Tricks Of Trade

How Estate Managers Approach Fine Linens, Featuring FL&B



Estate Managers Coalition Fine Linen and Bath Interview

This is an interview with Mary Babinski, Lead Design Consultant at FLandB, an Estate Managers Coalition Member.

Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie. 

How did FLandB first start working with estate managers?  

About 10 years ago we received a call, mid-June, from an Estate Manager in need of 40 custom colored beach towels for a July 4th party in the Hamptons. Everything was received in time and because of this she asked us to help her with additional projects. In time, she was referring her colleagues to us for assistance and we developed further relationships with this community from there.

How do you work with clients who have multiple homes needing all new bed, bath and table linens?

Every estate is unique. We understand that one size does not fit all, and approach every project with versatility to meet the Estate Manager’s needs. We would initially want to have a quick phone conversation to get to know them and learn about the project.

At that time, we would find out what challenges, if any, that they currently face when ordering linens for all the homes. It is that first conversation that will help us set the course for our next steps of working together. Many times, they can simply email us images of the space, and we will in turn reply with our recommendations.

If only replenishments are required, this process very simple. If assistance is needed to help select fabric options that coordinate with the interior, we will suggest various luxury brands and styles. We will then send complimentary fabric swatch samples to the Estate Manager wherever they are in the world.

Estate Managers Coalition Fine Linen and Bath Interview

What do you need from the estate manager in order to maintain inventory levels?

How much lead time do you need for a project this large?  For replenishing a current home, we would help to build a list of the current inventory and note the minimum stock levels that they would like to keep. For all projects, the lead time depends on if the Estate Manager would like stocked or custom, made-to-order, linens. For stocked items, the turnaround can be within 24 to 48 hours. For custom, made-to-order, items the lead time varies by brand.

What do you enjoy about working estate managers? 

We enjoy the process of getting to know them, building trusting relationships and understanding the needs of the estates they manage. Although it may seem cliché’, we truly love what we do and feel a great sense of pride in making sure that the Estate Manager shines in the eyes of their principal. It is important that they feel comfortable contacting us for any reason. No request is too small.

I know you have 24/7 online ordering. How fast can homes receive their linens?

We actually find that most Estate Managers prefer to email us a list of what is needed and then we will provide them with a quotation for their review. After the order is placed, if there is no rush, our company will pay for all shipping costs within the Continental U.S.  If needed, items can be express shipped anywhere in the world. Many estates have their own UPS, Fed. Ex., or DHL accounts that can be billed for expedited shipping.

If a yacht is in dire need of blankets and moored in a very out-of-the-way locale, how would you go about getting them to the ship asap?  

We will quickly provide style, size and color options in order to help them find the best blanket to meet their needs. Because there is always stock availability with our “go-to” luxury brands, like Coyuchi, Sferra, Matouk, and Yves Delorme, we can have items shipped within 24 to 48 hours if needed. We then work with Chief Stew to determine their preferred method of shipping and make it happen.


Dear Mr. Woodley: Butler Q&A (Gifts From Principals)


“Dear Mr. Woodley” is the column of Estate Managers Coalition resident butler, Crispin Woodley, who will answer your questions about all things “butler-esque.”

From proper introductions to thieving guests – to handling undermining children – to how to let Madam know that her outfit is simply inappropriate, Mr. Woodley advises with the knowledge and flare of European etiquette and protocol which only a fine butler understands.

Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.

Dear Mr. Woodley,

My boss is always telling me, “Take my Tesla out for a spin!” or “Join us for dinner;” and last week he offered me the use of his Malibu beach house for my upcoming birthday party. Even though I would love to use the beach house, my instincts tell me this may not be a good idea. And, I don’t want to be rude or seem ungrateful. I was wondering what your advice would be?

Thank you,

Anxious in the Palisades

Black matte tesla Los Angeles

Dear Anxious,

One challenge Butlers and Estate Managers face when working for HNW individuals is resisting the temptation to accept gifts and favors. However, handling this without integrity and restraint can spell death for those in our profession. Europe and the U.K. are more formal societies in this respect, and people are naturally wary of an overly friendly demeanor. Principals overseas are expert at practicing boundaries so this type of situation rarely arises. This is, however, commonplace in the U.S. and my experience is that saying no in the most creative and polite way, then immediately changing the subject is the best reaction.

I had a Butler friend in Beverly Hills, we’ll name him Harold, whose employer was giving him gifts and allowing him to drive the Rolls Royce. Everything was fine for a few months until one day his boss came home screaming about a dent in the car. Harold insisted he was not responsible and knowing his integrity, I feel confident vouching for him. His boss deducted the cost of repair from Harold’s paycheck, which was a substantial sum. Harold felt powerless to challenge him – which was proper as we are trained to “take it on the chin,” and accept consequences with grace.

Things didn’t go much better for Harold after that. His employer was now having him work 14 hour days and when Harold attempted to offer reasons why he was unable to stay late, his boss would reply, “Oh I see, you like me enough to take my gifts but not enough to give a little extra time.” Harold’s boss was a perfectly lovely man, however it is still a part of the human condition to give expecting something in return. Harold is no longer under his employ.

When being presented with gifts and favors, I have found it most effective to say things such as: “Thank you very much for your kindness sir,” or “you’re too generous madam, I couldn’t possibly,” Couple this with an excuse or change in subject like: “Shall I begin packing your suitcase now?” or “Honestly madam, I would rather use my car as it fits in the tight parking spots better and I won’t have to drive around for an hour to find a sizable space.” It’s always best to keep the relationship between staff and principal professional. After all, we are in the home, we are not of the home!


6 Things To Know Before Putting Away Winter Clothes


 Spring is the time of the year when we naturally think of organizing and switching out seasonal wardrobes in the homes we care for.

Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.

There is no better time to clean your principal’s winter wear before putting it away in the back of the closet or storing it at the bottom of a drawer. Estate Managers Coalition member Door-to-Door Valet Cleaners emphasizes the necessity of removing spots and stains before wrapping up everything until it is worn again next year.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 12.01.02 AM

As far as delicate and couture clothing is concerned; Door-to-Door Valet Cleaners promises quality and special attention, allowing Estate Managers to breathe easy knowing their principals valuable winter garments are impeccably cleaned and wrapped before storing for the next six to nine months.

Here Door To Door Valet Cleaner’s 6 Tips For storing your principal’s seasonal wear:

  1. Dry clean garments that you’re putting away, even if they are normally laundered at home. This is to ensure they are clean and free of stains prior to storage. The reasons for this are many; dry cleaning is a dependable process which provides a more lasting effect than simple washing, stubborn stains are easier to remove, the possibility that insects such as moths will nest and multiply in the clothes is eliminated, and garments retain a fresh smell when unwrapped months later. Door-to-Door Valet sufficiently removes all food stains, even those unseen, thus eliminating the scent that attracts bugs to clothing in the first place.
  2. Location, location, location. Choosing the right place to store garments is key. Beware of hot places such as an attic, heat sets hidden stains and direct sunlight fades fabric.
  3. Plastic storage containers with lids are better than cardboard boxes. Cardboard is acidic and the glue used to construct them is attracts insects.
  4. Many people believe that using mothballs is the only way to stop pests from eating fabric. Although very effective, the fumes are highly toxic and so they should not be put directly on clothing. A Cedar blocks work better, are reusable (purchase additional concentrated cedar spray) and they smell nice.
  5. Door-to-Door Valet suggests using their premium hangers when storing clothing in a hanging valise. Heavy items such as jackets and coats are best hung on padded hangars. Hang skirts on skirt hangers with clips (I drape a small piece of soft fabric over the spot where the clip will go for added protection). Finally, use hanger loops when the garment has them.
  6. Door-to-Door Valet provides museum quality archival materials to wrap delicate garments that are either couture or one-of-a-kind, family heirlooms, baptismal gowns or wedding dresses for a lifetime of storage. Door to Door Valet makes sure all garments of such nature are stored accurately.

