On Sept. 7, three days after her sons started the new school year at Radnor Elementary, Heidi Diskin ended her life.
She was 44.
We share this with you because Heidi would want us to.
“One hundred percent, she would want her story told,” said her husband, J.D., in a phone interview. “My hope is that what happened to Heidi can be a teachable moment. As terrible as this situation is, it’s an even worse tragedy if it doesn’t help others.”
To family and close friends, Heidi’s suicide was a sucker punch – a heart-wrenching coda to 20 years of pain.
To those less close, it seemed, well, inexplicable.
Because Heidi had made mental health advocacy and suicide prevention her life’s work. She’d started a brain health foundation, she’d spoken to countless groups, she’d even hosted a cable TV show about mental health. How could Heidi Diskin – of all people – have succumbed herself?
When he spoke at her funeral, J.D. said his wife had battled depression and bipolar disorder since college. She was a survivor, he said, someone who kept herself alive to do good – for her family, for her children, Jackson, 9 and Dylan, 7, and for everyone suffering from emotional challenges or with loved ones suffering.
Heidi’s mental illness – although it ebbed and flowed – was an everyday battle, those close to her tell SAVVY.
According to her dear friend Ella Barr, Heidi – even during her happy stretches – was always bracing for the next fall off the cliff, when that insidious inner voice would tell her she was worthless and would never get better.
“The disease makes you think things that aren’t true,” says J.D. “It kills your self-confidence. Heidi would say things like, ‘I’m not good at this.’ I’d say, ‘No, you’re great at this.’ Her brain didn’t understand what was reality.”
When this last bout began in late July, her husband and friends were confident she’d pull through as she always did. “Let’s say in ten years, [depression] happened 10 times, this time would be ranked eighth as far as scariness,” J.D. says.
During past episodes, Heidi’s thoughts would be so jumbled, her internal wires so crossed, she’d have trouble speaking, even to him. But in August and early September, Heidi was communicating clearly, JD recalls. She was sleeping a bit more and withdrawing from friends but “she was still able to be there for the kids. I thought she was doing OK.”
In the weeks before Sept. 7, Ella says Heidi had stopped returning texts and calls. “We’ve all been saying we should have just shown up at her house – even if she didn’t want us to. We should have come.”
Hoping to cheer Heidi, another close friend, Alexis Braunfeld, brought her new puppy and her daughter to the Diskins two days before her death. Usually, the two pals would talk for hours while the kids played. But Heidi ended the visit early, assuring Alexis she was doing everything she could to get better – seeing her doctors, trying new meds.
Still, this bout was severe enough that Heidi planned to start an intensive two-week outpatient program the following Monday. During the intake interview, Heidi spoke clearly on the phone, J.D. says. When the interviewer asked if she was thinking about harming herself, she didn’t hesitate. “No,” she answered firmly. Two days later, she was gone.
Like many with mental illness, Heidi hid her disease for years.
Her first “really bad episode” came in college. Her depression was so severe she couldn’t get out of bed and couldn’t speak, J.D. says. Ashamed and isolated, Heidi blamed herself. “I don’t know if she was aware then that there was help for it,” J.D. says. “People with mental illness often don’t want to go down that dark path to find out what’s wrong.”
Years later, Heidi would write about how hard it was to deal with a disease that would go “into hibernation but still exist in your body.” Throughout her 20s, she suffered in silence – undiagnosed, confused, ashamed.
Shortly after she married J.D., 13 years after that college episode, Heidi attempted suicide and was hospitalized. Only then was she fully diagnosed and treated. “That was the first time I really found out about any of this,” J.D. says.
It was motherhood, more than anything, that pushed Heidi out of the shadows and into activism, her husband says. Heidi desperately wanted her kids to grow up in a world without stigma, one that saw mental illness for what it was: a brain disease.
Also crystallizing her commitment: the 2013 suicide of Shipley School eighth-grader Cayman Naib. “It really affected her,” Ella says.
Heidi closed her landscape design business and threw herself into mental health advocacy.
She became a SafeTalk Suicide Prevention Trainer and was certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. She volunteered tirelessly for community nonprofits Minding Your Mind and DMAX Foundation. As a DMAX board member, she raised money, planned events and spoke on college campuses about the need to start DMAX clubs, safe spaces where young people could talk openly about their mental health struggles. If only she’d had a DMAX club as a Temple undergraduate, she’d tell student groups.
Convinced she could help her community, she ran for Radnor Commissioner last fall, losing to incumbent Richard Booker by three votes. Her husband and friends agree that the failed run didn’t drag Heidi down. “She had zero experience and wasn’t able to do much campaigning but she almost won,” says J.D. “She felt really good about that.”
In the last year or so, Heidi plugged away even harder – and more publicly. She launched her own mental-health advocacy nonprofit, the Silent No Longer Foundation. She hosted “Brain Health with Heidi Diskin,” a cable TV show on Radnor Studio 21. She sharpened her speaking skills and started sharing her struggles with audiences large and small, convinced that being a “lived experience” speaker was the best way to help others. This past July, she flew to Paris to speak at the 2018 Euro Mental Health conference.
