It’s not a party till you break something right?! And that is exactly what my elementary school friend, Michelle has built her business around. Creating over the top, fabulous hand-crafted Big Ass Piñata! This single #MomBoss thrives on zumba, gets her inspo from Insta, fancies wine and crepe paper, and definitely knows how to take any party to the next level…
What’s a day in the life of Michelle Laratta like?
Get woken up by my 5 year old boss at 6:15am already in mid-story about something transformers-y or in mid-debate about why he’s not allowed to watch Alien vs. Predator… Convince child that he has to eat food, go to school, and stay away from girls till he finds one big enough to kick my ass… every… day… Bring child against will to school and put on a comedy show for the 6 or 7 early kindergarteners there. Get enough laughs to earn my right to leave them there while I venture off to “work”. Tough crowd. They seem really concerned about what I do and how I live my life…
Teach Zumba. Whaaat?!?!
Yes. Hit the gym and crash a zumba class, shaking up the pace as a guest instructor who gets to push the class to the edge with hard hitting soca music, high energy and laughs. It is random and fun and keeps me alive.
Return home to shower and cut tons of cardboard, then mould, scrunch and hot glue shapes into skeleton like structures for the piñatas of the day. I just finished 3 huge watermelons for an ad campaign, a 42 inch NFL football player and am starting on a CN tower. Build, cut, build more, burn myself with hot glue gun… every… day…
Disappear for a few hours for adventures with bae while picking up supplies like broom sticks, felt, foam, crepe paper and soooooo much glue.
Retrieve child boss from school and perform single mom duties including but not limited to daily Netflix negotiations for more and more Iron Man while sitting at Tastees patties en route to martial arts. Assure my son that the patties with the red dot are NOT spicy. And the ones with no dot, are. Why do they do this to me?
Convince child that he must shower and sleep every… day… and explain that 3 bedtime stories is 3 bedtime stories and get accused of lying about having read 3 bedtime stories… every… day…
Return to home office to paint, glue, paper mache, cut, fringe, draw, slice, study, stick, smush and blow dry into the wee hours of the night.
Go party. <– Wow girl, I bow down to you. I would have passed out after that third bedtime story too!
Return home barely alive to check paint and glitter dry times, then sleep three hours before child boss wakes up talking about Bumblebee.
Tell us about Big Ass Piñata.
I still consider myself to be an Event Manager by trade, and had some of the greatest moments of my career while in Montreal working for McGill for 8 years. When I became pregnant with my son it seemed only natural to return home to Toronto and set up shop here, but as a single mom, this was easier said than done.
Knowing that a return to 9-5 work wasn’t in the cards I quickly found myself in the position of having to make a life for us working from home. It happened overnight. My son’s 2nd birthday was coming up and Pinterest told me I needed to throw an elaborate theme party. He liked construction and I needed a wrecking ball piñata. No one had what I wanted so I made it myself, and that meant there was a huge opportunity: as an Event Manager, I saw a window for custom event decor. Piñatas. Big ones. I registered my business days later and have been burning my hands, clothes and legs with hot glue ever since.
What scares you the most?
Dating. LOL! Anything else is completely manageable.
Give us your secret tips and tricks on juggling the (single) mompreneur life!
When you work alone it’s important to maintain contact with the outside world. I have friends, partners and an IG fam that keep me sane. If it weren’t for them I’d have passed out in my garage from paint fumes years ago.
My relationships mean the world to me and working for myself means I build time into my schedule for what’s important: eating, drinking, dancing, sleeping. If I play my cards right, I rarely do any of them alone.
But real talk, once you realize you can get your work done well and your child is not getting notes in his bag from little girls, you have no excuse but to enjoy life within your means as a mom boss. If you can’t do that, you might as well go work in a box till the end. I say it all the time: this life ain’t for everybody!
You’ve got some really cool and unique Piñatas! Where do you find inspiration?
My clients often give me a brief description of what they are looking for and oddly trust me to take their idea and run somewhere crazy. People have always trusted me from as far back as I can remember. I have no idea why. But I love what I do, and it shows in my work. I don’t cut corners or half-ass a job even when experience teaches me that there are easier ways to do what I do.
I take my custom work very seriously and build structures that last for years. That’s not typical of piñatas but it is an option many of my clients take, especially the little ones who want to see their favorite characters preserved in piñata form as long as possible. I have built pieces that hold up to 50 lbs of treats, I’ve been featured in party planner and stylist’s blogs as well as magazines and city blasts because of what I do and how I do it.
I’m inspired by doing what hasn’t been done and providing an experience you’d never imagined came from having a big ass piñata in your house. Joy and other people’s reactions to my work will keep me going forever. And now I’m teaching workshops so people can make their own pieces. It’s the best.
Your favourite dining and hangout spots in Toronto…
I love Cactus. It’s big, it’s loud and the food is great. I hate salad but for some reason I LOVE theirs. I try to get my ass there at every opportunity so I don’t die of scurvy. It’s so Toronto.
I have a thing for College Street in the summer. I miss being able to walk everywhere like I did in Montreal and College allows me to do that. Fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, portugese tarts, fish sandwiches and pizza all just steps from wherever the hell I parked my car. Where indeed… it’s always an issue…!
Kensington market is still a fave spot for me. It’s like a weird aunt: always there with something to eat and some great coffee if you can navigate your way through the strange clothes and fishy smells.
Top 3 places on your travel bucket list…
I am deathly afraid of flying but if we are talking tranq darts before flight, I’d really like to spend a good amount of time in Italy and the Greek islands for a few weeks eating and drinking my weight in cheese, cured meats and wine.
I’d like to play mas in Trinidad assuming I can work off all that cheese weight and throw on some feathers and string before hitting the streets.
And I want to say that time in Vietnam seems necessary to the soul but I wouldn’t know the first thing about getting around and staying alive so I’d probably end up in New Zealand because of the beautiful landscapes and all the big men with tattoos and accents.
If you wrote a biography, what would the book title be?
How am I still alive: Near miss tales by Michelle the Piñartist.