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Gleaning Inspiration from Martha Stewart by Gail Gastelu

Wednesday, October 29th 2014 @ 11:32 AM

Martha rules! She rocks! Oh, yes she does. I’ve been a fan of Martha Stewart for as long as I can remember. (A bit long - but read on for inspiration from Martha Stewart - for your own personal pleasure or business intel.)

When my children were younger, I gleaned loads of inspiration from Martha Stewart for making things by hand. Raising a family can be very expensive! But, you can do things creatively and elegantly on a very limited budget if you do-it-yourself.  My children and I have done all sorts of sewing projects together from pillows to costumes to anything their imaginations could dream up. Thanks to my grandmother and my mother, the tradition of sewing lives on and with modern day inspiration by Martha, homemade projects turn into treasured and appreciated gifts.  I just love to reminisce of all of the times my children asked if we could sew together!! I can hear their little voices still, “Mommy, can we sew?” Melts my heart.  It could be anything, any little scrap of material sewn together to fulfill their interest or adventure of the moment. No patterns necessary, we made things up as we went along.

We did not do much cooking together since I prefer to bake but my kids sure do appreciate a home baked treat – especially cookies or shortbread (my specialty). Here I glean more inspiration from Martha particularly when it comes to wrapping up the baked goods. No need to purchase an expensive tin. Parchment paper makes great wrapping and can be prettied up in many ways. I have also purchased some Martha Stewart branded food boxes when I don’t have the time to do it myself or want the gift to really sing.

Now, you know, my babies are all grown up and flew my nest, but I watch as they create their own handmade cards to give to friends and family. They use their own talents in their own way. Makes momma proud! They have become such wonderful, caring people.

And, isn’t that the point? Isn’t this the point of why Martha Stewart has become/is a household name? She has upheld and supports the concept of family, doing things together, making things together, and making life better for any budget. She shows us all how to make things by hand, how to grow your own food, how to cook that marvelous food to nourish our families, how to bake things or make other beautiful things to gift upon family and friends. These things come from the heart. Learning these things from Martha and making them a part of your life is simply priceless.

Now, you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to see, hear, and appreciate Martha in person at the Tri-State Food Expo (in New Jersey) on October 27!  Ms. Stewart spoke of her accomplishments and the reality of the hard work that it takes to get there. She is at the forefront of innovation in our country and is looked up to by families, all types of entrepreneurs, and restaurateurs. She is an inspiration to all of us.

So, are you ready for me to tell you what Martha said?  Let’s get to it then. First and foremost, she said, “It takes a long time to build a brand and for ideas to come to fruition.” Very true! Nothing happens magically, it takes very hard work and passion and dedication. She added that entrepreneurs are creative people and you need equally good people around you – brands need nurturing. The people around you need to be equally creative and highly skilled, care about quality-design-helpfulness, and fulfil needs and wants.

In making decisions, using intuition, data and information, there needs to be a good feeling about something to move forward with an idea in general but you also need to rely on good information. If research or other data clearly says –no- to something, all of the good feelings in the world will not help.

For Martha, content and information has created synergy by using multiple platforms. By now, you must know all of the pieces of the Martha Stewart brand and it is not just about products, it is about quality information as well. Martha’s Motto?? “Learn something new every day.” She said that she reads three different newspapers on the way to work. She herself gleans inspiration from reading, traveling, and experiencing new things. She pays attention to a lot of different things, watches for new things, and is inspired by all things including nature.

Not all projects work out the way you hope. This is reality for all businesses and Ms. Stewart has experienced the same ups and downs as you and I. She says you need to tailor partnerships and affiliations with people who understand and are looking for the same things you are. America is very price driven. As much as you need to focus and stay true to quality, in many instances price is a deciding factor for consumers and sometimes difficult to balance.

As for opportunities in the restaurant industry, Martha feels that simplicity, less ingredients, pure taste wins. Any popular dish can be “edited” or more simply prepared. Restaurants need to concentrate on the great pleasure of their customers and she feels that chef experimentation is also important.

When asked about success and trends, Ms. Stewart shared another thing that she likes to say, “When you are through changing, you’re through.” Change is needed to stay fresh and in business.

More advice for restaurants and brands? Test marketing. This is terribly important. Test! Will people buy? Test it. Are people buying? What is the feedback? Is commentary positive or negative?

Competition will emerge based on your success. Yes. It will be flattering in a way but also competition. Things to consider: similarities – quality – price – affordability – goodness – enticement – availability to all pay scales.

Back to the topic of education. Are you aware that many city children do not know where their food comes from? To the basic fact that a seed is planted and a vegetable is grown…young people need to be educated. When they learn these things, they become more aware of foods that are good for them and why.  For people interested in the industry, they may learn through many methods of education including internships, test kitchens, and food shows. Chefs need to learn new ingredients by visiting food shows. Remember to learn something new every day and keep changing! Discover unusual products or re-invent, re-imagine, and re-discover to make what’s old new again.

Martha’s advice is simple but involves dedication – If you feel successful with something, move on and expand. Needed skills include creativity, work ethic, hard work, drive, constant learning, and never ending energy.  America’s future will depend on being smarter about our environment and a concentration on the preparation and consumption of good food. America will keep ahead by staying creative and energized.  Thanks to Martha’s inspiration, every day in every way, I am sure you will find success and pleasure in your own personal or business projects that you share with others.  Best of luck!

P.S. did you know that Martha Stewart is involved with a new coffee venture? ULIVjava – is coffee with benefits - very interesting news to all of us in coffee or tea.

Be sure to check out the latest cookbook from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, ONE POT: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More, a collection of comforting weeknight favorites featuring recipes that call for just one dish. . . everywhere fine books are sold.

About Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Emmy Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur and bestselling author, is America’s most trusted lifestyle expert and teacher. Millions of people rely on Martha Stewart as a source of useful “how-to” information for all aspects of everyday living - cooking, entertaining, gardening, home renovating, collecting, organizing, crafting, holidays, healthy living and pets. Her namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which she founded in 1996, reaches approximately 100 million consumers across all media platforms each month with an expansive portfolio that includes award-winning magazines, bestselling books, innovative websites and apps, television and video programming, and a live daily radio show. The Company also has a growing retail presence with 8,500 products in thousands of retail locations, including The Home Depot, Macy's, Staples (together with Avery), PetSmart, and Michaels.  See


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GAIL GASTELU is Publisher of The Tea House Times, Producer of continuing education and among other numerous products and services to connect businesses and consumers to everything tea. Gail lives in NJ with her husband and two children. Her motto is "Just Do It!"  Learn more about Gail's work here.

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