Thursday, September 18, 2014

Does Your Business Have 'True Grit'?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak on the alumni panel for the incoming class of Women's Economic Ventures (incase you're new, I graduated from this program, otherwise known as WEV, in May). When I first got the email I was like, "Whaaat... Why meee?" I'd dreamed of being asked while I was in WEV- but that was early on when I must have been high on learning or something...

Since very little of the business plan I wrote has actually played out since graduating I was honestly fearful I'd look like a failure in front of the new class of incoming business owners. I literally didn't want to do it. But a fellow graduate made  encouraged me to say yes as a way to get practice talking about my business here in Santa Barbara.

So I did... And it gave me the exact motivation I needed.

There were things said on this alumni panel that I needed to hear from the other grads (most had been graduated for a while- so there was wisdom)... and things that I needed to hear myself say as a reminder that I still wanted to do Miss Party Mom. The past few months were unregrettably all about the kids, but Fall was upon us and it was obvious to me that I'd lost my entrepreneurial eagerness while building sandcastles all summer...

The WEV panel gave me the ability to once again grab hold of some business truths because here is what I realized... NEWSFLASH! The other panel members- they had worked hard for their success- they'd hustled to get to where they were! They hit the pavement, shaking hands and holding babies... Networking the heck out of Santa Barbara until they were able to meet someone would be throw them a bone.

And I had to ask myself... Kenna, have you done this? Have you met anyone outside of your comfort zone? Have you told key players you're even a party planner? When I started pondering these questions- I realized, WOW... I haven't done anything since graduating the program to help secure new clients, other than updating the pricing on my website and hoping people would stumble upon it (which I still hope!) and... wait for it... Complaining about how much I hate networking! I honestly would LOVE to operate like Mindy Weiss on a "clients find me" basis- as I feel that my work speaks for itself and I hate telling strangers how awesome I am...


In a town where I'm new that has about as many seasoned party planners as it has children... I realized that if I want this business to launch here (and not rely on Santa Maria and Los Angeles for parties) then yes, I was going to need what fellow panel-alumni and Santa Barbara photographer, Rachel Thurston panel kept calling, "TRUE GRIT".

True Grit... In non-definition like terms is when you're willing to do anything to make it happen- not giving up- even when you're not getting the results you want. Essentially true grit is pushing through the slow times and doing the things you dislike doing- all for the growth of your business.

I started wondering while Rachel was talking... Do I have true grit? I was on an alumni panel... I should have true grit!?

For me this means meeting people outside of my circle, finding ways to collaborate with other businesses, doing some volunteer work to help me get noticed, figuring out great advertising opportunities, donating to the right fundraisers... Just plain getting out there... and not giving up.

I was taking notes in my head as the other grads spoke... My mind was blown by what they had to say about their success! Scott Linde, creator of Sunpotion told the class, "In my business' infancy- I'd meet people everywhere- in the Vons Grocery store line! Anywhere I could pass out business cards I would. I'd promote my business to anyone who would listen... Because you never know who they might know and how they might be willing to help you..."

GULP. I hadn't even passed out business cards in the children's boutiques on State Street! I'd actually avoided handing people business cards as to not come across as annoying or pushy.

Oh Kenna...

You've got A LOT of work to do.

I must say that since that alumni panel I have been working my butt of networking MPM the most I ever have. Meeting with wedding planners, store owners, well-connected moms... I've met with more people in the last few weeks than I have in my 8 months living in Santa Barbara. I came to the conclusion that if I quit now (out of frustration with not penetrating Santa Barbara) then I won't be able to say I gave it my all. And have I mentioned I'm not a quitter?

The crazy thing is that the more I network, the easier it gets... Which I honestly never thought I'd say. With each contact I make- a little more of the business-Kenna shines threw... She's in there somewhere! It's just getting her to come out and play and stop being that weird creative girl who just wants to sew canopies and play with the hot glue gun...

