SPPR Holiday Gift Guide 2018

The holiday season is officially here which means if you’re like us, you’re unpacking the string lights, queuing up The Holiday and trying to find that perfect gift for the pickiest person on your list. To help with that last one, we’ve rounded up a couple of our go-to gifts from the team’s favorite brands. (P.S. It’s totally cool with us if you end up ordering something for yourself, too!) Happy shopping!

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  1. Tillamook White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Ice Cream
  2. Poketo Minimalist Folio
  3. Sweet Honey Farmacy Immune Boost
  4. Wildsam Field Guides
  5. Heart Coffee
  6. Union Wine Company Underwood Rosé Bubbles
  7. Seek & Swoon Throw
  8. Schoolhouse Stendig Calendar
  9. Smith Teamaker Holiday Tea Trio
  10. Katie Dean Two Gem Ring
  11. Milk Jar Cookies
  12. Things Will Work Out Pin
  13. Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate Bars
  14. Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook
  15. 2019 Large 12-Month Annual Planner: This Will Be My Year
  16. Aesop Primrose Facial Hydrating Cream
  17. Calidad Beer
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5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Sam Hampar

This week we’re excited to welcome our newest team member, Samantha Hampar! Sam joins Soda Pop PR with influencer and digital marketing experience and a love for all things food & beverage.  Read on to learn what brought Sam back to LA from Austin, where she would go with unlimited funds, and her perfect food day if distance (and calories!) weren’t an issue.

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1. You recently moved back from Texas, what did you miss most about Southern California?

As an LA native, you really do take the weather for granted. I moved to Austin in an October and it didn’t drop below 100 degrees with 80% humidity until November. (This is partly where I get my love of sundresses.) Besides the weather, I missed my family most. When I ended up staying in LA for college (USC, fight on!) I promised myself that I’d move to Austin for 2-3 years at some point in my life to experience a new city and get out of my comfort zone. While it was hard to say goodbye to Austin’s quirky culture, outdoorsiness, breakfast tacos (someone say queso?), and extensive music scene, Dorothy has a point… “there’s no place like home.”

2. Describe your perfect food day from start to finish. (distance is not an issue)

I’d like to include calories as not an issue in addition to distance because I could live off of dessert and tacos alone…

Breakfast: Considering I have a Pinterest board exclusively dedicated to donuts, I’d start my day off at Sidecar with either an old fashioned or butter & salt donut. (If calories don’t count, why not do both?)

Second Breakfast: Breakfast tacos and queso are still on my mind, so I would fly to Austin for Veracruz’s migas tacos with a side of queso & chips.

Lunch: If I’m already in Austin, I might as well go to Elizabeth Street Cafe for Vietnamese food. I’ll have a Fried Egg, Crispy Pork Belly, Avocado & Mint Banh Mi, please.

Afternoon snack: Homemade Biscuits and seasonally made jam at Confituras Little Kitchen. With the best biscuits, jam, and unlimited coffee, I frequented this place way too often.

Dinner: Being that I’m Armenian, I couldn’t get away without saying Carousel in Glendale. I’ve been without great Mediterranean food too long while in Texas.

Dessert: I’ll let my stomach settle on the drive up to Santa Barbara for the original McConnell’s ice cream location.

3. If you had unlimited funds and two-weeks off, where would you go?

Italy and Greece have always been on my bucket list, but I’ve most recently been excited about the idea of road tripping across the US. The Southern Pacific route, following US-80, seems to have a taste of everything in terms of culture and physical landscapes, so I’d likely start here before taking on the great American road trip that hits 48 states. With unlimited funds, I’d stock my car with the greatest snacks, hit up the nicest hotels and glamping sites, and adopt a furry friend to keep me company.

4. What excites you most about public relations?

I love that what constitutes “public relations” is constantly changing. For example, while this is technically my first PR position, I’ve worked in influencer and digital marketing for 5 years, which is now more commonly coming under the umbrella of public relations. Secondly, it requires a lot of creativity to help your clients stand out from the rest, and when successful, it feels great knowing you attributed to a brand’s growth. In addition to being excited about PR, I’m specifically passionate about food and beverage, so being able to integrate the two together is a dream.

