The Shift: Meet the Woman Who Created the First Celebrity Gifting Suite

Rent the Runway’s The Shift interviews Karen Wood, creator of the first celebrity gifting suite, to give you insight into the behind the scenes world of celebrity gifting,

The Shift

Meet the Woman Who Created the First Celebrity Gifting Suite:

“When it comes to awards season, we all know what goes down on the red carpet.  But have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes? As it turns out, after the pre-show buzz dies down and the show begins, there’s a unique operation happening backstage at its as glamorous as you’d exxpect.  And its run by a badass female entrepreneur.

Celebrity gifting suites are lounge like environments that are set up backstage where brands can showcase their products to celebrities as they pass through.  And when we say “products,” we mean everything from a pare of designer shades to an all inclusive trip to Tuscany.

How and why does this exist? To get the scoop, we went straight to the source–Karen Wood, the mastermind behind the original gifting suite in 1994. After spending years in the entertainment industry, working on everything from the Grammys to the Emmy Awards, Karen created Backstage Creations, a company that popularized product placement at events.

The coolest part? There’s WAY more to the business than meets the eye.  Believe it or not, before the social media boom, brands didn’t really see the value in connecting celebrities with brands at high profile events.  “When I first started calling companies, I mean, this was back in the nineties (you have to understand, most of the magazine covers still had models on them) 80% of them would say to me “Why would I give free things to celebrities?”

Now, nearly two decades later, a celebrity using your product–especially if caught on camera–is every brand’s dream.”

(See image for more from this interview about the origins of the first celebrity gifting suite.  See also, our 2001 feature in the Hollywood Reporter from the early history of the celebrity gifting suite.)