Here's to all of us solopreneurs, mommypreneurs and just straight entrepreneurs having what it takes: True Grit... May we look back on this time and say, "Damn I worked hard to get to wear I'm at- and I'm proud of myself for it!"

xo Party or Die xo

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Summer I Decided to be an Awesome Mom

I honestly can't even remember how I ever had time to run a blog. My days right now are jam packed every. single. day. The "blogging time" I used to keep in my life just isn't there anymore... And in a one way it's so freeing. If I'm honest I actually never had time to sit and blog. I've always been busy- I was born busy. I'm an closet overcommitter in the worst way possible.

But I used to MAKE time for the blog- literally shoving it in to my day, where it did not fit. Blogging at the most inopportune times because I had to- I was committed to being a "blogger". Most times I would I sit and write in the mornings while the kids were up and needing my attention (a great way to start the morning!). I'd have a subject I needed to get out that I was too tired to finish the night before and so I'd ignore the kids and spit out the blog. I'd turn in to "mean blogging mom" for about 2 hours, trying my best to edit it (with my non-literature background) and spending copious amounts of time uploading all my supporting photos. On most occasions shoving blogging in to a day turned me in to somewhat of a Hulk like figure where if anything got in my way or line of consciousness I'd likely loose my mind.

I've mentioned on here many times that prior to having kids, I was never the type of woman who dreamed about her future children. I didn't have names picked out or outfits saved in a hope chest. Prior to getting married I wasn't even sure if I wanted kids because I had such a strong desire for being a successful career woman and doing things.... like blogging. And blogging well. Often times today, I want nothing more than to just sit and blog. Or create something without distraction. But that is not my lot in life right now. My lot in life, by my own doing- is to stay home with the kids with a loose goal of trying to raise a couple of decent humans. As much as I love to work (seriously, I am a classic work-a-holic) and plan parties (the ultimate work)... I'm finally owning the fact that I desire more to be in control of how my kids are raised. (I am also a classic control freak.)

I decided this summer that while the kids were going to be home with me, I wasn't going to be my infamous "mean blogging mom" self who didn't have time for books or legos while I was writing. Instead I made a conscious decision to try and be my most present version of mom yet. I was going to try and embrace new things that most moms loved and have somehow skipped over me. (I blame my childhood or something.)

All in all I must say, summer '14 was pretty amazing. I was pretty amazing. As a mom. I was actually a pretty amazing mom this summer. Such a crazy statement because in all honesty motherhood does not come naturally to me. I am the last one to ever call myself amazing in the mom category. You have never heard me gush about motherhood or breastfeeding or all of the crap that usually makes me want to run far, far away from a mom group (or unfollow an IGer).

But this summer- this summer I kind of killed it. Sure, there were a few rough days while Shawn took two week long trips- but for the most part we had a great two and a half months full of beach days (I hate the beach), exploring new parks (hated slightly less that the beach), a million trips to the zoo (I now know the animals by name... I hate animals), swimming at the YMCA (I hate swimming and pretty much water in general) and so many trips to Yogurtland the employees would talk to us like we were old friends... (I love Yogurtland). Oh- and aside from that one trip to the Y where the water was actually below zero and I was terribly cranky about it- I don't think the kids would ever guess that I didn't love the beach, pool, parks and zoo. What I'm trying to say is that I harnessed the ability to focus on them instead of the sand all over my car, my ruined curly wet hair, and those park kids I have no control of who bring weapons to fight with (Hey- little shit! Put away the sword and try the monkey bars, eh?)

As of this week, both kids are back in school. Although I was so ready for Cormac to be in Kindergarten full time- like truly very ready -without an ounce of hesitation in sending him, I still spent half of his first day looking at old pics of him and making Instagram photo collages of him on his #firstdayofschool. Which made me feel universally connected to moms everywhere... A complete and total rarity.

With the kids both back in school and a whopping 12 hours a week to myself without anyone asking me for juice (and only one child a chunk of the rest of the time) I've realized once again that I live a busy life and there's just no two ways about it. I like to act like we're free to hang out anytime because I love coming across all mellow like that. But with networking for MPM, coaching Cormac's AYSO team, volunteer work for his school... I'm coming to the realization that- as I once read on an Instagram bio: "Wife. Mom. Blogger. Addicted to Busy." YES. I AM ADDICTED TO BUSY. If I had the mellow life I'm so desperate to convince you we lead... I'm pretty sure I'd be bored to tears. I love busy. I love projects. I love having full, productive days.

