Friday, October 1, 2010

Southern Swing

As the leaves change color and the long evenings of summer give way to the long shadows of fall, it is clear that college football is upon us. Now four weeks into tailgates, victories and rivalries, Smathers and Branson wanted to take a moment to let you know where you can stock up on your favorite team’s gear. In recent history, the South has been the epicenter of college football, so here are a few great stores to stop by on your way to the game.

Clemson, South Carolina plays host to one of loudest and most feared college stadiums in the country. When en route to Death Valley, take a quick detour to M.H. Frank to stock up on all the purple and orange gear you could ever need. The Clemson faithful have M.H. Frank to thank for earning the reputation as some of the most dapper college fans in the country.

It is good to be the champs and this year The Locker Room, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has been riding last years national championship with huge inventories of ‘Bama apparel. The Locker Room has created some great custom Smathers and Branson ‘Bama products that can only be found in their Tuscaloosa store.

One of the first stores to support our collegiate program, Britton’s Clothing in Columbia, South Carolina is the place for all things Gamecocks. Whether you are looking for a Gamecock flask to keep the wheels greased at the game or a needlepoint wallet to hold your ticket, do not forget to stop by Britton’s on your way to the stadium.

Finally, whether you are a Peyton or an Eli fan – Smathers and Branson has got you covered. It is rumored that several members of “Football’s first family” have been spotted wearing our needlepoint belts at their alma mater. At Ole Miss, show your R*bel pride and stop by Hinton and Hinton in Oxford, Mississippi or check out the checker board and power T gear at M.S. McClellan in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Those are just a few of the great stores that have supported our collegiate line this season. Don’t see you favorite team mentioned? Drop us a line at and we’ll connect you with one of the other great stores that carries our collegiate gear! We now offer products for over 60 Colleges and Universities and some new schools just hit the web!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank You From S&B

Last month Smathers and Branson lost a dear friend with the passing of Gilles Bridier, the proprietor of Murray’s Toggery on Nantucket. Gilles was one of the very first store owners to take a chance on Smathers and Branson. Over the past 6 years, we were fortunate to work with him and develop a friendship along the way.

Known for his thick French accent and jokester demeanor, Gilles continually kept us on our toes. Fresh out of college, we were only 22 years old when we took a trip out to Nantucket to show Gilles our inaugural line. Meeting the head of such an iconic store, our nerves showed as we butchered the pronunciation of Gilles’ name in every possible way. To our embarrassment, a Murray’s employee corrected us after we had been calling him “Gels,” “Jillies,” and “Giles” during the entire 30 minute meeting. Undeterred by our amateur French accents, Gilles was willing to give us a shot. We left Nantucket with a 20 belt order and no clue how the relationship would develop.

Just one week into carrying our line, Gilles called us seemingly upset and concerned. He told us, “The belts have not sold. The customers don’t like the designs. Should I send them back?” Our hearts dropped and there was what seemed like a minute of awkward silence until we heard his famous laugh on the other end of the phone. The belts had in fact sold. They had sold out. Once Gilles stopped laughing, he went on to place the largest order we had received at that time. It was the perfect introduction to both Gilles’ sense of humor and Murray’s monster orders.

Gilles’ big personality was complimented by his innate business sense. He was the first person to encourage us to make custom products, which have been hugely successful at Murray’s and eventually in other stores. Moreover, store owners from across the country would look to Gilles and the lines that he carried for advice and inspiration. Working with Murray’s has provided great exposure and we will forever be indebted to Gilles for taking a chance on us. Gilles’ legacy lives on at Murray’s and with his sons and their company, Castaway Clothing.

Gilles, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU for believing in us when we were doubting ourselves, for always making us laugh, and for being one of the most fair and honest people we have had the privilege of working with. You have taught us a lot and you will certainly be missed here at SB!

Peter & Austin

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Summer in New England

What a great time of year!—golf season is upon us, boats are about to go back into the water, and Fourth of July BBQ plans are being sprinkled into casual conversation. At Smathers and Branson ®, we are working hard to make sure that you’ve got some great accessories for your spring/summer season. Our new line has already hit your local retailers and will be up on the web soon!

As mercury levels rise, many of New England’s stores are preparing for the heightened foot traffic that comes with seasonal visitors, sunburns, and smiling faces. Whether you are lucky enough to visit Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport, or Maine, be sure to stop in and say hi to our friends along the way.

Murray’s Toggery on Nantucket is an institution. Founded in 1945 by the same family that runs it today, Murray’s has been clothing Nantucket locals and tourists alike for over 60 years. Not only did this store create the Nantucket Reds for which they’re famous, it also makes a habit of employing college students during the summer months to maintain a great balance between tradition and new blood. If you happen into Murray’s this summer, be sure to check out to check out their extensive selection of Castaway Clothing, founded by two of Philip Murray’s grandsons.

