Monday, August 23, 2010

Trip to New York City for the Retail Excellence Awards

Nathan and I headed to NY, NY on Friday August 13th for the Retail Excellence Awards (REA) 2010 where Swagger Gifts was a finalist for an award in Branding/Integrated Marketing. 

When we got to the Helsinki airport we were a little bummed to see that our KLM flight was cancelled, but we were quickly rebooked on a Finnair direct flight into JFK, and as we were getting on the plane we were upgraded to FIRST CLASS!  No Friday the 13th bad mojo for us!  Woo hoo! 

You have to go for the Champagne when you are suddenly now seated in 1st Class!

Cheers to already having a great weekend!

The best part about Finnair's 1st Class?  The seat laid down completely horizontal to sleep - no jet lag for us!

Nathan's cousin, Georgia Lee, picked us up at JFK and took us back to the Original Becker Homestead in New Hyde Park.  We had planned from the beginning to spend two nights with Nathan's Grandpa, but it was even more special to be there and spend some time with him since Nathan's Grandma passed away only a few short weeks ago.  We wish we could have seen Grandma Becker one last time as she was an amazing woman, but you could definitely still feel her presence at their home.

Going out for the first of many walks that Saturday!

We were so excited that Nathan's Dad and Aunt Noelle also flew in for the weekend.  All of us travelers coupled with the Becker's that still live on Long Island made for one heck of a good time - as always!  The Beckers sure do know how to party:)  Great weekend hanging out with Grandpa - he even stayed up later than I did - going to bed around 11 pm!  I guess we know who the original Becker Party Animal is!

Family Photo!

Sunday we headed down to NYC for the REA Gala.  We stayed with our friends, Anne and Troy, and their two adorable kids, Michael and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is only 3 months old so it was great to be able to meet her!  We also saw our friends, Paige and Danny, and their new 3 week old son, Clayton, but I was so excited to be holding the baby that I forgot to take a picture of their family!  Duh!  Anyway, you have to take my word for it - he was so cute!

Can someone say Troy's mini me?:)

Elizabeth was so sweet!

Finally it was time to head down to The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers for the awards ceremony.  The venue was beautiful and I'm sure the view would have been great if it wasn't pouring down rain.:)  The Retail Excellence Awards Gala is put on by Gifts & Decorative Accessories Magazine, and the entire event was top notch - from the catering (so good!) to the story boards about each of the finalists - it was a night I won't soon forget!  There were about 250 industry professionals in attendance - everyone from manufacturers, to rep groups, to store owners.  I was a little worried we wouldn't know any one since it was NYC and not Atlanta, but we mingled with people from some of the companies Swagger purchases from and had a great time! 
You know I had to wear a zebra dress if I was going to be accepting an award for marketing!:)

The awards were announced after dessert (seriously could they make us wait any longer!), and I was SO excited when they called Swagger Gifts as the winner of the Branding/Integrated Marketing Award!  After a short video they put together on Swagger, I had to make my acceptance speech!  This was the part I was dreading - I'm not an extemporaneous speaker - but Nathan helped me put something together in case Swagger did win and it was a hit.  I even had a couple people come over and tell me it was the best acceptance speech:)  Yeah for Nathan being a Toastmaster and for his coaching!

Yeah - Swagger Won!  I have to give a shout out to Lisa Jeffries at Raleighwood Media - because without her I know we wouldn't have received this award!  You rock Lisa!

Either sister seriously needed some powder or there was a major glare off the huge silver platter!  Let's go with the glare:)

Great weekend in NYC which was topped off by getting first class seating on the way home too!  Now I know how the other half lives and I don't think I want to go back:)  An unforgettable weekend for sure!

p.s. - If you would like to see the rest of the pics from the weekend - click here!

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