When 2016 began, I knew it would be the year of change and progression for me. Things started to feel stagnant in my life with both my career and the blog and I was yearning for something different.
However, there’s one event that will forever be imprinted in my memory and that was the Ruffino Wine Dinner at A New Leaf. For this event, I was given 8 tickets to giveaway to my readers and my guests were going to experience an evening of craft cocktails and fine cuisine. The setting was a picturesque secret garden with a cool summer breeze. While the experience itself was delightful, what made it one to remember was the company. Most of us were complete strangers but the conversation was just as lively as if we were lifelong friends. We all just huddled together at this small table and chatted the night away. It was at that instance, that I knew that I wanted to recreate that moment.
Fast forward to a few months later and there was yet another chance encounter that would set the precedence for this post. This boutique rental agency begins following me on Instagram and as I am scrolling through their images I am completely enamored by the decor and chic living spaces. They are Bangtel. Bangtel has properties all across Chicago, NY and soon LA with each property featuring its own unique flair and attitude. With a background in wardrobe and prop styling, founder of Bangtel Liz Klafeta and her team has the unique ability of ensuring each property has a style and aesthetic that fits each neighborhood. The Wrigleyville Property is an homage to Chicago’s love of baseball and the Humboldt Park Property features colorful graffiti art and whimsical artwork. I just had to know more about these luxurious yet quirky properties so I reached out to the owner Liz Klafeta and the rest is history.
The very next day I attend The Storied Table which was held at Bangtel’s newest property Mr. Clark’s Penthouse. During the event guests explored the space while delighting in light bites, browsing local art, and just having a good time. As I engaged in a lively conversation with Liz, little did I know that two month’s later this exact penthouse would become the venue for my event “An Afternoon with Mr. Clark”
Shortly after, I immediately began setting the stage for what would be the greatest blogger event. After sending many e-mails (way too many to count), “An Afternoon with Mr. Clark” would soon go from idea to reality.
Mr. Clark’s Penthouse is the perfect party venue for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s incredibly chic just perfect for a Vogue editorial and you could live in the lap of luxury for an affordable price. It features more than enough amenities with Liz and her team providing guests the ultimate Chicago guidebook with a listing of local hangs and restaurants just steps away from the penthouse. And if you like what you see in the properties, everything from the bed to the artwork is available for purchase.
To welcome the luxurious penthouse into the Lincoln Park neighborhood, what better group of people could do just that than Chicago’s finest bloggers. Since we’re attached to our phones and DSLR’s, Mr. Clark’s Penthouse was ready for his closeup.
The modern aesthetic of Mr. Clark’s Penthouse was the perfect backdrop for a chic blogger soirée. The crisp white walls were perfect for a subtle backdrop and statement piece furniture made for the perfect photo shoot props. Local artwork adorned different sections of the rooms, and the state of the art kitchen was just waiting for us to delight it with our presence.
As for our guests, the invitees ranged from a variety of specialties including fashion, food and lifestyle. To cater to each of their niches, various brands were displayed throughout the space with each item set up and staged carefully as if the party was transported to a live photo shoot. It wasn’t enough to just showcase the property with a tour and some champagne. Instead, we wanted to create an immersive experience that allowed guests to interact with the space in unique and intriguing ways.
To encourage social media participation, each of the guests were given a program displaying all the brand social media handles (special shout out to my Mom and Dad for working tirelessly on these programs with me) And the prize? Winner of best photo won a one night stay in one of the Bangtel properties. As you can imagine everyone was furiously snapping away.
To help make this picturesque escape a reality I enlisted the help of a few of my blogger friends Vickee Yang of Press Vee and Fanny Muller of Lafreecaine. For the bedrooms, the vision was that each room would feature their own unique theme and we would create a scene that was perfect for Instagram. For the first bedroom there were black and white balloons scattered all over the floor and the bed adorned black and white petals. This was the fun room with guests constantly bouncing balloons in the air.
In bedroom number 2, the main attraction was the suspended bed. This bed created the illusion that it was defying gravity by simply being held up by thick ropes. Along the ropes lay a string of twine with a row of vintage style Polaroid pictures of each guest. As each guest explored the room, they left a photo as a memento of their presence.
However, while the fun was inside each bedroom, there was plenty to enjoy in the spacious main living area. While guests mixed and mingled with one another they delighted in the offerings of many of the sponsors. Florals provided by eventeur Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event added a touch of spring to the pristine space. Elegant white flowers were featured in all the rooms with arrangements ranging from the elegant to simple.
