Friday, May 20, 2011

My Haute Thoughts on My Value, Respect and Worth

I’ve come to the conclusion that some relationships must end, particularly when you put your heart and soul into a story and your work is taken for granted. It seems like the week has been extremely long but when the truth comes out the best thing to do is face it. As such, I’ve decided that I can no longer work with a publisher who doesn’t value my contribution, my work or my time. Recently, I noticed that I had not been paid for an article that I wrote nearly six months ago even though it had been published. Under my contract agreement, my check was about 20 days late and no one in accounts payable with the magazine would return my emails, acknowledge receipt of my invoice or give me any idea of when to expect payment. As an independent consultant and writer, I can’t operate my business or life in limbo. So I took a tougher approach and sent a letter outlining my intentions on collection. Well, that got the attention of the publisher who decided to defend his breach of contract actions with his advertisers had not paid him explanation. My response, “I don’t have a contract with your advertisers.”

The entire incident started a conversation among my friends and I about the dynamics between men and women and how they measure value and worth. Men generally ask for what they want in business and relationships and get it. While, women (typically) take the approach that someone will recognize our hard work and reward us for it… no conversation needed on our part. But that’s not how it works… unless you’re willing to ask for what you need and deserve because you understand your value—you’re not going to get it. Yes, it’s taking a risk because people who don’t value you will show you who they are immediately. They may not want to work with you once you make your case. But in my mind, that’s fine because if you can’t honor your agreement then I can’t work with you anyway.

In my situation, the publisher turned no communication into “where should I send your money” within 24 hours. As a result, my relationship with the magazine has ended because there was a breach of contract more than once, but the value of the experience is priceless. I think that when you take a stand, make your case and prepare to walk away from a relationship that doesn’t honor or value you—you win. By not being afraid to have the conversation, I not only got the answers and results that I sought but I got rid of the stress and drama that bad relationships bring on. You can say this is how I stay healthy, wealthy and wise!

My advice to women who face similar challenges… know and value your worth, don’t be afraid to have the tough conversations, take your emotions out of it… and never be afraid to walk away from a relationship or business deal that doesn’t serve you well. Letting go opens the door to someone who will respect you and pay you on time!

Has this ever happened to you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Midnight Dinner Party is Haute!

A late night dinner party hosted by Atlanta Attorney Dan Meachum and Ludacris was held at the entertainer’s Midtown restaurant Straits. Several dozen Atlantans including the mayor and Congressman John Lewis turned out to recognize the contributions of civil rights heroes.
The dinner menu consisted of six appetizers and starters including spare ribs, chicken lollipops, calamari and crispy wantons. When the main course came out it blew me away. Filet mignon, Origami sea bass and lobster tails along with lemon grass chicken were all amazing.

By the time, the Georgia Peach and Empire State Cheese Cake came out… I had to get it to go! I couldn’t eat another thing so Ludacris’ mom Roberta made sure that I had my dessert box in hand as I walked out the door around 2 AM!

Straits is a Singaporean Restaurant with a sophisticated look and feel. It’s become a local fave among select entertainers and local celebrities in the ATL.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin's Photo of Dinner Party

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Secrets Resort in Montego Bay is HAUTE!

The Secret in Montego Bay, Jamaica is out—the new Secrets Resort is HAUTE! My most recent Jamaican getaway included a complimentary stay at this exciting new resort on behalf of the Jamaican Tourism Board. The moment that I stepped onto the property, I felt that this adults-only playground was exactly what I needed to relax and indulge.
The resort is tucked away on a half mile stretch of private beach where powdery white sand glistens against sun-kissed skin. The turquoise waters of the warm Caribbean Sea offer a stunning backdrop to what turned out to be one of my best stays ever in Jamaica.

My suite was on the Wild Orchid side (which is more contemporary compared with the more traditional St. James) with an ocean view. The minute that I walked into my room a full-size Jacuzzi tub with spa slippers and robe had my name written all over it. Once I figured how to man the controls without water flying all over the place it was heaven moving forward.

