Commentary

Just An Online Minute... Minorities In Media Get Ugly For The Holidays

Minorities In Media (MiM) Ugly Christmas Sweater Holiday Party, Veranda, New York
December 1, 2010

I am INFUSED...OVERFLOWING... OBNOXIOUS with the Christmas spirit (because it's what I celebrate, it's what I'm calling it.  Feel free to call whatever joyful affliction I have whatever suits your beliefs!)  It is because of many things.  One such thing is the party I covered last night, thrown by the good people at Minorities In Media (MiM), which was filled with freaky fabulous ugly Christmas sweaters, delicious Mediterranean bites, and some of the nicest people you might be lucky enough to meet some day.  The other thing is discovering that my Angry Birds Seasons is an advent calendar.  But for now, come with me to the place that confused Google Maps and Hopstop.

You're going to think I'm crazy or stupid or both.  I knew where Veranda was.  I saw it on the Internet.  But for some reason I felt compelled, even though I knew it was wrong to head North on 7th Avenue, rather than South, simply because both Google Maps and Hopstop told me to.  I finally turned around after scolding myself loudly, startling the Pomeranian on the corner.  Here, just so you know I'm not crazy here's where Veranda is (mute your sound).  And here is where the Internet map lords told me to go.  See!?  Let's move on.

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When I arrived, the party room in Veranda was already speckled with reds, whites, and greens of holiday sweaters.  Carat's Raymonde Green had a particularly notable cardigan, one a little too small with a huge embroidered window on the back.  I spotted Adam Eldridge, one of the founders, immediately.  You usually hear him before you see him, he's one of those high energy effervescent guys that just wants you to have as great a time as he's having.  Also, he's a hugger.  So if you're not now, you will be when you meet him.   Another founding member, Hillary Gilmore of MOG, was also of the warm, friendly, huggable variety.

I made my way around the bar, which was littered with troughs of salad, tapenades of all kinds, chicken sticks, and my very favorites - fried zucchini disks.  I'll have you know, in Ohio, our fried zucchini is thicker and more fried.  It was near the zukes that I found Marie Abesamis, Northwest Sr Account Executive at Transpera, and Christine Corrales of MEC, part of the MiM founding cast.  I asked what the inspiration was for the group and discovered it was born the way most official social groups are formed: through friendships.  MiM began as a dinner, and "one night, we were sitting there and looked around," explained Christine,"... and said 'we' are all brown... and Asian...'" and it just grew from there.  

If interest explodes, are they willing to dress it up more, move from a social gathering to a more structured event? "We want to keep it social, no sales pressure," said Hillary Gilmore, "we want to keep it chill, not make it stuffy."  Eyeballing the party, I remarked that it was obviously a young group.  "I'm not young!" countered Marie.  "I'm 33," I said. "Oh, then I'm young!" She said, sounding relieved.  I got the impression from the head nods that the intent is to keep it a younger group, but that's not to say they're going to reject your half century self. 

Ugly sweater-less was Alvin Grimes of Transperfect and Darren Sands of Snackable Media.  Tsk tsk, how can you not embrace the power and glory of an ugly holiday sweater?!  Knowing full well the ecstasy an ugly sweater can bring were Carla Rubio of Mindshare and Andre Hasche of Carat.  Theo Yang of Giant Realm got in on the holiday shirt theme, but managed to find a snowman-covered shirt that actually looked fashion forward.  She was hanging with Gordon Bach of Mindshare. 

Around the corner from Theo and Gordon, I found three blonds sans ugly sweaters!  I gave them a hard time about it, which inspired them to reveal they had actually just stumbled upon the event, "But we support minorities in media!"  These possible party crashers were Elizabeth Heleva, a buyer for Macy's, Claribel Teran, a buyer for Perry Ellis, and Sutton Bain of Iconix Brands.  They were a fun threesome, so I welcome them to crash any party they want going forward.

My nose tickled with the floral scent of hookah juice.  I turned around to discover that tables that once held plates of hummus and pitas were now host to towering hookahs.  More intriguing than the hookahs, though, was the raffle that was whooping up, thanks to the projecting whoops of Adam Eldridge.  An iPad Nano, big money gift certificates from Modells and The Gap, a roku, and two bottles of champagne, Wine of the Month Club, and a Powermat were raffled off to VERY happy winners thanks to sponsors like JumpTap, InteractiveOne, Crave Online, Gaia Online, smartclip, Outrigger Media, and RocketFuel.

The big win, though, that made everyone evergreen with envy were the two XBOX 360's WITH Kinect raffled off thanks to "The token white guy" Smartclip's Seth Ingram.  As he emerged at the front of the pack for recognition, good natured chants of "Token! Token! Token!" erupted from the entire party.

As the party limped drunkenly to a close, I reunited with my favorite find of the night, Bonnie Chu, a Senior Account Director at AKQA.  We talked candidly and realistically about gender and fair pay, how annoying it is that it's true women have a harder time asking for compensation they deserve, how delicious ginger liquor is in champagne, and an unending love for all things office supplies (big emphasis on pencil boxes).

I also met Sue Lee, Account Executive at Outrigger Media; Kmart Shopper (you can tell by the stitching) Tania Turner from Deutsch; Mike Fenton, Digital Sales Planner at MOG Music Network; Alex Brough, SVP of Sales and Partnerships at MOG Music Network; and Ian Soares, Senior Account Executive at Smartclip.  Fellow Ohioan Miriam Yu, Account Supervisor at ID Media, was also getting in on the party action.

Tonight, after I wash the hookah from my hair, I'm heading to Bryant Park for Collective's Winter Wonderland Party (and tree lighting festivities!).  My +1 tonight is my sister, hard working Catchafire intern, MaryBeth - so if you're going, get ready to enlighten her on the ins and outs of the digital nightlife networking scene!

Photos are up on Flickr!

Throwing your own ugly sweater party? Send those invitations to kelly@mediapost!

If you're interested in partying with MiM, you can give them a ping at events@minoritiesinmedia.org.
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