You know those moments when you're like, "Really? Me?!" That's how we felt when Paris312 reached out to us right before our Instagram workshop. They offered to provide all sorts of fun tableware, colorful decorations and yummy cupcakes for our guests to 'gram (and eat, in my case). Their setup was a huge success, and we were honored to have Paris312 come back again for our networking/shopping event at Madewell. Let's just say that some of us were finding confetti in places we didn't think possible for days.
Paris312's mission to help its customers create intentional events is something we can totally get behind here at Forth, but I wanted to find out even more about the inspiration for this fun Chicago startup. So, last week, I sat down with Paris312 founder Niku Ghalkani and PR coordinator Susy Garcia Lucero (two of the most energetic, motivated gals I've ever met), to learn a little bit more about how Paris312 got started.
Niku has been a creative entrepreneur since 2013, the year she began Paris312. Though her background was in biology, when she moved to Chicago from her hometown of Montreal, she had a choice: continue down a predictable route, or take a leap and go into something she truly loved.
Niku had always been considered the unofficial party planner and expert hostess amongst her friends. When friends and family stayed with her, Niku made sure that they were treated like royalty. And when she only had four months to plan a wedding in an unfamiliar city, she pulled off a celebration so spectacular that it was featured in Modern Luxury Brides Chicago.
Quickly, Niku realized that she wanted to bring what she missed most about home—a French flair and celebrating with loved ones—to Chicago. "I began with a simple question," Niku said. "If you were a Parisian, how would you celebrate?"
With Paris312, Niku wanted to avoid cliches and the expected. "We try to keep Eiffel Towers to a minimum!" she joked. In reality, there's more than one way to #partylikeaParisian. Every Paris312 collection is designed around a specific personality. The Coquette theme, for example, was inspired by Zooey Deschanel's character in "New Girl"—flirty, but not over-the-top girly.
The product Niku is most proud of is Paris312's serverware, which is included in the signature Paris312 party box. The design of the serverware was inspired by the elegant curves found in the furniture of Louis XIV. It folds flat, but it is strong enough to support the weight of an entire cake or tray of cupcakes. "We found that paper goods were most convenient for the customer," Niku said, "but we wanted to make sure that every piece was designed with intention."
Since it started, Paris312 has graduated from operating out of Niku's brother's apartment to a (recently expanded!) space at Assemble Chicago. Wary of scaling too quickly, Niku continues to be smart about new business decisions, despite growing demand for Paris312's products. "I love that every day is different," she says. "I'll be on-boarding a new employee on Monday, doing a photo shoot on Tuesday, answering emails and making marketing connections on Wednesday, and setting up a window display at a local bakery on Thursday."
Paris312 had a soft launch of its website in December, but stay tuned for a fully updated site, coming soon. I can't wait to see where this company goes, and I can't wait to see them back at a future Forth event!
— Carolyn, 2016 Forth intern
All photos courtesy of Paris312.