Jenny Van Der Kar has always wanted to start her own business. As a child, she played at designing packaging for her father, Skip’s, business (he liked her creations so much he actually used a few), and while she was a student at Lake Highlands High School, she spent a summer filming the Royal Oaks Country Club’s swim team practices and meets, creating a video recap to show at their end-of-summer banquet. Her videos sold out, and an entrepreneur was born.
Jenny went on to graduate from the University of Texas in 2011 with a degree in advertising, and she now lives in Atlanta and works remotely for a Houston software company, but she recently launched side gig – Stag & Hen.
Stag & Hen is an online retail shop selling everything needed to host a bachelorette party, but if you haven’t attended one of these parties lately, you may not realize they’ve become an industry all their own.
“Bachelorette parties have morphed from an evening out with friends to destination weekends for 10+ girls,” says Jenny, who planned her first for fellow LHHS 2007 grad Ashley Bedsole, her roommate and Zeta Tau Alpha sister at UT. “Basically one or two girls are tasked with planning a mini-vacation, managing the budget and developing an itinerary to keep the whole group entertained – that’s a lot of pressure. Beyond this, it’s hard finding tasteful party decorations and favors that coordinate well together. I spent a lot of time shopping for cute stuff and was never able to find a one-stop-shop with everything I needed.”
Seeing a need, Jenny stepped in to create an online shop providing everything she had been searching for but couldn’t find. I asked Jenny how she came up with the name.
“I’ve spent some time in the U.K. – we go about twice a year,” says Jenny. “They’re called ‘Stag Dos’ and ‘Hen Parties’ there, so our name is a play on that. I wanted to put a modern, fun twist on it.”
Stag & Hen sells party decorations, wine tumblers, clothing, “dare” cards, cups, sunglasses and more. Prices range from $4-30.
“Some people like to do crazy, going-out parties. Some like to do fun, seaside beach-themes. This is where the bride’s personality really comes out. This is their last chance to ‘go big or go home.’ They are in charge.”
“I am on a shoestring budget, so instead of hiring a professional photographer, I read every DIY product photography blog out there and had three of my good friends – one of whom is a novice photographer – fly in from Austin to help me with a photo shoot. We rented equipment and an AirBNB and set up a mini photography studio. It was a ton of work, but we made a weekend out of it and had so much fun. I think the reason I liked this so much is because this was the moment my vision finally came to life. It was so exciting to load all the photos onto the website – suddenly my idea was real.”
“The most difficult thing has been balancing my time,” says Jenny, who still works full time at her “day job.” “Sometimes it can be tough finding the time I need/want to devote to Stag & Hen. Luckily, I am very passionate about the endeavor, so any spare second I get I devote to writing a blog post, researching marketing opportunities or working on the finances. Sourcing the products was also a bit of a challenge. Obtaining a wholesale license, researching pricing and determining the right quantities to buy was a big puzzle, but it sure was fun once they all arrived in the mail.”
Jenny says the work to create her new business is worth it, and she says the work young women put in to make hen parties fun is worth it, too.
“Growing up, we used to get together all the time – slumber parties, sorority sisterhood outings, for Spring Break we would rent a house together – after college that all stopped. We grew up and moved on. These acts of girl time friendship stop, but this is the adult version of a slumber party – it’s girl’s weekend girl time, and people go all out for them. It’s a fun way to express yourself. It’s the last fling before the ring.”
You can follow Jenny’s blog, with tips on making your Stag and Hen party a success, here.