By Pat Eby Special for the Post-Dispatch
When it comes to spicing up a special event, product launch, trade show, wedding or party, no one does it better than Malissa Cloven of Vivant Entertainment and Vivant Couture Designs. She’s the person who turns the ordinary into the extraordinary at events with walking stilt walkers, celebrity impersonators and glamazons soaring 9 feet in the air to flank a red carpet.
Distributing food and drink becomes more exciting when costumed people carry serving tables to distribute drinks and appetizers, or fancy dresses with bags of snacks and candies.
These imaginative creations and more from this St. Louis-based designer and entertainment entrepreneur are now available at her Etsy shop, Vivant Couture Designs, to liven up parties nationwide.
Let the party begin • Cloven’s unusual background gave him an insider’s perspective on the company before it launched.
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“I had worked as both a photo stylist and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, so I married those two ideas and created Vivant Entertainment,” she says. “I have what I felt was an understanding on both sides of the business. “I knew what to expect from artists and how to communicate with clients. I designed and made sets and tabletop displays from my stylistic side, and this is how it is together.
“The seed of the concept was planted in the spring of 2012. I started the business on my birthday, October 5th. My first gigs were on New Years Eve 2012. I had several that night, including one at Casino Argosy. It really took a long time to plan and do everything I needed to get started.
There’s no business like show business • This October 5 will mark the 10th anniversary of Vivant Entertainment. Although the pandemic had hurt his entertainment business, Cloven had thought about how to grow his business with the help of business coaches.
“One of the questions they asked was, ‘What do you do for residual income? Why don’t you sell your stuff to other people? And it was so weird. Why hadn’t I done it? It was as if a light bulb had gone out. Sure. There is a market for my creations.
She realized that people couldn’t go to the store and buy a stilt outfit or the perfect costume for a living statue. There are no ready-to-use glamazon outfits. These are things you don’t find easily. “Wouldn’t it be great to be a resource for other businesses like mine across the United States? ” she says.
Buy me peanuts and cracker jack • Her process for making and selling her costume designs includes thoughtful consideration of a client’s needs and personal attention to detail. Cloven sometimes works and reworks her designs to work perfectly at an event or party, such as the service dress she designed for snacks and candy.
“For the opening of Ballpark Village. I was approached by a customer who said, ‘Can you find a clever way to give out Cracker Jacks? I like customers who don’t lock me in.
“I based an entire dress design on the Cracker Jack bag. First I used tape to adhere the swatches to the skirt of the dress. Then I heard the packages drop one by one. After testing three different designs, I ended up hand sewing clips all over the skirt. Now I have a design that can be customized to give chips, candy – anything in a bag can clip on the skirt.
I bring it to you personally • At fine dining events, her skirts and portable tray designs are a unique way for performers to interact with guests. “Servers give them something, so they’re more likely to come to a booth at a trade show, for example. Plus, they’re adorable and people want to take pictures with them. It becomes a wonderful exchange and elevates the way of presenting food and drink in a new way,” she says.
let’s keep the show going • During the two-plus years of the pandemic, Cloven turned a bedroom in her home into a studio and worked on inventory for her Etsy store. Regular folks who aren’t performers often buy Kentucky Derby Day hats or headpieces that are perfect to complete a Halloween costume. “There are cash prizes in contests for these events,” she says. Her extravagant and eminently wearable headpieces have turned more than a few heads. “Everything has to be balanced, light and, of course, it has to stay on the person’s head,” she says.
Vivant Couture Designs and Vivant Entertainment
Artist • Malissa Cloven
What she does • Cloven designs and creates eye-catching costumes and props for special events, weddings and private parties. It brings its nearly decade-long expertise in the entertainment industry to offer unique headpieces, fascinators, derby-worthy hats, serving trays and wearable Lucite skirts, stilt costumes, live statue costumes and more to those interested. nationwide via her Etsy shop or in person.
How much • Designs range from $200 to $800.