Some friends worried that Heidi’s passion for helping others was perhaps too all-consuming. “She cared so much about others – maybe too much,” says Ella. “She was always fixing other people’s problems instead of focusing on herself.”
Alexis agrees that Heidi felt everyone’s pain deeply and relentlessly. She simply couldn’t block it out. “She went above and beyond for anyone,” Alexis says.
During a visit to Chicago, Heidi stopped to talk to a homeless mother and her family. She ended up buying them clothes and a cellphone and arranging shelter. In New York, she started advising a suicide awareness program at Columbia. If a student was struggling, she’d drop everything and rush to Manhattan to help. She took her kids to feed the homeless; she kept a jar for the family to collect loose change for the poor.
Ever thoughtful, it was Heidi who kept her close circle together. Just an hour before her death, she called a friend to wish her a happy birthday.
Like Ella and Alexis, J.D. remembers Heidi as remarkably caring. He thought going public would help her. “Speaking about her mental illness gave her a why,” J.D. says. “She knew that by waking up every day she was able to help other people who were struggling like her.”
“She was a very passionate person,” Alexis adds. “She wanted her message out to the world. Nothing would stop her.”
On that last day, in her final hour, her disease simply swallowed her. “The pain was too much,” J.D. says.
Like many who die by suicide, Heidi’s brain was so tangled that she believed she was a burden, that her family would be better off without her. “Obviously, she wasn’t a burden,” says J.D. “That was the disease talking … It feeds you false thoughts.”
J.D.’s message to those with mental illness: “Know that you’re not alone, that you’re not a bad person or a weak person because you have a brain disease. It’s OK that you need to take medicine or have a therapy appointment. Your illness is not your fault. You don’t have to mask who you are.”
And to those whose loved ones are suffering: “Understand that no one chooses mental illness. Pep talks and buck-it-up speeches don’t work. It’s not just ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps.’ It’s a disease just as cancer is a disease. It needs to be treated; it needs to be spoken about.”
Like Patrick Kennedy, J.D. Diskin wants routine doctor visits to include “a check-up from the neck up.” He also wishes therapists could make at least one house call so they might “see what’s really happening.” Severely ill patients have a hard time dragging themselves to therapy and, once they get there, tend to report they’re doing better than they actually are – in part to avoid more therapy, he says. Even one home visit would have “a huge impact,” he says.
“We all have to realize just how painful brain illnesses can be,” says Laurie Burstein-Maxwell, the Radnor mom who founded DMAX Foundation after losing her 18-year-old to suicide in 2013. A popular scholar-athlete, Dan Maxwell had tried “every way possible” to beat depression, she says. At the end, he’d “completely lost hope to rid himself of the excruciating pain … Heidi, must have been suffering in a way that most of us cannot understand.”
Laurie hopes the suicides of Dan and Heidi put us all on notice: “We have to make health care include mental health care. We have to have more research. We have to fight for it. We have to have more understanding, more conversations. We have to let people know they are not alone; that it’s not their fault. We have to be there for them. This is a terrible epidemic and we all need to help make a difference.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in the U.S. aged 15 – 24. One in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Local youth mental health nonprofits include DMAX Foundation, Minding Your Mind and SpeakUp! All welcome new volunteers, participants and financial support.
Digital billboard battle brewing in Paoli
Folks are fuming over a proposal to put a gigantic digital billboard at the corner of Lancaster Ave. and Rt. 252, calling it a “TV in the sky” and worse.
Seems Catalyst Outdoor Advertising wants to knock down the longtime mom-and-pop clock shop near the corner and build a 20-ft. high “monument” billboard in its place. Cue the dazzling bright lights and flashing ads – at one of Tredyffrin’s busiest intersections.
Opponents say the billboard would be too in-your-face and out of character for a 300-year-old township. Worse yet, it would pose a dangerous distraction to drivers at an already dicey intersection, they claim.
For the record, we’re inclined to agree.
Tredyffrin would reap no rewards from the billboard – no tax revenue, no fees – but Catalyst says it would let the township flash free community notices. (Bone, thrown.)
Also worth noting: The plan demolishes the 100-year-old Clockworks building. Be it ever so humble, the home was designed by noted architect R. B. Okie and was listed a Tredyffrin “historic resource” survey in 2003.
Rallying opposition to the plan is Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust President Pattye Benson. Make no mistake: Benson means business. It was she, along with Chesco blogger/activist Carla Zambelli, who led the campaign to keep the old Covered Wagon Inn standing in Strafford a few years back.
According to Benson, Catalyst has threatened to sue the township, claiming its outdoor advertising ordinances are “illegally restrictive” – a tactic billboard companies have tried before, with mixed success. (Just check Mr. Google.)