For a taste of culinary delight Whole Foods Market lined the table with various light bites ranging from healthy wraps, a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, and a wide assortment of cheeses. We asked the Whole Foods team to select items that would be perfect for a housewarming party. The not so messy food is perfect if you don’t want your guests messing up your new digs. Definitely look to Whole Foods for your catering needs. For dessert, the incredibly popular Nothing Bundt Cakes in Lincoln Park served a variety of the bakery’s finest bundtinis ranging from red velvet, lemon, and chocolate truffle. Within less than an hour, this sweet confection began to quickly disappear as it became a party favorite. We couldn’t have our guests leave without a taste of something sweet, so Nothing Bundt Cakes did the trick!
For drinks, the guests are served Prosecco, but as you know about any party, no party is complete without the signature cocktail. For the cocktail, we ventured to DonJulio.com and selected the Reposado Paloma from their repertoire of recipes. Don Julio provided the Reposado and we just need to do the brand justice by featuring the delicious Paloma. If guests wanted to make the recipe at home, recipe cards were made available so they too can recreate this party perfect drink. And to add some style to the drink, each of the beverages featured black and white straws which perfectly complimented the black and white accents of our surroundings.
If someone wasn’t quite ready to start their day with tequila, green conscious water company Green Sheep Water ensured that our guests were properly hydrated throughout the afternoon. The aluminum proved better than plastic making it the perfect vessel for a nice cool drink.
While the foodies were in heaven, beauty and fashion bloggers were able to have a day of pampering by celebrity makeup artist Paula Heckenast of City Lights Makeup Artistry. It was the greatest honor because Paula’s brushes and palettes have graced celebrities such as Vivica A. Fox and WWE’s The Bella Twins. She gave the guests light makeup touch ups complete with glamorous eyelashes. As you can imagine, it was difficult getting a touch-up from Paula since many of the guests couldn’t resist a mid-afternoon pampering session. By the end of the afternoon, everyone was glammed up and ready to take on the day.
With there being no shortage of entertainment, the room filled with tunes by the vintage style Gramovox speaker system. The unique fixture resembled the gramophones from back in the day but it has a modern touch that allowed it to have Bluetooth capabilities. It fit so seamlessly in the space perfectly complimenting the design led room. This is definitely a conversation piece that can benefit just about any room.
If bloggers ever had a slight moment of boredom (which they did not) Wild & Wolf was on hand to present beautifully designed games ranging from classic checkers to poker. Even the boxes made for the perfect set up for our gorgeous florals.
As a token of our appreciation, guests parted with a few of our favorite things. For the sweet tooth guests were treated to a chocolate bar and chia seed peanut butter cups from local chocolatiers Wild Ophelia. These chocolates are not your run of the mill chocolates with unique flavors such as beef jerky. This fit with our theme of not giving our guests an ordinary experience.
Legendary Chicago hair salon Mario Tricoci gave guests sample hair products and a discount service. In true Neiman Marcus fashion, guests were able to freshen up with some mints in a cute mini handbag mint dispenser. For a little late afternoon read, CS Modern Luxury ensured that our guests had their social calendars full with their magazines of all the latest Chicago happenings.
With all the wonderful features of the brands, I don’t think there was ever a moment of ennui with “An Afternoon with Mr. Clark”. While there was plenty to enjoy, I think the highlight of the afternoon were the lively conversations and the budding friendships that began in the penthouse. Strangers quickly became friends, and friends created even more memories together. One of my readers even brought her son to join in all the penthouse fun.
As I listened and watched the interactions that occurred, this brought me back to that moment that I will never forget at the Ruffino Wine Dinner. That moment that I wanted to last a lifetime was there yet again for “An Afternoon with Mr. Clark”
All in all it was quite the afternoon and I’m sure I’ll never forget my “Afternoon with Mr. Clark”. Words cannot express how grateful I am for everyone involved. This event couldn’t have happened without the support of the sponsors or my readers, so thank you for taking the time out to spend your warm Saturday afternoon with me. And thanks to Vickee and Fanny. On that day we easily carried 50 lbs worth of stuff up and down many stairs so team work makes the dream work. It was by no means perfect, but mission is indeed accomplished.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks for everything and thank you for your continued support of The Chicagolite and welcome to the next chapter.
Special thanks to all of our sponsors: Bangtel, Don Julio Tequila, Nothing Bundt, Whole Foods Market, Wild Ophelia, Mario Tricoci, Neiman Marcus, Green Sheep Water, CS Modern Luxury, City Lights Makeup Artistry, Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event and Wild & Wolf
*All photos by Michael Courier Photography. Hire him for your next event, he did an amazing job and captured the story of the event so beautifully