Karen Reed (center in blue top) with just some of the singular celebrators at last year’s National Singles Day held in West Hollywood. Photo by Tera Linkugel.

National Singles Day Returns to West Hollywood

The 3rd annual National Singles Day Celebration, the brainchild of single woman Karen Reed, takes place on Sunday, January 10, 2016 with comedy, cocktails, gift bags and fun.

Karen Reed (center in blue top) with just some of the singular celebrators at last year’s National Singles Day held in West Hollywood. Photo by Tera Linkugel.
Karen Reed (center in blue top) with just some of the singular celebrators at last year’s National Singles Day held in West Hollywood. Photo by Tera Linkugel.

Things have been changing over the last few years when it comes to single people finally getting the respect they deserve. One reason has been the emergence of some great books by social scientists and psychologists who point out the ridiculous ways that society discriminates against people who are single. Another reason is pro-single lifestyle entities, like Singular magazine and its social network, SingularCity. And another is thanks to individuals who have taken a stand, in their own way, to recognize and support those who are single — people like Karen Reed, a West Hollywood business owner and resident, who three years ago decided to create National Singles Day.

We sat down with Reed to learn more about her effort to create a nationally recognized holiday on January 11 to celebrate those who are living single and to raise awareness in the business community of this significant segment of our country’s population.

Singular magazine: The 3rd annual National Singles Day celebration takes place on Sunday, January 10 at Bar10 in West Hollywood (celebrated on Sunday since January 11 falls on a Monday). How will it be different from previous years?

Karen Reed: The biggest difference is that the City of West Hollywood will present an official proclamation declaring National Singles Day an official West Hollywood holiday — the first city in the nation to do so!

Karen Reed rallies the troops at the first annual National Singles Day in 2013. Photo by Tera Linkugel.
Karen Reed rallies the troops at the first annual National Singles Day in 2013. Photo by Tera Linkugel.

We’re also proud to introduce our first out-of-state co-sponsor, Single & Looking™ Apparel Co. — a clothing and accessories line for the romantically unencumbered. They’ve co-opted the old adage, “single and looking” and broadened it to better represent today’s singles who have a world of mutual interests beyond just hooking up. They’re co-sponsoring this year’s “Single & Looking™ Awesome” event t-shirt which we’ll give away to 20 lucky event-goers and they’re the co-host of our event afterparty.

Singular magazine: There is a Singles Day in China on November 11 that is recognized around the world, to a certain degree, and a National Singles Week in September here in the U.S. Why did you feel it was necessary to create another Singles Day in January?

Karen Reed: China’s Singles Day was actually the initial inspiration for starting a Singles Day here. When I first heard about it back in November of 2013, I thought, wow — what a great idea! I did a little googling and discovered that we had a National Singles Week, but it didn’t seem to have any kind of group or organization that backed or promoted it. I also came across Singles Awareness Day, but it looked more anti-romance than pro-independence.

I also felt it was necessary to create a fresh, new singles holiday because so much has changed in recent years. Twenty-first century singles are a new breed. Today’s singles are a vibrant, diverse demographic and a force to be reckoned with. At right around 50 percent of the U.S. adult population, singles quite literally sustain half of our economy. And yet, outdated stereotypes and “singlephobias,” both external and internal, still hang on.

Singular magazine: The commerce angle seems to be an important part of your mission, the effort to involve businesses in the event and to point out the importance of the singles demographic as an important market segment. Can you tell me your reason for that?

Karen Reed: Definitions of singlehood are complex — single by choice or circumstance, legally or figuratively, solo forever or just for now. Reaching single people as a group is a daunting task. And sometimes the best way to approach a massive, virtually unsolvable problem is to bypass the details, jump high on top and shout with one voice — we’re here! Then do it again. And again. No one knows how to do this better than the folks on Madison Avenue. Everyone despises the retail hijacking of our most favored holidays, but at the same time, all that advertising is a big part of what’s made them successful — and what, ultimately, makes them so much fun. So yes, we’d like to see National Singles Day have its day in the retail-fueled sun.

The first National Singles Day was held at The Abbey in West Hollywood. Photo by Jane McCord.
The first National Singles Day was held at The Abbey in West Hollywood. Photo by Jane McCord.

