First, it was an all pink birthday party for a little girl last March. A week later, it was a Star Wars-themed fete for a little boy.
Alexis Hetrick had planned the first for her daughter, covering her Cary house in pink. Julia Huffman had planned the second for her son, complete with lightsabers. And as Hetrick left that Star Wars party, she and Huffman came to an agreement.
"When we were leaving, I said to Julia, 'We are really good at this. We could do this,'" Hetrick remembers. "'This is a business.'"
That quick discussion at the door led to Hetrick and Huffman starting All Wrapped Up, a party planning business in April.
The two offer a variety of party packages. They'll deliver a custom box to your door with personalized invitations and thank you cards, crafts, recipes, gift bags, table clothes and every other thing you'd need to host a party. And there's the There For You package where they'll be there for set up, clean up and the party in between. While their focus has been on children's parties, they're ready to plan all kinds of bashes.
For Hetrick, a graphic designer, and Huffman, a tutor and former teacher, the business has come naturally. They both have been long-time party planners for their own celebrations. Hetrick's childhood friends still remember the birthday parties her own mom threw for her.
And they both have gone all out for the own kids' parties. There was an evening glow party with black light reactive bubbles. A balloon party where kids waded through waist-high balloons. And there's this month's "silly party" with more balloons, wind-up toys and viewings of America's Funniest Home Videos.
They work hard to plan the perfect party for a child, designed around a theme that the kids and their parents pick. Hetrick enjoys creating custom pieces - from cupcake toppers, banners and more - for each party. Huffman, with her background in education, develops fun games and crafts.
And they're both organized and intense. In fact, they're so alike, some people think they're sisters. (Fun fact: They met through a mutual friend who Huffman met while she was a student at Cary High School and Hetrick met when the friend moved to Japan and attended Hetrick's high school).
"We were really on the same page," Hetrick said about how they started the business. "We both came to our first meeting with notes. We really wanted to offer a real party for children, more than just a gathering of friends."
Their goal is to offer something different and more personalized for kids ... an alternative to the usual bounce house celebration. They also hope to make the party planning experience fun and easy for harried parents.
"At our parties, our kids have so much fun. There is rarely a meltdown," Hetrick said. "We engage. We care about them and they respond to that. They know we care."
With less than a year in business, the two already are busy with parties and other events to get the word out about what they do. For the Christmas season, they have a holiday box with everything you need for a cookie decorating party. And they hope eventually to ship their custom party boxes to destinations beyond the Triangle.
"It's a memorable experience," Huffman said. "These are crazy times and everybody is so busy. We think what matters is the individuality of children."
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