For years, the word 'business' has likely evoked the same set of images: an office, people in formal attire, and tons of employees for a menagerie of jobs you didn't even know existed. Startups, on the other hand, are a little more difficult to define because most of them break the traditional molds of running a business.
When you're starting a business, it's easy to get caught up in the details -- but these days, all you really need is a vision and a network. Sage Allard and Eve Gracie, the two founders of inJOY the Party, started their business with just that: a vision for how party rental services should work and enough experience to make it happen.
After years of throwing birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers, and weddings for their massive family, the two had accumulated thousands of dollars worth of various party planning accessories. Armed with backgrounds in design and a desire to do something new, Sage and Eve set out to build the party rental service they'd always needed. Without taking a massive delay to rent office space and hire early employees, the two delegated different roles to each other and started to work from their homes. In a recent interview, Sage sat down and discussed what it's like to work as an extremely small team in the party rental industry.
When did you start to notice a business opportunity in the party planning space?
Eve and I are sisters-in-law in a huge family, and we've both always loved throwing parties. Naturally, this means we have been the ones to help out with birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and weddings. While we love helping everyone celebrate, after a few years, the costs continued to add up and we had to start storing all of our purchases.
Renting would have been a great option, but no existing companies offered the items we wanted. On top of that, tracking down and purchasing from multiple vendors is both time consuming and expensive.
Though themed parties are becoming increasingly popular, there aren't many rental companies that offer both practical party supplies and specialty decor. It also doesn't make much sense to purchase a bunch of stuff you're only going to use for one or two parties. After looking at all of the items we had purchased for our own events, we realized we had a business.
At that moment, we decided to build inJOY the Party, an event rental company that specializes in bringing customers everything they need to throw an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind themed party.
How did capital play a role in the early development of your business?
For us, the best part about starting a party rental service was that we didn't really need any capital. Since we already owned a ton of items from planning our own themed parties in the past, most of our focus was put into designing new concepts with the materials we already had. On top of that, we have dealt with a lot of vendors over the years and had built a pretty extensive network, allowing us to get by with minimal capital and without the need for investors.
What's the biggest challenge you've had to face as a two-person team?
While we did just hire our first official part-time employee at inJOY the Party, Eve and I remain the only full-time team members. This is one of the greatest parts of our business, but also one of our biggest weaknesses. It's hard to know exactly who should be doing what at all times.
Right now, I'm doing the majority of our theme design and filing, while Eve does all of our photography and works on our website. We're always trying to find the perfect balance between designing new themes, working with our customers, and growing our business.
What are you most excited about for the future of inJOY the Party?
A full service, themed rental company is completely new to the party rental industry, so I'm excited to see how people start to react. We've put a ton of effort into building a beautiful website to display photos of our themes and examples from parties, but the next step has always been getting potential customers to experience it for themselves. We just got a showroom to keep our designs on display and allow potential customers to experience what they're getting before they rent it.
At a startup, you don't need to follow the rules
Successful businesses are born from ideas, not fancy office spaces and seed investments. Sage and Eve built a full-scale party rental service without hiring a bookkeeper, without taking capital, and without an office. When you're trying to start a company, you can't let conventions intimidate you. If you can provide people with something that they want, you have everything you need to start a business.