Leaders of a new female-owned startup are hoping to fill a niche in the party planning business.
“We don’t have a direct competitor because no one is doing exactly what we’re doing,” co-founder of Undercover Hostess Erin Walker said.
The startup creates and rents party supplies for occasions from children’s birthday parties to bridal showers.
Walker is a former Unum corporate meeting broker with a degree in event management from the University of Florida.
She moved to Chattanooga for her husband’s job about six years ago. And she found the ideal opportunity at Unum soon after moving here. She spent about four years in that position, but when she had her daughter, she wanted to stay home.
She had always planned parties for friends and family as a side job. And after taking some time off with her new daughter, she started itching to work again.
Her husband encouraged her to start her own business. So she started thinking more about a concept, and she thought about how much time and money she had put into themed birthday parties for her daughter.
And how she never got to reuse the decorations.
“I wanted a Pinterest-style party but without all the effort of trying to find or craft coordinating specialty decorations,” she said. “I thought if you can rent clothes and dresses online, why not parties? We have seen great interest in our products and are now very excited to share this brand-new concept with everyone.”
So she spent some time building up her inventory-everything from paper goods and nice linens to theme décor.
Then, her sister-who is a forensic scientist by trade-decided to join the business. She taught herself graphic design and is handling the marketing/design aspects of the business.
Both women have put their own money into the company, and they recently launched the website so people all over the country can buy personalized parties in a box.
For about $200, consumers get a number of items to keep, as well as some to return.
Walker said that quality linens can be very expensive to rent or buy, so the package deal can provide cost savings.
All the standard kits include coordinating decorations, event linens and tableware for a party of 24.
Many products allow for customization, such as the name of the birthday boy or girl.
Now that the holidays are approaching, the sister duo is launching holiday mini-kits that come with disposable items.
They cost $75 and accommodate about eight people, although customers can always order more plates and napkins to serve more people.
The prices include free shipping both ways.
Walker said that her company’s items leave plenty of room for crafty types to add to the creation, or hostesses can pass off Undercover Hostess work as their own.
“We do all the work, and you take the credit,” Walker said.