5. How do you seek out inspiration when you’re in a rut?

I’m a visual person, so I’m constantly looking to Instagram, Pinterest, and Designspiration for inspiration when in a rut. I also love walking while listening to music– it’s meditative for me. I used to walk 2.5 miles to and from work everyday while in Austin because it helped clear my mind. People think I’m crazy, but one day I walked from Union Station DTLA to Brentwood to enjoy the different cultures and unique neighborhood vibes along the way. It was people watching at its finest.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Joshua Zad

This week, we’re excited to welcome our new client Joshua Zad to the blog. Josh is the brilliant founder of Alfred Coffee & Kitchen (@alfred) and Alfred Tea Room (@alfredtea) as well as the mastermind behind the ubiquitous #butfirstcoffee. We’re thrilled to be working with Josh on a new lifestyle beer brand called Calidad which officially launches on November 1st. Read on to learn a little bit about Josh’s inspiration for Calidad, his thoughts on shaking up the beer industry and his favorite spots in LA.

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1. With a real estate background and success with Alfred, what inspired you to make beer?

In short, I wanted to affect change in the beverage world on a much broader scale. At Alfred, we have the unique ability to control customers’ experiences 100% — from the music, to the store layout and design, to how customers are greeted at the register; and of course, the quality and appearance of the coffee/tea drinks. But alas, there is a cap on how many people we can both serve and reach in the course of one day. I had been tossing around the idea of getting into alcoholic beverages for a while, and after taking a deeper look into the beer category, I noticed a huge opportunity. The opportunity to take a fresh and exciting approach to beer – specifically when it comes to catering to the non-specialized, novice beer drinkers. Craft beers and hop-heavy IPA’s have had their time, but the majority of beer drinkers shy away from them. So, I created Calidad — a lifestyle beer brand that capitalizes on the surging growth of the Mexican beer category and consumers’ desire to reconnect emotionally with basic, everyday beverages. The beer category has been stagnant for a while, it’s time for a shake up!

2. What is your goal for Calidad?

My goal with Calidad is to take a sizable chunk out of the Mexican import market. And to show people that you can enjoy an easy, drinkable cerveza that tastes just as good (if not better) than the long-standing, incumbent brands you have come to know, while also providing a level of transparency in the process and sourcing of the ingredients in that beer. I think the ultimate success would be eventually diversifying Calidad, which is produced in California, by launching new beer SKUs, other Mexican spirits like tequila and mezcal, and expanding into the broader Mexican foods space – all through a California lens and most importantly, never losing the emphasis on one obsession: Quality.

3. What does it take to be successful in the industry?

In the beer industry, where people have SO many solid options and new breweries are popping up daily, a strong following can make or break your brand. Loyalty is paramount. For this reason, we are dedicated to sampling product in-store and at festivals, connecting with both Calidad lovers and newcomers alike, and building our following one sip and one conversation at a time. We are taking a brand-first approach to this company, which is not so common in the beer industry — to grow a loyal customer base of Calidad lovers from the onset.

4. As an LA native, what’s your favorite restaurant in town and what do you normally order?

Easy. Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich at Honor Bar in Beverly Hills. Second to that would be a chicken parm from either Dan Tana’s or Craig’s. I am a huge fried boneless chicken guy.

5. Where’s your favorite place to grab a holiday cocktail when it finally gets chilly in LA?

Roger Room hands down. My go to holiday-rainy-and-cold-outside drink is the “Japanese Maple” – Suntory whiskey, maple syrup, lemon juice, egg white and house made bitters.

SPPR Retreat: 7 Years of The Suite Life

We love summer for a lot of reasons but our yearly company retreat tops the list! This year, Soda Pop PR invited the team to #RetreatYourself with a luxurious and relaxing stay at The Nomad in DTLA.

