Family Ties:  Looking at family history in a whole new light.

When my mother passed away, just a short month ago at the age of 95 years my friends all marveled.  “What a life, what a unique and extraordinary woman!” My mother was part of a century that represents an entire age as does my father.  Both members of “the greatest generation” each had their own unique stories before they met.  What happens when your parents go to the next life is that you realize that there are entire conversations you wish you had or histories you are just beginning to discover; even that last few words that you might have wanted are unsaid.  I was lucky. I spent that last year living in my mother’s home after quitting my job and just enjoyed what I could of this unique life and her take on what history had made in the last ninety-five odd years.

Who were my parents?  Who indeed, are yours?  We often forget in the rush of new technology and faster paced lives that the world just 50 years ago was entirely different.

My sister and I discovered we had many generations to look at, not just our own; our mother’s family who were Norwegian immigrants, our father’s family of Irish, English and Scottish ancestors who ranged in station from hired Irish mercenary to Lord of the manor. By the time I came along, this was already a known history. As a kid growing up in the 1960’s my father’s wonderful “KODAK Carosel” of images from my childhood was like a dull evening after a network TV news show; all shot at every waking moment which drove us crazy.  This is now a huge libary of images that I will go through, one by one; I don’t want to miss a thing and yes, I will be ready for things I may not want to see.  Now, I can finally open the boxes, unearth the treasures and put together the fleeting images and stories I remember as a kid.  There is a unique value in this, and with the help of technology it will be pretty easy.

My dad was the son of a 1920’s flapper and handsome debonair professional movie stunt man and cinematographer; their marriage was in the local papers, she a stunning local Irish beauty and my grandfather looking like a dashing version of an English lord.  His family went back almost 500 years in England.  They were successful merchants who bought a  title and a castle outside London during the time of Henry VIII who visited there with his then wife, the ill-fated  Catherine Howard (who was busy sleeping with one of the King’s courtiers).  The Hickman’s, my grandfather’s family owned the castle and dutifully hosted the King even while practicing their own Catholicism in secret. This family name is still in the Royal Register, today.  We are related to what is today, a Baronetcy.  So, I guess you might say we are a bit posh, but the family lineage is just distant enough that we might not be invited to the castle.  Oh, darn.

The Hickman family is a very large one in the U.S. and many of our relatives have unique connections to Hollywood (My great uncle Howard Hickman was a secondary role in GONE WITH THE WIND) so when I got to Hollywood, it was no wonder I was already in the family in the business. My Hollywood realtives were part of early Hollywood and its inception; my great AUNT BESSIE was the film star “Bessie Barriscale”  2nd to Mary Pickford as the “queen” of silent pictures.  Her star is today on Hollywood boulevard just shy of Cherokee Street. She worked with Cecile B. De Mille and made many many films and later even becomming her own producer.  Columbia University has honored her as one of the founding women of the film industry. It took about 100 years for her to receive the recognition she deserved.  She was a trouper, making movies even after her blockbuster silent career had all but ended. She remains one of our family “treasures” for her contributions and will someday be part of a film project, we plan to produce.

My father was always my greatest fan. I discovered my talents as both a performner and writer and was lucky he was all for it.  My mother, the Norwegian immigrant, wanted me to become a lawyer.  She did encourage my musical training however recently telling me if I wanted to become a professional cabaret singer that it would be alright with her.  Needless to say this approval took about 45 years to attain.  Thanks, mom!
My mother, Judith (pictured with her camera) was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants and had her own unique history, too.  We discovered that her mother was a servant in the family of the Vanderbilt’s (we found documents of her own paycheck from them) and that my mother was a simple country girl from upstate New York and the first daughter in her family to go to college at the COOPER UNION on a full scholarship. She majored in art and design graduating in 1944. Sunday dinners at our mother’s childhood home were filled with all the realtives who were the servants of the founding wealthy of New York.  Tables were set with family crystal, linens, china and everyone wore their Sunday best to celebrate.  This was indeed, a unique group of people much like the servants at Downton Abbey, their own lives part of the changing times and social history of the city of New York.  Growing up as a child, setting the table was a very coveted job;  we were allowed to handle the inherited silver, china and crystal passed to us from our father’s family, and from my mother’s own collection.

Mother was full of stories, but like many of her generation, she did not boast, brag or share. She recently told me her office in Manhatten (her window overlooking the rear of a very distinguished old hotel) was a cavalcade of movie stars, illicit romances, large dark cars driving up to its back door and movie stars sneaking into the back of the hotel while she looked on as a silent witness to their indescretions.  She confessed this one morning, at breakfast with a laugh after some prodding from me.

