I can’t believe it’s been a year since the MB team took a tiny idea to celebrate 5 years in business and expanded it into a full on barn takeover-soirée: complete with a surprise fashion show, the launch of Rainbow (our biggest collection ever), delicious food, home-crafted cocktails, a band, a DJ, and some of the most amazing people to celebrate with under a Virginia starry sky.
Rewind a bit, and in June of 2019, the MB team grew from John and I to a team of 4 with the addition of Katherine and Lizzy. We were having our first team dinner when I realized, OMG – Malabella is turning 5 in September, let’s celebrate! What started in my head as a small gathering quickly turned into inspired action and dreams of surprising our family, friends, and local Bellas with a fashion show and live music! We quickly started planning as Katherine’s side event planning/creative content business Black Valley Creative collaborated with Tiffany of West Oak Style to plan a magical evening in less than 3 months. Lizzy became our Model Manager – casting and directing 7 unique and beautiful women to showcase our newest collection. John became Building Lead, building and designing a model area, a photoshoot backdrop, plant chandeliers, a bar, and more. Autumn, our past Artisan, designed and created custom black satin slips for our models to wear.
Over the next 3 months we took our tiny budget, held model casting calls, met with local vendors to collaborate, searched for venues, crafted decor, and built an event from scratch. The whole event was put together with love, intention, and purpose as we creatively worked within our roles to quickly develop a dream event and I couldn’t be more proud of what we created.
It was a magical and surreal day starting a full weekend prior with a full barn clean-out, lights being strung, a model area created, and a layout of the day with lighting, sound, and logistics. The day before the event, as I was finishing up the collection in true Hannah style, last minute, Katherine and Lizzy made pure magic happen and decorated every inch of the barn to pure perfection. The night before and the night of the soirée, John and I even camped in the barn in a little tent so that way we could be on the property as late and as early as possible.
The day of the event I woke up with nerves in my belly, excitement in my heart, and inspiration in my mind as we semi-manically, but also very smoothly, set up a wall of every MB photoshoot campaign, a photoshoot arch, a MB boutique and Zen Den, a full spread of delicious hors d’oeuvres by local Hazard Mill Kitchen (a badass woman we met at our first yoga festival, Shensara), MB cupcakes by Sweet Escapes Bakery and a full complimentary bar ran by Katherine’s husband, Trevor.
Meanwhile, upstairs in our built-out model loft, Autumn of Dreams of Autumn, worked on model fittings and last minute alterations while our beautiful models were getting ready in full creative and artistic makeup by Britney of Wimple Artistry where each model had a different color eye look corresponding to their color of the Rainbow jewels they were wearing. All models were adorned in Kismet Cosmetics Opulent Lotion for a radiant glow and shimmer.
Later, Lush + Local Florist from Strasburg, Virginia, arrived with the most magical array of locally grown flowers and greenery, creating a stunning display on our main backdrop, two full floral chandeliers, and a plethora of overflowing vases.
As we got closer to our guests arriving, the whole team put on headsets as Lizzy managed the models and their field photoshoot with our dear friend and first ever campaign photographer, Jessica Seyfriend. Katherine and Tiffany made sure everything happened on time, John set up the MB boutique, and I ran around adorning models in jewelry + making final decisions as things flowed and changed.
On the day of the event, I had one of my closest friends and supporters, Catherine, run our Instagram and show all the behind the scenes (which I believe you can still peek on our highlights on Instagram)! Many friends and family started showing up early, setting up tents on the farm to camp, and helped us set up as over 50 guests arrived.
And then… so quickly it all happened….
I hugged our family, friends, and local Bellas as they drank, ate, and visited. Hopefully my extreme nerves didn’t show too much as secretly Lizzy was hyping up our models for their first ever runway show! I started with a speech and talked about my journey as an entrepreneur, what I’ve learned, and what I hope to inspire and then lead into our surprise fashion show.
Every model walked down that runway with a fierce passion, pure beauty and radiance and killed their walks! I was so proud to see an incredible group of women shine so damn bright and represent MB like they did. See a peek in the video below!
After the runway, we had a MB first-access Rainbow pop up shop with an array of gems: Garnet, Sunstone, Citrine, Emerald, Aquamarine, Tanzanite, and Amethyst – all representing the different colors, meanings, and emotions of the Rainbow.
And then as the sun set, we danced to music by Oceans in Heaven and selections by Valley Cat Co and we danced, and we danced…. until late into the night when we all crashed into the MB Zen Den munching on leftovers and reminiscing on the magical evening….
There’s moments in life when you take the time to reflect and give gratitude to what you’ve done and what you have. Last year in September at our 5th Birthday Soirée was that for me. A moment to take it all in: all the hard work, the community, the purpose. I’m so grateful for how far we’ve come and I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years have in store.
To my Bellas – Thank you for loving what we create. Thank you for supporting, adorning, and creating your own magic with purpose, love, and intent. You inspire me, uplift me, and keep me going on the darkest of days. You light me up with joy and warmth and give my wild brain a focused purpose. I love y’all something wildly. Thank you for helping us plant over 5,000 trees and for spreading the MB love every dang day.
To my team – I feel so beyond blessed and unworthy of your support, hard work, and passion. You all blew me away with your organization, passion, and zest to create an almost impossible event in such a short time. I couldn’t have been more proud of the work we did together and I’m honored to work with you. Thank you for believing in me and Malabella like you do. I love you so dang much.
To my husband, John – I couldn’t do this without you. I wouldn’t. You are my rock, my support, my deciding light and my best friend. Thank you for years of hard work, support, and dreaming big as F*CK with me. I love you to the moon and back and am so freaking grateful to be on the wild journey with you.
Jewels ~ Malabella Jewels
Custom Slips ~ Dreams of Autumn
Makeup ~ Kismet Cosmetics
Makeup Artist ~ Wimple Artistry
Sound/DJ ~ Valley Cat Co
Band ~ Oceans in Heaven
Catering ~ Hazard Mill Kitchen
Cupcakes ~ Sweet Escapes Bakery
Florals ~ Lush & Local Florist
Photography ~ Jessica Seyfreid Photography
Film ~ Positive Vibes Media
Venue ~ Josh Shores Farm
~ Muses ~