Township officials have yet to vote on the proposal so if you oppose it, the time to act is now. Sign the online petition, follow the campaign’s new Facebook page and contact supervisors.
“This really isn’t just a Tredyffrin issue – it’s going to affect many people,” Benson tells SAVVY. According to Catalyst, 41,000 cars a day pass through the intersection – coveted eyeballs for advertisers but rather alarming numbers for public safety. “The potential for driver distractions and accidents is overwhelming. It’s just wrong!” Benson says.
New Kindred Collective re-imagines old Bryn Mawr Hardware
Missing the cozy old Anthropologie in Wayne, recently supersized at Devon Yard?
Check out its close, locally-owned cousin, Kindred Collective.
Kindred is 3,600 square feet of West Coast cool, a multi-faceted emporium where you can grab a baby gift, a biker jacket, an accent pillow or any number of earthly delights. One trip, multiple items ticked off your shopping list.
The place is a rustic-modern knockout, an eye-popping recast of the drab hardware store. Tangles of branches snake across ceilings. Swaths of succulents, salvaged brickwork and “millennial pink” paint warm the walls. Old skylights have been uncovered; original wood floors have been whitewashed. An antique hobby horse greets guests in the foyer – a subtle salute to the plaster horse that stood sentry outside the store for nearly a century. The overall effect: ethereal, organic and utterly charming.
Thoughtful, too. A kiddie play area lets mom shop in peace.
Brands are free-spirited, fresh, and mostly new to the Main Line. While home décor and gifts have all-ages appeal, clothing is curated for young moms and millennials, the gals who go gaga for blogger brands like Show me Your Mumu, For Love & Lemons and Wildfox. (Their parents will recognize lines like Free People and 7 for All Mankind.)
Fittingly, Kindred’s owners are the closest of kin: mom-daughter duo Robin Halpern and Jordan Pincus. Halpern, who’s also a local realtor, handles home décor and gifts; Pincus picks the fashions and will run day-to-day operations.
Halpern believes Bryn Mawr was ripe for an eclectic emporium like Kindred. “A lot of people find the mall overwhelming. I’ve lived here my entire life and I knew a store like this was missing,” she says.
Pincus, 25, is a bona fide fashionista. The Shipley ’11 grad studied fashion journalism at Lehigh, wrote copy for Ralph Lauren, launched a successful fashion blog (Draped in Denim), and most recently, managed the now-closed Menagerie boutique in Haverford Square. Fun fact: her grandfather was Philly menswear manufacturer and noted art collector David Pincus.
What’s in store: Workout wear and lingerie $50 – $200; sportswear $25 – $250; baby gifts $35 – $150; home décor from $50; hostess gifts $15 – $60; handbags $80 – $350.
Kindred Collective, 836 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, 484-222-6483, is open Mon. – Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
T minus 5 days ’til Tarjay
Nirvana is near: Target opens in Devon Square on Tuesday.
Three fun-loving Wayne moms are so psyched, they’re throwing a tailgate in the parking lot, complete with Targetini mocktails and bull’s-eye-themed snacks. Nearly 200 folks have already RSVP’d yes on Facebook.
Target’s on board, too. The manager of the Devon store has offered tables for the tailgate and hired Bach 2 Rock bands to pump up parking-lot crowds.
“We all hated the K-Mart,” says Kelly Sakowski, who’s organizing the tailgate with pals Jenn Stoudt and Jodi Warren. “The minute we heard Target was coming, the text messages began swirling.”
Goes without saying that Sakowski is smitten with the store. “You go in for shampoo and you come out with all these fabulous things that you didn’t realize you need.” Sounds about right.
The tailgate begins at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16. But you’ll have to cool your jets for a while. Doors won’t open until the ribbon is officially cut at 5.
Say yes to the flower wall
At weddings, showers, bat mitzvahs and galas, blooming backdrops are suddenly everywhere. In our Insta age, guests can’t get enough of them.
Locally, no one has taken the flower-wall bloom and run with it like Nicol Segel, who just opened her first showroom in Paoli.
Nicol Floral Design is a multi-purpose space: clients can visit by appointment, photographers can rent it for shoots, small businesses can host pop-ups, and party planners can rent it for intimate events.
It’s hard to believe Segel created her first 8’ X 8’ expanse just three years ago. She spied her first at an LA wedding seven years prior and never forgot it. Her second wall made the cover of Philadelphia Brides; Segel’s been crafting new walls and carting them to parties ever since.
She’s up to 24 walls and counting, each meticulously handcrafted using couture silks sourced in California. “I do a lot of research,” Segel says. “I’m very picky about quality; my florals look real. (Michael’s silk flowers they’re not.)
Walls can be customized to match wedding colors or party theme. Figure on $350 to rent a 6 ft. X 4 ft. wall, delivery included; $1500 for a trickier-to-transport 8 ft. X 8 ft. wall, delivery and setup included.
