Meet Simran Rihal, one of Houston’s fastest up and coming designers, who is taking Hollywood by storm with her luxurious clutches. Celebrities, Jennifer Hudson, Blake Lively, Tamara Mowry, Nikki Reed, Petra Nemcova and Malin Akerman, have been seen with her gorgeous premiere bags.

Read about her commitment to these timeless, inspired pieces, which are  created in a socially responsible and eco-friendly manner with an innovative approach to beauty and function. 

How did you choose handbags as the art form to express yourself?

​I love accessories in general but I especially love unique handbags. A beautiful clutch is such a great accessory that makes it easy (and fun!) to change up or elevate your overall look. Two years ago I was looking for something with sparkle that would fit my large smartphone. It was nearly impossible to find one! I constantly saw pictures of friends holding an expensive clutch with a phone sticking out of it because it wouldn’t close or awkwardly holding a phone in addition to the bag. I decided to create something that would be beautiful, solve a problem and help me give back to causes I am passionate about. We women are different sizes with different styles and preferences but I love that a clutch transcends all that.

How did you learn about using salmon skin for the collection & why did you choose it?

‘Unique’ is a big word for me in terms of design and creating products. Keeping that in mind it was essential for me to source materials that weren’t already out there. I did a lot of research, visited trade shows and spoke to experts and in that process came across salmon skin. I instantly fell in love with the look and texture of it. The fact that it was sustainable and that the Iceland tannery used eco-friendly means to tan the skins was icing on the cake!

Explain your design process

​Inspiration is everywhere and at times it is quite overwhelming! I have a list of a few words that define my aesthetic and brand. I start by creating a mood board, and do tons of sketching! I sketch anything and everything, not limiting myself and sometimes I’ll edit the mood board when I see the concept or theme taking a certain direction. Ultimately I go back to those keywords. This helps me in editing the final designs and is a way of making sure each design fits within the overall vision. 

What does it mean to you to create pieces that are practical, sustainable and a fashionable accessory?

​I want to create pieces that are visually appealing but also serve a purpose. It probably comes from me being a very practical person. I don’t need to clutter the world with another clutch you can’t carry your phone and other essentials in! ​The sustainable and eco-friendly part of it comes from a place of gratitude.

So often we are told we should be empathetic to other people, but we don’t always remember to be empathetic to our environment.  When someone loans you a beautiful item for a period of time you feel you need to take great care of it while you’re using it. It is the same with this beautiful world we’re temporarily on. It is only right we take care of it as best we can.  Besides, it is not difficult to do small things like recycle or use something responsibly so why not choose to do it?

Future plans?

​I ​am currently working on a private label for another brand that liked my designs. I also have a collaboration in the works to design a one of a kind evening clutch using precious stones! Besides these two exciting opportunities I am of course also working on designs and colors for my next collection.

Please feel add anything else you’d like to mention

​2017 was such an inspiring year for women, bringing to light many issues we deal with. Often women are portrayed as jealous or catty but in the last couple of years I have met countless women who are incredibly supportive and genuinely happy for others, including me and my business. That realization has been an eye opener for me and has made me want to be more proactive in supporting others.

​Besides ‘unique’ the word ‘gratitude’ is one I often find myself using or thinking about. Starting a business is expensive! There are so many creative people out there but not all have the opportunity or the means to be able to do it. I always keep that in mind and make sure that proceeds from every sale go to a do something good in the world.

For more information, go to

photos courtesy of Simran Rihal

Meet LAUNCH’s First Chapter of 2018 Designers:

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Announcing National Launch of KICKSTANDS™

