Exquisite Women Entrepreneurs: Karissa Bodnar of Thrive Causemetics

March 9th, 2018

As many of you know, Nikki Khan founded Exquisite Events over 17 years ago and we are proud to have grown the company from local weddings and events to designing and planning events internationally. We are constantly inspired by women in business and are so proud to know so many who have been successful in pursuing their passions. This is why we have decided to start our ‘Exquisite Women Entrepreneurs’ series on our blog. We will be reaching out to many of our Exquisite friends who are entrepreneurs and women in business to discuss their inspirations, how they started, what keeps them motivated, etc.

Our first Exquisite Woman Entrepreneur is Karissa Bodnar. Karissa is the founder of Thrive Causemetics, a beauty brand with a very good purpose. The company is based in Seattle and the thing we love about it most is that the company gives back to women survivors of cancer and domestic violence. For every product purchased, one item is donated to one of these women and we absolutely fell in love with the company and what it stands for. We LOVE the name too!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are starting our ‘Exquisite Women Entrepreneur’ series with the beautiful Karissa Bodnar of Thrive Causemetics.

Exquisite Events (EE): When did you start Thrive Causemetics?
Karissa Bodnar (KB): I began Thrive Causemetics in 2015.

EE: Describe Thrive Causemetics and what made you start the company?
KB: ?Thrive Causemetics creates high-performance, luxury cosmetics that are vegan,cruelty-free and made without parabens or sulfates. Our makeup is available exclusively onthrivecausemetics.com. I was inspired to start Thrive after losing my friend Kristy to cancer at just 24 years of age. Her compassionate and vivacious spirit motivated me to create a brand that goes beyond skin deep beauty to truly empower women. For every Thrive Causemetics product you purchase, one is donated to help a woman thrive.

EE: What is your background? Where did you go to school? Degrees? Or did you know a cosmetics line was your passion from the start?
KB: I began my career in the beauty industry as a makeup artist at 18 and graduated from University of Washington with a business and communications degree. My love for beauty products began when I was a young girl and I’ve always been inspired by the way makeup helps women feel confident. When a woman is confident, she is unstoppable. Upon graduation, I began working as a product developer for various luxury cosmetics brands.

EE: What was the first product you developed for the line?
K B: ?Our first products were ?Vegan Silk Faux Lashes?, the first-ever false eyelashes that work whether you have lashes or not, along with ?Infinity Waterproof Lash Adhesive?, lash glue that provides 24-hour hold designed with sensitive skin in mind and free of latex and other irritating chemicals.

EE: How do you go about finding Thrivers?
KB: We partner with charities and hospitals to host Giving Events, where we donate Thrive Causemetics products and provide makeup lessons to empower women in a fun and supportive atmosphere. Through these Giving Events, as well as our amazing nominations and friendships that come from our Thrive Tribe online community, we have been able to meet so many incredible women who exemplify what it means to Thrive.

EE: What are your favorite thrive products? Why?
KB:I am obsessed with our Cosmo Power Strobing Blush; it is the first of its kind! You can wear it as an eyeshadow, blush, highlighter and it’s so hydrating, you can wear it as a matte metallic lipstick!
Our Sun Chaser Blur + Sculpt Bronzer is another one of my favorites because it is a super creamy powder that blends flawlessly whether you are contouring or just want an overall glow. Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara is one of our most popular products. Since launching in May 2017, it has sold out 12 times! Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara is made from our proprietary blend of liquid fibers that stay water-resistant and flake-free all day. It is also infused with Orchid Stem Cells that condition your lashes to encourage growth.

EE: Any successful thrive stories from donation from Thrive?
KB: We met the amazing Rowan Shoemaker through Instagram and donated product to her at the beginning of her journey and is the inspiration behind our Rowan Matte Legacy Liquid Lipstick. Rowan was engaged with her wedding date set for June 3rd, 2017 but after being diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer, her and her fiance decided to postpone their wedding until they knew more about her treatment plan. As her treatment went on, her best friend nominated heron Instagram and we knew Rowan would be the perfect name for our Matte Legacy Liquid Lipstick shade. Once Rowan and her fiance set their new wedding date, we worked with her friends and family for months to plan the big Rowan reveal. While Rowan and her fiance thought they were at a photo studio in Houston for new engagement photos, the Thrive Team and all of her family and friends surprised her with her new lipstick. Rowan is the embodiment of rising against any obstacles that come in your way. In September she received the news that she had no evidence of disease and last week she finally got her dream of getting married to her husband.

