Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Little Bit (ok, a lot) About Me...

{Very first blog post- which I've tried updating- but cut me some slack... I'm so much cooler now...}

This is kind of scary...the whole blogging thing. Who knew! I mean- just putting your thoughts out there for anyone to read who wants to- it's kind of a weird! Why do I want to do it so badly?! I keep trying to avoid it by telling myself I don't have the time for this...But at the end of the day something within me desires a blog... So here goes nothing. Or something. I'll let you decide.
 I think the reason I've been putting it off is because I'm so confused with what I want my "voice" to be. A lot of that comes from the fact that I'm a party planner who kind of wants to inspire mom's with cool party ideas... but then I'm also a Mom myself (a frustrated one a lot of the time) a wife (to a youth pastor none the less), as well as a strongly opinionated {young-ish} woman on all of the subjects just listed and so. much. more. I'm not sure anyone wants to hear about anything other than putting together an amazing party, however- I so cannot promise that. Like, today- I can't even promise a photo from a party! All I can do is blog about what's on my mind and sometimes it has to do with parties- but other times it might be how much I hate cooking and how hard it is for me to be a mom to toddlers...OR the wife of someone who works at a church.

SO- if that's your thing and you're looking for someone to say things you've only thought, you might be in the right place. I'm kind of filterless like that. Especially for a pastor's wife.

I wanted to give you a little background about myself, and what brought me to party planning. My name is Kenna O'Brien, I'm 33 years old and married almost 8 years to my husband Shawn. We have 2 kids Cormac (5) and Birdie (2.5). We recently moved to Santa Barbara, Ca (Dec. 2013) after over 5 years of living in a small town on the Central Coast called Orcutt. I grew up in Los Angeles and miss it daily.

Like most party planners- I've always had the crafting bug. I started making and selling things in 7th grade, these friendship bracelets that I'd weave into my friends hair- DOPE. I sold them for $3 each  and one day I made $18! At that point I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. I could make things I love AND make money at it? Awesome. Throughout my Jr. High years I had many businesses believe it or not. Another one was selling plastic pacifiers (sold at Michael's still in the Baby Shower section) on ribbon to be worn as necklaces. $4.00 each. Gold mine. This was during the "raver" craze... I really took advantage of that trend... Suckers... (literally).

Next came high school where I learned to sew and I ran with this all the way to the bank. Again, literally- I was a track star. I started making these furry handbags called Phuzbags and had representatives at every high school in my area. They got a free bag for every 10 they sold... Gosh that was an amazing business model looking back on it. 

In high school, like most teens- I was obsessed with Seventeen magazine. I saw a contest in it and entered. It was called "Queen of the 'Zine"- at that time I didn't even know what a 'zine was (pronounced ZENE, as in short for magazine- they were little independently run magazines distributed through the good ol' fashioned mail for those of you younger than this trend or who maybe just missed it). Anyway, I came up with a 'zine called "Fashion Lounge", submitted it and won 3rd place. I had a small article written up on me and my 'zine and suddenly my mailbox was filled with requests for Fashion Lounge at a buck a pop. I worked on the 'zine through college for a total of 3-4 years making something like 20 issues of it chronicling my fashion, random "DIY" ideas (a new term at this point) as well as my high school love life. I mean, who DIDN'T want to know about that?

In the midst of 'zineing (which was pretty much blogging before blogging) Mattel Toys contacted me (who knew business woman read Seventeen?) about working as an intern for them. I was 17 and going from High School to "The World's Largest Toy Company" as their "High School Informant." I told them about what was cool (and what wasn't cool)... Something I was pretty good at. In the long run they encouraged me to go to college and after I did (majoring in Fashion Design at Brooks College in the LBC)  and I came to work for them for 5.5 years, from ages 20- 25. I pretty much grew up in that design center, designing dolls for Barbie and My Scene and lots of projects in between. I traveled the world on their dime and learned an invaluable amount through them. I learned that I loved to create more than I'd ever known and also that I LOVED to work. I remember pulling all nighters like it was normal and seriously loving the adrenaline of a last minute design change.

And while I know that I wouldn't be able to keep up that schedule now that I have kids, I've got to tell you....WOW do I miss working some days. No like, I seriously miss work. Some days I yearn to be back at a big corporation where you have a boss telling you your idea is amazingly fantastic. Now the closest thing I have to that is HWTM featuring a party I've done with a write up to go along with it, which is great- don't get me wrong.

Trust me, I KNOW that no mom in her right mind is *supposed* to blog about her desire to work verses taking care of 2 sweet kids (ESPECIALLY a Christian woman- not to mention the wife of a youth pastor). I mean, you might as well sew a Scarlett letter on my cardi right now (maybe I'll do that later, I need a new project)... But goodness, if I'm not blogging to be honest, what's THE point? Now don't get me wrong, I love my kids a lot... (insert every cliche momism ever said about one's own children right here) but I also feel I was created to CREATE...AND work (gasp!)...which brings me to the here and now-ish... 

