Behind Brass Arrow
Junior League's A Christmas Fair: Giving Back to El Paso through Design
Our clients and boutique orders may span nation wide, but at Brass Arrow, our home is El Paso, TX. El Paso is where the bulk of our design business is, and it has been my home for the past 6 years. As a result, I like to give back to the community of El Paso whenever I can. This year I was asked to chair the Set-Up committee for the Junior League of El Paso’s A Christmas Fair 2015. It’s a wonderful, fun-filled shopping bazaar, and it is JLEP’s largest fundraiser. The money raised at this event provides the means for impactful community projects such as BEAR Storytime, Rise UP, STEM, Eco Garden, Break the Chains, Music Therapy for the Elderly, plus many more.
I was honored to chair the Set-Up committee, and even more thrilled when I found out the theme for this year’s event was “Sparkle & Shine, It’s Holiday Time”. I am not one to shy away from a bit of sparkle, and I knew it was the perfect fit for my vision- a glittery winter wonderland with lots of white, silver, and gold.
With such a large space to fill, it was crucial that the décor be large and impactful. I wanted shoppers to notice the décor, and for it to create a festive atmosphere for them to enjoy. The challenge of such a big space meant we needed mass amounts of large-scale items. Non-profit budgets can be slim, so I knew we would have to get creative, and that we couldn’t be afraid of getting our hands dirty with DIY projects. Brass Arrow was happy to donate time and resources however possible.
Our committee was placed in April and I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful group of women. The 8 of us started working immediately to bring our vision to life.
We collected hundreds of branches…
This is just a faction of the branches before they were painted. Gardeners kept coming by asking to “remove the trash” from our front yard. How dare they assume our beautiful branches were trash!!! ;)
We rented a storage unit for safekeeping, and then painted them white. Looking better already!
Thank goodness for Gaby and her trailer!
Me wondering if this was a good idea.
You can’t have a winter wonderland without some wildlife. So we constructed a life size polar bear, “Peppermint”, out of wood, chicken wire, and hundreds (maybe thousands?) of pieces of tissue paper. She was truly a labor of love.
Here Peppermint is almost finished!
And finally her face is complete!
We traced 120 giant Stars and Snowflakes.
And then we cut, painted, and glittered them during some of the windiest months- what a headache! But DIYing these stars and snowflakes saved us thousands and created a HUGE impact.
The convention center was kind enough to hang our stars and snowflakes the weekend before Move-In. It was so exciting to finally see them up!
Bates Gady generously constructed and donated the most amazing, life-size Santa sleigh I’ve ever seen...
The sleigh before it was finished and painted.
Speaking of Santa, we thought he needed a proper backdrop for pictures and story time. The students at the Architecture department of Texas Tech El Paso created the perfect, cozy fireplace.
The fireplace, before all the bricks were installed.
We also rented a vintage black cab from the Convention Center. The cab was located in the Lobby to give the effect that it just drove up and encountered Peppermint in her magical, snowy, sparkly forest.
Moving the vintage cab into the Lobby. We had to push it!
The fabulous black cab, with wreath and roped tree to complete the look.
In addition to all these large-scale elements, we knew we needed a lot of trees and a lot of snow to complete the decor. In total we decorated 22 trees which included two 20’, one 18’, and two 15’- all in 3 days I might add!
Fluffing trees for days.
Luz on the scissor lift decorating one of our 20’ trees.
We purchased 3,400 sq ft of movie grade snow from Thomas FX in Canada. They have amazing products used in blockbuster movies such as The Hobbit, Hunger Games, and Godzilla to name a few.
This snowy scene in the Lobby was a favorite spot of children- probably because of Peppermint’s adorable baby, “Patty”.
We started Move-In on Monday morning and finished by Thursday afternoon. It was a whirlwind, but the results were just as we had hoped. Hearing the positive feedback from shoppers made all the months of planning worth it. I can only hope that the décor was impactful enough to aid in the success of the event, and in turn help raise money for the Junior League.
Time to assemble all those branches!
The completed Lobby! 10 trees, 1 life-size polar bear (plus her 2 babies), 60 stars & snowflakes, an amazing vintage cab, over 2K ornaments (plus way more in the exhibit halls), and a whole lot of snow!
A great Instagram shot shared by Allison Marshall.
Peppermint at night.
Her cutest angle, in my opinion. Follow Brass Arrow on Instagram HERE.
Santa’s sleigh in all its glory!
3 of the 12 trees located in the exhibition halls.
An adorable raffle “cabin”.
Children enjoying story time with Santa!
A close up of our presents nestled in snow.
Sandra saying her goodbyes to Peppermint.
Our committee (Jeanne, Linda, Erin, Sandra, Me, Gaby, Luz, Liz) right before we tore it all down.
Even though it's all torn down now, our committee is not finished yet! We still want to raise more money for JLEP's wonderful projects. We'll be hosting a yard sale on Sunday November 22nd at 8am at 520 Thunderbird, El Paso, TX 79912 to sell our remaining tree ornaments. There are such beautiful items to choose from and all proceedes benefit the Junior League of El Paso.
Click HERE if you are interested in learning more about the Junior League of El Paso, or would like to make a donation.
To read more about Brass Arrow's design services click HERE.
About Casey Alvarez
Casey Alvarez Blanco is the Owner and Principal Designer of Brass Arrow, based out of El Paso, Texas. Casey was born and raised in a small town in New Jersey. Read More
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