Saul Taylor / February 14, 2019
Jordana Blitz has spent her entire career catering to the cognoscenti. Having worked in the high power, high stress movie industry before moving to one of the US’s best loved brands, Blitz opened the Little Gem catering and events company in 2016. This runaway success is down to great connections and a serious drive to meet the exacting needs of the fashion and luxury markets.
How did you end up doing this?
I got a job at a PR agency straight out of university where I quickly moved from being the personal assistant for the founder into the events department. I was an event assistant for a month before they fired my boss, so I went from being events assistant to running the department. I was there for about a year before I was recruited by Miramax to work on their events.
That must’ve been quite a place.
Yeah, well it was a different time. In the movie business, you mark your time by what the big movies were. I was there during the Kill Bill and Cold Mountain era. I worked on all the movie premieres, Oscar parties, Golden Globes. There was also a book division, so we got to do book parties. Obviously, I worked with Harvey Weinstein. From there I was recruited by Coach, which at the time was the largest accessory company in the United States. We sort of invented the affordable luxury category. We were on top of the world and I actually stayed there for 10 years. I started in their events department, ended up overseeing that as well as taking on celebrity dressing. My job was all encompassing and I was doing global events, travelling all over the world, supervising, producing all of their initiatives. After 10 years at Coach I wanted to do something completely different — something small scale, entrepreneurial and gain a different skill — which is how I fell into catering. I went from being the client to having clients.
What would you attribute your success to?
Two things. I think the first thing that was always going to set me apart was that my clients were going to get me, personally. All of the other fashion caterers that I had worked with, I was dealing with a rotating door of sales people to whom I needed to explain what a press presentation was. I always felt like I wasn’t dealing with someone with an understanding of the fashion or luxury markets. Because I was the client for most of my career — that is one of the things that really set us apart. For me it was all network and relationships. All of my former colleagues and everyone I had worked with, from my first days at the agency to Miramax and Coach, were all spread out all over the fashion and luxury world and PR agencies were all happy to support me and hire us.
What was that first event where you thought this is really going to work?
Oh goodness, well, one of our very first clients was Valentino. Because every time anyone heard we had worked with Valentino they were completely keen to give us a try because it had global recognition and was so chic, and I guess they figured if we were good enough for Mr. Valentino, we were good enough for them. That all came from an old colleague at Coach who was running the PR department there. They just gave us the credibility that I needed to have all other luxury brands follow.
What did you do for them?
It was an in-store party. For most of our clients — and this is something we also do differently — we don’t have a food minimum, so a lot of our clients have been able to try us out on smaller things and then almost inevitably the business grows into something larger.
And the second thing?
The second thing that I think was really great for us is that we started working with a lot of PR agencies which I don’t think any other caterers do. I would heavily discount for them. When the PR agencies would need catering for press days — when every editor would come in and see all 80 brands in their showroom — I would do those. Then they were keen to recommend us to all of their clients. And their reach was way further than mine because an agency at any time could have 200 clients.
Are you seeing any industry trends?
Events have gotten much smaller. Gone are the days of 1,000 people parties. I used to be partnering with big production companies. Now, it’s very rare, it’s generally coming into a store or into the head designer’s home. What used to be a dinner for 100 is now a dinner for 20. Where they used to serve Dom Perignon, they’re serving Prosecco. Retail is not what it used to be, but I think we just need to be nimble and modify things.
What are your favourite locations?
My favourite locations are ones with really terrific commercial kitchens. I have two spaces I love. I love working at Urban Zen, which Donna Karen uses down in the West Village. It is this awesome gallery space, but they have a commercial kitchen that is nicer than any restaurant I’ve ever been in. And then we have another space we love working with in Soho called The Kitchen Table which I always describe as being in the most glorious apartment without a bedroom. We love working there for smaller events.
What’s been the most memorable event of late?
We did a Michael Kors event which was awesome. Except they told us to prepare for 300 people and about 700 came. But we rolled with the punches and got some extra wine and caviar and we were okay.
What are you working on at the moment?
We’ve been hired for a really fun Oscar kick-off party where every part is going to be themed to a different movie that is nominated this year. That’s at the new Dolby pop-up space in Soho. We’re also heading back to Milk Studios in March to do three full days for Oliver Peoples — an eyewear brand — where we move in for three consecutive days and do breakfast, lunch and dinner for their market week. We’re doing a fun party at the Dianne von Furstenberg store during fashion week and we also we have a great client called Zola and they have a pop up on Lower Fifth Avenue and we’re doing a cute party for them with Belvedere vodka.
Well, you’re very busy, we better let you get back to it!
Tis the season!