Just a short ferry ride from Nantucket is Martha’s Vineyard, where up and coming clothier North River Outfitters is quickly making a name for itself. With locations in Boston and Edgartown, NRO carries the entire line of Smathers and Branson needlepoint belts, needlepoint wallets, and needlepoint flasks. They also carry customized Smathers and Branson Vineyard and Boston belts that can only be found at NRO!

In Newport, Rhode Island, be sure to swing by Island Outfitters and pick up a belt fit for a day on the water! Newport has long been considered the top sailing destination on the East Coast, and Island Outfitters carries Smathers & Branson® products that would look great on any boat crew. When you’re back on dry land, the Island Outfitters Newport store on Thames Street is only a short walk from one of Smathers and Branson’s favorite deck bars – the Black Pearl.

Should you end up in the coastal town of Camden, Maine this summer, don’t miss the Smathers and Branson® selection at the Admiral’s Buttons. Whether you are in town for an August wedding or a 4th of July reunion, the staff at AB will have everything you need to make sure you are looking good.

Didn’t see your favorite store posted here? Have any suggestions to where we should be selling this summer? Want to see Smathers and Branson® products in your local pro shop? Let us know! There are too many great stores in New England to mention them all and we want your feedback! As always, be safe this season and remember anything else is just a waist.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monograms: Turn a Gift into an Heirloom

The concept of putting a monogram on something has been around for millennia. Greek and Roman rulers used monograms as a royal signature marking their coins, Victorian era aristocrats used monograms to flaunt their status, and throughout time, artists have used monograms to sign their work. Monograms have certainly stood the test of time and seem to be more popular than ever as they are showing up on everything from iphone cases to needlepoint belts.

At Smathers and Branson®, monograms have grown in popularity each year of our business. Since 2005, we have offered a monogram option on our needlepoint belts, but we now offer monograms on our needlepoint wallets, needlepoint flasks, and needlepoint key fobs.

Whether you are looking to protect your prized item by adding initials, commemorate a wedding date, celebrate a graduation year, or you just want to customize your favorite Smathers and Branson® design, we have the monogram for you! This subtle and timeless form of customization will never go out of style, and with our three different monogram options, you are sure to find something for everyone.

With father’s day, mother’s day and graduation just around the corner, remember that our monogrammed products are a great way to give a gift that is truly one of a kind!

Smathers and Branson® monogrammed products take up to 6 weeks to be produced and can be purchased at

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Catching the Grand Slam at Boca Grande

At Smathers and Branson we owe much of our success to our partnerships with over 600 high-end shops across the country. From the beginning, these stores have given us precious distribution and aided our grass roots marketing campaign. Part of the purpose of our new blog is to give thanks to the customers and store owners who helped Smathers and Branson along the way. There are countless stores to thank, but today we will begin with Boca Grande Outfitters in Boca Grande, Florida. As school vacation/spring break arrives, many of us are taking our “March down to Florida,” so we figured Boca Grande is a great place to start.

Since 1997, Boca Grande Outfitters has been the primary outfitter for local saltwater fly fishermen and guests hoping to make the big catch. Like the Darien Sport shop, Boca Grande Outfitters is a hybrid between men’s clothing and outdoor gear. This nexus of fashion, function, and the outdoors makes for a great partnership with Smathers and Branson needlepoint products. With a focus on our fishing patterns, the great team at Boca Grande has developed a successful custom program. They have worked with us to create their own custom needlepoint belts, needlepoint flasks, and needlepoint key fobs. These custom products can only be found at Boca Grande Outfitters and are a great way to commemorate catching the Grand Slam!

Boca Grande, which looks more like a screensaver than anything else, is also home to the famous Gasparilla Inn. Frequented by the Bush daughters, this club is famous for its service and has also embraced Smathers and Branson’s custom program. Just a short walk from the Inn is the inspiration for one of Smathers and Branson’s best selling needlepoint belts. The Pink Elephant, a restaurant famous for its ice cream based, smile inducing drink called “The Hummer,” was the eatery of choice as Peter and Austin launched their first line in 2005. After a few too many Hummers, Peter and Austin decided that the Elephant Martini belt would quickly become a needlepoint staple.

The month of March is an ideal time to sneak away to Florida (“I’ll leave for a week and when I come back it will be spring right?”) So if you find yourself in Boca Grande anytime soon, be sure to stop in and say hi to our friends at Boca Grande Outfitters located at 375 Park Avenue.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Smathers and Branson: Business Casual

Smathers and Branson needlepoint belts are reminiscent of summer days at Murray’s on Nantucket, or winter getaways at C. Orrico in Palm Beach, but our needlepoint belts are now being worn in more places than ever! As suits in the workplace become rare, the culture of business casual is leaving many Smathers and Branson customers with one critical question: can I wear my needlepoint belt in the office? This question, which we field from store buyers and individual customers alike, is surprisingly difficult to answer; but these four guidelines can help set some ground rules.

