I am delighted today to share an interview with talented stationery designer Loralee Lewis who also creates the most beautiful parties for her four children
Nutcracker ballet inspired party – Loralee Lewis
In this interview Loralee shares her advice about being a mum in business, stationery design, party styling and more!
Your stationery designs are so classic and unique. How do you remain inspired to create different designs?
Come one come all invitation – Loralee Lewis
Thank you for the kind words! My clients and my children are always causing me to re-think what needs to be created, which helps, and I get bored easily with whatever is out there and am always wanting to do something new. It drives my staff nuts that we are always on to the next experimental product or item and figuring out how to create it large scale.
How do you stay ahead of trends regarding stationery and party styling?
This is a great question. I think two ideas come to mind for me and my company. First, if I can design something intrinsically beautiful, clean, elegant, balanced and fun, it will still be desirable in a decade, so I don’t have to worry about it going in/out of style, like a mustache or a chevron, which I don’t use in my work.
Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday invitation – Loralee Lewis
French design from the 1700’s is still as relevant today as it was then because it is timelessly beautiful. The closer we get to that ideal, the better. I think that works well for business, too, so you don’t have to chase the market as much, but it can come to you.
The second idea is to always strive to do something that no one has seen before. With every event or shoot or design that I put together, I think “What is the twist?” “What is one thing I can add that has never been seen before?” And if it is beautiful, I go with it. I remember for a Christmas party one year we wanted to do something really vertical and high, so we made a doughnut tower out of stainless steel rods that we had made at a welding yard in town. It was a wild idea that we just brought to life and it worked. Take existing ideas and twist them to something new.
Princess and the Frog party by Loralee Lewis
Your children’s parties are truly gorgeous and amazing however I’ve read that you don’t stress about your kids parties and plan them in just 1-2 weeks – how do you manage to plan such beautiful parties in so little time?
Thank you again for the sweet words. I put together events by using a lot of items that are easy to source from my home or locally, and then order in a handful of items from vendors that are over the top, and then dress everything with great paper. This makes it easy to have a beautiful event. Most of my cookies and cakes are from the local bakery, rather than special order. Good paper can take a plain white cupcake and make it shine like a star.
Wizard of Oz cupcake topper kit – Loralee Lewis
Princess and the Frog paperie – Loralee Lewis
You recently styled your daughter Georgianna’s ‘first’ birthday party for her 4th birthday. What was the highlight of this occasion?
Pixie Hollow birthday by Loralee Lewis
Georgianna owned not a single toy and lived on one small meal per day in the orphanage before we got her home, but the moment we brought her home a confident diva emerged. She was like a Cinderella waiting for the fairy godmother. At her fairy princess birthday she was transported to a new reality and it was the moment of a lifetime for her. She has never looked back. What a treat as a mother to see her take it all in.
Do you have any party themes on your ‘wish list’ that you are hoping your children will request for their future parties?
All American picnic party by Loralee Lewis
I want to do a vintage baking party for my little boy, complete with hats, red bow ties, and aprons. I hope he doesn’t grow out of it before I can put it together! Also we will have a strawberry patch party this year, and a Polar Express Inspired theme coming up. Their party themes are a bit of a negotiation because if I am throwing the event, it needs to make sense to me as well.
Pirate birthday party by Loralee Lewis
Do you have any tips for mums on how to plan a beautiful party on a tight budget?
Use what you have in your home (for me it’s stored items or the garage, etc.) to make it work, rather than buying new furniture or props.
Buy low cost food items from the store, the kids love them the same. Thrift store for the pieces that are missing.
Then dress everything up for the ball with creativity. Embellishments like paper, ribbon, glue and scissors are cheap but can make almost anything look really expensive.
Through the woods collection – Loralee Lewis
Oh, and spray paint! I LOVE spray paint. Buy props from the thrift store for $10 and spray paint them to match the party colors and you have a prop that looks like $200.