        New fashion start-up Kickstands™ has launched with a collection of reversible high heel straps, which add both style and stability to virtually any high heel. Over a dozen different styles of the breakthrough accessory are now available exclusively at
        Founder and CEO, Michelle Johnson, is the visionary entrepreneur behind Kickstands, a product in development and testing for over five years. A successful corporate consultant by day, Johnson saw a need for a product that would prevent her heels from slipping while traveling for work and chasing connections at airports across North America.
          “It started as a very simple idea,” explained Johnson. “I needed to get from point A to point B without tripping, but I simply couldn’t find the right product.” But, after being inspired to create her initial prototypes, she quickly realized that the heel straps were not only functional, but also had the ability to add style and versatility to a woman’s shoe collection – not to mention, disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry along the way.
          The initial collection of reversible high heel straps now features a range of patterns and colors designed to go from “purse to pumps in seconds.” A rubber eyelet on each strap allows a pump’s heel to slide through, while the elastic fabric strap comfortably conforms to the foot.
          All the products, available exclusively at, are 100% designed and manufactured in the U.S. The launch of the new brand in December 2017 includes the new e-commerce website, along with a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram at @kickstandsforheels.

BUZZ GENERATING PRODUCTS–Just in from Vivant Skin Care

Find at Memorial Laser & Skin in Houston as well as online and through Aestheticians, Spas and Dermatologists

Derm-A-Gel® Daily Vitamin A: A transformative, targeted corrector serum for skin new to Vitamin A treatment. This patented, lightweight formula works to boost cellular metabolism, reduce fine lines, promote a more even skin tone, and clear blemishes, all while nourishing skin with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing ingredients.

THE LUXfoliator: Target three common skin issues—acne, aging, and hyperipigmentation—with one high-performance, multi-tasking scrub. The award-winning formula combines antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and naturally brightening mandelic acid with polyphenol-rich green tea extract and nourishing grape seed oil to cleanse, repair, and protect with unparalleled results. Bio-degradable, luxfoliating microbeads are a bonus.

This patented, lightweight formula works to boost cellular metabolism, reduce fine lines, promote a more even skin tone, and clear blemishes, all while nourishing skin with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing ingredients. Ideal for targeting acne, sun damage, dull or uneven skin tone, age spots, and wrinkles. Add this radiance boosting skin resurfacer to your essentials list.

More information at


Elizabeth Purpich, a Houston native, is partnering with designer, Cesar Galindo, also a Houston native, to present their Spring/Summer 2018 collections at New York Fashion Week to an elite fashion audience comprised of media, retailers, fashion and social influencers, sponsors and industry VIPs.

Their Texas Takeover event will be held on September 9th at Punto Space in the Garment District of New York City.

  1. Please share a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in your craft.   As a handbag designer, I’ve always been interested in design and the way things are put together. It started at a young age watching my grandmother make clothes, paint, do ceramics and pottery. I also grew up learning the family business of cattle and spent many summers of my childhood on the farm. Hides and leather were part of the culture, and I’ve always loved working with it.
  1. Tell us about your products & materials you’re using.  For the upcoming New York Fashion Week, I am using some really great textiles from Spain. They are kind of like a heavy silk with bright, bold colors and patterns. I am also introducing a new woven straw fabric, kind of like a raffia almost, in the collection. It’s the first time using either of these materials for the outside of the bag, and I’m really excited. Hopefully, everyone will be excited too.

3. Inspiration for your  designs?  My classic designs stem from being a Texan and the cattle industry which I grew up in. I use neutral, earthy colors with materials  like hair-on hide, suede and all types of leather. My best selling bag is the Longhorn bag which is a homage to the Lone Star State and our heritage.

  1. What’s new in your world with your products?  I just introduced a new design of credit card holders which have been very popular at shows, but now they are available on our website, too. I wanted to test them out first and made sure people liked them and they performed like they were supposed to. I think the design is good and the leathers we now have are perfect! It’s also a great gift for under $100. 
  1. Biggest accomplishment you’re most proud of in your career to date.  My biggest accomplishment is probably the Superbowl event I did. I was asked by Lisa Holthouse of CityBook to make something unique for her guests at the Big Game Big Give charitable event hosted at her home the day before Superbowl. It was a huge event, and I was honored to be asked to do it. I hand-cut 450 leather wristbands and metallic embossed them for the VIPs to wear on their wrists at the event. Michael Phelps wore one of the designs as he was the host of the VIP poker tournament. It was such an amazing rush!                                                                                                                                                                 More info on the Texas Takeover can be found here: Also check out for more details.                                                                                 photos courtesy of Beth Younger Purpich


Parry Botanicals, the Houston based all-natural skincare company, announced the release of their much anticipated Hydrostorative Face Cream ($60), which is a rich blend of five oils and exotic Mango ease dryness while increasing skin’s elasticity with natural anti-oxidents.