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The team holed up in one of the Nomad’s gorgeous corner suites to bond, share wins and challenges and talk about company growth as we head into another exciting year. As usual there was a great deal of inspiring conversation, laughter and fantastic food.

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Soda Pop PR retreats always include an epic swag bag. This year, our resident artist Sami Davis designed custom goodies to pair with Realm’s pitch perfect Strong Female Lead tees.

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After a day living the suite life, we checked into our rooms and swooned over the hotel’s attention to detail. A love of great design is something we share as a team and the Nomad is next level home inspiration!

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A Soda Pop PR retreat isn’t compete without a team dinner. Amid all of the busy days, it’s so important for us to slow down and connect on a personal level. The only thing better than taking the time to just hang out with the women we work with every day, is to hang out with them over cocktails and amazing food! After a rooftop cocktail and a quick game of “Never Have I Ever” on The Nomad rooftop, we headed to Dama, the Scopa team’s new concept which pays homage to a couple of our favorite things about Havana, Cuba.

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As we celebrate another year of Soda Pop PR, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our clients, partners, friends and family for continuing to support us over the years. Dyan started Soda Pop PR 7 years ago with the goal of doing good work with good people and as a team we are so proud and grateful to uphold that legacy today.

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Cheers to year seven and many more,

Team Soda Pop PR

 

10 Tips to DIY Your Own Floral Arrangement

Nothing brightens up a space like flowers and a trip to the Los Angeles Flower Markets is one of our favorite ways to spend a morning. To celebrate the arrival of spring, we rolled up our sleeves for a team DIY designing our own arrangements. We’re excited to share our 10 favorite tips to help you design your own!

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1. Buying the Blooms – It can be overwhelming when you begin planning an arrangement. Choosing one or two colors to focus on is a great way to narrow down the options. Try selecting either a “warm” (reds/orange/yellow) palette or a “cool” (blue/green/purple) palette and anchor your design with 2-3 prominent blooms such as dahlias, peonies or protea.

2. Don’t Forget the Foliage- You may not have noticed but most arrangements are not just flowers, but also foliage. Add vines, leafy greens, berries, vines, and even fern cuttings to design around your focal florals. Foliage adds character, texture, and shape without distracting from your floral focal points.

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3. Stripping- Many people make the mistakes of putting flowers right in the vase without any maintenance. You need to strip your flowers or they will not last as long! Stripping is the process of removing any leaves on the stems of your florals that will be submerged in your water to prevent mold. You can leave some leaves at the base of your floral to add volume, or you can remove all.

4. Add Intrigue- Contrast is essential to creating an interesting arrangement. Make sure to cut your flowers and foliage at different heights to add dimension to the arrangement and think about playing with different shapes, such as the spiky look of a dahlia with a soft anemone. Seek beauty in the juxtaposition.

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5. Don’t Rush It- Take your time while putting your arrangement together, this is the fun part! If you’re not achieving the look you want, just start again. Put on some music and let nature’s blooms guide you.

6. Think Outside the Vase- You can use just about any container for florals so feel free to design your arrangement for a favorite mug, old pasta sauce jar or the pretty container of a used up candle. Just make sure the container is waterproof and thoroughly cleaned.

7. Water- The key ingredient for good floral maintenance is water. Make sure your florals are supplied with plenty of water, and that starts right when you get home. Cut the stems immediately and put them in water until you’re ready to arrange. Then trim again before adding to your vessel. It’s best to cut on a diagonal, which exposes more of the stem to water. After you arrange your blooms, make sure to give them as much water as the container will allow so they can drink up after being transferred numerous times.

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8. Fine-Tune Blossoms- While natural beauty is more appealing than anything, not every bloom is perfect. This is where pruning comes in. If there are any buds that distract from the overall arrangement, don’t be afraid to remove them. Eliminate petals that are broken or browning and trim any leaves competing for water.

9. Keep ‘Em Cool-| Always place finished arrangements in a cool space. Check the water frequently– you would be surprised how much flowers can drink!

