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Thomas Russell

Atlanta's Icon Honors Celebrates Innovation, Contribution, Achievement

THE SECOND ANNUAL ICON HONORS EVENT WAS held in conjunction with the July Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market.
     The Icons were presented to members of the gift and home furnishings industry in the categories of Innovation, Contribution and Achievement. Also, a Lifetime Achievement Award and Medal of Excellence prizes were bestowed.
     Following are profiles of the winners. The program was sponsored by Americasmart Atlanta, the Gift & Home Trade Association and Sandow Media, corporate parent of Home Accents Today and its sister publications.
     Held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, more than 900 guests attended the event.
     Grammy Award-winning group America kicked off the evening with a musical performance, and a talk by respected human relations consultant Ann Rhoades of Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines closed the evening.
     The 2011 Icon Honors winners were:

For Innovation
■ Ann Gish, New York City, who went outside her "design box" of producing luxurious contemporary washable silk bedding, decorative pillows and tabletops, to design and create digital, colorful, wild, print chiffon pillows.
■ Welcome Home Brands, Purchase, N.Y., for being the first in the U.S. to introduce oven-safe Paper Bakeware, which is oven-safe up to 400°F as well as freezer-safe.
■ Snapretail, Pittsburgh, for creating Trafficbuilder, an affordable, easy-to-use digital marketing system that gives retailers the ability to create high-impact emails, Facebook or Twitter posts in minutes.
■ Brandwise, Lakewood, Calif., for introducing BWconnect, the only wholesale shopping platform that keeps the rep/retailer collaborative relationship intact, is transparent and honors the existing rep/supplier commission agreement.

For Contribution
■ Homescapes Carmel, Carmel, Calif., for renovating a long-empty 12,000-sq.-ft. department store and, in the process, revitalizing the community, the mall and the company's sales.
■ A. Dodson's, Suffolk, Va., for its program asking customers to "round up" the cost of their purchases with the money going to a charity selected by the store's Facebook and Twitter followers.
■ Acacia Creations, York, Pa., and Nairobi, Kenya, in recognition of its Barefoot Trade Bracelets, where a dollar of every purchase goes to help educate a Kenyan child.

     A Lifetime Achievement honor was presented posthumously to J. Todd Figi, patriarch of a gift industry family and the founder of Figi Giftware. Figi died earlier this year and his wife, Norma Jean "Jake" Yonchak, accepted his honor.
     Two special Medals of Excellence were awarded to Restoration Hardware of Corte Madera, Calif., and The Williamsburg Brand of The Colonial Foundation, Williamsburg, Va. Marcia Miller of Mud Pie, based in Stone Mountain, Ga., and Todd Litzman, of Brandwise LLC, of Lakewood, Colo., received the Icon Achievement Honor.
     In addition, the GHTA President's Honor of Excellence was presented to David Kiersznowski, co-founder of Demdac, a wholesale gift company.
     "Icon Honors celebrates the legacy of creative expression, champions the genius of independent business and applauds the triumph of superior achievement," said Jeffrey L. Portman Sr., president and chief operating officer of Americasmart Atlanta. "Those we applaud here give testimony to these qualities and embody the ideals to which we all aspire. For their inspiring and stunning achievements, we are grateful."


A group of honoreesA group of honorees and presenters pose together at the completion of the 2011 Icon Honors, a sold-out event held suring the summer Atlanta gift and home market.


The Icon award.The Icon award.
Ann RhoadesAnn Rhoades of JetBlue Airways gave the keynote.Marriott MarquisThe lobby of the Marriott Marquis was packed with Icon attendees during the kickoff cocktail reception.
Jeff PortmanJeff Portman, Americasmart; Ted Teele, Snapretail; Warren Shoulberg, Sandow Media; and George Kacic, GHTA.Jannetta and Todd LitzmanJannetta and Todd Litzman of Brandwise accept the Icon Achievement Honor.
Americasmart PresidentAmericasmart President and COO Jeff Portman kicked off the event with a spoof on Survivor.Multiple Grammy Award-winningMultiple Grammy Award-winning band America provided the musical entertainment.
Ann GishSoft goods producer Ann Gish was honored for Innovation in recognition of a new washable silk collection she developed this year.Maura Kroh of Acacia CreationsMaura Kroh of Acacia Creations accepts the Contribution Honor.
DeMonty Price of Restoration HardwareDeMonty Price of Restoration Hardware accepts the Medal of Excellence Honor. Far left is Marc Rice, GHTA.Marcia Miller of Mud PieMarcia Miller of Mud Pie accepts the Icon Achievement Honor alongside the awards presenters.
A Lifetime Achievement honorA Lifetime Achievement honor was presented posthumously to J. Todd Figi, founder of Figi Giftware. His wife Norma Jean “Jake” Yonchak, accepted his honor.

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