Around the time Cormac, my 4 year old was turning 1 (2009), I really started realizing my need to be doing something other than momming all day. If that's what brings you total joy, awesome. But when Cormac was a baby, as much as I loved him, a big piece of me was missing as I hadn't even sewn or really been creative in almost a year- AHHH! (Other than creatively trying to figure out how to lose the baby weight that is). I started thinking about how much I'd always loved putting together baby & bridal showers for my girlfriends and I devised a plan to throw him one heck of a Circus Party to get all of my juices back up and flowing. While everyone was saying to me, "He's ONE... He won't remember any of these details!" I was saying, "Do you think I'm throwing this party for him?! I'm doing this for me so I don't lose my sanity!" 

Birthdays #2 and #3 followed, each party getting a little wilder and a little better... and after Cormac's 3rd I started getting calls for my pricing, etc. which is when I decided to launch Miss Party Mom Event Planning in full force (April 2012). My friend Hannah helped me with cookies, cakes and set up if she can attend and has been with me since my first party. I'm heading in to my second year of business this May and things are really looking up. Turns out Santa Barbara is a great place to throw a party!

I've probably rambled too long, and yet somehow I didn't even include that I owned a Vintage Clothing store with my bestie Kelsey after quitting Mattel from serious burn out (too many all nighters?) or that I met and married my husband after 19 days. I'm sure those will get touched There, I just gave you a reason to come back...

For now I'm going to leave you with a few photos of what I love to do most...CREATE.

I've been sewing baby blankets for 5 years, it's something I love and keeps me creatively satisfied, partly because I make them for my closest friends kids- an ever growing number!

I love throwing parties for my kids, they're definitely my favorite parties to throw for reasons I feel I don't even need to explain...this is a pic from a Valentine's Party I just put together for them at the very. last. minute.

Just a good ol' pic of me in my "party room" working away, or at least faking it for The Santa Maria Times...

Lastly, my current love which is putting together a fully decorated party table...and then critiquing it to heck once I see the photos of it. Did I mention I'm type A and a little hard on myself? Oh, we'll get to that...

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll add me to your blog reader so we can meet more often. I

        xo Party or Die xo         


  1. you are seriously one of my most interesting friends. I loved reading this and learning more about what has brought you to today…a 'zine? really? and Phuzbags?? I'm in awe. And I will absolutely be reading your blog as you share way more than just parties with the world at large. Yay! I'm so going to miss you.

  2. I learned things from this blog today..and I thought I'd heard KEEP blogging. And thank you for dispelling the myth that SAHM's are blissfully fulfilled and is HARD work. Love you friend and am grateful to have such a creative soul in my life....and that you keep it real....unfiltered and all. xxoo

  3. Kenna, you're amazing, and I can't wait to hear more!

  4. I know I said this over text but I love this! SO proud of you for saying all this and it made me nostalgic for some Fashion Lounge!

  5. 1) you definitely have my readership
    2) you are beautiful!
    3) I feel even more privileged than before to have a quilt made by you
    4) i know SM is boring and being a SAHM is mind-numbing so often and Christian culture can be cruel, but I for one am glad you are here, now, and a part of my life :)

  6. So the first 5 comments seem to be from people you actually know (I could be wrong :) ). From a complete stranger, reading your blog for the first time, I have to say, I love what you have written here. Other than what you have written about being a mom (we're trying, but not there yet), I hear my own voice in this blog. I am in the process of starting my own baking business, and literally Laughed Out Loud when you wrote that people expect to have an entire party at under $300. It's funny that people assume because they know you, even as an aquaintance, that you're going to plan, or in my case bake, for practically free. I'm excited to read more blog posts later, keep it up, you're not alone in how you feel :)

    1. Thank you, I love having someone I don't know find me! I appreciate you taking the time to read....and don't you worry, many more rants on party pricing are sure to come...I may need an alias at some point here ;)

  7. I love finding out things that I didn't know about you!

  8. Oh my gosh. I just found your blog (through Karissa, we knew each other growing up), and I am in love. Super inspiring since this is my dream. I'm actually in the middle of planning my daughter's first birthday, and all along I've had this teeny hope that I can get it featured somewhere, and my blog will make it big, and friends will ask me to throw parties, and I can spend my time making, and making, and making! I'm still new to blogging (consistent posts since Nov.). I'm in dire need of a blog designer and a "real" camera. But I just wanted you to know that I've been up reading this till way too late (3am now) cause I'm super inspired and pumped.

    1. Welcome! I stay up till 3am reading blogs all the time myself... ;) I can recommend who designed my blog: Lolo Made on Etsy... actually Karissa just helped me w some stuff too! If you have any questions about your daughters party, feel free to shoot me a message on fb. I've written a post on submitting to blogs- hope you caught that... thanks for tuning in!

  9. I'm totally enjoying catching up on all your posts! I love it, very entertaining! I worked with Hannah at Starbucks for awhile, so I found your page through her reposts, and it all strikes home so well! I like to think I'm creative, but I also just had my first baby in April, so I think I more relate to your stories of your family. I also love your style! So much so that I have to ask, where did you get your couch?!? I love the color and style. I've been scouring the interweb looking for purple couches lately but haven't found the right thing. Thanks, and I can't wait to hear about the Puppy Party!


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