It’s always wonderful to watch a business grow from a home business to a business than employs 20+ people and that’s exactly what I’ve watched today’s expert Kathryn Porritt do. When Kathryn and I met, Pink Frosting was run out of her home, it was all brand new and so exciting. over the years I’ve watched Kathryn grow her site and her team to include a shop front, a warehouse and now her very own party book! It’s lovely to welcome Kathryn back for an appearance on Polka Dot Wisdom!
To get to know you, please tell us a little about yourself.
First and foremost, I’m a mum to two gorgeous kids Penny and Darcy, and I live in Canberra with my very handsome husband, David. When I’m not a mum, wife and (hopefully) good friend, I am the owner of Pink Frosting, Australia’s #1 online wedding and party shop. I’m really lucky to work in this crazy-fun business that keeps growing super-fast. I spend my days running this beautiful website with my team of 30 staff – we create, source, pick, pack and dispatch all of the gorgeous things we sell on our website and leave with a smile on our faces – most days!
You have a background in event planning and own the wedding and party website Pink Frosting. Which came first?
I have spent most of my career in and around event planning. I started out working in shopping centre management where I was lucky enough to plan and execute big events such as movie premieres, book launches, performances by famous singers and school holiday entertainment. After this, I moved into a role that involved executing a big award program for the IT industry, which is where the idea of launching Pink Frosting came from – combining my love of events and entertaining with the web. Bliss.
Image by Nikole Ramsey
Do you still plan events, and if so which are your favourite to plan?
I don’t plan events professionally any more, but I do still enjoy entertaining. My favourite events to plan are my kid’s birthday parties every year. The minute their birthday is over, they begin to plan next year’s party with me. It’s a lot of fun to see them imagine all of the decorations, games, cakes, food and fun they’ll have wrapped around a theme. The delight on their faces means the world to me – and isn’t that what events are all about?
You’ve just released a book – ‘The Party Book’. Was this a natural progression – from event planner, to party website and blog, to book?
I was lucky enough to be approached to write The Party Book a couple of years ago based on my experience in planning parties and weddings and dealing with so many gorgeous people in the industry all of my career. I wrote The Party Book as a how-to for anyone who wants to plan an event – as small as a dinner party with friends or as large as a wedding for hundreds. The Party Book is a culmination of my experience, the wisdom that has been passed down to me by my grandmothers and Mum, as well as the experiences of the customers we are lucky enough to help every day. I am told The Party Book is easy to use and provides good advice for preparing and executing an event – that was what I hoped it to be!
Image by Nikole Ramsey
Was it super fun to gather all the knowledge you’ve soaked up over the years and write it all down in a book?
Yes! I won’t lie – writing a book is really hard work and takes lots of time, but boy it was worth it. To open up the book for the first time and see the gorgeous images, the delicious recipes and the words all come to life on a page – it’s heaven! The most fun was raiding my grandmother’s recipe books again and testing her beautiful recipes with the kids and my work mates. We all ended up a few kilos heavier!
A wedding is just like a party really – just on a larger scale. You mention creating a wedding inspiration board when first planning to set out your ideas. What should a bride include on her inspiration board?
I know Ms Polka is a big fan of inspiration boards too, and there’s a really good reason why event planners recommend you create one. An inspiration board draws all of your favourite ideas, no matter how esoteric, into one place that you can continue to draw from right through the planning process for your wedding day. A bride and groom should spend time asking themselves what they want their day to feel and look like – the imagery, the colours, the textures, the ambience – and bring this together on their inspiration board. An inspiration board might include fabrics, paint swatches (my favourite), magazine clippings of your favourite weddings, photos of flowers you love, fonts you’re drawn to – anything that represents what the bride and groom want their day to be about. As much as I love Pinterest, I’m still a big fan of a physical inspiration board with texture! I then recommend you put your inspiration board in a place where you’ll be planning your wedding so that every time you need to make a decision, you reflect on your vision and inspiration. It will really help pull the day together and remind you what you had in mind from the outset.
Preparing for a wedding can be a busy time. Is spending the initial preparation time making an inspiration board, doing the legwork, writing lists and schedules for example, crucial to good organization as the wedding date draws near?
I wouldn’t say it’s crucial, but boy it will make the whole experience easier! I know there are lots of brides out there who say they’ve put together the perfect wedding with very little planning, but the majority of brides I know are astounded at the amount of work that goes into putting their wedding together, and having a constantly evolving plan, an inspiration board and a budget means that critical dates don’t get missed. Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life – and you want to know things will run smoothly so you can relax and enjoy the day, rather than panicking about the last minute details. I absolutely recommend becoming a list maker if you aren’t one already! I am a list maker, and I couldn’t run my life without my to-do list – I’d be a scatterbrain!
Are you a naturally creative person? Where do you find all the creative inspiration for the ideas in the book?
I am a naturally organised person and I love beautiful things. My mother and brother are both artists, so I struggle to say I’m creative as I have two very hard acts to follow! I have a keen eye for detail and I have always been interested in colour and design, so I think these qualities together mean that I am a good event planner – I can plan a smooth event, as well as have the vision for the beauty and fun of the event too. Lots of the inspiration for the creative ideas in The Party Book come from both my own experiences, as well as the tales of friends, family, colleagues and our amazingly creative and clever customers.
‘The Party Book’ is also about planning dinner parties, children’s parties, Christmas parties amongst others – what is your favourite recipe from your book and why?
My favourite recipe is the marshmallow birthday cake – my basic birthday cake recipe (which I whip out for other occasions too), slathered in buttercream icing and then covered in marshmallows. So delicious and very beautiful. I’m also a sucker for the DIY Irish Cream. So delectable – as a drink and also on ice cream. Yum!
Image by Nikole Ramsey
Can you give us a list of your five favourite wedding ideas from ‘The Party Book’?
I think there’s some glorious photographs and inspirational ideas in the book (which I’m so proud of!), but my favourites are the more practical elements that resonate with brides that haven’t had event planning experience. I think most brides have a clear vision of what their day will look like, what their dress will look like and what the flowers will smell like, but many don’t know where to start putting it all together. So, not only are there beautiful ideas to help bring out the creative vision in every bride, I’ve also included all the questions you need to ask the owner of your ceremony and reception venues, how to successfully make arrangements for a Plan B ceremony if rain sets in on your outdoor wedding, ideas for budgeting for lighting, and ideas for decorating your reception yourself, schedules for the day…. lots of practical planning ideas to help make bring that wedding vision to life.
Image by Zayats Svetlana
Thank you Kathryn for telling us all about this exciting new venture. The Party Book is available in all good book shops, David Jones, Myer etc as well as at Pink Frosting
Kathryn’s headshot by Beth Henze.