Student-led business, Abundant Celebrations

In a small corner lies rolls of brown banner paper, bottles of paint, paint brushes and other random supplies for a student-led business, Abundant Celebrations. 

Supplies sit in the corner for Shirah and Barbee use to create their banners every week.
PHOTO // Lesley Randall

Each week, Abundant Celebrations, makes up to three hand painted banners a week.

The banners are made for different occasions like sorority events, birthday celebrations or bachelorette parties. 

McKenna Shirah, founder of Abundant Celebrations and University of Georgia marketing student, started her small business on Instagram with her roommate Whitley Barbee, an economics major at UGA.

The two have been making banners for sale for 10 months. 

“I always loved getting to make banners and signs for my friends when they would have birthday parties or celebrations,” Shirah said. “The idea came to me when someone reached out and asked me to make a banner for them because they saw one on social media that I had made for one of my friends.”

Instagram serves as the main platform for customers to contact Abundant Celebrations. 

On the Abundant Celebrations Instagram page are photos of previous banners that were made for customers. Instagram also serves as a platform of inspiration for future customers. 

“Instagram has allowed us to share our banners and signs with so many more people than just our friends, Shirah said. “A lot of people will order banners and signs by messaging on Instagram.”

As Abundant Celebrations has gained more customers, the two roommates split up the work weekly to finish the banners on time.

“We both have different things that we enjoy about painting banners which makes it easier to split up the work,” Barbee said. “McKenna does all of the hand lettering and penciling for the banners and I handle all the painting and designs that the customer wants.”

Barbee and Shirah agree it is easier to paint large banners and complete many orders a week together rather than doing it alone.

“It is nice to be doing this as a team because whenever one of us has super busy weeks the other is able to take on more of the workload and make sure the orders get finished in time,” Shirah said.

Barbee(left) and Shirah(right) with their most recent banner they completed for a friend’s 21st birthday. PHOTO // Lesley Randall

With the help of one another, different schedules do not matter as they will work in either of their free time in their living room—-turned art room.

“They always have something going on, so our living room floor is always covered in banners and their supplies,” Emma Kate Williams, roommate of Shirah and Barbee. “But, it doesn’t really bother me because I love helping with design ideas for the banners too.” 

The banners range in prices depending on how large, how much paint and materials are used and the time it takes to finish the banner. 

When the two first began selling banners, they sold them for a $25 flat rate. Then, when their banners became more popular, they decided to vary the prices depending on each banner itself. 

“When McKenna and I started we were charging $25 per banner but as we started getting more orders we made the prices higher,” Barbee said.

Whenever Shirah and Barbee work on banners together, they will split their weekly profits between the two of them. 

On average they said they will each make about $50 a week.

Both agree that having a small side hustle is fun and worth it as a college student. 

“It is easy to get overwhelmed when we have a lot of orders on top of other jobs, school work, and social life,” Shirah said. “Having a partner to do it with keeps it fun.”

Shirah also said being in control of how much work Abundant Celebrations has each week is comforting.

“If we have too much going on, we can just say no,” Shirah said.

Most banners Abundant Celebrations sells are for friends or other connections from their friends. 

Most of our customers are people that we are friends with or someone with mutual connections, Barbee said. “People will see banners or signs on social media or know someone that placed an order and that made them want to purchase from us.”

However, the team of two have occasionally had larger orders for sorority events or senior night events.

The biggest sale that we have made was to a high school, Shirah said. “They wanted several banners for a senior night event.”

Senior night banners at Prince Avenue Christain School. // SUBMITTED PHOTO //

Barbee said the banners for the senior night event took almost two weeks to complete because they were larger than normal and had photos of each senior on them. 

Though, the most popular sale is for birthday banners according to Shirah and they usually range from $30 to $40. 

Our favorite project was probably our first banner that we sold, Barbee said. “It was super colorful and had a big birthday cake on it. We were so thrilled about our new side gig and it was so fun to sit together, listen to music and paint our first banner together.”