Eddie Zaratsian: Reading Tea Leaves
Life is nothing if not random. Sometimes it seems that tea leaves might be just as accurate at predicting what our next steps will be as anything or anyone we consult. And yet, when Eddie Zaratsian throws a tea party, not one of the 160 guests has to look at the bottom of the cup to know that his intention is to make a lasting impression and impact that extends and underscores his already impressive design reputation and brand.
Don’t be fooled by the guise of a tea party. This is no weak tea! “My inspiration this year was the fashion styles of Tom Ford and Vivienne Westwood,” he said. “Sexy, streamlined and in hot pinks and purples. The main stage could have been a runway. That was how I wanted it to look. I wanted it to be powerful, not diluted.”
Which of course is the benefit of throwing your own event. “Artistically, I can show off what I want,” he said. “There are no inhibitions or parameters and I can present my own look to my guests.” And the thousands of virtual attendees on social media following Zaratsian and his guests, all of which were top Southern California event professionals from every facet of the industry.
The latest “Tea with E” took place in November. Since 2011, Zaratsian has thrown a tea at the The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, taking a year off for a book launch of Eddie Zaratsian Custom Florals and Lifestyle. As a fairly annual event, the tea parties show the passage of time, and like a birthday or New Year’s, this can lead to personal and professional reflection. That was the case for Zaratsian leading up to this year’s tea party.
“I’ve always known what my next step was going to be,” Zaratsian said, speaking frankly and from the heart, a personal trait for which he is much admired. “Then I pulled my own plug with a big client and had to get some space to find my footing.”
That client was Restoration Hardware. Zaratsian and RH had created a partnership to develop home accessories and artistic goods centered around botanical design that would complement the company’s home furnishings. Zaratsian stepped away this last year to develop a new partnership yet to be announced. What he can say now is that he’s heading into a more mature phase of his design career and more international projects.
It’s been a journey, and although there are those moments when one needs artistic space and a moment to reflect, there are also those moments when successful people “just know.” And so I asked Zaratsian…
Was there a moment that defined who you are today?
“There have been several,” he said. “Partnering with Restoration Hardware was a moment, for sure. Winning the Spotlight Award in 2011 for Creative Director of the Year at Event Solutions was a moment. The Oprah O You! Convention and the Guess 30th Anniversary party both in 2012, and publishing my book in 2013, all were defining moments that built upon each other. Ultimately, they enabled me to bring Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle to the forefront of my professional life, taking floral out of the equation.” Tic-tock Couture Floral still continues as a floral studio overseen by Zaratsian.
I Am Art
But, before our tea gets cold, let’s get back to that event. After his creative funk, as he calls it, the writing was on the wall that it was time to change the game. At the tea this year, he made that happen, literally.
As guests walked into the elegant ballroom, they were met with the scent of hundreds of roses in bold artistic arrangements. And there, front and center, was a stage that looked like a fashion runway on which a sexy woman dressed in white played an electric violin. Champagne was poured and the smart phones came out as people began to snap away. The backdrop for the stage was the image of a large flower and to the right of it, a neon sign that glowed “I Am Art.” More than the perfect spot for selfies, it was a position statement for Zaratsian.
“I read this somewhere months ago and it resonated with me,” Eddie said. “The moments that define you are those times when you own something,” Zaratsian said. “That is so powerful. I had something to say, and someone was paying attention. That is when you know you have it.”
One of his favorite quotes is “Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.” That day at the tea, the noise of Zaratsian’s success was on the rise again. His style, talent and candor are well known. His future? That will be written in the tea leaves, but if the past is any indication, it will be like the tea those leaves produced — strong yet sweet.