ChiChi+PePe Premium Pet Accessories

ChiChi+PePe Logo

Atlanta, GA - July 2017

Pet lovers rejoice, ChiChi+PePe has arrived!  Following successful regional pop up trials, the online pet store from Atlanta is now delivering to homes across the U.S. ChiChi + PePe Premium Pet Accessories is a boutique retailer of luxury products for dogs and cats offering customers an extensive range of unique products including pet apparel, carriers, collars and high end pet furniture. 

Amanda Perry, General Manager at ChiChi+PePe says, "We know that pets are very much a part of today's family.  We created ChiChi+PePe to help our customers find high quality products to compliment their lifestyle and allow their pets to lead happy lives.  ToriStar Media has built a website to showcase our products in the best light and will continually work to deliver a consistent brand message."  "I have longed to have my own pet now working with ChiChi+PePe has given me an even greater desire to have a new addition to our family.  On behalf of ToriStar Media, I would like to extend the warmest welcome to our client." said Starlyss McSlade, Partner at ToriStar Media.

Engage with via its' social media outlets on

Southern Haute Luxury Men's Accessories

Southern Huate Logo

Atlanta, Ga  - June 2017

ToriStar Media announces the signing of new client, Southern Haute Luxury Men's Accessories. ToriStar Media will serve as the agency of record and brand ambassador leading all marketing initiatives. Southern Haute has worked tirelessly to curate the finest selection of men's accessories and develop product profiles to reflect the latest fashion trends in watches, wallets, cuff links, neck wear and more.  ToriStar's extensive experience in the development of ecommerce platforms played a pivotal role in Southern Haute's decision to use the company's services.

"At we chose to work with ToriStar Media because of their in-depth product branding experience and make-it-happen attitude", said Mathew Laughton, founder of Southern Haute.

"We are excited to welcome Southern Haute on board and look forward to making their products and website the best it can be for their customers", said Milton Stephens, Partner at ToriStar Media.  "Choosing our marketing methodologies will help to create a foundation for future growth and consistent brand awareness."

Engage with Southern Haute via its' social media outlets on

StarMc Studios Fine Art Photography

StarMc Studios Logo

Atlanta, GA  - May 2017

After years of successfully working alongside her husband as creative director and principle partner at ToriStar Media, Starlyss McSlade has merged her talents into the world of fine art photography.  The graphic design and product photography specialist announced today the launch of her solo project, StarMc Studios.  Recognizing the cultural role and potential revenue the art world represents in terms of retail and licensing, Starlyss has created galleries of rustic, modern and natural fine art photography as well as limited edition original works.

It doesn't hurt that her agency ToriStar Media has the ability to create the perfect website to showcase her work.  "We will create an online gallery built around Starlyss that not only illustrates her work but also give customers the ability to preview what the art piece would look like in their home or business."

Fine Art Photography as seen through the eyes of artist Starlyss McSlade. Art investment pieces offered in large format gicleé prints for interior design, home decor and commercial use. Be sure to visit

Engage with StarMc Studios via its' social media outlets on

High-End Gourmet Pound Cake Phavor® Now Available in C-Stores

Gourmet Pound Cake Phavor® Packaging - Design by Starlyss McSlade

Gourmet Pound Cake Phavor® Packaging - Design by Starlyss McSlade

Certainly not your average snack cake, The Pound Cake Company spins their signature recipe into an addictive savory experience. ToriStar Media led the creative process of The Gourmet Pound Cake Phavor®'s product packaging, point of purchase displays, sales materials and branding efforts in preparation of their official launch. Available in select C-Store retailers as of 2/17/17.

"The Phavor®Debuts On C-Store Shelves!"

Click Below to learn more...


Follow Pound Cake Phavor® via its' social media outlets on

- Facebook: @PoundCakePhavor

- Instagram: @poundcakephavor 

- Twitter: @PoundCakePhavor

Celebrating a Year as Agency of Record

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  -  January 14, 2015 - Atlanta, GA

CONTACT:  Milton Stephens, The Pound Cake Company - 888.884.7560

ToriStar Media Selected as Agency of Record for The Pound Cake Company.

The Pound Cake Company has selected ToriStar Media, innovative independent brand-building shop, as the agency of record.

In its 10 year history, The Pound Cake Company has grown its family-owned and operated business from household start up to a artisan gourmet gift center. ToriStar Media will be responsible for branding strategy, creative, digital, social media and promotions that will launch in 2015. 

“We’ve made major improvements to our online experience and expanded our service offerings,” said Milton Stephens, founder and executive chef of The Pound Cake Company.  “We need a partner who can help us tell our brand story and build an emotional connection with our audience, while simultaneously drive sales. ToriStar Media is the best boutique branding and retail agency we have worked with and the best agency for the job.”

