As a blogger, I’m part of a beautiful community of creatives. We may share our ideas through a virtual network, but often times we have the opportunity to connect in person, sit down and chat, and really get the creative juices flowing! Grab your coffee and meet my friends, appearing as guest bloggers in this near-to-my-heart section.

Cooking and the Inner Project Manager

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After completing graduate school, I accepted a position as a project manager for a large retailer. While my previous experience in marketing certainly pulled from my creative side, it was project management that furthered my development in organization, time management, and leadership. I realized I needed more opportunities to grow my abilities in management, because – by nature – I am a big picture, creative thinker.

I received this article from Sixty and Me in my inbox recently, and every part of it resonated with me! I relish time in the kitchen – I have space to both exercise creativity and also follow clear instructions to get to a (hopefully) positive end result.

Do you consider yourself analytical and methodical or whimsical? How do you find room for both in your life? Share insights with me in the comment section below!



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Timmy Swann: Chief Puppy (and Mischief) Officer

Perhaps you’ve seen photos of our newest National family member…Timmy, the Chief Puppy Officer! It’s hard to believe he’s been a part of our family for a year now. In celebration of his adoption, I chatted with Mom about her favorite Timmy tid bits. Read our interview below!

Do you have a family pet? What do you love most about your furry friend? Share with us in the comment section below.

  1. What encouraged you and Michael to adopt Timmy?

The encouragement to adopt Timmy came from Parker! When Parker, who works remotely part of the time, would come to Lexington, she would bring Jasper, her Golden Retriever to work. Everyone fell in love with him and decided we should have a “ company dog” for our 65th anniversary . So I asked my husband, the researcher in the family to find a dog that was Italian – in memory of my Dad (who loved everything Italian, but was NOT Italian) hypoallergenic, sweet-natured and smart…the all-around ideal office pup. After a few months he found that the AKC had recently accepted an Italian breed called Lagotto Romagnolo – and he checked all the boxes!  So we went to Atlanta to Two by Two Lagottos, picked him up, and he rode home in Parker’s lap. (Even though he was trained to ride in a crate, one trip home with the Swanns and crates were no more!)

  1. What’s a day in his life like?

His day starts with a short walk, breakfast – mom’s coffee and another walk. He lays under my dressing table while I get ready for work…never moving because he is terrified of being left.  As soon as he sees me dressed and ready, he runs to the back door. He waits eagerly in the garage for his car door to open and loads up in a flash – tail wagging. I think Timmy is more excited to go to work than most people! At work, he stays in my office and even has his own “couch” (a dog bed…but don’t tell him that) with his name on it.  He lays there until we have meetings, all of which he attends! He is the only employee allowed to sleep through meetings, of course. Weather permitting, we usually go uptown for an outdoor lunch and walk around Main Street.  We often eat in breakroom with our co-workers – where he gets the most attention. After his workday, he enjoys dinner at home and a long walk. Then, of course, it’s time for bed…and he’s ready!


  1. So he truly is a National dog! What do you think he loves most about coming to work with you?

His favorite job is working upstairs in our photography studio getting his picture made for the website or the catalog because Spencer, our photographer gives him treats! What he loves most about work is EASY- we have 160 co-workers that love him and freely offer rubs. Sometimes people will come in my office and say “I am having a hard day- could I just rub Timmy?” He is ALWAYS willing. He is truly a National dog – he belongs to everyone here – he just goes home with me.

  1. What are some of your favorite quirks – truly Timmy characteristics?

Timmy has many “ unique” characteristics, but I think they are breed-specific perhaps and not just Timmy. If you read about Lagottos, it says they have a “sense of humor” – which we thought odd. How can a dog have that? But he does! When he wants attention, he will go get our favorite thing and drag it in front of our face and run back and forth until we do whatever it is he wants at the moment. Out of 160 co-workers, he has figured out the best cook. If he gets loose – out of 250,000 square feet – he runs straight to Belinda’s office and finds her lunch! He is very athletic and can out swim any dog – even my brother’s hunting dogs! He also “ talks,” our folks say. He has a specific bark to go out, another to warn of intruders, another to play and another when it is mealtime and I am working and lose track of time. I have never had a dog that talked to me.

  1. Let’s be honest. Has he ever been mischievous?

All Lagottos are mischievous! And they never outgrow it. Sometimes I can’t find something, like a top, and Timmy will have taken it and hidden it – totally unharmed – but he thinks it is cute. I usually do not, as I am trying to get ready for work. As a puppy, he ate seven Bibles from my husband’s study. We never figured out why he left all of the other books…I suppose it’s good Michael had several!

