- Packed Party started as a side hustle for founder Jordan Jones and has since raised $2 million in funding without a single unprofitable year – but it wasn’t without struggles.
- Business Insider chatted with the 29-year-old female founder to learn about the biggest mistake she’s made in her career and how it affected her business.
- Jones said that the one mistake that sticks out is how quickly she chose to hire for certain roles.
- Here’s how she’s changed her mindset and operations based on this experience to further grow her brand.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
What started as a side hustle out of a 500-square-foot San Francisco apartment for founder Jordan Jones has since become a fast-growing lifestyle brand with $2 million in funding — from angel investors like Steve Hicks and early Facebook executive Blake Chandlee — operating out of a 9,000-square-foot warehouse in Austin, Texas.
Jones founded Packed Party with the idea of themed party packages, and has since evolved the brand to include cheerful, colorful, and bold products, including accessories, bags, drinkware, home and office supplies, and more.
At the time she started Packed Party, Jones was 23 and working in marketing for a data analytics company, but was summarily fired after the firm noticed press coverage about Packed Party and realized Jones probably had other priorities.
And yet, six years later, the brand has 15 employees, has grown its total customer base by 80% in the last year, recently announced a partnership with Whole Foods, and has had over 200% annual revenue growth since its inception. What it hasn’t had is a single unprofitable year.
But even the most successful startup founders make mistakes. Jones shared with Business Insider the No. 1 mistake she’s made as a young female founder and what she wishes she’d known when starting her company.
Because Packed Party has grown quickly in its six years of business, and because Jones started the company without much in the way of formal management experience, she initially felt pressure to put hires in place to fill an immediate void.
“I’ve never made a good hire that has propelled the company forward by plugging what felt like an exploding leak from the floor in a survival-type moment,” she said. “Once the ball gets rolling with your business and you have thousands of customers needing things, it’s easy to reach for a resume that feels like a B+ rather than wait for an A player to come through the door.”
The “good enough” hire Jones made, in one particular case, said “yes” to too many tasks and then had trouble completing them. They missed a purchase order deadline, and the resulting chargeback hurt Packed Party’s bottom line. “Communication in our business is key,” explained Jones. “A lack thereof always ends in financial issues when you’re dealing with tight deadlines and inventory.”
Another hire made it difficult for Jones to build processes, which, in turn, affected the morale of future A-plus hires. “A few people today on our team walked into a couple of operational nightmares early on that they’ve been amazing at sorting through,” she said. “For me, the quicker we closed the door on relationships not serving the company, the better off we were financially and culturally.”
Jones recognized she was part of the problem, typically hiring candidates based off gut feelings and instincts, similar to how she approached the brand’s design process. “I put a lot of emotion into it,” she said. “I was asking people about their mom, dog, cousin, and their favorite product.”
And, because she’s young, early hires often saw her as less of a boss and more of a friend. “Our brand is so fun, so there was — and still is — an expectation for me to stay in this playful, creative light,” said Jones. “You can be friendly at work but, at the end of the day, you’re both there to get the job done. If it’s not getting done, it isn’t going to work.”
Jones has since passed the responsibility of hiring and management to Packed Party’s president and HR representative, both of whom handle recruitment and serve as employees’ direct managers. She stills meets candidates to say “hi” and to ensure they’re a cultural fit, but tries to primarily focus on her strengths: design and partnerships.
“Our president and HR person ask the hard-hitting questions and leave emotion at the door,” said Jones. “Today, as a multimillion-dollar brand, it actually runs a lot smoother not having my hands gripping the wheel. I don’t have to do everything for us to be right side up; you take your time and put smart people in place, and your life gets a lot easier.”