CAROLINA CHARM

When I share details of my hometown with folks, they often ask: “what was it like growing up in a small town?” My answer is short and sweet, much like the time it took me to stroll up to my grandparents’ house—it was a storybook.

The best part of being born and raised in Lexington is not solely found in our beautiful town. It is the community of hometowns that surround us, each with its own unique character, and charm. Today, I am fortunate enough to belong to two towns, Lexington, North Carolina and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. That’s right! I’m a “half and halfer.” My husband and I live in Mount Pleasant while I commute twice a month to Lexington for work. It’s an adventure, and it’s worth every minute on the road.

Visit Carolina Charm to jump in the passenger seat of my road warrior days. From Blowing Rock to Ocracoke, Asheville to Charleston… the Carolinas hold my heart.

A National Christmas Gathering

This week, our entire National family gathered to celebrate the start of the holiday season! This family has grown to include more than 200 of our closest friends, and the Christmas party remains one of my favorite traditions…because I get to see everyone with whom I grew up. We include all current employees and retirees for a full afternoon of food, fun, and of course, – BINGO.

A few of my favorite moments from our Christmas celebrations:

  • All. The. Food.: Every year, we have a big spread including mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, green beans, biscuits and loads of pie. (Of course, don’t forget the sweet tea!)
  • Bingo: This was my grandmother’s favorite game, and as such, a requirement at the National Christmas party! And, in the true spirit of real Bingo – we play for cash, y’all.
  • Giveaways: We have drawings for just about everything! Gift cards, centerpieces and more. As a child, I had the privilege of drawing names…my absolute favorite job at National.
  • Anniversary Honors: Every year, we celebrate the work anniversaries of our team members. Without fail, I am amazed by the commitment and dedication of our National family, many of whom have been a part of the team for more than 30 years.

Do you have any special Christmas traditions with friends and families? Share them with me in the comments below, and enjoy a few snapshots from this year’s big hurrah!

Happy Christmas,

Parker

 


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Amazing Sides for the Season

This year, Thomas and I will celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. Admittedly, I am intimidated to bring any dish to the table – his family should write a cookbook of their own! But, thanks to some diligent research and impending practice, I feel confident in this year’s selections. I started scouring for beautiful Thanksgiving side dishes before November even arrived and am 100% the person who will practice on the neighbors before adding a dish to my in-laws’ Thanksgiving spread!

So, what will I be practicing these next few weeks? Take a gander at the four side dishes I have zeroed in on for November. I cannot wait to try these out and get some feedback from the neighbors. Which one looks most appealing to you? Share your must-have side dishes with me in the comment section below.


Roasted Vegetable Galette

 

Classic Green Bean Casserole

 

These Mashed Potatoes Are So Perfect It’s Stupid

 

SWEET POTATO ROUNDS WITH HERBED RICOTTA AND WALNUTS

 

Happy cooking,

Parker

 


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All Things Pumpkin

Can you tell I’m all about fall? If this isn’t your season of choice, perhaps tune out until the holidays. However, if you’re a fan of toddlers hanging out at a pumpkin patch, I suggest you tune in next week!

In the spirit of pumpkin patch preparation, I am sharing three recipes featuring this famous fall fruit (who knew it was a fruit?!) Click on the image to read more about each recipe.

Do you have a favorite recipe for this time of year? Please share in the comment section below, and I will be sure to give it a go during this festive time of year!

Protein Pumpkin Pancakes

Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Spinach

The Best Pumpkin Bread

Happy pumpkin prepping,

Parker

 


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Yesterday, Today, and Always-Our National Family


“The National Family”

We are thrilled to announce that SHOPNATIONAL.com has been formally recognized by Newsweek as #1 ranked on their list of “Best Online Shops 2020” for Women’s Fashion (single brand). We have the honor of sitting alongside some incredible brands in the industry, including Chadwicks, Victoria’s Secret, and White House Black Market.

More than anything, I wish my grandparents could see this milestone – a tribute to their hard work, deep belief and commitment to our National family.

Founded in 1952, NATIONAL started from humble beginnings as a mail order business by Eddie Smith, my grandfather, in the town of Lexington, North Carolina. An exemplary American entrepreneur, “Georgie,” as he was known to most, cared for and evolved the company based on a customer-centric philosophy, and in 1999 at the age of 80, he was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame.  

“The Early Days”
I remember these days so clearly….I strapped on roller skates and made my way through the warehouse as a little girl. The rows and rows of inventory made for perfect hide and seek territory. Many individuals in this photo are with National today and, therefore, my giant extended family for which I am so thankful.

 

Today, NATIONAL continues to thrive under the personal care of my gifted and compassionate mother, Lynda Smith. We  remain committed to offering a wide range of apparel and accessories, designed for the mature woman to provide them with all-day comfort and style.

We have long held to our mission –  “Living the Comfortable Life.”  The second-generation, family-owned business has thrived in the trade for over 65 years thanks to the commitment my Grandfather made to the customer – first and foremost.

