I set up my birthday party business with £50 – now I host £500k parties for the rich and famous… here's how | The Sun
A MUM who set up her birthday party business with just £50 now hosts £500,000 parties for the rich and famous.
Charlotte Melia, 37, from Guildford in Surrey, set up Dazzle & Fizz in September 2013 with £50.
She said Hollywood clients and international royalty pay up to £500,000 for deluxe party plans – and she has a £6,000 minimum price.
The mum hosts parties on superyachts, flies families to different countries for the day, and even once built an ice palace in the middle of the Dubai desert.
Charlotte says her average party costs £30,000, and while she started with kids' parties, she now plans dos for adults and businesses.
She said: "It can be hard work but it's so rewarding.
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"Modern children are living in a very different world from when I was small.
"It's fast paced and tech driven, and they do expect instant gratification.
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"That's not to say that a child can't have a great simple party – they can, but we specialise in a particular clientele.
"All our clients are high or ultra-high-net-worth individuals. They include Hollywood A-listers, global pop stars, international footballers, many international royals, and global business leaders."
One event saw the team build a replica of New York in the ballroom at the Dorchester Hotel in central London.
Several families have asked for the birthday to take place on yachts in the Mediterranean.
The exclusive Soho Farmhouse members' club is a popular choice for the wealthy clients.
Charlotte said they frequently organise events in different countries, including Nigeria, Monaco, and Portugal.
She said: "We had one family who we flew from Nigeria to Paris for a VIP Disneyland Paris experience.
"And one family based full-time in London celebrated their child's birthday in Monaco.
All our clients are high or ultra high net worth individuals
"A particularly nice party we did recently was a Great British Bake Off theme, which took place over an entire weekend."
Despite the huge amount of effort and planning involved in each event, Charlotte admitted the children don't always appreciate the time and money spent.
She said: "They're still just children. They don't realise how much we as parents do for them.
"I just organised my son's party and the weekend, which was so fun and took a long time to plan, but of course he won't really think about how much time it takes.
"Home parties are popular, so we have children's entertainers, balloon modelling, just of a standard befitting of the event. The most popular themes are ones that all children love – dinosaurs, superheroes, princesses, animals.
"Ultimately it's all about what's right for your family."
Typically the planning process lasts for around two to four weeks, It usually starts with a personalised inspiration mood board, then a written proposal, site survey, weekly catch up meetings, and daily communication.
On the day of the party, Charlotte's 25-person team of event organisers, designers, marketing and content specialists work for 16 to 18 hours.
How to start your own business
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One of the biggest barriers aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners face is a lack of confidence.
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It’s OK not to get it right the first time. My experience of making bad decisions is what helped develop my confidence, making me who I am today.
Never underestimate the power of social media, and remember the internet has levelled the playing field for small businesses.
Don’t forget to dream. A machine can’t do that!
"I love the more theatrical and immersive work – circus is gorgeous," she said.
Charlotte said she was not intimidated by working with her famous and wealthy clients, who are "lovely".
She said: "Celebrities are generally lovely. It's something wonderful, a celebration of their children. It's one of my favourite parts of the job meeting such interesting people and learning from them."
"Our growth in these groups were just organic and word of mouth as our dedication to the high-net worth clients helped us to grow naturally."
As well as lavish decoration and expensive themes, Charlotte said an important part of her work is ensuring inclusivity for all children, and representing cultural diversity.
She said: "People are far more mindful and the events have to have another deeper level of meaning.
"In particular we want events to be inclusive for diversities.
"Inclusivity also means supporting children's particular needs.
I love the more theatrical and immersive work – circus is gorgeous
"For example my son is severely autistic and when I organised his 12th party for him and 16 friends, who all have learning disabilities, we put up a giant inflatable hanger to create a dull light to make it easier for them."
From an ordinary state school background, Charlotte's own birthdays were 'lovely' but simple affairs, with pin-the-tail on the donkey and a homemade cake.
She added: "Setting up the business was a bit of an accident because I was heavily pregnant with my son and I wanted to have a job that combined both my passions of sales and business and theatre.
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"I'd been doing children's parties on the side for years. I've worked with kids since I was in my teens.
"I'd moved to the Isle of Wight and there weren't any party organisers there, so I just started doing it myself."
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