What could have destroyed my business actually expanded my brand across the United States in 2020. It is no secret that COVID-19 altered life for every single person as we know it. Here in Indianapolis, all events and gatherings came to a screeching halt mid-March. I could have said, "Oh well, I will wait until things open up in a few months (hahahaha) and take a little break", but I didn't. Here is what actually happened and why my small business is stronger than ever.
In December 2019, I closed my adorable and ever so popular venue, Table + Tea. It was so very bittersweet but I simply couldn't afford to leave the doors open any longer. I decided to focus on OUAP 110% because after trying to close up shop at least 3 times at this point, each time the universe directed me otherwise. As a devout Christian, I follow God's lead (ok well, SOME of the time) and he directed my steps to this point. Once in 2015, I decided to give up OUAP to pursue a different career in a supply chain consulting firm I worked at for a short time. My mind was made! I was fired the next day.
After another bad business deal I will swiftly skip over, I knew I needed to go back to what God had made clear for me- make OUAP as great as it could be. The idea was planted all those years ago for a reason.
So on January 1, 2020, I made a commitment to myself and this little biz. I would amp up my marketing and reach since I had done ZERO advertising and was still existing on my current customer base and word of mouth. I would invest in the beat paints, brushes, and other materials. I would practice painting every. single. day. to become an even better painter. I was doing great until.....
I had just booked all my big, annual spring festivals, summer events, and more. Like, JUST booked them. Deposits in hand, and being a small business owner grateful to be coming out of our slow season, those deposits quickly left my hand to pay our bills. The calls started coming in about rescheduling. No problem, we can push the date back to May. Ha, if we only knew. So then the calls came for canceling. I didn't want to panic, but I had literally spent the deposits, ALL of them. See, doing what I do, the deposits typically cover what I pay myself, if anything, and any supplies and such. I have had to refund maybe two parties ever. EVER! However, each of the clients that reached out was a loyal, annual client and not one of them asked for a refund. NOT. ONE. They each graciously asked that I apply it to next year's event. I was beyond grateful. I was not going to go bankrupt! Y'all, these were events requiring large deposits as they were festivals with multiple artists needed. So grateful.
Now my thoughts switched to, "How do I keep the name 'Once Upon A Party' on people's minds and radars during this shutdown? How do I make sure they think to call on me when this is over?". That is when I went back to my roots and remembered one of my original ideas when OUAP was born back in 2011- the Birthday in a Box. I gathered some items, put them on social media, and shared it. Well, people loved it. And NEEDED it. Birthdays were basically canceled for the spring of 2020. WISH-TV came out and did a news story. Indy with Kids shared my info in a couple of their blogs. But the biggest impact was from Indy's Child magazine. I never spoke to anyone there, so I had no clue they had included me in an article about how to celebrate amidst a pandemic. So you can imagine my surprise when I started getting requests from New York, California, and even Puerto Rico! They found the article online and ever since then, I have been fulfilling orders all over the US. I never imagined going national!!
While it has slowed down as the world is slowly opening up, orders are still coming in. It is a service I have truly enjoyed providing. I actually cried at my first few deliveries seeing the once disappointed faces light up with excitement! I plan to continue offering them as long as the need is there! You can learn more about them and our other gift options HERE!
Hello, my name is Shauna Williams and I am the creative mind and artist behind Once Upon A Party! I created OUAP in 2011 after what I call an epiphany to create a party planning business on Christmas Day! Since then, OUAP has grown to include multiple artists that entertain all over Indianapolis and surrounding areas for the past 10 years!
I am wife to Ryan, and mom to Coleton and Shaun, now 22 and 13. I received my degree in early childhood education from Indiana University in 2001. After a little over 15 years in the classroom and in an administrative role, I wanted to interact with children in a creative way.
I started with the concept of preparing crafts and activities in order to ease the responsibility of parents at their child's party. The name itself, Once Upon A Party, was given for several reasons. First, as a teacher I was a huge advocate for literacy so each child received a book as a gift. Second, one of the services we provided was to snap photos while we were entertaining so the parents could enjoy their guests. Then, they received a photobook after their special day. Over time, more and more parents started requesting face painting. After saying no several times, I realized this is something that as a former art major I can do and obviously the need was there. Once that was added, then the requests for balloon twisting began, then glitter tattoos. So today, after evolving to meet the needs of our families, we specialize in those 3 services! We have added balloon decor, custom gifts, and gift order delivery as well.
I love what I do and have been so blessed to watch this little idea of mine blossom into what it is now. Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we were able to not only survive but thrive and that is thanks to our customers and I am BEYOND grateful! You can look forward to many more years of entertainment from OUAP!