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10. Upgrade your Tools- You can absolutely make a beautiful arrangement with just a vase and a pair of scissors but if you’re going to be working with florals regularly we recommend a few purchases to make the process easier:

  • Pruning Shears- to strip florals with thorns and cut thicker stems
  • Floral Wire & Floral Tape- to help secure any florals. You can use wire to help wrap and arrange smaller stems as well as create structured pieces, like boutonnieres. Floral tape is self-sealing tape and can be used to wrap stems or create bouquets.
  • Clear Floral Tape– to make a grid for spaced out arrangements
  • Oasis Floral Foam– if you’re creating arrangements for an event, this floral foam is your friend! Just dunk in water and it will absorb. Stick fresh florals in and the foam will keep them hydrated and in place throughout any event. It also comes in a variety of sizes allowing you to create floral wreaths, hearts, and 3D shapes.

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SPPR Travels: 5 Things You Should Do in Samaná, Dominican Republic

Beautiful beaches come standard with most Caribbean islands but if you prefer to be a traveler rather than a tourist, you might want to skip the Bahamas and opt for a less talked about island. SPPR Account Manager and avid wanderer, Colleen Dunn, recently spent a week in the Dominican Republic town of Samaná where she drank piña coladas out of pineapples and ignored TLC’s advice on waterfalls. Here are her five must dos in this underrated coastal town.

Stay in a Treehouse

Get off the beaten path of all-inclusive Punta Cana resorts and fulfill all your childhood dreams by sleeping in a treehouse. We stayed at tropical hideaway the Dominican Tree House Village which features a collection of breezy open-air houses completely surrounded by trees. It was insanely gorgeous and delightfully free of crowds and surprisingly, bugs. The nature immersed hideaways feature comfortable beds, electricity, plumbing and outdoor showers making it a unique step above glamping and the resort comes complete with a rope swing adorned waterfall and all-inclusive rum cocktails. It’s owned by an American but staffed mostly by locals which makes it a good option if your Spanish isn’t great but you don’t only want to hang out with other Americans.

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Drink Mama Juana

Did you really go to Greece if you didn’t have Ouzo or Colombia if you didn’t take a shot of Aguardiente? In the Dominican Republic the liquor to try is Mama Juana. This concoction is made of rum, red wine and honey soaked in a bottle with tree bark and herbs. It’s common for a household to keep their Mama Juana for decades, constantly adding to it to keep the bark and herbs from drying out. In addition to giving you a buzz, Mama Juana has all kinds of positive health effects depending on who you ask: curing the flu, digestion, circulation issues and serving as a detox for your kidney and liver. The liquor’s most lauded benefit is as an aphrodisiac and people often add conch to increase these benefits, or in the case of one bakery who offered us a sip of theirs, a small octopus!

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Zipline

There’s nothing like flying through the trees so make sure to put Samaná’s 12 line course on your to-do list. The first (and highest) line is 1,000 feet long and by the time you get to the bottom run you’ll be flipping upside down and spinning like monkeys.

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Visit Mama’s Beach

Adventure and Instagram worthy views aside, you came to the Caribbean to lay on the beach. There are nearly a dozen options in Samaná but our favorite was El Valle. This secluded stretch was a short bike ride from our tree house and an immediate favorite for its lack of crowds and availability of chaise lounges. More importantly, there’s Mama. Mama is a toothless Dominican woman who sells amazing fried chicken and piña colada filled pineapples five feet from the crashing waves. It should be at the top of your to-do list. Fair warning though, they call her Mama for a reason so don’t try to go swimming when there’s a riptide. She’ll come out from behind the stove and chase you out of the water.

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Hang Out with Locals

This is one of my top five tips for every trip anywhere and always results in my most memorable experiences. The best thing we ate in the Dominican Republic was Tres Leches that a local purchased for us from the back door of someone’s home after taking us to a shop of candy colored magic positions for love, wealth, strength and anything else you could think of. For best results on your own travels, ask a native where their favorite place to eat is or just head to the local market. The local market is the apex of many cities or at the very least an interesting window into the diet of its residents. In Samaná you’ll find local fishmongers and farmers selling bananas, pineapples, pink salt and even snake belts.

