Mollie Yarsike, the owner of Black Tie Kids, was among a crowd of jubilant guests at a dinner party when she spotted a 5-year-old girl who looked lonely as her parents socialized with their friends.
“I could tell she felt really sad and left out because no one wanted to interact with her,” Yarsike said. “Her parents were busy and her siblings were playing on their own.”
Yarsike started talking to the girl, trying to cheer her up. After spending some time with the young guest, the 24-year-old marketing professional had landed on her new business venture: entertaining children at weddings and social events.
“Children can feel special and enjoy their night even though they are surrounded by adults,” said Yarsike, who works from her home in the Pico-Robertson area.
In July 2015, Yarsike launched Black Tie Kids wedding and event camp (blacktiekids.com), which engages children in games while parents enjoy weddings and other events.
The idea became an instant hit among parents and event planners like Mendel Simons, a founder of Young Jewish Professionals. He invited Yarsike to work with children at a Yom Kippur service this year that hosted more than 500 people at the Beverly Hilton hotel. While parents were involved in prayer, the kids were busy doing arts and crafts.
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Simons said. “Mollie was very well prepared, the kids were all over the moon and wanted to stay longer.”
While growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Yarsike baby-sat for her younger brother, and she continued to baby-sit to earn money after enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
“I like working with kids,” she said. “It’s refreshing to be around children, and I find it therapeutic to see the world through
In 2014, Yarsike moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college with a major in advertising and communications to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry. But she took a different career path and was a full-time marketing assistant at the Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Hollywood when she started Black Tie Kids.
Launching the business was inexpensive, Yarsike said, because crafting materials are low cost and last a long time. To fund her business, she took $200 from her savings and ordered some games, markers and pencils.
At a typical weekend event, Yarsike arrives 30 minutes before a party starts, carrying a bag of supplies, pencils and stickers. Through the day, she keeps children busy by crafting dreamcatchers out of paper plates or making unicorns out of shopping bags.
Usually, one or two baby-sitters, known as day camp counselors, supervise a group of 10 children of all ages. If a child starts crying, a team member sends a text message to the parents to let them know the child needs their attention.
Yarsike, who is certified in CPR and first aid, usually works with one or two others, each of whom has gone through a background check. Their strict rules for the children don’t allow the use cellphones or the raising of voices during sessions. Prices for the child care services range from $10 to $15 an hour for a child, depending on the child’s age.
Renee Dalo, a wedding planner and owner of Moxie Bright Events, said Yarsike’s services have helped her plan chaos-free wedding parties.
“When Mollie told me what she did, I was like, ‘I need your help to keep the kids occupied so they are not destroying the furniture and property,’ ” Dalo said.
After working with the Black Tie Kids team, Dalo recommends the service to all her clients.
“They are taking an interest in the children,” she said. “They talk to them and play crafts. Now I want Mollie to be at every wedding.”
Juggling a full-time job and running her own company doesn’t come without challenges, but Yarsike says she finds ways to manage her work.
“It comes with experience,” she said. “I might have fourth-graders and preschoolers together in the same room and have a good time.”
Yarsike said she dreams of expanding her company and taking the next big step by hiring more camp counselors.
“I hope one day we will attract big investors who are interested in our business,” she said. “But for now, I’m putting my foot forward every day and trying to expand my business.”