“Family Leading Family”
Growing up in family business, I don’t remember the business suits and posed photos. I remember my Grandfather’s 6 a.m. visits to our house after his morning jog. I would come downstairs and find him in the sunroom with my mom discussing work, family and everything in between. Sometimes the conversations centered around really important, often difficult business decisions. Always, the conversations ended with a hug and a smile. Family first, no matter what.

“All in the Family”
In the years since business school, it has been an incredible journey with the National family in my role as business strategist. Collectively, my mom and I have evaluated key opportunities for the business and learned to work together with respect and excitement for all that is ahead. Not often an easy task in family business, but for us…thankfully…it’s (almost always 😉 ) pure joy.

So, how did we get recognized by an international publication for this commitment?Newsweek developed the rankings based on an independent survey of 20,000+ U.S. customers who were asked whether they’d recommend brands to friends or family. Respondents also assessed the brands on their communications, technical competence, service range, customer focus, and accessibility. More than 130,000 evaluations were collected.

That means – YOU

Our National customer, you shared feedback and supported National’s leap into the spotlight. More than that, you have walked alongside our team….our family…for generations. Thank you for being a part of the National family!

“Give Personal Care”
Mom taking time to read and answer letters from our loyal customers, our extended family!

 

 

With gratitude and love,

Parker

 

 


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Making Community as an Adult

Courtesy of Summer Lambert Photography®

In college, I landed in the friendship honeypot. There we were – same age, same goals, same location. We were 600+ girls all living in one gigantic building. Developing friendships didn’t take much effort. I basically had to wake up and go to class. (Ok yes, sometimes that took effort….but hey – I did it!)

Making community as an adult is far from easy. The complexities of life seem to increase – more work, lots of family, obligations at home, and the same number of hours per day. When I moved to Wilmington, I left behind a community of incredible women in Charleston, SC. I was a new mom with no friends in town. My husband had a new job and was logging pretty intense hours learning the ropes of the Company. With a colicky baby and the demands of my own career pressing in, I knew my heart needed community – and quickly.

In November of 2017, I attended a networking event in Wilmington. I stood in the corner, trying to muster up courage to meet a new friend. I stayed in that corner for a while until finally, my husband – with some sixth sense – sent me a text that said “just go say hello.” And the rest is history.

Melissa Tyson, the beauty in the yellow dress, was one of the first individuals I met that fateful night. In the last two years, she has introduced me to countless women. I’ve developed friendships with women in my same industry, brand new moms, moms-in-waiting, working moms, creatives and more. Each woman contributes to my life in a profound way, speaking truth into a particular place in which I desperately need support and encouraging an element of my life that would otherwise suffer. I’ve found that while it is difficult to make community in the waves of life’s seasonality, we all share a common need: relationships.

All it took was one event – and a dose of vulnerability. I told Melissa a smidge of my story and asked for her help. One ask, and her willing yes. That is where community begins – within the boldness of a request and the courage to answer.

If you are searching for friendship in a tough season, I encourage you to sit in a coffee shop or walk through a grocery store – and seek a friend. Just say hello….and see what happens next.

 

With love,

Parker


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Celebrating Our History-Remembering Our Beloved Founder

It’s a Celebration-Founder’s Day. Mr. Smith had a true love and passion for bringing comfort and happiness to his customers’ lives. 

Humble Beginnings-Trust 1927

At 8-years-old, our founder Eddie Smith along with his three siblings find themselves parentless. Because their extended family can’t provide for them, they are sent to the Lexington Junior Order Orphanage. Here, along with 260 other children, they are raised as a family. These humble beginnings create a sense of responsibility and community in Eddie that will last him his lifetime. At the orphanage, he’s placed in charge of Sam the mule. When asked about Sam, Eddie would say,”It’s the best job I ever had.” From hauling in the milk, to taking out the trash, everyone depended on Eddie. Read more about the rich His-Story of Mr. Smith!

Today, we continue to celebrate🎉his legacy⚜️with classic favorites, which you’ll love for years to come!

 

Our Beloved, Mr. Eddie Smith

 

Happy 101st Birthday, we will love you always,

Your National Family

 


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Patterned and Playful

September. One of my favorite months of the year, because we’re that much closer to FALL! Because Hurricane Dorian approached Wilmington with a strong threat, we evacuated to the safety of the North Carolina mountains. We arrived to a 60 degree evening, a stark contrast to our typical 90 degree days in Wilmington. This is characteristic of the Carolinas – varied temperatures no matter where you live, especially as we approach the Fall.

To thrive during this particular season, I try to maintain a minimalist wardrobe. However, sometimes I need just a little extra to bring color and fun to my muted color palette. This season, I’ve added two patterned skirts to liven up my otherwise very predictable closet. Each of these pieces work beautifully with a black, white or bold color top. Additionally, they transition easily from a warm to cool day, with the addition of a chambray jacket or long sleeve shirt. The first skirt includes beautiful jewel tones, while the second skirt incorporates a few fall colors in combination with delicate pastels.

