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
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?
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.
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.
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.
You recently styled your daughter Georgianna’s ‘first’ birthday party for her 4th birthday. What was the highlight of this occasion?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
What piece of advice can you give to those starting out in an event related business?
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.