Pi Phi Friendship Inspires “Happy Everything” Cookbook

By: Laura Blank Johnson, Florida Beta

As founder and owner of Coton Colors, Florida Beta Laura Johnson designs colorful, handcrafted pottery sold in more than 3,000 stores across the United States. Laura is featured in the Summer Arrow and also shares how Pi Beta Phi inspires her work in this special guest post.

Founder and owner of Coton Colors, Laura Blank Johnson, Florida Beta, said part of her professional success is because of the encouragement she received from Pi Phi sisters.

My years spent as a Florida Beta at Florida State University and the influence of my Pi Phi sisters greatly impacted the success I have realized today. Within the classroom, I expanded my artistic abilities and business acumen, but it was within the walls of our Pi Phi house on Jefferson Street that I realized my integrity and discovered my leadership potential. Through Pi Phi, I learned as a young woman that all sorts of people — with various strengths, opinions and quirks — could work together to accomplish almost anything, which has allowed me to build the exceptional Coton Colors team we have today.

We currently employ five Pi Phis in our design studio and sales force (and a dozen Pi Phis were part of our recent cookbook development team). As a company, we recognize strong and motivated women and much like Pi Beta Phi, we foster success in these talented people. While our Pi Phi sisterhood may be a happy coincidence, it certainly seems our ambition and energy is not.

Florida Betas Laura Blank Johnson (left) and Susie Rou Murray (right) share smiles and memories in “The Happy Everything Cookbook.”

The traditions of the wine and blue also ring very true throughout my family: my own daughter, Kyle Johnson, served as Florida Beta Chapter President last year; my niece, Logan Parks, served as Vice President of Finance in the same year; and her sister, Taylor Parks, serving as Vice President of Event Planning just a few years back. I’m proud of the life lessons and cherished friendships these ladies took away from their collegiate experience and am thrilled to watch Kyle bring these virtues to Coton Colors as she joins our dynamic team.

I have also received amazing encouragement from my Pi Phi sisters over the years, especially from my friend (and now business partner) Florida Beta Susie Rou Murray. Susie and I have been great friends since our Pi Phi days in college (we even married Kappa Alpha brothers) and have spent many years entertaining and celebrating life together.

Laura said she hopes her cookbook encourages others to celebrate the little things in life.

After much coaxing, I finally convinced Susie last year to join me on the adventure of “The Happy Everything Cookbook by Coton Colors.” In this cookbook, we share the smiles we find in extraordinary moments: me sharing bits of the Coton Colors lifestyle and Susie lending her incredibly talented culinary expertise for the recipes. The months post-launch have been a whirlwind of book signings, cooking demonstrations and publicity, and through it all, Susie has encouraged me to proudly “step from behind the paint palette” and share our story.

But, our cookbook is about more than tasty recipes and decorating tips. We hope it sets the tone to truly celebrate the relationships in your life and inspires you to create memorable events that you, your family and friends will enjoy for years to come! Much like we learned as Pi Phi collegians, we should all make time to celebrate even the littlest things in life. In our eyes, the little things are the big things, after all.

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