Posts by Karley Kiker
It only takes one Friday night of watching the hit television series “Shark Tank” to realize there are a lot of people out there hoping to stumble upon the next million-dollar idea.
SMU alumnus Kevin Lavelle actually did it.
What’s more, he has a newly acquired $1.2 million investment to prove it, and he didn’t even have to fly to an ABC studio in Los Angeles to get it. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to the beginning — we’d call it “the drawing board,” but that’s not exactly how menswear brand Mizzen + Main’s founder-without-a-design-background got started. Read More…
The way pizza-preneur James Markham sees it, food is akin to a romantic relationship — that is, it’s best when kept fresh.
It’s a sentiment that can be linked directly to Project Pie, the valedictorian of the dough-tossing chains (MOD, Pieology) Markham has founded in recent years. Like its predecessors, the Project Pie concept involves custom-made pizzas bedazzled with premium ingredients. Unlike the stores that have gone before, however, Project Pie will be opening in Dallas — and opening four times over to boot.
“I’ve got four units I’m doing in Dallas this year. I’m doing Preston Center, Lower Greenville — we just signed a space right at SMU, and we’re doing one in Addison too,” Markham said. Although the storefronts will open back-to-back this fall, thanks to a mix of vintage and industrial furnishings, “all of them are going to look different.” Read More…
The decision to put down roots in Dallas was, well, a snap for Snap Kitchen. The Austin-based health food chain began serving tasty take-away in late July from its new home in Snider Plaza, and from a second location in Uptown as well.
“We feel lucky to be in the heart of Dallas and across the street from SMU, and look forward to partnering with students and faculty,” said Daniel Helfman, Snap Kitchen’s marketing director. “We’ve already heard that the local community cares about health and wellness, and we look forward to helping grow a healthy Dallas.”
While Park Cities residents are no strangers to health-food concepts — Nektar Juice Bar, Number One’s organic offerings, and True Kitchen’s entire diet–friendly menu come to mind — Snap Kitchen aims to bring something new to the table: convenience.
“Menu items are crafted to complement special dietary preferences,” Helfman noted. “That way you can recharge with a delicious, balanced meal whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, carb-conscious, or anything in between.”
Congratulations to the area Girl Scouts who recently received their Gold Awards. Each girl has worked tirelessly to implement their projects; working a minimum of 80 hours. Each project addressed problems within the local community to ones on a global scale.
Grace Cunningham Troop: 1834 Project: Refugee Transition Video School: Ursuline
Grace worked with teenage refugees from Myanmar to create an informational video to aid future refugees by giving them a basic knowledge of American culture, traditions, technology and daily life. Her video will be used by the Catholic Charities and St. Patrick’s Refugee Outreach.
Just call them the golden girls.
Local Girl Scouts Meredith Burke, Grace Cunningham, Meghan Harshaw, Ryan McBride, Susan Adelaide Moore, Farish Mozley, and Amanda White recently received the organization’s prestigious Gold Award for developing projects as global-minded as they are gilded.
“It takes a minimum of 80 hours to complete a Gold Award [project],” explained Ana Harshaw, who leads Troop 306. “Twenty of the 80 hours must be in leadership. The project must also be sustainable and global, and the girl must be able to evaluate the impact of the project.” Read More…
Colorful, historical, and traditional are all words that La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas brings to mind. More than ever before, there’s another description that seems to keep coming up this year: personal.
“The fact that La Fiesta is local and the kids all know each other … it’s just a different feel,” Duchess chair Mary-Lee Miller said. Board president Judy Sillers agreed, noting “the intimacy of what the kids and the families are raising money for.”
Take Connecting Point of Park Cities — a start-up organization that helps integrate students with disabilities into the Highland Park and University Park communities after graduating high school. And then there’s the Highland Park Education Foundation, which includes La Fiesta as a line item on its budget.
“A lot of things that happen in the school district and this community are funded by La Fiesta,” La Fiesta chair Lori Bannon said. “Yes, we do a wonderful deb ball and it’s a lot of fun—but it’s so much more than that.”
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the February edition of Park Cities People.
Harry Hunsicker’s latest book, The Contractors, opens in Dallas and quickly takes readers on a tour of the seamier side of the Texas Hill Country. And while the thriller’s tangle of drug traffickers, police, and government officials certainly required extensive research, there’s one thing Hunsicker wants to make clear:
“I’ve never been into a Korean massage parlor. Please put that down,” Hunsicker quipped.
The same can’t be said for Hunsicker’s newest protagonist, a “disgraced ex-cop” turned contracted DEA Agent named Jon Cantrell — although it should be noted that Cantrell’s appearance at a fictional Dallas brothel is strictly business-related.
“Dallas is so fascinating because there are so many different areas, and it’s incredibly diverse if you really think about it,” said Hunsicker, a fourth-generation Dallasite who lives in Highland Park. “As a commercial real estate appraiser, I’m always driving around to obscure parts of town that most people in North Dallas and the Park Cities don’t get to.”
Robert “Bob” Cullum and his brother Charles didn’t sell success at the flagship Tom Thumb store that opened on Lomo Alto Drive in 1948. But they certainly stocked the supermarket with the ingredients it took to create it.
“I cannot define it precisely,” Charles was quoted as saying in Tom Thumb: The Little Giant. “But some of the ingredients were faith, mutual trust, sharing, high aspirations, a pinch of creativity, and, of course, the old reliable, hard work.”
And, perhaps, just a dash of good luck.
“When [Bob and Charles] started the company, they competed with the three largest grocery chains in America, which were A&P, Safeway, and Kroger,” said Brooks Cullum, who began his own grocery career working for his father, Bob, as a package boy. “They thought that if you gave better service, took better care of the customers and employees, that you could compete with these giants. And they competed very successfully, until they became the largest [chain] in Dallas.”
On the road to creating a booming business out of a small neighborhood grocery store, however, the Cullum brothers and partner J.R. Bost were often confronted by a bit of the bizarre. Consider the chain’s cinematic beginnings, when the owner of Toro supermarkets — the biggest customer at the A.W. Cullum & Co. grocery supply firm — skipped out on his bill, not to mention the United States.
“The man that ran Toro ran off to South America and left [A.W. Cullum & Co.] holding the bag,” recalled Brooks’ sister, Sally Cullum Holmes. “They were owed so much money by [Toro] that they ended up buying the [six] original supermarkets and renaming them Tom Thumb.”
A butcher strike at Safeway would go on to introduce a new wave of unexpected customers. And then there was that surprisingly fortuitous accident on Lomo Alto.
“A car came along and, instead of putting it in reverse, [the driver] accidentally put it in drive and smashed into the front of the store,” Holmes said.
What could have been a nightmare turned into a dream thanks to a bit of ingenuity.
“My father was a very creative guy,” Brooks said. “He took a picture of it and ran an ad in the paper immediately after that. It said, ‘We know you love Tom Thumb, but please don’t go this far.’ ”
Customers loved Tom Thumb so much, in fact, that by the 1950s the chain had expanded to 20 stores.
“The openings were a great festival,” said Lee Cullum, Charles’ daughter. “Often, people would line up in the morning to get in the door because the specials would be terrific.”
For Lee’s father, success was most often measured by the sale of a very specific product: bread.
“I’m sure Bob would have had other measures, but for my dad, it was a matter of checking the loaves of bread,” Lee said. “If the bread shelves were pretty well empty, that was a good sign that business had been good that day.”
Through the years, the Cullum brothers went on to shelve as many accolades as they did apples, thanks to their deeply held personal and professional commitment to civic leadership and philanthropy.
“The legacy, of course, is a standard of excellence in the business they did, not only in the service and products they provided, but also their business practices … and also enormous involvement in the community,” Lee said. “They were of a generation that believed that if Dallas grew, their company would grow.”
In 1992, the company merged with Houston-based Randalls. The original Tom Thumb stores have all since closed, and that neighborly feeling is harder to come by when shopping at one of today’s expansive versions of the supermarket. Which is precisely what makes the Tom Thumb in Highland Park Village so special.
“That’s where I shop, and that’s where my pharmacy is,” Holmes said. “It’s small, but it’s a friendly place where you see everybody you know. So it still has that kind of hometown feeling.”
Yes, Ali Nugent’s bio clearly states that she won the title of Little Miss Gingerbread when she was 18 months old. But the current Miss Texas USA was no toddler in a tiara — you know, the spray-tanned, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo-type child who’s often seen on television smothered by sequins and demanding a sippy cup filled with “special juice.”
