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A Visit To Celebrity Connected’s Oscar Luxury Gifting Suite

The Crazy Candy Lady’s Chocolate Oscar.

By: Marjorie Galas

My previous attendance at an Oscar “luxury gifting suite” offered a lot of “listen and learn” time – that is, reporters were invited to “look don’t touch.” Upon receiving the Celebrity Connected invite, I imagined a similar scenario but went all the same, thinking it would be fun to see what goodies the Oscar guests would be enjoying. At the very least, I’d get to check out the Taglyan Complex, an interesting structure I’d passed a million times on Vine but never stepped foot into.

Upon entering I found myself described as a VIP – with my own placard that would be held in front of vendors throughout the day announcing my presence.  Within moments Tammy, a shy young girl wearing a purple gown that I playfully called my “princess,” grabbed my placard and escorted me to a step and repeat.  I felt self-conscious; I’m normally behind the velvet rope.  It was weird being the focus of attention.  While I still don’t know why someone would want my picture, I posed all the same.

Then the magic really began.  First, it is important to note the folks at Celebrity Connected did a great job of providing diversity amongst the booths on exhibit.  As I walked through the hall, I was invited to sample, touch, taste and take items being offered.  Row after row, everyone wanted me to see what they had to offer.  Some companies were clearly new and anxious to receive endorsement.  A few even confessed to their lack of social media presence, and hoped the attendees’ love of their goods would reach thousands via electronic word of mouth.  Most interesting was the international flair on display: companies came from Australia, Germany and Canada and every reach of the US, from Massachusetts to Utah, from Mississippi to Oregon.  Below are highlights from the 2016 Celebrity Connected 2016 Luxury Gifting Suite Honoring the Academy Awards.

I have to start with the most “luxury” item on display – Trius Brut – a delicious and dry sparkling wine from the Niagara Peninsula of Canada. Craig McDonald, an Australian who discovered the rich wine region in Niagara-on-the-Lake, presented me with a bottle of the bubbly to take home and enjoy.

Sticking with drinks: the suite offered everything from sodas to cold brew coffee. My favorite non-alcoholic beverage was Tealixir.  While I’ve never been much of a kumbacha fan, founder Daniel McCarthy’s herbal kumbucha and tea infusion was smooth, tasty and invigorating.  Daaron Cowan – who recently completed a military tour of duty, informed me many soldiers found drinking the company’s “China Rose” helped revive fatigued muscles.  Suffering a bad sprain, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try a full serving.  Magically, my leg was set for heals come Oscar Sunday!  I can’t endorse this product enough.

You couldn’t walk too far without tasting a food sample.  Being a barbeque fan, I enjoyed J. Lee’s Gourmet BBQ Sauce.  The Biloxi, Mississippi company’s slogan is “Put it on Anything!”  I did, and it’s great!  Gabriella’s Kitchen from Toronto, Canada offered their Skinny Pasta product.  The pasta is made with “teff” an ancient grain that is naturally gluten-free, vegan, mineral – rich and a good source of protein, fiber, iron, zinc, copper and manganese.   The tasty and filling pasta has half the calories of regular pasta, and is so fresh it’s kept refrigerated.  While Marblehead, MA’s Crazy Candy Lady presented me with a chocolate Oscar, the winner of best sweets went to Choclate Krak – honeycomb dipped in dark chocolate sprinkled with bits of sea salt.

There were more body care products than you could shake a stick at. My favorite was Wyoming based Vintage Body Care.  After giving birth to her first child, owner Eliza focused on creating a truly 100% natural line.  I tried a giant bath bomb the size of my hand that lightly foamed like bubble bath in the tub and totally soothed the skin.  Noting the dry California weather constantly makes me itchy, Eliza suggested I try their Shea Butter lotion.  This product has worked like a charm – I’m thankful to have a full bottle!

While the packaging of Italy’s PuroBio have left me perplexed, Australia’s C Lab Co coffee scrub has been easy to understand and use.  Made with coffee, almond oil, sea salt and citros oil, the product helps heal scars, skin imperfections and diminish cellulite by invigorating cell growth.  I’m trying it on a scar on my hand.  While it’s too soon to know if it works, I can say it rinses off with a wonderfully silky-smooth finish.

There were some home décor products on display.  A-Lamp founder Erol Chandler had a few of his pieces on display and spoke with visitors about his Kickstarter campaign to fund a foot activated water saving shower device.  Marilean Madio shared interesting reusable hand-painted reusable murals.  What I loved best was presented by the women from Relax By Scent.  Included in their soy based producers were 100% soy candles in scents that promoted comfort, invigoration, and joy.   I have their honey, oatmeal and milk scented candle – its gentle scent is warm and calming.

Outside of Little T’s Boutique, the company that created the gowns the “princesses” were wearing, there was little offered in the clothing category.  Fortunately, there were some great jewelry lines participating.  Products of 47 from South Carolina offered guests sterling silver jewelry with fun beads, gems or crystals.  With creations inspired by film and television shows, the elegant stands included fun charms such as stilettos and wine glasses.  Pink Karma specializes in beaded chokers with a single, long strand that hangs down.  Incorporating organic material and found art, the line includes bracelets and rings.  While the folks at Toronto’s Sad Truth Supply booth provided a confusing presentation of their line, I looked at their website and noticed they create interesting graphic products, including patches, t-shirts and pins featuring the likes of Hunter S. Thompson’s and Christopher Walken’s face.   Terry McEwen’s Utah based company SoulKix was on hand providing custom print design sneakers.  They make a cool promotional item for folks with new content looking to get the word out in a slightly different way!

The only makeup that was offered, or that I saw anyhow, was Urban Minerals face powder, an item meant to balance out skin tone for both men and women.   Before I left, I walked over to the MC, an online host I’ve met at TV related events in the past.  We chatted about the various folks we’d been able to speak with during the event.  This, I realized, was the most rewarding aspect of the event: having a venue that offered guests the chance to interact and chat in a non-work related environment.  As you sampled a yogurt dip or looked at a miniature bed exhibiting silky bed sheets, it was fun to relate as regular people and discuss new discoveries that were appealing, funny or tasty.