Nicol Floral Design, 1544 Lancaster Ave., Paoli (near Aneu), creates and rents flower walls, bouquets and arrangements. October popups include Madalynne Intimates Oct. 17, Deck Their Dorm Oct. 24, and False Lashes for Halloween with makeup artist Beke Beau Oct. 31.
The Blue Octagon expands east
Malvern décor store Blue Octagon has a new baby sister: Blue Octagon Too in the Wayne Towne Center near White Dog.
Bright-and-chipper, Blue Too carries distinctive home accents like pillows, vases and lighting. But the real focus here is on preppy-chic, girly gifts: for engagements, housewarmings, hostesses and birthdays.
Among the artfully arranged treasures: $78 rhinestone-studded frames, $78 needlepoint pillows, $98 Italian throws, assorted bags and baubles, candles and an Octagon-only line of hand-blown glassware. Feeling naughty? Check out the, ahem, tastefully profane greeting cards along the back wall.
Owner is Krissa DeGennaro Wichser, whose interior design services were so in demand that she doubled the size of Blue Octagon in Malvern soon after she opened. She’d envisioned a home accessories store on King Street but says her customers had other ideas. “They’d come and tell me: ‘I want my home to feel like your store.”
The Blue Octagon Too, Wayne Town Center, 200 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, is open weekdays, 10 to 6, Saturdays, 10 to 5. Blue Octagon/ Krissa Wichser Designs, 335 E. King St., Malvern, is open Mon. to Sat., 10 to 5.
Suspect confesses to strangling model in Ardmore, details brutal fight over drug deal
Disturbing new details about the final hours of Ardmore model Christina Carlin-Kraft.
According to accused killer Jonathan Wesley Harris’ confession, which was read aloud at his preliminary hearing last week, he met up with the model in Center City around 1 a.m. on Aug. 22, then took a ride-share back to her Ardmore condo to sell her cocaine. (There’s no sign the two knew each other prior to that night, police say.) The two drank three bottles of wine, did some cocaine and had consensual sex, Harris’ statement said.
But when Harris asked to be paid $1,200 for the cocaine, Carlin-Kraft refused. The two started fighting, with Carlin-Kraft hitting Harris with a glass bottle and Harris slapping her. When she tried to run, he threw her back on the bed. Panicked that neighbors would hear her screams, he tied her hands and punched her repeatedly in the face, threatening to burn down her condo building if she didn’t quiet down. She relented and begged for her cell phone to call her father. Harris gave it to her but when he saw Carlin-Kraft dialing 911 instead, he started choking her. When she stopped screaming, he searched the condo, found the cocaine she’d hidden and fled. He left thinking she was still alive, according to the statement.
Harris, 30, is charged with first-, second-, and third-degree murder, robbery, receiving stolen property and related crimes. He’s in Montgomery County prison awaiting his next court appearance Nov. 28.
North Italia brings scratch-made pasta to KOP
That sound you hear on the far side of the mall? Maggiano’s crying in its Chianti.
Because North Italia just opened a big, bright restaurant between Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. And it’s everything its neighbor is not: bright, airy and up-to-date. With portion sizes that won’t kill you.
North Italia’s claim to fame is pasta and pizza made from dough that’s scratch-made daily.
Rounding out the menu: small plates, seasonal salads and mains. Yup, there are meatballs. And calamari. And kale salad. And branzino. Nothing overly adventurous but all rather solid.
We tried the place twice, and so far, they’re two for two. Among our faves: the Sicilian Margarita cocktail, a nice change from its sometimes too-sweet Mexican cousin ($12), the White Truffle Garlic Bread ($12), the savory/sweet Seasonal Vegetable Salad ($12), the spicy Squid Ink Mafaldine pasta with shrimp and calamari ($20), the grilled branzino ($28).
Like most mall joints, it’s gigantic: 280 seats inside, another 40 on the patio.
And like Mistral across the way, you can only enter from the parking lot. Smart move: it makes the place seem less, well, mallish.
King of Prussia is North Italia’s first PA location and its 14th overall. The chain’s owned by the Sam Fox group, the “restaurant incubators” that brought True Food to the other side of the mall. (True Food has since been sold to P.F. Chang’s; Oprah has become an equity investor and now sits on True Food’s board.)
North Italia, 350 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia, 484-751-9000, serves weekday lunch from 11, dinner from 4, weekend brunch from 10 and happy hour, Mon. to Thurs. 3 to 6.
Calling all frugal fashionistas to CCC sale in Wayne
The lights are on at the old Anthropologie building in Wayne, if only for the next month.
Community Clothes Charity (CCC) – aka Anne Hamilton and her merry band – have set up camp, readying the place for its big fall sale.
Each year, scores of well-heeled Main Liners donate their designer castoffs to CCC’s three-day shopping extravaganza. Local boutiques/designers also kick in unsold merch so there’s new stuff, too.
