Some might say Deanna Talwalker has a knack for party planning.
“I’ve always had a passion for party-planning. It’s kind my way of showing the people I love that they’re important to me” she said.
The Lexington native, who now resides in Danville with her husband, Jay, and two children, Mira, 9, and Sam, 6, says it all started with her daughter’s first birthday.
“I wanted to have a birthday party that wasn’t like a ‘kid character.’ Everything you found in stores was Barney or Strawberry Shortcake, which are great, but I wanted to do something a little more unique. So, I started making my own stuff,” Talwalker said.
At the time, she was practicing law in Lexington. That birthday party spawned into other, similarly self-crafted parties for friends and family members. Talwalker became pregnant with her son and took time off from being a lawyer. She did go back part-time, but when they moved to Danville she became a stay-at-home mom.
When Sam started kindergarten last year, Talwalker says she realized this could be the time to really try making party planning into a business. So she started a blog. She taught herself some basic graphic design, “which is what I really love doing … I am, by no means, a graphic designer,” she said. Ultimately Talwalker launched a shop on Etsy, a website that allows crafters to have their own electronic store front.
“Etsy is a great, great site,” she said.
For Talwalker, having her own business enables her to do many things she ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do as a mother and a friend.
“It’s great for a stay-at-home mom, because you can control the hours,” she said. Talwalker cites a recent instance where she turned down a job, because she wanted to be able to be there for her daughter’s upcoming ballet events.
Her kids don’t seem to mind her party-planning job, as they are her official taste testers. Her daughter Mira, for whom the business is named, is also her “assistant,” helping Talwalker decide which displays look the best and going with her to parties to help set up.
Also, Talwalker contributes to various design and lifestyle magazines and blogs. Recently, set up a mock Thanksgiving display for the November issue of TOPS magazine in Lexington. She says her daughter loved it.
“She said, ‘This is the best day ever. I can just sit around and mommy takes my picture while I eat pumpkin pie and color all day. This is such easy work.’ So, they have enjoyed it,” Talwalker said.
Another perk of this type of business, versus being in law, is that Talwalker says she gets to experience the happy moments of people’s lives. By doing birthday parties for the children of her friends, even those who live in other states, she is able to remain a large part of their lives, too.
“It’s kind of like I get to be a part of people’s lives in some way,” she said. Recently, she was contacted by a high school classmate who now lives in Florida to plan a child’s birthday party. Afterward, the woman expressed how she would continue to use Talwalker for her son’s upcoming birthdays.
“I look forward to, through his parties, being able to watch him grow up,” Talwalker said.
One of the things Talwalker loves most about her work is her ability to give back to others. She donates 50 percent of her Etsy profits to charities.
“It’s a great way to do something I love and give back to charity,” she said. One of her favorites is water.org, which uses the monies donated from folks like Talwalker to provide clean drinking water to those in foreign countries that don’t have access to it.
“I can’t fathom, as a mother, losing a child to not having clean water. It just seems like such a basic necessity that everybody should be able have. But not everybody does, unfortunately,” she said.
If a prospective customer contacts Talwalker to help them plan a party or a display, she is able to personalize every detail to each client, which is part of why she says makes it so much fun.
“We had a little girl that lives in Alabama, friends of ours, she was having a pool party, but she wanted people to bring donations for the Humane Society in Montgomery, Ala., instead of gifts. Her mom said, ‘I want an invitation with a cat and a dog on it, and pool stuff.’ Well, you can’t really go out and just buy that usually,” Talwalker said.