Sticking With That One Good Idea
Written by Julie Hirschfeld and Cristy Steinberg
How many times have you had an idea for a business or product, only to give up on it a week or two later? It’s happened to us dozens of times, but this time something was different. We are two working moms and co-founders of the North Shore’s newest social entrepreneurship, Parties 4 a Purpose. We’re sharing our story in the hopes that it inspires you to get outside your comfort zone and discover what makes you tick.
We met in the summer of 2015, before our oldest boys started kindergarten. Cristy is a physical therapist; she helps people by day and creates by night. Julie is an attorney; a day-to-day problem-solver who sees everything through to the end. It didn’t take long to realize we shared a passion for party planning.
Whether chatting while our kids played sports or while gathered at a BBQ, our conversations always turned to starting a party planning business together.
We led busy lives; but our conviction took over, and we pushed forward nonetheless. After discovering our shared passion, we stumbled upon Seed613, JCC Chicago’s social entrepreneurship bootcamp. Taking a chance, we applied and – surprise – we got in! Seed613 was the final push we needed to take our idea from concept to reality.
Cristy has always had a passion for design and detail: “As a child I loved doing art projects and crafts, and as a young adult I enjoyed tearing magazine pages out for home décor inspiration and DIY projects. At one point, I made and sold jewelry as a side business. Then I had kids, which left little free time. As a working mom I came home at night to cook dinner, do laundry, and play with my kids a little before bed. When my son’s first birthday party came I was inspired to get crafty and rediscovered how relaxing it was for me to create as I prepared for his party. Each year after that, I looked forward to the next birthday. I couldn’t wait to plan all the details – from the theme, to the invitations, and of course the custom made desserts.”
Julie engaged her artistic side from a young age: “Whether it was working as an arts and crafts camp counselor or dancing – from elementary school through college – my creativity was always emerging. Growing up I rearranged my room monthly and convinced my parents to let me paint the walls however I wanted. I’ve designed t-shirts and planned baby showers from start to finish. Invitations, food – even die-cast chocolate mini coopers for dessert (My sister’s last name is, you guessed it, Cooper!) Like Cristy, I love picking a theme for my children’s parties and watching them come to life. From 3D cow and pumpkin cakes to custom Olympic ring giveaway tanks wrapped to look like torches, I plan each detail to a T.
Now, despite raising two kids each, working full time, serving on our children’s school PTOs yet still finding time to workout and cook for our families, by night we are designing custom invitations, brainstorming party activities and baking homemade desserts. Julie sacrifices her quiet train ride to work on invitations, business plans and budgets. Cristy spends what little time she has between patients reviewing proofs at the printer and meeting with venues and vendors.
Our families support us and see the good in what we are doing. Our kids are picking charities and getting excited about donating some of their birthday money before we even pick a party date! A frequent topic of conversation in today’s world is the work/life balance. We are now facing a work/work/life balance, but we both find the reward in seeing the small seed we planted two years ago come into bloom.