Many of you have asked how I got into this business -- never having had much retail experience. There was this tiny period when I was "between lives" -- and badly in need of a job. As fate would have it, that was also when Bloomingdale's ventured out of the Big Apple and into the Nation's Capital and actually HIRED me! (I'm pretty sure they were hiring everyone who applied!) Now, not to toot my own horn, but I turned out to be pretty good at retail, so they kept promoting me! BUT each promotion meant I had to go back to the 'Mother Ship" (aka NYC!) AND THAT, my friends, is a whole other story (a bunch of stories, in fact – like the the time I brought sheep into Bloomie's!) Anyway, during a 2-year period, I was on the Opening Team for both of their DC-area stores; first in Tysons' Corner, VA and then in White Flint, MD.
But back to why I decided to open ADO ...
After 31 years with a non-profit, defense-related IT Association, I decided to retire. Although it was NEVER in my plans to "retire-retire," the only set-in-stone part of the plan was the where -- Duck! My husband, Paul, and I had long planned to retire to the house we bought back in 2000. But when Paul died suddenly, I STILL didn't have any idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So I began to assess my skill-sets. I had secondary teaching credentials; ran a pre-school activity center in my home at one time; I was good at languages, having served in the Peace Corps in Thailand right out of College; had traveled extensively around the world; enjoyed planning large-scale events; had raised millions of dollars for AFCEA; AND I can cook (I'm sure there's more, but I also excel at forgetting things these days!) After much soul-searching, I narrowed the list down to a few of my favorite things: clothes, jewelry and TALKING (and definitely NOT in that order!)
Add up those qualities, and All Ducked Out was born!
People also ask me about the name, and where it came from. I actually conducted a worldwide search among my many friends and colleagues -- even offering a cool prize -- but in the end the name All Ducked Out came from ME (although I'll admit there were a few Miller Lites involved in the final decision, too!) Next came the tagline, ...where FUNKY meets ELEGANT... (and some MORE Miller Lites.) People tell me all the time it's the tagline that brings 'em in -- and once they're IN, well, you know what happens! They find all sorts of stuff -- funky, elegant, glitzy and cool. Things that are unique, things you can dress up or down, and, for sure, things in which you won't see yourself coming and going. AND THAT'S THE TRUTH!
ARTIST OF THE MONTH: April Cornell
Feel Beautiful, LIVE Beautiful, Be Beautiful -- April Cornell
From the time ADO was but a twinkle in my eye, I KNEW I wanted to carry April Cornell. I have always loved her designs -- the colors, the look, the feel -- all combine to bring out the love that she and her team of designers have woven into each piece.
They are artsy, and they are happy -- just the way I want people to feel when they walk into my shop. I especially adore the vintage prints and cuts, and find myself going back in time, imagining the stories behind those who wore them in bygone days, as well as those who choose the "April look" today. I am comforted that there will be April Cornell's for women to enjoy well into the future. Her Collections are timeless, and serve as threads connecting generations.
To read about April Cornell, and especially to own a piece or two, is to know her. She LOVES color and beauty, and her clothes exude vitality. April's adventurous spirit has carried her to the far corners of the world, where she has captured the hues and artistry of so many nations, and has brought them home in her hands and in her heart, so that everyone can enjoy the wonders of this very colorful world. Particularly important today, April and her treasures exude kindness -- she knows that we are all part of a global community, and that we all thrive and prosper only when we remember, appreciate, and take care of each other.
The April Cornell brand is renowned in the lifestyle marketplace. She has spent a lifetime tapping into her innate ability to understand the details of women's lives, and to connect on an emotional level with them. She truly knows her customers, and understands that those who enjoy her creations are, like April herself, independent, original thinkers. She encourages her customers to really feel beautiful, and to appreciate their own personal beauty, and challenges them to live beautiful lives and to give to those who are in need.
Giving back is a cornerstone of the April Cornell brand.
