Fearless Friday: Niku Ghalkhani
Entrepreneurs are an interesting breed. I always appreciate the ones that are humble and admit to how far they've come but also, how much they have to learn. Such was the case when I met Niku. She attended our first Oak Street Social social media seminar and I was struck with her presence. She quietly observed and took notes. Her questions were smart...she was a student of her own brand and better yet, the social media world which plays a giant role in getting the word out about her eponymous brand, Paris312. She was soft spoken but warm...the kind of lady boss that you want to sit down and have coffee with, because I am sure I could learn quite a bit from her, too. She's built a cohesive, feminine brand that marries two great cities - Chicago + Paris - in the form of fun, flirty party goods. Do I have your attention? Good...read on because Niku is a really cool woman!
Tell us a little about Paris312 and the mission of your brand. How did you come up with the idea and how hard was it to get started?
I love hosting parties but I also have an extremely busy life. Once I moved to Chicago, planning for my friends’ parties became even more complex. I could not believe that the only choices offered to me were Party City or perusing through dozens of online shops trying to put together something half-decent. I thought to myself there has to be an easier, ready-made solution that can build beautiful parties. When I couldn’t find an answer to my problem, I thought about how many other people face this issue and decided to come up with the solution myself.
Paris312 was built to do exactly that: allowing young woman to throw the parties they deserve despite the obstacles of an overloaded schedules, out-of-town party, or lack of DIY expertise. Like the Paris312 team, these ladies know what they want, have great taste, and want to enjoy the important moments in their lives without headaches.
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur(s) let alone in the event industry?
I always had a desire to build something for myself and come up with concepts that would help make people's lives better. But growing this felt more like a dream, like how some people want to be a rock star. I wasn’t sure I had what it took to be an entrepreneur. Then, I met my husband. He is a successful entrepreneur currently involved in his 5th start-up. Everything I know of business I learned from watching him and being involved in his projects. I realized that I have a lot more understanding of how a business runs than I thought and I decided to go for it.
2. What one Paris312 moment are you the most proud of and why?
Anytime I hear someone say “Oh I’ve heard of you. You have a really great concept,” it gets me really excited. We are relatively new to the market, having officially launched in the fall, and our concept is unique. Knowing that we have made a good impression and that people appreciate the concept is proof that we are on the right track.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
Non-existent; there are very few typical things about a start-up. You are constantly building and adapting to the demands. One thing we do often, however, are meetings, which we tend to do in the morning. When things are always growing and changing, having constant communication keeps everyone on the same page.
4. How do you describe your personal aesthetic?
Modern, fun, feminine. We call this Parisian flair; the French feel we love adapted to the modern North American women we are (hence the name Paris312).
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
Anthony Bourdain, Elon Musk, Oprah, Coco Chanel… the list goes on. Many people inspire me, but they all have the same qualities—authenticity and passion.
6. If you weren't in the event industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
Being a curious explorer of life and of the human experience, there are many things that have attracted me. A list of careers I have previously considered include: lawyer, esthetician, translator, dating coach, interior designer, and psychologist.
7. It's creative time...what's on your Spotify? What inspires you?
Actually, I never listen to music when I work, it affects my mood too much. I use music for running and working out. For work, I either have an old TV show playing in the background (my version of white noise) or I work in complete silence.
My inspirations come from all around me: stores, fashion, magazines, ads, Pinterest, my team.
8. Favorite restaurant on a Friday night + why?
RPM Italian. Great ambiance, great food and the best cocktail (ask for the Lower Door, it’s not on the menu).
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
Cocktails. I love mixing ingredients to create something unique (story of my life).
10. Favorite weekend getaway destination?
New York City! It’s a hell of a town.
11. 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
12. Bonus question - What's next for Paris 312?
A lot! In the spring, we will be opening our first brick-and-mortar store, where we hope to host events and workshops. Also, we are soon introducing our Event Stylists and our Sweets Concierge services to the public. With our Sweets Concierge, you will be able to have macaron and cupcakes delivered to you along with our Party Boxes. Event Stylists are trained professionals that can set up your party for extra convenience.
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