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A Shopping Soirée

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Most women get invited to countless in-home parties. While the comforts of in-home shopping are obvious (free and discounted products are nice, too), a little research should go into the parties, products, and themes that could be tailor-made for you and your friends. 

“My objective was a skirt and a glass of red wine,” said Michele Heibel, a former CAbi (Carol Anderson By Invitation) representative, of her first CAbi party invite. Heibel attended a trunk show featuring the boutique clothing and, to her surprise, ending up selling the line—including higher-end, investment pieces “you don’t see all the time,” such as jeans with floral linings and coats with polka dot insides—she thinks is made for real women. 

A rep for seven seasons, Heibel found the clothing traveled well and colors matched season to season. Reps roll an entire collection into your home in multiple sizes and present how the clothes go together, followed by the fun of trying on pieces. “With a CAbi party, you see your friends in their underwear within five minutes of being there,” Heibel laughed.  

The Matilda Jane boutique clothing line emphasizes little girls’ clothing, focusing on sizes 6 month to 14 youth. Team Leader Christy Ingle got involved when she couldn’t find clothing for her own daughter. “The fabrics are amazing. There’s a difference between looking online and having the clothing in your own home. We can put a collection together for you.” Busy moms who don’t have the time or patience to shop for small children could enjoy a personal shopping experience with quality clothing.   

When free time is rare, clothing parties could be the easiest way to grab new wardrobe pieces and spend time with girlfriends, at home. Once clothing is figured out, accessories naturally follow. Stella & Dot, Origami Owl, Silpada, Lia Sophia—there are plenty of jewelry parties to choose from. Whether or not you need jewelry, it’s an ideal go-to gift. 

“Girls play dress-up at this feel-good party,” said Heidi VanderWal, Star Director with Silpada and the force behind the Sterling Girl website. “Once they put on a piece of jewelry, they see themselves a little taller.” These fun, low-key, open house-style parties have no sales pitch or formal presentation, and allow guests to drop in as they please during a ninety-minute window. 

“It’s appealing that people can come in for ten minutes, if that’s all they’ve got,” said VanderWal. In her thirteen years in the business, she’s noticed that life has sped up even more. In-home parties may be the solution to maximizing precious free time by combining friends and shopping. 

Creating that perfect product/people mix is tricky. Meagan Monger is an Independent Designer with Origami Owl, which offers custom lockets and charm “jewelry bar” experiences. She urges would-be hosts to “think about your interests and the interests of those you’re inviting. You don’t want guests to sit and wonder why they are there.”  

Whatever party you choose, enjoy the company of friends and family. “I like the camaraderie,” said Darlene Earley, an avid Thirty-One Gifts shopper. The company offers personalized purses, totes, and bags, and Earley loves to help others pick patterns and colors. “It depends on what you like. For some, it would be the snacks and drinks, and time spent with friends. I like both. It’s a social night.” (And one that just happens to have a shopping element built in.)   

Read more about in-home parties in the August issue of West Michigan Woman!  

Written by: Missy Black is a freelance writer specializing in fashion. One of her favorite fashion interviews was Nigel Barker from America's Next Top Model. Her love of fashion keeps her awake at night, dreaming of cheetah-print flats paired with red skinny jeans and anything lace. Missy lives in the Grand Rapids area and has written horoscopes and restaurant reviews, and enjoys another title as shoe copywriter. When her nose isn’t stuck in a book, you’ll find her in an antique store or flea market.


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