On April 23, Brown Shoe Company marked its 100th year on the New York Stock Exchange by ringing the closing bell at the Wall Street institution. To fete the milestone, the company hosted a 600-person bash later that evening at 4 World Trade Center, another Lower Manhattan location that boasted stunning floor-to-ceiling views of New York.
“We don’t do events like this very often, but when you are only the 24th company to celebrate 100 years on the New York Stock Exchange, that calls for a celebration,” said Caren Vredenburgh, senior director of creative services and brand marketing at Brown Shoes. “The entire day, the bell ringing and the party that evening, was a salute to the past and a giant nod to the future.”
“We sought a location that was in close proximity to Wall Street that embodied the excitement, energy, and newness that the company percolates with. We needed a space that had not been used often, and we wanted killer views to boot,” said David Stark, who designed the event, the first to be held on the 54th floor. “We wanted a celebratory setting with an intimate lounge feel.”
To capture the essence of Brown Shoe, which owns such familiar brands as Famous Footwear, Naturalizer, and Dr. Scholl's, Stark centered his design on shoe silhouettes, which were displayed via light box walls throughout the space. “Brown Shoe owns many individual lines of shoes that are the public-facing brands that customers know and love, but people are less familiar with the parent company’s name,” Stark said. “Our challenge was to celebrate 100 years of company accomplishment: the creation of fashionable, fabulous shoes. Yet, we needed to do this while not focusing on individual brands.” Items such as pink lidded shoe boxes lined the bars and food stations to also reflect “back to the materiality of the industry.”
“Through the design, it was pretty clear that beautiful shoes are who we are and what we do. ... Everywhere you looked, it was obvious what we were celebrating,” Vredenburgh said .
Load in began four days prior to the event, and because the space was unfinished, pearl and gray striped carpeting and ceiling draping were brought in to mask the work in progress. Plush lounge furniture upholstered in charcoal velvet and giant cherry blossom branches dotted the room, and oversize plasma screens showcased iconic shoes from the past 100 years of Brown Shoe, as well as Instagram and shoe-cam feeds.
Peter Callahan Catering provided bites such as pigs in a blanket paired with rum and Cokes in mini Coke bottles, fish tacos with mango on limes with margaritas in mini Patrón bottles, and a burger bar with beef, wild mushroom, and tuna burgers. Sweets included mini strawberry rhubarb pies and mini banana splits.
DJ Kiss provided music for the evening, which was capped off by a special performance from Jennifer Hudson.