Featured VentureMom Mary Thornton – Party Party

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StoreshotIt was her volunteer work that led her to her venture. Mary Thornton had been in magazine ad sales before leaving the work force to be a stay at home mom. Like many moms she volunteered for local groups and helped them run events. But then a friend’s husband ask her to run three events for his company, what to do now? Mary realized that she had an opportunity to get paid for what she really enjoyed. “He called at 8 am, we met at 11am and by noon I had a business.” storeshot2
To figure out what to charge, she did some research on rates and came up with a proposal for the company. Mary realized that when you’re getting paid to throw a party, you really needed to be organized and on your game. She worked to build relationships with vendors that she could use again and again for her events. Mary also spent a lot of time talkistorefrontng with other event planners to get input and advice, “Everyone was so nice and helpful even though I was their competition. I guess they felt there was enough business to go around.”
When her husband’s job took their family from Boston to Fairfield, CT, Mary had to build her business all over again. She also realized that there wasn’t a store front in her area for invitations and she might be the one to offer a spot, “I thought if people came in to see invitations they would get to know me and hire me to help them run their event.”
She met with a SCORE mentor to develop a clear plan for a shop and then she visited evstoreshot3ery store in Connecticut and Massachusetts before she bit the bullet. “I wanted to know my competition and see what was successful.” Now she needed a name. When she was in college and getting ready to go out with her girl friends, her favorite expression was, “Party, Party.” This became the name of her new venture.
Mary met a local guy who also owns a restaurant and was also a realtor who helped her find retail space. As it turned out there was a space right downtown about a mile from her house. With two kids in 6th and 8th grade it was great to be nearby, “I hired two other moms to help me cover the hours when I needed to be with my kids.” Her strategy worked. People would come in to shop for hostess gifts and order invites. They would get to know Mary and her event planning services and many times hire her on the spot. She really began to build her bridal business with wedding invitations, “Brides would come in to look at invites and end up hiring me to plan the wedding.”
As a local shop owner, she supports the “shop local” mission and Party Party is involved with several local charities all of which help to build community. “People still like to interact with business owners.” With stationary businesses on line, Mary feels that the personalized service she provides will keep Party Party growing. She says the best part of running her own venture is the flexibility, “As my kids get older and need me less and less, I will continue to grow the business and have something that I have created and love.”

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