Mollie Brown’s Travel-Inspired Entertaining Style

By Jenn Rose Smith
Mollie Brown of Due East

Just one look at her gorgeous instagram feed reveals Mollie Brown’s talent for scouting and buying textiles. She and her husband Graham Brown (a TV content producer) share a love for travel, and for bringing home the absolute best artifacts and souvenirs from far away places. After spending time with good friends who live there, the couple fell particularly in love with the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. As their trips between Texas and Morocco became more frequent, Mollie began thinking about ways she could bring what she loved about Marrakesh home to Austin. Lucky us: she’s launching a textile company here this fall where she’ll be doing just that. She’s calling it Due East — a name that reflects the little known fact that Texas and Morocco share the same latitude (along with a tradition of sturdy woven textiles and a love for outdoor entertaining). We met up with Mollie to check out her first shipment of goods from Marrakesh and see how she uses them in her own unique “Texas-meets-Morocco” style of entertaining.

photographed by kate zimmerman

What inspired today’s gathering?

Launching Due East! I just received my first shipment in from Morocco and wanted to invite friends over for a little viewing party.

What’s your favorite town in Morocco?

Marrakesh. We are lucky to have dear friends who run an amazing company there called Boutique Souk and from our first trip, they introduced us to nearly every magical corner of the city (from the city to the mountains to the desert). The landscape, the food, the culture and of course, the souks are why I decided to source most of my goods from there and why I love it so much.

What do you love about what you do for a living?

Something that has inspired me from day one is finding the subtle connections between Morocco and Texas. I love highlighting those things in my collection and if I’m lucky I can introduce someone to textiles or products they may not have expected to love. (Fun fact: Morocco & Texas sit along the same latitude line. Funnier fact: My husband’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, bizarrely shares a longitude line with Marrakesh.)

Okay, so we’re in Marrakesh for 48 hours. What should we do?

• Get lost in the souks (Pro Tips: Don’t buy anything on your first day or you’re sure to overpay and buy too much up front. Be patient and you’ll find more than you ever expected. Plan on going three times for an hour, rather than one time for three hours.)

• Visit Moustapha Blaoui to get a good taste of tons of Moroccan goods in one place.

• Nomad is a must for lunch or dinner and is the perfect place to take a break from shopping in the souks.

• Stay at el Fenn, the most gorgeous boutique hotel in Marrakesh, and you’ll not only spend too much time in the fantastic gift shop but you’ll have a dreamy meal on the rooftop terrace.

• Tour the Jardin Majorelle (don’t forget to walk through the Berber Museum) and visit the shops around the entrance to the gardens.  

• Take a break from the city center and enjoy a peaceful moment to yourself in the gardens and grounds of Beldi Country Club

• If you fancy a modern kaftan, check out Noyra Ayron – her style and pieces are fantastic

• Not cheap, but worth it… book a traditional hammam treatment at the spa at The Royal Mansour. The treatments are incredible but the spa itself is a vision.

How has Moroccan culture influenced the way you live and entertain in Austin?

I’ve been inspired by how much they entertain outdoors. While the weather here in Austin isn’t always as accommodating, there is something magical about bringing the indoors outside and hosting a party or dinner al fresco.

What’s on the menu for tonight’s gathering?

Bright Beet Soup

Moroccan Spiced Carrots with Yogurt

Turmeric Chicken Kebabs

Green Goodness Salad

Texas Tagine with Brisket

Chocolate and Dried Fruit Plate

Your must-have entertaining tools:

I don’t think you need many tools all the time but a stocked bar is always a good place to start, isn’t it?

What (if anything) scares you about entertaining:

I think I always get anxious that I have forgotten something or that someone will not enjoy themselves but after anything I host, I’m always reminded that no one is as picky as I am. Everyone is always just happy to be there.

Click here for Mollie’s Bright Beet Soup recipe!

Favorite tabletop item you own:

Plates and platters from the ceramics teacher at my high school in Dallas. I never took ceramics but my brother did and his teacher still makes incredible homemade pottery in his garage. It’s beautiful and also reminds me of home.

Always in your fridge:

Topo-Chico in the fridge and dark chocolate in the freezer.

Tell us about one of your most memorable nights of hosting guests:

Our wedding. We had half of the guestlist joining us from overseas and the whole shebang was on our ranch out in the middle of nowheresville Texas. We incorporated elements of my husband’s Northern Irish roots and my Texas roots into the whole weekend. To sum it up, my friends left with a new appreciation for Guinness and Graham’s friends still haven’t stopped talking about the BBQ dinner. Most memorable night ever.

Your perfect dinner party playlist:

Bonnie Raitt can do no wrong. I’d put her on repeat for any party I have. On a more soulful note….my husband just played me the latest Charles Bradley instrumental album and it’d be perfect as background for a dinner party. I need to host another party soon to test that one out.

Your entertaining style in five words or fewer:

Likely a casual late night.

One the best meals of your life that you’ll never forget:

My favorites are usually a combination of how good the food was, how unforgettable the atmosphere was and who I was with.

I brought my Mom to Marrakesh for her Birthday/Mother’s Day this year, we went into the mountains to Casbah Tamadot. The food was fresh and delicious and the view was unforgettable. It’s nestled in the Atlas Mountains and the whole experience was so special.

Rules to live by for good table conversation:

Not really a rule but something we did at our wedding was write out notecards for each guest that faced the person at the opposite side of the table that said, “Ask me about ________.” Graham and I filled them out with stories we knew about each guest that could spark convo. Everyone had something to chat about the second they sat down.

Go-to centerpiece solution:

My mom taught me to be creative with what I have in close proximity already so grasses, antler sheds, herbs, candles etc. Shoot for an arrangement that sits somewhere in between boring and cluttered….

Your dream dinner party guests:

Friends and family who live far away. Between Graham and I, we have so many people we love that don’t live in Austin. We got pretty close to this dream dinner at our wedding but were missing a few.

The taste you’re always craving:

Generally speaking… Mexican food and dark chocolate. If we’re talking about something I make myself, almost every morning I crave my quinoa fruit and toasted nut breakfast bowl. Yum.

Fill in the blank: “It’s not a party without _______.”

Making people feel comfortable.