I didn’t try out for the next season of “The Bachelor,” I haven’t become tight with the Kardashians, and I don’t need any sort of rehab, celebrity or otherwise – but I did recently find myself incorporating reality TV into my work. The assignment: write a feature story for Earnshaw’s Magazine, a trade pub for the children’s apparel industry, about the “birthday party circuit.” I was covering the topic from a retail perspective to see how big the market for children’s birthday parties has gotten and how children’s apparel and accessories vendors can get a piece of that pie.
I immediately thought of the episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” when housewife Taylor Armstrong threw her daughter, Kennedy, a $60,000 birthday party that included tea-kettle roses and scones, a photo shoot and a teenage band performing a birthday anthem. Meanwhile, at the home of housewife Kyle Richards, there was a petting zoo and bounce house for her daughter Portia’s 2nd birthday (grand total: $12,000). And there it was – an engaging lead for my story.
The over-the-top housewives are an extreme example of the bigger picture. I learned that although people have cut back in terms of everyday lifestyle, they’re still willing to spend up when it comes to their children. Evidence of the down economy is scarce when it comes to children’s birthday parties in particular, say retailers and industry experts. More than ever, parents want that special, one-of-a-kind outfit for the birthday child, and competition to host the best party on the block has led to a whole new level of themed birthday accessories, venues, invitations, favors, personalized gifts and more. My sources discussed everything from fashion-themed parties complete with runway shows to celebrating birthdays with an entire week of festivities.
Big business in children’s retail – that will likely be a reality for a long time. More importantly, I found a way to justify my Bravo TV addiction.
Read the full story here (click to view the digital edition of the issue on the same site for the prettier, print version)