For moms who might not consider themselves crafty Pinterest darlings, you've got a friend in Kimberly Sinatra Murphy.
The mother of two daughters (3-year-old Edie and 20-month-old Winnie) launched online party boutique and Etsy shop Tiny Gala to give those moms the handmade party details they wanted but without all the hours (or tears) attached. (Who hasn't been up at 5 a.m. cutting out poster-board letters for their child's birthday party?)
Having planned events for Versace and New York Fashion Week, Murphy cares about the details. (She did create a fairy door that opens, after all.)
The New York-based entrepreneur talked to Mom.me about what sets Tiny Gala apart, as well as her advice for moms who want to start their own business and how she balances work and family.
What sets Tiny Gala apart from other party-planning boutiques?
The ethos of Tiny Gala is to create the perfect party experience. Our service offers busy individuals an opportunity to host the most amazing celebration regardless of size. We believe in thoughtful, unique and sustainable designs where quality is prioritized over quantity. Typical party decorations and supplies tend to be made from materials that result in so much waste. Our designs are sourced using sustainable methods, using local “ingredients” as often as possible, and are hand crafted with careful consideration. Most pieces can then be repurposed or kept as household decor.
Describe the moment you first felt successful.
When I went to bed at night excited about the projects I was working on. I have always noticed that successful people, regardless of their industry, truly love and are passionate about what they do. While I am so thankful for my previous work experiences, I have never had that burning passion until I started Tiny Gala. To me, that is success and a truly wonderful feeling.
As a successful entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your daughters about "girl power"?
I am so passionate about setting a positive example for my daughters and empowering them to be their best selves. Now more than ever, I want to teach my daughters Edie and Winnie to know their value as women. We try to foster an environment for the girls that is inclusive, values equality, embraces differences and is a bit magical. As a mom who started a business and works long and late hours, I hope to show them that they too can do anything they dream. The example I set illustrates that if you’re willing to work hard, it is always possible to work and have fun. Whether young or old, if you love what you do, work can be play. Your imagination is what is important, and our parties aim to nurture that imagination and creativity.
Has there been anything about building your business that has surprised or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
The amount of trust my clients have in me. Someone could give me one or two sentences about their child and a few things they like and let me run with it. Nothing feels better than exceeding expectations, and I have found that some of the most successful events are the ones where the creative process was entrusted to us.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Do your research—see what sets you apart from the competition, and take the chance. It is very scary, especially if you are giving up a job with steady income and security. My family has been incredibly supportive, and without that I don't know how far Tiny Gala would have gotten. Also, always ask for honest feedback and advice from friends and colleagues.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
Sleep! I am a mother first, and sometimes the hours I set aside to work are needed to care for sick children, make an additional school run or take park trips after ballet. The work needs to get done, so it happens well into the night. I don't like to think of it as a sacrifice so much as a time puzzle. There are 24 hours in the day and I know the girls will go to bed before I do, so I use my time wisely.
I am a mother first, and sometimes the hours I set aside to work are needed to care for sick children, make an additional school run or take park trips after ballet.
What would you say are the most important skills and experiences you've brought from previous positions to Tiny Gala?
I launched Tiny Gala as an outlet to share my creativity and love of crafting with those who crave handmade party decor but don’t necessarily have the time or interest to DIY. My entire background is in art, fashion and public relations. Without my previous experience coordinating events for Versace, New York Fashion Week, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, TJ Maxx and the Trade Commission of Spain, I would not have the base of knowledge to launch and run Tiny Gala that I possess. I have learned to maximize my strengths and have the knowledge that I am at my most productive when I make lists and can visualize what needs to get done—which all comes from experience.
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Her simple but elegant style and approach to life has inspired me more than anyone else. She is a strong, brilliant woman who left her uninspiring job at the White House to take a chance on starting a business that she knew nothing about except that she would be happy. She has built an authentic, carefully curated empire, and all the while has stayed true to herself. And how amazing would the lunch be?!
Also, the Golden Girls. To sit at that round bamboo kitchen table in a silk robe, with Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose in the middle of the night would give me all of the life lessons I would ever need.