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It’s Sunday Spotlight time again! This is probably one of my most favorite features on this blog. I so enjoy getting to meet and interview amazing people, and it blows my mind how many there are in our Brainerd Lakes Area. SS is also a great way for our readers to get to know a Mom Squader, or someone we feel is “spotlight worthy.” This Sunday is no exception and LAMS would like to welcome Kelli from Party World!
Me: Howdy Kelli! I think most local peeps are familiar with Party World, but tell us about your business anyway. When did it start and how long you’ve been in business?
KELLI: Party World is a locally owned, non-franchised sales and rental business (many people think we’re somehow affiliated with Party City in St. Cloud, but we’re just local). We rent everything from tents, tables, chairs to coffee pots, rollaway beds, centerpieces and everything in-between. We joke that we rent everything – we’ll even rent out our kids (if anyone needs a kid for a weekend)! It was originally started in Brainerd in 1998 by my parents (Mike and Pat Kitzman), brother and his wife (Jason and Rani Kitzman). Mike and I bought it from them in October of 2004.
Me: Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.
KELLI: Mike and I are high school sweethearts that broke up, lost touch, and were reunited just before he went over to Afghanistan. While he was in Afghanistan, I moved back to Brainerd (I was living in Two Harbors) and lived with my folks until he got home. Mike and I were trying to figure out what we’d be doing when he got back, where we’d live, etc. and at that same time, Jason and Rani were deciding to sell the business. Mike and I decided, “what the heck! Let’s try it and see where we go with it!” We bought it in October while Mike was still over in Afghanistan and I ran the business until he returned in May and we’ve been running it together ever since.
Me: You two are such a cute couple. I can tell there’s alot of love and respect in your relationship. The fact that you bought and ran the biz while Mike was overseas is amazing. That must have been challenging! Other than that, what has been your biggest business challenge with thus far?
KELLI: Trying to keep up with new trends – whether that’s the “new” wedding colors and centerpiece/decoration options or the newest cartoon to come out for a birthday party – and the economy, of course.
Me: Is there anything you’d like to share about your family or your life?
KELLI: Sure! As Mike and I were “re-meeting” I had asked him what was one thing he always wanted to do but hadn’t done yet. He told me he’d always wanted to scuba dive. While he was in Afghanistan, I went to the MN School of Diving and bought the books and sent them to him for Christmas that year. We took the classes when he got back (and many classes since then) and are now Master Divers, Divemasters and I’m an instructor as well. We try to dive the Caribbean as often as we can (which is never often enough) and have even painted our house Caribbean colors with dive flags for shutters. In addition to that, I have one teenage son (Adam) who is 18 and Mike has two sons who are 19 and 21 (Adam and Alex). The two Adam’s live with us and Alex lives with his Mom in Delano. A little side note – when Mike and I dated in high school, we had decided we’d be together forever (of course), have kids and our first son’s name would be Adam – and they both are.
Me: Holy crap! I have goosebumps! THAT is cool! Someday you’ll have to tell me how you keep your “Adams” straight! You guys juggle a lot all the time. How do you do it?
KELLI: Multi-tasking! There are so many different facets in the business that all happen at the same time! We could easily be renting items to someone for a wedding, to another for a graduation, to another for a corporate event, and still another for a house party – having to keep everyone straight and pay attention to all the details and still be able to wait on general customers who come in to shop, answer the phone, and deal with employees at the same time gives me a lot of practice in being a Master Multi-tasker!
Me: I think most women can fall into the Master Multi-tasker category! It’s a gift 🙂 What other advice can you offer for other Moms/parents in business?
KELLI: Turn your mind into a mini-file cabinet and “shut the drawer” on the business-end of things when you’re doing the family thing – it’s too important not to. Plus if you’ve “filed it” in your mini-file cabinet everything will still be there when you go to open the drawer.
Me: Kelli, if there was an award for uniquest, most creative advice, you’d get it! I love the analogy of the “mind file cabinet.” Golden, baby. You seem so organized, so I have no qualms about asking you this: where do you see yourself in 5 years?
KELLI: If all my dreams come true, on an island in the Caribbean!
Me:. Do you have a quirk you wish you didn’t have (ex: eye rolling, etc).
KELLI: I get a HUGE eye tick when I have to deal with “stupid.”
Me: Me too! I’m pretty sure I’m “allergic” to “stupid.” Makes me wish I could “fix” those that “are” (if you get my drift). If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
KELLI: I would love to be invisible so I could hide whenever I wanted to!
Me: DITTO. I think anyone who works Retail wishes for that super power *giggle*snort*snort. Gotta have that “downtime!” What do you or your family do for fun and recreation?
KELLI: Besides scuba diving, I also play softball in a co-ed team. Mike and I also volunteer for the Crow Wing County’s Rescue Dive Team. We really worked toward saving money and used it to buy a hot tub for our backyard and enjoy that – either with or without the kids.
Me: Do you have a favorite product or service with your biz?
KELLI: BALLOONS!!! We’ve always sold balloons at Party World, but over the last three years I’ve been taking classes and going to conventions to learn tons of fun and new things that we can do with the balloons. Most people (especially in the Midwestern states) have no idea the possibilities of balloons. I passed my Certified Balloon Artist exam a little over a year ago in Ohio (note: there are only just over 2,000 CBA’s worldwide) and have been trying to really expand on that. I have SUCH a WONDERFUL time creating fun stuff with the balloons – that’s by far my favorite party of the job! In fact, the balloons are almost like my kids and I just can’t pop them – Mike has to do it for me…
Me: I’m glad you brought up your balloons! I get teased for being such a freak about liking your balloon products…but I can’t help it! They are so COOL. You can’t look at one of your Balloon Creations and be crabby. You.Just.Can’t. As you know, I’ve used you several times for several different projects, and your balloon artistry has been a slam-dunk-HIT every time. Those ginormous balloon spiders you made for my son’s 8th B-Day party are still hanging around my house. Not to gush on forever (but I will. Toldya is was a balloon freak) but you can make everything from small:
To honkin HUGE and mind-blowing awesome!
Me: OK…I’m done now. But seriously, Kelli’s Balloon Artistry is a super affordable to make a big impact at a event. If you want to see more of her creations, watch the Slideshow on my left side bar, or head over to Kelli’s Facebook Page. Kelli, do you have a favorite quote?
KELLI: “You get what you settle for…” and “Don’t bother me, I’m busy living happily ever after”
Me: Good ones! Since this is not prime scuba-diving weather, do you or are family have something you like to do that helps “beat the winter blues?”
KELLI: I like to snowshoe in the winter, and do yoga, we like to sit in the hot tub, and we try to plan some sort of event each month – even if it’s just getting together with family to play cards or go bowling or whatever. Just having something to look forward to seems to make it easier to deal with.
Me: Last but not least, share one thing people don’t know about you.
KELLI: I’m actually a very shy person!
Me: Well, you’re the funniest “shy person” I’ve ever met! How can people get ahold of you for their party rental/balloon artistry needs?
KELLI: You can find us on 371 North just down from the Toyota dealership. Our hours and links are here on on Party World’s Facebook page, or you can visit our website HERE. Oh yeah! And COSTUMES! We have tons of costumes! Check out our costume line-up HERE. Thanks everyone and hope to see you soon 🙂
You can find Kelli also on our Smart Friends Resource page as well!