We love celebrating women doing awesome things! With this weekly (if we can keep up with it), but realistically, monthly features, we will spotlight female entrepreneurs who are an inspiration to ANNA+POOKIE and are making stuff happen!
You're a highly sought after event designer specializing in children's events. How did your fantastic career begin?
Thank you so much. I appreciate that compliment!! I honestly started just wanting to give my son an amazing first birthday party. I've always been one to celebrate, I've always looked for reasons to bring people together and to eat cupcakes lol.
So when he was born on my list of things I wanted to do with him and for him, it was to have a great first birthday. As I started to look around for ideas (for context, this was 2008), I noticed that there was an entire world of craft making for kids that I knew nothing about. I found tons of blogs dedicated to DIY this and DIY that. I was like a moth to a flame. I was drawn to it and immediately sucked into this world of "DIY" that was just beginning at the time.
Pre-Pinterest and only about one year into the existence of Etsy, the kids' party arena was having this resurgence. You couldn't find everything, but themes and color palettes were starting to take shape, and people were starting to do a bit more for kids' parties. It was such an excellent time to get started.
My son's first birthday came around, and I did as much as I could, favor boxes, signs, cute cake, and entertainment - that was about it. Executing this extremely modest party was all I needed to get the bug for planning. I didn't know I could be an actual designer, but I knew I could be a planner. I started out setting up small shoots at home - which were horrible, but I kept going. I saw potential in everything!!
I opened an Etsy Shop selling kids invitations, cupcake toppers, and signs that I created myself. I even started to sew and took sewing classes so I could make fabric pennant banners. I was immersed in this world, and everything was new to me. I tried it all. My first paying client was a friend who wanted a Halloween party. I did it, and I LOVED every minute of it, even though parts of that event were disasters, it just didn't matter. I took the good with the bad, and I just kept going. Soon after that, I had a logo and a working website and was off to the races!
What do you enjoy most about working on children's parties?
My answer changes so much, but what's consistent is that I love children's design. I love ANYTHING made, especially for kids. The simple patterns, the colors, the materials - literally anything for kids I love. To that end, my favorite part is designing custom events. Putting my spin on a classic like Minnie Mouse or a modern favorite like Unicorn brings me joy. I'm excited to show it as I see it.What's the most spectacular event you've ever planned?
They've all been so good, but one of my personal favorites was a twin baptism I did at Lotte Palace Hotel. The venue alone was spectacular! It was a crazy snowstorm that day, and making it there from NJ was a mess. I didn't know if vendors would be able to get there or if this thing was going to fall apart on me, but it turned out to be such an amazing event.
Everything for this party was custom. We did a Nutcracker theme with the most beautiful purples and magentas. I had custom lavender ruffled burlap placemats, cookie place cards, and antique silver glitter wreaths on the windows that had an initial of each child inside. Gorgeous!
One other favorite - and I think a love of a lot of people was a ballet party I did a couple of years ago. I mean, just the florals alone were over the top, I used the best finishings for this party that I still think were some of the best. I had real silver pieces with a gorgeous patina, vintage jeweled ballet slippers, beautiful ceramic plates adorned with a single fresh peony - things people would never think could be used for a 4th birthday party. But, I did them all, and the kids were allowed to be kids still, nothing was broken, and everyone loved it. The ice cream truck even showed up at the end!
What advice would you give parents on low and high budgets when planning a child's party? What should they focus on to make the most of their money?
My advice never changes, and some might be surprised at this. Put your money into properly entertaining the kids. Before anything else, decor included, a party for children should be fun for all of the kids in attendance. I understand 100% why people have parties at bounce house places, etc. I never look down on those because, at the end of it, the kids have had fun. If you have some extra money, get a great party favor, something the kids can take home and use.
Next, I would say a photographer to capture the event. The decor is probably last on my list of things you NEED for your child's birthday party. It's not a necessity, which is why event designing is a luxury service. It's memorable, it's unique, and if you have the money to spend on hiring a professional GREAT but you don't have to. Choose a theme, pick out colors, buy pretty paper plates and cups from Anna + Pookie, and put your money into making sure the kids have fun.
Finally, and for fun, if you were an event, what would it be?
OMG, I love this question!! I would be a whole carnival lol!! Rides, games, waffles & ice cream, boardwalk, Ferris wheel, the whole 9. That's also my favorite party theme; nothing is better than a good carnival.