When planning the first ever OMG Girls Tea Party in 2009 Johnson PR and Events owner Shakira Johnson noticed something. The young ladies who had come in search of confidence and companionship weren’t alone. Moms were tagging along looking to get in on the fun.
“It just kept getting bigger and bigger and every year it would sell out and” said Johnson “and then at some point Women started saying “this is amazing but we want something just for us.”
Years later after expanding what was supposed to be a one-off event into a recurring series that has provided signature experiences, business master classes, a mentorship program and a STEM incubator Johnson decided to get together a group of women to celebrate Galentine’s Day with a vision board party and cocktail party.
The modern holiday encourages single women to celebrate their friendships during the first half of February.
And unlike more snarky versions that dub themselves the antidote to all of the romance, Galentine’s Day encourages those who are coupled up to join in on the fun.
“I love my husband” said Johnson but she was quick to assert that that’s possible because “I love myself.”
The evening began in the luxe lounge of the Rahway, New Jersey’s Watt Hotel.
Everyone snacked on the light-bites provided including sushi, fried rice, fresh fruit and customized cupcakes.
The hotel’s decor, inspired by the area’s historical ties to Thomas Edison, was the perfect setting for a glam girls night out.
While she has partnered with companies like Microsoft, Carol’s Daughter, and Saks Fifth Avenue to provide resources and experiences for tea party participants there were no sponsors for this occasion. Instead it was by gals for gals. “This is not a sponsored event. This is just me saying let’s do something.”
She didn't do it alone. Her cousin Karla Timmons was at her side helping to make sure that everything ran seamlessly.
Johnson was just as adamant about giving this experience to women of all backgrounds as is is to catering to all types of young girls. Guests weren’t pre-screened for popularity or influence. “There’s access,” she said to the room “it’s not by invitation only.”
“It’s about stretching and leveling up” said Johnson on the theme of the evening. She banned all negative language encouraging everyone to think and behave positively throughout the event.
“This is a safe space” she said “it’s all about love. It’s all about friendship.”
She didn’t just communicate her hopes for the evening verbally she did it visually as well providing attendees with round vision boards to help them think literally outside the box.
One attendee took the suggestion literally threading a black ribbon through her board to help her hang it up at home.
Johnson also provided premium crafting supplies so everyone could express their vision without limitations.
Gem shaped drink tickets were dispersed and music flowed through the doors room as women made their way up and downstairs to the lounge where they were able to use them to order cocktails including the event’s signature a sweetly rimmed chocolatini.
Initially planned to accommodate just eight guests in the lobby of the Watt Hotel, the event had to be moved into a separate room after the overwhelming response.
One guest was a single mother who drove in the rain from Brooklyn (wearing a seriously cute turban) to check out the event and get a chance to meet some new people.
Another was actually celebrating her birthday and saw the event as a way to start off a new year by focusing on the future.
Guests shared their goals for the upcoming year including being awarded promotions, taking vacations, and having successful love lives.
Though it was geared towards adults the event had the same girlish charm that the organization is known for. Pink and silver metallic mylar balloons floated on the walls and samples from the organization’s clothing and accessories lines provided pops of color. A mannequin rocking one of the brand’s signature Beauty and Brands tees and a fabulous tutu provided the perfect backdrop for photos.
Making and maintaining friendships as an adult isn’t easy but after snapping selfies and swapping contact information women left in pairs and trios chatting away as they walked through the lobby of the Watt Hotel with a little more love than they arrived with.
To learn more about Shakira Johnson check out her profile on NJMOM here.
To learn more about the OMG Tea Party check here.