Let me begin by saying: I have the best friends. Despite my sometimes crazy antics, they love me for me and always have my back. And during what has been a time of major transition and change in my life, they've been there for me every step of the way. While I could spend days raving about any one of my close friends, today the spotlight belongs to my girl Alessandra Horii and her design company, Olliebug Designs.
When I first began sharing the news that I was pregnant, Alessandra immediately offered to throw me a baby shower, despite the fact that my move across the country to Charleston was imminent. She would be taking care of all the details, and all that I would need to do, she explained, would be to get myself on a flight back to Los Angeles for the party, which she had arranged to be hosted at my good friend Meghan Howell's home in West Hollywood. So of course I said yes. Its not everyday that you have someone in your life who is willing to go above and beyond for you like this! After all, I had good reason to trust that my shower was in good hands...
I first met Alessandra when I was working as one of the directors of Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. After college, she had begun working at the gallery part-time to spearhead some of the archival projects. Our paths crossed here and there, but I didn't have the pleasure of working with her directly until a year later on one particularly fateful day when I was super-swamped and needed the extra help. Alessandra swiftly offered up her services. Now, I've worked with my fair share of "gallerinas" before (girls, usually from blue-blood families, who work in art galleries for the reputation of it and often have nothing intellectually substantial to offer but to sit pretty and snobbishly answer a phone), so my expectations weren't high. But boy, did she blow my presumptions out of the water! She was clearly no gallerina. I barely had to explain anything to her, she caught right on to what needed to be done. And despite wearing a very nice outfit, she wasn't afraid to get down and dirty, schlepping the mail trays that she was tasked with moving from the gallery to the nearby bulk mail center. Clearly, this girl is strong, I thought, and definitely is not afraid of hard work. Plus, she did everything that needed to be done with a smile and a dry sense of humor that made me intuitively know, this girl is one after my own heart.
Over the next couple of years our friendship grew into what I had happily predicted, bonding instantly over a shared love of quality design, good food and cocktails, our individual desires for personal "alone" time, road races (although she prefers to do half and full marathons over my 5k's) and hitting sample sales with Navy Seal-like execution tactics. All that aside, there is a lot more that makes Alessandra who she is. She has impeccable taste in art and design, which she smartly segued into founding her own jewelry design business-turned-event planning and paper goods company, Olliebug Designs. On top of all that, she has plans to return to hitting the books again by attending Law School this fall to pursue her dream of practicing Child Advocacy and Health Law, which she was initially inspired to do by her desire to help children and families.
So you can see why, despite having almost no hand in the planning process, I knew this baby shower would be top-notch. I had just one request: nothing over-the-top, "cutsie" baby themed. And I gave firm instructions that all I wanted was a dignified co-ed luncheon with good food, cronuts, and margaritas (not for me, but for my guests!) with gifts. And wow, did she deliver!
Now, I knew that the shower would be wonderful because it was an Olliebug production, but never would I have ever thought that I would ever have something this nice thrown in honor of my baby. Alessandra's attention to every detail was incredible. She composed a simple color-scheme of white, natural wood, and varying shades of blues and greens, and she hand-crafted all of the paper goods that decorated the space which was accented by her own calligraphy. I had never seen a more perfect table-scape, which was decorated with white linens, white china, drift wood, succulents, and chevron-printed straws that announced our due date, and was completed with glass and paper lanterns that hovered in the fig trees above. Plus, on every plate was a hand-made English Breakfast Tea satchel for guests to take home as a party favor. Oh and I can't forget to gush about the food! We dined on Chiles Colorado and hand-made tamales from a beloved Mexican restaurant in East LA, accompanied by what I was told were very potent traditional margaritas and a selection of beer. Alessandra had even concocted a special non-alcoholic drink for me to enjoy, a Rosemary Lemonade Spritzer. This incredible meal was topped off by cronuts and chocolate milk. It was a pregnant lady's dream. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
All in all, it was a beautiful, LA sun-filled Saturday afternoon, and Meghan's beautiful garden courtyard set the stage for what was a wonderful day for my fiancé Frank and I to celebrate the impending birth of our baby with some of my closest West Coast friends and family. So please enjoy the photos of Alessandra's handiwork, that were taken thanks to the dynamic Stephen and Sou-wah Ng of Stephen Anthony Photography, the husband and wife team who did a wonderful job documenting the intimate moments of this special day.
I will conclude by saying with one of the most grateful and happiest of hearts, that Olliebug Designs and the super-woman behind it are definitely ones to watch!
... in the experience of Katherine Hanson.