There’s no shortage of spots tograb a drink in Grit City, but there’s a new business called The People’s Parlor that is turning a Tacoma night out into an elevated affair. It’s one that can’t easily be replicated in a bar, and it’s more than simply an evening out and a cocktail.
The People’s Parlor is about a shared experience.
“It’s a community space for people from different walks of life, different ages and they’re all connecting,” says Aaliyah Al-Mahdi, the woman behind The People’s Parlor.
It’s hard not to feel welcomed and like you’re being enveloped in a community attending an event. Aaliyah’s warm smile and charismatic personality greet guests, and if that’s not enough to make someone feel welcomed, being wrapped in one of her hugs will.
Aaliyah says that one of the biggest surprises that has come from creating the events is that at every function, attendees will often learn they share a mutual connection within minutes of talking to each other.
“That’s something I want people to recognize,” she says, “that we’re more connected than we think we are.”
The People’s Parlor hosts two different types of events, but for each event the goal is the same – to get people out on the town and having a great time. At her smaller, less formal events – what Aaliyah has dubbed the mixer series – people gather at various bars around Tacoma for a casual, free networking style event.
For the larger gatherings, called signature events, Aaliyah creates a different kind of vibe. In order to attend a signature event, guests must register in advance, and each event is held at a different undisclosed location. Registered guests learn the venue where the event will be held the day before it takes place.
Other differences between the two experiences is that with the signature series, each affair has a different theme that is woven throughout it and the cost of registration is all inclusive for food, drink and entertainment.
Besides the sense of community she’s building through her networking and signature events, there’s another void The People’s Parlor seems to fill. Guests of her signature events have a reason to put on their snazziest threads and feel like a million bucks.
“There’s a lot of great places in Tacoma, but not a lot of places that warrant putting on heels or a blazer,” she says.
Aaliyah says the idea for her business comes from a combination of an evening she had with her friends in Denver going to an upscale lounge, dressing to the nines and having a great time, blended with her event planning expertise.
She’s known she wanted to open a bar since that evening in Denver way back in 2010, but that idea simmered for almost a decade before she took a big step toward that dream. Because first, she had to finish her time in the military.
Over the course of her nine and a half years of service in the Army, Aaliyah held positions as a platoon leader and executive officer. She also planned large-scale events like the military ball and July 4th functions.
After she was out of the military, she once again got back to thinking about her dream of opening a bar. According to her, in 2017 she simply found herself in the right place at the right time.
“I tell all my friends there’s no such thing as luck. It’s about being prepared for when the opportunity comes.”
For Aaliyah, that opportunity came when she learned about Spaceworks Tacoma at a Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce after hours networking event. From there she enrolled in the business incubator program at Spaceworks where she gained support and additional know-how to launch her entrepreneurial venture.
As for what she envisions for the future of The People’s Parlor, she does want to see her dream of having a brick and mortar bar come to fruition, but she’s also focused on the present and what that means for her business.
“In the short term, I want people to get excited about the signature events. I want it to be sought after, where people are looking forward to the next event.”
Although her events aim to entertain and there’s a sense of community inherent in them, ultimately, it also comes down to creating an unparalleled experience.
“I want people to be intentional about their nights in Tacoma, and to commit to living life and having a good time.” To learn more about The People’s Parlor, visit its website, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.