Hi ladies, it’s Anna from Fash Boulevard with another edition of our Ladies Who Laptop interview series. This month’s spotlight is a Texas native who left her reliable marketing job and fled to San Francisco, where one night, while in the throes of dreamland, an idea popped into her head that would soon lead to a booming brand. Jordan Jones, the creative genius behind social media’s latest obsession, Packed Party, a web-based company that allows customers to send or receive themed care packages, is redefining what it means to party-for-one. Each care package is centered around a life occurrence or theme and includes four to five fun and unique hand-picked items, from “You Don’t Need ‘Em Anyway,” to “Feel Bedda Soon,” to my personal favorite “You Pampered Thing, You.” Today, Jordan opens up about the struggles of launching a start-up, navigating digital media, and how a “bogus” Buzzfeed article changed everything. Let’s dive in.
Lets start from the beginning! Where did the idea for Packed Party originate from and how did you pursue your dream?
Packed Party came about in a bit of a funny way. I was living in Dallas, TX feeling kind of unsatisfied with my job, and had this strange sort of idea in my head that I needed to move to San Francisco to do something bigger with my life. Sidebar, I totally realize that I sound like every twentysomething, but the difference is that I actually acted on what I said I was going to do! Whoo hoo. Telling my parents my plan to move was comical at the kitchen table one night. They looked at me blankly like I was losing my mind. “Something bigger, eh?” But being as supportive as they are, they encouraged me to go and make my own way…if I had a job in San Francisco waiting for me first, which I immediately tracked down in the heart of Silicon Valley doing something I didn’t love, but hey, it got me to San Francisco. From here came the Pity Party because it was hard meeting people in a new big city and working so far away from where I was living each day. I called my mom one evening feeling a bit sorry for myself, and my mom being my tough love mom told me I was throwing myself a Pity Party and that I’d chosen my situation so I needed to make due. Little did I know this would be the best Pity Party I ever threw myself, because I went to bed shortly after our conversation and awoke with the idea to send myself a Pity Party package. I turned on all the lights in my tiny maid’s quarters apartment and sketched out our logo, named the business, and started coming up with different packages that you could send yourself to throw a “party for one.” Normal people usually consult other business owners, think on a name, look through a business plan several times, but I knew that night when I woke up Packed Party was going to be a thing, and MY thing at that. It felt totally sent to me to execute and I knew there was nothing like it in the marketplace.
When it comes to new businesses, spreading the word is key. How did you use digital media to capitalize on Packed Party during those early days?
Getting the word out about a brand you pull out of thin air is difficult when you’re 23, have never owned a company before, and um, definitely still have a fully functioning job that’s paying your bills. Free media was my best friend, and lucky for me, my background was in strategic media and communication so I had some ideas around what I needed to do…the question was if I was crazy enough to pull them off. I had a vision and a product, but I needed to get the word out about it on a large scale at no cost. How impossible does that seem? Apparently not too impossible because I jumped straight into the deep end of the pool writing an article about myself (yes, don’t judge me) on BuzzFeed’s Community section (no, you cannot do this now because there’s a massive red line that says, “Buzzfeed doesn’t endorse this content or write it” or something along those lines. Sorry!) I know it seems a bit crazy, but I knew no one was going to trust how great this brand was right away if I was standing on a soap box preaching about it, so I wrote it as a third party and it got over 3,000 hits that day alone. It also helped that I posted it to just about every Facebook friend’s wall I had. Another bold move I suppose, but I came clean to all my friends and have been really candid about doing this from the beginning. This put Packed Party out there in a big way so I wouldn’t ever take it back. My social media platforms went from zero to hundreds in a few days, and I had a small (but mighty) audience curious about this party package that had never been done before. Digital media is huge for brands. Whoever can do it the most creatively wins.
How do you choose the products that go into each themed package?
Sourcing for packages is really fun! There’s a mixture of research and referrals that goes into every package and, in some cases, we manufacture and create our own Packed Party branded items. The hunt is really fun for me, but it’s definitely gotten easier as we have grown and a lot of brands look to be featured inside our packages.
How has social media helped your brand grow?
For Packed Party, we didn’t have outside investors pumping money into the business so I could turn around and spend it on sponsored posts or acquiring tons of followers. We have been really lean from the beginning and social media is free, so I knew if I was going to use it as a main channel to reach my audience I had to do it in a creative way. I think stepping back from whatever you’re creating and saying okay, where does this product live, what are people going to be doing or feeling when they receive my product, or asking questions like these help to create a brand. We’ve built an engaged audience of Party Girls who talk to us, let us know what they want, which ultimately helps us expand as a company. I call our Instagram page the “quilt” and think it’s important that all the images play well off of one another and sort of fall under the same umbrella. I’ve shared this term with a few other business owners and they laughed, but they now use the word too! If you’re in charge of social media for a brand everything should be very streamlined and have the same look, voice, messaging… you get it! You will be so much more successful when you do this because someone will see a post in their feed and immediately recognize it’s your brand without even looking at who posted it!
