Event Planning

Meet Paris312 by Carolyn Green

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. 

Paris312 founder Niku Ghalkani 

Paris312 founder Niku Ghalkani 

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 and Susy reviewing some of Paris312's latest designs

Niku and Susy reviewing some of Paris312's latest designs

You’ll always doubt yourself, so why not just go for it?
— Niku Ghalkani, founder of Paris312

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. 

Paris312 caters to every occasion, from birthday to bridal showers to bachelorettes. 

Paris312 caters to every occasion, from birthday to bridal showers to bachelorettes. 

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." 

#PartylikeaParisian with some fun, French-inspired fans

#PartylikeaParisian with some fun, French-inspired fans

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

Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Mousse by Julie Schumacher

I've been wanting to bake with tea for ages. Once I started using more herbs in my baking it was only a matter of time before I started eyeing the chamomile.

But it was good old stodgy Earl Grey that won with this silly quick blender chocolate mousse. I had dabbled with individual souffles featuring a similar flavor combination but then I found this recipe from Food52 and realized sometimes easier is way better.

When I say this takes ten minutes, I'm not kidding one little bit. In the time it takes to steep the tea and orange rind, you can chop the chocolate and separate the egg whites. We have a Vitamix which made it even easier. How easy? I whipped up one batch while the kid was looking for her shoes.

Super creamy, with a hint of the tea and a nod to the orange but mostly just majorly chocolate. The recipe is naturally gluten free, doubles in a snap for simple scaling and stores easily in mini masons or whatever you have on hand. In the several times I've now made it I've yet to screw it up, and that's saying something.

2016 Interns Wanted! by Julie Schumacher

It's that time of year...Forth is looking for 2016 interns! Come be a part of the supportive community of bright Chicago women that we're building. Read below for details.

If you're interested, don't delay! We'll be reviewing applications as they come in and setting up interviews. We hope to select our new gals in time to get training from our current kick-ass interns this Fall, have you attend our all-member Winter Party in December and leap into 2016 ready to roll.

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Balloon Garland & Balloon Paper Spiral DIY by Julie Schumacher

We got DIY-decor happy at our Summer Salon at Greenhouse Loft. With two easy balloon crafts, you could even say we got loft-y with our decor. Oh, sorry guys. I couldn't stop myself.We often have flowers take center stage, especially in summer, but wanted a change for our game-changing do-gooder participants. For the tables we talked ferns and flat greenery. To add some height and color sans bloom, we went all-in on balloons. 

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Alt Summit: What This Non-Blogger Got From a Bloggers Conference by Julie Schumacher

Last week I had the singular privilege of staying in a hotel by myself for five glorious nights. Oh, and I also had the delightful experience of connecting with a global community of creatives. Both of those things are because of Alt Summit. And the latter was much awesomer (which is saying something, the hotel was insane).

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Truffles for Everyone! by Julie Schumacher

Truffles anytime of year seem like a great idea. They pack such a decadent punch in a tiny package. Since one of our goals is to make every guest feel welcome and wanted, we aim to have both savories and sweets that can accommodate any dietary restrictions or preferences. For a long while I struggled with dairy free or vegan or gluten free desserts---what was a dessert if not laden with cream and butter and flour? I'm not the first to write of the incredible options for people looking to bake without those things. No longer relegated to specialty food stores, alternative flours, coconut and rice and almond milks, all kinds of natural options abound to tag in for a dessert anyone can enjoy.

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