Launch Party Redux

Last week we finally had the opportunity to celebrate the launch of All Places, in person, with some of our closest family and friends. It was a glorious and overwhelming evening for me. But now, a week out, I wanted to share a bit of that experience with you all. In short, all the things.

In October 2020, I launched this little business from my computer, sitting atop my desk, over on Hester Street. Then, somehow, seemingly out of nowhere, it was two years later. I was walking into this super chic SoHo hotel, up a few floors in a glass elevator from which I could see the lights of the surrounding neighborhood, right past this remarkable display of flowers dripping over our logo, and into a beautiful, classic space that would soon be filled with people celebrating my company. Right now, in my mind, there is a side-by-side of me at my desk that morning in 2020, wondering wtf I was doing, and me standing on a table at Jumpin’ Jacks (that happened, more later), feeling like a boss. So what was that night really like? 

It was a night of nerves. I wonder if I will ever get to the point in my life when I throw a party without worrying that no one will show up. The greatest stressor leading up to the event stemmed for the fact that we had recently undergone an IT transition that resulted in many of our invitations going straight to spam. I cursed Microsoft many, many times (as I still do on a near daily basis). I vividly recall the first person arriving, followed very closely by my husband, who was escorting my mom, and wondering if anyone else was going to come. After that, people just seemed to roll in (thank you all!).

It was a night of discomfort. Accepting praise has never been my natural state of being. This is not because I was a child who didn’t get praised (I had very healthy self-esteem). It’s probably because I was raised in a culture where women are not supposed to be arrogant, and accepting praise suggests that you agree with the things that are being said. Totally out of order! Lucky for me, I have plenty of people in my life who regularly present me with opportunities for this type of personal growth. That night I did my best to fully receive and absorb all the wonderful things people had to say about me and about All Places. A particular thank you to Kristin Meister, who felt the need (because she knows me and she is who she is) to tell me over and over (and over) again, “I mean, look what you did. Who f*ing does this? No one. No one does this!”

It was a night of gut-wrenching emotion. When I was mapping out the two hours of that evening, I largely planned for it to be an unstructured period of drinking and eating and chatting. But I also wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge a few people. Midway through the night, I asked the bartenders to turn off the music, removed my sparkly heels, and stepped on top of a very sturdy marble coffee table. Being able to look across the room, seeing these joyful faces staring back at me, was so special. Then I had a chance to give a few moments of praise to Molly (my ride-or-die colleague), my mom (I hope that made up for the oversight in my valedictory address), and my husband (who got very few words because I was literally so choked up talking about him that I could barely speak). Note to brain: if you could permanently imprint those few moments, I would be so grateful.

It was a night of surprises. Gathering people in person is always a challenge. Working around travel schedules, last minute family issues, people with crazy jobs. It’s tough, and that was before COVID. Many of the people who’ve been cheering me on throughout these last two years couldn’t be there and I felt their absence. On the other hand, each person who was able to come was a delight. Molly’s parents (Margy and Bob), friends I’ve known for twenty years (that’s right, that first day of law school was twenty years ago), friends I’ve known for less than a year, a family friend I’ve known since I was a baby, our very first client (Maggie!), and some people I’d never met before. Delight!

It was a vibe. One of the things Molly and I both heard after the party was how much people enjoyed the whole feel of the evening. We had forgotten that this was, from the outside, a “work” event. Imagine if you were invited to attend a law firm reception. . . Probably not an invitation that would exactly knock your socks off. Then you turned up, not only to a beautiful space, but to a space filled with beautiful people who all seemed really happy to be there and excited to be talking to each other (even though they just met!). Some of the people who arrived on time and knowing no one were still there at the end. I take these things for granted because I’ve spent so much time with this community, but it was lovely to hear how it hit other people.

I’ll pause here for a moment of appreciation for some of the people I haven’t mentioned: Hilary at SheGone (who organized the space for us), Patrick at Élan Flowers (who created a perfectly magical entryway floral display for us), Alexandria Vigliotti (who captured so many of these moments on film), Pam (who helped with so much of the behind-the-scenes work), and Jenna, Muhammad and Farley at ModernHaus SoHo (who took excellent care of all of us).

One of the things I’m most grateful for is that I was able to be really present for most of the evening (shoutout to meditation!). Sometimes these things really fly by and you almost blackout. But a week out, I feel like I could go back and relive so much of it, which I will undoubtedly do over and over again, until next year’s party!

--Jessie Gabriel

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