It is so inspiring to read about your 4 beautiful children and their journey to you. What are the greatest lessons motherhood has taught you?
Thank you again. I don’t know I’ve fully learned any of the lessons, but am on the road! I am learning about how to be patient, how to make each child feel special, and how to love all my children equally even if I don’t connect with them all equally. Getting my house in order and keeping a tight schedule. These are some of the lessons I’m learning right now.
Loralee Lewis with her children
How do you manage the juggle of your business as well as family life?
It’s very hard, and I’m not perfect, but I have the advantage of being able to run my studio and do my designing from my home. I have assistants who help with most of the day to day lifting. Also, have a schedule and a daily to-do list. Stop work when your kids get home and start again when they sleep. These are my usual methods.
Kitty Cat collection – Loralee Lewis
What piece of advice can you give to those starting out in an event related business?
Easter photo shoot by Loralee Lewis
Wow, there is so much. First would be just put yourself out there and work through the mistakes. In Silicon Valley they call it “Fail Fast;” with the going assumption that you’ll mess up early on a lot and that it’s good and part of the process.
We’ve made so many silly mistakes along the way but we learned quickly.
Another would be to focus small and be delighted by every victory.
A third would be to avoid partnerships and do it yourself (unless it’s your husband. I happen to be business partners with my husband and it works great, but friends of mine who have other business partners have all come to regret it).
Fourth, for us, has been staying debt free. Finances are such a burden; if you keep costs super low it makes it so much easier to stay financially strong.
Thank you Loralee for providing an insight into your business as well as your party styling and work/life balance. It is a true honour to feature your thoughts on my blog.
To follow Loralee Lewis find her facebook page here, and website here.
One party which always has “wowed” me was a Mystical Mermaid party by the lovely Kate of Kate Landers Events in the USA.
It was beautiful, unique and so detailed. I am a big fan of her work and I am thrilled to share an interview with her today where she talks about some styling tips as well as party planning tips for mum’s. So much useful advice in this interview – I hope you enjoy it!
My favourite party styled by you is the Mystical mermaid party. How do you plan and dream up such a beautiful event? Do you tackle one area at a time (eg: first stationery, then decorations etc) or brainstorm all the ideas together?
Thank you so much Tanya!
Sometimes a single item serves as a source of inspiration (like a vintage tarnished candelabra), other times it is a color-scheme, flower, creature…in the event of the Mystical Mermaid Party, it was working off of a wish list from a mom who wanted a mermaid party that was non-traditional.
I knew she wanted something free-spirited, magical, soft, feminine, fanciful. I instantly thought of a shabby-chic inspired look with vintage treasures you would find at the bottom of the ocean. I loved the idea of creating a space where the guests would feel like mermaids.
Thus, a low-table and chair cushions on sand on the “sea floor” as mermaids would possibly dine. Draped tulle above to give that feeling of being under the ocean.
Lots of seashells and starfish, sea glass (but in a non-traditional white and pale pink), pearls, ruffles…things mermaids might like to collect. Mermaids were, after all, known to steal pretty things from ships lost at sea. Taking that bit of folklore gave me a springboard to jump off of.
The dessert table was also inspired by all things you would find under the sea. I named them appropriately as well. It was a dreamy party.
You recently celebrated your own son’s Noah’s 1st birthday. How did the planning differ for you in planning your own child’s celebration compared to clients events in the past?
Any tips for stylists who also plan their own children’s parties and perhaps feel more pressure to prepare a “perfect party” since they are stylists themselves?
Planning your own child’s party is completely different than planning someone else’s. It really tugged at my heartstrings planning my son’s first (and recently, second!) birthday parties.
I wanted everything perfect, yet at the same time more than anything, I wanted to be fully present for the parties.
Therefore, I made sure to hire a professional photographer to capture everything for me, so that I could be with my husband and Noah and savor the moment. I am so thrilled I did. Of course there was a bit of added pressure, I think, to make everything perfect–but more because of my own perfectionism than anything else.