The CCC sale is a win-win: shoppers score Hermés, Chanel and St. John for a song and proceeds go to charity. This year’s beneficiaries: Orion Communities in Phoenixville and The Barn at Spring Brook Farm in West Chester.
In 60 years, CCC has donated $4.5 million to assorted Philly-area nonprofits. Nice work, ladies.
Community Clothes Charity’s annual sale will be held at the old Anthropologie, 201 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, Sunday, Nov. 4, 1 to 6 ($30 admission); Monday, Nov. 5, 10 to 6 ($5 admission); and Tuesday, Nov. 6, 10 to 6 (free). Racks are replenished daily. Call 610-525-0120.
Etcetera’s Brigid Stasen styles the Main Line
For a few lucky ladies, shopping is a snap. They follow the trends, they know what works for them and where to find it.
But for the rest of us, fashion can be frustrating. Mistakes clutter our closets. We wander the overstuffed mall, talking to ourselves. Are these pants a passing fad or worth investing in? Will this dress make me look like I’m trying too hard? Or like I’ve given up? Which colors and cuts look good on me? Am I buying this because I want it or because it’s on sale?
What we really need is our own fashion genie, a gal with great taste who can make shopping fun, efficient and mistake-proof. Someone who will take the time to get to know our personal style and our lifestyle. Someone who can combine what’s already in our closets with fresh, functional updates. Someone, in short, like Etcetera stylist Brigid Stasen.
Make an appointment to shop with Stasen and you’ll never have to wade through racks of questionable clothes again.
Four times a year, she shows Etcetera’s seasonal collection at her West Chester home. Buy an Etcetera piece and you get style with staying power – for every day, the office, date night or evening. Cuts are current and flattering; fabrics are high-quality and suited for travel. Pieces are versatile and colors carry through multiple seasons.
And styles appeal to all ages: Stasen’s youngest client is 32; her oldest is 70. Pricing is in the Ted Baker/Rebecca Taylor/Alice + Olivia range – what used to be called the “bridge” category.
“The collection is classic with an edge but not so trendy that pieces go out of style,” Stasen explains. And because Etcetera is “virtually timeless,” Stasen says she can “build a beautiful and functional wardrobe for clients over time.”
It’s personalized, painless, one-on-one shopping. She pours coffee in the morning and wine after five. She’s trained to pin, mark and adjust garments for alteration. Can’t make it to her 10-day home show? Stasen offers virtual shopping. She also pays house (and office) calls. Show her your closet and she’ll show you how to get extra mileage out of it.
A loyal Etcetera customer herself for the last five years, Stasen brings decades of fashion cred to her new venture. In the 80s, she was national retail sales manager for The Eagles’s Eye and J.G. Hook. She was a Doncaster stylist for seven years in the 90s. She’s also worked in the designer department at Nordstrom and was opening general manager at Piazza Sempione in the KOP mall.
“Many of my customers have an idea of how they want to look but don’t know how to accomplish it,” Stasen says. “I just love helping women feel beautiful and special.”
Brigid Stasen will show Etcetera’s Fall/Winter Collection Oct. 27 – Nov. 6 by private appointment. Email [email protected] , call 610-999-2793 or visit her website (Brigidmcgrathstasen.etcetera.com).
Sweet arrival in Ardmore
Parlour is up and scooping in downtown Ardmore.
On the blackboard menu: the usual cones, shakes, floats and sundaes plus allergy-friendly Mompops out of Kennett Square and iSwitch gourmet ice-cream sandwiches from West Chester. And $1 mini-cones for when you crave a little sumpin’ sumpin.’
Parlour’s 24 rotating flavors come from small-batch maker Nelson’s – the same Royersford company that supplies ice cream to Malvern’s popular Scoops ‘N Smiles.
Owners are two locals who love, love, love ice cream: Bryn Mawr tax accountant KC Giese and recent Vanguard retiree Walter Lenhard of Villanova. “The Bryn Mawr-to-Ardmore area didn’t have a high-quality ice cream shop so we decided to open one,” Lenhard tells SAVVY.
Parlour, 18 W. Lancaster Ave., 610-649-5100, is open Sun. – Thurs. 1 to 9, Fri. and Sat., 1 to 10. Shorter hours planned December through Februrary.
Hoopla over Nova’s new hoops pavilion
Nova Nation finally has a basketball arena worthy of its winning ways.
The new Finneran Pavilion just debuted before raucous throngs at Hoops Mania, the university’s traditional preseason pep rally. Adding fuel to Friday night’s frenzy: the raising of 2018 national championship banner.
Demo’d down to its 32-year-old studs, the reincarnated Pavilion now boasts a 360-degree concourse for concessions, state-of-the-art video and audio, an interactive Hall of Fame in the foyer, and a spiffy outdoor plaza for pre- and post-game fun. Price tag: a cool $65 mill. But the whole tab was footed by donors – 20 of whom kicked in $1 million or more.
