A Beauty and Fashion Affair – Oscar Style

Stacey Goryl of Stella & Dot and me

On February 23rd, a girlfriend and I attended a beauty & style lounge at the Crescent Hotel in Beverly Hills.  Hosted by DAMA Tequila, the world’s first luxury female tequila, timing of the event coincided with the 84th Academy Awards.   The event kicked off Oscar weekend, which in LA IS a pretty big deal.  The town is bubbling with fabulous parties.  Proceeds from the event benefited the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), which helps to fight women’s cancers – a cause very close to my heart.

Event planner extraordinaire Renee Simlak (in yellow)

Our first stop was the bar. The drink of the night was a DAMA Tequila 5 Spice Margarita, which was created by the Crescent Hotel exclusively for the event.  Not a fan of tequila, I did not partake.  I asked guests their opinion and everyone raved.

Interested in it for your next party?  The recipe calls for 1.5 oz. DAMA Tequila Silver, 1 oz. Limoncello, 2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice, 5 Spices/Star Anise, and then garnish with lemon, orange or lime slices.  Thankfully, there was an alternative beverage for non-tequila-drinking guests – a Bel-Air Bellini, peach-infused sparkling wine.  It was delightful.

The event showcased a variety of companies in the fashion and beauty industry.  I made sure to visit every vendor.  Given my deep love for clothes and jewelry, this is where I spent most of my time. In talking with the designers and reps, a common theme amongst them was the empowerment of women.

Alka Vora and yours truly

I first visited with Alka Vora.  Alka’s been designing for more than 10 years and is known for her tunics.  Her swimsuit cover-ups are F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

She’s now expanding into jewelry (think art décor).  Her vintage reproduction bracelets appeared to be a crowd favorite.   When asked where she gets her inspiration, Alka started to talk about her heritage and growing up in Mumbai.

There was a great deal of traffic flowing through her area (i.e., questions from interested buyers) so we got side tracked.  I certainly did not want to interfere with potential sales so I let Alka do her thing.  When she came back to chat, I learned that Alka’s jewelry line is gaining momentum with stars like Rihanna who recently purchased a ring.  You can find Alka Vora in boutiques around town, including Planet Blue, Boulmiche in BH, Giselle in Santa Monica, and Denise Carolyn in the Pacific Palisades to name a few.  

Next it was onto Stella & Dot, a boutique style jewelry line.  I had a lovely chat with Stacey Goryl, star stylist & founding leader of Stella & Dot.  Just a few minutes into the discussion, I learned she grew up a town over from me in Rhode Island.  We bonded over our mutual upbringing.  What a small world!

I was not familiar with the brand, so Stacey spent time talking about the company’s leadership and how Stella & Dot came to be.  The founder and CEO is Jessica Herrin (she started WeddingChannel.com and later sold it to the KNOT).  The designer is Blythe Harris.  They named the company after their grandmothers.   I had two great aunts named Stella and Dot, so I appreciated this factoid.

Stella & Dot

Stella & Dot is available through in-home trunk shows by independent stylists.  Call it the “modern day Mary Kay” – they are creating flexible entrepreneurial opportunities for women.  It’s all about empowering women.  Stella & Dot provides opportunities for women to work full time, part time, or as a hobby.

Something’s working with this business model because Stella & Dot was named an Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company.  Expanding beyond jewelry, Stella & Dot launched a handbag line last fall.  Stella & Dot bags are made in the same fashion houses as Kate Spade, Coach and Burberry, and use only the finest leather.

When looking through the pieces on display, I found that there’s something for everyone.  The prices are very reasonable ranging from $22 to $258.  I loved LOVED this jewelry.  Despite affordable prices, I’m currently in “saving” mode and should not be shopping right now.   I had to demonstrate major self-control here.  Wasn’t easy though – I already pulled the credit card out and was rationalizing a purchase.  So, I did what any responsible adult would do – took myself to the corner and gave myself a serious talking to.  I am proud to say that I DO have discipline! My girlfriend? Not so much – she made a BIG purchase.

Alka Vora

SINGLE's Jenny Leeser

I then stopped by Single by Galina Sobolev.  The rep, Jenny Leeser, did a great job at providing an overview of the brand.  A celebrity fashion designer, Galina dresses fabulous stars like Eva Longoria, Fergie, J. Lo, Katy Perry, and the KardashiansThe Single Dress collection is all about promoting women’s confidence and independence.  The style is simple and easy going.  It’s about being sexy and comfortable for the everyday lifestyle – you can go from day to night in these dresses.

Jenny also shared Galina’s strong belief about employing people who live and work in LA.  Galina does not believe in outsourcing and only works with factories in LA.  Her clothing line is in department stores like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as well as in local boutique Code C at Sunset Plaza.

The most interesting stop of the night was Home Baked Beanie, the first smelly hat company.  The company is most popular for their “scented cupcake beanie.”  On display were hats shaped as a variety of animals.  I was told they’re popular with snowboarders.  They custom make the hats so you can have any color, animal or scent.  If you have a favorite dessert, they can make a hat that smells like it.  They can create a hat that looks like your cat or dog, or make a hat FOR your cat and dog.  They tout that no two hats are alike.

Home Baked Beanie

It was now onto salon/spa services.  Christine Reed of Christine Reed’s Lash Salon & Spa was on the scene doing eyelash extensions.  I considered trying it but had no patience to sit through the procedure – it takes about an hour.   At her salon, she offers a plethora of lash extensions (e.g., synthetic, mink, glitter, feather).  Prices range from $250-700.  Vivian Eisenstadt of Prevent the Pain Therapy, Inc. provided massages for folks who wanted to relax.  I also popped in to check out new line Zana Cosmetics, which offers studio quality makeup at an affordable cost.

Christine Reed of Christine Reed’s Lash Salon & Spa

Party goers were the usual hip-n-trendy crowd.  What I found refreshing was the number of entrepreneurs in the room.  I chatted with several new business owners like Daryl Manese & Melissa Sacchetto, co-founders of Happily Ever After Confectionery.    Their cupcakes cater to all dietary needs such as gluten free and vegan.
The reality of the cupcake business is that many new bakeries don’t stay open for the long term, but Daryl and Melissa have been in operation for more than a year and say they are gaining steam.  If you have a favorite drink or dessert, they will turn it into a cupcake.   All orders are done online.
The Pre-Oscar Beauty & Style event was planned by Renee Simlak, of Renee Simlak Productions.

Daryl Manese & Melissa Sacchetto of Happily Ever After Confectionery (far left)

* * *
In need of food and another cocktail, my friend and I ended our night at Nic’s Martini LoungeEntertainment that evening was by Jessica FichotHer band was a quartet that featured clarinet/sax, guitar, upright bass and Jessica on vocals and accordion.
The music was a mix of original French chanson, gypsy jazz, and international folk (most of her original songs are in French, but the set included some repertoire in Chinese, Spanish, English, and Russian).  She plays at Nic’s monthly (usually the 3rd Thursday of the month) and other venues around LA, as well as tours both nationally and internationally.   Nothing like some music to end a good night….

Jessica Fichot and band

About kristinmartell:
Kristin Martell is a Pacific Punch Correspondent and Author of Damn the Odds. A recent Los Angeles transplant from Washington, DC, she’s pursuing her dream of acting while working as a PR consultant. Visit her at www.damntheodds.com. Follow the Pacific Punch on twitter @ThePacificPunch.
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