  1. A true Smith then! What do you think he loves the most as a part of the Smith and Swann families?

I think Timmy loves being part of everything our family does the most. When he isn’t with me, he goes to my husband’s law office where he is equally loved by his clients.  On the weekends, we go to the North Carolina mountains where he loves to hike and swim. Lagottos were bred as truffle hunters, so they have great noses. He can smell a deer or bear very FAR away and is always on the lookout. He loves visiting our children and their dogs, my brother’s farm, and most of all – National! What dog would not love being rubbed by 160 people? Someone said to me recently, Timmy won the lottery when he was adopted into the National Family. Actually I think it was a win for all of us.



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Blue & Gray: Cool colors for cooler weather

As the days get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, I am inspired by a cooler color palette of blue and gray. It’s a tried-and-true color combination that is perfect for layering now that the fall is here. Whether you wear silver with navy blue or heather gray with dusty blue, you can’t go wrong when you pair blue and gray together. Gray is a versatile neutral that goes with all shades of blue, from pale aqua, to French blue, to deep royal blue, to denim blue.


We have a great selection of cozy sweaters and cardigans that you can layer over all kinds of shirts and blouses when it starts to get chilly out. Here are a few of my favorite blue and gray looks just in time for sweater weather:


Long Alaskan Vest by Simply Noelle®

Toggle Cardigan by National®

Mock Neck Zip Cardigan by National®

Touch of Heaven Tunic Sweater by Softwear by Swann®

Long Sweater Vest by National®

Ruffle Print Tunic by National®

UltraSofts® Embroidered Henley

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Lessons from Georgie

Today is my grandfather’s birthday. While our birthdays are a day apart, we always celebrated together. My mother has always joked that she tried very hard to have me on his birthday, but I was bound and determined – just like him – to have my own day. Even still, we were tied together in celebration as September babies – stubborn, loyal, driven and energetic.
On this day, my mother and I wanted to look back on our favorite “Georgie-wisdoms” – slogans, words and thoughts he held to and shared with us throughout our lives. Below, you’ll find just a snippet of his famous tag lines, and my mother’s memories surrounding each of them.
All work is honorable.
After graduating from the orphanage, Dad was brought to the nearest town, which was Lexington, with $5 in his pocket. The first job he was offered had a less than desirable reputation. He went to the superintendent of the orphanage, Mr. Bruton, and asked if he would be embarrassed for my dad to have such a job. Mr. Burton replied, “Eddie, all work is honorable. Do your best and do it to the glory of God.” My dad’s sincere appreciation for each and every job people do at National and elsewhere originated here. He took the job. He became the manager, and he started his own company – National – a few years later.
Isn’t life great? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Each morning, Dad came to my office and shared this one saying. He believed that every day was a celebration and a gift to be opened. He was so grateful for every single one. Simple as that.
Treat every customer as if she was our only customer. 
This is the 65th anniversary of National – and this phrase has been our mission statement since inception. Dad believed that if we gave full attention to detail to every item we sold, and treated each person as if she was the only person we would ever have the opportunity to serve, then everything else in business would take care of itself.
Age is a number. It means nothing.
Dad was a health advocate long before it was in vogue. He ate “farm to table” before it was a trend and grew a lot of it from his farming knowledge gained at the orphanage. He got up every morning at 5:00 a.m., ran several miles, swam for an hour, enjoyed racing cars, and worked full time well into his 80s.
We’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
Dad always said one of his greatest blessings was being brought to the children’s home in Lexington at his parents’ death when he was nine years of age. He never understood why “important” business people took an interest in him, mentored him and invested such time in an orphaned boy.
When he enjoyed success in business, he believed he had been blessed to be a blessing. He made good on that by leaving a legacy of encouragement, inspiration and philanthropy that has impacted his community forever.
On this day, my grandfather’s birthday, I hope you find encouragement and inspiration in one or more of these phrases and carry on his joy and cheer through your own day today!

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5 Unique Web Exclusive Styles

I love expressing my individual style with unique fashions that you won’t find just anywhere, which is why our Web Exclusive items are my favorite fashion secret. You’ll find these styles only on our website and not in our catalog. Because they are exclusive to the web, these items are more fashion forward and trendy than the styles we normally carry in our catalog. When you buy a Web Exclusive item, you can rest assured that you won’t see someone else wearing the exact same thing.

Here are a few of my favorite Web Exclusive New Arrivals:

Crochet Placket Top by Antilia Femme®

Featuring an on-trend patchwork print, this blouse is sweetly embellished with crochet lace. I love this top with a pair of jeans for dinner out or the movies.

Medallion Print Sweater by Allie & Rob®

Super soft with a fun, colorful all-over print and fashionable asymmetrical hem, this shirt is lightweight and thin enough to layer under a jacket for fall.

