Lash Fary Grammy awards goody bag ()Lash Fary Grammy awards goody bag () © Copyright

Party bags for billionaires

What do you buy people who have everything? Lash Fary does it for a living, and the answer is sex toys.

For the past 14 years, Lash Fary has been showering some of Hollywood’s elite with lavish freebies through his swag bags. His company Distinctive Assets furnishes the Academy Awards and the Grammys, and his art of gifting has seen attendees walk away with anything from a bottle of $99 organic maple syrup to a $55,000 holiday to Israel. For next month’s Oscars, the bag is set to be worth a record $238,000. So how did Fary become king of the red carpet goody bag?

When did your fascination with giving gifts start?

Even as a child, I loved gift giving and I relished finding the perfect gift for friends and family – I would look all year round and whenever I came across the perfect present, I would buy it with my allowance and set it aside till the appropriate occasion. I grew up pre-internet in a rural community, so trendiness wasn’t on the menu, but thoughtfulness and that remains the number one ingredient in gift giving.

How did you get into the business of Hollywood gift baskets?

We were initially selling clothing to costume designers on all the top TV shows, and that morphed into personal shopping for the actors. Then magically, we were offered the opportunity to use our brand connections to launch a new concept of backstage gifting at award shows, and we jumped at it. It was received well by the show’s execs, and that expanded to almost all award shows.

Were there any teething problems?

Like any new concept, there were early adopters who bought in right away, but many brands had to be convinced or wanted to wait for proof of concept. The potential was there and that helped us convince Apple, The Sports Club, Logitech, Keurig and dozens of others to try it out, but for the small or new brands, it was a no-brainer – they had everything to gain and nothing to lose.

As for now, there are always speed bumps putting the gift bag together and what you’d expect – products getting stuck in customs, clients pulling out at the last minute, crazy clients who don’t follow the rules you give them, weather, accidents with production vans… but nothing insurmountable.

Now you’ve got the brands on board, how do you go about putting the bags together?

It’s a year-round planning process. As soon as we’ve completed one, we are onto the next year’s one. It’s a two-way street – my sales reps are always reaching out to brands, and luckily, brands also seek us out. Having a successful track record helps, and we also have the benefit of many repeat clients.

Lash Fary Grammy awards goody bag ()

 

What are the most outrageous items you’ve ever put in one of your bags?

Based on the headlines about the independent gift bags we have created for the Oscar nominees in previous years, it would probably be the ‘sexual aids’ we’ve included. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would find it shocking, but many media outlets acted as if I was giving out handguns. The most expensive gift we’ve given was definitely the $55,000 ten-day all inclusive vacation package from Explore Israel; it was incredible. But saying that, spending time around celebrities makes you appreciate that they are really just people and like the simplest things – we recently gifted skin care systems for your bottom from Joseph’s Toiletries which is the world’s finest toilet tissue. The general public acted as if I was giving talent $100 bills to wipe their bums with!

Do you always want to come up with more outrageous packages each year?

The first gift bags are remarkably similar to what we have now – the value might be less because we didn’t include as many high-priced gift certificates but like an awards show, the talent may change from year to year but the format doesn’t. I don’t ever put pressure on myself to ‘outdo’ what I did the prior year. A great gift is a great gift regardless of retail value. I just try to offer a diverse assortment of products that represents a ‘something for everyone’ approach, and I like to include new and unique items that are off the beaten track.

What’s next for your business?

I am always looking for new opportunities to inspire me and make the most of the unique position I have created for myself. A couple of years ago, I started consulting with a charity network called Chideo, so there are some exiting upcoming projects with them. I’m also helping LL Cool J with his annual summer camp for kids called Jump & Ball, and I launched a product line of my own a few years ago called Slimware which has been quietly successful, so I plan to focus on ways to expand that.

Image: Getty Images

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