Follow Up

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

Hoppy Decorations: DIY Hop Garland by Clare Johnson

We know lots of folks get engaged over the holidays and are busy Pinning away and planning their dream tablescapes, event decor and more (congrats!). We can't help but think what we have to offer today may just be what you're looking for.

 At our fall salon, hosted in the Guest Room at Antique Taco,  Kelly Connolly of Nimble Well added a some serious flare to our cocktail bar using homegrown hops. It has us dreaming of unusual garlands, or similarly inspired garlands of, perhaps, dried grasses and flowers in winter or lush & live ones in summer, spring and fall. Ours? Great for gardeners, greenery lovers and beer lovers alike. It smelled so good, too!

where did the hops come from? 

Kelly acquired the hop vines from a local source: her neighbors. As home brewers, they grow several varieties of hops in their yard. Hops grow rather vigorously (up to one foot per day) and it's important to trim them back throughout the growing season to keep them healthy. So, why not use them for some hop-crafting?

I’m in love with the shape of the flowers; one variety is long and draping like grapes and another compact and densely clustered.

To create the frame, Kelly used copper pipes and joints - items you can find at practically any hardware store. For a quick tutorial on DIY frame backdrops, check out the Parties for Pennies site. 

Once the frame was constructed, she clipped different lengths of vines and flower clusters and attached them to the frame using floral wire. Floral wire is great for any plant-based crafts. Its malleable quality makes it very easy to use and the green color of the wire is easily camouflaged by the foliage. 

I started with the longer pieces and then added the flower clusters. I know hops aren’t the most common vine growing in backyards, but the same method would work with grapes and ivies.

Small touches like these, great for photography and photo booth backdrops, are guaranteed to take your event to the next level and leave guests gobsmacked. 

For more DIYs, see the Balloon + Fringe tutorial from our 2013 winter salon and Balloon Garland and Spiral Paper from our 2015 summer salon at Greenhouse Loft. 

Kelly Connolly of Nimble Well - event stylist extraordinaire - has been an integral part of our Forth team for two years and an integral part of countless beautiful events. Her collection of tabletop rentals adds the perfect touch of color and elegance to our salons, but her talent doesn't stop there! Go see all she gets up to on her gorgeous Instagram feed

Forth Chicago Favorites: Fresh n' Free by Clare Johnson

Happy Friday, happy spring and happy weekend, Forth community! This week we're bringing you a map for you and your family. If you're looking for some fun and free activities to do with your family, take a note from our community and visit one or more of their favorite locations.

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Forth Chicago Favorites: Crafty Cocktails by Katie Kenney

Annnd we're back! We're anticipating warmer temps very soon and what better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a cocktail or two? Grab your girl friends and head to one of these city spots for a what will surely be a very happy hour.

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Forth Chicago Favorites: High Fives for Health by Clare Johnson

We're springing forward this weekend which means there's one more hour of sunlight and a handful of new places to explore. We've taken you on a wild (and delicious!) sweets ride the last couple of weeks and truly, who can blame us?! With sweets, baked goods and coffee treats covered, we're switching gears to another way to treat yourself. Today, our Forth Faves Map is all about health and happiness. All of the locations below come highly recommended by our healthy and inspiring Forth community. Whether you're located north, south or west - there's a spot for everyone on this map!

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