What were you doing (careerwise) when you decided
to create your own business?
When I took my departure from the corporate world, I had made my
way to VP of investment marketing for JPMorgan Private Client
Services. It was a wonderful career, but there was a lack of
creativity in the investment programs that I was managing, and I
was spending too much time away from my boys either from travel or
long hours at the office. I knew it was time for a change.
When did you start your business?
I opened the virtual doors in late September 2008, but the planning
started years earlier.
When did you know that you could really make a go of
I’m a planner, so I had to really explore a number of ideas and the
risk/reward of each before I took the plunge. Plus, I have
wonderful polar opposite parents. My dad is a planner and questions
every venture extensively before moving forward. My mom is creative
and an adventurer. Honestly, I like to think I’m a healthy blend of
the two. Basically, I planned and questioned until I was exhausted,
then once the “worst-case” scenario was determined and I decided I
could live with it, I jumped.
How did you turn your idea/dream into a business plan?
I wrote a business plan, but because I didn’t need funding I did it
only for my own personal exploration. I wanted to force myself to
answer some of the questions that a business plan would require so
that I knew this venture was viable.
What inspired you to do this?
My oldest son arrived and I started trying to plan wonderful
parties for him, much like my mother had done for me.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the quality and style (invitations,
table decor, favors, decorations) I wanted without searching all
over town and the Web to find and coordinate it. In the aftermath
of his first birthday party, I was sitting among the shreds of
wrapping paper when I realized there was a real gap in the
marketplace. Next, I found myself skipping out for long lunches at
the craft store, watching Martha Stewart on TiVo at night, and
jotting down ideas in a whimsically patterned journal (that had no
business among all the black journals I had been known for carrying
around the office to keep track of meetings and projects).
What was your start-up cost? How did you get the money, and what
did you use it for?
I was blessed to have made wonderful friends and contacts during my
career as a marketer with design firms, printers, and developers.
My first meetings, which started a year before I resigned, were
with the web developers. I spent countless hours sketching out not
only the design, but the customer experience flow. I wanted the
site to be intuitive and smart. I have to admit that I’m proud of
it. We recently won an Ohio Interactive Award for the best
As for how I paid for it, I had a wonderful career for many years,
and because I honestly knew that I would own something someday --
just not what it would be -- I saved.
What was the biggest obstacle?
My biggest obstacle was my initial fear of the unknown. I had a
bright future at a fabulous company and I was thinking of giving
that up for just an idea. I can still see my husband’s face when I
came home and told him that I resigned: shock, disbelief, fear. But
I have to hand it to him: Once those immediate thoughts cleared, he
was very supportive and told me that if anyone could do it, I
could. And I have to tell you that I didn’t quit cold turkey: I
walked out of JPMorgan one day as an employee and walked back in
the next day (in a different department) as a contractor four days
Did your friends and family support your dream?
The support of my very close friends and family in the early
planning days and start-up days was overwhelming. I’m a little
stubborn, so I might have gone forward even if they weren’t
supportive, but having the constant support made the process a
whole lot easier. My mom, for one, would sit and listen to me for
hours. I know she must have grown tired of that process after some
time, but she let me ramble out loud about all that I wanted to do
and all the “what ifs.” And my dad questioned me. I knew that, too,
was a good sign because if he didn’t think I could make it work he
would have simply said so. Then there was my grandmother, who has
since passed away. She had no doubt that my dream would come true
from the first time I mentioned it to her. My constant cheerleader
throughout my entire life, I only wish she could have lived long
enough to see that she was right and for me to tell her one more
time how very much I love her.
As for all the others in my life, in the early planning stages I
didn’t discuss what I was doing openly with most people for two
core reasons. The biggest was that I was in a corporate environment
and it would have looked like mutiny! The second was that I had
this idea, but it took a while before I could articulate my vision.
So versus coming out muddled, I decided it best to let it be a
How did you maintain your confidence when doors were closed in
your face, when people didn’t get it or said “no”?
I might have mentioned that I’m a bit stubborn. So, truthfully,
once I decided this was what I was going to do and I had it well
formulated in my head, I spoke about it with confidence. What I
didn’t mention is that I started out my career in investment sales.
It ultimately wasn’t the career choice for me, but it taught me
some very valuable lessons about the sales process and
Plus, because I’ve worked in a large, and sometimes bureaucratic,
environment, I know that not getting an answer can sometimes mean
that the recipient’s e-mail was bubbling over that day, or they
meant to respond and you just got pushed down the list. It also
taught me that there are hierarchies and people change jobs. My
advice is to not give up on an opportunity until they tell you to
go away. They can’t eat you. They can’t even see you via phone and
e-mail, so what is the worst that can happen?