1) Stick with the Classics: Surcingles, Basketweave, Herringbone
When wearing a Smathers and Branson needlepoint belt in the office, any employee should hope to hear “that’s handsome” instead of “oh my!” To assure this reaction, stick to our timeless patterns like the Basketweave needlepoint belt, Herringbone needlepoint belt, and the Surcingle needlepoint belt collection. Depending on the area of the country and your specific profession you can probably get away with the Jolly Roger, Bonefish, and American Flag needlepoint belts, but be careful in the ever evolving world of business casual.

2) Get Personal: Fishing Flies, Golf Flags, Bluefish and Striper
Smathers and Branson needlepoint belts are designed to remind you of the things you love most (which typically does not involve the office). With that in mind, don’t be afraid to let your co-workers know that you would rather be on the Front Nine or fishing for Bluefish and Striper than being called in on a weekend.

3) No Booze: Beer Cans, 99 Bottles of Beer, Elephant Martini, and Shrimp Cocktail
Unless you’re a Budweiser executive, these needlepoint belts should be left at home. While we love these designs, wearing alcohol related belts to the office may give off the wrong impression. These gems are better suited for the Christmas party or a golf retreat than they are for the typical day at the office.

4) Glory Days: The Collegiate Section
We all remember when. For some of us, it was just last year, for others the memories are hazy, and for many there are no memories…ahh, the glory days of college. With March Madness around the corner, we are reminded that you can never go wrong by showing off school pride, whether or not your team is going to make a run for the finals of the Big Dance.

Note: Unless you are ready for the unemployment line, under no circumstances should you wear the needlepoint collegiate belt of your boss’s rival school.

Friends of Smathers and Branson, we want your input! We wear whatever belt we want in our office, so let us know what you think is acceptable at your own job!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Say "I Do" to Smathers and Branson

As January comes to a close, most of us are mentally finished with winter weather. While snow during the holidays is great, come February the Smathers and Branson office is ready for warmer temperatures and longer days. This January, our office has kept busy testing new designs, preparing new products, and eagerly anticipating the summer days ahead. With an office of twenty-somethings, it is no surprise that many of us have been setting aside summer weekends for weddings.

Between the months of May and August, the S&B team is attending 31 weddings for friends, family, and even complete strangers (summer interns = wedding crashers, right Frank?). We will be traveling from San Francisco to Portland, Maine with tuxedo in tote and eyes on the bar.

Although our office will be busy at the weddings this season, our products will be even busier. From the start S&B has been honored to be a part of the wedding party, and we have now provided groomsmen gifts at over 200 ceremonies. From cummerbunds to key fobs, the vows can never be official until they are stitched in needlepoint - (at least in our humble opinion).

For three years now, we’ve been offering deals on monogrammed belts, flasks, wallets, and cummerbunds for wedding parties. As a great way to commemorate the nuptials, many bridegrooms choose to include both initials and the date of the ceremony on our needlepoint products. The design possibilities are endless and much is left up to your own creativity! If you have an upcoming wedding please do not hesitate to contact us for information regarding price breaks, custom designs and delivery time. All custom products take 4-6 weeks for delivery so do not delay!

The best part is – the groom’s is always free, so when it comes to groomsmen’s gifts, just say I DO to Smathers and Branson!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bob Hope Classic : A Dream Pairing!

What’s your dream foursome? At Smathers and Branson we spend almost as much time developing new products as we do wishing we were on the golf course. This weekend marks the most cherished celebrity golf tournament of the year, and dream pairings will be seen left and right. Since 1960, the Bob Hope Classic has been pairing celebrities, sports stars, professional and amateur golfers for five days of competition and good times. At this California venue, one is just as likely to see an exploding golf ball a la Bill Murray, as they are to see a hole in one from past champions like Phil Mickleson.

Named for the late Bob Hope, a renowned entertainer and avid golfer, this tournament transcends the game of golf and encourages even the most casual fan to watch. Whether hoping to see Kevin Costner’s real life Tin Cup moment or simply watching how Samuel L. Jackson, Luke Wilson, and Padraig Harrington interact, the Bob Hope Classic has something for everyone.

This year, Smathers and Branson is excited to be a part of the Bob Hope Classic. On the first day of play, celebrities and tournament officials are given a gift on behalf of the tournament sponsors. In 2010, the gift of choice was a customized Smathers and Branson needlepoint belt with the Bob Hope Tournament insignia! We want to thank everyone at the Bob Hope Classic for thinking of us, and we are thrilled at the possibility of some of the world’s biggest stars wearing our product!

One of the reasons Bob Hope loved his tournament was because he could pick his own foursome. Having played his way down to a four handicap, Hope was not bashful with his pairings and in 1995 he was seen on the links with Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. It is up for debate as to which member of that power foursome had the honors on the first tee! Luckily, those upholding the legacy of Bob Hope have honored his affinity for a dream pairing, by pairing a Smathers and Branson belt with any outfit on the course.