I think it was very clear to me–this was my son’s party, not something to wow others. Of course I hoped that my parties for my son would inspire others when planning their own child’s birthday parties, but the focus was on him.
You have mentioned the importance of creating an ‘experience’ for the children at a birthday party. As mum’s in the midst of party planning do you have tips on what we should keep in mind when planning to ensure the party is an “experience” for the guests?
I believe the key is trying to look at the party through the eyes of a child.
For example, if it is a woodland fairy party, imagine what you can do to create an environment to inspire the child’s own imagination, to give them props to feel like a fairy!
Whether that be wings and a wand, a little toadstool to sit on or jar of fairy dust to sprinkle…it is creating an environment that nurtures their imagination, fuels them to feel transported to a land of wonder for an hour or two.
Do you have any tips for mum’s wanting to create a beautiful celebration but on a budget?
Yes! First: a smaller guest list and hosting a party mid-afternoon really keeps costs down. Have as many guests as the age the child is turning (ie if turning five, have five guests, plus/minus two). This helps keep everyone from getting overstimulated and gives you the opportunity to buy that party favor you really want to give out because you aren’t buying 30 of them!
Also, by hosting mid-afternoon, you do not need to serve a meal. Simple healthy fruit and a birthday cake with beverage is all you need. It is really that simple.
When it comes to decorations, take simple balloons and tie pretty gingham, satin or grosgrain ribbons on them to make them that much more stylish. Very easy, inexpensive and looks so much more stylish.
Using solid colored party plates and cups will look beautiful, and homemade party hats (pretty crafting paper or fabrics adorned with tissue festooning or ruffled ribbon) makes such a statement.
One party favor can be spectacular, and cost less than a bag full of many smaller trinkets. A book with a personalized bookplate, beautifully decorated cookie–great favors.
When going onsite to style a party, what are your “must-have’s” that you always carry with you?
I am sure I will forget some. Off the top of my head, scotch tape, glue dots, fishing line, scissors, mini glue gun and glue sticks, ribbon, baker’s twine, band aids, ribbon, upholstery pins and mini hammer…stuff to hang props, trim frayed edges, cover up a stain…
Have you ever had something you had planned for go wrong on the day of the event? How did you deal with it?
YES! Absolutely. Deep breath. Cupcakes get damaged in transit–get basic white frosted supermarket cupcakes as a back up. Always have extra party favors in case guests’ siblings come along. Just a couple things that help.
Expect the unexpected. And remember, no one is perfect. Focusing the joy of the birthday child’s face and all of his or her guests, reminds you what is really important.
What is the most important attitude for a mum to have on the day of their child’s celebration in the midst of all the busyness!
Stay in the moment. Imagine yourself a week from now, looking back. How do you want to remember the party? Do you want to see your child blow out the candles? Do you want to help your child hand out the party favors? Make sure you have a family member or babysitter to help with the duties you want done, and celebrate the life of your precious child!
Thank you so much Kate for sharing your thoughts, advice and inspirations with us all!
See more of Kate Lander’s work on her site here.
I am thrilled to be featuring an interview with THE Kara Allen of Kara’s Party Ideas today. I am sure I’m not alone in saying that the Kara’s Party Ideas blog was one of the first I discovered and loved for party inspiration. It is the number 1 party idea website on google USA/Europe and her site receives over 1 million unique visitors just in the past month and she has over 213,000 facebook followers!
So when the Kara’s Party Ideas tour of Australia was announced (Pssst…see the end of this blog post for a discount code!) I knew that that I, along with many others would enjoy and benefit from these one day workshops:
In this interview for the Life’s Little Celebrations blog Kara shares some party planning tips and ideas and lets us know what to expect at her upcoming tour!
How did Kara’s Party Ideas start?
