Education & Innovation: Syracuse University


One of our favorite things about hosting events is watching people unite in celebration of a common passion.  So, naturally, we were thrilled to host Syracuse University’s SPOTLIGHT: INNOVATIVE INVENTIONS event, which brought together the best of New York’s alumni to highlight the school’s commitment to entrepreneurial education.

Education and innovation entrance signs

The Syracuse events team took full advantage of HELEN MILLS’ versatility by adapting the venue to suit the two functions of their event: a networking reception and a panel discussion.  With some simple branding and a creative floor plan, the event space became the perfect hub for this passionate community.

The evening began in the front of the room where attendees could get a drink from the bar and indulge in a lavish spread of hors d’oeuvres, while networking with alumni of many generations.  The modern cocktail furniture and radiant orange lighting created a comfortable environment for mingling and got everyone feeling that Syracuse pride.  Go Orange!

Guests were then ushered to the back of the space, where neat rows of theater-style seating awaited them.  An engaging panel, moderated by Syracuse Alum, Arielle Tepper, was set against a step-and-repeat, which created a crisp backdrop for the discussion.  Panelists Yev Yesilevskiy, Director of Invent@SU, and Linda Dickerson Hartsock, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad, discussed the various educational programs the University offers in entrepreneurship, innovation and invention.

Step and repeat presentation.jpg

The event also boasted a student showcase, which displayed some of the innovative inventions their current students had created.  The impressive collection helped spark conversation between alumni and staff as they witnessed firsthand the results of the University’s entrepreneurial efforts.

Thank you, Syracuse, for bringing such passion, talent and inspiration to HELEN MILLS!   


Catering By: Between The Bread

Signage By: Atlas Print Solutions

Content and Photography By: Brittany Moodey 

Interested in HELEN MILLS for your University or Alumni event?  We would love to host you!

Contact us at for more information. 

Welcome Jessica!

We are excited to welcome Jessica Stucke to our HELEN MILLS team! As our new Event Sales & Operations Coordinator, she will be helping in all aspects of our events from beginning to end.  Jessica has an extensive events background that has included working within the winery, restaurant, and floral industries in California. She is looking forward to contributing to the lively events scene in New York City! 

Here's a quick interview with Jessica:

o  Hometown? San Mateo, California.

o   Favorite place in the neighborhood? Shake Shack (But it’s still 2nd place to In-N-Out, sorry!)

o   What is at the top of your personal bucket list? To find and take a fabulous selfie with the new Netflix ‘Queer Eye’ cast.

o   What do you love most about events / planning events? I love being surprised by each event’s creativity and purpose – it’s always uplifting to see people come together for a shared passion or cause.

o   Favorite swag item? I can never have enough Tote Bags!

o   Favorite event décor? String lights or as I like to professionally call them behind the scenes: “fairy twinkle lights”.

o   Favorite cocktail? I’ll gladly sip anything with gin and mint/cucumber – bartender’s choice!

Jessica Stucke

Jessica Stucke

Stop & Smell...the Peonies: A Guide to Event Floral Design

Walking through the flower district on 28th street, you will be literally surrounded by choices.

On my walk to meet with Merriel Weston, a veteran florist with nearly 25 years of experience, I passed through what seemed like a pop-up jungle. To my right were small bushes and imposing conifer trees, on my left, gorgeous bright flowers, climbing vines and tall grasses. Despite the appearance, I was not in a jungle, I was walking along 28th street's famous flower district on my way to get Merriel's words of wisdom on event floral design.

For someone unfamiliar with planning for and purchasing flower arrangements, the choices can be daunting. What is in season? What fits with your brand or event theme? Do you want large arrangements, something more discreet or both? How does your event venue factor in to your choice of floral arrangements? 

I tackled these questions with the help of an experienced and talented florist. Below are some quick, high impact tips to get you on your way to incorporating floral design into your next event.

A selection of arrangements in the studio. These were all created for the same event and kept with the white color scheme while varying in texture and type of flower to create variety and different points of interest.

A selection of arrangements in the studio. These were all created for the same event and kept with the white color scheme while varying in texture and type of flower to create variety and different points of interest.

Q: What are the top factors to consider when creating floral design for an event? 

  • The venue's architectural details. For example, if the venue has high ceilings, consider creating taller plants or flowers or having a large centerpiece. If the venue has large window sills, can you place arrangements at each one?

  • Guest interaction & Event flow. If you are creating centerpiece or table accent arrangements, make sure your guests can see one another across the table. For your centerpiece, make sure it's near the point where guests will congregate most - at a bar or food station may be a good option depending on the size of the space.