Too bad seats will stay scarce. The arena still holds just 6,500.
Austin Hepburn installs the Main Line’s windows and doors
The welcome mat, mums and brass knocker are nice, but if you really want to dress up your front door, don’t forget the door itself. Is it cracked, dented or drafty? Hard to open or close? See daylight under it? Or maybe it’s an outmoded “builder’s special” that doesn’t match your home’s million-dollar asking price.
Time for an upgrade. Like roofs, doors don’t last forever.
If you’re ready for a replacement, do your home a favor and call Austin Hepburn. Not just because this longtime Radnor resident is one heck of a nice guy, but because he’s a consummate craftsman. Truth be told, Hepburn’s a bit of a door geek, tackling each project with an artist’s eye and a carpenter’s precision. He knows the pros and cons of different fabrications and woods, the nitty gritty about installing for maximum energy efficiency, and the styles that will complement your home’s style and fit your budget.
“Doors are trending right now,” Hepburn says. “People see them as a way to make a great first impression. Sometimes customers know what they want but can’t articulate it. I help them realize their vision.”
From high-quality, factory-finished Pella fiberglass to handsome hardwoods, there are more choices in doors than ever before. Cold and drafty, steel doors are out; fiberglass is in, Hepburn says.
Far from flat slabs, Pella’s fiberglass doors have wood graining and can be stained or painted; they look and perform like the real wood.
At the other end of the price spectrum: made-to-order doors in mahogany, black walnut, oak or other species. They’re crafted in a cabinet shop, then stained or painted on site.
What’s hot in wood? Sapele mahogany, Hepburn says. It’s sustainable, elegant and relatively affordable, compared to other mahoganies. Also poised to surge in popularity: white oak. “It’s spectacular,” he says.
But choosing your door’s just half the job; you need the right installer. “Not every handyman and roofer can install a door properly,” according to Hepburn. “A properly installed door closes smoothly and securely.” Single-entry Pella fiberglass doors start at $2,700 installed, Hepburn says. Plan to pay $5,500 for doors with side lights; custom wood doors can run up to $10K installed.
But Hepburn isn’t just about doors.
He’s also become the area’s go-to guy for quality replacement windows, particularly for homeowners with stucco problems. (Which is pretty much everyone with a stucco-clad home built in the last 25 years.) For years, residents of upscale developments like Treyburn, Turnbridge, Summerhill and Denbigh have been hiring Hepburn to replace their rotting windows with quality Pella products, installed with his signature “drain to daylight” technology.
Although he’s been at it for more than 25 years, home contracting is a second career for Hepburn. A Haverford School ’75 alum, he started his professional life as a stockbroker. “But it was just numbers,” Hepburn says. Affable and artistic, he wanted to work with his hands.
At first, Hepburn thought he’d build homes, signing on with Pohlig builders to learn the trade and framing high-end homes in Sunwood Farm and Leopard Farms. When the housing slump hit in the early 90s, Hepburn started replacing windows and doors, eventually launching his own company. He’s never looked back.
For 20 years, he’s been Pella’s biggest contractor on the Main Line. “I’m their Number One guy,” he says. Nationwide, just one percent of contractors are Pella Platinum-certified and Hepburn’s proud to be one of them. Main Line Media News readers have voted him “best door installer on the Main Line” for 10 straight years.
Hire him to upgrade your doors and windows, and “your whole house gets a makeover,” he says. After all, you only get one chance to make that first impression.
Call Austin Hepburn Installs Windows and Doors at 610-585-7583 or email [email protected].
A SAVVY honor
You’ve probably caught on to SAVVY’s semi-obsession with the mental health struggles of young people. We repeatedly shared personal stories – both heartbreaking and hopeful – about teen depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction, recovery, bullying and gender dysphoria.
We tell these stories because they matter. Because too many young people – and their parents – are suffering in silence. Knowing that others are battling the same demons makes the road less lonely, the burden a bit lighter.
That’s why Team SAVVY couldn’t be more tickled – and truly humbled – to accept the 2018 Media Advocate Award from Minding Your Mind at next month’s “Blue Gene Gala.”
Hope you’ll throw on a pair of jeans – blue or otherwise – and join us in support of this awesome nonprofit. The fun starts at 4 on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Temple Beth Hillel in Wynnewood. Click here for more info and tickets. (The Eagles will have already played in London that morning so you’re free that afternoon, right?)
This and that
That was quick. A year after it opened in Paoli Village Shoppes next to Nudy’s, Skinny Pizza has packed it in.
A sign on the door says “closed for renovations.” The shopping center’s manager has declined comment. Uh oh.
Main Line Antiques Show is taking the year off, unable to find a viable venue. Instead, the show’s 12-year beneficiary, Surrey Services, is planning a fall luncheon and fashion show, presented by Louella boutique and emceed by yours truly. Surrey sure picked a smashing spot for the festivities: the new Terrain Gardens at Devon Yard.
