Kathy Garing of Archbald was heartbroken as she watched her ordinarily happy-go-lucky father, Mietek Wadolowski, battle stage IV colon cancer.
Diagnosed in 2019, Wadolowski had to retire from his 40-plus years of carpentry work to undergo treatment. Last August, Garing brought her dad a sketch idea for a unique project she dreamed up, hoping to call on his carpentry skills and reignite his usual spark.
She never dreamed the idea for Party Pop Co — a full-service event staging and planning company specializing in balloon and marquee letter displays, event prop rentals and more — would turn into something so popular she’s in the midst of moving from a home-based business to a physical location in Dickson City. Through it all, Wadolowski encouraged his daughter, telling her, “Don’t cut your dreams, work hard and you will persevere.”
Garing launched the business on Facebook and, with her father, designed and created each letter of the alphabet — starting with L, O, V and E — for party backdrops. As the business took off, moving from designing for local friends to taking on events for customers as far away as New York City, she collaborated with Wadolowski to create whimsical, striking and dramatic balloon sculptures and backdrops.
In addition to referencing their work with balloons, the company's name also is a nod to her father, an immigrant who moved to the USA very young and persevered.
From the start, Party Pop Co. has filled a need in the community, Garing said. Their very first Facebook post immediately led to three party bookings. Now, they tackle between eight to 12 parties a weekend and are booked completely through the summer.
It’s outgrown the Garings’ garage and become a family affair. Along with the father-daughter duo, Garing’s husband, Jonathan, and two young kids, Alek and Lukas, handle all planning, building and setup — and everything in between — to make the client’s vision a reality.
Kathy says her husband has been an equal part in the business success, whose skill with PVC piping and carpentry and his balloon wizardry help create much of the team’s work. He juggles his Party Pop duties with a job at a local hospital.
“Everything is going great,” Jonathan Garing said. “Kathy’s artistry and skill has only improved greatly as the work continues. In between patients at the hospital, I find myself creating to-do lists and crafting plans. Every minute outside of work is pouring into our labor of love.”
Nearly everything used by Party Pop Co. is handmade, aside from some piping and metal needed for framing displays. All balloons used in displays are of the industry’s best biodegradable material and can be left with clients after an event or cleaned up by the Party Pop Co. team.
The idea for the company came from Kathy Garing’s love for helping with parties for family and friends. The company fills an average of 2,000 balloons through a weekend and have a wide selection from 3D helium letters and numbers to wide arches and other balloon-integrated displays, as well as fully customizable letter displays and colors for any event. They also offer other party-related supplies, with their custom dessert table a favorite of many clients, she said. Networking with other vendors at each event helps promote Party Pop Co. among local venues.
After some logistical setbacks — including obtaining permits and making some repairs — their shop at 735 Main St., Dickson City, is expected to open soon. Kathy Garing hopes having a physical location will help inspire future clients, who will be able to see displays and products in person and discuss ideas with the Party Pop Co team face to face. It will also give the company more storage space for a growing inventory and get the business out of the Garings’ garage.
They will offer personalized DIY kits for purchase as well as balloon sets and other products for events that do not need display services. She plans on hiring one to three additional staff members to help meet the growing demand.
“All of life’s moments — the big and small — should be celebrated momentously,” Kathy Garing said.