  • Seasonality. In the spring Cherry Blossoms, Pear Blossoms, and Magnolias are a great way to reflect the season and create a feeling of Spring indoors. In June, peonies and lilacs are abundant choices. In the Fall, berries and dahlias are local, readily available to usher in the brisker weather. For more guidelines of what flowers are available by season, see here.

Succulents are readily available in the summer and a unique and hardy choice.

Succulents are readily available in the summer and a unique and hardy choice.

Q: What are some considerations when choosing flowers or plants for your arrangements?

  • Your brand / cause and the event's mood. Consider what mood you want to create for your event and how you want your guests to feel. For example, bright or intensely colored flowers may foster a sense of excitement while subdued, earthy succulents may have more of a calming, comforting effect.

  • Color and texture. When selecting items for your arrangements, consider the texture of each selection you make. The arrangement pictured below has not only varying colors but also vary textures to create interesting contrast in a subtle way, while maintaining the overall white color theme.

  • Budget. Floral and plant arrangements can become costly. If you are working within a strict budget, consider having one large or high-impact piece and then complimentary small arrangements throughout the space in areas that guests will see such as check-in, on the bar, or on cocktail furniture and in lounge areas.

About Merriel Weston Merriel Weston has been a florist for nearly 25 years, first in Malibu for 7 years and then in New York City for the past 17 years. Her clients include, Estee Lauder, FedEx, Financial Times, and numerous private clients. For more about Merriel as well as photos of her work, see her website.

Merriel Weston, founder of Merriel Weston Floral Design, poses in the walk-in plant refrigerator.

Merriel Weston, founder of Merriel Weston Floral Design, poses in the walk-in plant refrigerator.

Event Planning Series: Extending The Life of Your Event with Photography

Choosing an event photographer and/or videographer can be challenging – they must be able to tell a strong visual story while capturing important moments. Photographer Zev Greenfield of Milk & Honey Productions outlines questions to ask and things to keep in mind when recording your next event.

HELEN MILLS Event Space Events, Fashion and Meetings & Conferences

Think Beyond the Moment

From signage to venue setup, make sure your event lends itself well to being photogenic and easy to share on social media. In this day and age, lots of photographers offer interactive photo-sharing technologies so attendees can share photos on-site during your event. If you want guests to share photos during the event itself, be sure to bring this up during your initial conversations to see if this is an option.

Events are a huge investment, make sure to get the greatest return. Have compelling photographs and beautifully told stories on video to make the event memorable and engaging for guests who aren’t able to attend. Photographs can also help to increase interest in future events.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

HELEN MILLS Event Space Events, Fashion and Meetings & Conferences

Q&A With a Professional

Video is often a second thought, however, people should consider using a videographer for any event where there’s a speech involved or a message being given to people. While it’s easier to upload and share pictures and videos, video captures words, emotion, movement and sound in a way that photography simply cannot. It takes skill and expertise to tell an event story. It’s easy to shoot images but to tell it in such a way where there’s a thought process, beginning to end, and also convey a message, that takes talent and experience.

Plan how and when you’ll use your event photos before the event. People often want photographs and video immediately. Go in knowing the timing you’ll need post-event and be clear about this schedule with the photographer.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: Event Entertainment To Wow Your Guests

Entertainment can make the difference between a unique and memorable event and one that
guests forget once they step out the door. Never considered having entertainment at your event? Read on for recommendations and a Q&A from event entertainment expert Brian Rosenbaum. Brian is the President of The Entertainment Company and has 25 years of experience in the event entertainment industry working with 1,000's of clients.

HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater Event Planning Series - Event Entertainment

Do Something Different

Encourage your guests to interact with the event by using mobile technology. Some ideas to consider:

  1. Set up a projection screen with a twitter wall of live tweets from the event.

  2. Set up a projection screen that displays photos taken at the event in real-time.

  3. Set up a hashtag print station where guests can print photos from the event that they have posted on social media. This type of interactivity will keep your audience engaged throughout the event (as well as publicize your event on social media).

Hire entertainers that your guests won't expect. Some crowd pleasers include dancers, acrobats, stilt-walkers, magicians, graffiti artists, and balloon artists. These entertainers will liven the vibe of your event, and make your event stand out.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Q&A with a Professional

We’ve had aerial performers with high ceiling venues. We’ve also done indoor ice-skating for winter themes, complete with professional ice skaters doing performing a show for guests.

