With the various lounge and suite options available to us (and there were a surprising number of them in light of the circumstances), we selected to check out the Secret Room Events Pre-Red Carpet Style Lounge for the 2021 Emmys as it would most likely deliver the most balanced, flavourful and interestingly presented boost of fun and innovation. As the 20th anniversary of 9-11 almost coincided with the Emmys telecast, it seemed fitting that several participating companies were present to both showcase their goods and also raise awareness for US veterans, firefighters and other front-line workers.
Emmy nominees who came to celebrate the Style Lounge’s return included Emma Claulfiend (Wandavision), Peter Mackenzie (Black-ish), Jonathan Roumie (The Chosen), Marion Van Cuyck (Pen15), Mychal-Bella Bowman (The Underground Railroad), General Hospital stars Carolyn Hennesy and Cassandra James, Tanner Novlan (The Bold and the Beautiful), Lily Melgar (The Bay), Madison Reyes (Julie and the Phantoms), and Shola Adewusi, Bob Abishola, Annika Noelle and Petri Byrd.
As the invitation noted, the anticipated event was staged ‘In honor of 2021 Emmy Nominees & All Nominees this 2021 year for Golden Globes, Grammy, Billboard, MTV, and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.’ You could sense that Rita Branch and her team put much effort into making up for lost time, with a lively new venue (the Petersen Automotive Museum), fuel from Rasta Rita Margarita and Double Zero’s plant-based pizza and a new fleet of beauty products, wearables, kitchen gadgets and other items from entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country.
Case in point is BVG Sunglasses, which are visionary through their polarized PFA lenses powered by Zeiss technology and frame silhouettes for men and women right off Europe’s runways. The two former US military veterans (opthamologist Dr G and ballistic glass engineer Mr B) behind the collection, meanwhile, had a greater vision: to ensure the majority of all profits from sales benefit the BVG Veterans of Valor Foundation. The funds raised will support specific veterans’ causes. Block grants will be donated to treatment facilities for the express purpose of making available treatment to all veterans needing care, especially with mental health and addiction issues. The other arm of the charity supports the training of medical professionals at all levels who will be educated to meet veterans’ special needs.
Rasta Rita Cantina’s founders Bryce and Jeri were on hand to introduce their fresh mixology-inspired cocktail mixers and discuss their innovative event and meeting food and beverage packages. According to Bryce (who is also a US veteran), the inspiration to take the food truck craze in a juicy new direction came to him during the couple’s trip to Jamaica. While margarita trucks have been revving up across the US during the past 18 months, Rasta Rita takes things to the next level with uniquely crafted food and drink recipes, sweet vintage food trucks and the ability to pull an event together complete with necessary licenses and provisions across LA.
It’s safe to say there were plenty of good eats from across the US represented at the suite. Try to say no to NY-based Just Bagels which began in 1992 as a small retail bagel shop in the Bronx. Over time, it eventually began rolling in dough when word got out. Today, you can find many expressions of the authentic NYC bagel at Barnes & Noble cafés, Whole Foods Markets, Marriott and Hilton properties and on airlines, college campuses and other locations across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, China and more.
Sustainability, meanwhile, was another prevailing theme of the style lounge, bridging food, fashion and function together. Other edibles there for the taking included Double Zero specialty vegan pizzas from Matthew Kenney Cuisine, vegan cheese schmears from Plant Perks (which we think would taste great on toasted Just Bagels). We also loved the idea of that portable NomadiQ grills could make the preparation and deliciousness of healthier outdoor grilled proteins and veggies easier and more convenient for busy city dwellers.
While there were several soft drink options to wash everything down, serious teetotallers gravitated to the table of San Diego-based Paru Tea Bar, founded in 2017 and developed by couple Amy Truong and Lani Gobaleza, who tapped into their shared passion for exotic teas, health benefits, and delicate flavours (Blue Chamomile, Okinawa Sugar, Moriuchi’s Sencha, Chiang Rai White and Pandan Waffle). To balance out the noshes and libations, there were vitamin supplements from Nature’s Plus supporting immunity distributed in the gift bags.