About Door To Door Valet:

The Veera family stepped into the dry cleaning business in the early 1980’s and revolutionized a dated industry with top of the line equipment, impeccable quality and customer service.

door to door valet cleaners

The Veera family have owned and operated the flourishing West Coast family business for over twenty years. Door-to-Door Valet is at the top of their industry, proudly earning the title for Los Angeles of “America’s Best Cleaners.” Notably, each piece of equipment used at Door-to-Door Valet is chosen for its exact ability to deliver a superior result: personally inspected garments delivered to your employer’s door, ultra clean, smelling fresh and mended when needed.

Not only does Door-to-Door Valet use newest equipment with the most up to date features, they also own one of the only 1940’s Ajax French drapery presses. The Ajax press is delicate enough for high-end textiles, presses the fabric in a single motion, leaving the edges to be finished by hand pressing. It’s this careful attention to detail that Door To Door Valet has built their reputation on.

door to door valet cleaners

Estate Managers will want to know that certifying as “America’s Best Cleaner,” in the greater Los Angeles area for the last 2 years is an exceptional stamp of approval, especially where the high net worth employers are concerned. These top 30 dry cleaning companies in the country are rated on everything from customer service to quality of service.

Door-to-Door Valet covers every detail when cleaning and repairing your principal’s delicate and couture clothing. They provide specialty hangars, archival chests and woven nylon reusable bags for principals who do not want to use plastic. Their Beverly Hills store opened on December 21, 2015 and they have nine other locations in and around Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the South Bay. Estate Mangers will be pleased to know that Door-to-Door takes care of your employers delicate wear in the expert fashion they demand.

Iconhouse: Why Hire An Image Consultant?


Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.

Estate Managers Coalition member ICONHOUSE is the new image consultancy that brings you a luxury styling experience and takes inspiration from the latest fashion, music, art and luxury trends worldwide.


They work with a chic society of discerning style-setters around the globe who enjoy first class service.  ICONHOUSE provides bespoke benefits that include access to exclusive private trunk shows and the most sought after designer products.  Whether you are seeking a new seasonal wardrobe, a renovation of your existing wardrobe or an elegant gown or classic tux for the red carpet, ICONHOUSE brings you beautiful, ready-to-wear haute couture at its finest.

Get to know more about their services and find out the most common fashion mistake women make in our Q&A with ICONHOUSE founders Tanya Gill and Sara Ell.

What are the stressors you notice most during the holiday/award season?

There are so many events that clients are invited to attend or host during this busy time, that it can be overwhelming to choose the appropriate seasonal attire. We are experienced in distinguishing exactly what is going to look great in each situation: holiday parties, galas, family occasions and vacations. For awards season there are so many options from designers around the world. We curate the best options and have the premium resources to logistically transport everything to one location for a fitting. We take the stress out of the entire process; from what jewelry compliments the dress to the finest details like monogrammed cuff links.

Exactly how does ICONHOUSE help clients through the holiday/award season?

We set up a meeting with the client or their assistant to understand the scope of their needs. Then we go through the schedule with the client and assign complete looks with accessories for each event. We will shop for new pieces or we can utilize what is in the closet that could possibly be updated and tailored. These looks, once approved, can be bagged, stored or shipped; ready in an instant!  ICONHOUSE’S high level clientele appreciate our sharp attention to detail, extensive knowledge and relationships with designers in every project we take on.

Can you help someone without meeting them in person?  How would you go about it?

 We can help clients without meeting them by Skype and video conferencing if need be. It helps to have visuals of them and sizes, to research and get an idea of their style and what they’re looking for so we can pull together options. The client can take a look at these and let us know their desires and choices.  We can also fly in for fittings or arrange a tailor.

 Is there a common fashion mistake most women make?  How do you rectify it?

Some women are overly influenced by celebrity images to the extent that they don’t realize a look that they love on Beyoncé might not look the same on their body type or are not age appropriate for them.  We can steer each woman to a happy compromise!

Does your image consulting extend beyond the wardrobe?

Yes, we can advise on hair, makeup and skincare. We have wonderful relationships with tried and trusted experts in many locations.

What are the specific areas you image consult in?

