Sunday, November 10, 2013

Very Smart Gals Salon

I had no idea what time it was, but the bartender in the lounge at Ruth’s Chris Steak House did. 

“I’m not going to tell you ladies again. The bar is closed!” he yelled.

We were deep into solving Texas politics, and talking books and a plethora of other pressing and superfluous issues, so we ignored him. 

Then the lights went off and stayed off.  

“Turn the lights back on so I can at least find my freaking purse!” I yelled back at the bartender.

Then I woke up.

(Apologies for the photo - long story - L-R)  
Dean Lofton, Mary Harper, Lynn Meredith, Cathy Casey, Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, Sarah Bird, Suzanne Franks, and I didn’t get thrown out of Ruth’s Chris, but this gaggle of Very Smart Gals virtually torched the place Thursday night with some of the most salon-worthy banter ever, apparently inspiring my crazy dream that same night. It had been a while since I hosted a Very Smart Gals' get-together, so it was high time, and gal-howdy was it a high time. 

Cathy Casey, Vice President, Editorial Licensing and Communications for Texas Monthly magazine was the first to arrive, so we revisited a little of our shared Don’t Mess With Texas and other history and caught up. Cathy is one of the quiet, behind the scenes people responsible for Texas Monthly’s decades of success touting the virtues of Texas. She has also played a significant leadership role in several non-profits' success, including the $10.5M capital campaign for the construction of the Kozmetsky Center for Child Protection.

Next to arrive was Dean Lofton, my publicist and editor, and founder of The Lofton Agency, a boutique PR, media and consulting firm. Dean has lost 90 pounds and looks fab, but she didn’t loose an ounce of brain, and that’s really the source of her fabulous-ness. Dean has the enormous and often-impossible challenge of trying to make sure my writing is free of faux pas. She’s also the head “cat herder” for my Very Smart Gals Salon events, which is no small task!

Next to fly through the door was Sarah Bird, multiple award-winning super-author of eight fabulous novels, including The Gap Year, which was my pick for one of the best books of 2011! I’d contacted her a few weeks before to see if she wanted to attend an event at the Wildflower Center. To which she replied in her typically hilarious manner, “I would love to go anywhere with you. But that is the night before I have to give a big speech, and I'll need to set that time aside to freak. Ha! Sort of kidding. Mostly not.” So I invited her to the Gals Salon. Sarah shared some delicious, top secret details about her spectacularly intriguing new book, which is coming out soon! Stay tuned!

Deborah Hamilton-Lynne, editor in chief of Austin Woman magazine and executive editor of ATX/Austin Man magazine, arrived next looking très chic in her Channel earrings. She said she could only stay a short while though because she was headed to “Big Reds & Bubbles,” The Wine and Food Foundation’s annual fundraiser. Deborah must be the busiest woman in town! She recently spent 13 hours a day downtown for two weeks leading up to and following the Austin Film Festival and Texas Book Festival. Deborah led a rousing discussion with the Very Smart Gals about Wendy Davis's gubernatorial bid and what it will take to get more Texas women to the polls.

Suzanne Franks, who was in my daughter Jolene’s high school graduating class, was by far the youngest attendee, but also one of the most interesting. After earning an M.B.A. at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Suzanne ended up in NYC at Salomon Smith Barney. She recently returned to her Texas roots, however, to establish Vivid Research, Inc., providing financial services too complicated to explain in this post. Hometown girl makes good! So happy to have Suzanne in our circle of Very Smart Gals!

Lynn Meredith never disappoints. The gal is such a fount of info - the Arianna Huffington of Austin! Any topic that came up, that she didn’t know a lot about, which was precious little, she quickly researched on her voice activated, super fast Motorola Android, whipping out online data and trivia faster than a teenager hyped up on Starburst candy. We can thank Lynn and her family for their significant role in many Austin community enhancements, including the about to open Thinkery (Children's Museum), the new Sustainable Food Center, The Blanton Museum, and much more.
Mary Harper is my daughter’s sister-in-law, but I call her my daughter-in-law, because I adore her and claim her as a closer relative than she is. After graduating from TCU, dabbling in modeling in NYC and Milan, then real estate in Miami, Mary returned home to manage her family’s assets in San Antonio. One summer weekend when she and a college gal-friend were staying at our house she met her soon-to-be husband, Will Harper, whose family owns Capitol Chevrolet. Now, she and Will are married and have an adorable four-year-old daughter, Flora, and a beautiful newly refurbished home overlooking the Austin skyline.

Ruth’s Chris served up seared ahi tuna, saffron infused veal osso buco ravioli, calamari, spicy lobster and some superior crab cakes, but honestly I was so into the conversations going on around our packed table that I didn’t eat nearly as much as I would have liked.

So, we didn’t get thrown out of the bar, but a super time was had by all, reminding me that when smart women get together, smart things happen! 

Oh, and Deborah is forming a revolution, so let me know if you want to join.

Ciao!  SueAnn


  1. What a great group! Nice to see Suzanne! You are amazing. Love how you keep getting all these folks together. Charlena

  2. It was so great having Suzanne with us. There is a bond with the homies that is like nothing else. Appreciate all of your comments Charlena - feedback is manna!