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.
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.
Edited by guest estate manager Martha Lockie.
Elizabeth Campbell, owner of PawsOnPark, traded her New York City corporate job working with people for a business where animals are her associates.
PawsOnPark is Manhattan’s Upper Eastside premier pet care service and provides every detail of amenity from Central Park walks/runs, to trips to the vet, to sleepovers while owners are out of town.
I made my yearly trip to NYC last October and spent some time visiting an estate manager friend of mine. I met him at his principal’s apartment before we headed out to the theatre. Four Irish wolfhounds ran this home. They were as big as moose and ranged in ages from two to ten. The dogs were kenneled off in a mudroom when I arrived, but everywhere in the house were signs of scratching, chewing and general dog mayhem. Not to mention, it smelled “doggy.”
“My boss keeps me so busy I don’t have any time to take the dogs out for a walk or to the vet, and it’s all I can do to get them to behave. I need to find a solution before he gets back in town and I lose my job!” Luckily, I knew about PawsOnPark and contacted owner, Elizabeth Campbell, immediately.
Ms. Campbell has an extensive background working with animals. She grew up raising, training and showing dogs and funneled her personal passion into PawsOnPark. Fundamentally, she believes that pets behave better when they are well cared for; this includes regular exercise, routine veterinarian exams, socialization, consistent loving care while owners are away, and puppy / behavioral training when needed.
When your principal brings home a new puppy, PawsOnPark provides crate and obedience training so they can begin life in new surroundings with a solid foundation. No one wants to be angry with the newest member of the family and having a professional provide this structure is invaluable.
Walks, runs and lots of play are on the menu at PawsOnPark. Puppies and dogs of all ages thrive with exercise and play and will likely misbehave if they are unable to get their “ya’ya’s” out. Just like humans, their health and wellbeing depends on lots of fresh air, exercise and socialization. Because dogs are pack animals, it’s beneficial to socialize them as much as possible. Even if your family has only one dog, dogs like meeting other dogs in the park and on walks; smelling, barking, running and playing – it’s fun for them. The main reason most dogs chew the furniture, mess in the house and bark incessantly is because they aren’t able to release pent up energy. PawsOnPark customizes runs/walks to suit individual age and health needs, and offers weekend hikes outside the city for the adventurous pooch. A Paws Report text is sent at the end of every walk with a photo, plus any interesting updates so pet owners don’t miss a thing. A happy dog is a well-behaved dog!
PawsOnPark offers daycare and sleepovers for pets needing some extra loving care. When the family is out of town and you’re on vacation, when you need an empty house to do some seasonal cleaning, or when no one is home in the evening for feeding or “tuck-ins,” etc., PawsOnPark will take care of all pets with the same love and attention their family gives them.
PawsOnPark currently services Upper Eastside homes, but will soon expand to include other New York neighborhoods. They are also available to take pets to veterinarian appointments, as all PawsOnPark animals must be up to date with their shots. EMC’s New York Estate Managers can reach Elizabeth at 917-371-2687 and gather additional information from her website pawsonpark.com.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Plastic storage containers with lids are better than cardboard boxes. Cardboard is acidic and the glue used to construct them is attracts insects.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call him at 415.883.8120 to begin creating a bespoke design that reflects the architectural style of your principal’s home.
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!
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 www.garderobeonline.com.
It’s important to network with fellow estate managers as well as corporate members of EMC. As pictured here with Michelle Baker from Crestron and Mario Seiler a fellow estate manager in the Los Angeles area.
Michelle recommends that all estate managers know these 3 points whe dealing with smart home technology
1- Have a strong wifi network on the property when using your smart phone devices to control your Crestron system
2-Have a copy of the home’s “source code” for your principals Crestron system.
3- Always have your Crestron integrator complete firmware updates to keep all products up to date with the newest features.
3 helpful hints for all estate managers from Adele Martin, EMC corporate member from Frette linens on Rodeo Dr.
1-Understand and know the difference between the cotton sateen and poplin properties for your principals sheets.
Crisp poplin or linen might be a nice alternative for summer.
2-Know the duvet weights. Adele recommends substituting a lighter filler for the summer. Also know if house guests have allergies and accommodate those guests by having in stock hypo-allergenic pillows and fillers.
3- Make sure that staff ALWAYS washes linens in cold water only for longevity.No starches or fabric softener as they will yellow the linens and towels and the softeners will coat the towels causing them to lose their absorption.