Women / Men / Teens/ Children / Ready to wear / Couture / Custom /Vintage / Clothing renovation

Red carpet gowns / Suits / Tuxedos / Shoes / Handbags / Fine and costume jewelry

Swimwear / Vacation clothes / Luggage / Workout clothes / Wedding attire

Tanya Gill and Sara Ell are statement-makers, skilled at bringing out the best features and most unique aspects of each client through trends in culture – in a modern and authentic fashion.  If you have any other questions regarding ICONHOUSE services or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact them at

Dear Mr. Woodley: Butler Q&A (Estate Manager’s Dress Code)



“Dear Mr. Woodley” is the column of Estate Managers Coalition resident butler, Crispin Woodley, who will answer your questions about all things “butler-esque.”

From proper introductions to thieving guests – to handling undermining children – to how to let Madam know that her outfit is simply inappropriate, Mr. Woodley advises with the knowledge and flare of European etiquette and protocol which only a fine butler understands.

Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.

Dear Mr. Woodley,

I have a butler/estate manager friend who works on a large property in Beverly Hills. I saw her out and about town the other day and assumed it was her day off given the attire she donned. She was wearing a white, off-the-shoulder concert tee-shirt, black jeans with holes at the knees, short black biker boots…and….ahhh…she wreaked of Patchouli oil!

I said hello, asked how she had been and what she was up to. All was well; she was doing some quick errands for her principal who was back at the estate.

I was shocked – she dressed as if she was about to go to a Gwen Stefani concert at the Forum and she smelled like a hippie at Woodstock.

Mr. Woodley, please help me understand what she must be thinking and what type of principal she works for, who let’s her dress this way!?


Confused from the valley.

street style black ripped jeans white t shirt

Dear Confused,

This is an interesting question and the answer has many different components. The true art of butler service in a home is founded on discretion, and a reputable estate manager will follow the same guidelines. “Discretion,” makes service professionals to think of being close-mouthed about the details of their principal’s home and personal life. Yes, this is a fraction of butler service, but how a butler dresses; their manners and the boundaries they establish are a part of discretion as well.

The Mr. and Mrs. are at the apex of the home’s hierarchy, thus none of their staff should outshine them. This means that no butler takes any attention away from him or her, whether it is positive or negative.

Practicing restraint requires a hefty dose of self-esteem, an inner resource of character and wisdom. A well-trained butler has a solid sense of self without needing or seeking acknowledgment on a job well done or a compliment on their appearance (neither a reprimand). A high-quality butler is practiced at the art of being inconspicuous yet at the same time, indispensable.

The butler and estate manager are representatives of the family, often the first person an outsider comes into contact with before meeting the principals. Because one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, it is always important to look one’s best. Here are some guidelines for establishing a positive presence in the home so that no unnecessary attention is given:

  1. Depending on the formality of the home – wear a suit or business casual attire. This means a classic look, understated and definitely no holes (get classic style here).
  2. Women, please never wear perfume and men no cologne (but do be freshly bathed)!! This includes using very strongly scented shampoo, conditioner, deodorant or lotion. Nothing should take away from Madame’s perfume or Mister’s cologne, as they are the kings and queens of the castle. Also, scent is such a personal taste and your employer may not like your perfume or worse, they may be allergic to it. It is best not to aggravate them.
  3. Leave the jewelry at home and wear it on your day off; simple earrings, a dainty necklace or a watch or are fine. But big bling-bling chains, rings, fancy diamonds that scream, “Look at me,” or anything nicer than what your employer’s wear is far too “conspicuous.”
  4. Plain face, light makeup and hair pulled back is tastefully appropriate for women. Clean-shaven and hair trimmed to a conservative (yet fashionable) length is suitable for men.
  5. Nothing too revealing, too short, too exposing (women) or too tight (women and men).

The butler is one of the few remaining gentilities we have left in the reputable home.

Even if your principal behaves casually and allows you to dress in a very casual manner, don’t do it! It will come back to haunt you, I promise. Sooner or later your employer will feel his or her generosity has been taken for granted and you’ve given them a reason to dismiss you. A butler lives by a code of integrity and discretion; aggravating, inciting jealousy or being obsequious has no place in the world of private service.

