There are genetic mysteries inside all of us -- little pieces of personality and character that make us a great guitar player, an astute artist, a crafty chef.
If you ask Karen Schoenung about her genes, she'll tell you they're here to party.
Growing up in an environment prone to entertaining -- her parents had her play the accordion at parties from age 6, and her grandmother had her mixing brandy old fashioneds for her before double digits -- Schoenung knows her way around a good gathering.
Hosting over 400 parties as the inside events manager for Sprecher Brewing Company might have seemed like a career perfect fit, but it wasn't until launching her own party planning business in Milwaukee this year, My Party Places, that Schoenung found her true calling.
Once a party girl, always a party girl.
"Original ideas are rare but I had one -- re-inventing Milwaukee's party scene," she says. "I wanted to be on the cutting edge for packaging one-stop party services. I like being able to offer the benefits of taking out all the stress and time involved in finding a location and planning the details of the party."
What My Party Places translates to is exactly that. You contact Schoenung with an idea or proposal for a social gathering, corporate meeting -- even a getaway -- and her party planning super powers take over from there.
With about 20 pre-secured party locations at your disposal, the biggest decision you're going to have to make is whether you want your party on a private yacht, in a broad, modern space like the Milwaukee Public Market or a warehouse, at a bistro or bar long the Riverwalk or in an open green space.
My Party Places definitely secures a hot location, but it also goes beyond that. Schoenung has compiled extensive local resources lists for anything from catering to photography, to music and flowers.
What's more is that she doesn't stop at the city lines. The "getaway" aspect of her business means she's your local resource for world wide events and travel vacations. Finding the ultimate party and adventure places around the world has been a challenge, she admits, but it's one that she's more than up for.
Is there anything she can't plan?
"So far I have responded to two to three inquires per day since the launch of the business in August," she says. "I am currently working on booking a wedding for 300 for May 2009 and travel plans for a French Open package for next May 2008. You never know what the next request might be and for when."
Although party planning is keeping her plenty busy, Schoenung says she makes it a priority to go out, experience the city and attend events she hasn't organized down to the last detail.
"When people visit my Web site, I share with them what's new in Milwaukee's event scene and try to provide a review of my latest experiences."
She recently scoped out Cuvee, the Third Ward's new champagne bar, and has since added it to her ever-growing list of available party venues. Others include Riverfront Pizzeria & Grill, Solly's Grille, Zim's Sports Bar and Hotch-A-Do, an organic bistro on Milwaukee's East Side. If you have a special place in mind that isn't on Schoenung's list, she is prepared to work with you to secure it.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”