Besides the snazzy show, your $75 ticket includes seasonal soup to nuts: a garden cocktail or wine, hors d’oeuvres, a sampling of Terrain’s soups, salads and desserts. There’s even a gourmet hot cocoa bar. Best of all: you’ll be supporting Surrey’s superb services for area seniors. Surrey’s First Annual Fall Fashion Show will be held Wed. Nov. 7 at Terrain Gardens, Devon. Tickets are selling fast so don’t dawdle. Click here to order yours.
Women’s clothier Eaves is ringing in its 7th year on Wayne’s Aberdeen Ave. with a new name: Eaves Townhouse. Same edgy labels plus an expanded array of made-to-order items and custom collaborations.
Love those locally-distilled Revivalist gins? You’re not alone. The brand’s “Equinox” – one of five “expressions” – just took Double Gold Best Gin honors at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. So, cheers to Brandywine Branch Distillers and its Main Line owners Don and Scott Avellino.
Bestselling Narberth author Madeline Miller is going Hollywood. Her #1 New York Times bestseller, Circe, was just optioned for a TV series. She announced the deal on Instagram last week after meeting with “brilliant writers” out in LA. An alum of Shipley (Class of ’95) and Brown, Miller taught Latin and Greek before becoming a novelist. Circe is her second book.
Homeowners beware: dreaded spotted lanternflies are here. The season’s first egg mass was found in Bryn Mawr in mid-September and, just last week, Team SAVVY’s Courtney Mullen spotted one on the running track at Conestoga. They may be gorgeous but they’ll suck the life out of your fruit and hardwood trees.
PA Dept. of Agriculture has quarantined Delco and Chesco to slow the spread of these winged invaders. If you find an egg mass on your property, scrape it off and put it in a plastic bag with rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer, officials advise. Here’s what the egg clusters look like on tree bark:
Radnor’s Fourth of July fireworks have fizzled, ending a 34-year township tradition. Citing three straight years of losses and staffing burnout, the board of the nonprofit Radnor High School Scholarship Fund voted to end the annual fundraiser. Instead of pyrotechnics, the Fund will rely on its kitchen tour, Breakfast with Santa, special events and mail campaigns going forward.
Sweet tooths are sure getting sated in Ardmore. Witness the advent of Delice et Chocolat, Parlour ice cream (see our story above), and the area’s second Kilwins, a chocolatier/creamerie opening soon next to the Starbucks and just a few doors down from Sweet Stuff. One bite that’s bittersweet: Viking Pastries on Cricket Ave. has closed after a 60-year run.
Malvern Prep is getting a splashy new $10.6 million building for integrated S.T.E.A.M studies. The 58,000 sq. ft. Center for Social Impact will include gathering spaces, conferences, classrooms with writable and moveable walls. Near the student drop-off area, the Center will also serve as a welcome to the campus.
Power to the press. After claiming their vote had been suppressed, Haverford College coeds will have an easier time getting to the polls next month. Students, many of whom don’t have cars, have been griping about their polling place for years, claiming Coopertown Elementary was just too hard to get to. After a big story in the Inky, the Delco Board of Elections voted unanimously to move the polls to Haverford’s campus.
Swell news for Jersey shore cinephiles. The guys who transformed the old Stone Harbor theater into Harbor Square are working their magic at the old Ventnor Twin. Partners Brett Denafo, Clint Bunting, and Scot Kauffman paid $400K for the nearly century-old movie palace, dark, dank and decaying since 2003. They’ve gutted the place and are redeveloping it into Ventnor Square Theater. Among its amenities: a near-IMAX-sized screen with stadium-style seats for 290, two smaller screening rooms, a downstairs bar, and a restaurant with a New Orleans-style balcony on the second floor over the marquee. Target opening date: late spring 2019.
Food historian, gardener, prolific author and Devon resident William Woys Weaver will talk about heirloom seeds, regional cooking and the new Devon-based nonprofit, The Roughwood Table, at Tredyffrin Library on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m.
A second Renaissance man, author Bill Claypool, will be signing books at Main Point Books in Wayne on Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 – 6 p.m.
Stop by for some wine and cheese and to meet the multi-faceted man behind taut thrillers Windfall Nights, The Cocaspore Project, The House Beneath Damen Off-Ramp and The Rice Thieves. Each hat Claypool’s worn has informed his writing: football player, night bellman, Univ. of Notre Dame student, naval medical officer, physician, biotech entrepreneur, professor, pharmaceutical executive. “I like telling interesting stories to smart readers,” says Claypool, who’s hard at work on two new manuscripts.
