Entry #1144, May 3, 2012
Last week I had the privilege of joining food, home and entertaining bloggers in New York City for the launch of Sandra Lee’s new housewares line – Sandra by Sandra Lee available in Sears and Kmart stores nationwide. To say the experience was a once-in-a-lifetime experience is an understatement, it will be remembered by all as a milestone event to meet Sandra Lee herself and have her be as warm, and genuine in person was the icing on this very sweet personal and career experience!
To summarize the trip in this blog post will be a feat, but will definitely be my pleasure to take you through my amazing time in New York City.
On Thursday, April 26th I was surprised to find out a driver was waiting for me in my driveway to whisk me off to New York!! Ok.. maybe not ‘whisk’ (Pretty Woman is one of my favorite movies, and this is definitely how I felt!) So my trip started off wonderfully. After arriving in New York City I had a few hours to get ready for our evening of meeting the Sears/Kmart team and the other bloggers.
We had cocktails and dinner at Café Centro in midtown. We met the Sears/Kmart team and listened to guest speaker Mark Bonchek, SVP of Communities and Networks as he discussed the future of social media.
After dinner the bloggers wanted to sit around and get to know each other, but we were told tomorrow would be an amazing day and very long… so we hailed a NYC taxi and back to our hotel we went. With all of the anticipation it literally felt like Christmas Eve for a child – I was so excited to go to bed, ha!
I was excited to see the sun on Friday morning, as on Thursday the gray clouds and rainy weather was not inviting! After eating breakfast with my new blogger friends it was time to load up and go to our first destination: Newport Mall Sears in Jersey City, NJ. I was so excited to see Sandra’s products in an actual store.
Newport Mall Sears, Jersey City, N.J.
Sandra by Sandra Lee Housewares
Sandra Lee has over 200+ housewares items available at both Kmart and Sears. Here is a brief list of the categories they include:
- Small Kitchen Appliances
For complete Kmart & Sears product list with pictures/prices – Download .pdf here. SandraLee_ProductList
I was amazed to learn how affordable all of the houseware items are. Sandra explained to us that the items are dishwasher, microwave and refrigerator versatile and store beautifully. While we all love great looking cookware, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want to store it on your counter – all of the Sandra by Sandra Lee line LOOKS pretty enough to display!
It was also a treat to meet with the Sears Design & Merchandising Representatives that make all of the trending and designing of the products fruition. From the Kardashians and Ty Pennington to Country Living and Joe Boxer – we met with the team to hear how the process of conceptualizing to bringing the products to your local store becomes reality.
Then we had numerous yummy cooking demonstrations throughout the store. From Kitchen Aid showing us their infamous mixer and Hamilton Beach unveiling a countertop convection oven to the new Keurig beverage maker that now makes iced coffee and tea… YUMMY! We ate and drank ourselves through Sears that morning.
Off to The Kitchen to have brunch with Sandra Lee!
We were greeted in the entryway with beautiful throw pillows with cocktail recipes from Sandra Lee herself. Each was so pretty! I took home the yellow Startini pillow in the middle.
It was now time to have brunch with Sandra, along with hands-on workshops with Sandra Lee and:
• Tablescaping & Entertaining
• Semi-Homemade Cooking
• Cocktail Time®
Meeting Sandra Lee on the “Red Carpet”
At past blogger events I have been to the guest of honor is neatly tucked away until the ‘unveiling’ later on in the event. That was not the case with Sandra, she welcomed each of us right away individually and we took our pictures with her. I was taken back that Sandra said to me ” I love your blog, it’s has beautiful pictures. Aren’t you the Architect?” Well Sandra had me at “Hello” from that moment on. It was obvious that Sandra had a hand in every detail of this event and it showed. What a delight and honor to meet her in person.
After we all had our “limelight” picture it was time to eat brunch. We were taken into a beautiful room that was set up like an outdoor picnic with all of Sandra’s housewares decorated in her signature red and white accents.