In line with my desire to share the wonderful stories of my artists who are helping to make our world a better place, a kinder place, April Cornell is doing that in a big way. She established the Giving World Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars, and made an incredible impact throughout India in particular, but also by providing assistance to humanitarian projects globally and here in the States. A few examples where her Foundation continues to make a difference: slum schooling and micro-enterprising for widowed women in India, earthquake disaster relief in Haiti, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.
When you look closely at the April Cornell Collection, many pieces of which are here at ADO, you will no doubt envision wearing her creations for your most cherished places and times. April believes that memories are colored by the things within them, and strives to be "the color in your memories.”
April Cornell -- Bringing Color Home
BECKY'S RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Jackie's Best-Ever Butter Cookies
I LOVE BUTTER! Someone even gave me a "Butter Makes Everything Better" sign to hang in my kitchen! In my "former life," I did a LOT of baking (I used to bake 3,000 cookies every Christmas to share with our friends and family – and people clamored to get on "Becky's Cookie List!") and traveling, and have long been known for my love of "plain old' sugar cookies." I would challenge chefs around the world to make me their best sugar cookie -- believe me, I tried a lot of experiments along the way. I had some great ones, but still love my Mom's recipe the best (it includes a wee bit of sour cream and nutmeg in the dough).
I'm also a huge fan of butter cookies, and can honestly say I've never found a better one than Mom's –- aka "Jackie Kennedy's White House Chef's Cookies" –- SO WOW! This was the very first cookie I made after I married, serving in the Peace Corps in Bangkok, Thailand with my husband when Mom mailed me the recipe (still dated 9/20/68!)
Here's my secret recipe, but be sure to double it, or else you'll wish you had!
1 Cup Shortening (1/2 Butter & 1/2 Crisco)
1 Cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Egg Yolks
2 Cups Flour, Sifted
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350’ Mix shortening and sugar together very well with mixer. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Make small balls and put onto greased cookie sheet. Use thumb to make an indentation in center of each cookie. Put colored sprinkles into hole (also great with a tiny bit of raspberry jam in the center, too). Bake 10-12 minutes at 350’ Single batch makes 40-45 normal-sized cookies.
NOTE: You can pile them onto cookie sheets, as they don't spread much.
JULY ADO DOIN'S
Storewide 30% off SALE (everything over $10), July 1st through the 7th! Includes even the Newest-of-New Duds for Summertime Fashion Fun!
and THE RACK IS BACK -- OUTDOORS! And it'll be filled with fun pieces at 50 • 60 • 70% OFF! A veritable treasure hunt!
See you at Duck's Annual 4th of July Parade -- voted one of the Nation's best small-town Independence Day Parades. Come out and show your colors (red, white and blue of course!). BE LOUD...AND BE PROUD!!
Find details at www.townofduck.com
NOTE: All Ducked Out will be OPEN UNTIL 2:00 PM FOLLOWING THE PARADE!!
"Round Up for Autism" I'll be asking if you want to "round up" your purchase price to the next dollar, with that money going to Autism Speaks You can even make a donation of $1, $5 or $10 to this great organization, and I'll have a counter jar, too, for any loose change that might be too heavy to carry around in all this heat!
And now hear this...
I was trying to wait a little longer to tell you about a SURPRISE I’ve been planning, but I can’t wait! I’ve decided to try a little “ADO Online” -- yep, really, and I am pretty sure we’ll be good to go by the end of July.
We’ll be starting out as a Spotlight Boutique on “Shoptiques” (www.shoptiques.com), which is a website of specialty boutiques from around the world. You have been asking (even begging and pleading) so we will start off slowly with a few choice items from ADO. Watch for details as the official “Launch Date” nears…
Anyway, just HAD to spill the beans on this one, because I am SO excited. Now, as most of you know, I am known by many as “Non-Techy Becky,” so I needed to find the right person to work with me and run this program and I have — her name is Jenn Reilly, and you’ll learn more about her as well as the two gals who are helping me out in the shop this summer — Pam Babiarz & Allison Staton — in my next BLOG.
HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!