As the founder and owner of Angi & Co, an event planning and design firm, Angela Yu Bae, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, knows how to throw a fantastic party. Ten years ago, after a career in PR and marketing, Angie was in the throes of early motherhood and planning elaborate birthday parties for her two daughters with homemade favors and decor. A lifelong crafter, Angela knew that when friends started asking her to help them plan and execute their kid’s parties, she had found her calling. Fast forward to now, and Angi & Co has grown to nine team members and is the brand behind countless weddings, corporate, and charity events, as well as consulting on event projects. And one look at her Instagram account of gorgeous color schemes, creative favor ideas, and beautiful table settings, you can see why her in-demand event expertise is booked out months in advance. We caught up with this very busy Cresskill mom of two to find out which particular event was a game-changer in how she approached her business, the celeb who inspired her DIY know-how, and the NJ resort that’s the perfect getaway for a family or a group of moms. (Feature photo credit: Tatiana Teo Photography)
Angie, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, applying the finishing touches at a gala. Photo Credit: Tatiana Tea Photography
Tell us about your family and background. My husband, Yong, and I have been married for 17 years and have two daughters, Lila, 14, and Keira, 11. Though I was born in Shanghai, China, I’ve lived on the east coast most of my life, first in Manhattan and then later in Bergen County. After a short stint in Battery Park City with my husband, we moved back to NJ to raise our family, starting in Edgewater, followed by Fort Lee, and now Cresskill because we found a lovely home in a quiet area, and it was an excellent fit for our family.
Please share a bit about your career background and how you decided to launch your own business. Post-college, I worked in communications/PR, marketing, and product development. A big part of what I did that I enjoyed throughout the first ten years of my career was event logistics and event experience. Then, I took some time off from working and started my family, and I was planning my children’s birthday parties. I’m Chinese, and my husband is Korean, and in Korean culture, a child’s first birthday is a very, very big deal. I planned my children’s first birthdays and created some DIY décor for the celebrations. Soon some of my friends and acquaintances were asking to borrow my décor for their celebrations and to help plan, set up, and help out at their parties. I’m very grateful for those moms I worked with in my early years; because of those experiences, my business happened organically.
You’ve been a lifelong creative. Was there anyone that influenced you or introduced you to explore your creativity? My mom gave me a good sense of hospitality—she was always the best host and made people feel welcome. Planning and executing events is an extension of her. And my dad (who is now retired) is a general contractor. I watched him work and renovate so much of our home—using your hands to make things more beautiful is something I learned from him. And I have to give a shout-out to Martha Stewart—I’d watch all the segments of her show and knew I could create whatever I wanted because she made everything seem so doable.
Angie, with her husband, Yong, and their daughters, Lila, 14, and Keira, 11. Photo Credit: Rou Shoots
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you run your business? I want them to find their own paths and interests, but I hope they have my work ethic and see that if they work hard, they can accomplish what they put their mind to, and if there are obstacles in the way or things are not going smoothly, they can always get creative and find a way. A sense of innovation and creativity will serve them well.
Does your family ever get involved in your business? When you work in the event space, you work on the weekends. When the kids were young, my husband and parents were very supportive when I had to be at an event physically–they always had everything covered. I’ve always appreciated that and will never forget it. When I started and had a small car, and I’d have to tote around too many things to fit, my husband was always able to make it work—jokingly, he was the Tetris Master. Also, he’s always made himself available to help me with whatever small detail needs attention, whether assembling something or him dropping off things I’ve forgotten to bring to an event. The kids also offer to help out from time to time when needed.
An Angi & Co. Team Retreat because getting away from it all is a great way to stay focused, motivated, and energized.
Please share an event that stands out in your mind for whatever reason. A year or two after launching Angi & Co., I was hired to do a nonprofit’s largest fundraising event of the year. Zimele USA works to fund programming in South Africa to help women become small-scale entrepreneurs who sustain independent livelihoods to benefit their families and communities. I went to South Africa to see their impact firsthand, and that visit opened my eyes and changed my perspective on my role as a business person and what I should focus on. I went from being task-oriented to being purpose-driven and using my abilities to help them raise as much money as possible.
How has Angi & Co changed since you first launched it? I officially launched Angi & Co. about ten years ago, and in that time, two areas have changed the most. First, my team has undoubtedly grown in size. Initially, I’d plan and set up events with a personal friend or two when I needed extra help. Now, we’re a team of nine. Two of my team members are also event designers/planners, so they work with clients directly, allowing me to service many more clients and showcase these other designers who want to be creative but also be part of a bigger team. The second way we’ve changed is in the type of events we handle—we’ve grown to include all kinds of events like birthday celebrations, bridal and baby showers, engagement and anniversary parties, and weddings and corporate events.
A recent Corporate Holiday Party courtesy of our NJMOMpreneur and her team. Photo Credit: Rou Shoots
What’s the most challenging thing about being a mompreneur? Like many women who work for themselves, I find it extremely hard to switch out of work mode. In this day and age of technology, I’m very accessible by phone, email, and text, so stepping away from work and focusing on my off time is my biggest struggle. Setting my phone to the “do not disturb” mode and closing and putting away my laptop will make a big difference and is something I’m working towards.
What do you think is the secret to your success? I have a great support system around me. My family, girlfriends, and work team are the best source of support and encouragement and always cheer me on.
Please share some of your favorite NJ businesses. Kailani Shave Ice & Ramen in New Milford is a recently opened favorite inspired by Hawaiian shaved ice. We’ll start with ramen and then round out the meal with shaved ice for dessert, and we couldn’t be happier about having it all in one place. I’m also a big fan of Amazebooths, a photo booth company I work with at many events. We have so many digital photos on our phones and rarely print anything out, so it’s great to have a physical print for an event takeaway. We’re also at Mochinut Tenafly at least once a week. We love their Korean hot dogs, bubble tea, and mochi donuts. And we just tried Honey Day Café in Glen Rock and are so impressed with it. It has an all-day brunch with a Korean twist to the menu, and it’s good.
What are some places in NJ that you and your family enjoy visiting? During the pandemic, we discovered Grounds for Sculpture, and though it’s a bit far from us, we loved it so much that we even thought about getting a membership. I also love Crystal Springs, which is excellent for a short, quick mom’s getaway and perfect for families. And we love to visit farms for fruit and flower picking. Alstede Farms, Terhune Orchards and Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm are three favorites.
What’s your best piece of advice for a mompreneur just starting? Don’t underestimate your value. Know your worth!
For more information on Angela Yu Bae and Angi & Co., please see their website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.