Clothing, jewelry, power tools for flawlessness, trips and more; you may know it as swag. For each award show or special event in Hollywood, a gifting suite is a must-do to confirm the ultimate glam tour experience. That brings us to the 2013 Grammy Awards. It’s music’s hottest event of the year and various celebrity gifting suite sponsors compete for the most RSVPs from the biggest names in music entertainment.
This year I was afforded the grand opportunity to attend two of the best gifting suite experiences in tinsel town. Some call it the land of milk and honey, but with all the red carpet splendor, a step-n-repeat backdrop with paparazzi on tap and a gifting suite full of opulent extravagancies, I’d like to think of it more as the land of silk and money.
My point was proven the moment I walked into door number one: the Official Grammy Awards gifting suite sponsored by MTG and produced by Distinctive Assets. As I walked the red carpet that felt much like the yellow-brick road leading to the great and powerful Oz, I was greeted by my PR tour guide, Ebony Simpson, a mover-and-shaker of Hollywood who happened to be the H-S-I-C of the gifting suite (that’s Head Sista In Charge). As I entered the suite, and strolled past singer Ashanti and her entourage, I was immediately taken to a large display for the ReFa Carat system. This platinum do-hickey shaped like a massager uses solar-powered micro-current technology to produce instant skin tightening and wrinkle reduction.
But does it work? I had to find out.
I did what any proper fashionista would do, I got comfy in a chair and let the beauty fairies to the stars sprinkle their magic. Of course the Refa treatment improves looks over several uses, so it was only right that I have my own to keep up the good work!
I traveled down the tented carpet to view the other products that would be placed into a canvas goodie bag. To my left, Solstice sunglasses (you know, for when the paparazzi just won’t give up); to my right, the best guitars Gibson has to offer including an exclusive certificate toward a selection of Gibson Les Paul Studio Guitars in Alpine White with Chrome accents; dead center, Anthony Hamilton. The soulful crooner was checking out the latest from Carlitos Brand’s “Music With Sole” Tennis Shoe Collection.
I continued to stroll down to a table that I could smell before I could lay eyes on the centerpiece. Once I turned the corner I saw a familiar name we all known and love more with every note…Chaka Khan. Turns out the woman who created the everlasting hit “Sweet Thing” now had some sweet things of her own. They’re called Chakalates, which, is a play on the word chocolate. Chaka Khan has developed her private line of deep dark chocolate, fit for a candlelit Valentine vigil. The delectable morsels are offered exclusively through Neiman Marcus and a portion of the proceeds from sales go to benefit the Chaka Khan Foundation. Don’t mind if I do – after all, I do love the kids. She also offered the Kama Sutra candles, made of 100% vegetable soy. Allright now Chaka, we see where this is going.
For our listening pleasure while perusing the best in bling, a Deejay provided old school hip-hop on the 1’s and 2’s. I turned to check out the wheels of steel, only to be blown away by the pint-sized sounds of DJ Young 1. The 10 year-old prodigy started mixing and scratching records at 9 years-old using her mother’s collection. She knew it was destined after flipping through her mom’s stacks of wax at age five. She’s almost completed her training as a DJ but has already performed for private audiences at record stores, music venues, nightclubs and now the Grammy Award gifting suite. She’s a little girl with a big personality and extra large talent.
It is my job to give my readers access to the best. It’s what you deserve! I know you want to know how to get “the look” or duplicate your favorite celebrity’s medicine cabinet and shoe closet. We all just need a glam map to show us which products rate the best and how to obtain them. In my effort to be sure that I give you what you crave, it was my absolute obligation to devote my attention to more than one gifting suite.
I was off to the next stop to see what was behind door number two.
My search brought me to the Hyatt Regency in Westwood, CA to the Red Carpet Event LA Grammy Awards Lounge. Once I checked-in, I was given a wristband to let security know I had legitimate business inside the suite – you know, schmoozing, browsing, touching and tasting. When I walked in, the busy vendors lined each wall, and the step-and-repeat was ready for celebrity presence.
I was given a bag by the people of Belle etoile, French and Italian jewelry designers. As I gained momentum through the room, I was stopped by a man who seemed to be straight off an infomercial marathon on public access television. He explained the magic behind his creation, Seaveg, which are seaweed vitamins designed to promote healthy living. They’re filled with ingredients found in the diary of a National Geographic scientist in China. Not wanting to be rude, I stayed for the ‘presentation’ and moved on to the next continent: Africa. I met a young black woman who introduced me to The African Millennium Foundation, which provides a home for African orphans living with AIDS. I was touched beyond belief. Gifting suites not only provide a unique introduction to fabulous products and services for a distinctive audience, but they are also a great way to learn about giving back to a world that’s given so much to so many.
That brought me to my next encounter with The Village Experience, a unique cooperative and charitable organization dedicated to the empowering villages around the world to become self-sustainable. I was given a one-of-a-kind pair of earrings, made especially by a group of disabled African villagers, who were being taught to live full, sustainable lives. What a mission. What a gift.
And now, the piece de resistance. That’s right ladies, shoes. I couldn’t help but notice a sparkly pair of baby blue stilettos, with diamond and silver studs just waiting on me to introduce myself, er, to the designer that is. The line is called Taylorsays (no relation) by Taylor Reeves and the designer’s unique trademark is that each shoe bottom holds a cartoon-like design. I chose the seahorses, or rather, they chose me. Taylorsays shoes retail for around $270 or less per pair.
As if stumbling upon a huge fashion find wasn’t enough, my next stop combined two of my favorite things: chocolate and footwear. The ladies of Chocolate Creations offered tiny gift-wrapped heels made of pure chocolate. Chara Reeves, an African-American woman, offered guests a morsel of indulgence.
A few other finds in the suite included unique jewelry by Quoins, an interchangeable necklace system. Think of a mood ring around your neck, trimmed in Swarovski crystals. Simply dreamy. Other brands with a presence were Tasha R, an inspiration line of jewelry, That Crazy Wrap Thing for home body wrapping, Boite A Savon soaps and candles, Couleur Caramel organic and vegan beauty products, Rhiamon energy oils and sprays and last but not least, Caribbean Living Magazine, which offered gifting suite guests a two-night stay in the Caribbean.
After all that it was time to wrap up my journey through haute couture and decadent opulence. What a day! After a long day of vendor hopping and gift suite schmoozing, I was off to wrap up my day as a secret celebrity. But unlike the real glitterati, there was no paparazzi, red carpets, bright lights or autographs. Just me and my tea.
Special thanks to MTG, Ebony Simpson and Red Carpet Event LA. Coming soon: The Ohh La La of the Oscars!
(Photo: Courtesy of Erica Taylor)