Andrea Harris-Lyon was tired of buying generic party supplies for her children’s parties that didn’t feature any children of color. She found the lack of diversity incredibly disappointing. So she decided to create her own line, Anna+Pookie Party Supplies. The Lawrenceville, Georgia-based entrepreneur’s four-year old business offers eight unique paper party themes, including four superhero themes for boys and girls as well as ballerinas, mermaids, princesses, and pirates– all of which depict Black and Brown children.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
I realized I had two options when it came to purchasing party supplies for my child: I could either pick party products that were generic and not very creative, or I could create unique and inspiring party products that celebrate and represent children of color. Spoiler alert – I chose the latter and the rest is history.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
There is no one else doing what we are doing. I created our brand to show children of color and their mothers that they matter and are worthy of being celebrated. As a mother, I was tired of searching for and complaining about the lack of party supplies that represent my child. There are very few ballerinas or princess party favors that celebrate the whimsical imaginations of children of color. Seeing a huge need, I created Anna+Pookie.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
As a Black female, one of my biggest successes to date is identifying a need and going through with creating a solution. I would say my second biggest success is that I have several pending partnerships and collaborations with larger brands in the works.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Gaining brand awareness and honestly finding the time to market the business in addition to all the responsibilities I have as a solo entrepreneur.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Funding is always a challenge for smaller brands. It is difficult to identify funding sources.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
It may sound cliche, but my biggest tip for other start up entrepreneurs is to do it. Don’t let fear or doubt stop you from going after your dreams. And trust your gut!
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Black and Brown children deserve representation and to be celebrated. My passion for making sure this happens is my inspiration and motivation.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
Who is your most important role model?
My mom. Although she is retired, she successfully ran a business for over 20 years.◼