Two stay-at-home Coast moms were having trouble finding new birthday-party ideas for their children after Hurricane Katrina, so they came up with the concept for a stuffed-animal party.
A little more than a year later, Shannon Lutkins and Sharmin Culwell have turned their party skills into a business with 15 consultants nationwide and are taking online orders from as far away as Norway.
Lutkins and Culwell started Party Animals on a shoestring, often bartering parties for services such as the design for their Web site. Lutkins’ father, who is an accountant, and her business-manager brother helped them set up an affiliate program.Now, she said, the business has moved out of the red and is starting to turn a profit.
They began by hosting parties at which kids packed animals or dolls full of stuffing; they are now trying to broaden their market.
“We are trying to get more into events for tweens and teens with more custom parties,” said Lutkins.
Some of Party Animals’ popular new parties have kids decorating flip-flops or adding color and fragrance to create their own lines of shampoo, bubble bath and other products. Lutkins said she can come up with party ideas for any age and the options for special keepsakes are almost unlimited.
Photo by Party Animals.