I started KarasPartyIdeas.com four years ago when there were hardly any party sites or blogs out there. I would search all over the internet for party ideas and could never find a place that had it all when it came to party inspiration, descriptions, recipes, vendor lists, party supplies, tutorials and good party images (I’m very visual, so seeing the parties in front of me instead of just reading about them was really important to me).
Ice Cream social by Kara Allen
Can you share what types of tips and ideas you are hoping to share at the workshop?
I will guide you step by step through my top 10 party planning tips covering everything from guest lists, venue, catering, timing, pricing, entertainment, styling and my party secrets!
You will learn new dessert styling ideas from around the world and techniques on how to style a stunning dessert table including sweets, theming, planning composition, colour palettes and more.
I will showcase exclusive dessert tables designed especially for my Australian Tour.
Back to school vintage party by Kara Allen
You will also learn baking tips from some of Australia’s finest cake artisans. They will be sharing their trade secrets in their baking demonstrations. I will also share some of my top baking cheat ideas!
I also love a bit of DIY action, so sit back and relax as I teach you some of my favourite DIY ideas to make your party unique.
What will party planning lovers get from your workshops?
Learn how to plan & style the perfect party. Tons of dessert styling ideas as well as demonstrations. This workshop is for mums who throw parties for their kids, those who love events, wedding planners, professional event planners, bloggers/site admins wanting to learn how to take their site to the next level and more!
Circus train big top party by Kara Allen
How will your workshops assist business owners in the party industry?
I feel so fortunate about KarasPartyIdeas.com being one of the largest party inspiration blogs in the world.
I use social media as a key tool to build my business.
Find out how I have done all this in just four short years and how you can use this new knowledge to build your own small business.
There will also be a lot of networking opportunities with like-minded women.Through fun getting to know you activities and ‘Kara’s Cupcake Corner’, you will have excellent opportunities to meet people with the same passions and form great relationships that can help in your party journey.
Geologist rock themed party by Kara Allen
What are you looking forward to about coming to Australia?
Meeting all of you! I can’t wait to party it up down under! Australia has always been on my bucket list. Not only because it’s absolutely gorgeous with so many amazing locations and things to see, but because there are so many talented party stylists and artists there!
Colourful art party by Kara Allen
What is your number one party planning tip for mum’s?
Start planning ahead so you give yourself ample time to organise an amazing event. Planning ahead will save a lot of money, but it makes the process fun and enjoyable, cutting out a lot of the stress. Also, remember to have fun, because planning a party can be so rewarding.
It’s also very important to have a good attitude, especially on the day of the event. No matter how hard you have worked on the party, it seems that there’s always something that goes wrong or something that doesn’t quite turn out like you had planned.
This is okay. Know that these things happen and just roll with it!
Your party will be a huge success because of all the hard work you put into it!
Mickey Mouse party by Kara Allen
Thank you so much Kara for sharing your thoughts with us as well as what to expect during your upcoming Australian tour! If you want to book your tickets to this not to be missed event, please click here!
You can receive a 20% discount off your ticket by quoting:
the booking code: kara20percentdiscount.
In the ‘referral section’ put Life’s Little Celebrations
You know those stylists who when their parties/events come up in your facebook newsfeed you just cannot wait to see the photos? Well – that is me when I see an event by Leanne Ambrogio from Sweet Style! I just adore her style and cannot fault her dessert tables.
Not only is she an amazing stylist, but she also runs the beautiful Sweet Style online store as well as her online blog (again one of my favourites). She is a wife, mum to four girls, involved with the Stillbirth Foundation Australia…yes you can imagine she is one busy lady! I have had the pleasure to meet Leanne in person and she is just lovely, warm and down to earth.
In this interview she shares her thoughts and tips for styling a dessert table, managing a work/life balance and having an event styling business. All the gorgeous images I’ve included in this post are Leanne’s work and are a true testament to her talent.
