We are overjoyed to be able to announce to you today that – after a LONG time coming – Phase 1 of our brand new “HWTM Social” website is now LIVE!
And, honestly, “overjoyed” might even be a bit of an understatement! I usually try to keep this blog from being overly “personal”, as I know that the reason you guys come here is to find inspiration for your own celebrations… but since this is such a monumental thing for us, I hope you’ll indulge me for a day as I share a little of the background behind what it took to make this project a reality, and why we’re so excited for this next step. Here goes:
THE BACKGROUND STORY
This social site is this is a dream/idea that Sonny and I have had for YEARS. The first time we kicked it around was back in 2007, right after the launch of our first “main website” (formerly hostesswiththemostess.com – the “parent” site to the blog).
I immediately realized the limitations of that first site right after we put it up. (That’s always how it happens, right?!) I also immediately realized how many talented people were out there – both event professionals and people that just loved throwing a good party and had some seriously style – and how there literally were not enough hours in the day for me to share all this amazing work via just the blog. We dreamt of a new website where all of these people could share their photos/work, save their favorite ideas from others and keep them organized into sets, “talk” to and connect with each other directly, inspire others, and be inspired.
So, after mapping out the idea for a few months (we still both had full time jobs in addition to HWTM, so we had to find every bit of extra time to do it) – we finally started talking to programmers in early 2008 about what we were looking to do and what it would take to bring this idea to life. Luckily, since my background is in graphic design, I was able to actually design the website myself, but we definitely needed to hire a company to actually code the site and get the functionality working.
So I excitedly spelled out the details of what I wanted it to do…and then “reality” quickly gave us a quick slap in the face when we started to receive 6-figure estimates for the programming alone. And I’m talking 6 figures with NO decimal points. Long story short, the prices were rivaling what we’d paid for our first house (and to put things in perspective, might I remind you that we live in Southern CALIFORNIA!). Um…Ouch.
To say we felt a little deflated would be putting it mildly. I really had my heart set on creating this amazing site with all kinds of bells and whistles for every aspect of party planning, from creating inspiration boards and planning all the details to sharing the finished event. We’d been expecting a significant expense, but not THAT significant, so it was time for Plan B.
We didn’t want to give up on the dream altogether, but we realized we had some serious saving and bell-and-whistle-slashing to do if we wanted to make this happen and pay for it ourselves…so that’s exactly what we did for the next couple years. We modified the original plan to include the major elements that we could build upon later, worked as hard as we possibly could on the blog and several offline partnerships to make extra $ to pay for the programming, and actually qualified for a pretty decent SBA loan early last year, which is when we finally commenced on the programming. (Thank you, Wells Fargo, for believing in us!)
Cut to more than a year after we originally funded the loan and officially “broke ground”, and we’re FINALLY up and running! I can’t even tell you how much work this project has been (and will continue to be)… how many times our brains literally felt like they were twisting in knots trying to figure out how to make one thing work without throwing off another, how many tears of frustration were shed along the way when even working ’round the clock and sacrificing sleep, weekends, and vacations didn’t seem to give us enough hours in the day, how often we dreamt of having a huge team of people and something other than a shoe-string budget to help move things along at a much different pace. I’m sure that – just like us – our friends and family were starting to wonder if this thing was ever going to actually exist…so thank God, here we are today… and it finally does! =)
What you see today is Phase 1… Phase 2 is launching later this year (sometime in the Fall) and will bring about a new “Party Pro” section that will help you to not only be inspired, but to also find the people and products that you need to help bring your event to life – whether it’s a birthday party, a wedding, a holiday get together, or whatever your reason to celebrate. Of course I’m already thinking about what we want to do in Phase 3… but probably need to get through 1 and 2 first!
Thank YOU so much for sticking with us along the way while we were working on this project kind of quietly “in the background”. Because of the time it was taking and our limited resources, I didn’t want to talk about it much on the blog or anywhere else until we were for sure close to launching, but without your constant support and kind messages through the blog, our Facebook page, Twitter, and via email, it would’ve been even more difficult to keep on keepin’ on… so thank you for helping us making this project a reality. As it grows with more members, content, and additional functionality, we hope that you will truly find it to be a useful tool in planning your celebrations, and that HWTM will continue to be a resource of inspiration and eye candy for years to come!
P.S. Check out my HWTM Profile here… couldn’t resist! Hope to see yours soon! *wink*