The Pound Cake Company creates hand-crafted pound cakes presented as gourmet gifts.  Our reputation is built on the highest standards of quality and customer service.  Starting with a variation of an old family recipe, we created the original "Mother's Butter" pound cake which has since gained notoriety as the best tasting pound cake!  Using innovative blending techniques and flavor combinations, "The Pound Cake King" now boasts over 80 flavors of this traditional Southern dessert.  Our products are available exclusively online and are all made fresh to order and national and international shipping options.  Our online store is designed to provide you with a safe and secure environment to browse our menu of gourmet gifts.  From special occasions and business gifts to fundraising, The Pound Cake Company provides a memorable experience.

Starlyss McSlade, partner at ToriStar Media, said, “The Pound Cake Company has done a phenomenal job evolving its business with a buying experience that is consistent with consumer expectations and attractive to online shoppers. That’s the kind of brand story that we get really excited to tell.”

ToriStar Media - Creative for Collaborative Product at Chateau Elan Winery

June 02, 2014  /  M.Toris Stephens

With the arrival of The Pound Cake Company's "Summer Cake" at the Chateau Élan Winery and Resort, savory parings will never be the same!  Chateau Élan selected The Pound Cake Company to create a unique dessert treat using the natural peach essence of their Summer Wine to serve as a perfect paring complement.  With agency of record, ToriStar Media leading the creative for packaging design and marketing, the collaborative effort is expected to be mutual beneficial for both brands.

The Power of Co-Branding:

There are some foods that just naturally go together - think of peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream, or rum and Coke, and that creates the idea of co-branding advertising!  While all of these foods are natural compliments to the other, very few of them are created by the same company.  That’s where the idea of co-branding products can help you make the most of your advertising dollar. Co-branding promotion is even more important than ever as companies vie for new customers and hope to increase sales and improve brand recognition.  When co-branded promotion is used to its fullest potential, this form of advertising can be even more effective than traditional advertising methods.

The key to making co-branded products successful is to partner with the right company that has a good reputation, strong brand recognition and also makes a logical pairing with your company. You should never attempt co-branding with a company that competes with yours.  Instead, work with a company whose products compliment yours.  Many companies who have used co-branding choose to create websites specifically dedicated to explaining how products can be used together. Other companies simply choose to launch campaigns that promote the products together.  Campaigns are often based around a particular season, to attract shoppers who are often looking for new food ideas for entertaining. For example, a three company team has launched a campaign aimed at summer entertaining that combines graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate which are marketed together for the purpose of making (S’mores) in the summertime. The options for food companies are endless.  Turkey and stuffing companies at Thanksgiving, florists and chocolate manufacturers at Valentine’s Day, and now we have a gourmet dessert brand that personifies decadence and a premier resort-winery that is known for pampering their guests.

Stay tuned to see how they entice new and old customers with their unique combination of products and services...

Why Social Media Matters in Hospitality

·       What can hoteliers do to get the most from social media?

·       What do we measure?

·       Can social media give me insights about my property?

Our research has shown us that consumers have been inundated with news and information about hotel destinations. Social Media can selectively connect with travelers and develop emotional connections with the hotel and hotel brand. Further, the strategic embracing of a social media plan can provide the hotelier with prompt feedback on the guests stay; facilitating improved hotel operations or used to amplify the positive experiences of the guest.

Online discussions are very influential.  81% check online comments before purchasing a product. 56.3% of users said that they “got to know brands” through online channels. 58.7% actually made purchase decisions based on user- generated online info. Even when not making a purchase, 89.9% of users still pay attention to online comments.


Identify audience, set objectives, success measures and your time frame.  Design and leverage a social media program that meets your intended objectives. Remember no one size fits all in social media. Execute and drive engagement through every touch point.  Amplify and stimulate sharing of the experiences (remember to use video, photos and personal commentary). Identify who you want to reach:  Business Travelers, Leisure Travelers, Travel Agents, Associations, Influencers and Competition.


Your program will be different depending on what you are trying to achieve. As a hotelier you may want any number of the following types of outcomes. 

  • Monitoring customer feedback
  • Increase property awareness and brand sentiment
  • Manage reputation and identify negative media
  • medium for suggestions on how to improve customer service from their feedback
  • Channel to monitor competitor activities

Depending on your social media plan you will have selected a number of channels to develop in order to reach your desired audience.  Make sure you also have a communication plan that includes the themes and topics for your program.  Develop fan pages: Promoting the Fan Pages Sharing and Liking are important indicators for a hotel to understand how customers feel about the property and it's Important for expressing intent about the hotel.


Don't ignore bad reviews - They are seen by hundreds, even thousands of people.  

Acknowledge the good - Respond to the positive reviews as well as the negative ones. This shows customers that you care enough to listen to what they are saying.

Be Honest - If something needs to be addressed, then admit it and address it.