The Parry Botanicals line has experienced steady growth since their launch in 2015 with their original trio of lotions – the Restorative Cream, Body Cream, and Pure Botanical Lotion. In 2016, they expanded their offerings to include a Botanical Cleanser, a Vitamin C Serum, and a 3-piece gift set.  

Parry Botanicals products can be purchased on Amazon, via their website at and in select Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina retailers including Bering’s Hardware, Lemon Peel Facial and West University Wellness.

 1. Share a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the business.  Originally from California…I grew up near the beaches…so…resort wear is in my DNA.  I’m a beach girl…so that greatly influences my creativity. Even as a child I was fascinated by clothing and fabrics and what I could do with them.  In my 20’s, I studied fashion design, tailoring and pattern making to further my natural skills. And soon after that…I began my career as an independent fashion designer. 
As a young aspiring designer in southern California…I began marketing my designs by consigning them to a couple of beachside boutiques. One of which was on Catalina Island. One day I received a call from the very excited boutique owner…who wanted to let me know that “Princess Grace of Monaco”had come into the store and purchased one of my dresses! 
Well…that was it! From that day on….designing became my lifelong passion/obsession.
I’ve traveled the world gathering inspiration and knowledge for the creation of my line….TropiCouture.  In my 30’s, I went to live in England and there I went on to study couture design in London and eventually Paris. This experience changed my life and the way I created clothing.
2.  Describe your current customer:      The TropiCouture woman…She’s fun…smart and in control of her own life. She’s 18 to 80 yrs. young and has a style all her own. She prefers lasting style over trendy fast fashion. She’s every size and shape and loves the body she’s in. TropiCouture is for real women who want style that lasts a lifetime.
3.  Inspiration for your designs? I’m inspired by nature and in particular the exotic nature of the tropical islands. The colors of the sand and sea…the lush beauty of the rain forests and the birds and animals that call it home. I’m also inspired by the women who wear TropiCouture. They’re all so unique and amazing.
4. Tell us about materials you’re using: I use everything… silks… cottons… jerseys… rayons…I choose by feel and color. I want my garments to feel like you’re wearing your pajamas or nothing at all.  Comfort…beauty and longevity are key.
5. What’s new in your product development?  I’ve had a long career…so “new” is irrelevant…there is nothing new to develop in fashion. The TropiCouture silhouette is always being brought forward. By that I mean…each new collection is being built upon the last. It’s a continuing Collection. Timeless.
      I AM however bringing back my “No Ties for Guys” Classic Aloha shirts. I put them on the back burner for a couple of years. But my clients want them to come back. And what they want…they get!  They’re colorful…comfortable…eye catching and a whole lotta fun.
6. Biggest accomplishment you’re most proud of in your career to date. I didn’t sell my soul for the love of money. My biggest accomplishment is that I’ve been in business for as long as I have. And that I have people who have been wearing TropiCouture for as long as I’ve been creating affordable couture. It’s not about the money…it’s about the happiness I bring to them and myself.                                        Anything you’d like readers to know: I strive to design pieces that are stand-out timeless pieces for your wardrobe. Pieces you can wear for years to come. Each piece is made in the couture tradition…with attention to detail and beautiful quality materials. 
     Pieces are cut and created as they’re ordered. And sold direct to you…the clientele…no middle man here to inflate prices! I call it ‘affordable couture’. I create The TropiCouture Collection as a playfully classic brand…beautifully handmade with a look that’s effortless…playful and timelessly stylish.  At TropiCouture it’s about creating style that outlasts trends. 
Get in touch with TropiCouture at or at On social media at


British lifestyle brand Ted Baker London is launching into orbit with its new store located at The Galleria, Houston’s prestigious shopping center.

