As you all know, I do a lot of entertaining, whether it be dinners with friends, lunch for my children and their buddies, or a casual family bbq. Generally speaking, I like to celebrate! Lately, being very busy with Mama & Tata features and working on Black Iris, my hands are tied, and entertaining has taken a back seat. Fortunately, friends of mine, Amy Griffin and Jessica Latham, have launched their new business Social Studies, saving time and money to plan in-home gatherings throughout the year. Their idea is brilliant, sustainable, and chic, making party planning easy and seamless with their reusable party boxes. I love the idea of not having to buy new sets of dishes and linens, and still being able to access a variety of tablescapes that are high-end and beautifully curated. Social Studies has several different boxes to choose from, equipped with playlists, party games, and floral arrangements, so you really don’t need to bring anything but the food! Both Amy and Jess have fantastic taste, so I would trust them designing any table in my home, and hopefully we will see a Black Iris party box coming your way in the near future!
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We’ve both lived and worked in NYC for years, but we just launched our new business, Social Studies, in September!
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
Jessica: I was an events director for Vanity Fair, and also hosted many gatherings during my career in film and in my own life. I love bringing people together, as do many of my friends, but there wasn’t a simple way to get beautiful, elevated, tablescapes and party supplies in a convenient and curated fashion. We wanted to start Social Studies to make hosting easier, and allow people to do it more frequently without all the fuss.
Amy: Bringing people together was always the inspiration! Jess and I have collaborated creatively for years and she was often my go-to expert when it came to helping me pull off a big event or entertain in my home. We realized that we had a great business idea on our hands as friends and colleagues expressed their desire to host more often, but that they didn't have an easy way to make it convenient, curated, and stress-free.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Jessica: I think the details and curation make Social Studies standout — there isn’t a service out there, other than Social Studies, that offers curated table-scapes for rent with product at the level of quality we are offering. And add-ons like flower arrangements, playlists, and games round it all out so you can have the exact party you have in mind. Our collaborations with brands like LaDoubleJ bring something special to the table (literally).
Amy: Jess and I have known each other since childhood, so our dynamic and personalities really come through in the business. Our experience in our respective fields, myself in marketing and as an investor in female founded businesses, and Jessica’s creative and operational work in events and film, make a perfect blend for a business that is functional, but also really sophisticated and unique. Sustainability was also very important to us. Everything is designed to be returned and reused. Relying less on paper and plastic and instead creating kits and shipment boxes that can be used again and again.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Jessica: I think we’ve solved a pain-point for people in New York especially. More than ever, people are celebrating the idea of staying in. They want to unplug and gather with friends, but in New York most people don’t have a lot of storage for china or entertaining supplies, not to mention a lot of time to plan. They also want to be able to change it up, create new themes and experiences without having to buy new things. We’re able to give people the ease and freedom to create special events and moments with those closest to them.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Amy: It’s all about taking the stress out of planning so that you can be present with your guests. Social Studies gives you a fun and easy experience to quickly plan your event. We take care of the details so that you’re free to enjoy your guests.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Jessica: I love seeing all the different ways that people are using Social Studies! The same tablescape for one person’s event can come to life in a totally different way for another. Watching the joy it brings on people’s social media and how they make each kit their own is really exciting.
Amy: Definitely hearing how Social Studies has helped bring people together or helped make a night really special for someone. That kind of feedback has been really moving, and a wonderful part of the business so far.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
Jessica: Right now I’m really digging Industry City, where our offices are located. So many people come out to IC to see us for meetings hand literally can’t believe their eyes. IC has so much to offer….and my current favorite secret spot within IC is the yurt – it’s a great place to take meetings and we’re actually working on hosting a dinner in there soon.
Amy: My go-to NYC spot is Shake Shack on the UES in a corner booth.
How do you benefit mamas?
Amy: As a mom, this is all about making it easy and giving you more time with family! Whether you’re throwing a birthday party for one of your kids, or you’re hosting your friends for dinner, Social Studies helps you maximize time with the ones you love without sacrificing the style of your event.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
So far, the most memorable client for us has been a proposal. We were reached out to by a gentleman who knew nothing about table décor and entertaining, but wanted to make a memorable, special evening for his then girlfriend. With Social Studies, he nailed his Casanova moment and they are now happily engaged.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
If you are looking for someone to handle the food, The Culinistas or Bite. For gorgeous, of the moment florals we love Putman and Putnam. To chill out and relax during or after the party, Lord Jones.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Jess: Well behaved women seldom make history - Eleanor Roosevelt
Amy: ‘May I bring a friend?’
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Amy: Overnight oats so breakfast is ready to go in the morning.