The last couple of months we’ve been going full steam ahead to launch a west coast branch to the charity my friend Cheryl and I co-founded with a 25 years ago in DC Knock Out Abuse Against Women. After many 12 hour days we finally threw our first fundraiser for Knock Out Abuse West in Los Angeles. Not only did we have to get the charity up and running, assemble an amazing sisterhood, I also had to prepare the house to welcome 200 guests!
First I was worried we wouldn’t have enough people but as the event grew closer I instead became worried we would all fit! We planned a sunset indoors/outdoors terrace event so I was not happy to wake up to a cold, cloudy grey LA day.
But despite the weather our launch was an overwhelmingly magical night with great Los Angeles women (and men).
All images by @ANNAMARIAFOTOGRAF unless noted.
Luckily Andre Wells from Events by Andre Wells flew in and helped us. He has designed all the Knock Out galas in DC for the past 15 years.
We worked with a small event budget and I was amazed once again to witness his talent in making everything look so good! Seriously the most amazing flower arrangements ever.
We rummaged through the house and he picked out whatever vases and pots I had and to create these masterpieces in them.
Bobbi (our director) and Andre went to a floral wholesaler downtown LA to save money.
Every room got filled with these beautiful arrangements.
Image by Andre Wells
Image Andre Wells
Image Andre Wells
It’s a bit nerve-racking to open up your home to so many people that you don’t know, but when it was all set up it felt very welcoming.
The big wood dining table got an impressive arrangement.
For our video presentation we rented a screen and projector from Joymode a backyard movie night rental to save money on costly AV.
Image via Andre Wells.
My dear friends Priscilla and Josh who own The Grand Bevy were one of our sponsors. They make specialty cocktails with organic drink mixes as well as popular logo and selfie cocktails. You get your picture taken and in two minutes you get served a cocktail with your picture on it and drink yourself.
We set up a Love Shouldn’t Hurt bar menu with drinks called Hear me Road and You’ve got the Power. Pernod Ricard generously donated all wine and spirits for the event.
My outdoor kitchen has never looked so good!
Our amazing committee women got on of a kind silent auction items like this beautiful art by talented artist Yelena York.
This is the Grand Bevy team – all super positive and professional which adds a fun vibe to any event.
To make a statement about domestic violence we created t-shirts that the super talented team at Gravillis Inc designed with Ca Cloth foundry. Seeing all these men wearing them at an all women’s event was very powerful.
REAL MEN DON’T HIT WOMEN… only the broken and weak ones do.
I mistakenly had a special facial the day before the event so my face was read and blotchy which didn’t help after a few sleepless nights!
Thankfully my talented make up artist friend Jane Cohen came to the rescue and hairdresser Jessica helped us.
Bobbi Chinlund is our director here in LA. We’ve been friends since we were teens and working in Paris. Her mother was a victim of domestic violence so she is as passionate about helping women as I am.
Luke got a bunch of his friends to volunteer to wear the t-shirts and act as a greeting committee.
They lined up in the driveway and waved as the valet took them up in the golf cart.
Model Gregory escorted them to the selfie drink set up. In short every one was in a great mood before they even walked through the front door!
Image via Andre Wells
I’m not a selfie person, but the “selfie drinks” where a real hit!
Best selling author of Crazy Love.(must read) and domestic violence survivor Leslie Morgan Steiner was our speaker for the evening. Here with her two daughters.
Franky Perez was one of our headline performers for the night, he brought his daughter. He also grew up with domestic abuse.
Make up artist Jane Cohen and friend.
Image via Stamie on @knockoutabusewest on Instagram
The deck slowly started filling up…
Mary Hadid who was a the very first Knock Out dinner in DC 25 years ago came with her daughters Alana and Marielle.
Here is Andre Wells with friends.
It didn’t take long for the entire space to fill up.
Cheryl the co-founder of Knock Out was sadly stuck in bed with pneumonia back in Washington DC, so our former chairwoman Michelle Schoenfeld stepped in to help welcome the crowd.
Amazing artist Shelea opened the night with performing for the first time her song “I am Woman” live to Quincy Jones and crowd.
Not a dry eye in the house! I’m sure it will be a huge hit!
Check out @KNOCKOUTABUSEWEST or @SHELEAMUSIC – to listen to the song.
The crowd kept growing and growing…all my concerns were wiped away as people had a great time and the house appeared to function well for a big crowd..
Here they are watching our intro video on the home theater screen. My boyfriend and his friend music producer Peter Rafelson kindly handled all AV and sound.
Image by Michael Strider (lifeafterproject.org)
The evening ended with Franky Perez singing Something Crazy a beautiful song about domestic violence that came out a while back and did really well.
In short the house handled the crowd beautifully and it was a magical night for women.
If you live in the LA area (or really anywhere) sign up and join us at www.knockoutabusewest.org. If you are in the LA area, stay tuned for a design makeover that we are doing for a shelter, perhaps you want to volunteer?