Thomas Warner Wine Cellars: How To Protect Your Estate’s Vintage Assets


Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie featuring Estate Managers Coalition member Thomas Warner Wine Cellars

For clients seeking a unique and elegant way of accommodating significant wine collections, many top international sommeliers refer Thomas Warner Wine Cellars (TWWC) to design, fabricate and install their wine cellars. This ensures that the special vintages are housed securely in a climate-controlled environment and displayed in a visually stunning manner, complimenting the architecture of your principal’s home.

I sat down with Tom Warner, Founder of TWWC to ask the questions that every estate manager should when performing their due diligence prior to installing a wine cellar.

Thomas Warner Wine Cellars

What type of wood do you use to build your wine cellars? 

We use a wide variety of hardwoods, including mahogany, walnut and oak, which can be stained and finished in different tones, including opaque. We also fabricate with metal, including bronze, stainless steel and blackened steel. For highlighted features such as framed displays, counter tops and freestanding islands, we often use other metals such as pewter, copper or nickel. Stone and colored glass can be used as well.

Is there one material that is better or worse for controlling the temperature than another? 

No, all materials perform equally in a fully climate-controlled room.

Do you have a favorite and why? I feel all materials in our palette have applications when they reflect the architectural style of the home and highlight the content of the collection.

What is the least amount of space needed to build a wine cellar?

I have built in small utility closets approximately 3′ wide x 18″ deep x 7′ tall, holding as few as 200 bottles.

What is the largest wine cellar TWWC has designed?

The largest cellar housed about 20,000 bottles; the size of the room to house that collection measured approximately 16′ x 50,’ with 12′ high ceilings.

Thomas Warner Wine Cellars

Above is a photo of the Colgin Winery in Napa, built by Tom Warner. It holds about 18,000 bottles and measures 12′ x 75,’ with 14′ ceilings.

Do you build according to how the wine will be organized (i.e. whites with whites, year by year)? Is this a preference of the principal or will the client leave this up to you?

All clients organize their collections differently and most often by varietal, such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, cabernet, syrah, etc. I often see additional organization by nation of origin or region. For instance, the French portion of a collection may be organized and displayed separately for Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley and Loire.

What is the perfect temperature for a wine cellar? 

Most cellars are held at 55 degrees and 70% relative humidity for aging the collection. Occasionally clients separate their white wines and age them at 53 degrees and 70% humidity. Champagnes are most often aged at 55%.

What types of wines will stand straight up and what types will lie down?

The information we receive from most of our sommeliers and other wine experts suggests that wine should be stored prone. Some can be displayed at a slight angle, as long as the cork is still immersed in liquid and the air bubble stays in the shoulder of the bottle. Occasionally, large bottles or other special wines are stood up for display in the cellar and should be rotated regularly. These decisions are usually made between the client and their sommelier or cellar manager.

Can you give me an example of a unique home you had to match a new wine cellar to?  Perhaps a modern home that is mostly glass and white?

Recently, I completed a cellar for a very historical home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. This particular mansion with classic architecture on the outside had one floor that was highly contemporary and accommodated the wine cellar. Since the glass-faced wine cellar was adjacent to a gallery of art, I chose to design and fabricate the entire cellar in statuary bronze. The result was quite dramatic.

Marble and concrete?

Over the years, I have found that conditions in long-term storage sometimes create a pH balance that makes the air a bit acidic. Over time, this can cause marble to become pitted, as the calcium breaks down in these conditions. Therefore, I tend to discourage marble. More dense limestone, as well as concrete, slate, and granites, tend to be preferable stone materials.

We know that wine bottles should never be moved in order to clean or dust them off, how do you advise the wine cellar be cleaned and how often?

Generally, I find that wine cellars are not cleaned, except for the floor, windows and perhaps the lenses on the lighting fixtures. With climate controlled systems the air is filtered and continually circulates through the cooling system. Since wine cellars are closed and climate-controlled, little or no dust gathers.

When you go into a home where you are redesigning an established wine cellar, what are some problems you see with the way some companies have built or designed the cellar? 

The main issues we usually see are sub-optimal cooling systems, lack of humidity control, vapor gain into the wine cellar, un-insulated heat sources and other poorly functioning materials affecting the quality of the envelope. Most often, I recommend removal of the existing wine racking and other materials, especially unfinished wood. This ensures that any mildew spores that may have been deposited are not allowed to grow. A mildew outbreak can destroy the paper labels on the wine, causing significant devaluation of the collection. I provide a carefully curated wine room checklist to be reviewed with the client and their building team before constructing the new wine cellar.

