As of Thursday, August 10, 2017
Crystal Ortiz and Christina Rosenberg spent years planning and producing large-scale, big-budget events such as corporate parties at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and South by Southwest and celebrity weddings. With their latest project—the nonprofit organization Twice New—the two are focused on the less-glamorous side of event planning: what to do with all that food and other items left over after the guests have gone home.
“You’re in this space where you’re creating this disposable environment and it really doesn’t matter what happens at the end as long as it’s successful,” Ortiz said. “At the end of an event, sometimes I’d have all this catering left over and I was scrambling trying to find a homeless shelter that was still open.”
Ortiz started thinking about the concept behind Twice New after a promotional event she had produced for a tampon brand at Coachella, which includes giveaways of three-packs of tampons. When the music festival ended there was a rush to pack up and shut down, but Ortiz still had boxes and boxes of tampons left over. When she asked what to do with them, she was told to throw them away.
“At that moment a lightbulb went off,” she said. “Not even talking about what’s going on in the rest of the world but just talking about women in LA County not having access to feminine products. We’re so easily okay with just throwing things like this away.”
Typically with large events, the venue will also charge a disposal fee, so organizers are not only throwing usable items away, they’re being charged to do it.
“We live in Los Angeles, where we have a homeless epidemic,” Ortiz said. “In this city every day, all day long, we’re throwing away all these resources. Instead of continuing to be part of the problem, we wanted to be part of the solution.”
Ortiz and Rosenberg started working on Twice New about eight months ago. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so everything donated to Twice New is tax deductible, Rosenberg said.
“The savings can add up quite substantially for a company,” she said. “We want to make it as simple as possible for the people we work with. We don’t want to get into a situation where there’s any reason why someone wouldn’t use our service, so we try to make the pick-ups really simple.”
Twice New will take more than just food donations.
“It ranges quite dramatically,” Rosenberg said. “It will include food. It will include florals. A lot of the celebrity weddings that I work on could have anywhere north of a $30,000 to $50,000 floral budget—every single one of which is going to be thrown in the trash at the end of the night.”
Food will be donated to homeless services. Flowers will go to hospices and women’s shelters. Rosenberg and Ortiz will also take promotional clothing worn by event staff.
“At the end of the night, everybody on staff who’s worked an 18-hour day and then gets in the car and tries to figure out where can they dispose of these things so that it can be utilized again,” Rosenberg said, “that’s where we step in.”
The donation plan is flexible—since often event organizers won’t know how much they will have to donate until the event is over.
“We want to get involved in those conversations initially and say, ‘It’s fine if you have no idea,’” Ortiz said. “It’s also fine if at the end of the event everything was consumed and you call and cancel. But let’s plan on us being there so you have a solution at the end of the night and we can figure out how to deal with this.”
Ortiz and Rosenberg launched with a focus on events because that’s their background. Ortiz was most recently production director at Refinery29, where she worked with big brands such as The Gap, Michael Kors, Old Navy, Perrier and Ford. She also worked as a creative experiential agency in downtown Los Angeles that produced big hotel and lifestyle events such as the Revolve House in the Hamptons. Prior to that she was the in-house event director for Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles, where she worked on entertainment projects such as the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” music video. Rosenberg got her start in theater, producing international touring productions before transitioning into private events, including celebrity weddings, state dinners and large-scale corporate events.
The two are already finding new opportunities for Twice New. They recently started working with the London Hotel Group.
“We’re going to redistribute all their mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner and lotion and all of their towels that are pretty much brand new but don’t look nice enough for a $400-per-night hotel stay,” Ortiz said. “That was something that was not even on my radar until I had a conversation with them. To be able to take those products and bring them to the LA Rescue Mission for people coming there to get a hot shower, it’s such a no brainer.”
And they hope to start working with LA restaurants as well. The organization has already partnered with Cruisers Restaurant Group in Orange County, Calif., to pick up all unused food from the group’s street fair for donation to the Orange County Rescue Mission. “What’s really exciting about this is you almost don’t realize how large a scope of what we can donate there is,” Ortiz said. “We’re 100 percent open to working with anyone that has items they can donate.”
And Rosenberg and Ortiz are hoping to inspire others to follow their lead.
“I would love for this to be a catalyst of 40 other companies to pop out just like ours,” Ortiz said. “There would still be too much work for everyone.”
To kick off the official launch of Twice New, Ortiz and Rosenberg hosted their own event. On Aug. 10, the organization held a party at Land Yacht Studios in LA’s Venice neighborhood. The event featured musical performances by Frankie C & The Klassics and Elan Artists and featured food by chef Alex Thomopoulos.
For more information, visit www.twicenew.org.