Here at the Party Girl we’re always celebrating something. In fact, this blog was born out of the idea that there were ways to make even ordinary moments special, regardless of who you are or how busy your schedule is. I started the Party Girl when I was a college student with no money but a love for theme parties with my friends, and it turned out there were a lot of people out there who wanted to know how to make their parties look like they’d been planned by a professional, and on a tight budget. I have the benefit of being an event planner by trade, but what if you aren’t?
No matter who you are, where you come from, what you do, how insane your schedule is, who you plan parties for, or why you celebrate – I want you to find something for you on The Party Girl. SO starting today we have a NEW SERIES on the blog – #WCW, where we’re profiling a different woman – from bloggers to event planners to creative entrepreneurs and everything in between – each week and sharing what inspires them, what they do, and how they celebrate the every day.
I’m BEYOND excited that we get to kick this series off with one of my very real lady crushes – Michelle Laratta from Big Ass Piñata. Michelle is the ult when it comes to making every day feel like a party. She makes the most insane piñatas you’ve ever seen, for any occasion you can imagine. She’s also the raddest #ladyboss out there, and I’m so pumped you get to meet her today!
Tell us how you got to Big Ass Pinata – what were you doing before and what made you change paths?
I have always preferred to work alone and knew I’d have a business one day but the who, what, when, where, why, and HTF were anybody’s guess. I was a problem solver in the office, a designer in a group setting and an idea girl in the classroom. I spent a few years at McGill University in Montreal as a high-profile event manager where I grew to love all components of putting together a really big show. It was there that I learned about the sum of an event’s many parts and the wide array of personalities it took to get an idea off the ground.
After having my son I knew it would be impossible to return to the job I loved because I wanted to be available as before: around-the-clock, driven, focused and level-headed. I was great at what I did, but as a single mom, I personally wasn’t in a position to lend my brain out for work.
My boy needed me and I needed him. So I took a massive paycut, completely downgraded my lifestyle and stayed home for three years.
I didn’t even think about working till I made my first piñata and everything clicked.
As a student of business, marketing and entrepreneurship I am a firm believer in the ‘pendulum effect’ whereby we swing so far from a product, service or way of doing things that there is bound to be a comeback. In the same way that fashion is cyclical and we celebrate the ‘throwback’, I knew that piñatas were my comeback kid but that the spin I could put on them, be it wedding cake piñatas or miñatas™ would make me an integral part of every party, which is where I like to be. I’m an attention whore…
When you made your first pinata did you think that you would turn it into a business? Tell us about selling your first piece!
I threw a construction themed party for my son’s second birthday and spent sleepless nights in my garage making a 36 inch wrecking ball piñata. I knew there was nothing like it on the market and that I was staring directly into the eyes of an incredible niche.
My business was literally born the next day. I knew I had something amazing and that I could bring a unique and creative spin to custom artistry that no one else could because there was nothing stopping me from doing things my way.
I love your Instagram feed. Do you feel your social media presence is an important part of how you built your brand?
I have grown to love Instagram and it is vital to my business which is largely image based. Most people have a picture in mind when they think of piñatas and being able to show people around the world what I do is a fascinating honour. But if Instagram is my face then Facebook is my mouth because I wouldn’t have a business if I didn’t get to showcase my ridiculous personality. Through posts and status updates my network has given me enough room to be myself and push my product with a few good laughs. I turn down for no one. With a name like Big Ass Piñata, you know I’m bringing the noise and I need social media to kick down doors, stay relevant, and leave a mess behind me.
What kind of things do you think are vital to your success as pinata artist and business owner?
Oooooooo. I call myself a piñartist and the fact that I made up that title reminds me every day that carving out a space for myself in a busy world is priority one. This means I need to be my game, not just step it up. I share this spotlight with only a handful of artists around the world who have a social media presence, and my product needs to be clean, creative and crazy. Commitment to this bit and getting people to ‘buy in’ is crucial to my success.
What’s one piece of wisdom you’ve learned along your business journey you’d love to share with other entrepreneurs?
I’ve learned to trust myself even though I’m completely insane. I’ve received so much support from friends, colleagues and people I’ve just or never met and it is both humbling and terrifying to know that they back my vision and support my crazy. As entrepreneurs we are replete with doubt. We are skeptical, we scrutinize, and we sift through every little thing. We are not known for having faith in ourselves, our product/brand, the market, the economy… goodness it’s amazing we get anything done. But we invented the “balls to the wall” approach and being able to trust my instincts, judgement and ability to sink or swim is something I fought long and hard for. #thestruggleisreal
If you could pick anyone, which three women would you invite to your next dinner party?
I love this question.
I’m not particularly insightful or inspiring when it comes to these things, but I would say:
Helen of Troy – I mean, what did that bitch do to cause so much ruckus?
Rosie O’Donnell – unbelievably compassionate, enterprising, witty without match and kind hearted.
Mariah Carey – to work as hard as she does and kill it she must be a robot and I want to know what kind.
What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow?
@pinatadegignstudio is the brainchild of piñateros and piñateras in California; their work. is. SICK. They made a Darth Vader piñata that still blows my mind.
Oddly, I follow cookie design accounts like crazy because I lay down glue and glitter glue much the same way as they pipe frosting and so watching their videos, steady hands and innovation when it comes to something so simple is addictive.
Trash. I unwind on the gram and spend a disgusting amount of time on goofball ex fuckboy humor. I am a creative type and so my brain works overtime when it does to design and construction. I need an unhealthy dose of nonsense to function.
What’s your next goal?
Oh man lol right now I am in the middle of something awesome in that Canada’s most popular wedding magazine somehow found and took an interest in me. They are running a feature on my miñatas that will drop in December for spring/summer brides and my goal is to meet the influx of communication, publicity and production head on. That may sound like a given but I am a one woman show with two hands. Being able to keep pace with my product and the larger part of my business will be a real challenge and I can’t wait to show people what I can do.
A huge thank you to Michelle for letting me pick her brain for our first #WCW – we’re already looking forward to meeting more amazing women and finding out how and why they celebrate the every day!