When lighting a wine cellar, is there a special type of lighting you use or recommend that does not generate too much heat? 

I usually recommend LED lighting, which generates very little heat.

Do the fixtures need to be kept a certain distance away from the bottles?

Most of the lighting consultants and wine makers I have worked with suggest that LED lighting placed a few inches away from the bottles at a fairly low wattage, has no negative effect on the collection. The lighting decision, cellar materials and specifications are ultimately left to the client and their sommelier.

Do very old vintages need to be kept in a particular place in the wine cellar?

Occasionally, wine makers, sommeliers and well known collectors may suggest that older vintages be placed in the lower 4′ of the cellar, as warm air rises. However, we utilize a combination of several temperature sensors placed throughout the cellar to assure even temperature and humidity distribution. I recommend an AiroCide unit that utilizes internal ultra-violet light to kill mildew spores. A small fan continuously pulls air through the unit and washes the interior climate about once a day.

At the end of my visit with Tom, I was thoroughly convinced of the need to consult TWWC from the beginning of the project to ensure that the cellar is built properly. Our estates reflect the fine tastes of the families we serve and estate managers strive for nothing but the best. When there are so many crucial details to consider, we rely on professionals like Tom Warner to help us deliver the highest quality products and services.

Thomas Warner Wine Cellars offers a complimentary consultation to evaluate and make recommendations that will enhance your estate’s present wine collection and add significant value to the home. Thomas Warner Wine Cellars can then create a full-color drawing and personalized design for EMC family members.

Contact Tom Warner at or call him at 415.883.8120 to begin creating a bespoke design that reflects the architectural style of your principal’s home.


An Estate Manager’s Secret Weapon: Garde Robe Couture Wardrobe Management


Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.

Couture clothing requires more care and consideration than any paparazzi photo would suggest.  Celebrities, the prosperous and fashion’s crème de la crème invest significant sums in their wardrobes, however many do not have the closet or storeroom space to house them – or they own multiple estates and waste time schlepping them across the world and back, risking damage and loss.  Keeping these collections safe, clean and organized is the job of Doug Greenberg, owner of Estate Managers Coalition member Garde Robe.   

High-end wardrobe storage service and garment care is an anomaly. Did you ever wonder where Oscar del la Renta’s complete archive of ready-to-wear collections is kept? Or if that “Hollywood Starlet’s” closet isn’t large enough to house all her couture gowns, then where does she keep them? Those in the luxury lifestyle circle have found a haven in Garde Robe’s services.

They not only provide clean, climate controlled storage lofts in clandestine locations around the world, they also offer a Luggage-Free Valet service, an exclusive Cyber Closet and together with AIG, have conceived a tailor-made Wearable Collections Coverage insurance policy.


In cities like New York where closet space is limited, having another closet away from home is an old idea; but now – fashionistas worldwide have discovered the secret too good to keep: Garde Robe storage lofts. Trend setters, couture collectors and design houses now have a safe and secure place to store their expensive designer labels.  Garde Robe utilizes museum quality and preservation techniques to cultivate a temperature controlled environment free of mold, clothes eating moths and insects, moisture and other force majeure. A Garde Robe specialist will visit your principal’s home and pick up their clothing for storage – it’s best to have it dry-cleaned first or Garde Robe will arrange for cleaning. The initial pick up and consultation are complimentary! Back at the loft the collection is inspected, cataloged, professionally photographed, sterilized and arranged as per requested by the owner (color, season, style, etc.). Security is tight, lips are sealed and non-disclosure agreements are signed.

