limits’ Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which Hampton Road Designs was sponsoring. We invited him to our home, played him songs from the artists being inducted (Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo, and Lucinda Williams), and had a high level conceptual discussion. Then, we gave him a two week turnaround time for a “first draft”. Two weeks later, Aiden returned to our home with a multi-layered and dimensional design that paid homage to each artist in a way that only true fans would understand, but that would resonate with everyone. Needless to say, everyone at the induction was blown away. More recently, Aiden designed our Live Lucky Twilly, which conveys the important message that we are all fundamentally alike in spite of our differences.
For the Reader:
Andrew Rice I The Year That Broke America
Andrew Rice is an award winning author and journalist known for relentlessly researching his stories and reporting them with objective empathy. His latest book, The Year That Broke America, looks back at the Year 2000 and identifies Florida as the epicenter of where it all went bad. From “hanging chads” to terrorists in U.S. flight schools, our software may have survived Y2K, but our country changed forever. Andrew chronicles these changes beautifully, and his book is thoroughly engaging.
So is Andrew. I know Andrew through my beloved friend, Jennifer, his wife. Jennifer was a friend I worried would never marry because she always way too smart for all the men she dated. Then came Andrew. Finally, she met someone to match her in wit, humility, kindness, and conversation. When I first met Andrew, he was home between lengthy trips to Uganda, where he was researching his first book, The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget. This tear-jerking account of the atrocities of Idi Amin was named one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2009. Andrew is an author worth knowing, both as a reader and as a friend.
For the Music Lover:
John Saba I San Saba
John Saba is the talented front man for San Saba from Austin, Texas. I first met John in 1994 at my friend Jennifer’s annual Christmas cocktail party in Dallas. As Jen’s little brother who called pizza “Za”, we (naturally) discounted him and determined he couldn’t possibly be as cool as we thought we were. We were wrong. In addition to being a fabulous singer-songwriter, he is a gifted attorney and genuinely kind person. To give but one example, John happily carved out time from his busy lawyer schedule to model in a photo shoot for Hampton Road Designs. He did this as a favor, on short notice, and with infectious enthusiasm.
John’s smarts and kindness echo through his music. Influenced by some of Bruce and my favorite acts like Wilco, R.E.M., Spoon, and even Donovan, John writes lyrics that are as sharp as a knife and as vulnerable as the teachings of Brené Brown. Set to wall-of-sound infused rhythms, San Saba’s songs take you on a happy ride, even when the songs are sad. While the band started with an Americana / Alt-Country sound, it has evolved into an Indie-Pop band varnished in pure Texas. San Saba’s latest album, “Hurry Up and Wait” pays homage to us latch key kids of Generation X, as well as to fellow Longhorn Jordan Spieth. Who could ask for more?