Brunch was amazing!
We had an amazing spread of delicious foods. Here is a rundown of the menu:
- Angel Hair with Roasted Peppers
- Champagne Poached Chicken
- Crab Cake Sliders
- Pepper Steak on a Stick
- Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms
- Summer Berry Salad
- Beehive cupcakes
- Snickerdoodle cheesecake
All of these recipes were… to die for! I will make another post tomorrow featuring Sandra’s recipes… too much for one post!
One on One with Sandra
One of the most surprising portions of this experience came when Sandra sat on one of the tables and spoke to us about our personal blogs. She had mentioned the Sears/Kmart team had given her two stacks of information to review before the event. One contained all of the 200+ products she was supposed to learn, and other stack was the “About” page of each of our blogs. Sandra explained that she personally went through each of our bios and websites to learn about us…. my heart actually sank!
When Sandra came to me, she had said she jotted down a note to herself on my sheet. Sandra had wrote “Slacker” to herself – saying that she felt like one compared to everything that is on my About page. I felt very honored to even hear her speak of my accomplishments in such admiration. As what I do every day comes out of passion and never feels like work. (I though to myself, is this not the happiest moment of my life?)
Thank you Sandra, for your beautiful words!
Time for a festive tablescape
After our heads were swollen big from Sandra’s beautiful comments about each of our blogs it was time to break into groups and get a mystery box of surprise goodies. Each one featured a sneak peek at Sandra’s Christmas decorations that will be out later this year! My group was fortunate as we got the non-traditional colored ornaments of pastel pinks, blues and neutrals. We decided to make a ‘Candy Cane xxxx
Sandra came by to look at each of our tablescape creations.
Sandra shows us her housewares line, personally
After the tablescape challenge it was time for Sandra to show us her housewares line personally. This was a great time as we got to hear from Sandra about her personal story that was truly humbling. The financial obstacles her and her family overcame and always designing and aiming all of her products, programs and personal brand toward those families that want to save money and still have beautiful memories around the dinner table.
This portion of the day was personal for me, as I’ve always tried to stay true to myself, my family, my readers and hearing from Sandra about her personal struggles and triumphs made me see how this housewares line represented more than kitchen products – but her ability to take the hard with the good to come out on ‘Top’, in every sense of the word.
Cocktail time… again!
I think we had at least 50 cocktails! Ha! Just kidding – to be honest I have never liked alcohol so I’ve don’t know anything about cocktails. I do know that I love the colorful ones that Sandra made and everyone raved about how truly deliscious they were.
The day was closing in and we spent the last hour talking with Sandra, exchanging good times with our fellow Bloggers and eating yummy hors d’oeuvres!
The end of the day ended with the most wonderful surprise….. We were told we could take ANYTHING we wanted of the Sandra housewares that were displayed in The Kitchen. Oh my goodness.. it was mad mayhem!
I knew I had to get back on a plane so I grabbed some of the knives, spatulas, a hand chopper, potholders and kitchen shears… oh how I wanted the huge stock pot… but I knew TSA was not going to let me through JFK airport with that.
In conclusion, the Sears/Kmart team made this amazing event reality. I thank each of the members, Amy Brod PR firm for inviting me and a host of others that I will never get to personally thank. What an awesome experience!
A TREAT FOR YOU: Go to Sears to get a discount on Sandra Lee’s products for a limited time!!
The details: Valid on Sears.com for $5 off any $15+ purchase of Sandra by Sandra Lee product sold by Sears through 5/26/2012. Enter coupon code BYSANDRALEE at checkout. You can start browsing at Sears.
Lastly, my personal note to Sandra Lee:
Sandra – Thank you for taking the time to answer my personal question about advice for finding our own personal voice and developing our brand. There are so many people in this world that want to hoard information to themselves. You clearly understand the importance of quality, loyalty, and hard work. You were a personal inspiration and I cherish the time you spent with each of us. Thanks for welcoming us into your home!
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