Ultimately, if merchants who embrace National Singles Day experience a spike in earnings at the beginning of the year, that’s good for our economy. And if the specials and discounts they offer cause them to think harder about out how to market effectively to today’s singles, well that gets us closer to that whole perception/reality thing we’re all about.

Singular magazine: The first year’s event primarily attracted LGBT people. Is your event primarily focused on single people from that community?

Karen Reed: National Singles Day is for everyone. It started in West Hollywood, a city with one of the largest LGBT communities in the nation. The city’s restaurant and nightclub culture is the entertainment hub for hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists, gay and straight, who flock to Santa Monica Blvd. for fun, food and good times. We knew that if we were able to host our first event at one of West Hollywood’s most popular venues, we’d be able create something amazing — and we did. While our kickoff celebration was attended by over 100 LGBT revelers, we also had a nice showing of straight supporters. Each year, as our reach extends beyond West Hollywood, through social media and increased publicity, we are getting a more and more diverse crowd and 2016 looks to be the most all-inclusive yet.

Singular magazine: People who attended your event the first year were given little colored stickers to indicate if they were available (or not) for a romantic connection. Are you doing that this year?

Karen Reed: The first year we did it because we knew we’d have a lot of single people, and while we’re certainly not mandating people hook up, we wanted to include a subtle way of sparking that conversation for those who wished to do so. The second year, we skipped it, thinking perhaps it conflicted with our core position that singles are fine exactly as they are. But then we ended up getting complaints from people who had fun with their “status stickers” and missed it.

So…. yes, we are doing it again this year, this time at the afterparty. We’ll be handing out neon rubber wristbands — green for interested, orange for maybe and pink for not interested and people can wear one or combo them up, or wear none — whatever suits their mood.

Singular magazine: How much time and effort goes into creating the event and to promoting the concept of National Singles day? Is it a year round effort?

Karen Reed: Yes, it’s a year-round effort. From the beginning, we set up a website and network of social media pages, and keeping those up is a continuous project. The annual West Hollywood event is a huge undertaking and done completely by volunteers. Publisher Mia Dinelly of West Hollywood Lifestyle magazine has been instrumental in co-hosting the event and running full-spread ads the past two years. All posters, banners and flyers are subsidised by volunteer contributors and event giveaways, silent auction and raffle items are generously donated by local merchants. We have no permanent sponsors or revenue stream as yet, but we have amazing support from the community. It’s all a very grass roots effort, but that’s also what makes it so inspiring!

In addition, we respond to the increasing volume of emails that come in from people all over the country wanting to know what they need to do to start up National Singles Day celebrations of their own. This year, we created a download page with logos, stickers, posters and banners people can use and customize for their own events.

Singular magazine: What has been the most rewarding part of doing all of this for you, on a personal level?

Karen Reed: This journey has been rewarding from the very start, from the first time I explained what I wanted to do and saw the other person’s eyes light up. With rare exception, everyone seems to get it — that we should have a national holiday for single people akin to Valentine’s Day — especially when they realize singles are statistically half the adult population.

Reed hopes to replace outdated stereotypes with a new attitude of acceptance and celebration of singles and single lifestyles. Photo by Jane McCord.
Reed hopes to replace outdated stereotypes with a new attitude of acceptance and celebration of singles and single lifestyles. Photo by Jane McCord.

The other, maybe even greater reward, is seeing the effect National Singles Day is having on singles. I see it every day, in Facebook “likes,” posts, comments and in person when I speak about Singles Day. Singles and couples alike are enthusiastic about National Singles Day, and that tells me that all this hard work and evangelizing is ultimately worth it.

Singular magazine: What will define a successful National Singles Day 2016 for you? What will it look like?

Karen Reed: First of all, it will be sunny and gorgeous. Haha. Don’t laugh, weather makes a big difference! But yes, bigger numbers will be the first indicator of success. Last year we had approximately 200, this year we expect 250 or more — the word is out and the buzz is growing. With the City of West Hollywood being the first city in the country to issue a National Singles Day proclamation, we expect a greater turnout for that reason alone – we’re making history!

In addition, some of the talent on hand — comedian MC, Lisa Sundstedt, creator of the longest running all-female comedy show, Pretty, Funny Women! and special guests comics, Samantha Hale and Scott Shimamoto will have their own unique draw. And we hope the readers of Singular magazine and your social network, SingularCity, will come out in force to join this year’s festivities!

Copyright © 2016 Singular Communications, LLC.

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