Tag Archives: J Banks Design

Q & A with Author Connie Sewell

Summer Saltz Book

We are so excited to host author Connie Sewell for a book signing and fashion show in the J Banks courtyard this week! We had the opportunity to interview Connie about what inspired her to write Summer Saltz. 

JB: Briefly explain your book and the storyline.

Connie: Summer Saltz is a fun-loving spunky girl always into something exciting.  When she gets a new pair of ever-so-sassy white sunglasses, she takes on a personality all her own.  But when she shows up for the party with her “I’m so Hollywood” attitude, she finds out showing off doesn’t pay off.  She learns some valuable lessons in the story about friendship, kindness, and what it really means to be “HOLLYWOOD.”

JB: Is this your first book? What inspired you to take the plunge and move forward with publication? 

Connie: This is my first book.  Once I had the general character and first draft, I met with my attorneys in New York and they convinced me I had something with this character and that I should move forward.  After the long editing process with a professional editor and the unexpectedly difficult process of selecting an illustrator the book began to take shape and I realized it was definitely worthy of publication.  I wanted to create a character that would stand the test of time and have a similar personality to many little girls I have had the opportunity to get to know.

JB: What is the biggest challenge you faced in the creation and publication of this book?

Connie: The biggest challenge I faced in the creation and publication of Summer Saltz was unfamiliarity with the publishing process.  There is a lot of information out there for publishing, but not a lot for publishing a children’s picture book.  Most of that information is closely held by the gatekeepers at the major publishing houses because they like to control the process and maintain merchandising rights.  I think it is tough to tackle a project like this even if you know the process.  I had no idea what was involved.  I just took each step and did the best I could with it.  Every step is probably as difficult as the next, especially if you are a perfectionist, and I hesitate to say it, but I really am.


 JB: The book was largely inspired by your own daughter, Summer, what was her reaction to the book? 

Connie: Summer really enjoys reading the book.  She really gets a kick out of the part where Summer Saltz tries to put her dog, Penelope, in her purse, she thinks that is hilarious.  However, she dislikes the dialogue where the dad says the dog is like a bull in a china shop, funny.  She loves to wear the tattoos of Summer Saltz on her hands.  I think she really enjoys the concept that there is a book and all sorts of other products that are all about her.

JB: What is the message that you hope children receive after reading this book?

Connie: I hope children learn how to be kind to one another, the value of a good friendship and that showing off doesn’t pay off. There are many opportunities for parents to teach their children lessons throughout the book, such as importance of diet, figures of speech, and one of my favorites, the environmental comment on the back cover.  The comment is quite humorous, but it is an opportunity to explain to your kids how to love and care for the environment, and what ‘hugging a tree’ really means.

JB: Books are a big part of your life.  Why do you think it is important to read with and to your children?  

Connie: Oh, reading is the key to everything!  You have to teach your children at an early age to read and comprehend, as it is in everything we do.  The joy of reading and learning is one of life’s biggest gifts.  I particularly love to sit in my children’s beds at night and read with and to them, it is our bonding time.  To enjoy the emotions and adventures in children’s books, or any book, and to watch your children absorb the context, well, it’s just priceless.

 JB: Can we expect more adventures with Summer Saltz in the future? 

Connie: Absolutely!  Summer Saltz is going to be a series.  I am currently working on the second book draft.  It is going to be a lot of fun.  She will have the same humor and personality, but obviously the story line will be much different.  What I can tell you about the next book is that Summer will find out which sports she is good at and which sports she enjoys most.  This doesn’t come easy for her, and her situations and trials will have you laughing your way through the events in the story.  It will be a fun adventure.

Sunglasses and Summer Saltz blog

If you would like to pre-order a book, you may call J Banks Retail 843-682-1745 for more information. This event is suitable for children ages 4-8. To learn more about Connie, you may visit her website at http://www.summersaltz.com.



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Valentine’s Treats – Made With Creative Love!

J Banks Design = Creativity & it even shows in our Valentine’s Day treats! We just had to show you some of the creative ways our team has shared “the love” this Valentine’s Day!


From top left clockwise: A bottle of pink Moscato with goldfish in a box that say’s “Will you o’fish’ally be my Valentine?” A Valentine balloon bouquet and hot pink heart-shaped pancakes!


Chocolate covered pretzels are salty sweet perfection!

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Oooh La La! Homemade Oreo Truffles! Divine!