1) Describe your style when it comes to party styling
I describe my style as clean, fuss free with a few special details. A number of people have said to me over the past year that they know when they see a dessert table I have put together – I love that I have a style that is mine.
2) How do you keep inspired to ensure your creativity keeps flowing?
I am constantly browsing blogs and online magazines for inspiration. I have also been taking part in loads of online and e-courses that just help you think outside the box and give you access to other talented peoples thought processes. They challenge you to try different things and recognise what you love best & making that creativity flow.
3) With a party styling business, online store, young family, husband as well as your work with the Stillbirth Foundation- how do you manage your time to ensure your priorities stay in order & you achieve all you want to? Do you have any advice to other working mums on achieving this?
I am a big list writer – I am constantly writing new lists to make sure I keep on top if it all. I also have had to get realistic about how much I can achieve in a day, asking for help and learning to say no. Over the past 2 years I really feel as though I have grown so much as a person and I have become comfortable with saying no to jobs that really do not fit with my style.
4) What are your golden rules when it comes to styling a dessert table?
For me I like things to be balanced. This doesn’t need to mean it is symmetrical (although I do love a symmetrically balanced table), it just means that you need to balance the various components of the table – jar heights, cake stands and flat items need to all work well together to make the table flow well. The other thing to remember is that you don’t need to put too much on a table – or every piece of food you want to serve on the table – keep some in the fridge or cupboard so you can fill the gaps later in the party.
5) What are some tips you have for the day of your child’s party to ensure it all runs smoothly?
Tip 1 is get a great party entertainer – a good party entertainer will make a party run so smoothly. I would also send them an email explaining when you would like the kids to eat and cut the cake prior to the day, that way they can arrive and now exactly what is expected of them.
Tip 2 is make sure you order all of your party goodies a few weeks in advance so that it has plenty of time to arrive and allow for that change of mind if you don’t think the item is exactly right.
Tip 3 If you are putting together a dessert table, set up it up and ready to go as far in advance as possible (without the food of course). I usually put my table together with all my cake stands and bowls at least a week in advance so I can play around with it. On the day of the party put all the food out on the table early and take your photos and then put everything back in the fridge or away from little people and then get it all back out just before your guests arrive – it is far too stressful to try and take photos of a dessert table when other people are around.
6) Is there a party theme you would love to style for that you haven’t done as yet?
There are lots of themes I would love to try although a lot of what I want to do is currently based around my favourite colour combinations.
7) You have such gorgeous products in your store. What are your favourite and “must have” items?
My favourite must have item will always be the milk glass cake stand – they just set off any cake in any situation. They look good by themselves or group or stacked with others. I also love all the drinks dispensers in the store! They can be dressed up for a fancy wedding or dressed down for a casual bbq – guests just love them!
Milk glass cake stand in blue - Sweet Style
8. There are so many new party styling businesses starting up – what advice could you share that has helped you with your own success
My advice to new people is don’t underestimate the time it will take to plan and execute a beautiful table. I know that new businesses are desperate to get the job so they will give a cheaper price – in the long run it does not help your business as your next client is usually a referral from the previous client and they will want the same price. Work out how long you think it will take to plan, put together and importantly pack up, take home, clean and put away.
9) What do you hope your daughters learn from you as they see you run a successful business from home?
I would like to think that they are learning that having a passion for something is a fantastic way to ensure your work is enjoyable. My dad was a huge inspiration to me as he left school very young and by 18 had started his own business and never looked back – he was an entrepreneur that just got out there and tried new things – some worked and some didn’t but he gave everything a go – he was my hero so I would love to think my girls realise that they just need to get out there and give everything their best.
10) What is your own favourite dessert ?
It is so hard to pick my favourite dessert as I have such a sweet tooth – it is either something with chocolate or a lemon meringue tart! Mmmm
Thank you so much Leanne for all your tips and advice!
You can view Leanne’s work, her online store as well as her blog all from the Sweet Style site.