Meet Middleburg

Meet Middleburg: Manuel Simpson, Designer et al

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale

If you are looking for a wedding or party planner, Manuel Simpson is your man. Need someone to design your retail space or just the shop windows? He’s your guy. Shopping for a stylist for a photo shoot or an interior designer? Call Manuel.

Manuel will also come to your home and rearrange your furniture, your bookcases and rehang your pictures to bring more style and beauty into your life. For the holidays, no one is better at filling a home with Christmas.
“Weddings, events, interior design. It’s hard to put it on a business card,” says Manuel. “To be honest with you, I do whatever the phone call is.”

Ever since he was a young boy growing up in Winchester, practicing on his mother’s and grandmother’s houses, Manuel has had a designer’s eye. He loved beautiful things and cultivated the skills and talent to make a living from transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Though Manuel has worked up and down the Atlantic seaboard, from Nantucket to Palm Beach to Charleston, he returned to Virginia and has made Middleburg his home for some 17 years. He has come full circle– his retail and design career began with Devonshire, an English garden shop in Middleburg that grew to include shops in the most exclusive towns.

The retail industry is where he cut his teeth. “Retail is not just, ‘I like pretty things and I want to sell them.’ It’s a business. You gauge your clients, you gauge your town, your world, your tourists. There’s so much to take into account to succeed in retail,” he says.

These days, the high-energy, fast-talking creative guru mixes it up, loving the diversity of clients and jobs that have become his professional milieu.

The undisputed success of Windy Hill’s last two annual galas could be due in large part to this designer’s talent. His first gala in 2017, a Great Gatsby themed event, was a roaring success. He followed that up with a Studio 54 inspired theme last fall, and both galas sold out with record-breaking revenues for the local non-profit.

Manuel loves to plan weddings and parties that reflect the personality and dreams of the bride and the party giver, events that reflect their character. Success for him is an event that brings joy to the guests, as well as the clients, and one that goes off without anyone knowing about any of the
inevitable glitches.

Making clients happy and spaces prettier are Manuel’s passions, along with listening to podcasts. “Documentary, anything that’s beautiful and knowledgeable, but I’m obsessed with murder. I’m really into investigative reporting,” says Manuel. “I like getting to the bottom of things. Figuring things out. A good story.” Notions that make for a great designer and event planner, too.

This article first appeared in the February 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.

Meet Middleburg: Catherine Wycoff, Physical Therapist, Feldenkrais Practitioner

Story and photo by Kerry Phelps Dale

The thing about Catherine Wycoff is that although she is very friendly and accessible, she’s difficult to describe. She has so many talents and skills, so many degrees and certifications, that’s she’s hard to reduce down to something simple. One thing that rings true in her professional experience and current endeavors is that her main purpose seems to be helping people.

Every Friday, Catherine comes to her Middleburg studio on Federal Street to teach her Feldenkrais Method class. A few of her regulars sing her praises like a Baptist choir on Sunday. They have total faith in both Catherine and the Feldenkrais Method, which the founder, Moshe Feldenkrais, touted will “…make the impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant.”

If that quote doesn’t bring you closer to understanding the method, try this—moving without pain through improving “kinesthetic sense”—the ability to sense, feel and coordinate easy, effective movement. It’s rewiring the brain to move more efficiently and easily. It is an effective approach used by athletes, people with special needs, seniors, and even musicians. Born and raised in Belgium, Catherine has lived and been educated all over the world. “My husband works for the state department, so I have lived a lot of places,” she says. An avid horsewoman, Catherine owns, rides and uses horses for therapy as well as providing rehabilitative therapy to horses. She lives in Lovettsville with her husband and has two children in college. She finds Middleburg to be a comforting reminder of small European towns and feels right at home with the town and countryside that reveres the horse.

Though the Feldenkrais Method is a bit elusive, the classes are not. The owner of Kinetic Balance invites you to join her for a Friday class at noon, at The Studio on West Federal Street.  “If you know what you do, you can do what you want,” she quotes Feldenkrais. “It has to do with awareness: Awareness is the key,” explains Catherine. For more information on the method, visit www.kineticbalance.com.

This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of Middleburg Life. 

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