Working with Avant-Soirée literally made my first New York fashion week experience completely, and utterly magical. I felt like a princess. Most importantly, I felt like I had someone in my corner.
There are people you should write about, and then there are people that you’re compelled to write about. Kate Reeder, the Founder & Managing Director of the Toronto-based luxury concierge service, Avant-Soirée is the latter. At first glance, Reeder bears a striking similarity to Kate Hudson (both in looks, and her infectious, bubbly personality). However, Reeder’s persona is coupled with the business savvy, and sophisticated reserve of someone twice her age. With a past working with the society columnist at HELLO! magazine; Reeder has already established herself as a force to be reckoned with in Toronto society. With the launch of her successful company, Avant-Soirée (AVS), she’s already on track to take the U.S. fashion, bridal and beauty industry by storm as well.
Let’s rewind for a moment. The month prior to New York Fashion Week, I had spent countless hours calling in racks of clothing, jewelry, and accessories from designers and PR showrooms, as well as trying (in vain) to find hair and makeup artists who could work around my hectic daily red-carpet, and blog photo shoot schedule. Combine that with the corresponding sample shipments, logistics, securing my show schedule, my own nerves about attending fashion week for the first time as a blogger, plus oh, you know, my DAY JOB…and it’s safe to say I was completely stressed out. That is, until I met Kate and learned about her fabulous concierge service, AVS.
Kate and I connected via email, just a mere week and half before NY Fashion Week commenced. Within literally one phone call, two days, and three emails, she had put my past month of prep-work to shame. She had set me up with a complete photo shoot at a stunning three-story NYC brownstone venue; professional hair and makeup services (to be done by her insanely talented Creative & Beauty Director, Amy Beth Duclos) as well as day-of catering, and prop styling. The best part? The rolling rack of gorgeous hand selected designer outfits…all of which I could wear throughout Fashion Week! Everything was going to be pre-tailored to my exact measurements, and personally transported to NYC by Kate in order to precede my arrival.
Since it was early February, and set to be a frightening two degrees in New York that week, one of my biggest concerns going into the trip was having an ample amount of stylish, yet functional coats. I’m a California girl; not only am I limited in my coat supply, but I was not looking to lug seven suitcases across the country. “Oh, I’ve already pulled tons of coats for you. Don’t worry, I have you covered,” said Kate.
Did she EVER. Working with Avant-Soirée literally made my first New York fashion week experience completely, and utterly magical. I felt like a princess. Most importantly, I felt like I had someone in my corner. I received honest second opinions, feedback, recommendations, and the confidence to dress a bit more boldly than I would have dared. Remember that life-changing moment I mentioned at Rag & Bone? I was wearing a fur coat from AVS client, designer Stephan Caras. Or when I interviewed Michael DePaulo backstage and he told me I looked fabulous? My hair and makeup was photo-shoot fresh; I was wearing a coat from Mackage, and a Stephan Caras jumpsuit, all courtesy of AVS.
I can safely say, that thanks to AVS, my first NYFW blogger experience was leaps and bounds easier than I ever could have imagined. Avant-Soirée gave me something that no one in my life ever gives me…TIME. Time to focus on the creative and collaborative aspects of my job, instead of being bogged down by the logistics.
We also had time to talk. I sat down with Kate-the-great on Valentine’s Day (and funnily enough, her 23rd birthday) in AVS’ gorgeous rented NYC brownstone; to get more insight into her rapidly burgeoning empire, and her plans for expanding to the U.S. in 2015.
Name: Kate Reeder
Position/Company: Founder & Managing Director of Avant-Soirée
Currently Living In: Toronto, Canada
Favorite Article Of Clothing: Haha can I say my black Victoria Secret silk PJs? Otherwise, it is definitely Stephan Caras’ dyed silver fox fur jacket. I could live in it!
