GWU alumna runs successful events design company in NYC

FYLpro delegate Adette Contreras: ‘I attribute my style choices to my immigration experience.’ Priyanca Rao Photography

FYLpro delegate Adette Contreras: ‘I attribute my style choices to my immigration experience.’ Priyanca Rao Photography

By Cristina DC Pastor

Adette Contreras is one of the three smart women behind Tinsel & Twine, an event design company that organizes celebrations, from ballroom galas to intimate dinners.

“Our design lies in that thoughtful intersection between form and function,” she said. They make it their business, she added, to create an experience their clients will long remember as “beautiful and purposeful.”

Last year, Adette took a short break from her duties as TINSEL partner to visit the Philippines as one of the delegates of the Filipino American Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO). While there, she observed the creative output of local craftsmen and became eager to transport select products back to New York.

The concept of the “socially conscious consumer” came up in the interview. Adette said she is seeing more and more buyers and businesses that are concerned about how they spend their dollars.

“Does it support a good cause? Does it help an artisan? These are questions that were rarely asked before, but with the success of companies like Warby Parker and TOMS, people are buying products and supporting businesses that are contributing to something larger. And we are loving it!” said Adette, a graduate of International Business and Marketing from the George Washington University in D.C.

Businesses, she continued, are now more willing to collaborate with other companies that espouse a social mission. Home décor retailer West Elm, she disclosed, has a partnership with Feed Projects to host dinner parties to raise money to fight world hunger.

“More and more businesses are making sure that they’re giving back and contributing to more than just their bottom lines,” Adette avidly noted.

That is why in her recent trip to the Philippines, she saw a great entrepreneurial potential that would promote a collaboration between indigenous artisans and TINSEL. Without going into specifics, Adette hinted at two projects: one that seeks to increase sustainable tourism to the Philippines, and the other to custom-create textile products, showcasing the delicate craftsmanship of Filipina weavers.

Born in Las Pinas, Adette came to the U.S. with her family when she was 11. Her mother, a nurse, had found work in the Chicago area, where her father also practiced his profession as an architect. Thinking she would trail in her mother’s footsteps and go into medicine, she went to a public boarding school in the suburbs called the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

She abandoned that thought and went to D.C. to study Business. In school, she became friends with Liz Castelli and Erica Taylor whom she met at an A Cappella singing group. After college, they all moved to New York and started TINSEL as a creative design company specializing in weddings. It has since diversified into fundraising galas, corporate events and other celebrations, and appears to be on a hiring frenzy.

“The company has grown and changed in so many ways since we founded it about four years ago,” said Adette. “This year, we’re introducing our first line of home goods and other fun, top-secret developments that we’re excited to unveil.”

TINSEL has serviced clients from Refinery29, Estée Lauder, AOL, and West Elm, just to name a few corporations. Glamour and Vogue are just some of the glossies that have devoted spreads to their events.

Trends for 2015
In the following Q-A, The FilAm asked Adette to give us a peek into trends we are likely to see this year.

The FilAm (TF): What style trends do you see in 2015 in the areas of fashion, interior design, and weddings?
Adette Contreras (AC): For fashion, I’m seeing that people are having fun again with more adventurous and off-beat styles. There’s a resurgence of capes, caftans, sequins, and tassels. I’m also seeing denim popping up again, with a makeover from its laid-back phase to a more tailored, dressy look with dark indigo hues and more structured silhouettes. I’m also seeing textures being mixed, like lace and leather, and more comfort pieces as wardrobe staples, like an everyday sneaker that’s a little “dressier,” more suited for hitting the town rather than for running six miles.

For interiors, a lot of the fashion trends are making their way onto walls and into living rooms and bedrooms. I’m seeing rugs with irregular patterns that make them look more like paintings. Also, faux animal print accents, and lots of glass and Lucite to keep things airy and light.

Tinsel & Twine began as a wedding planner four years ago.

Tinsel & Twine began as a wedding planner four years ago.

For weddings, it seems like the big trend is to go against what’s expected–from dresses to dinner menus. Couples are going for more non-traditional options. I’m seeing more structured bridal dresses that don’t feel overtly “bridal,” in addition to new colors beyond bright white and champagne. Colors like gold, light mauve, mint-tinted hues, and even black are starting to surface as viable wedding dress alternatives. Also, more couples are opting to give their bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, and groomsmaids more autonomy, and the non-uniform bridal party attire is being seen more and more. The non-floral arrangements are also becoming more popular. With succulents, air plants, and artichokes as architectural alternatives to more predictable petals, couples are opting for the edgier tone of using less flowers and adding more greenery.

Photobooths were big in 2014, and this year, I’m seeing more and more couples opting for a personal hashtag on Instagram to aggregate photos from all their guests, not just their hired professional photographer. This adds a more personal perspective to the photo set.

TF: Do you see style being defined by a particular celebrity?
AC: ‘Super women.’ I mentioned the resurgence of capes earlier, and we have celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o and Solange Knowles to thank for this revival. Now, there’s less concern about being “girly” and “feminine” because being a woman means feeling strong and powerful.

TF: How do you define style?
AC: I define style as confidence and self-awareness. That’s the beauty of it: style is different for each person, and knowing what you’re comfortable in and what makes you happy is what makes someone stylish. If you’re feeling good in what you’re in–and what you’ve surrounded yourself with–then, chances are you’re going to look good.

TF: Is there a distinct Filipino style that you bring to TINSEL?
AC: Even though I don’t think my style can be described as distinctly “Filipino,” I can definitely attribute my stylistic choices to my personal immigration experience. It wasn’t easy being “different” when we first moved to America, but that challenging period has allowed me to grow comfortably in my own skin and make aesthetic decisions that are a little more off-beat and against the grain.

Because of that, I haven’t been so concerned about chasing trends and doing what everyone else is doing. Instead, I tend to gravitate towards pieces and objects that make me happy, that remind me of a wonderful moment, that keep me comfortable, and that bring a little bit of the unexpected to the mundane. So even though my big, hand-knitted scarves paired with wide-brimmed hats and oversized coats make me look like a snowman, I’ll keep on keeping them on.

Liz Castelli, Adette Contreras, and Erica Taylor are the dazzlers behind Tinsel & Twine.

Liz Castelli, Adette Contreras, and Erica Taylor are the dazzlers behind Tinsel & Twine.

 



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