Children's party planner
'lollipops and lipstick'
Where do you work?
I run my own business called ‘Lollipops and Lipstick’ - http://www.lollipopsandlipstick.co.uk/
How would you describe your role?
I am a party planner for girls' birthday parties. This involves:
• Thinking of creative and new ideas for parties
• Hosting the parties
• Recruiting and managing staff
• Office/administrative tasks such as: website design, marketing, party bookings, invoicing, answering queries, ensuring the accounts are correct and organizing stock purchases
How long have you performed the role?
Why did you want to work for yourself?
I had worked in an office as a secretary since leaving school but hated the 9-5pm Monday – Friday routine and also commuting to London. I am a creative person and felt that I needed a change. I also needed my work to be flexible to fit around my family commitments so I started ‘Lollipops and Lipstick’. I love being my own boss and I have grown the business to the point where I have 10 girls working for me and can do up to 8 parties a week as we have two sets of stock. It's given me the freedom to do other things during the day and I can, during the week, plan my work around my family.
What educational qualifications do people need to perform your role?
None in particular, but it would be helpful to have a qualification in business studies as it's hard work setting up and running your own business. For my particular business a qualification in beauty would be advantageous.
What practical experience do people need to help them to obtain your role?
Experience of working with children in any role would help (you would need to be DBS checked) and experience of organising events (perhaps a school event or even someone's birthday party). A good working knowledge of Excel and book keeping is essential, as well as the confidence and ability to advertise on social media. It is clearly advantageous to know how you go about setting up your own business (do you set up as a Partnership, sole trader or a Limited company?), undertake risk assessments, have knowledge of requirements (health and safety provisions, insurance, certification etc) - It's a lot to think about! Your Local Authority may have small business start-up workshops you can attend or leaflets to help you. That was how I learnt how to set up my own business.
Are there any particular personal skills which people need to have to perform your role?
To do my particular job you need to have the drive to succeed (as anyone running their own business would need as there is a lot of competition out there), people skills (you need to deal with some tricky parents), be good with children (obviously), you have to be very organised to do the day to day running of the business and definitely be creative and a fun, confident person. If you employ staff you need to ensure you are fair but firm with them.
What do you enjoy about your work?
I love seeing the children's faces when they are enjoying my parties and receiving fantastic feedback is very rewarding. I love being my own boss and being able to work my hours around my other commitments. I love being creative (after working in an office environment for years) and coming up with new party ideas to keep my business ahead of the competition.
What can be challenging about your work?
Dealing with difficult clients is always tricky and when things go wrong you are in the firing line. When I'm really busy I sometimes find that I am working 7 days a week and you can never switch off from it when it's your own business.
What is your fondest memory?
I have many fond and funny memories of my parties, but the ones which stand out were (1) when I did a party for the daughters of a premiership footballer. The family were lovely and their house was amazing! Definitely a wow moment! (2) the first time we ran two parties at the same time and I realized my business was growing very fast and it was very exciting.
Do you have any personal advice for children/teenagers/young adults?
Work hard at school and have a goal in mind. Research the area of work you want to go into and know what qualifications you need to get into that field. It will give you something to work towards. If you don't get the results you need, don't give up. You may be able to go in at a slightly lower level and work your way up. Think of a career that you can see yourself doing for the next 50+ years as it's a long time to do a job that you hate! My one regret was going into an office job when I left school as it wasn't what I wanted to do. I was lucky that I was able to change that but the earlier you start on the career path for you, the easier it is to work your way up in that field.
If you are thinking of starting up your own business definitely attend a small business start-up course. It was invaluable to me and I gained a mentor from it who has guided me in my decision making ever since. Always draw up a business plan if you want to start up your own business (there are templates you can find on the internet) as it will help you to set goals and to see if the business would be profitably viable. A bank won't lend you any money for a start-up business without one!