Garde Robes Luggage Free Valet Service is a must for any jet setter. Your principal selects his or her desired Gucci, Saint Laurant, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Chanel, Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Hermes bags, Jimmy Choo shoes, et al, via Garde Robes Cyber Closet app. The designer wear is packed (properly) and whisked off to their destination where it is magically unpacked and ready to wear before their arrival. Voilà!

wardrobe edit

The Cyber Closet digital management system keeps garments organized and easy to view on a secure website or as an iPad app. Cyber Closet is a bespoke tool enabling the style savvy to log where the garment is stored (home closet, 2nd – 3rd home, or at the Garde Robe loft. They can create outfits with the Virtual Stylist and make important notes such as the last date and event they wore the ensemble to so that they are sure not to make a faux pas! Cyber Closet also makes it easy to switch out seasonal wear with a Seasonal Wardrobe Storage service.

Eventually Greenberg became concerned for the collections of his clients who were turning down Garde Robe’s in-house insurance coverage and relying on their homeowners insurance to protect their assets. Apparel insurance is a niche business, it is often never thought of as an option and companies offering this unique coverage are hard to find. Greenberg looked to American International Group Inc. (AIG) for a solution. In 2015 AIG launched their unique “wearable collections coverage” available to clients of AIG’s private client group. Owners of this policy have protection on all clothing stored in Garde Robe facilities and also clothing that is in transit. This is a great caveat for those principals who have had (or don’t want) terrifying experiences with lost luggage while flying, dry-cleaning nightmares or household disasters including mold, floods and fire.

Style mavens, designers, wardrobe artists, professional organizers and bon vivants galore! Garde Robe couture wardrobe management is a fabulous means to organize, store and move treasured fashion from place to place at a moments notice. Their hallmark is that they have never lost or damaged an article of clothing – ever! Memberships start at $350/month. Additional services offered by Garde Robe which complement their memberships are: historical fashion research – appraisals – professional photography & cataloging – consignment & charitable donations – in-home seamstress services for fittings and alterations – fashion styling & personal shopping – closet organizing – luggage packing and expert garment care.

Find out more about Estate Managers Coalition memeber Garde Robe’s services on

Top 5 Things You Must Know When Hiring A Private Chef


This valuable infographic is provided by Estate Managers Coalition member, The Private Chef Network.

PCN is a non-profit company supporting the Los Angeles private chef community.  PCN creates partnerships between private chefs and local hunger relief charities and promotes education and professional chef standards.  Chef Nate Romo of PCN gives suggestions to estate managers on how to go about hiring a private chef for his or her principal. Thanks, Chef Nate!
Top 5 Things You Must Know When Hiring A Private Chef

Dear Mr. Woodley: Butler Q&A


“Dear Mr. Woodley” is the column of Estate Managers Coalition resident butler, Crispin Woodley, who will answer your questions about all things “butler-esque.”

From proper introductions to thieving guests – to handling undermining children – to how to let Madam know that her outfit is simply inappropriate, Mr. Woodley advises with the knowledge and flare of European etiquette and protocol which only a fine butler understands.

Dear Mr. Woodley,

I attended a birthday party the other night and was introduced to a friend of the hosts. Immediately the host’s friend asked me what line of work I was in and I told him that I owned a concierge company catering to the personal service industry.  He quickly rummaged around in his front pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled business card, handing it to me single-handedly, face down. This struck me as very odd and I wanted to ask your advice on the proper handling of business cards. 
Deirdre Fisk, Rhapsody Concierge Services
emc avjet event
Dear Ms. Fisk:

The entire episode you described is very troubling. First, it is incredibly rude to ask someone you have just met what he or she does for a living, and handing out a business card at a social function is taboo.  It implies pretense and shows oneself to have a very shallow personality.  There are so many topics to discuss: travel, where you live and why you love it, how you both know the host or hostess, etc. (warning: stay away from politics, religion, money and children – really – don’t talk about your kids).

Can you ask someone what line of work they are in later in the conversation?  Yes, if you have made a definite connection with the person and are genuinely interested.   If you both find it beneficial to pursue a business relationship, just exchange phone numbers with a promise to get in touch soon and then go about mingling with the other guests. But please, do not hand out a business card at a social function!

