As the extent of the coronavirus and its impact started to hit in Colorado, Jolene Peterson had no choice but to watch as her busy season was swept away. As owner of the Boulder-based event company Laurel & Rose, Peterson’s business primarily plans weddings, which are likely be radically reinvented this summer as large gatherings continue to be discouraged. The local small business partners—like florists, caterers, and entertainers—Peterson and her clientele regularly work with also experienced immediate and devastating slowdowns. While an immunodeficiency prevented Peterson from volunteering in person, she wanted to find another way to help. Her answer was Apart·y.
“This was my small way of helping while I can, from home,” she says.
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On this nonprofit platform, makers and small business owners from Colorado and across the country can offer their services to keep the (socially distant) party going, even during a pandemic, while simultaneously connecting isolated Americans with their loved ones. The platform lists participating vendors by area—multiple cities in Colorado and California, as well New York City, Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix are already included—and by brands that can ship nationally. The only catch? To be considered, Apart·y requires that businesses offer a way for patrons to sponsor a good deed, such as sending cupcakes to a hospital or giving discounts to frontline workers.
Locally, you can find floral arrangements from businesses like the Perfect Petal and Blush and Bay; food and beverage offerings from the likes of Cocktail Caravan and the Treatery; gifts from JL Essencials and Hygge Life; and paper goods from Hazel Eye Designs and Jolie & Co. You can even gift experiences, like sessions from a variety of local photographers or a live (but virtual, of course) DJ set from the Get Down.
Peterson teamed up with designer pal Ashling Loh-Doyle Nunnelly, owner of Lotus & Ash—an LA-based paperie that caters to special events—on the project. Right away, they knew they had to move fast, as businesses were losing clients and being forced to lay off workers almost immediately. “We really wanted this to be available as soon as possible,” Peterson says. “My partner is a designer and I’m a very controlling event planner with a very specific eye for design, so we had to let go of a bit of that perfectionism and precision just to get this up and running.”
The launch happened just in time for Mother’s Day and graduation season, which was no coincidence. From sweets and flowers to live DJ sessions, the platform can help you find a one-of-a-kind gift that will lift the spirits of your mom, grandma, or graduate—something we can all use a little more of these days.