The brand’s motto is “Unlimited-Luxury® for All-Adult Passion” and I couldn’t agree more. It really is a great place to share your secrets. The Secrets Resort Montego Bay is just 20 minutes from the Montego Bay International Airport. The resort houses 350 suites, a full-services spa, theater, eight restaurants, a dance club and so much more. And the best part—you get it all for one all-inclusive price. Plus they serve cookies in the afternoon… what more could you ask for in an exotic playground?

And don’t forget the Spa by Pevonia… I had the most amazing treatments. My Papaya Pineapple pedicure was flawless, in fact, I have never had a polish so HAUTE! My hour-long massage was all that I needed to rejuvenate my mind and body after a busy travel season.

To learn more visit…

Do you have a Secret resort that's HAUTE?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bahamas in Atlanta at Tyler Perry Studios Simply Haute

Last Week, I had the pleasure of attending The Bahamas in Atlanta event at Tyler Perry Studios (TPS). It was amazing! Officials from the Bahamas Tourism Board transformed TPS into a Bahamian retreat. More than 400 people turned out for the invitation-only affair to sample Bahamian cuisine and culture.

 The Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace spoke earlier in the day during a private media luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta… and then played host once again for the evening event along with U.S. Ambassador to The Islands of the Bahamas Nicole Avant who served as the keynote speaker.

Vanderpool-Wallace makes a compelling story of why Atlantans should consider the islands of the Bahamas as their next vacation destination with more than 700 options… there is plenty to see and do in the tropical paradise. It’s absolutely one of my favorite places to visit in the world… because we all know that It’s Better in the Bahamas! I would also venture to say that Tyler Perry would probably agree… after all he owns his own island along with film star Johnny Depp! Now that’s beyond HAUTE!

The celebration continued with Junkanoo dancers and give-a-ways like a trip to the Bahamas for two with accommodations at the exclusive Cove Atlantis on Paradise Island! Next year, the Bahamas travels to our nation’s capital and you better believe that I’ll be making a return trip.

Which islands are on your list of favorites?
In the photos: Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism and Aviation for The Islands of the Bahamas, Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager Communications for The Islands of the Bahamas and Yvette Castlin with Rolling OUT, Katherine B. Smith, Consul General for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Brienne Herbert, Shoe Designer

Advice to a Haute Travels Girl

Yesterday, I got a wonderful email from a Haute Travels follower who is wrestling with the notion of leaving the world that offers financial security to one that truly makes her happy. So she asked me… How I did it? When I first read the email, I wasn’t sure if I should give advice to someone that I didn’t know. But as a Pisces girl, I threw caution to the wind and told her my story.

Here’s what I said…


I really appreciate your support for Haute Travels... and I love feedback!

Well, to answer your question I thought about leaving television years before but I didn't because I was in my comfort zone... perhaps fear of the unknown played a role. But after a series of things that took place I was able to leave the business and explore something new. There was a bigger plan at work for my life and every excuse to not do what made me happy disappeared when the job was no longer an issue.

I wanted to write for magazines so I did some research and pitched a travel mag that targeted African American travelers. They loved my pitch and my life as a travel writer was born.

But, I didn't rest there because freelance writing didn't offer the financial rewards that I deserved. So I started to consult with a multi cultural advertising agency as a PR, media and communications expert and coupled that with speech writing. Working as an independent consultant gave me the freedom that working in an office didn't... time to travel. Keep in mind, I had no experience in PR or advertising but I brought value as a seasoned journalist, great thought partner and writer to their world. I learned their language and used it to build my skill level and professional experience.

If you're seeing a pattern that's because at the heart of everything that I do... I'm a story teller. I just discovered new and different ways to reposition and reinvent myself using skills that I already have to do things that feed my creativity and my love for travel... while affording me a lifestyle that makes me happy.

I've discovered that as I stay true to myself, my loves and my sanity... I attract people who support, inspire and encourage my growth. People who bring the best out of you will become more valuable than you will ever know. Their strength will support you when you feel like giving up. But first, you have to take a leap of faith and everything falls into place. Just believe in yourself and keep going.