Philadelphia-based Dr Lori Gerber, who provided on-site touch-ups on injectables and fillers in a similar fashion to her mobile med-spa parties, also turned guests on to her rejuvenating skin care and supplement lines as well as her boutique practice of anti-ageing and regenerative medicine. Dr Gerber says her approach is to ‘deconstruct and reconstruct a patient’s health one step at a time,’ offering several different plan options for anti-ageing and integrative medicine.
Vegan beauty collections 10 Free Life and Kitten Beauty offer distinctive plant-based product lines for a variety of different people with divergent beauty needs. However, both companies are united in their intentions to produce cosmetics free of toxic chemicals impacting the users, animals and the planet, with great colours and sustainable packaging. Other exciting lines on site and in the bags included Pet Prophecy and Skin Prophecy Progressive Skin Care (Montecito, Santa Barbara), DubaiLeaf.com hydrogel eye masks, and Shower in a Wipe body wipes (Goodwipes.com) with lavender and natural tea tree oil.
On the fashion end of things, the emphasis was not just on great everyday style, but also the use of fabrics and materials used to construct these items. Third Mind shoes, designed for men but also appreciated by women (love the rainbow and pink selections) can be described as the love child of performance athletic shoes and classic casual styles (loafers, oxfords, wingtips) crafted in breathable recycled fabrics with sophisticated and clean finishes and odour-resistant insoles.
With masking still very much a part of everyday life, Hmnkind offered every guest an opportunity to try out its improved version. The featherweight and reusable masks, available in bright-yet-wearable colours, are crafted from antibacterial foam that is 200 per cent more breathable than a cotton mask and staves off skin dry out or irritation. The impressive material also has been scientifically proven based on independent testing from Nelson Labs to filter out viruses, bacteria and particles. While keeping out the bad stuff, the company is filtering some of its proceeds to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which has distributed more than 1,700 million pounds of food since 1973.
Sustainability also dovetailed into several women- and minority-owned businesses. Chef Kela Hunte, who gave guests a sweet post-Emmy party in a box (her Martha Stewart-touted cookie baking kit), also offered her own inspirational story of how baking turned her life around. The professional pastry and culinary chef, who offers both live and interactive cooking classes, says baking became her salvation when she experienced financial and personal struggles after becoming home-bound when her son endured and recovered from life-threatening injuries. Starting a new business based on her passion and a relocation to Texas not only helped her support her family, but also led to her competing on Food Network’s Bake-away Camp with Martha Stewart and writing a book.
Renata Hoskins, founder of Renata’s Boutique delighted attendees with her travel bag collection and origin story of and creator of Regular Ren, a jet-setting fictional character, ‘who’s always there to remind you that you’re joyful, beautiful, and powerful.’ The character embodies the moment Renata burst through her personal glass ceiling in high school when she entered a scholarship competition to win US$1,500. The contestants were asked to write an essay, and hers discussed what she learned from being raised by a legally blind single mother with a rare eye disease and growing up in a single wide trailer on her grandparents’ property. Beyond winning the scholarship, she not only developed into a successful entrepreneur but also pays things forward by leading countless philanthropic events, working with at-risk youth and supporting teenage survivors of sex trafficking.
Brave Essentials, created by owner–CEO Monique Fulks, includes hand-crafted and formulated beauty solutions for hair and skin with velvety textures and rich aromas, while Love You More, founded by Gaby Ghorbani, is a beautiful line of handcrafted jewellery made by and benefiting women from different parts of Mexico. ‘We strive to create a sense of community among our artisans and buyers, promoting a Live with Love ideology that encourages LYM customers to love more,’ Ghorbani affirms. Artist Kelly Kay’s beautiful paintings and artwork via her Kelly Kay Paper Co. brightened attendees’ day and into December 2022 through desk calendars, thank you notes and other surprises.
True to form, with Rita and partner Amy Boatright’s long-standing commitment to animal welfare, new pet-centric innovations were introduced, including healthy treats by Crown to Tail and Jack’s Furrfighters pet hair removal.
Other companies strutting their stuff on site included GE Lighting (a Savant company), Freestyle photo C, Imaging Supplies, Electric Blue Bee Bop, Stern Pinball, Umi’s Roots, Bisoulovely and Nurse Hatty.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor