In the know

Nikki Manuel discovered her true calling—a career in fashion design—during a family crisis. An attorney by profession, Manuel’s life changed dramatically when her mother had a stroke in early 2012. “It took a toll on everything I was doing,” Manuel recalls. “My mom was my wake-up call. In the midst of it all, she told me, ‘You really need to just do exactly what you want to do. Pursue your dreams.’?” And pursue them she did.

With her husband’s support, Manuel launched American Prep, a clothing line comprised of tailored classics. “I’ve always had an interest in fashion and design,” Manuel explains. “As a child, I always had a sketchpad in my hand.” Since her impressive showing at New Orleans Fashion Week in October, Manuel has focused on manufacturing: specifically, ensuring that all of the clothing can be produced in the Gulf South. “It’s a juggling game,” she says with a laugh. “But I couldn’t have dreamt it better. So far, it’s been an unbelievable experience.” Learn more at

started by actress and healthy living advocate Jessica Alba, The Honest Company is a purveyor of nontoxic household goods. The lineup includes eco-friendly hair products, body wash, lip balm, multisurface cleaner, laundry products, baby goods and more. Find it locally at Currie.

Don your favorite cocktail dress for this festive night of food, drinks, live music and the chance to be flyin’ high. In addition to holding silent and live auctions, the Red, White & Sneaux winter fundraiser is offering a raffle for two Southwest Airline tickets. The evening, benefiting the ALS Association’s Louisiana-Mississippi chapter, takes off at Boudreaux’s Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. For tickets, visit

It’s time to take your everyday party to the next level. With The Art of the Party by David Stark in hand, this challenge could involve whimsical fun. Stark’s showcase of his over-the-top scenes dazzles, though they’re created with everyday materials. Included in different designs: colored pencils, sheets from museum magazines and stacks of books. This is a fabulous coffee table book with handbook how-to smarts.
The Monacelli Press, $40

From a vintage vending machine comes an original work of art. The Arts Council and Baton Rouge Gallery have partnered to bring an Art-o-mat to the Capital City. Picking up on a national trend, begun by North Carolina artist Clark Whittington in 1997, a retired cigarette machine has been retrofitted to dispense small artworks for just $5 each. Currently, the machine offers original pieces by 20 artists from around the globe. Check it out at Baton Rouge Gallery.

Sometimes, you still have to carry actual files on actual paper. If this is the case, invest in a good attaché. A backpack ruins the press of your jacket and is more “study group” than “power meeting.” Look professional and be prepared with a leather bag like this one by Brioni. The rigid structure ensures that those important papers don’t get crushed, plus the look is more masculine. There’s even room for your tablet.
—For more men’s fashion advice, follow Matt Watson Clothing Knowledge on Facebook.

Kimberly Harper realized her deep appreciation for her hometown’s cuisine and culture after attending college out-of-state. Since moving back to Baton Rouge, she has decided to share that love through a new business venture: guided food tours. With seven different spots lined up, Harper takes participants downtown to sample a plethora of local cuisine and shares with them little-known facts on the state’s history and culture. Tours began in late 2013, and Harper says this year she hopes to be able to offer more day and time options. Currently, her tours are offered Thursdays and Fridays, for lunch and dinner. “The response has been positive, and we want to use every opportunity to get the word out about how much Baton Rouge has to offer,” Harper says. Get more information at

Mission: To serve, provide for, and champion individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Southeast Louisiana Division executive director: Amanda Cade
Louisiana board of directors: John Bradford, Claire Brooks, James Ellis, Robert Malsbary, Clinton McAlister, Grady Morrison and Elton Williams Jr.
Address: 1170 Highway 51, Suites A & B, Ponchatoula, LA 70454
Phone: (985) 386-5000
Founded: In 1959, Presbyterian minister Ralyn Parkhill, assisted by a handful of staff members, took four young men with disabilities to an abandoned schoolhouse in Evergreen, La., and began to teach them how to become productive residents of their community.
Of note: Evergreen Life Services now serves more than 1,300 men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities across seven states. The Greater Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa divisions serve 260 of these people by providing residential, independent living, and vocational services. Evergreen’s efforts are designed to help these individuals become a contributing members of society rather than living apart from society.