Things to do

How to: Throw a sweet launch party

Last week, I took my date to a product launch party in NoDa. No dinner, no drinks — just the party. Who has time for the whole package these days?

Zeek Cheney, a supervisor at a restaurant by day who is working to break into the entertainment business, coordinated and hosted the party in honor of his close friend Ivan Mendez’s Charlotte-based clothing line, Illglory.  The launch party showcased the fourth addition to the brand, called “Glory Getaway.”

Cheney’s secret to throwing a launch party: “I always like to use my resources.”

I’m terrible at throwing parties. But if I ever try again, I’ll take these tips from Cheney’s book:

(1) Establish a purpose.

Cheney was celebrating a product, as well as his friend’s determination and hard work. “I really want to keep it small and personable,” he said prior to the event. ” … I really want to make it special.”


(2) Pick a location and time.

After exploring a few options, Cheney opted for Dupp & Swat boutique in NoDa on a Thursday from 7-10 p.m. He knows the owner.

Plus, he said, “I wanted something that was small, swanky and intimate because I didn’t want this huge, open space that I would spend a lot of money decorating. And that boutique is really supportive of the art community here.”


(3) Grow your guest list. Strategically.

Cheney recruited about 50 guests. “It shows how supported (Ivan) is,” he said.

Cheney mostly opted for marketing personnel, family members, different artists who wear Illglory clothing in videos and photos, and mutual friends.

All of these people “had an impact in terms of (Ivan’s) support system as well as his marketing,” Cheney said.  “They are the ones that get that message out.”


(4) Send out invitations that pop.

This launch party was by invitation only. I received mine over a cup of coffee when I first met Cheney. It was hand painted by his artist friend, Jennifer Hoang.

“All of those small, special touches make a big impact,” Cheney said.


(5) Add food and drink.

Another friend manned the bar area, which featured punch, water and Prosecco. Private chef Tom Sauer prepared smoked pulled chicken sliders and roast beef sliders, all with fresh pretzel buns. Plus bruschetta and popcorn.

(I sipped the Prosecco and my date opted for the popcorn.)


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(6) Intertwine the element of entertainment.

Cheney asked his friend Nicole Desourdy to create a live painting (I wish I could do this. And by “this” I mean “paint anything remotely attractive.”)


He added several musical acts to the evening with a DJ, as well as hip-hop artists from his network, including Kayla Starks and Wxnder Y.

(They really got my date and me dancing.)


(7) Add your personal touch.

Cheney surprised the crowd by singing. “I wanted to make it personable,” he said. “That was my gift to Ivan.”

So much fun at last week’s @illyglory #glorygetaway launch. We got to hear @zeekdasuperstar sing. More details to come.

A video posted by CharlotteFive (@cltfive) on Jul 21, 2015 at 12:37pm PDT