Second, the actual handing and receiving of the business card in question was in poor taste.  A business card – to the owner –  should be very sacred and treated as such.  Always keep your business cards in a tasteful case and not thrown haphazardly in a pocket or purse. Take good care of them – after all – they represent you.  When presenting someone your business card, do so with two hands! Position the proper side of the card facing your new acquaintance, so that they are able to read it without flipping it this way and that.  They should take the card in both of their hands and look at it, turning it over to see the back as well.  Then a polite comment about the business card is suggested, such as: “I like your choice of logo, how did you choose it?”  Or, “I see you are a member of the Estate Manager’s Coalition – I am as well!”  After this, please do not place their card in your pocket or purse, rather put it in the same case where you keep your business cards or a separate case meant just for your contacts.

When you get home you may import your confrères information into your contacts by hand – or scan it with your Smartphone and store in an editable database that may also be transferred to your contacts – retaining the image of the card – very easy! Here is an article on seven tested business card apps.

business cards


What Every Estate Manager Should Know About Air Duct Cleaning


Post by guest estate manager Martha Locke featuring Estate Managers Coalition member Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning.

Summer is winding down and I had the thought that this must be the perfect time to do some essential duct cleaning.  The windows have been left open for a few months – many estates do not use screens – animals are darting inside and out bringing all sorts of impurities with them, the breeze has been blowing throughout the home, spreading allergens, etc.

Not knowing anything about indoor air quality, I asked Diane Leriche at Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning to school me!  If I am armed with the right information I will be able to keep the air in my principal’s estate fresh and clean, ensure the fine furnishings and artwork are not being damaged and make sure the family and their pets are staying healthy.

fresh aire duct cleaning

I found out that there is no set time of the year to clean air ducts – anytime is a good time.  Pet dander gets pulled into the system and builds up all year long.  Germs and bacteria thrive in a dirty air environment and circulate throughout the home every time the system is used.   That said, Fresh Aire advises having air ducts cleaned well before the summer heat is in full force, especially if your principal cranks the AC during the summer months.  (FYI – many people wait too late and attempt to schedule duct cleaning during the summer heat, making it difficult to get the appointment they want – due to so many requests!)

Fresh Aire cleans anywhere the air blows.  First, all systems must be turned off during the cleaning (temperature controlled systems can be reset after cleaning by your air conditioning contractor).  The HVAC unit is opened up and all the parts are cleaned.  Fresh Aire then moves throughout the estate, covering each work area in order to protect the home and prevent the cleaned areas from being re-contaminated.

fresh aire duct cleaning

The ductwork is located behind the walls and the tubing is similar to a tree with branches. Then the vents in each room are removed so that the inside of the ducts are easily accessed.

The vent is cleaned and then a high-powered air wash brushing system is used to scrub down each “branch.”

This brush is on a flexible cable and is snaked down the duct line back and forth to remove all the old dirt.  During the brushing step, the dirt is sucked out of the system by use of a high-powered negative air vacuum system.  When this is completed, the entire system will blow fresh and clean once again.

Rodents and other vermin can be difficult to remove from a home as they use the duct system to travel, hide and escape being caught.

Fresh Aire combats this problem by using a camera to inspect inside the ducts prior to cleaning.  Also, rodents have been known to damage the inside of the duct system and this needs to be assessed prior to beginning any cleaning.  With the camera they are also able to document the extent of contamination so they understand exactly what they are dealing with.
air duct
Per an allergy doctor, should the family you work for have allergies, asthma or other health sensitivities, the system should be cleaned once a year.  Otherwise, it is best to clean the system every two to four years.  This will ensure clean air quality and prevent excessive dust and dirt from blowing out of the vents and circulating throughout the house.  Pets also suffer from the same sensitivities as their owners so a clean air duct system is important for their health as well.

Another very important benefit to keeping air ducts clean is that a dust free environment is vital in preserving your principal’s art collection and fine furnishings.  Additionally, a clean HVAC unit does not have to work as hard as a dirty system, resulting in home savings in energy bills.  As an estate manager, protecting our principal’s valuables and saving them money at the same time is an important part of our role.

Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning

Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning is a family owned business, founded in 1979 by Daniel and Diane Leriche.  Their expertise includes all types of HVAC duct systems, dryers, exhausts and ventilating systems.  They are referred by hundreds of contractors, have earned the reputation of being the Vendor Choice for Estate Homes and take pride in delivering the finest service possible in a professional, friendly and efficient manner.