Ever have limited space for an event, but unlimited expectations? We sat down recently with the owners of Little Miss Party, the boutique party planning service in small-space-capital-of-the-world Manhattan. Co-founders Seri and Michelle met while working at J. Crew in the early 2000s. Their love for partying, planning, and all of the special details that go into creating a one-of-a-kind event inspired them to start their own event-planning business together. We asked Seri and Michelle to share the secrets to hosting a fabulous event in a small space.
What convinced you to shift from the world of fashion to creating your own party-planning business?
SERI: Two things: my wedding and having my first child. When I got married in 2007, I loved every minute of the planning process. I didn’t know anyone else who enjoyed all the work that went into such a monumental event. On top of that, I was always throwing big events in my small one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. I quickly realized I would love to be a party planner, specifically for smaller, more intimate events where I could shine creatively.
When I had my first child, my whole life changed. I had worked in fashion for ten years and absolutely loved every minute of it. Once I gave birth to my son, I could not imagine spending one day without him. And when my maternity leave ended, I went back to my job in fashion—but left two weeks later. That’s when Little Miss Party began to come together. Michelle came on board to develop the business with me, and we officially launched one year later in the summer of 2011.
How does your previous experience with fashion brands such as Kate Spade and J. Crew help you manage your business?
MICHELLE: Seri and I worked on the production side of the fashion industry which means daily communication with the factories overseas. It was all about organization. We were the liaisons between the Far East and the designers and merchants, so it was critical to always be on top of our game and even a step ahead. We had to anticipate what questions our team would ask before they asked them. This experience translates seamlessly into our current roles because organization is key in planning any event, big or small. It's a juggling act, but we love it!
What was special about your bridal shower that inspired you to create this unique business model?
SERI: The little details! I loved having a theme as well as all of the creative details that surrounded it: custom signage, personalized favors, and unique décor. It’s the little things that make a mark and make people remember it as a special party.
We're fans of your blog, littlemisspartyplanner.com. How has that helped you in your business?
SERI: Our blog is the single most important piece of our site as it gives our clients, prospective clients, and followers a chance to see our work. We blog about all of our events with photos and details on the vendors we used, designs we came up with, and menus we served. It’s a fabulous way to showcase our work to those who follow along as well as through all of our social media outlets such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
What’s the most bizarre request you’ve ever gotten from a client?
MICHELLE: We have been especially fortunate to have worked with some really wonderful clients. But everyone has their quirks! We had an awesome client once ask us to only bring an extremely good-looking waitstaff to the event. We giggled, but it made sense—the event was going to be filled with mostly women in their twenties and thirties, so a little eye candy never hurts!
What has been the most challenging aspect of your business?
MICHELLE: Starting your own business is such a wonderful process but naturally brings a ton of challenges. Seri and I are both in our thirties and have families, so finding time for everyone and everything is always a difficult task. Do we always have it worked out perfectly? Definitely not! But we strive everyday to strike that balance between the two. We give a hundred percent of ourselves to the business and to our clients, and that's what our clients love most about us—we are always available. No matter what happens with the business, we are wives and mothers first, which we feel has made us better businesswomen.
Seri and Michelle's Tips for Hosting a Party in a Small Space
01. Prep as much as you can in advance. The week prior to the party you should begin your shopping and dry-clean your linens. The day before, pick up and arrange your flowers and check your menu and recipes to prep food if possible.
02. Arrange the furniture. Move the couches and tables against the walls to maximize your space.
03. Remember the lighting. The key to any event, big or small, is the lighting. If your event is in the evening, keep it dim and add tons of candles. If your event is during the day, brighten up the room by opening all of the blinds and setting out brightly colored fresh flowers.
04. Organize the room. Put the bar on one side of the room and the nibbles on the other to avoid a bottleneck situation. You can even do wine/liquor on one side and beer on the other. It's all about flow.
05. Think multipurpose. Try using your sink as an ice bucket. Fill it with ice, stick a few bottles in, and voilà!
Photos by Raquel Langworthy of Raquel Bianca Creative