This week’s Meet a Mom features the dynamic duo behind Rock Paper Scissors Events. @rock_paper_scissors_events Introducing Rachel Lampen and Kristen Mitrakis, two New Canaan moms who create unique parties and events. Rachel is originally from the UK and Kristen grew up in Austin, but now they both call New Canaan home. These multi-talented mompreneurs even sing back-up vocals in local “Rockaoke” band Mind the Gap.
How is New Canaan alike and different from the UK and Austin?
Rachel: New Canaan is much less busy than in the UK, it’s safer, cleaner and the weather is100% better. Also, I love the can-do attitude. It’s very cynical over there, no doubt amplified by constant bad weather.
Kristen: It’s so different from Austin! Austin is huge now, and though I love to go back, it’s really not the same city I grew up in. Also, it’s not nearly as hot here as in Texas, but I do miss the much earlier spring and longer summer they have down there.
What brought you and your families to New Canaan?
Rachel: Husband’s work, terrific school system and a walkable downtown.
Kristen: We moved to NYC from Dallas when our daughter had just turned three. It was a difficult adjustment, to say the least! My husband had an office in Stamford at the time, so we moved out of the city and lived there for a year, and then moved to New Canaan once we’d had a chance to get to know the area.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
Rachel: We both have one child, both are aged 14.
How did you get the idea for Rock Paper Scissors Events?
Rachel: We are both hugely creative. Although we come from different working backgrounds, we work incredibly well together. The priority is people having fun and seeing them thrilled with the amount of thought and effort we out into every party.
Kristen: Rachel wanted to start something of her own and focused on party and event planning because it draws perfectly on what she loves to do, as well as her background in PR. Since we’d worked well together on projects where we’d brainstorm ideas and I’d execute the graphic design elements, she asked me to be her partner in Rock Paper Scissors. As you can see, I thought it was a fabulous idea and jumped at the chance.
What’s the most popular party you plan for clients?
Rachel: Currently the mystery parties where we set up a crime HQ, plant evidence, put up a suspect list. This can be in an outdoor spot, a venue of your choice or your home. We have done several from a “Find the final will and testament” to a teen’s missing cat and a 40th birthday dog-napping. It always ends well for the pets!
Kristen: Spoiler alert, Rachel! But it’s true: choosing something that means a lot to the guest of honor—whether it’s a pet, a car, or work of art—makes the game much more personalized and engaging. But we’re sensitive to the fact that pets especially must always be returned safely, even if it is just pretend.
Describe the most unusual party you’ve planned…
Rachel: A mystery proposal—it was a complete surprise, which involved getting the already nervous groom into a Tigger suit in record time. To add to the element of surprise, we suggested having butterflies inside the box. When he bent down on one knee and took the lid off, they flew out revealing the ring. This took place in a very prominent building in New York, so we had to get permission. We love being challenged creatively.
Kristen: For me, the creative challenges are what make this the best job in the world. If we were doing the same party over and over, it would get boring very quickly.
Best part about your job?
Rachel: We bring joy, surprise and excitement to our clients.
Kristen: Coaxing people out of their comfort zone so they can be silly and have fun for a while before it’s time to go back to real life. I get a huge thrill when I see people really embrace a party’s theme, or when they overcome their fears and get up to sing with Mind the Gap https://www.mindthegap.rocks/about for a “Rockaoke” song.
Most memorable party as a kid?
Rachel: I remember playing pass the parcel, blind man’s buff, musical chairs then watching the movie Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo—in the 70’s that was really out there!
Kristen: Soooo many! Mostly from college years which is a little older than what you’re talking about, but I remember one where I took a group of friends to The Magic Time Machine, a crazy restaurant in 1970’s Austin. Every table had a different theme and most were fully enclosed booths. The waiters would all drop what they were doing and sing a song every time someone asked where the bathroom was.
What’s your favorite local family activity?
Rachel: New Canaan Fall Fair, Holiday Stroll and movies—I love supporting local businesses.