Flannel Foulard Gown by KayAnna®

As it starts to get colder outside, this soft flannel gown is perfect for snuggling up with a good book or in front of the TV at night.  I adore the contrasting velvet trim along the placket and cuffs and the little velvet bows at the hem.

Gildy Slippers by Daniel Green®

Gildy Slippers by Daniel Green®

With their luxurious faux sheepskin lining, these slippers will keep your feet toasty warm. The textured TPR outsole means you can wear them indoors or outdoors to go check the mail or take the dog out.

Colette Bra by Q-T Intimates™

Colette Bra by Q-T Intimates™

Finally, a full-figure bra that is as pretty as it is supportive. This gorgeous, full-coverage bra has lightly lined, cut-and-sew seamed cups that give you the lift you need with underwire that is covered in soft, plush fabric for all-day comfort. We also have matching panties.

What’s your favorite? What would you like to see? Share it with us!

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5 Items You Should Be Looking for at Estate Sales

If you’re decorating your home on a budget (like me), estate sales are a great place to find hidden treasures. You can find truly unique pieces that fit your personal taste and style. In addition to estate sales, I love scouring vintage, antique and consignment stores for affordable furniture, art, and knickknacks. Here in Lexington, NC, we have some amazing little antique stores like Golden Antiques & Treasures and Magnolia Antiques & Gifts, where I have found some wonderful décor accents like mirrors and framed art. Garage and yard sales, along with flea markets, are also good sources for budget-friendly décor.

When you buy something that has been “well loved,” it is often in less-than-perfect condition. When buying pre-owned furniture and bric-a-brac, I try to look for items that are in good, usable condition or only slightly damaged, so they require just minor repairs that I can do myself. When it comes to furniture, I look for pieces that can easily be re-upholstered or refinished. I love wood furniture because it can easily be transformed with just a coat of paint.

According to Good Housekeeping, there are 5 Items You Should Always Look for at Estate Sales. Check out their article to learn more. I also recommend this article from Country Living on the  7 Trendy Décor Items You Should Always Buy Secondhand, and for inspiration, be sure to read: 9 People Share Their Best Estate Sale Finds.

Here are Good Housekeeping’s recommendations for the items you should always look for at estate sales:

1) Wingback Chair

2) Demilunes

3) Settees

4) Dough Bowls

5) Silver

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How to Wear Capri Pants

Don’t like showing your knees? Capri pants are a great option during the summer months. Whether you are on a cruise, at the beach, or just out on the town, capri pants are the perfect way to keep your legs covered while staying cool. They can be an especially good choice if you have spider or varicose veins that you don’t want people to see. Our friends at Sixty & Me show us how it’s done in their blog post, “Fashion for Older Women: Capri Pants for the Summer Months.”

Many women avoid capri pants because they are afraid the cropped length will make their legs look shorter or their calves look chunky. Check out Fabulous After 40 for advice on how to wear capris and still look “long, lean and stylish.” I also recommend “How to wear cropped pants: An extensive guide” on one of my favorite fashion blogs, 40+ Style.

Capris are not just for the older crowd. Capri and cropped pants look good on women of any age. Here are a few of my favorite tips for wearing capris:

  • Look for cropped pants or capris with a slim cut through the leg and narrow or tapered leg openings, which help to make your legs and calves look longer and slimmer.
  • Avoid cuffs and wide leg openings, like flares or bootcuts, which can make your legs look shorter and wider.
  • Avoid utility styles with pockets on the hips or thighs, which can make those areas look wider.
  • Choose pants that end at the narrowest part of your calf for the most flattering look.
  • Choose a color similar to your skin tone, like stone, beige, tan, or brown, to make your legs look longer. It makes the demarcation line between your pants and skin less noticeable and elongates the leg in the same way a nude-color shoe does.
  • Wear a wedge, flat-form or platform sandal to add height and make up for the length lost in the cropped pant.
  • Wear a shoe with a low vamp or in a nude color to help elongate your legs.
  • Keep proportions between your top and cropped pants or capris balanced. If you have a long waist, tuck in your shirt. If you have a short waist, try a hip-length top or a mid-length tunic with a slim-cut pant.

These are a few of the capri and cropped pant styles that are available from National:

UltraSofts® Cropped Pants

Donnkenny® Comfort Waist Crop Pants

Alfred Dunner® Pull-On Capris

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How to Wear One of the Season’s Biggest Trends: Patchwork Prints

How to wear patchwork.

Are you ready for the hottest trend this fall?


When you hear the word “patchwork,” you might think of your grandma’s quilts or patching a hole in an old pair of jeans. Think again! Playful patchwork prints are one of the biggest fashion trends for Fall 2017. If you love colorful prints or the boho chic look, then patchwork prints are definitely for you. The juxtaposition of different colors and prints make patchwork prints a fun and versatile addition to your wardrobe.

