You gotta hand it to Carole and Michael Middleton: Not only did they raise a daughter as lovely (and regal) as Kate, they also took a risk and embraced their entrepreneurial spirit to make a living before startups. In 1987, the Middletons started Party Pieces, a party supply company, when their daughter-turned-duchess was just five years old.
What inspired the idea? According to an interview on CNN, Carole was a stay-at-home-mom at the time and was frustrated by the lack of affordable items to include in party bags when she hosted birthdays and other celebrations for her kids. (Reminder: Kate is one of three—there's Pippa and James, too.)
And then things took off. Apparently, Carole—who was running the new family biz out of a shed in her back garden—was so good at what she was doing, her hubby Michael had to quit his 9-to-5 as a flight dispatcher just to help keep up with the demand. Go, Carole!
Now, it's more than just a mom-and-pop shop. Things took off from there and—close to 30 years later—Carole and Michael operate out of three converted farm buildings in Berkshire, England. The company was recently valued at around $40 to $50 million (!) and has a staff of about 30 employees.
What can I buy there? Everything from balloons to personalized party banners to baby shower decor. (Ahem, someone remind Meghan Markle and Prince Harry just in case they've got a second shower to plan.)
And is it true that Kate, Pippa and James have all pitched in to help? At varying points when they were growing up, the kids were catalog models holding cupcakes and wearing t-shirts for photos demonstrating the products being sold. Pippa and James have stayed involved, with Pippa penning a coffee table book about entertaining called Celebrate in 2012 and James launching his own custom marshmallow business.
Carole and Mike, two words: we're impressed.