Which is all the more reason I'm happy that this summer I used my powers for good and was addicted-to-busy with the kids. Because I could have pumped out blogs, sewing projects and styled shoots. The work-a-holic in me would have loved that.

But I didn't- and I'm proud of myself for that. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

xo Party or Die xo

(And our foreign exchange student Mo came to visit, so that was awesome.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going Hollywood with NickMom's "Take Me To Your Mother"

I've been wanting to share the photos that Hannah and I took of the Art Party I put together for the NickMom show Take Me To Your Mother for quite a while now- but I decided I'd better wait until after it aired as to not piss the Nickelodeon folks off!

It was such a surreal experience and I wanted to share as much of it with my blog readers as possible- because I mean I'm pretty much famous now. Like crazy, totally, can't walk out of the house without sunglasses (not true, I don't think my own mom has watched it) FAMOUS. If you haven't watched it yet- that's the link above! It's really a fun episode- hello I'm in it (albeit the last five minutes- but I'm in it).

Let's start at the beginning. A lot of people have asked me how I "got this gig" and the truth is, I really haven't a clue! I have a feeling the name Miss Party Mom Event Planning conjures way more attention than I was ever anticipating... Yay? I did something right? According to the assistant producer who contacted me, Miss Party Mom popped up when they were searching for party planning moms in California and they liked my work... Hey, I'll take it! They asked me in November to film myself answering a list of questions and send it in to see if I'd be an on-camera "fit"... I can't even believe I'm releasing that "casting tape" here on the blog but I am... I must be drunk right now? Anyway the rest is history- they called me in December and we agreed to film in mid February, 2014.

WARNING: This is RAW Miss Party Mom right here, are you ready for that? I cut it a little short because 10 minutes already seems like quite possibly way too long. Obviously a lot has changed since this vid- our home, my hair, my party planning career goals, etc. but here she is... My casting tape...


In one of the phone calls between myself, the producers and Andrea we decided we would do an Art Party theme for Odin. I was throwing Cormac's {POP! Art Party} in January and would be able to offer them a bit of a deal on that package since it was fresh in my mind and I had so much of the decor at my fingertips. We were in the middle of our big move to Santa Barbara so I needed a theme that was accessible and didn't require me reinventing the wheel... And also, Odin was killing it with his scribbles at that point- so Andrea thought the theme would be a perfect fit for him. I asked Sandy from Sandy Ford Design if she would do the honors of customizing yet another art party package for me- this time for Andrea and Odin- and she knocked it out of the park. I think Andrea was even impressed by how spot on the illustrations were. If you're looking for a custom illustrated touch for your own party- I highly recommend Sandy, she has various themes in her shop.

We filmed the show for two days, both of which were at Andrea's home in Los Angeles. The first day we did the "party prep" which is kind of like a cooking show... I had all of the finished product behind my back and yet on camera we were "crafting it in the moment".... And then, wah-lah, it's done! (I mean I am kind of magical like that when it comes to parties). C'mon... You don't think I would let anymore attempt to actually make a birthday banner the day I meet them, do you? That's like straight crazy. That takes months of me telling you how you're doing it all wrong.

The second day of filming we actually threw the party (Odin's preschool friends and their parents were invited). Of course I got seriously lost on my way to her house on my SECOND day of driving to the EXACT SAME HOUSE. And Hannah, God bless her... She might be worse than me with directions... Have I mentioned we're creative? So getting there late was pretty much the most stressful part of the day, at 8:00am. However once we got there we just hustled like two mad women getting our backdrop up, meeting Mallory from The French Confection Co. (who had our cupcakes, cookies and cake), then setting up our paint brush cake pops and paint palette cake balls from The MaD Cake Pop Shop along with all of our other dessert table decor. As we laid out our dipped and sprinkled fortune cookies by Pixie's Sweet Treats, Odin kept coming up and snatching them- they were definitely his fave! We got all of our desserts set up in record time... Even with a film crew "in our way" asking us to "do things slower" for filming purposes (slow and MPM don't mesh) and Odin (and Andrea!) munching away at the desserts... All I have to say is they're lucky I had camera's on me.