E E: Where can someone go to purchase thrive products?
K B: ?We are sold exclusively on ??thrivecausemetics.com?.
EE: Advice for female entrepreneurs?
KB: When everything seems to be going against us, I always focus on my "why" and my why is our mission. Women that we've supported through our giving mission like Nalie Agustin, DionneWarner, Maggie Kudirka, Robin Roberts and more are women who constantly inspire me. My advice to young entrepreneurs starting out is to focus on your "why". When you know your why, anything is possible.

Some of Thrive's Products!


Thank you Karissa! Stay tuned for our next inspirational Q&A!

An Exquisite K-pop Wedding

March 2nd, 2018

On February 3rd of this year, Korea’s biggest K-pop star Taeyang got married to actress Min Hyo Rin at an intimate ceremony followed by a reception for about 200 guests at Paradise City in Incheon Korea. Bride was inspired by Twilight Movie and wanted to transform the ballroom reminiscent of that.

The ballroom was designed to be a beautiful visual escape as well as a source of enlightenment and inspiration about everything and more in that movie. The lead designer Youngsong Martin of Wildflower Linens made a trip to China to import a lot of decor items.

Our first design walk through to Korea was in October of 2017 followed by a final visit before the wedding on Christmas Eve. Six of us then flew from here the week of the wedding on different days under the leadership of Youngsong. About 24 interns from Korea worked tirelessly to bring Young’s vision to life. Production started one week prior to the wedding and the ballroom was finished on the day of the wedding on Saturday around 1 pm. Needless to say our sweet couple was over the moon and absolutely loved the decor and ambiance.

The long tables were flanked on either side of the dance floor for about 70 guests and were set to the nines in front of a stage which was dedicated for the couple’s sweet heart table.

A beautiful gazebo filled with wisteria and orchids behind them housed the wedding cake. Round tables were set on the outer perimeter of the room on both sides.

Three D mapping of forest, birds chirping and the sound of water on both sides added movement and an ethereal sensory experience. Lighting was done to perfection by the same company who was instrumental in doing all the lighting at the PyeongChang Olympics. Moss green table Linens with ivory chiffon chair covers added further allure and drama and the round tables with textured gold Linens and slightly different chair covers added interest and dimension. It was a stunning wedding reception and judging from the couple, their parents, close friends and family, an exquisite and memorable evening.

Youngsong Martin, masterful president and designer created the team which included Spark Events Sophia Kim Park, Exquisite Events Nikki Khan, Vivi K Floral Designs very own Vivian Kim and Natalia Jung of Grand Eclair.

We were truly honored to be a part of this special event and wish the couple an exquisite and blissful life ahead.
Congrats to the beautiful couple!

A Birthday Celebration

February 23rd, 2018

Since my teen years I have been passionate about entertaining and setting a beautiful table for the guests. This is something that has brought me immense joy and I gave actually found it to be therapeutic. I have entertained a lot in all the years I have lived in this beautiful city Los Angeles, I call home. Last few years I have cut down on entertaining at home a lot due to lack of time and it has become a norm to have close friends and family over for casual meals. Since February is a busy month at Khan household with four back-to-back birthdays, I decided to do up the table to the nines in honor of Madiha and her husband Osman’s birthdays, which incidentally are a few days apart.

It was just our family and I decided to seat everyone including the grandchildren at the table. Since I had not done this in some time, I went all out and brought my favorite pieces to grace the table. Flowers were arranged in Baccarat, Lalique, Daum and St Louis vases. A few of my favorite Herend pieces along with Meissen and antique silver Knick knacks added to the drama and lastly all the beautiful candle holders and votives further embellished and enhanced the romantic ambiance. Madiha’s favorite Limoges dinner set, St Louis and Mozer glass ware and Christophle flatware were an exquisite addition to the set up. My husband cooked Madiha’s favorite dishes and the family enjoyed a delightful evening together.

Happy belated birthday Madiha and Osman. Wishing you many more exquisite ones to come!

#ExquisiteTravels: Paris to Barcelona

February 16th, 2018

Since our friend is nervous about flying and looks for any opportunity when she can by pass that, we decided to travel by train from Paris to Barcelona. It is was a six hour ride and we were so glad we did that. We not only experienced different weather conditions but also witnessed the most beautiful country side with vineyards, olive groves, little churches, small homes, kids playing outside and the most lush and serene fields. I would highly recommend this travel by train for someone who is not pressed for time.

On our way to Barcelona via the train

By the time we reached Barcelona and checked in to our hotel it was 9 pm. By now we had all developed an appetite and asked for a recommendation from the concierge.

Majestic hotel in Barcelona where we stayed

The tapa bar he recommended was a short distance from the hotel and a two block brisk walk felt really good. On the way we witnessed the most amazing architecture by Gaudi. Food was delicious and the high light of the meal was deep fried calamari rolled in a batter of squid ink, delicious!!

