A tale of an epic evening beyond our expectations.
Wow! What a great evening we had! After three years of preparing for this event, we have finally officially launched the J.Mullin Apparel line of distinctive handcrafted luxury kimonos!
Over 70 fabulous fashion-loving women came to our event on Thursday, April 21 at the 1900 Building in Kansas City. The ladies entered an elegant boutique-like dressing room setting with fabulous passed canapés and an open wine and champagne bar where they felt comfortable to move around the room and try on kimonos as they visited with each other.
Our two models, Mariah Kelli and Amy Dreyer Appleton mingled among the guests and modeled several different kimono ensembles throughout the evening. Our stylist, Amani Skalacki, put outfits together all evening long -- both for our models and for the guests.
We all wore several different kimonos throughout the evening. It was so much fun to see the reactions of our guests to how they looked and felt when they put yet another kimono on. By the end of the evening, our guests had put on their own fashion show. It was the best dress-up party, which far surpassed my expectations.
Our wonderful MC, Katie Van Luchene charmed us all with her poised and professional presentation. Of course, I had to tell the story of how we met. I was new to Kansas City, and attended a runway show at KCFW (Kansas City Fashion Week). I was wearing a kimono I had just finished making that day. It was the first one I ever made. I was nervous about what to wear. After all, it was a fashion event. As I was making my way to my front row seat, a glamorously dressed woman came up to me and complimented me on it. When I told her that I made it, she said, "I'd buy it in a heartbeat!" I was stunned, and thought to myself, "Maybe I should make some more!" I didn't know who she was, but her reaction and kind words to me had a huge impact on me.
That same night I met Jennifer Lapka, the founder of Rightfully Sewn, who told me about her non-profit organization that works with new designers to develop patterns and do small batch production. The rest is history. Here we are three years later, and the woman who complimented me on my kimono that night was none other than Katie Van Luchene, who was now the MC for my Launch Event. And, Jennifer Lapka was one of my honored guests and a presenter.
I have been working with her team of professionals for the last two years on creating three new patterns, and streamlining our production process. She spoke about Rightfully Sewn's mission of providing education and employment opportunities for underserved women in Kansas City. Her business model has attracted the attention of the Council of Fashion Designers in America (CFDA) which is considering starting a similar organization in New York City.
Another honored guest, Bobbi Jo Reed, stole our hearts with her story of founding Healing House, a non-profit organization that provides housing and counseling to those recovering from substance abuse issues. Her mission of lifting women up, giving them confidence and a fresh new start on life meshes with my own mission of encouraging women to be all they were born to be; to give themselves permission to be more of who they are and to not hesitate to invest in themselves and create a life for themselves around what they love.
Both Jennifer and Bobbi Jo now have their own J.Mullin kimono. And Katie Van Luchene now has three! One of the highlights of the launch event was Katie's presentation of the luxurious
way we package our purchased kimonos.
When she untied the navy blue ribbon and opened the white box to reveal the package inserts and tissue wrapped kimono, I suggested she go ahead and open it. Inside, was THE kimono that brought us together. The very first kimono I ever made, which I still had, and now it was going to be hers. I also included a small leather shoulder bag that was printed from a photograph of the kimono's fabric. It was a great moment!
There are not enough thank you's to go around for all of the people who helped me put this event together: O'Neill Events, the 1900 Building staff and the Restaurant at 1900 for its fabulous catering and bar service, and the sales reps of the local magazines who were very patient with my lack of PhotoShop skills in preparing display ads! And, of course, our wonderful presenters, models, stylist and MC! Thank you also to my photographer, Samantha Levi, and videographer, Johanna Brooks, for their excellent work.
Our new kimonos are not on our website yet -- but they will be soon. In fact, some of them are still being made. The new kimonos we had at the launch event were completed the day before the event, and Bobbi Jo Reed and my husband, Bill, were still tagging them as our guests were arriving. I will let you know when the new kimonos are on our website!
By the end of the evening, we had sold ten kimonos and several scarves and belts. Two of our guests purchased two kimonos each! It was so gratifying to be so well received by some of Kansas City's best dressed women. We are grateful to all of those who came out and supported us and that we are able to donate all proceeds from our Launch Event to Healing House.