This stellar store is inspired by local Houston heritage and the National Space age of the 1950s, a time renowned for rapid developments of technology and design.

Ted’s latest location boasts 1,898 square feet of retail space and includes nods to Britain’s role in the space race era with a modern twist. A bespoke light display featuring small hanging astronauts will illuminate the celestial details of the space. Intergalactic wallpaper transports customers into the cosmos while clever light boxes replicate a launch pad for Ted’s very own space vessel.

Additional spaceship facets are integrated uniquely throughout, which serve to make shoppers and passersby feel as though they have entered Ted’s quintessentially British galaxy.

The store emerges with Ted’s immaculate Spring Summer 2017 womenswear, menswear and accessories collections. During opening weekend customers will enjoy galactic giveaways, treats and a bespoke gift with threshold purchases while visiting the new store.

photos courtesy of Ted Baker


Meet Native Houstonian, Damari Rubio, whose designs have been influenced by her travels and the essences of a modern women mixed with old school fashion. She has collaborated with designers, Merus Merus and Steve Guthrie.

photo credit: Houston Chronicle

Damari Gloves, Photos by Terry Halsey

Tell me a little history & how you came to be in design. I use to be in the hospitality world representing an amazing hotel. In my travels, I would being back gifts to my sisters and as a result of vintage shopping, the love of gloves became part of me. I’ve always loved fashion. My amazing mother taught me how to sew at a young age. I also took some leisure classes at HCC fashion department.

What’s your approach when it comes to working with a new concept or client? New concepts are always exciting. It’s either going to challenge me or open a market that I didn’t know about. My clients are the reason I continue to do what I love. It’s all about their needs and their suggestions.

photo credit:

Biggest accomplishment to date: Being approached by major stores. Building those relationships will come in handy pretty soon.

Favorite moment of designing in 2016: Testing out my redesigned workout glove. It’s my favorite part because they look better, and most importantly, they are well-designed for its purpose.

Plans for 2017: Cleaning up my social media and finally my product being available in Houston boutiques.

What happened in 2016 that you’re particularly proud of? 

We had a successful year after launching on Black Friday 2015.  It was particularly successful because I broke my right leg (think standing, driving, AND sewing).  I was out of commission for four months.  As a small business, just starting it was a very scary event, but we popped right back into full play in June of 2016 and enjoyed some great support from the media, art and retail communities.  

Describe your approach when working on a new piece?  

I’m an educator so I’m pretty linear in my design effort.  Plus as a fashion design graduate student, they drill into you a process for creating designs.  I collect inspiration all the time.  Whether it’s a silhouette that I keep thinking about that I love (men’s or women’s), a textile that I am drawn to at a certain point in time, or even genre-based influences such as movies, art or music. 

When I get to the sketching table, I tend to have more than enough foundation to start creating, but I also study trend forecasts and reports.  Even though I teach this at Houston Community College (HCC), I can’t express how important this is for any designers.  Doing this allows me to streamline the collection or how the pieces might work together to be successful on a retail level. Design is nothing if you can’t sell it (at least if you are doing it for a living). 

Favorite textiles/ materials to work with & why?  

I love working with texture.  So jacquards, chenille – wovens in general are my favorite to work with.  For me, texture helps make the garment 3D without a person wearing it.  Fashion is 3D art and I think it’s important to explore that.  In school, I always loved draping, in particular ruching and pleating because it allowed the garment to take a shape of its own.  The same applies to woven textiles at times.

Describe your client you design for?  

I try to design silhouettes that are for any woman.  Though not all clothes look good on all people, women should have the option of choosing items that are not just made for models.  This past year we spanned the age range – meaning we had very young women shopping with us.

The woman I envision when I create is an independent, creative type who likes to travel, is philanthropic, and loves art and fashion.  She lives in a metropolitan area such as New York, Dallas, Houston or San Francisco.  It’s important to note that this line was specifically started to meet the needs of Houstonians.  The textiles are purposely chosen because they look robust, but are actually thin and breathable.  I want women in Houston to be able to wear items that look like they are in New York (cooler climate) but that don’t create the heat that we definitely don’t need here in Houston.  So the jacquards you see from Fall 2016 are actually wearable for Fall and Spring here in Texas.

