Azulina Interview: Our Own, Whitney Russell

Happy Tuesday!

Last week I got to experience the special joy of moving.

Not only did I spend all weekend knee deep in boxes, I also missed the Super Bowl commercials! My cable provider doesn't seem to have the same sense of urgency as I do. What a bummer!

Luckily, interviewing Whitney for today's blog post swiftly took me out of my moving-related depression.

I wanted to take a moment to spotlight Whitney, our Director of Marketing, because she is a total gem and a huge part of Azulina's recent success. I have never worked with a more determined or dedicated person. She loves our ceramics just as much as I do and lives just down the street from me in Bogota. AND she's Texan, like me. We're a match made in heaven.

World, please meet our very special Whitney:

Can you tell the story about how we met? I think everyone will get a kick out of it.
Joining Team Azulina has been the most amazing adventure. It was like the table was set, and we were just invited to enjoy the party. The only thing missing was wine.

It all started with an email to the American Women's Club (AWC) listserv (a group of women in Colombia looking to share information and network). I sent a request looking for a Personal Chef for a party for my husband's birthday. A pretty table and yummy food are a major part of our lives.

Anyway, I received a recommendation for a fantastic chef (who we hired). As luck would have it, my new Chef friend was going to be attending an approaching luncheon group of the AWC. I was still very new in town, and only had a few contacts in my Rolodex, so of course I was attending as well. I arrived to the lunch searching for the Chef, whom I could not find. As the seats began to be "taken," I ended up sitting across from an energetic woman with great red glasses.

Whitney with her husband Robert

As lunch was being served, I noticed everyone was engaged in her story about her business, hand painted oven to table ceramics in which she was exporting to the US. I immediately bullied my way into the conversation - interested in more details and information. My background is in retail and most recently business development. I love a plan, and I love new ideas. This great gal was Melissa Moriarty. Not only was she the Founder of Azulina Ceramics, but she was also the person who recommended the Chef! Talk about a small world.

As lunch closed, Melissa and I exchanged information. I was so excited I gave her exactly 10 minutes after the lunch before I contacted her -- I mean, who would want to miss out on an opportunity like this?
We began working together, and very quickly things clicked. She is part of my family; a blessing, a friend, and the best partner ever.

Why me? Why Azulina? Why dinnerware?
If I could live in a house of plates, I would...I love china, pottery, mixing and matching pieces...I just think it is a great thing. Not to mention, once you have seen the Azulina products, the colors, story and designs just make you feel great. Azulina is a natural fit for me. I was immediately drawn to the line, much like I was drawn to Melissa. She has a vibe about her that is interesting. Something that makes you want to know more.

Your little man Michael is practically a member of the Azulina team, can you share a little bit about him and what it is like raising a little boy in Bogota?
Sweet Michael! He is a blessing on every front. He is in love Melissa; he appreciates our organized chaos; and he loves Bogota. This is our first expat experience, and we feel very lucky with the opportunities we have in Bogota. Our work environment is great with children. My son has an incredible playgroup of kids from all kinds of backgrounds. We are involved in swimming classes, developmental programs and all kinds of park and play dates. Bogota is a special city. It has a lot to offer for all age groups.

Michael Russell AKA the star of @mascotmonday

How do you like living in Bogota/Colombia?
We love Bogota! Seriously, on so many levels it is a great place to live. It has the perfect weather year around (especially being from Houston--I can do without the humidity!), the landscape is picturesque, it is very green, and has some of the most incredible mountain ranges. It is a huge city, which provides for many new adventures!

What is your favorite memory so far of living here?
It's a mix of a lot of great parties, special activities with Michael and big adventures with Robert. I think mostly, our favorite memories involve the great people we have met, and the best friends and family that have been to visit Colombia. If I must choose, we recently attended a "Year of the Horse" Chinese New Year party that was nothing other than perfect. There was a traditional horse carousel and all. Happy New Year!

Friends visit Colombia

Friends visit Colombia

And one last question, just because I think you are one hell of a party planner, what are your top three best tips for throwing a great event?
1) Have a plan (ok, make a list) - being organized is step one. Make a list of what you can or need to do a few days ahead of time so you are not running around the day of the party. I love lists, almost as much as I love dinnerware!

2) Make it personal - It's your party, go for it. Serve your favorite foods, have a signature cocktail, make a playlist you actually like, use your favorite colors, or add a monogram on something. Details create conversation and set the tone of the party. Once you have a plan, you can add in personal touches to make a statement at your party.

3) Set the scene - I love paper almost as much as I love lists and dinnerware. The party starts with a great invitation, electronic or printed. From there, it about a great table! You saw this one coming, right? Even if you are just serving canapes or having a 6-course dinner, I vote to use your good stuff!

Thank you Whitney for sharing a bit about you, your sweet family and your adventures so far with Azulina. Here's to a great, FUN, filled-with-wine future together!

Hasta Luego!

Founder, Azulina Ceramics

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