Which one is your favorite?

Crinkle Broomstick Skirt
National®

Paisley Patchwork Skirt
National®

 

Cheers,

Parker

 


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Wednesday Recipe Series-North Carolina’s Fresh Catch

Wednesday Recipe Series

Next up in our Wednesday series, a healthy play on a favorite dish. We’re pretty fortunate in Wilmington to have access to fresh caught local seafood on a daily basis. Every Monday, Hatton and I make our way to Mott’s Channel Seafood to survey our options. Typically, we snag a couple of tuna steaks and a big piece of hognose snapper – if available. But, one of our favorite splurges? A full pound of beautiful, locally caught shrimp.

Motts Channel Seafood

Motts Channel Seafood Display of Goodness

We’ve prepared shrimp in a number of different ways: sautéed in ghee with a splash of garlic, boiled in beer (yes it’s a thing), or simply pan fried with sesame oil and some crushed red pepper. But, when I’m craving a full asian twist on this oceanic delight, I turn to garlic, coconut aminos and a heaping dose of bok chop.

Below is the recipe we’re tackling today. What is your favorite preparation of shrimp?

Shrimp with Bok Choy Stir- Fry

 

Bon appétit,

Parker


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Layered into the Fall

It’s August. How is that real? 2019 feels like it’s moving at lightning speed. I’m still not fully recovered from seeing my baby girl turn TWO. Yet here we are, a light drizzle falling outside my office window and the hope of cooler temperatures ahead.

The Carolinas experience seasonal shifts with a sort of whiplash inducing rapidity. Last week, we had a few mornings in the low 60s before moving right back into 90 degree afternoons by the weekend. As such, my closet maintains a steady array of sleeveless tanks and light jackets. Just in time for the transition to fall, our product development team has designed a few new styles and, of course, new color ways of traditional favorites. Below are my three mainstays – ideal for this particular season. Do you prefer a button up jacket or breezy cardigan? Share your must have in the comment section below.

Ribbed Fly Away Cardigan
National®

Stretch Twill Jacket
National®

Ruffle Knit Jacket
National®

 

Here’s to cooler days,

Parker


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National gets Jiggy with Jim Quick & Coastline-Alive After Five

The Alive After Five Concert Series is held right here in Lexington, North Carolina. It offers free-to-the-public, summer concerts and much more. Folks came out from all over the area, to enjoy good music, good food, and refreshing drinks. It’s the perfect summer activity for family and friends to gather at the Breeden Amphitheater.

(image courtesy of Alive After Five Facebook®)

On July 12, 2019, National was honored to sponsor the live music for this event. The infamous, Jim Quick & Coastline jammed out as usual. It was a wonderful opportunity for National, especially because we are super fans. Boy, we had the best time seeing old friends, making new friends, and dancing the evening away!

Our CFO, Carol Snow gearing up for a great time

Skip and Bobby from our Maintenance Team

Jordan Powell (l to r), Print Design Specialist, Skip, Bobby, and me

Creative Marketing Director, Belinda Thomas; CFO, Carol Snow; President and Owner, Lynda Smith Swann

Lynda meeting and greeting

Apparel Technical Designer, Tashia Jones and daughters, Natalia and Haleina

We also hosted a $500.00 Getaway  Clothing Spree Drawing. Two individuals would be the fortunate ones to each win a $250.00 gift certificate to shop with National. Many filled out the entry forms for a chance to win.

Advertising Manager, Karen Benfield (red tee) and Jordan assisting the contestants

We drew two names and were very excited to announce that Ms. Glenda Everhart and Ms. Sandy Fritts were both winners. The very next week, Glenda and Sandy came to our office to retrieve their gift certificates. We were tickled to learn these gals not only shared the winnings, they are neighbors and cousins.

Congratulations Glenda Everhart and Sandy Fritts

Karen giving these lovely ladies their gift certificates

The pair told us they were on the phone with one other when the winners were announced. Sandy tells Glenda she’s won the gift certificate, and Glenda right away replies to Sandy [in a slightly higher octave], “Well, I don’t know how you could be the winner, because I just won!” We were all in stitches. They happily share the winner’s circle. 😊

 Included in the AAF event, we had beautiful models who flowed through the crowds wearing our beautiful caftans. They were truly all the buzz. “Where can I get one of those?” many asked. Summer is the perfect time for cool dresses, lounging, and enjoying family fun with National. So, ladies, stay connected for the best in fun, comfort and style.

Models (l to r) Katelynn Pureza; Addie McBryde; Darlinda Belton; Liselotte Stratman

 

The Models hanging out with Ronelle

 

Darlinda chatting it up with onlookers at the event

We had the best time, thank you Alive After Five, we’ll see you next year!

Happy summer vibes,

Ronelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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