How long did it take you to get everything off the
My planning process from dreaming to initial concept to doors
opening was two and a half years. I know that sounds long, but you
have to remember that I had a corporate career, so I took it slow
in the beginning. I thought, jotted down ideas and researched for a
solid year. Then I quit my full-time position and started the real
exploration while contracting part-time. Near the end of my last
contract I spent the first dollars to bring my vision to life, and
from there there was no turning back.
How long did it take for your business to become
It took me roughly 15 months to go from red to black.
What’s the hardest part of what you do?
I believe time management is at the top of every entrepreneur’s
list. My boys are my Number 1 priority, always. I like driving them
to school, going on field trips, dropping everything and taking
them to the park or the zoo. They’re small and we all joke about
the day when they won’t acknowledge us in public any longer, but it
isn’t a joke. These days are fleeting and I intend to take
advantage of the time I have.
That said, I have a business to run and, candidly, it's a demanding
business. So I had to come up with a plan that worked for me
personally. My day starts very early every morning, but it allows
me to get the “must do” list tackled before the normal workday
What's the most fun part of what you do?
Although still work and sometimes hard work, my favorite part about
my company is creating new collections, from concept development to
shopping for styling props to the day of the photo shoot. I
thoroughly enjoy giving “real” ideas to “real” moms and girlfriends
on how to entertain. Some ideas are simple and others require a
little more effort, but with a tutorial you can inspire and make it
much more than just a lovely photograph.
Where do you work from?
I have an office and a craft room in my home, both lined with
fabric boards so I can organize projects and stay inspired. They
also both have doors that can close, which is necessary for my
Do you have employees?
After being a contractor myself and consulting with other
entrepreneurs regarding the pros and cons of employees, I chose to
go the route of hiring contractors. I have several that I’ve worked
with now for years in positions ranging from web development to
project management to personal assistant, and it works out
perfectly. They’re there when I need them, yet I’m not responsible
for them beyond the agreed-upon work.
How have you been using social media to grow your
Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook are a wonderful way to
stay connected. Twitter more so to keep me in the know of other
business owners and resources, and Facebook for keeping up with
other business owners – and, more importantly, the potential
customer. Actually, I only just started my Facebook page in late
June; I so wish I had done it much sooner. It’s a perfect extension
of my blog. No matter the venue, I truly enjoy reading each
But I don’t stop at social media; I drive my business through
active SEO and, of course, traditional media. I’ve been blessed
with write-ups from national publications like "Pregnancy" and
"Mom" magazines, television segments on NBC4, and, most recently, I
was asked to be a regular contributor to "Columbus Parent"
magazine. My first contribution was a collaboration featuring my
son’s science birthday party
Do you have entrepreneurial role models? What’s so inspiring
Admittedly, Martha was the first. During my corporate days, I spent
my entire day in meetings and in front of a computer, so the last
thing I wanted to do in the evenings was to browse the web.
However, I did love sitting down with a good magazine or watching a
good show on TV, and Martha offered both. Long before I considered
my company, I was inspired by Martha Stewart crafts and ideas, and
I would spend hours in my mom’s craft room on the weekends as a way
to unwind and just be creative. Plus, even though I have a business
degree and an MBA, when I did make this choice I went to the book
store and picked up "The Martha Rules" (I can see it on my shelf
right now). I really wanted to read the perspective of someone who
had made a career of creativity.
And, of course, now that my career is Web-based and I spend much
more time browsing, I’m in awe daily at some of the talented
crafters, planners, designers and bakers out there.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your
business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
I have business degrees, but I believe I learned the most through
my career and my life experiences.
As for growth, I make decisions, big and small, on a daily basis.
There are no substitutes for simply making mistakes and learning
from them. The key is learning from them and charging ahead.
What's the best piece of business advice you ever
The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten and could ever give is to
listen to your intuition, which I personally believe comes from
Him. Every time I’ve gone against my first instinct, I’ve regretted
it in some way.
If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do
Again, I would listen to my intuition every time, without
What advice would you give to Dreamers who haven’t become Doers
Question yourself exhaustively, plan well, and jump. Then, work
harder than you’ve ever worked and enjoy every second!
Keep up with Kim and The Celebration Shoppe