And finally, a grateful shoutout to our September and October advertisers – we couldn’t keep the Main Line up to speed without you! Please show some love to: Etcetera fashion stylist Brigid Stasen, White Horse Fabric & Design in Berwyn, Austin Hepburn Installs Windows & Doors, Village Wellness in Berwyn, Zsuzsanna Day Spa in Wayne, Restore Cryosauna in Haverford and Wayne, Your Organizing Consultants, Vaughan Home Builders, Mulholland-Peracchia Team at BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors in Devon, Hope Chest lingerie in Haverford, The Sporting Club Main Line in Bryn Mawr; Campli Photography of Malvern (check out their fall portrait special!); Woodlynde School in Strafford, Hunter Reed Fine Homes and Estates, Realtor Sue McNamara, Village Square Townhomes and KingsHaven in Paoli, Movement Rx Studio in Wynnewood, Mojo Fitness in Wayne and Paoli/Berwyn and The Saturday Club of Wayne. Want to get your business in front of SAVVY readers? Contact Kathy Stevens at [email protected].
Amanda Mlinar says
Thank you SO much for your story on suicide. My best friend of 30 years took her life 18 months ago, and she too specialized in helping suicidal individuals as a career. For her it was a mix of postpartum depression and stress of an upcoming move out of New York City that she couldn’t get past. I miss her every day and I think of her husband and children all the time. Even as one of her closest friends I didn’t realize things were dire until it was too late. Thank you for the coverage and encouraging people to ask for help.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I am so sorry you lost your friend. There is still so much silence, so much shame – and it keeps people from getting the help they need and deserve.
Keet Leibowitz says
Thank you so much for sharing the story of the late Heidi Diskin.
Lucy long says
Another great Savvy newsletter! Thanks!
Anyway you can find out what’s going on across the street from Church ofvthe Saviour on N. Wayne Ave. in Wayne? The property is clearly languishing! Thanks!
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks, Lucy. Will gladly look into N. Wayne Ave.
SAVVY is interesting, diverse and well written. Thank you!
Caroline O'Halloran says
So kind of you to say, Susanna! So glad you find us a worthy read…
Jan Paytas says
Awesome awakening to the horrors of mental disease…. Thank you for the wonderful explanations and caring vibes…
and do we mean S T E M for Malvern or really S T E A M ??S science/t technology/e engineering/m mathmathics a ???
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks for your comment, Jan. And yes it’s STEAM – the A is for Arts!
Liz Tankel says
Hi Caroline, Thanks for another great Savvy edition. Where would we be without you??? We would certainly be less informed. Peace, Liz Tankel
I recall that you mentioned the new Bundt cake bakery in Ardmore. Are you aware that one opened in Gateway as well? I’m sure they’d love the publicity!
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks, Jill. We plan to give the Gateway store a shoutout in the next SAVVY. (We did mention it in our Gateway roundup several weeks ago.)
Thank you for another wonderful edition! I always look forward to a new issue from you and the team!
I heard that a First Watch cafe will be coming to the old Outback Steakhouse in Gateway. Any info on this?
Caroline O'Halloran says
Yes. Info heading your way in the next SAVVY! (And thanks for beimg a SAVVY reader!)
Terry Martino says
Thank you for sharing Heidi Diskin’s story and heartbreaking struggles. I too have lost a dear high school friend to suicide resulting from Bi-polar disorder. He was 55 years old. This was 6 years ago and I still think of him and his wife and child. I too believe that we must have health care include mental health, we do need more research, more conversations and realize that mental illness is not a choice but a real disease just like diabetes or cancer.
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks for your comment, Terry. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. Tragically, suicide rates are rising – I believe mental illness has become the silent epidemic of our time. As a society, we need to do a MUCH better job talking about it, understanding it and treating it.
Debbie Kelly says
Thank you SAVVY, for another great newsletter and telling the story about our area, I appreciate all the local news of happenings and in this month, letting us know that a humongous digital billboard will be erected in one of the busiest intersections in our township, and the township board of supervisors was being bullied into approving it. This company has done this in other townships and has been sued on numerous occasions, for such tactics. Is there anything that can be done to stop them?
Caroline O'Halloran says
Thanks, Debbie. Yes, plenty of things you can do: Sign the online petition, contact township supervisors(see our story for links to do both), Like the Facebook page (“Ban Digital Billboard in Paoli PA”), contribute to GoFundMe campaign to pay for lawn signs. Here’s the URL to contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/BAN-Digital-Sign-in-Paoli.
Ronald Donatucci says
I read the sad article on Heidi.I am glad that her husband JD and her friends are talking about this horrible disease.I lost my son Michael two years ago to depression.Like Heidi he had everthing to live for.He was 30 years old and just started his new job as the Chief Investment Officer for the City of Phila.He was a Penn graduate and a CFA .He was to be married in two months of his tragedy.Michael suffered anxieties in High School.Our family in conjunction with Temple Medicine formed a non profit to address depression:anxieties:bullying and addiction.Our Doctors and staff go to high schools to talk about awareness to Teachers:Students and Parents.Drexel and Jefferson are now working with Temple in our presentations.We must fight this disease early. Our Foundation is MichaelsGivingHand.org Ron Donatucci