With a career that has spanned more than 30 years — and includes exclusive collaborations with some of the top international retailers — CEO and founder of E. Marie Consultants Eula Smith is one of the most influential Black women in the fashion industry. At the age of 16, the California native landed her first job at J C Penney. After attending college for fashion, she began working for iconic retailer Nordstom. She then worked her way up from sales specialist to merchandise manager and buyer for the department store before becoming a store manager. The highly driven businesswoman went on to launch her own fashion consulting firm, in which she works in product development for brands including Nordstrom, Kohls, Walmart and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2019, Smith debuted her first product, the E. Marie Everything Travel Blanket. The soft, versatile comforter can be used as a scarf, blanket or shawl.

The highly passionate and service-oriented creator of E. Marie Travel has amassed several noteworthy accomplishments during her successful 2020. Smith’s multipurpose travel staple has been included on Oprah’s Favorite Things List for two consecutive years. “I wanted to make a blanket that was easy to carry, washable and multi-functional,” she tells Sheen. After spending the past 20 years traveling to countries including Italy, France, and Paris using cashmere covers, which required countless dry cleaner visits for their pricey maintenance, Smith identified a need for a more diverse, luxurious and comforting material that could be kept easily. She decided to create a high-quality fabric that could be used on a plane, at the beach or for everyday duties without high maintenance care. The Everything Travel Blanket continues to earn leading ratings and reviews from customers worldwide.

This holiday season, Smith opens up to Sheen about her fall and winter must-haves, family Christmas traditions and all things Everything Travel Blanket. Though she’s business-oriented, Smith prides herself in remaining a hilarious daughter, sister and friend. If you’re ever around her during the festive season, you’d better get ready to witness her fun-filled energy.

What are your favorite fall and winter wardrobe essentials? 

The E. Marie Travel Blanket is absolutely essential because you can wear it as a wrap, scarf, shawl or even use it as a pillow. 

photo by Gregor Helenda

What was your inspiration to create the E. Marie Travel Blanket?

I’ve pretty much traveled my whole career. Since my twenties, I’ve been on a plane at least twice a month. I’m always cold, so I never travel without a heavy jacket or something to wrap myself in. For the last 10 to 20 years, I’ve been traveling with these expensive cashmere travel wraps. But when I would get off the plane, I would have to dry clean them, which can get very expensive. 

I thought to myself, ‘I need to make something that is really easy to carry, washable and multi-functional.’ I wanted to be able to get off the plane and throw it on as a wrap to go out to dinner or wrap myself in during my flights, especially when it’s cold, that I could also take off and wear as a scarf. After I made it, I was like, ‘Oh, I love this.’ So, I started keeping it in my car for when I’d go to the Hollywood Bowl or to the beach. I live in Los Angeles, so it could be 85 degrees and as soon as the sun goes down, it could drop to 60 degrees and you feel cold.

So, I always had a wrap with me at the beach, Hollywood bowl or if I was at the mall shopping. I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m that girl that never wants to be cold.’ Because of that, I always have my wrap with me. I would put it in a little bag because I wanted a place that I could easily store it in. I didn’t want to worry about folding it or shoving it in my handbag. I wanted something I could just fold into its own bag that I could then throw in my larger tote. I always have a big tote or handbag with me, so I when I would put my blanket in my handbag, I thought, “This is great.” That’s how it came about — it was really out of necessity. I needed something for me! 

photo courtesy of Eula Smith

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

My family lives in northern California and I live in Los Angeles, so I spend every Christmas with my family and stay with them for about a week. We have a very traditional Christmas. We decorate the tree and prepare food together. Before I go back home, I attend an annual Christmas party with an amazing group of women and it’s lovely. We all get dressed up and we have the most amazing Christmas dinner, we sing Christmas carols, we dance, we play games and we exchange gifts. It’s the best! 

What do you give during the holiday season? 

I give love on Christmas day with lots of hugs and kisses from and with my family. I love being with them! We exchange gifts, of course, but I don’t really need anything, I just love being with my family. I love sharing great stories, eating, laughing and fighting over the TV. 

One thing that I do every year, this is my funny side. I watch, “It’s a Wonderful Year” annually. It’s my favorite movie of all time. My family could be in the middle of watching something or whatever and I’m like, ‘It’s time to change the channel right now.’ I can quote the words from all the actors, it’s the corniest thing! I never miss that movie when it airs. For me, it’s a staple film on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I spend the whole time watching it, like I have never seen it before, she tells Sheen with a laugh. It’s a story of hope, love and friendship. It’s my favorite.

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This feature was submitted by Jessica L. Dupree and edited by Darlene Aderoju

Featured Image by Robert Ector