Homemade heart-shaped sugar cookies with icing in the middle! valentines 2

Homemade Valentine’s made from paint swatch cards and conversation heart rings and earring sets.

How did you celebrate today?

Happy Valentine’s Day!



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Perfect Presents: Shop our A to Z Holiday Gift Guide!

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Holiday Decor: Inspiration to Creation

The task of decorating for the holidays can be daunting.  There are endless options and themes and it can be hard to decide where to begin!

We have been gearing up for this holiday season transforming our retail store into a winter wonderland. Beginning as early as September, our buyers and merchandisers gathered to pull inspiration photos, and to compare pictures of what was scheduled to arrive and what was currently on hand that could be used for this year’s displays.

One of our favorite approaches is repurposing existing items as well as buying the latest and greatest during the Fall Markets!  Mixing the old with the new creates interest, and better yet – allows you to save your dollars for gift giving!

Here is an example of one of the inspiration photos we used for our holiday vision – we love the simplistic, yet shimmering glamour of the tree!

Using this as our inspiration, we took our bare tree, metallic spray paint, and items already found in our store to make our perfect store entrance vignette.

Mercury bottle votives became cool over-scaled ornaments, and burlap ribbon became glitzy dressing by simply spray-painting it silver. The metallic theme was also applied to an older red wreath and voila – we had a new tree topper complete with ‘JB’ letters as the finishing touch!  Combining existing goods with our fabulous new mercury balls, sparkling vine orbs, and festive ornaments makes a grand statement.

Interested in repurposing your existing Christmas holiday décor into new ideas and displays?  We can help!  Our designers are available for hourly consultation to help you create displays that will dazzle.

And if all you need is a little inspiration, then please plan to join us for our Holiday Open House on Thursday, November 8th from 3-7pm.  All of our displays will be ready for gazing AND shopping!

We can assure you, J Banks Retail has the holidays covered with gift ideas for everyone on your list!

See you soon during all our holiday events!


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Joni Vanderslice : Fall High Point Market Favorites

If you have never been to the High Point Furniture Market, let me tell you that it can be a fast and furious experience!  There is more to see than can ever be seen, and days are strategically planned to cover as much ground as possible.  Being from High Point, I also have the added bonus of getting to visit with family and friends during market week.  Now that I have been back from market and traveling for a few weeks, the dust has begun to settle and I wanted to take a moment to share some of my Fall High Point Market Favorites!

The J Banks Collection for Stanford Furniture is always the first stop on my list!  Several Spring 2012 introductions got a fresh new look with fun fabrics and lighter finishes. The Johnson Chair was  introduced with dark leather upholstery and stained wood in the spring – I love the light finish on the chair this fall.



The Laura Chair looks completely different with this fabric and detail.

The Nassau home theatre is a great cabinet from Habersham. The shelf configuration is unique, but still functional.

I loved this island, and we purchased the piece along with several other unique case goods for our Retail Store.

This is a great banquette and table!

I saw many adaptations of the behind sofa bookcase.


I loved Alexa Hampton for Hickory Chair’s high lacquer finishes!


On Monday October 15th, I was asked to speak on behalf of IDS, the Interior Design Society. I am thrilled that I was able to offer my “Master Editing” class for CEU credit!  I will be presenting again at the April 2013 High Point Market. Please join me if you will be in High Point.


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LEEDer’s of the Pack!

The J Banks Design building was the first LEED-certified building on Hilton Head Island, and only the twelfth in South Carolina. President Joni Vanderslice’s decision to build green resulted from wanting to gain first-hand knowledge of new design practices that could benefit her clients as well as provide a healthy environment for her employees.

So what does being LEED-certified mean?

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified buildings are designed to:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions
  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities

Below is an explanation of the many ways that the J Banks Design building applies the LEED building principles. Hopefully these concepts will inspire you to include some  of these options in your home or business.


The reclaimed flooring came from a barn in South Carolina and was sealed with a low VOC product. Low VOC products include any paint, stain, or varnish that uses water instead of petroleum as a carrier. Due to the low VOC paint being water based, not only is cleanup much easier, but also harmful emissions are much lower compared to their solvent-based counterparts.


All retail display cabinets were made locally which minimizes transportation costs thus reduces the need to use fossil fuels.

The showroom drapery dividers are made of linen, a natural material, and were fabricated locally.

The insulation used is Sprayed Polyurethane Foam (SPF). SPF fills and seals all exposed areas and cracks around the perimeter of your structure, giving you protection from air drafts and moisture.


