Meet Nicole Munder, A Palm Beach Event Planner-Turned-Business Owner
It’s a crisp December afternoon in Palm Beach and Nicole Munder chats animatedly with Amie Swan, a close friend and OTG/247 founder. Swan stopped in to see Launch Pad, the 2,200-square-foot retail emporium Munder opened on Nov. 13 with stylist and fashion editor Katherine Lande.
Tucked within The Esplanade’s winding footprint where fashion titans like Gucci and Emilio Pucci reign, the pair strategically chose the voluptuous space for its affluent area code and close proximity to Worth Avenue.
Inspired by the island’s dreamiest environs, the light-flooded setting is an ode to glamorous living anchored by perennially chic furnishings from West Palm’s Circa Who that home delivers the next day. Eclectic and vintage pieces, like a glass-topped dining room table with a brass ibex base set with dainty pastries, seem at ease alongside the revolving collections of clothing, home goods, hostess gifts and curated pieces one typically finds at trunk shows or on sites like Net-a-Porter.
As its moniker suggests, Launch Pad focuses mainly on artisanal wares and merchandise crafted by young, up-and-coming designers and emerging brands often unfamiliar with Palm Beach but that want to test-drive the market before committing to a permanent location. Munder collaborates with each vendor to create a personalized experience or activation, such as a meet-and-greet with the designer over cocktails. “At the end of the day, that’s where retail is heading—toward the experience,” she says.
While most designers only keep their collections in-house for two or three weeks, the Palm Beach proprietor is disinclined to call her boutique a pop-up. “We’re a pop-in,” she says, smiling. “We try to editorialize the store so it’s always telling a story. You won’t see lots of cutlery and beach towels and bathing suits everywhere. It all has to make sense.”
Her response stays neutral when asked how much her pioneering enterprise nets. It varies, she says. “A vendor who wants to come in for a one-day event is a lot different from someone coming in for a few weeks to get into this market.”
Bask toweling blazers, Greek sandals from Laiik, and the acrylic placemats and interchangeable inserts, or dailies, Munder designs for Tinge Daily, a table decor company she launched in 2015, are flying out of the store. Palm Beach’s top event planners scoop up her de rigueur inserts in attention-grabbing prints like pink flamingos and cabana stripes, or have them custom designed, to bring extra color and island style to their celebrations.
Seated cross-legged on a Milo Baughman-style flame stitch sofa in tailored J.Crew pants and a Calvin Klein top, the Bloomfield Hills native seems a million miles from New York City and her adrenaline-filled days at Vogue. As associate director of special events for the magazine, she clocked long hours and thousands of air miles attending merchandising meetings, representing the magazine on national TV networks like E! and producing spectacular events, including the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.
After she left the style bible, she married her childhood friend, Ryan Munder, and the couple relocated to Palm Beach in 2003. Ryan went to work for his family’s investment company, and she settled in before launching her eponymous public relations and special events agency. It took little time for her to cobble an impressive roster of clients, and Vogue tapped her to choreograph its Art Basel fashion shows from 2007 to 2010.
Today, her favorite role is raising her three children. She proudly discloses her two eldest are following in her footsteps and have their sights set on entrepreneurialism. Her son, R.J., has embarked on a project that melds philanthropy with his love of golf; and her daughter, Sienna, sells slime (yes, slime) on Etsy.
Munder believes a good mentor is mandatory. She recalls the sage wisdom one of her own once shared: “You have got to believe in what you do, or you shouldn’t be doing it.”