Made in St. Louis: Her designs are the life of the party | Lifestyles
When it comes to spicing up a special event, a product launch, a trade show, a wedding or a party, no one does it quite like Malissa Cloven of Vivant Entertainment and Vivant Couture Designs. She’s the person who transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary at events with strolling stilt walkers, celebrity impersonators and glamazons who rise 9 feet into the air to flank a red carpet.
Handing out food and beverages gets more exciting when costumed people wear serving tables to dispense drinks and hors d’ouevres, or fanciful dresses clipped with bags of snacks and candies.
These imaginative creations and more from this St. Louis-based designer and entertainment entrepreneur are now available through her Etsy store, Vivant Couture Designs, to rev up parties nationwide.
Get the party started • Cloven’s unusual background gave her an insider’s perspective on the business before she launched.
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“I had worked as both a photo stylist and as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, so I married those two ideas and created Vivant Entertainment,” she says. “I have what I felt was an understanding of both sides of the business. “I knew what to expect of the entertainers and how to communicate with clients. I designed and made sets and tabletop displays from my styling side, and that’s how it came together.
“The seed for the concept was planted in the spring of 2012. I launched the company on my birthday, October 5. My first gigs were on New Year’s Eve 2012. I had several that night, one at the Argosy Casino. It really took a lot of time to plan and make everything I needed to get started.”
There’s no business like show business • This Oct. 5 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Vivant Entertainment. Although the pandemic cut into her entertainment business, Cloven had thought ahead about how to grow her company with the help of business coaches.
“One of the things they asked was ‘What do you do for residual income? Why aren’t you selling your stuff to other people?’ And it was so weird. Why hadn’t I? It was like a lightbulb went off. Of course. There’s a market for my designs.”
She realized people can’t go to the store and buy a stilt-walking outfit, or the perfect costume for a living statue. There’s no ready-made glamazon outfits. These are things you don’t find easily. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a resource for other companies like mine throughout the United States?” she says.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack • Her process to make and sell her costume creations includes thoughtful considerations of a client’s needs and personal attention to detail. Cloven works and sometimes reworks her designs so they perform perfectly during an event or party, as in the case of the serving dress she designed for snacks and candies.
“For the opening of Ballpark Village. I was approached by a client who said ‘Can you find a clever way to give out Cracker Jacks? I love clients who don’t box me in.
“I based a whole dress design on the Cracker Jack bag. I first used sticky tape to adhere the samples to the skirt of the dress. Then I heard the packages drop off one by one. After testing three different plans, I ended up hand sewing clips all over the skirt. Now I have a design that can be customized to give out potato chips, candy — anything in a bag can clip on to the skirt.
Bringing it to you personally • At food and beverage events her skirts and wearable tray creations are a unique way for performers to interact with guests. “The servers are giving them something, so they’re more inclined to come toward a booth at a trade show, for example. Plus, they’re adorable and people want to take photos with them. It becomes a wonderful exchange and elevates how to present food and beverages in a new way,” she says.
Let’s go on with the show • During the two-plus pandemic years Cloven turned a bedroom in her home into a studio and worked on stock for her Etsy store. Ordinary folks who aren’t entertainers often shop for Kentucky Derby Day hats, or for the perfect headdresses to complete a Halloween costume. “There’s prize money in contests for those events,” she says. Her extravagant and eminently wearable headpieces have turned more than a few heads. “The whole thing needs to be balanced, lightweight, and of course, it needs to stay on the person’s head,” she says.
Vivant Couture Designs and Vivant Entertainment
Artist • Malissa Cloven
What she makes • Cloven conceptualizes and creates attention-getting costumes and accessories for special events, weddings and private parties. She brings her expertise from nearly ten years in the entertainment industry to offer one-of-a-kind headdresses, fascinators, Derby-worthy hats, wearable Lucite serving trays and skirts, stilt walker costumes, living statue costumes, and more to interested persons throughout the country via her Etsy store or in person.
Where to buy • Cloven sells her designs through her Etsy store, VivantCoutureDesigns. She also accepts custom orders. Interested parties may contact her directly through email at email@example.com
How much • Designs range from $200 to $800.