You recently added jewelry to your website with your Doorstep Necklace. Can you tell us a little about this new item and how it came about?
We did! I’m still giddy about The Doorstep Necklace. I came up with the concept this summer when we had the conversation that we were really full-steam ahead on making jewelry. I knew it was something new and different and the first step in extending our brand into more lifestyle type items that simply screamed unique, so we had to make the first item big. Problem was you can’t shout at your brain and say okay, come up with something super cool, like, now! A big piece of Packed Party is showing all the fun doorsteps we land on or arrive to, and we do believe it’s where the party starts, so creating The Doorstep Necklace made perfect sense for us. There was a lot of questions around logistically how we’d execute engraving people’s numbers or where they called home into the door, but everything sort of fell into place with a lot of hard work. I’m excited to continue to put together more pieces for our Party Girls!
What is a day in the Packed Party office like?
Everyday at Packed Party HQ is a little different than the next! I think our business looks a lot more fun on social media than it is in real life sometimes, ha! We get emails from people asking if we just eat donuts and drink champagne all day, and the answer is definitely, no, but if we do, we worked hard to do it! We have a ton of fun here, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and every day brings a new challenge. We constantly have music playing, there’s a lot of communication and collaboration between people i.e. “does this photo suck?” or “inventory check needed” so it definitely runs like a business, but there’s our own Party Girl flair to things. I think people would be surprised to know we don’t work with the lights on in here if we can help it! We have amazing light in our office so we utilize that and I feel like it makes for a more creative environment. I hate harsh overhead lights. This combined with an itty bitty view of the Golden Gate Bridge and being surrounded by serious hustling women makes for a pretty inspirational environment. We work hard here and there isn’t anyone that passes through our door that isn’t all in on our brand. The energy from this is contagious.
Words you live by?
“When one door closes another one opens” is a quote my mom and dad have always said to me. From not making the cut on a team, to finding out something I planned for Packed Party is going in a seriously different direction, I have learned that adapting to what’s happening around me and taking everything as a learning experience is crucial. You have this idea of how things are supposed to be and that’s when you get hurt in life. You have to let go of the plans at times and just say, alright, I’m not in control here as much as I want to be and something better is coming my way. Being optimistic is key to running a business or you’ll drive yourself insane on a rainy day. There’s always something better around the corner and the minute something bad happens, something better is in the works. I believe that.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since launching Packed Party two years ago?
I definitely think I’ve gotten a lot thicker skin since I started Packed Party. I can remember seeking advice from a wildly successful entrepreneur here in San Francisco and telling him I had fear about my idea being stolen or ripped off before I started selling packages, because I was the very first in the care package, or party package space, to create lifestyle themed packages. He sort of laughed in my face and told me I would be lucky to be copied and should share my idea with the world, because if I wasn’t confident enough to know I could do it better than anyone I had no business doing it. That conversation will never leave my mind. I was always confident no one could do Packed Party better than me, I just needed his kick in the butt to remind me in that moment and I’m lucky it happened so early on. I think it’s important to keep your head down, be confident in your vision, and just do your thing. I’ve had sleepless nights, tough days, and felt super alone at times early on doing this when I was letting what other people might think or steal from me dictate my moves. You have to just put your blinders on and toughen up. There’s a reason so many businesses fail and so few succeed. Mental toughness is totally a thing if you’re going to run a business. It’s not personal, it’s just business.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who hope to start their own company?
Definitely look at your business idea and the reasons behind why you’re doing it. For me it was my love of gift giving and helping people send that perfect something to make someone’s day. Giving people something easy to gift one another without driving around, paying retail prices for items that they might not have even found themselves and putting it inside a pretty package with a hand-signed card was the solution to a problem and open for a ton of opportunity. If you’re starting a company you should also ask yourself what the overall goal for the company is. What’s the mission? I think having a clear vision and target audience from the beginning was so key for me in building out Packed Party the way I have, so I knew how to approach things like marketing or what I wanted to put inside a package.
Can we expect a holiday themed Packed Party package?
Yes! There is a holiday themed Packed Party that’s releasing Monday, December 7th so mark your calendars! I am so excited about this package – it’s called Tis The Season! I can’t share what’s inside it just yet, but peep our Instagram page to see sneak peeks before it’s release.
Do you have anything exciting coming up for Packed Party that you’d like to share with the LaurenConrad.com readers?
We have so much growth we’re experiencing at Packed Party and building out our brand beyond care packages. We’ll be expanding into drinkware with the first piece being our Disco Drink (OMG!), and pre-sale for these starts Nov. 23rd, so you can snag one just in time before the holidays! We’re super excited about these because it’s something totally new and different for us. I’m ecstatic to finally share them because they’ve been under wraps for so long! It’s the perfect cup to go from iced coffee to a margarita with, and when you see it you’ll know why. It’s the cup that doesn’t ever go in the cupboard because it’s that insanely adorable. All my friends have tried stealing them from me…uh huh honey!
Who would you like to see me interview for my next Ladies Who Laptop?
Let me know in the comments below!