Gaudi Architecture

Our next three days were spent exploring the old and new parts of the city, having the most memorable meal at Botafumiero and countless tapa bars (which were all very good), visiting the beach, admiring the old and new parts of the city and witnessing the out of the ordinary architecture by Gaudi.

Delicious Botafumiero meal which included seafood paella

At the Old Square

The Beach

Barcelona is a melting pot and you see people from all parts of globe and hear so many different languages being spoken. Christmas decorations were up and the atmosphere had a calm frenzy yet good energy about it. Shoppers were out buying Christmas gifts and teenagers were out and about due to holidays having fun. Tapa bars, cafes and restaurants were packed with locals and tourists and musicians entertaining the crowds with delightful music. After one day, the city grew on me.

Cathedral in Barcelona

Now that I am back to LA, I would love to some day go back and spend more time in this amazing city.


More photos from around Barcelona... starting with the Gothic Quarter

The Ritz Carlton

Frank Gehry Sculpture in the distance

Valentine’s Day Inspiration

February 9th, 2018

Valentine's Day is right around the corner so we wanted to spread the love with some of our Exquisite Events that might inspire you this special day. Maybe it's date night, flowers to your special someone or galentine celebrations.... Nothing says LOVE like red roses, Jeff Leatham's gorgeous floral designs, weddings, engagements and more!

Red Romance at Pelican Hill Resort

Ceiling of Roses at the Four Seasons Westlake Village

Exclusive Dinner with Jeff Leatham at Four Seasons Los Angeles

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love, Exquisite Events

Sneak Peek: Madiha’s Bespoke Guide Photo Shoot

February 2nd, 2018

Last year we released our first Bespoke Guide to Indian Weddings with Braja Mandala and it was a true labor of love. Since we have done so many South Asian weddings, many people ask us what some of the customs and traditions signify so we wanted to put together a beautiful guide that showcases those rituals through the different weddings we have created.

The guide was so well received that we decided to make it an annual publication that will highlight recent wedding and fashion trends. In each publication, we also want to share a little bit about ourselves. Recently Braja and I got together to take a few pictures and I was able to showcase a little of my own style. People are so used to seeing me in my professional black that it was fun to dig into my closet and share a little of my style. Special thank you to Make Up by Shilpa.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the shoot that we will feature in the next Bespoke issue.


Fashion Fridays: Paris Haute Couture Week

January 26th, 2018

We always look forward to Paris Haute Couture Week because it is truly a no holds barred form of expression for some of the most talented designers in the industry. This season's Spring/Summer 2018 certainly did not disappoint. We were so excited to see tons of texture with beautiful bead work, feathers, tulle, patterns and ruffles. Fashion has always been and continues to be a big source of inspiration to us when designing events not only for the clothes but for the creativity involved in set design. The Chanel Paris-Bombay show in 2011 still resonates to this day. Here are a few of our exquisite favorites from Paris Fashion Week 2018. We definitely predict some of these being on award season red carpets. What are your favorites?

Christian Dior SS ’18 Couture

Elie Saab SS ’18 Couture

Ralph & Russo SS ’18 Couture

Zuhair Murad SS ’18 Couture

Le George, Jeff Leatham & Monsieur Bleu

January 19th, 2018

Per my friend Alejandra’s suggestion, we had booked a table at Le George at George Cinq by the window on our second night in Paris.

Our talented friend Jeff Leatham had outdone himself yet again. Starting with the lobby and spreading through all public areas including Le George, all Christmas decor was nothing short of spectacular.

The food at the restaurant was divine, exquisitely prepared and presented with impeccable service. Needless to say the experience was a gastronomic delight! Our server was not only beautiful but spoke three languages and was a graduate of Sorbonne. This is something I have always envied of Europeans as it is not uncommon in the continent to speak multiple languages. It was a memorable dining experience that lasted beyond four hours amid spell binding stories, laughter and anecdotes that were shared among us friends. This evening promised to be just as unforgettable as expected. The restaurant delivered a level of refinement, exceptional service and attention to even the smallest details.

Another restaurant that is my all time favorite in Paris is Monsieur Bleu and we had booked a table on our third night in this magical city. I have always enjoyed going to this restaurant with the cool vibe, high ceilings, modern decor, impeccable service, decadent cuisine and a dj that plays the most sultry music and this evening proved to be just as magical and memorable as I had imagined.

Rest of the stay, there was dinner at La Serre (another one of my all time favorites) and many others that followed, some old favorites and some new.

Journey to India

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Ceiling goals at Doge’s Palace 🤩
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