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The word “FRESH” calls up images of spring blossoms, clean design, and, of course, OutKast. We’re happy to report that the upcoming FRESHbash will include all of the above. No, Outkast will not be there, but we’re confident that this one-of-a-kind designer event will offer up enough swag to have you singing “So Fresh, So Clean” into the evening.

Carmen Salazar-Burke, Dena Argyropoulos, and Hailey Yeager (photographer, designer, and event planner, respectively) met in the serendipitous way we all hope to meet a best friend turned business partner, over sushi. What started out as a cocktail party to thank their fellow wedding vendors turned into the ultimate party for design lovers. In case “ultimate party” didn’t sell you, we’re talking beer garden, unicorn hair experience, a dessert station, honey lemon switchels, a custom perfume bar, cocktail from Sharpshooters, and so much more. We grabbed coffee with the founders to learn more about FRESHbash, the team behind it, and, ultimately, convince ourselves to get our tickets and wait in line for the swag bag of all swag bags. So fresh. So clean.

I’ll start with an easy one. What is FRESHbash?
Carmen: FRESHbash is a creative event and wedding design party that is one part design competition and one part experiential showcase. It’s for brides-to-be who want to be inspired for their wedding, it’s for design lovers who want to be inspired for the home, and it’s also for industry people to raise the bar for creative concepts for wedding and event production in the industry. It features all Northern California vendors, so we’re looking at all the talent from San Franciso all the way up to the Reno and Tahoe areas and in between.

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So, event showcase/design competition? Explain that a bit, what that is.
Dena: We really wanted to bring people together who would otherwise not have the chance to work together. So we have paired four industry people together, one designer, one florist, one stationer, and one pastry chef. They’re from different geographical regions, and we have given them the design trends that are projected for 2016.  We said, “Here’s your 10×10 space at Beatnik Studios, here’s your trends, and you guys need to collaborate. Just like we collaborated and came up with FRESHbash, you guys need to collaborate on a wedding design installation.” There are four teams, and people that attend the event get to vote on which is their favorite installation.

How fun! And that adds to the experience of people attending as well. That’s the inspiration aspect?
C: Yes. And at the end of the party, we crown the freshest of the teams. So, from everyone voting, there will be someone crowned “Freshest Design Team,” and they’ll have little party presents, a crown, and all that royal goodness.

Tell me a little about how you ladies met, and how the idea came about.
C: Yeah, so I wanted to throw a little cocktail party to thank all the vendors that I’ve worked with over the years for their collaboration and making my business a success. So I contacted Dena to say, “Hey, do you want to collaborate on this? You could do some graphic design, and we could host a little cocktail party…” After I collaborated with her on the idea, I was like, “Okay, so let’s get Rosaura [of Pigment and Parchment] so she can do some artwork, too,” and I’m not exactly sure when it rolled into this big competition, but we got Hailey on it.

Hailey: Yeah, so I met them at Mikuni’s and they said they needed help putting this party together. I said, “Well, you’re trying to build community–I just went to an event called The Cream, which is in Los Angeles, and it’s a big event design showcase, it doesn’t have the competition aspect,” and I said, “Why don’t we put something really cool together that people would want to go to that’s sort of design-based,” and they were all about that. Then the competition aspect just sort of evolved. We kept meeting at coffee shops like this one, and over time, after throwing out a ton of ideas, we sort of honed that into what eventually became FRESHbash.

C: It’s sort of like the anti-bridal show and the anti-networking event combined into one. Our audience really is, you know, brides to be, and the design industry, and design lovers. The unique thing about FRESHbash is that it’s not something for people to just walk through and look at. We really wanted them to experience it as well, so we have a lot of stations for our guests to taste things, touch things, create things with their hands, (and) see an artist doing the craft. We wanted people to understand the craft itself and the process, to be able to appreciate it and understand why that’s a valuable aspect of having it in an event or a wedding that they’re designing. So, it wasn’t just about people walking through and looking at it like it’s a gallery. We wanted people to actually be a part of it, in addition to appreciating the design competition and their installations.freshbash_0031 freshbash_0003Why is FRESHbash important for Sacramento?
C: Well, there’s nothing like it, nationally, that we can find. There’s nothing like this in our nation, let alone in our state, let alone in our city. Our city is becoming this wonderful enclave for artists, musicians, and growth. It’s just a cool time to be in Sacramento, and I think it’s a prime time to be in Sacramento for this event because it’s really part of that artistic fostering, and explosion that’s happening right now. I think, with the design community in Sacramento, there’s so much talent, and there’s so much room for even more collaboration. I just think Sacramento’s a perfect backdrop because it’s kind of coming up in the ranks.

H: It puts it on the map! I don’t think in the past people have necessarily associated creative energy with Sacramento, you know, you’d probably think San Francisco or Napa, but Sacramento is [full of creatives]. I’m from Los Angeles, but a lot of people are like, “What is Sacramento?” It just doesn’t have an identity for a lot of people that are outside the city. So we’re trying to help it find an identity grounded in the things that we love about Sacramento.

What do people have to look forward to at this year’s FRESHbash?
H: I don’t even know where to start! There’s a lot of stuff.

C: First is swag bags. We have swag bags for a lot of the first people through the door, so last year we had people lining up, like, an hour before the event to get these bags.

D: They’re like ten pounds each with all the swag in them. We’re going to hand-screen print these bags ourselves!

C: Yes, they’re handmade by us, with love, and a few mistakes. [Laughter] So, those are filled with great pieces from all the vendors that are participating and even some vendors who couldn’t participate but wanted to be able to share their brand  with all the attendees. Then all of our guests are going to go into a beer garden pre-party, sponsored by Federalist, and Spreading Lovely Celebrations. It is kind of a new concept that people can incorporate into their wedding or events. Instead of a traditional cocktail hour, you can create a beer garden experience. freshbash_0027 I’m in!
H: What’s a little different about this beer garden, too, is that it’s highly stylized. That’s something we’re bringing to all aspects of the bash – that even if you have been to a beer garden, you’ve been in a normal beer garden, not this kind.

C: Doors will open at 6 to the interior, and that’s when people can go inside the FRESHbash and start enjoying all of the installations and experiential stations. We have an all-female DJ company from San Francisco coming called Heart of Gold. You never see a female DJ, and I saw their website, they look amazing, and we’re really happy to have them. It’s really cool.

H: I think one of the best parts of all of this–and you guys will probably agree– I’ve never verbalized it this way before, but we don’t even know what this event’s going to look like. I mean, we’ve spent thousands of hours putting this together.

D: Since August, we started. Of last year.

H: Right, so these designers, we don’t know exactly what they’re going to do. Every time we get a hint of what they’re doing, we’re like, “Oh my god, I never would have thought of that, that’s incredible.” Everything we’ve heard sounds incredible, but we’re going to be surprised.

D: Last year we designed every station and even fabricated items, but this year we had a designer design each station so they can style it according to the trends we gave to the design teams. We have about 50 vendors that we are communicating and coordinating with this year.

Looks like this is all going to come together!
C: Yes! Somehow. Magically…

D: It will… by the magic of the unicorn, which is our mascot for this year! [Laughter]

H: It’s going to be much bigger this year in terms of scale and the production level. If you thought last year was awesome, this year’s going to be crazy. I’m excited.
FRESHbash begins at 5:30 at Beatnik Studios on 7th and S in Sacramento. This event will take place rain or shine. Tickets are required and swag bags are limited on a first come first serve basis. Beer garden, swag bags, unicorn hair, and witnessing the crowning of “The Freshest?” Not to be missed.

Photos | Susan Yee

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