After the dessert table was set, we moved on to the kids eating area where we set up our cookie and cupcake decorating station. Each place setting had an easel cookie with edible ink markers for drawing on it, and a mini cupcake to decorate with sprinkles (also by The French Confection Co.). In the show, you can see my daughter Birdie skipping out on the actual drawing part and just going to town on licking the frosting off of her cookie. That's my girl...

In order to not totally piss off the parents (I mean I was jacking their kids up on sugar right before universal nap time) each child had their own "Odin's Art Party" apron and beret to wear because yes, I'm a mom too- and I'd totally hate me if their clothes were ruined after the party...

The awesome 36" confetti balloon by One Stylish Party was a total hit- the kids were actually obsessed with it- pulling it down and shaking up the confetti... Which I was totally cool and not bothered by at all... HA! In another dimension maybe? Don't worry, I totally kept my cool.

Along side the dessert decorating table, we had another activity table set where each child got a paper mache letter matching the first letter of their name (see how helpful RSVP's can be?!) and a custom made crayon roll made by The Fresh Stitch as their party favor. There were art crates and small boxes full of stickers, Do A Dot markers, washable paint, markers and crayons in the middle of each table for the kids to decorate their letters with. Because the kids were all around 3 years old, it was a great parent/kid activity and the letters actually turned out awesome. I love this idea for a party activity!

All in all it was a great experience. I knew all along Andrea was attending quite a few other "styles" of parties, so I didn't expect the show to be all about me. I'll take my 5 minutes of fame and I'll be looking for my other 10 minutes in the future!

Andrea was genuinely nice and followed up with me to thank me for a great party that her friends truly enjoyed... And to rave about how great the cake was (go Mallory!). Here are some more of the details from party day... Enjoy!

And remember... Take Me To Your Mother is on Sunday nights at 10pm on NickMom!

xo Party or Die xo

These plastic milk jugs from The TomKat Studio were a perfect child-friendly fit for our "creative juice"... You can see Andrea pouring in to them in the show (and me hovering over her as she does).

One Stylish Party

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Single Parenting and On The Verge of Losing It

We're on Day 5 of Shawn (aka daddy) being gone and it's just in the last two hours I've decided I might in fact loose my mind. I lasted a lot longer than I anticipated actually, not feeling even an ounce of resentment until today. And then it kicked in with a fierceness. The kids are not listening to me at all anymore. They've completely moved on from thinking I am any sort of authority figure in their lives. They're teamed up to beat me and guess what? They're winning. I am Brazil. They are Germany.
Birdie drew this earlier in the week and said, "Momma, it's you!" I should have taken it as an omen.
Two hours ago I suddenly felt like crying on the way home from a picnic with friends at the Mission. Not crying because I miss Shawn (is that mean? I don't mean it to be) but because I NEED A BREAK. I've said before that I don't know how military wives do it. I don't know how single parents do it. I don't know how moms (or dads) give of themselves all day every day and not want to just scream at their kids and random childless people at Costco who run to the "I can help the next guest in line over here!" register. Hey- asshole! Look at me- I have two kids poking each other's eyes out over here? Throw me a bone?

{And if Birdie kicks the wall while she should be sleeping ONE more time while I'm trying to blog, I might scream. I'm convinced most moms drink around bedtime. I need to get on this.}

It's been a crazy week in general with all these play dates I set up to distract the kids from Shawn being gone and then the Santa Barbara newspaper running a story on MPM and the upcoming Nickelodeon show this Sunday... I feel like I should be so excited and hopeful and yet, I'm just tired. I'm tired of thinking about the business and what steps I need to take... Right now I feel like I will never be able to put the time in to MPM that I actually want to. I can't even walk in to Coffee Bean for 5 minutes to pin up business cards without my kids fighting and screaming and embarrassing the living day lights out of me. Why can't we leave our kids in cars again? (Thanks to the idiot that had to screw that up for me.) I feel like I'm swimming an upstream battle by trying to relaunch this business as a "real business" while I'm raising my kids sans a nanny. And I only have two! And they're probably decent children! But my goodness they're needy! Like two full-time jobs. I mean seriously if I were President the SAHP (whether it be mom or dad) would get paid a nice fat salary! Sometimes I think it's crazy I do this all day and get no financial compensation! It's THE hardest work I've ever done.
I'm like that kind of famous that's anonymous. It's a special kind of famous. 