The chandelier is made with a combination of recycled glass and steel.

The butt board walls are made from wood harvested from the trees that were cleared for building construction and were milled on site.

The entire room has low VOC paint, sealants and adhesives.  This room also includes locally made cabinetry.


A skylight was added to maximize daylight and minimize the need for artificial light.

Occupancy lighting sensors are used in this area and throughout the rest of the building. Lights automatically turn on or off due to detected motion in an area. Energy savings can result by turning off the lights when a space is unoccupied. Occupancy sensors can also enhance security and reduce light pollution.


There is low flow plumbing  in the bathrooms that use less water than conventional fixtures. The sinks feature motion sensors and turn off when not in use.

Dual flush toilets help to conserve water.

We have a repurposed piece of antique furniture as the vanity for the women’s restroom on the first floor.  Reusing existing furniture reduces the need for raw material extraction.


All furniture from previous offices was used and the teak desks were made from reclaimed wood.

The carpet is tiled and made of recycled content. Installation for this type of carpet produces far less waste than traditional broadloom carpet. Also, tiled carpet is easier to repair as you only need to replace a small area in the event of a spill or stain.

A skylight was added to this area as well to maximize natural light and reduce the need for artificial light. Natural light in the workplace contributes to better immune systems and healthier happier occupants!

Interior Light Shelf

Interior Light Shelves above the bookcases on the left.

Interior light shelves reflect direct sun to the white ceiling, which then bounces back down as ambient light, thus reducing the need for artificial light. (See diagram below)

Exterior Light Shelves

The perimeter of the upper level features both interior and exterior architectural light shelves. Light shelves are typically used in high-rise and low-rise office buildings, as well as institutional buildings. This design is generally used on the Southern side of the building, where maximum sunlight is found. Exterior light shelves are effective in reducing glare and providing shade, while still allowing indirect light to enter the building. A combination of exterior and interior shelves work best in providing an even illumination gradient.


The VCT (Vinyl Commercial Tile) that looks like cork is made from recycled products.

We use re-usable dishware instead of disposable plates in an effort to reduce waste.

All employees have glass water bottles that they can refill. The glass water bottles are locally made of recycled materials.


All paper, glass, plastics, metals and cardboard are recycled.

All paints, adhesives and coatings are low-VOC or VOC-free.  All non-wooden floors are made of recycled content and all wooden floors are made from recycled heart pine barn siding.

Landscaping consists entirely of local, native and drought tolerant plants. This reduces the need for lawn care and watering.

Parking spaces are made of permeable pavers that reduce storm water runoff.

There is a bike rack and shower to encourage employees to cycle or walk to work.

Natural light is available in almost every room in the building, including interior areas via transom windows at the top of walls.

Roofing contains high-albedo materials that reduce heat islands which helps keep the building cool, thus reducing energy consumption.

We are very proud of our LEED-certification and currently have 4 LEED Green Associates and 1 LEED Green AP on staff.  We embrace the concept of designing green as not only an investment in the environment, but also an investment in better health.

For more information on LEED building you may visit https://new.usgbc.org/leed or call J Banks Design to see how we can assist you in with your green building and design needs.


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JB’s – Courtyard Couture

Fashion Week has come to J Banks!  

Hosting events in our beautiful facility is one of the things J Banks does best… and we were delighted to open our doors to the next generation of aspiring designers for Fashion Camp. 

Under the instruction of the very talented Sandra Fitzsimmons, the girls learned how to develop a concept, gather inspiration, sketch their looks, shop for materials, and sew their creations.

The girls learned that resources are everywhere! They even re-purposed old t-shirts into fabulous frocks.

As they developed their looks, they were careful to “edit” so that one element did not overwhelm the whole garment. Sometimes the editing process would lead to new inspiration and totally new looks!

Another big lesson of fashion camp: No collection is complete without brand development and a fashion show!  The girls developed collection names and custom tags for each item. Next they picked a venue location and planned the day down to the last detail (furniture, music, sound system, etc). Finally they produced announcement fliers and personalized invitations for family and friends to the big event.

J Banks hosted the event in the courtyard in front of our beautiful LEED certified building.

As the crowds of family, friends, and curious visitors took their seats for the show, the girls put the finishing touches on their looks.

When the big moment arrived everyone was so surprised by how much the girls had accomplished and learned in one short week.


Are we looking at the next design stars?  Our vote is – YES!

Fabulous work ladies!  Creative… Bold… Professional… and Beautiful!  We are already looking forward to next year!



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