As busy mamas, we’re always planning something – whether it’s a birthday party for one of our kiddos or a Wine Wednesday with our girlfriends. We’ve spent one too many trips to our neighborhood big box party store to buy the same boring plates, plasticware, and party favors that leave nothing to the imagination. Thank goodness for two talented LA mamas that are changing that, one get together at a time. Royale Ziegler of But First, Party! and Rachel Huntington of Bonjour Fête know how to get a party started, and are giving a much-needed makeover to party planning, in full LA fashion. The two party queens first got their start in party planning after spending too much time in party supply stores and realizing there was room in the market for some more stylish materials. Amidst making plans for the upcoming July 4th holiday, we caught up with the two mamas and creatives to talk about how they got their start in the business, where they find design inspiration, and – of course – the keys to throwing an unforgettable party. Read on…
Royale and Rachel, you are party goddesses. How did you get interested in party planning, and what is the story behind Bonjour Fête and But First, Party? How did you come together?
Royale: After planning my wedding and then my son’s first and second birthdays, I got the bug to do more. That, and my mom’s friends constantly bugged me to throw their kids’ parties. Rachel opened her storefront last November, and I was there day two. It was love at first sight.
Rachel: Royale walked in the door and I immediately knew that she was my type. We both had come from an entertainment industry background and we were used to deadlines and high expectations. Nothing ever phases us. We carry that over into our installations and shoots and always get the job done no matter the constraints or unexpected turns.
Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days, like a mentor? What was that like?
Royale: Rachel has served as this person. She’s been at this longer, and has really grown her business to such an impressive place – all while mothering two children.
Rachel: Well, I am still flattered regarding the above! Thanks, Royale! My early inspiration came from a deep passion for the products and long winters in Montréal. I used to spend hours in big-box party supply stores analyzing what people purchased, and it always blew my mind how people would stand in front of one section and just grab all coordinating tableware. I wanted so badly for people to mix it up. Watching those customers was really the catalyst to developing my business and became my inspiration.
How has motherhood impacted your career?
Royale: Motherhood has been both the inspiration and impetus for my career and, at the same time, its biggest impediment. The juggle is real, and at the end of the day, family comes first!
Rachel: My kids are a little older, so having them have time at school in the mornings put my business into hyper-drive. I still get my best work done late at night though. My kids also don’t hold back – they’re the first to tell me if something is lame or if it is really rad.
Can you share a funny behind the scenes story from a hectic party you threw in the past?
We once had to sign NDAs and had a security detail watch us assemble a giant balloon installation. So much pressure not to blow it!
What are 5 key elements for hosting an epic party? For mamas? For kids?
Mama must-haves: Flowers, photo booth, plenty of sips, a fully charged phone and no kids!
For kids: Cake, cookies, candy…are you sensing a theme? Entertainment and fun favors.
If money were no object, what would your dream party look like?
Floor to ceiling balloons, flowers for days and an open bar. Good lighting required. Treats imported from Australia.
We’ve heard the Flamingo is “over”. What do you predict to be the next big party star?
Tropical vibes are here to stay. We are seeing a lot of birds like toucans and parrots in fashion and believe that is where the trend is headed. Swans are another bird that’s the word.
Your job requires you to constantly come up with fresh ideas which must be exhausting! How do you get inspired when you are in a rut?
Were either of your mamas really into throwing parties when you were kids? Any really memorable ones?
Royale: I loved a good theme party early on – with parties at roller rinks, 50’s diners and amusement parks.
Rachel: All of my birthday parties were at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and the only decor elements I had to play with were streamers.
We all talk about finding balance in our work and home life. Do you have any life hacks (apps, programs, mantras) that help keep things flowing?
Take advantage of nap/bedtime. We do our best pinning, Instagramming and inspo-searching in bed, when everyone else is asleep.
What advice would you give to another mama wanting to reinvent themselves in a new career?
The passion has to run deep. Just say yes. Don’t stop, get it, get it.
Who do you look to for inspiration for your career? Motherhood? Lifestyle?
Rachel: Alli Webb covers all of the above.
3 pearls of wisdom
Stick to a schedule.
Shower your kids with millions of kisses for as long as they'll let you.