Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces in 1987 after finding it difficult to source fun, simple party products for her children’s parties. Now more than 23 years on the company is still going from strength to strength.
1. What were you doing before Party Pieces?
I was lucky enough to be a full-time Mum.
2. What inspired you to set up the company?
I came up with the idea for Party Pieces when I was looking for party paraphernalia for my own children’s parties. It was impossible to find anything easily in the shops and trying to find value for money party bag presents was a complete nightmare!
3. What makes Party Pieces unique?
We are the original UK mail order party company – starting from a shed in the back garden in 1987. We have come along way since then, but we are still very much a family business; I am still actively involved and love sourcing and developing new party products.
4. What are your signature/exclusive products?
Party boxes and the party food box trays have to be our signature products. Way back in 1990 we launched our first in-house designed boxes. They were such a hit with everyone that now we try and make sure we have party boxes to go with every party theme.
5. What was your best-selling theme 10 years ago and what is it now?
Pirates has always been a favourite party theme. I think it’s because it’s such a great theme if you have both boys and girls coming to your party. But over recent years the party tableware that is always popular is the licensed character… at the moment it’s Hello Kitty for the girls and Ben 10 for the boys!!
6. How has the credit crunch affected business?
Your child’s birthday is always a very special occasion so I think everyone tries to do something to celebrate the day even if money is tight. We’ve always believed that parties do not have to be lavish and expensive occasions and have always selected wonderful traditional and inexpensive games, tableware and activites. However, over the past year we’ve included some real value-for-money offers and cost savings to make partying on a budget even easier.
7. How many people do you employ?
Around 30 people.
8. Do you have any new, exciting projects in the pipeline?
Yes… We are very excited to launch the Party Times website! We really hope it will become the party bible for every busy Mum and Dad. We are also planning later this year to add the adult party and celebration category to the site.
9. What advice can you give someone setting up his or her own business?
Mmm… it’s great fun, but not for the faint-hearted. I still work through to the early hours to hit a deadline and never take our success for granted.