And then there's way more awesome moms out there attempting to explain homemade Play-Doe recipes to my kids. LALALALA- we're not listennning! I cannot handle regular Play-Doe, why would we make it homemade? That sounds like the worst idea evvverrr... Especially when the husband is gone. For a week. And our carpets already look like the dog just rolled around in mud on them. Oh wait that's right he did.

And to think Shawn will be gone for 3 weeks in October. I might hire a live-in nanny and preemptively join AA.

Friends keep "giving me ideas" for blogs to write while Shawn is gone. Yes you. And you. Stop. I have ideas- I've never been at a shortage for ideas to blog about. I'm actually avoiding the blog because I'm tired. Like blogging currently does not fit in to a kids-home-all-Summer-long-and-Mommy-gets-no-break lifestyle. I think people who don't blog think blogging is easy and posts just go up magically and within an hour. Hey- try it! It's not easy! It's time consuming! I wish it were easy and magical and that when I posted something people would just read it and share it and comment and I got a paycheck where I could buy a new rug every month. Gosh I love rugs.

I digress... I need my husband back. I need my wing man- my parenting wing man. Because I'm not cut out for single parenting. Did I mention Birdie peed on the couch twice this week so my living room inevitably smells like good ol' fashioned urine? Ya! And that she got ahold of a bag of sugar at 7am and filled 6 glass cups to the rim (and the floor all around) with it? Win! And Cormac's having night terrors again... Awesome! And yep, I just need to have a day to myself a-sap. Like a-lone. Like I don't even want a stranger to say hello to me. (Unless you saw me in the paper, then tell me how awesome I am.)

Here's a picture so you know we're all still alive. Well really just the kids because I'm pretty much dead. Tired. Dead tired. No reason to be alarmed. I'm totally alive and kicking. And screaming.

Ps- watch me on TV this Sunday night. I'll be moonlighting on Take Me To Your Mother on NickMom (check local listings for times). Who knows how long I'll be on or what I'm even going to say- I'm a loose cannon you know, so I don't even I know what I said... Hopefully something about throwing parties but I give no guarantees.

Earlier in the week we celebrated my niece's adorable self at a Peanuts Gang party that my sister handcrafted. 
See, I told you I'm alive.

xo Party or Die xo

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Great Grand Glittery Giveaway!

Hello Party People! 

Welcome to the Great Grand Glittery Giveaway!

I used to do a ton of Giveaways and then I just pretty much got over them. It's been a loooong time since I've participated in one- but this Giveaway just looked like too much fun to pass up! There's a bunch of opportunity (5 chances!) to win a bunch of cash... And a nice charitable surprise at the end as well- and who doesn't love a good surprise... for a GREAT cause?

On a personal note, I'm knee deep in Woodland Critters over at my house, as my daughter's 3rd Birthday is THIS SATURDAY and I'm turning our backyard in to a colorful forest of sorts. I know right, SCREEEEAM... it's officially Party Week! Chaos ensues.

I'll be back to blogging with my normal amount of irregular blogging once her party is over... I've got to tell you that I don't think I've ever had this much fun on a party... This theme is just so meeeeee!  errr... HER! Duh.

If you're not following me on Instagram you're SO missing out on all the pre-party details!

Back to the GIVEAWAY- it's an easy entry Rafflecopter Giveaway- which will take you less than 10 minutes to complete and that's a pretty short amount of time for a chance at winning $444! So best of luck to you! You're going to find some amazing party planners and shop owners in here- TRUST me when I say this is a crazy talented group I am honored to be a part of!

xo Party or Die xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway