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When a Midnight Dream Becomes a Business

Jordan Jones, founder and CEO of Packed Party

Packed Party started with a dream. I'm not talking about a dream in the abstract sense – I mean a literal, middle of the night, woke me up from my sleep kind of dream, as if the idea was being sent to me.

The year was 2013. I was 23 and had just uprooted my entire life to "try out" the San Francisco lifestyle. Shortly after, the realities of living as a 20-something in one of the nation's most expensive cities while working a normal 9-to-5 quickly set in, and I found myself doubting my move.

Then one night that July, in the midst of a truly low moment, I called my mom and complained about my situation. She promptly told me I was throwing myself a Pity Party and to go to sleep. Today, I'm thankful I listened to her because shortly after getting off the phone and heading to bed I had a dream about sending myself a physical "party for one" package, woke up in the middle of the night and wrote an entire business plan for Packed Party, a lifestyle gifting company that lets you send a "party for one" to a friend (or even yourself).

On November 7, 2013, the Packed Party website went live and my dream business – both literally and figuratively – took off. At that time, I was still working full-time at a startup in Silicon Valley, squeezing this new venture into every spare moment I could find. Packed Party quickly became my side-hustle – a dream born into reality through sheer passion, persistence, and lots and lots of coffee.

'Failure was not an option'

As Packed Party picked up steam over platforms like Instagram, I found it increasingly difficult to balance the job that paid my bills with the one I wanted to do, and began questioning whether it was time for me to take the plunge and fully commit to building my Packed Party empire. Soon enough, the decision was made for me: I was fired from my job after Packed Party was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. At that point, I had a small team working with me – all of whom were working for very little because they, like me, were truly passionate about my vision and the company we were creating – so failure was, simply put, not an option. Packed Party became my one and only focus from there, and I've never looked back.

It's been four years since Packed Party first began, and in that time we've seen some incredible growth. What started as an after-work side-hustle has become a thriving company with office spaces, a warehouse, employees, customers across the US and major brand partnerships that include Rebecca Minkoff, Soap & Glory, and Reese Witherspoon's brand, Draper James, to name a few.

We recently made the decision to relocate yet again (this time to Austin, Texas) to lay down roots in a city that provides unlimited potential for Packed Party as we expand our product line beyond party packages and more into single "party product" gift offerings such as Disco Drinks, travel accessories, keychains and much more. It's been an extremely exciting time, to say the least.

Packed Party's Disco DrinksPacked PartyCredit: Packed Party

With that growth has come a new set of challenges; ones that require us to think beyond the creative into the logistics and technicalities of running a global business. For someone like me who gravitates more towards the creative elements of the business - designing creative and unique products to share with friends and family is my love language, after all - it was critical that I found the right people and tools to manage operations and generate growth. Two tools in particular have proved instrumental in that regard:

Our social media channels: Packed Party is a self-funded startup and certainly in the beginning we didn't have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on our marketing and advertising efforts, but I knew how valuable it would be for our very visual brand to tell our story through a visual medium. We turned to Instagram and Facebook – places where we knew our customers were spending their time – and worked strategically to share the Packed Party story in a way that was not only "pretty" and colorful, but deeply resonated with our audience.

It worked. Instagram in particular helped put Packed Party on the map with both customers and brand partners and remains, in a lot of ways, the backbone of our customer engagement strategy.

Our ecommerce platform: Any startup will tell you how quickly technology can turn from your best friend to your worst enemy, but in a business where things are moving 1,000 m.p.h. and changing constantly, there's just not time to wrestle with complicated technology tools. This is especially true of an ecommerce platform, which an online business like Packed Party relies on. Finding a good one that can adapt and scale with our growth has lifted such a weight off our already-full shoulders. Through our ecommerce platform, BigCommerce, we have the ability to customize orders, ship to multiple addresses, and provide a simplified checkout, all of which ensure our customers have a seamless site experience and shop with us time and time again when it comes to gifting.

Since Day One of Packed Party, my passion for creating products that evoke experiences and bring joy to others has served as a constant driver to be a little bit better than the day before, and as a result, these last four years have been some of the most challenging (and truly rewarding) years of my life. I've watched this company blossom from an overnight dream to a thriving brand lining shelves of national retailers and seeing that same relentless passion within my team, I know this is truly just the beginning for us.

About the author: Jordan Jones is the founder and CEO of Packed Party, a lifestyle gifting business that allows you to send a "party for one" package and single party products to yourself or a friend.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.

Image Credit: Packed Party