Talk about your work at HCC:

I’ve been in the HCC fashion department for about 5 years.  It has been one of the most wonderful experiences for me.  My students are from both the fashion design and fashion merchandising programs since I teach in both arenas.  And to be honest, they keep me excited about fashion, culture and Houston.  Each semester is new.  Meaning, that the group, including their backgrounds, goals, personalities, and skill change.  So each semester I get to learn as much from them and what they are seeing and experiencing in the fashion world or just even in their own lives, as they learn the basics from me.  It’s inspiring and humbling.   

Plans for 2017: 

I have signed on with SpaceHTX and am looking forward to growing the brand and its reach this year.  I’m also looking at continuing to refine the collection from the feedback we got in the previous season.  As well, I am continuing to partner with local artists,  designers and retailers to show that Houston is a formidable city for the arts in general. 

For more information on Steve Guthrie, go to

photos courtesy of Steve Guthrie


Finding your style for 2017’s Spring/Summer fashion is easy to do by embracing a new approach where a jump back to previous decades from the ’70s through the ’90s is possible to even a futuristic edge.  Comfort, fluidity and pops of color with florals and stripes are evident along with lace, draping and acceptance of a wide variety of dresses.

Must-haves include pantsuits, Logos, Messages, high-rise pants, White shirts, AthLuxury wear, bare shoulders, florals, stripes, denim, gingham, leather. Accessories range from a Summer Bootie to ankle strap shoes, oversized earrings and the pendant necklace.

photo credit: 

Michael Kors Collection RTW Spring 2017
photo credit:

Marc Jacobs
photo credit:

Parry Botanicals Announces the Release of Three New Products to Their Popular All-Natural Skin Care Line 

The popular all-natural skincare company, Parry Botanicals, announced three new products to their line. They will now offer a Botanical Cleanser, a Vitamin C Serum and a 3-piece gift set. 

The new additions will join the already successful Parry Botanicals’ trio of lotions – the Restorative Cream, Body Cream and Pure Botanical Lotion.

Parry Botanicals got its start over a decade ago when owner/founder, Elizabeth Parry, was diagnosed with a number of food and environmental allergies that forced her to reevaluate everything she was consuming and applying to her body.

Armed with her own personal experience, Parry decided to create her own line to help others with similar skin allergy issues or searching for truly all-natural products. Parry Botanicals prides itself on developing products are gentle enough for anyone, including babies’ sensitive skin. The line is fragrance-free, environmentally friendly and uses only natural ingredients.

“Our lotions have been met with such a positive response that we wanted to add more all-natural products to the line. One of the most frequent questions we get is, “Where’s the cleanser!” explained owner/founder Elizabeth Parry. “Formulating a cleanser tricky because you want people to feel fresh and clean, but don’t want to use harsh chemicals that strip your skin. Ultimately, I think we struck the perfect balance of effective yet all-natural. I also love the soothing effect it has on my skin.”

With the Vitamin C Serum, Parry wanted to provide an anti-aging product that went beyond regular use of the Restorative Cream. “What I love most about the serum is how high of a concentration we have all the while being extremely gentle and non-irritating. Also the antioxidants! I love knowing I’m stimulating new collagen with every application. I find my skin to be brighter and dark spots have faded. In fact, I am no longer using foundation at all thanks to the Vitamin C Serum.”

3-pc-gift-set-with-products-image002The gift set was a “no brainer” stated Parry.

“Since our different lotions are at various levels of viscosity, we noticed people were buying all three to create their own complete moisturizing tool kit. Putting all three together in a stylish bag not only saves our clients a bit of time and money, but it also makes a fantastic gift for friends and family. Plus, they are full-size lotions, not small samples you’ll run out of quickly,” added Parry.

Parry Botanicals products can be purchased at and in select Texas and North Carolina retailers including Bering’s Hardware, Lemon Peel Facial and West University Wellness.