It was the perfect plan: launch one hot, new “green” site at another. The client, online eco-lifestyle magazine EcoStiletto, booked Ecco Hollywood — an as-yet-to-open space that touts itself as the “only eco-friendly lounge” in Los Angeles — as the location for its July debut bash. The event team was keen on capitalizing on the space's state-of-the-art energy efficiency; savvy use of paper; and gourmet, organic food and beverages. Perfect, except for one thing: When event day drew near, Ecco wasn't quite ready for its close-up.
Excited about staging a splashy launch at the eagerly anticipated eco-venue, planner Paige Anderson of Los Angeles-based green event production firm Bash Style Events showed up at Ecco with sponsor vendors for the pre-event walk-through six days before the big splash.
But her excitement quickly turned to dread. Despite being assured just two days prior that the lounge would open in time, what she found was “a sawdust-covered raw space, a total construction site — complete chaos,” she recounts. Relying on EcoStiletto founder Rachel Sarnoff's public relations background and expertise, Anderson and her client quickly went into damage-control mode, assuring vendors that the show would go on.
Enter Murano, a swank West Hollywood, Calif., restaurant and lounge that Anderson, a fan of the venue's Italian-French food and magnificent red Murano glass chandeliers, managed to secure for the event on pain-fully short notice. Though lacking some of Ecco's more cutting-edge green features, Murano did offer a floor, a roof and walls, not to mention those spectacular chandeliers, butter-soft banquettes and delectable, locally sourced, free-range fare. Add to that the restaurant's in-house recycling program, and Anderson and Sarnoff were sold.
LESS IS MORE
With so little time to regroup, Anderson and her client opted for a “minimalist” approach to decor, the planner says. Fresh orchid arrangements and beeswax-candle lighting set the tone, while “just a few touches of EcoStiletto-branded accents customized it perfectly,” the planner notes.
Branding on the information cards, napkins, product displays and the event's bar all featured EcoStiletto's logo — a slender female silhouette holding a handbag, with a green bird perched on her hand. Anderson even decorated organic, agave-sweetened cupcakes from Los Angeles-based Sweet Debbie's with whimsical — and totally foam-core-free — logoed toppers.
This being a true green event, “All signs were made from post-consumer recycled paper printed with soy ink,” Anderson says, crediting Woodbridge, N.J.-based Go Green Displays for their good work. In fact, for all the planner's events, she insists on using “no new trees or fabric, no new content at all.” As for after the party's over, “I gather up and reuse things for crafting, for my kids' school, and for recycling and composting.”
Of course, with celebrities including eco-activist and “Entourage” TV star Adrian Grenier and “Gossip Girl” den mother Kelly Rutherford on hand, a “green carpet” was a must, so Anderson brought in a runner made of non-water-dependent artificial grass from Dalton, Ga.-based SYNLawn.
Keeping things simple not only took full advantage of Murano's opulent space but effectively represented EcoStiletto's brand, with its resource-reduction message — “Stiletto-size your carbon footprint from the size of an Ugg boot to an itty-bitty Manolo,” as the Web site puts it — and its promotion of green beauty and lifestyle products.
“One of the things about being a green event planner,” Anderson notes, “if the space works, you don't bring in a lot of stuff.”
While the event's decor and resource use may have been minimal, the presence of sponsors was oversize.
EcoStiletto's launch gave many small and startup eco-conscious businesses — all featured vendors on the EcoStiletto Web site — the opportunity to show off their goods at a celebrity-studded gathering while benefiting from the exposure of the site's own PR and marketing efforts. At the same time, the vendors added interactive activity and glamour — not to mention coveted swag — to the Web site's event, a win-win for all. In a separate space created in Murano's VIP room, Green Bliss Eco Spa pampered guests with “mini-manis,” while Josie Maran Cosmetics offered makeovers using the company's paraben- and petrochemical-free products.
All in all, Anderson and Sarnoff agree, the event was a smashing success. That's not to say that there might not have been room for improvement. Anderson admits she would have sought written confirmation from the venue on the number of servers and amount of food to be provided — there wasn't enough of either, she says.
But, notes client Sarnoff, on such short notice and with such a mad scramble to reorganize while accommodating the 400 guests who showed up — 100 more than the 300 she'd expected based on RSVPs — the party was perfect. “I kept hearing over and over the same kind of comment: ‘I can't believe this is a green party. It doesn't look green. Everything is so beautiful, everything is so stylish.’ And that's exactly what we're going for with EcoStiletto.”
Ahi Tuna Tartare on Mini Toast Points
Calamari Fritti with San Marzano Tomato Dipping Coulis
Sauteed Tiger Shrimp with Grilled Zucchini Wedges
Bruschetta di Fungi with Melted Fontina Cheese
Endive Leaves with Gorgonzola Dolce, Candied Walnut and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
DESIGN & PRODUCTION
Bash Style Events
Go Green Displays
Murano Restaurant & Lounge