Your professional background: A very long story short… I was introduced to the National Post and HELLO! Magazine’s society columnist. I started to work for her doing an apprenticeship covering events, writing and taking photos of the VIP attendees at each event. She really took me under her wing and it led to me an internship at ASC Public Relations. Through working there, I fell in love with the special events industry. I moved on to working at Bassett Events, before finishing school and starting Avant-Soiree.
How/Why did you come up with the concept of AVS?: I’ve always been passionate about the creative industry, and was really inspired while working with successful men & women. I observed their work ethics and lifestyle, and was really blessed to have the opportunity to shadow some amazing business owners, writers, and philanthropists who worked incredibly hard. Our industry involves a lot of going out socially, which many would consider pleasure, and not business. What most people outside of the industry don’t realize, is that most events and glamorous outings are work-related, and very important for business. Even though it seems shallow to say, your image is so crucial for your success. When your schedule becomes extremely busy, and you’re working all day and night, it’s really hard to keep up your image on your own. I saw a huge gap in the industry, and wanted to create a company that would provide a luxury service for busy men & women who need to…but don’t have time to, drive around picking up their wardrobe, getting their hair and makeup done, and coordinating their events. I truly believe that efficiency is key to success, and that convenience should never sacrifice luxury. I mean, when you have a busy life, being pampered is therapeutic
What services does AVS offer?: We are an all-inclusive firm that offers event styling (luxe and/or intimate), image consultation, numerous beauty and spa services (hair, makeup, nail aesthetics, eye lash extensions, massages), wardrobe styling, and closet clean outs.
Who are some of the designers that you dress your clients in?
The look and shape of his collections are inspired by a woman’s natural femininity. Stephan Caras’ status as a top tier designer has recently earned him a spot in CEO World Magazine and Runway Magazine’s List of World’s Top 20 Fashion Designers” as well as the “Top 25 Most Beloved and Inspiring Fashion Designers of the World”.
The brand focuses on building wardrobe foundations that can be enhanced from season to season and not simply the ever–changing trends from the world of fashion. It ranges from fashion forward, intricately cut shirts and separates to fluid dresses and cutting edge leather garments. Designed by Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar.
When the weather calls for layering, a coat isn’t just a part of an outfit — it becomes the outfit itself. Designers, Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan launched Mackage in 1999 and have since grown to become one of the most prestigious contemporary outerwear brands in North America.
Let’s talk hair and makeup. Tell us about your Creative & Beauty Director, Amy Beth Duclos: I met Amy Beth when I first launched the company; I hired her for one of our first client’s hair & makeup. I was still in the beginning stages of the business, and she was such a big support. Her talents exceeded my expectations, and she believed in my vision. Being a business owner herself, she understood what I had been experiencing, and we started to work together more and more. She is like my creative other half. Haha. But everything she touches, turns beautiful! She became partner, and has really done wonders for both the company, and myself.
What’s to come in 2015?: A lot of corporate work! We have some pretty incredible corporate clients that we are currently working with on upcoming projects.
Best Career Advice You’ve Ever Received: To never be fearful, and to embrace a little bit of craziness.
What are your plans for expansion in the U.S?: 2015 has already been quite the year in regards to expanding! New York Fashion week was definitely a highlight, and we’re going to continue to travel to New York, and LA for specific time frames throughout each season. Soon enough, we will be opening up offices in a few U.S. locations… so stay tuned!
5 Things Currently In Your Purse?: Oh man… um on top of a pile of receipts, Tom Ford’s Wild Ginger lipstick (weirdly enough, I don’t wear much makeup, so a bright lip is my go-to), my passport (I never know when I have to get up and go), bobby-pins (my hair always ends up in a top knot by the end of the day), my Ray-Bans, and my wallet.
Favorite Quote: “Love looks not with the eyes.” – Alexander McQueen
Romper and Dresses: Stephan Caras
Boots: Sergio Rossi
*THE BEAUTY PRODUCTS*
Hair and Makeup: Amy Beth Duclos of Avant-Soirée
Foundation and Skin:
Kevyn Murphy, Morrocan Oil and Schwarzkopf products
Scott White [Haute House Flower]