Be Relevant - If someone complains about the quality of service for breakfast, don't talk about the new bedspreads.

Don't Blame Others - Take responsibility and say how you are working to fix it.  Always be courteous.  Welcome guests back to your hotel/brand.


No (successful) social media program is static and you should consider it a living program. Just as you would feed and water a plant you need to constantly feed and grow your social media program. Leverage your measurement platform and constantly evaluate what is working and what is not. This is about long term engagement. The choice to participate or not in social media is still being debated by many hotel groups but my message to you is don’t wait. This is not a passing fad and the longer you delay, the further behind your hotel competitors you fall.

What is the Best Time to Post Social Media?

The question we ask our self every day when managing Facebook pages for clients is how often should we send messages to our fans news feeds through Facebook pages? Should we post them weekly? Daily? Or even more then that?  

Obviously this is very different for two types of companies – brands and media companies. Brands should typically not post more frequently then once a day, only if its really exceptional news. Some brands maybe should only post every second day, or a couple times a week.

Media companies on the other hand have much more space. They can post different stories even several times a day and still their content will be very engaging.

Does Affiliation to a Hotel Brand Work?

Brands are becoming bigger by the day - be it in designer clothes, consumer products or any industry for that matter. The hotel and hospitality industry is no exception. Hotel brands such as Hilton and Holiday Inn are famous in their own right and known for their own niche visitors. Big hotel brands enjoy the loyalty of most of their patrons, which stand alone establishments seldom have the benefit of.

Small stand alone hotels that are yet to become brands unto themselves have started acknowledging the importance of getting attached with a big hotel chain to earn profits without having to give up the reins. From being responsible for all nitty-gritties of the business to chugging along with the extravagant marketing budgets of the hotel chains, becoming a franchisee is the best way to start on a journey to financial welfare. This is the best option when you want to retain the ownership, and not completely lose control of the operations, along with reaping intangible benefits of a central reservation system, marketing, and rigid operational procedures. Not to mention the strong backing of the parent brand that will make your hotel's presence felt in markets that matter, drive up occupancy rates and in turn skyrocket profits.

Though the world over, hotel markets do not show a trend of getting affiliated to a brand, with meager 30% affiliations, the hotel market in the United States shows an exactly opposite trend. A survey reveals that more than 70% of hotels in the United States are affiliated to chains. And other markets are surely catching up.  But, acquiring a hotel franchise is easier said than done. There is already a beeline for getting affiliated to big brands. This has resulted in the big hotel brands getting to pick and choose from an array of stand alone establishments that suit their needs and gel well enough with their existing image. Most of the times, the process of selecting a hotel to confer their franchise upon, is a complex one, involving a lot of number crunching and analysis. Costs versus benefits are thoroughly examined before any substantial move is made.  Hence, for hotels wanting to get affiliated, the following considerations might prove helpful.

Analyze the cost:  Reading between the lines to gauge the total cost of being affiliated is essential. The royalty fee might be just the tip of the iceberg. Additional charges include the annual fee for reservation system, joining fee, a liquidated damage fee in case of termination of affiliation before end of the term, and marketing program prices. Calculate all expenses incurred during the agreement tenure while comparing prices.

Be sure of the brand image:  Each brand has a niche of its own. One brand could be renowned as a business hotel while the other could be known to cater to leisure travelers. Their focus on entirely different traveler markets makes it important for you to check which one would find your present status more attractive for its own brand.  Getting acquainted with the franchisers either directly or indirectly is necessary, because it is they who can decide the fate of your hotel in the years to come. Find out more about their working style by directly interacting with them. Also try to speak to franchisees and find out if they are satisfied enough with the franchisers. Speaking to ex-franchisees, who for some reason might have terminated the affiliation, might also prove to be helpful. Analyze the franchiser's views on issues like giving franchise affiliations to other hotels in your market.

Define Market Segment:  Focus on the market that draws you visitors. Hotel chains that already have franchisees in your market can provide a better recognition. Moreover, the image of the existing franchisees might benefit you in a way that you will be spared the burden of establishing your image in these markets. Also consider the demography where the brand is more popular and steer clear of a brand that your market might be new to.  Usually, hotel franchises are valid for a period of 20 years. The franchisor will need to control the image of the chain during this tenure by regularly performing property inspections and terminating franchises that do not comply with standards. Also, if you are looking at a long term relationship with the brand, analyze if it will continue to grow or will start stagnating within a few years. Try to take a peek at marketing initiatives and brand enhancements. Is the brand technology savvy and ready to spend money on improved reservation system or internet connections in rooms? Knowing the position of the brand in the years to come will save you the trouble of terminating the affiliation before it expires.

All in all, making a thought out decision about getting attached to a hotel brand is crucial to your business, while a hasty choice could spell doomsday for the hotel.