What happens when your favourite shop in Yarraville could potentially close down if it doesn’t find a new owner? You buy it of course! Well that’s what Yarraville mum Amanda Parker Jones did and that shop is everyone’s favourite party store, Invite Me! Leaving a corporate career in the hair and beauty industry behind, Amanda took over “the store that makes her happy” 2 years ago.

First and foremost, besides running the coolest store around, you’re a mum. Tell us about your little family.

Well, we are a little family of three. Our boy Hunter is 6 and is my world! My amazing husband is a successful food photographer and so collectively we are a creative bunch (and often butt heads!).  His work schedule can be very hectic with long days so like many, we do the juggle on a daily basis.

Your background is in the hair and beauty industry, including  a freelance makeup artist and sales with the likes of L’Oreal. How did you end up buying a retail shop??

This is a very short story! Invite Me was always my go to for gifts and just walking into the shop (when I was a customer) gave me a sense of happiness but also calm. I was in the shop one Sunday morning doing the usual “rush to party and need a present” run and I got talking to the previous owner who was in the store at the time.

During our chat she says to me “You should buy the shop”. Of course my response was a flat out “I don’t want a retail shop!”. Looking back that was a really quick and blunt reply! I thought about it and my head was going crazy and I thought to myself – how hard could it be? I also was very selfish in thinking that this cute little inner west institution could not close down.. after all where else would I go and get my gifts from! I have always had a creative flair (also being a freelance MUA for 15 years) and so visually I knew I could make this work. Anyhoo… 4 days later I bought the cutest shop ever! I have never doubted myself once that I made the wrong decision. As my husband would tell me, “if anyone can make this work, you can”.

What sort of products can we find at Invite Me? What are your favourites?

I like to refer to the Invite Me space is very fluid. We find collections that make us smile and I believe this is one of the reasons why our little space is so successful. Invite Me is all about party with premium ballooning and party ware. Invite Me is also where you can find pressies and fun things for both big and little kids. I spend a ton of time online sourcing new party ware, decorations and gifting. No tackiness and licensed product here!

I am obsessed with our glitter confetti pouches and cosmetic bags. I am also obsessed with balloons in every shape and form. We are known for our larger than life ballooning, including our dressed jumbo confetti balloons. Lastly, greeting cards. I am mad for a good greeting card. You’ll understand what I mean when you see our range!

What is your favourite part about running Invite Me?

Hands down it’s our customers and our local community. Invite Me wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of our beautiful customers. They are what make Invite Me and they keep me going. I must say I also love to source new things and get a kick out of being the first to introduce it to our market. I am also passionate about visual optimism, so I do get excited when I VM our windows or work on a custom project.

If you could choose any party theme, boy or girl, what would be your favourite?

That’s a tough one! There are so many great themed ranges but definitely a collaboration of the Meri Meri Into The Wild x Meri Meri Tropical Flamingos ranges. Who doesn’t love a flamingo or a toucan shaped napkin with a splash of metallic.

Does Hunter get to host the best parties now out of all the kids at school?

Hunter is a New Year’s Day baby which makes it often awkward to have a party on his birth day. In his younger years it was great because he had no opinion of what theme he would like. Now it’s very different (last year was a Pokemon Disco Party). We are lucky we have the ability to throw Hunter the best party. It’s all about the party bag.

How has the growing world of online shopping affected Invite Me?

Not at all. We offer our customers a unique customer service experience when they step into our store. The inner west is a community who loves to support local business and so we are more than a transaction – which is what online shopping is. It’s human nature to be tactile; we want to use our senses in our purchasing behaviours. Our customers come from far and wide (including interstate) and the ability to physically see a product can make their decision making process clearer and having fun and enjoying the experience. Invite Me is a sensory experience.

What has been some of the biggest challenges being a working parent?

Like all working parents, it’s all about the juggle. Its also about finding the home/work balance and giving Hunter as much of my time that he needs. It’s also being everything to everyone and the fact that you just don’t stop. I do get mum guilt when I cannot make it to some of  Hunters’ school functions or I pick him up late from after school care.

Have you got any funny parenting stories (or fails) you’d like to share with us?

Where do I start!! They are more fails really. Couldn’t tell you how many times I had forgotten to order Hunter’s lunch orders until he comes home and reminds me that I forgot to order for him. Apparently Uber Eats is not an option! And as for sports days, who says you can’t run in school shoes!!

Motherhood has taught me…

that I couldn’t possibly love anyone or anything more. It’s also taught me to pick my battles…Oh and patience. Lots of it.

You can find Invite Me at 66 Anderson Street Yarraville or at www.inviteme.com.au

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