Strolling performers are great when there are a lot of people at an event. These performers are like the street performers you see in New York City. They are extremely talented and will circulate throughout the room, doing a number of performances a night for small groups of people. They create intimate performances that don’t disrupt the flow of the event. 

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: How Furniture can Take Your Event to the Next Level

At HELEN MILLS, we work with talented event professionals every day. Over the coming months, we will be posting insights and interviews from some of the most experienced experts in the industry as part of our HELEN MILLS Event Planning Series! Please let us know your thoughts by commenting, sharing, or contacting us

Kicking off the Event Planning Series, Rhonda Cosaluzzo of AFR Event Furnishings spoke with us on how event furnishings may be just the thing for impressing guests and creating a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Rhonda helped start AFR’s event furnishing business in NYC 7 years ago and has worked on events across the country from Miami to Dallas to Chicago to New York. Read on for highlights from our Q&A as well as top tips to consider when furnishing your next event. 

Essential Tips for Furnishing Your Event

Before you decorate and design your event, know what you want your audience to do. Maybe they will be listening to speakers without much time for socializing. Maybe there will be time for networking and socializing before speakers. Or maybe you do not have presentations. All of these situations should factor into your decision of how to arrange the furnishings.

Take the "centerpiece" concept and apply it to the room. Instead of using 20 floral arrangements at $50 per table, sink all the money into one dramatic floral arrangement in the center of the room. People will not notice that you have scaled back on the tabletop pieces, but rather the extravagant piece in the center of the room could be a conversation starter.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Q&A with a Professional

With one of our trade show booths, we turned cocktail and end tables on their side and stacked them to make a beautiful backdrop. We stacked sofas to make an entrance to the booth. You always have to think outside the box in the event industry. We’re always experimenting in our warehouse. We all put our heads together and figure out what works. Some of our experiments have resulted in a few broken pieces but it’s worth it to try new things.

Many of today’s top companies like Google and AOL have gotten away from the traditional chairs and have gotten into sofas and little ottomans where people can put their feet up. The day of sitting in a conference chair is over. Companies are now focusing on creating a welcoming, social atmosphere at their events. It’s a much more casual atmosphere, with corporate and social events alike.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Words of Wisdom: Food PR & Marketing Events

We sat down with Food Fête founder Jeff Davis to speak about the creation of the 10-year-old food marketing & PR event, food industry trends, and how food brands can get involved and succeed. HELEN MILLS has hosted Food Fête events since 2011. How didFood Fête Start? Food Fête started 10 years ago out of a desire to create a high-value media event for food brands. I come from a PR background and saw an opportunity to help food brands get in front of many top food editors. The tabletop format was not being done in the food industry at the time, and having seen the event model work in other industries, I decided to try it.

Best Giveaway Item at a Food PR/Marketing Event? The US Potato Board several years ago put a Mr. Potato Head toy in each media gift bag. It was clever branding and helped reinforce potatoes as an ingredient.

Food Industry Trend to Watch?  In both our San Francisco and NYC events, we featured two companies in the online food shopping space, where consumers can order ingredients for a meal or recipe (including fresh foods) and have it shipped to them. The presence of these companies points to the growing number of online companies getting involved in the food space.

Food Fete event at HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater

How Can Food Vendors or PR Professionals Stand Out? Great products always speak for themselves, but having a knowledgeable brand representative on hand to talk about them can make or break a vendor’s presence at Food Fête. Media see Food Fête as an educational opportunity to learn about the latest products, how they’re made, and how the ingredients are grown. Post-event follow-up is  essential to getting the most out of a food PR or marketing event. The benefit of Food Fête doesn’t stop when the event is over. Food brands and their PR people need to follow-up with food editors and writers they meet to stay top of mind when they want to cover their product category.

How Do Vendors Apply ForFood Fête's Upcoming 2014 Events? Food and beverage brands can apply online for any of our events at

AboutFood Fête: Food Fête was founded in 2004 and is an exclusive, intimate event that introduces food PR and marketing professionals to a targeted group of top food writers. Exhibitors showcase their newest food, beverage and kitchenware products in an intimate, cocktail party setting. In just two to three hours, meaningful conversations naturally unfold. Social media profiles give way to, well, genuine social interactions. Food Fête has evolved into an essential industry touch point where new food products and the food press intersect. Food Fête's upcoming 2014 events will take place in New York City in April, June, and October. To learn more, see the Food Fête's website.

Looking for a Food Event or Tradeshow Venue? Please Contact Us for more information or visit our Tradeshow page for more information.