There is more to tell with the opening of boxes of photos and the unearthing of family treasures that is not for the faint of heart.  You might find things you don’t want to know and the revelations you don’t want to re-visit. Either way  you must owm all of it, good and bad; realize that is is part of you no matter where you are in your life. We plan to go forward and take on the responsibility of storytellers, with a century of lives behind us, my sister and I feel compelled to go forward into our own future, by acknowledging our past.

May the family force, be with you.

Does Your Brand have Soul? Summer Solstice Brand-A-Thon

We talk alot about Brands and their stories: its critical for the audience to come along for the ride with your brand story and how you tell it.  But what about the really deep connections that all brands strive for that make or break their business?  I submit that the “soul” or the inner values or “zeitgeist” of your brand is what gets people to come back over and over again. Sure, a shiny new exterior with all the bells and whistles is great, but really, there is more; so much more. A brand is the sum of its parts which every MBA student knows by heart but there is a critical aspect of a great brand that is greater than the sum of its parts: its soul.

What is soul? Is it the intangible almost “untouchable” aspects of a brand that people connect to? “All this and more” would be our answer and for a small business or a large corporation this aspect is what gives a brand its “unexplainable” quality that defines it.  We humans are “soul driven” in many ways but mostly not in a good way; too many things get in our way of keeping things elegantly simple; breathaking integrity; honoring promises; remembering your customer; believing in your product or service no matter what; protecting the brand like a newborn child. All this, and more lead a brand to the idea of having a “soul” and a “sense of meaning” that gives people a chance to really connect with it.

We plan to share our favorite places, things and people who have proven to be the “soul of existence” in connection to their brands and the human element that is so much a part of their power.



Ladies First: Women Founders are VC Investors Dream Girls:  So Gals Ventures 2016

What is the hottst ticket in Silicon Valley today?  An invitation to join SO GALS TECH BOOT CAMP and Finals where the judges hail from VCs around the world and in the valley.  The focus is women entrepreneurs and their unique ideas to change the world.  Sure, the guys are here too, to lend a hand for a unique line-up of tech start-ups that feature powerful ideas to empower, inspire and improve the world. The focus on start-ups with an interchange between Asia and the US is the focus of this organization, SO GAL VENTURES that has taken on the VC world by storm.  

The companies range from marketing data interfaces, to home pharmacy delivery, to a payment system to empower women in Indonesia.  The reading platform “Check It” enables people to read summaries of books to improve their knowledge.  “Roar for Good” is a US based start-up that gives women a safety button to call for help and improves the future safety in the community.  “Kitterly” is an online knitting supplies website that reaches 11 million knitters. Not those little old ladies that make that scarf you never wear, ah, no.  This start-up reaches the “on the go mom” who loves to craft.  Another company, TEZIGN is a platform to hire free lance designers.  What each start-up will show is that there is alot of clever, unique, exciting ideas out there.  What is the message, here?

Ladies First!  Women Entrepneurs are in the front row of the Start-Up scene and SO GAL VENTURES is changing the world for the next gen of young women around the world. For more information:


No Words Can Describe it: Pinterest Love

What do I love about Pinterest? Let me count the ways! As a social media channel that has grown in popularity the world over the power of a picture to tell a story is highly addicting.

So, let’s review why you need Pinterest to run your life and your creative inspirations. 

  • Doing your Wedding? Event, Dinner, Reunion?  Can’t put it into words?
  • Renovating your house and can’t explain things to the contractors, designers, landscapers?
  • Saving images of family photo albums and want to share them around the world?
  • Making a record of your attic possessions for an inventory?
  • Selling your Home? Vacation Cottage, or Pied A Terre?
  • Putting together your recipes, favorite dishes and desserts for a family reunion?
  • Planning to invite the neighbors over for a pot-luck and want to share the the theme?
  • Designing your interiors and want to share inspirations with your interior contractors and designers?
  • Feel Like updating your closet and just don’t know where to start?
  • Indulging in fantasies about Hollywood stars, gorgeous guys, beautiful dames?
  • Photos of your favorite places, vacations, travel destinations, to inspire your next vacation.
  • Needlework, crafts, DIY ?
  • Food, Wine, Cuisine….let me count the recipes.

PINTEREST brings you both the fun of the process and that very friendly community , too!

The “Pinners” are a jolly bunch and they love to share things with each other which is the community experience you receive with this social media platform. Pictures, are the mirror to the soul, tellers of many stories and worth a thousand words.  In the world where we are bombarded with media on a daily basis, the world of PINTEREST gives people the relaxing and satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Editor’s Note:  So, Enjoy and if you want to see our accomplishments, visit ARTIFICE ATELIER on PINTEREST and see!