Cousins Jeanne Chan and Gloria Wong Tritasavit grew up surrounded by family gatherings. It’s no surprise then that when they grew up, they both built careers around sharing their love for parties. Gloria became an event planner while Jeanne regularly wrote about entertaining on her lifestyle blog, Shop Sweet Things. They dreamed about starting a business together, initially thinking they would open a chic event rental space, but ultimately decided they wanted to reach party enthusiasts all over the world. The result is Harlow & Grey, an online shop for stylish, modern party goods.
Going from event planning and blogging to operating an online store is a big jump. What made it a good fit?
JEANNE: I’m glad we went with the product route because I was already blogging about beautiful lifestyle products. It felt very natural to go into developing products that would stay true to my core. We both share a mutual love for stylish entertaining, and we both also realized that party planning could be very time-consuming, so we decided to come out with a partyware line that would help today’s modern woman entertain with style and ease.
What have you learned about yourself thanks to starting your own business?
GLORIA: I’ve learned that I’m completely obsessive compulsive. I create agendas for meetings that involve only Jeanne and myself. I’ve implemented naming conventions for our files. I’m into systems and efficiency. I value both my left brain and right brain. After all, I’m also COO (Chief Creative Officer) of our company and design all the products.
JEANNE: I’ve always known that I’m a people-person, but starting this business confirmed it. I love being the voice for the company as well as building the brand and connecting with our customers. It sounds cliché, but nothing makes me more happy than when our customers are happy.
Unlike many business partners, you’ve known each other your whole lives. Have you learned anything about each other?
GLORIA: I’ve learned that Jeanne is also obsessive compulsive, and that’s why we get along! This really should be no surprise since we come from the same lineage of mothers who organize the insides of drawers for leisure! In all seriousness, I had always thought Jeanne and I would make great business partners. However, after this first year in business, I can definitely affirm this to be true. We exhibit the same work ethic and share an extremely similar sense of aesthetics. So similar, in fact, that we almost always show up to meetings or events unintentionally wearing matching outfits.
JEANNE: I thought I was organized, but Gloria is really organized! Which is great because we need that to run a successful business. I also admire how she holds very high standards in everything she does, and I personally thrive in that type of environment myself. She’s definitely a dreamer! And very articulate about colors!
We’re entering prime party throwing season. What’s one thing every party needs?
JEANNE: A good playlist and a warm host/hostess who is able to make their guests feel at ease. A good dessert spread and nice party decor make good ice-breakers!
GLORIA: Yes! Every great party needs a good dessert spread. It’s an opportunity for hosts to wow their guests with a cool display and yummy sweets. You don’t need to fill an entire table. It can be as small as a bar cart. It just needs to be put together nicely. I would recommend some decor for the background (like our Harlow & Grey gold triangle garland), and vessels with different heights and diameters for dimension (like a mix of high/low cake stands, platters, bowls, and trivets).
Great advice. Getting a little more personal, what is your favorite holiday tradition?
JEANNE: Now that I have kids, I definitely enjoy seeing them open presents on Christmas day. The excitement on their faces is priceless! I also love our annual white elephant gift exchange with extended family. There’s a good 30 of us so the game can easily go on for over an hour!
GLORIA: Yep, same here! My thoughts exactly.
You two sound like a team with shared priorities! See Harlow & Grey’s Noir Collection in the slideshow!