When our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, Katerina Karakavidis, was growing up, she worked at her family’s diner, developing a keen sense of hard work and a passion for the hospitality industry. As a mom of two, she always wanted to show her kids the principles of hard work in having her own family business, but the timing wasn’t right. Fast forward to when her kids were teens, and she saw an opportunity post-pandemic—parties were starting up again, and Katerina knew this was her moment. She created a business concept and booked clients, officially launching P&G Party Helpers in South Jersey in August 2022. Katerina manages everything from the coordination to bringing her team of bartenders, servers, and general helpers to the event so that every client feels like a guest at their party. We caught up with this Williamstown mama to find out the one thing she wished she had known before she started her business, the essentials for a successful party, and the local winery she loves to kick back at in the fall.
What led you to launch P&G Party Helpers? Though I worked in the dental field briefly, it just wasn’t my thing, and I knew I’d be happiest working in the hospitality industry eventually. Growing up, I worked in my family’s diner—I’ve always loved working in food, beverage, hospitality, all of that stuff–it’s always been my passion. Though I can’t say that I had an “aha moment, the timing of this just came together and felt so right. My son was driving, and both kids didn’t need me as much as they had when they were younger, and people weren’t social distancing from the pandemic anymore–they were having parties again. I started working on the business concept in June of 2022, and by August, I had officially launched and had bookings scheduled on the calendar. Once I decided to do it, it came together pretty fast.
What do you wish you had known before launching your business that might have made it less stressful initially? That no one is Superwoman. It would have been nice to realize from the get-go that it’s impossible to juggle everything and that it’s necessary and okay to ask for help when needed. My husband has my back if I can’t make it to a sports practice for my kids or get to the grocery store.
Was there anyone who served as a role model or inspired you? Yes. My parents immigrated to the US from Greece in 1970 when my older sister was three. They wanted the American dream: if you work hard, you can build a good life for yourself and your family. They had very little financial stability and very little English language, but they were motivated to make it, so in 1976, they opened their business, a diner, and worked their butts off. Seeing them work so hard and the sacrifices they made to build a life here and provide for us was a huge thing for me—it was so inspiring. I definitely got my work ethic from them.
Business-wise, does your family ever help out? It would be ideal for me to be at every event, but when we have multiple events happening simultaneously, and I can’t be in more than one place, my son, nephews, and nieces will help out. It’s comforting to know that when I’m in a jam and can’t split myself three ways, client satisfaction and the reputation of my business are in very trusted hands.
What are your best tips for throwing a successful party? Don’t stress over the little things. If you have good food, entertaining music, and set up a relaxing and fun environment, your guests will have a fantastic time, and it will be stress-free and enjoyable for you, too.
Your business is still relatively new, but have you considered what’s next? My five-year plan is to be in multiple states. It will be a lot of hard work, but I’d love to expand—that’s my goal.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you follow your dreams? I hope their takeaway is to value hard work, as I learned by seeing my parents work hard. Of course, it’s nice to have things easy, but when things are just handed to you, it’s not ideal in the long run. It’s a different and much more rewarding feeling when you work hard for something and have it pay off. You appreciate things more.
Please share some of your favorite NJ businesses and spots. We’d go to Whitman Diner for breakfast or lunch even if my family didn’t own it. Order the eggs benedict with a mimosa or bloody mary –it’s perfection. Another go-to for us is Renault Winery in Egg Harbour City. It’s great any time, but we especially love it when you can sit by the fire pit and listen to live music in the fall. And Izakaya at the Borgata in Atlantic City is our happy place. We go there often and always order a great big sushi boat for our family of four. Margate Beach is our spot at the shore, even in the fall and winter, because it’s such a special place. It’s quaint, close to home, and the best stress reliever.
What’s your best practical advice for a mompreneur just starting? Start small, be consistent, and don’t think about it too much—just go for it. Above all, don’t let yourself be consumed by mom guilt. Instead of stressing about what game or event you’re missing, focus on all the other things you can show up for and realize that it is okay not to be there for absolutely everything.