Think about what you love to do and whether you have a skill level that supports it. Create a plan and seek out opportunities that encourage calculated risks. Don't abandon your responsibilities but follow your heart and take your brain along with you. Create a life that's free of things that weigh you down like debt or unhealthy relationships.

You may encounter obstacles but they don't have to derail you... instead use them to make you better and smarter about how you'll make your dreams come true. I'm still learning and in some ways starting over since I relocated to Atlanta. But I'm still in the game doing what I love to do and making it work. I dream bigger because I don't know how not to. There are so many people who believe in me and see me doing things that even I had not imagined but it's possible. I have friends who just don't encourage me but invest in my dreams.

I wouldn't say walk away from your life or job... but rather reposition yourself so that you can live a life that makes you happy.

I hope this helps... take care.


"When the heart is at ease... the body is healthy." Chinese Proverb

Are you following your passion? How did you do it?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Haute Stuff: Meeting the Neelys!

As a Haute Travels girl I’m not the type who spends a lot of time in the kitchen although I love good food. So it may be surprising to know that I spent today at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show in Atlanta.

My mom came along because she loves cooking and picking up a great cookbook. But she also loves the Neelys… she watches their show Down Home with the Neelys on The Food Network and even picked up their cookbook. If you love good food and entertainment… this power couple puts on a great show while preparing an amazing meal. I have never watched a cooking show and laughed so much while being taught how to grill pork chops. Gina is a clown! She was so much fun to watch and the way that she and Pat engaged the audience was sheer comedy. But more importantly, I love the example that they set when it comes to African American couples who truly love and respect each other.

I loved when one woman asked Gina how to prepare a meal to make a man “put a ring on it.” Gina told her that it depends on the man… but what they eat may not be the same thing that we should be eating. After all, you gotta learn how to keep him so cooking, staying attractive and making him happy is what she calls multitasking! She told the girls in the audience to hit her up on facebook to learn more as she started her Beyonce routine!

After the show, I surprised my mom by taking her backstage to meet them. Let’s just say she was so excited especially when both Pat and Gina gave her a hug and a kiss southern-style. So I want to say thanks guys for making my mother’s day.

Now you might ask what’s next for the couple with an appetite for food, fun and affection… a new restaurant, Neelys Barbecue Parlor with partners Merchant’s Hospitality, Inc. set to open in New York City in June! I can’t wait to check it out… I’m sure it will be HAUTE!

The restaurateurs also operate three family-run barbecue restaurants in Tennessee with two more in Memphis. They are also writing another cookbook.

To learn more visit

What’s your favorite southern-inspired dish?

do is Atlanta's Haute New Restaurant!

A Haute new restaurant makes its musical debut in Atlanta… do officially opens this week! Last night, I had a blast with friends and Haute Travels followers at the pre-opening of do (pronounced dough) in Midtown. So many people turned out to congratulate owners Christian Ruffin and his wife Nacasha on their new venture... their dream coming to life was inspiring to just about everybody.

Ruffin has used sound and theatrical lighting to integrate technology into restaurant design for an experience unlike any other in Atlanta. do marries science with substance… guests use Apple iPads to change the music, place orders without having to wait for a server and going paperless means going GREEN. You can even call for your car with the touch of the screen! Ruffin really gave a lot of thought to the atmosphere… iPads are everywhere, video on walls, good food and lots of fun flows throughout the two-story industrial building transformed into the new it-spot. The all-white furnishing and waterfalls remind me of Miami meeting Atlanta.

If you’re looking to meet friends to catch up over salads, specialty pizzas and dessertsdo is the spot for you. The Ruffins have also made sure that there’s something for everybody… they even have gluten-free pies!

If you like Al fresco dining just head to the top level and sit on the terrace to view the skyline with a glass of wine. I sat out there with Tammie (@TalkingwithTami) and Shane (@IamFAshionWeak) for girl talk, sipped Chardonnay and let our hair blow in the gentle breeze of a beautiful spring evening in our favorite southern city, while the music kept the vibe haute… think NYC meets the ATL!

do officially opens May 6th just in time for Cinco de Mayo to learn more visit

Will you check out do at The View?