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WomanOf the Month 7-06: Melody Biringer, Founder, Crave Party?
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Like most entrepreneurs, Melody Biringer had racked up her fair share of successes and failures. Given the fact that either presents a learning opportunity, she’d amassed plenty of experience in small business. She also knew one thing for sure: The next launch would be one she could put her heart as well as her head into.

She was a workaholic at her present job and as the manager had to wear all the hats. What bugged her even more was she had no time to see her girlfriends. So when she came up with the idea of holding parties for women in tony settings while they indulged in massages, manicures, yoga, and shopping from samplings of select boutiques, not to mention food and drink, it felt right. “I’d been so busy in my other work that I rarely got to see my friends. Initially I loved that idea of helping other women get together with their friends, relax, and do some of the things they enjoy. apostrophe The “Crave Partyapostrophe concept was born.

Biringer held her first party five years ago in Seattle, her home, and sold out. She then held parties every other month, next two in a month but in different cities as she branched out to Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, BC. At her last party in Seattle, 1,000 women streamed through the doors. San Francisco and Phoenix followed, because Biringer had friends in those cities who could assist her. She soon found herself again stretched thin, however, and after meeting women from the Ladies Who Launch business incubator program, she registered for the four-week intensive sessions. “I asked how should I grow? Should I build a huge staff and keep doing this myself, or should I license it to others in different cities? All the people in the program said I should license it. I like to work with women entrepreneurs and I love to mentor others.apostrophe

Since beginning her licensee program a year ago, Crave Party has launched in 13 cities with nearly every licensee having held her first party. What does it take to succeed as a licensee? There are no givens, but Biringer suggests that you need to have the qualities of a “wedding plannerapostrophe. Multitasking is very important.

Vendors, often small women-owned businesses, play an important role in building the parties’ attendance. “They are usually very connected in the community, such as a yoga studio would be, for instance. Meanwhile, the women get to spend time with their girlfriends. It’s a win-win for everyone,apostrophe says Biringer.

“We often pay lip service to spending time with our friends but we seem to need an excuse to do it. That’s why I started the business. The thing I love is that everyone is helping everyone else.apostrophe

The media has been supportive, beguiled in part by the fact that women take on the Crave Party tradition of wearing pajamas to the festivities, no matter the swanky venue.

Biringer enjoys the start-up process so much that she’s launching another site, www.startupjunkie.com, to nurture her work as a business coach. “I advocate that everyone should have her own business,apostrophe she says.

Her entrepreneurial streak derives from her family’s berry farm business, Biringer Farms, where she began working as a kid. After high school (she never attended college), she opened a small furniture shop that she ran successfully. In her twenties she launched Biringer Farms Products and developed jam, cookies and other retail products.

She is affiliated with Ladies Who Launch and has a link to the organization from her site at www.craveparty.com. For more information on becoming a Crave Party licensee, write to crave@craveparty.com.

If you are interested in attending the upcoming Crave Market Party in Denver, please visit www.cravepartydenver.com.