Kristen: In New Canaan, we love going to the Family Fourth Fireworks in Waveny Park. For me, you really couldn’t get much more quintessentially Fourth of July in New England than that! I had a birthday party for my daughter in Darien, at Chocolate Works, and I’m a frequent shopper at the Whole Foods there. I also borrow a space at the wonderful Darien library if I need to focus to write.
How do you unwind when you need some “me time?”
Rachel: Yoga, running and treating myself to a margarita. Not exactly unwinding, but it works for me.
Kristen: I need quiet time to recharge my creative juices, so I love walking my dog and hiking, reading, meditating and of course a good Netflix binge every now and then. I’ll give a vote for margaritas as well!
Any words to live by?
Rachel: “Je ne regrette rien.” I have made hundreds of mistakes but I never want to think “what if?” Just go for it.
Kristen: “Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” Thank you, Goethe.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Rachel: We sing back up for local group Mind The Gap.
Kristen: I’m very crafty and recently designed a reusable fabric gift wrap to replace the wasteful paper wrap that we’ve all grown up with. If I wasn’t so busy with Rock Paper Scissors, I’d be developing that business. But as Rachel says, “Je ne regret rien!” Hopefully someday I’ll get back to it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
Rachel: During the teen phase, kill them with kindness—that’s what I do. Let them vent and carry on.
Kristen: Don’t try to head off every mistake you see your child making. As parents, we’re not here to try to prevent all mistakes, we’re here to support our kids when they have to deal with consequences so they’ll be prepared to “adult” when they leave the nest.
Favorite band, book, tv show…
Rachel: Future Islands, Final Testament Holy Bible, Escape to the Chateau.
Kristen: Hard to pick one, but I really enjoyed The Secret History by Donna Tartt; I’ll listen to just about anything 80’s new wave/alternative; and my all-time favorite TV show would have to be Mad Men.
Anything to add? Feel free to add whatever you want the readers to know!
Rachel: We love supporting local so have created several Scavenger Hunts for non-profits. We are also incredibly proud of our town, so we self-fund our Discover New Canaan brochures. The Fall/Winter is out in October.
Kristen: People LOVE the Discover New Canaan brochure and we’re very keen to extend it to surrounding towns! It’s a very friendly and personal way to introduce people to (or remind them of) the wonderful things that make a town unique, including its mix of retailers and restaurants, town history, present and future. Our Fall/Winter issue is coming out next week and will be available to pick up for free at many locations throughout New Canaan.
We love supporting local businesses! Name your favorite places in the area to…
Have dinner with/without kids:
Rachel: Locali https://www.localipizzabar.com,
Bistro Baldanza https://baldanzarestaurants.com
Kristen: Dante’s Pizza http://dantespizzact.com,
Have a date night:
Rachel: A what night? LOL Chef Prasad https://www.chefprasad.com
Kristen: South End http://southendnewcanaan.com
Spend time together as a family indoors/outdoors:
Rachel: Playhouse https://www.bowtiecinemas.com/playhouse
Kristen: At home / Waveny Park https://wavenyparkconservancy.org
Spa/salon (or anywhere you go to treat yourself):
Rachel & Kristen: Pryority https://www.pryoritywellness.com
Rachel: Dolce https://www.dolceitaliancafenc.com
Kristen: Connecticut Muffin https://www.facebook.com/ConnecticutMuffinNC/?rf=100877649956358
Spot for Take Out?
Rachel & Kristen:
Little Thai Kitchen in Darien is our staple take out. Sadly, they don’t deliver yet. http://littlethaikitchen.com/ltk-darien/ltk-darien-menu/
Any hidden treasures or other favorites you want to share?
Rachel: Waffle Cabin rocks and she does private parties so we use her. https://wafflecabin.com/location-info/connecticut/new-canaan-(coming-soon)/50/
Kristen: The little BBQ place on Vitti Street is great! But get there early because when he’s out, he’s out! https://www.vittiq.com