Behind the Scenes: The Retreat
By Caitlyn Halliburton
I pulled up to a seemingly small, boutique hotel nestled in the corner of two high rises off of mid-beach. I thought, “CaroleAnn told me the 11th floor; how can there be an 11th floor?” As I walk in, I’m stunned by the eclectic, open lobby with an expanded view of the bar and pool. Stylish people are laughing and chatting, carefree as they stroll around their beachside retreat.
Entering the popular SoHo Beach House was just the start of an awe-inspiring weekend.
We were assigned to work The Retreat, and event sponsored by Funkshion Swim Fashion Week meant to promote a healthy lifestyle done in good fashion. For participants, the weekend was filled with fitness workshops, beauty treatments, and fashion presentations. For us, the weekend was filled with ocean views, friendly chit-chats, and makeup, lots of makeup for lots of clients and lots of models.
It was great.
Once I found my way up to the 11th floor, I opened the suite door to an incredible wrap-around view of Miami Beach. Once I got my breath back, I took a closer look around, and noticed the chic athleisure wear hanging on display throughout the suite. Wow, these leggings and sports bras were stunning. Most fabrics felt like butter in your hands, which I can only imagine makes a good and sweaty work out that much more fulfilling. I wandered through the room to get to know the vendors before CaroleAnn, our Creative Director, and therefore, my boss, excitedly called to me and showed me around. The first day, I was responsible for holding down the pop-up stand with Natalie, my colleague-in-crime, so we got the chance to enjoy the view and acquaint ourselves with the other vendors.
This was merely the start of an eventful weekend.
After a few pushes of our latest eyeliner, 24 Karat, the Aviator Nation fashion presentation was about to begin. Well, lucky us, it just happened to take place at the pool, which was right in our line of view from the suite’s balcony. Fashion presentations are great. You’ve got music, fashion, beautiful models, and passionate designers. The models strutted down the runway with a spectacular Miami sunset painting the background and classic tunes like Guns n’ Roses "Sweet Child O’ Mine" blasting from the speakers.
I strolled back into the suite Saturday morning, full of anticipation for the day that lay ahead. For awhile, things were slow. People don’t get going early on Miami weekends, so this was no surprise. I made sure our pop-up was in good order, made friends with some of the other vendors, and occasionally got the chance to excite a participant with our sweatproof and water resistant Hi-Def Mascara.
At this point, I thought I was in for a chill and enjoyable day. Portia arrived just in time, so I rushed downstairs to catch the Ultracor presentation. It was short, sweet, and full of good looks. After I arrived back upstairs to get my stuff, Portia told me Leslie needed me. “Uh oh...what’s going on?” I thought to myself. I headed down to the back room where there were makeup and hair artists, models, and absolute madness. People were running here, changing there, yelling for something. After pushing my way through the crowd, I found Leslie, our superhuman founder and celebrity makeup artist.
“We need you to help with makeup,” she said.
“Like...get you stuff?” I asked tentatively.
“No, there’s not enough of us for the number of models we have and there’s still two more presentations.”
“Oh...okay,” I said.
Without a beat, Leslie told me to call Natalie and see if she can get here ASAP.
And that’s how I became a makeup artist for the day.
I’m not going to lie--I was nervous at first. Sure, I’ve done a good job with our customers at small events and such, but these were models, and this was a high-class fashion show.
Thankfully, it was an athleisure fashion show that required minimal and natural makeup.
After very carefully working with the first model, I started to get more comfortable. Eventually, I was just having fun, talking with the girls and getting them ready for the show. So now I’ll take the chance to blast a stereotype: models are not stuck up. I’m sure there are some, but the models I worked with were sweet and cool.
I couldn’t relish in my experience for too long, because once we finished with the first set of models, we had to high-tail it out of there to another location where the final presentation by Luli Fit would take place.
By this time, we were running on fumes. The most we’d eaten were a bunch of snack-size protein bars, but we didn’t have time to order real food from anywhere or even to sit down to enjoy it. So we kept pushing.
The Nautica Hotel was incredibly spacious, and we had this huge event room to get the models’ hair and makeup done. We made it as fun as possible with good conversation, lively music, and boastful laughter. We even managed to sneak away for a bit to get some croissants from the hotel cafe. Never in my life has one little croissant tasted so good.
After about 2 hours of preparation, the girls were ready.
We headed upstairs to the penthouse level, and were ushered into a small hallway where the girls had to change outfits. The show was taking place on the rooftop, so there really was no other place for them to change. Since our jobs were done, we rushed outside so we could see the show begin.
The rooftop was positively luxurious, with a full view of the ocean and a delicate breeze easing the Miami heat. “Despacito” began to play, and the show was on. The girls were amazing, and I was proud of both myself and them. After all of those hours of running around and trying to figure things out, it was so rewarding to see that hard work pay off.
Afterward, we got our trophy pic with the models, and finally called it a day.