Our NJMOMPreneur of the week Joanne Cruz has always loved creating unique celebrations—and that was the brainchild for Creative Twist Events, her event planning boutique in Metuchen. She loves coming up with imaginative themes for birthdays, weddings and special life moments that make her clients happy. But then COVID-19 happened, and she had to quickly transition from putting on events to becoming virtual. Now, she’s still making people feel special and celebrated, with balloon door decor and maker kits for kids that bring smiles to this bleak time. We sat down with her to talk about how she changed her business model in a matter of days, how birthdays are no less festive now and the genius DIY box idea to keep your kids occupied while we’re all indoors.
featured image via Maria Manjelo
Can you tell me about your business—what inspired you to create it and your background in doing it?
I have always loved to host. Every party, no matter whether it was mine or a friend’s, would become super elaborate if I was involved. I would spend days hand-making invitations, researching the perfect games and poring over details. A friend reached out to me to start a side business, and even though I work in the city full time (I’m the business manager for the Atelier Cologne at Bloomingdales Soho) I wanted something more creative. We both love hosting parties and wanted to do events that involved hands-on experiences where everyone would learn while having fun. We opened Creative Twist Events in 2016 and hosted different themed events at local venues to highlight our events. Two years later, I went out on my own and found a permanent location in Metuchen near the train station. I share the space with Chef John Manzo that owns Be My Guest Personal Chef—we do a lot of events together like cooking classes and parties but still have our own spaces in the building.
Times like this define you and make you stronger. As a business owner, big or small, this is the time that you have to pivot quickly and try everything and anything without missing the core values of your company. “
My husband, son and I moved to Metuchen 13 years ago. We lived in upstate New York and our friend suggested we look into Metuchen because it was an easy commute to the city and we both worked in the city at the time. We loved the town from the first time we came. With a small child (at that time 7 months) and no family near, we thought we were going to be lonely but the sense of community here is something I’ve never experienced before—from neighbors to all the volunteers in the downtown events, to our clients and our circle of friends that we consider our family. Our son is now in 7th grade and goes to school right across our home. I walk to the train station, to Creative Twist and anywhere I need to go, I don’t even drive LOL.
One of our clients had an amazing idea of creating “themed days” one or two days a week. The kids do crafts related to the theme (she used our boxes for this), the food they eat is related to the theme and they end the day watching a movie related to them, for example, Harry Potter but you can adjust this for any age or interest.
Everybody is obsessed with our paleontologist boxes. That one is almost impossible to ship because it is so delicate but I’ll tell you how to make it at home: All you need is a bowl, a strong cardboard box or plastic square container, cornstarch, water, and whatever stones or items you want to dig. Mix the cornstarch in your bowl with water and you’ll create a thick paste. Place your items in your box or plastic container (could be dinosaurs, gems, rocks, necklaces, really anything!) and pour the cornstarch mix on top covering all the hidden items. Leave to dry for 24-48 hours and dig with a little toothpick or lollipop stick when is fully dried. The craft is messy but hours of fun.