The blog launch party was born for 3 reasons:
- Ever the procrastinator and perfectionist, it forced me to lock down a deadline for launch
- It was the perfect way to generate excitement for the blog, and encourage readership
- Any excuse for a party!
I had one month to get the blog sparkling and functional, while also planning a large ‘event’ for the first time. The venue was easy. I knew immediately that I wanted to host it at the bar of my first NYC date: Bell Book and Candle; a cozy, candlelit, West Village basement. The rest… not so easy.
SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT
I wouldn’t have pulled it off half as well without my housemate (aka creative superstar). She spent 6 hours with me, freezing our booties off on the streets of Manhattan, camera in hand, to capture the ‘perfect’ anonymous blog profile picture.
She created elegant, branded banners, signs, and menus for the special event cocktails. She helped mastermind the gorgeous goodie bags, which mimicked the blog structure: a little something for eating (a map of my favorite Manhattan eateries), dating (a gorgeous lovability condom)
Next on the to do list was rallying prizes for a fab giveaway. Local businesses I approached cold were reluctant to partake; I suppose they didn’t need the extra publicity, but faith was restored when I started asking around my New York friends. I received 3 extremely generous donations: a stunning necklace from Annalaya, a private pilates session from Yera’s Pilates, and a basket of hair products from Muze Salon.
Then there was the navigation of Paperless post; amalgamating and communicating with the guest list. My favorite decision of all was choosing the cake for the launch party. Luckily I had a contact at Cupcake Market, a friend I had met in an Uber Pool, and they couldn’t have been more amazing at customizing my dream creation.
Drawing on my network was the best move I made in prepping for the launch. When embarking on a new venture, remember you don’t have to do it alone! I was amazed at how willing people were to help, in everything from color scheme to social media advice to proof reading, and I can’t wait to return the favor someday.
FACING MY FEAR
Everyone I mentioned the party to was stoked, but I kept getting asked the same question: would I be doing a Carrie-esque style reading or speech. The word ‘speech’ sent shockwaves of horror through my soul. Despite being a competent speaker, and having to speak regularly as part of my job, for me the anticipatory terror of speaking has not lessened over time. I rarely sleep the night before, and my pre-speech nerves are so physically consuming that each time I fully expect to drop dead from a heart attack.
The problem is that my irrational, unfounded thoughts, e.g. you’ll forget everything, go silent, run out the room and your life will be ruined, always beat my logical, experience-grounded thoughts, e.g. you always do well, you’ve done this many times, can trust yourself to perform, and this isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life.
But, this was MY launch party, and I was sure as hell going to make a speech. The heart attack could wait until after.
I decided to face my fear head on, proactively. I’d wanted to try Toastmasters for some time. It’s a global, non-profit organization founded in 1924, with the objective of developing people’s public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in ‘local clubs’. There are 100s of clubs in New York alone, and their website helps you locate a convenient club, time and location.
The night of my first Toastmasters speech came about all too quickly. Instead of giving the standard 5 minute personal intro presentation, I seized the opportunity to test run my launch party speech. The room was in daunting boardroom layout, with 10 faces in the audience. Although nerve-wracking, it helped to know that this was a safe place, with no judgement or consequences if it all went tits up. Everyone in the room was there for the same reason. I guess that’s the whole point.
After the initial, expected adrenaline rush, I moved into full swing and it flowed better than anticipated. Feedback from the group leader boosted my confidence, and afterwards everyone in class asked for the blog link and an invite to the launch! I felt empowered, and thankfully my anxiety subsided… until launch day.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The night before launch I was up until 3am making tweaks to the blog. A patchy 7 hour kip left me groggy and tense. Rain bucketed down and winds howled cruelly, so I spent most of the day messaging guests, trying to ensure the weather wasn’t going to deter them!
All the while I recognized the familiar, niggling dread in the pit of my stomach, reminding me that I had to speak later. Anyone with public speaking fear will know what I’m talking about.
The hours preceding the party were an anxious blur: in the downpour I Ubered cake and decorations to the venue, including jars of flowers, which clanked angrily together, as if one knock from breaking. I squeezed in a salon blow out, which was near impossible to keep dry. Thank g-d my housemate and I had picked my outfit out the night prior, or I probably wouldn’t have made the launch. I also gave myself a nifty vibrator orgasm; one of my longstanding stress relief tips!
I was shaking with adrenaline by the time I arrived. The keen early arrivers (including one of my fellow Toastmasters!) got the pleasure of watching me flail around, attempting to set up, wearing flats and a panicked expression. Luckily my housemate arrived in the nick of time to help.
Friends and their friends appeared one by one in the doorway, and did not stop coming. I’d hired a third of the bar, but within an hour, the entire room was throbbing with an energetic and boisterous crowd. 80 RSVP’d yes; 100 plus turned up. I was blown away, and ecstatic. I couldn’t believe all of these people had ventured out in the horrific rain to support the launch. Unexpectedly, this diminished my fear, and my mindset switched to ‘fuck it; I’m going for it’.
The bartender turned down the music and chimed a glass, and the buzzing room fell silent. There was no going back. I stood on the bottom rung of a stool overlooking the never-ending sea of faces, and began. I had full attention for the entire 5 minute speech. There was laughter, clapping and cheering, and I was on top of the world. The relief upon finishing was the high of all highs. I ceremoniously chased my speech with a mammoth shot of whisky.
The rest of the night felt like the best birthday I’ve never had. The cake was beyond phenomenal: moist chocolate sponge slathered with fluffy white vanilla bean icing, adorned with stunning, purple-iced roses. Everyone wanted to talk blog. They told me how inspired they were by my endeavor, and enthusiastically shared tales of their own moves and ambitions. It was as if the intended philosophy of shemadethemove was manifesting before my very eyes, and my heart beamed.
I closed the bar out with 10 or so others around 1am, and smiled all the way home in my Uber, all the way through my leftover pasta munchies, and all the way to sleep. I had made the move not only into blogging but also into facing my fears head on. It is a night I will cherish for the rest of my life.