“That throws people off, I think, when they read it,” Nugent said. “They probably assume I did a ton of pageants when I was little, and then I was a Teen, and then I was a Miss.”
In reality, Nugent’s early victory was followed by a long hiatus. She didn’t compete in another pageant until vying for the Miss Dallas USA title during her senior year at Highland Park High School.
Although shorts and T-shirts had been Nugent’s uniform of choice throughout high school, she decided to re-enter the pageant world at the encouragement of a family friend. It would be cool, after all, to give a demure beauty-queen wave in the hallways of HPHS as a newly crowned titleholder. But as the youngest competitor in her division, Nugent found the Miss Dallas USA 2011 experience to be “extremely intimidating.”
“All the girls above me had already been local titleholders and had already competed at Miss Texas [USA],” Nugent said, “and this was my first pageant as a senior in high school. So that was kind of nerve-wracking.”
Although Nugent was ready to hang up her heels after failing to win a local title or place at Miss Texas USA 2012, her mother, Jamie, surprised her by submitting the paperwork needed for her daughter to give the state competition one last shot, as Miss North Texas USA.
“I’m thankful now, obviously, for my parents really pushing me and encouraging me to go back and compete for a second time,” Nugent said. “My goal was top 15.”
If she made the top 15 at the 2013 competition and enjoyed herself, Nugent reasoned, she’d come back the next year with her sights set on placing within the top 5, ultimately aiming to take home the 2015 crown.
“It’s funny how if you make a plan, God completely laughs in your face,” Nugent said with a laugh. “I mean, I was called first for top 5. I didn’t even pay attention to the choreography of what we were supposed to do in top 5.”
Nugent’s come-from-behind win at the Miss Texas USA 2013 competition guaranteed constant allusions to the proverbial “dark horse running.” Even physically, the description seems to fit, as Nugent has intensely brown hair, which she recently dyed to cover up a few strands of experimental highlights that caused an online frenzy among her fans.
In just a few short days, Nugent may find herself in the midst of a much bigger change than that of the hair-color variety — the kind where Donald Trump becomes her boss; she gains a New York apartment; and the Diamond Nexus Miss USA crown becomes her most-often-worn accessory.
Now that she and her 11 suitcases have settled in at Planet Hollywood in Vegas, Nugent feels confident that she’s ready for the pressures of the Miss USA competition, which NBC will broadcast to millions of viewers on June 16.
“[Ali’s] not easily intimidated,” said Miss Texas USA state director Gail Clark. “She’s met all kinds of celebrities and people, and nothing ever seems to intimidate her. She is very relaxed, and she has a lot of substance and content.”
Together, those ingredients combine to give Nugent a quality that’s difficult for any beauty queen to master: relatability.
“It’s hard when you have someone come in who’s been a ‘Pageant Patty’ for so long, and then they win; it’s hard to relate to someone like that when you’re someone like me,” Nugent said. “I just hope my story can get out there and inspire other young girls.”
Even if she doesn’t capture the Miss USA crown, Nugent is well on her way to making an impact that reaches far beyond her reign as a state titleholder. She’s joined with Helping a Hero to establish her own organization, Crowns for Heroes, which helps build homes for wounded troops. She’s received well wishes from admirers living as far away as China. And she’s gained the respect of those closest to her in the process.
“No one’s reached their full potential at 20 years old. But she’s growing … and I think that a lot of what she’s done has prepared her for the rest of her life,” Clark said. “The stars are the limit for her.”
Karley Osborn was a contestant in the 2012 edition of the Miss Texas pageant, which is a separate competition from Miss Texas USA.
About two weeks ago, I got engaged. The only reason you need to know this is because it explains my recent visit to Warren Barrón. In between all of the ooh-ing and ahh-ing I was doing over the gorgeous spring gowns, I learned that the iconic Highland Park Village bridal boutique will be moving to Snider Plaza at the end of the summer. I couldn’t believe it — but staff writer Sarah Bennett confirmed the news during our editorial meeting today, saying she recently spotted a “Coming Soon: Warren Barrón” sign hanging in Snider Plaza. So, is this news to anyone else? And will you be sad to see the store change locations?