Not sure how to wear a patchwork print? Don’t be intimidated. It’s like wearing any bold print. When wearing a patchwork print, I recommend keeping the rest of your outfit relatively simple. (Remember, simple doesn’t mean boring.) Here are a few ideas to get you started:

With our Patchwork Print Skirt, I suggest wearing a solid colored shirt with a flattering neckline like our UltraSofts® ¾ Sleeve Boatneck Tee or our UltraSofts® Square Neck Tee. You can also try mixing textures by pairing the skirt with our buttery soft Faux Suede Shirt Jacket.

Our Patchwork Duster Tunic can be worn a multitude of ways. The duster tunic looks great when paired with a pair of casual pants or jeans for a bohemian vibe, like our UltraSofts® Knit Leggings or our Snap Leg Denim Pants. Add a long necklace like the Good Feelings™ Long Bead Tassel Necklace for a little sparkle.

The loose, flowy fit of the patchwork duster flatters any figure, but If you like a more defined waist, I love the Landes® Medallion Chain Belt worn loosely around the hips. The concho design adds a touch of Country-Western flair.

What’s your favorite patchwork look? Share it with us!

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My Favorite Web Exclusive Looks

Web Exclusive are items only carried online.

You never know what unique styles you may find when you shop our Web Exclusives

Ever feel like you are in a style rut? Break out of your daily fashion grind with our Web Exclusive looks, which are only available on our website. It’s a great place to check out the latest fashions and trends, like machine-washable faux suede and feminine floral prints. Here are a few of my favorite Web Exclusive New Arrivals to help you upgrade your style:

Crossover Top by Allie & Rob®
Who doesn’t love buttery soft faux suede? This adorable top features a fashionable crossover front with and asymmetrical hem and a flattering v-neck.

Floral Sleeveless Top by Antilia Femme®
With its romantic floral print and soft pastel colors, this pretty sleeveless blouse can be worn on its own or layered under a cardigan. You can button the notch neck all the way up or undo a few buttons for a more relaxed look.

Turquoise Drop Earrings by Renshun Accessories
These stylish earrings go with everything, from casual daytime looks to dressier outfits for a night out on the town. Featuring leverbacks, they are lightweight and comfortable to wear.

Maritime PJ Set by Carole Hochman®
Perfect for warm summer nights, these comfy, easy-care pajamas feature a sleeveless top and cropped pants to help you keep your cool.

Short Printed Satin Robe by Layla®
Nothing is more luxurious than a satin robe. This short bathrobe, which has a self-tie, inside security tie, and patch pockets, is ideal for the summer months. A Long Printed Satin Robe is also available.

Have a favorite Web Exclusive piece? Share it with us!

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How to Wear Prints & Patterns—That Flatter Your Shape

I get this question a lot, especially when the season is full of colorful prints and patterns that can easily be overwhelming. The best advice I can give is determine your shape first. Body shape, that is. Are you an hourglass, pear, inverted triangle, rectangle, or apple? By selecting the right print or pattern for your shape you can alter your appearance. You can even make yourself look taller!

Think about where you want someone’s eyes to focus. Here’s a helpful infographic from Monroe & Main

Think body shape first , before you pick patterns.

Create a flattering figure by knowing what is going to work best with your body shape.

Hourglass: Choose a pattern on top and a solid on the bottom or vice versa. Draw attention to your waist with belt or sash.

Pear: Darker colors to trim your hips on the bottom and a lively print or pattern up top to draw focus up and balance your assets. Tunics are especially flattering.

Inverted Triangle: Bold stripes or colorful patterns up top and lighter solids below. Also look for A-line skirts, they’re specifically very flattering on this body type.

Rectangle: This is me. I like horizontal stripes across the top. It’s why I love the Mia Dress. It also helps give my hips shape with its asymmetrical cut at the waist and its diagonal lines below. A great choice for petites, as it adds height too. A win, win for me!

Apple: Focus on de-emphasizing your abdomen as well as accentuating your breasts and legs. Choose breezy garments that offer a design at the top and bottom. Muumuus are a great fit here and have grown in popularity for their ease and comfort. Plus if you can find an all-over print with vertical details, I say grab it.

What’s your shape? Share some style suggestions you use to flatter your shape with patterns and prints.


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I am Parker. My mom, Lynda, is the owner and President of National Wholesale. We are a woman’s apparel company that I’m hoping you know about but if not, you’ll be inspired to learn. We’ve been around since 1952. And the business was started by my entrepreneurial grandfather, “Georgie” with the support of my grandmother, GaGa. I’ve been surrounded by clothing and hosiery since the day I was born. I've also been surrounded by the drive to stay in business, which means connecting with our customers.

So, this is my story.

And in a way, yours too. Welcome.

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