Angelica Roberts has seen it happen over and over since she launched her mobile party entertainment business, Blast and Dash, this past spring.
“All the time,” Roberts said with a big smile.
Watching even button-down business types, Nerf guns or Nerf Laser Tag Blasters gripped in their eager hands, devolve again into giggling boys and girls, taking to heart her instruction to have fun.
Never grows old.
“Since I opened in April, I have already had 22 events. It’s taken off quite quickly,” Roberts said of her enterprise. “I have found that at the adult parties, some people like shooting their boss with Nerf guns, and the boss doesn’t mind shooting the staff. It’s a good way to get the stress out for team-building, too.”
Of course, it’s not just for adults.
Her first large event, a mother-son PTA fundraiser at Lakeland Hills Elementary, pulled in more than 450.
“They had way more than they expected, and they had a blast,” Roberts said.
Since that time, Blast and Dash has delighted more than 450 kids at the recent Auburn KidsDay, completed its first glow-in-the-dark party, done team building for local business, worked the recent community night out for the Nisqually Tribe’s Police Department, even provided the fun for a family biker rally.
“I can do ’em in a gym, I can do ’em in a backyard, I can do ’em in a large conference room, in a field, I’ve done one in a youth facility. I’ve got a party from almost every party I’ve had. That means I must be doing customer service right,” Roberts said.
To date, her only advertising has been via Facebook and word of mouth.
Quite a change from her first business venture.
Four years ago, Roberts, formerly director of the tribe’s construction department and a project manager for the casino’s expansion, opened a boxing gym near the casino. But the business folded after two years, beaten by high overhead and rent she could no longer afford.
Never one to sit still, Roberts – the first member of the Muckleshoot Tribe to earn an MBA at the Muckleshoot Tribal College – began scouting out a different, less costly business model.
“For the last two years, I have been just looking up other companies and pricing stuff, because as a new business owner with my boxing gym, I jumped the gun. What happened was I found all these other businesses in California, Canada, Detroit and Florida that do mobile business,” Roberts said.
The actual idea for Blast and Dash she got from two Nerf gun parties her son, Taz, attended.
“My son is my little inspiration. In kindergarten, he went to a place in Des Moines for the party. He had another party there, and I started looking at it because it looked good, and I thought I could do it better,” Roberts said.
To date, Roberts said, she has invested more than $16,000 into the business.
“It took me nine months to get my order from China for this,” Roberts said.
When the call comes, Roberts stuffs her gear into her van. Depending on her customers’ preferences, “gear” could be Laser Tag guns, Nerf guns and bullets, upgraded Nerf guns, a 10-piece, inflatable mobile battlefield, a camouflage battlefield complete with deer screens and netting, and bouncy huts for the little kids. She even has pink camouflage netting to please the little girl party set.
“I bring everything, bullet bags, ammo bags, safety glasses, because everyone has to wear safety glasses, even the adults. I supply everything,” Roberts said. “The best feed back I’ve gotten is from the parents, who are happy that I take care of all the games and entertainment.”
Before each party, Roberts lays down the ground rules, and directs the mayhem, which typically rages for one to two hours.
“The best part is I’m mobile. I really like the idea of going wherever and not having the overhead,” Roberts said with a satisfied smile.