Saturday, June 15, 2024

Before Regina King Won Her Emmy She Ordered 100 Uniquely Empowering Backpacks for School Kids as Gifts


The great actress Regina King is one of our heroes. Before she won her Emmy Award last Sunday night for “Seven Seconds,” a limited series on Netflix, she’d been nominated she’d been nominated three years in a row for playing three different characters on “American Crime.” A TV and movie vet, King should be in the Oscar mix now, along with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

On the Friday before the Emmys we ran into Regina at the rooftop GBK gift suite at L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills organized by Gavin Keilly. What caught her eye? The same thing that caught ours: unique school backpacks designed by Casey Kelly and her Jacksonville, Florida company, Blended Designs. Kelly made them after her 7 year old son said he wanted to see pictures of African American kids like himself on school products. Kelly whipped a line of colorful backpacks with the drawings of girls and boys her son’s age, teams of African American kids, emblazoned with the exclamation “I can do anything!”

Regina spotted them and immediately fell in love with Casey Kelly. “I’m ordering 100,” she said, after deliberating with her business partner. “We’re going to give them away.” At $45 the price point is right. Also, Kelly’s features the year 1954 on everything– it’s the year of Brown vs. the Board of Education, when integration was ordered into public schools. Her more adult backpacks include one covered in newspaper clips of that momentous decision.

Everyone who sees the product line wants more than one backpack. If Oprah saw them, she’d try to buy the company. Why haven’t they been on “Shark Tank”? Casey’s proud husband, Harvey, dressed in a suit and meeting everyone, said, “We’re not ready, they want you to already be a success. We’re getting there.”

Hey Scholastic, or any other fine education company– there’s a fortune to be made here. — ROGER FRIEDMAN

from Leah Sydney: Other products at GBK were pretty tantalizing:  Pilot Pen proved to be a hugely popular spot with their stylish pens.  G2 is the # 1 selling gel ink brand in America, and for good reason. They have fifteen fun colors and are truly easy to write with.  Other buzzy products included Athenaromas, candle therapy for your pet, B opulent, Ezequils Healing Tools, GWEN skincare products, Nelsons Pampered Tails for your pooch.

For the kids:  Razorturbo jets step electric power heel wheel and skateboards. Very popular– Burke Williams, always a perennial favorite and must go for Hollywood VIPs and everyone.  Even otherworldly Tyler Henry, the widely popular medium on E!, loved his chair massage and proclaimed loudly, “I go to Burke Williams all the time!”  Tyler also bonded with Ike Shehandeh, of the popular “Ike’s Love and Sandwiches.”   

Six different vacations valued over $50,000, including Caribbean Living/Swanky Resorts Moon Palace in Jamaica and Amresorts vacations as well as Sailrock Resort and La Corte Dell Astore in Italy no less. Malibu Wine Safari’s and Santa Inez wine were a welcome appearance.  Brian Appiano’s Rib Line Restaurants and Catering of course was a must stop for his delicious fare. Guests sipped Buoncristiani WineCo. More highlights were WEN Hair Care’s fall fresh apple cleansing conditioner, and Bella Spirit lip scrub, WEN  had a hair styling station which everyone stopped at.  To see this all  clearly, Zenni had trendy sunglasses and Optical computer glasses. They are the largest retailer of prescription eyewear in the country.  

Also at this trendy VIP suite were Anthony Anderson, Josh Malina, Tyler Henry, Mimi Kennedy, David Alan Grier, Paul Sorvino, Sinbad, Tituss Burgess, Naomi Grossman, Logan Browning, Richard Lewis, Suzanne Cryer, Shaun Toub, Jackie Tohn, Adina Porter, Marty Kroft, Matt Craven, Charlie Sarabia and Morgan Keilly, Bailey Bass, Janie Brewer and more. Educating Young Minds, GWEN and Stray Cat Alliance benefitted from the suite. 

Congrats GBK’s CEO Gavin Keilly and Pilot Pen for another A plus event! 

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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