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5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Caitlin Lee

From a Galentine’s Day DIY Homemade Pop-Tart party to making healthy chicken pot pie with Lauren Conrad, Public Lives Secret Recipes creator Caitlin Lee knows how to have fun with her food. Caitlin’s fantastic blog features interviews and recipes from people in the public eye as well as all of her favorite things in the lifestyle and food space. We’re excited to welcome Caitlin to our corner of the internet this week to talk about comfort food, her first year in LA and where to go for creative inspiration.

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1. What inspired you to start Public Lives, Secret Recipes and are there any recipes in particular that stand out as favorites?

I’m not sure there was one thing that inspired me to start PLSR. It was more a combination & natural build-up over time. When I was in college I had to live in my sorority house for 3 years. Don’t get me wrong, it was the absolute best, however, we only had access to a toaster & microwave. After I graduated & moved to Chicago I began baking a ton. It was something I had grown up doing & when I finally had all the tools to do so, I remembered just how much I enjoyed it. I would bring everything I made into work, post it on my personal Instagram, & send some to family. Everyone would ask for the recipes & it just seemed like posting them on a website would be an easier way to go rather than emailing, texting, etc. for people individually.

Once the site was live I was shocked that people aside from those I shared it with were viewing it. The OCD in me immediately kicked in & realized I needed to make this site aesthetically pleasing. In that process I began brainstorming exactly what I wanted to blog about. I knew there were a billion other baking blogs out there so I decided I wanted to do something different. Food to me is so much more than the taste, it brings people together & is the ultimate ice breaker. I realized I wanted to start hearing other people’s stories & get recipes from them.

Four years later that is still the most prominent part of PLSR, however, there are some other aspects such as travel, my own recipes, style & more that have been fun to dive into.

I go through phases of what my favorite recipes on the site are. Right now my top three would have to be Coolhaus’ Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich (their founder & CEO, Natasha, is one of the coolest ladies I know & she shared this recipe exclusively for my site!) for the ultimate indulgence, Lauren Gores’ popsicles recipe for a sweet yet healthy treat, & Lauren Conrads’ healthy chicken pot pie for when I need to balance out the Coolhaus recipe.

2. You moved to LA in the last year, what are a couple of your favorite spots in the city so far?

Oh man, there are SO many! For food: Gjelina, Lodge Bread Co., Great White, Malibu Farm, Pressed Juicery, Sugarfish, Moon Juice, Katsuya, Zinque, the list goes on & on. For something other than eating… hiking in Malibu, biking down Abbot Kinney, & exploring all of the different neighborhoods LA has to offer.

3. As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, what is your favorite comfort food to make at home? 

A few years back my parents were hounding me for gift ideas of what I wanted for my birthday (they’re clearly the kindest!) & I told them I wanted the two of them to make me a cookbook of all their favorite recipes. I don’t think they were expecting me to ask for a gift that required them to really work but it’s easily the best gift I’ve ever been given. Any of those recipes or my grandma’s bread recipes are my go-to comfort dishes!

4. Where do you go for inspiration when you’re in a creative rut?

For the obvious, Pinterest. The less obvious, Malibu, my family, & my website. I love combining a few old recipes into one hybrid recipe so looking back on what I’ve done in the past serves as a huge form of inspiration for me.

5. What would be your ideal food day if distance was no limit (breakfast, lunch and dinner)?

Holy moly this is one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked. Can I include tons of snacks & desserts too?! Breakfast: Parisian croissants (yes, multiple!) in bed with a view of the Eiffel Tower, Snack: Pinkberry Tart Froyo with Gummy Bears (in a dream world they’d also have chocolate covered gummy bears as an option there!), Lunch: Ravioli from 4Leoni in Florence, Snack: My sister’s homemade cinnamon rolls, Dinner: Peppermint Thai Restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio Dessert: My homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies!