Today’s wedding vendor interview is with Kelly Newell of Serradella, Northern Michigan’s premiere source for styling and vintage inspired rentals! Enjoy:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your company.
I’ve had a love of history and all things vintage my whole life. I vividly remember asking my parents to tell me about the “olden days” each night at bedtime and have always been drawn to things that speak of the past. My company was born out of a desire to indulge that passion. I’ve collected things as long as I can remember and, in recent years, also discovered a natural talent for styling and staging. A vintage rental company serving the wedding industry provides the perfect place for the two to intersect.
Read the full interview after the cut!
How did you get into the business?
Serradella grew out of my love for vintage and a desire to have a cool collection of goods. I spent years going to auctions and estate sales and loved using the items in my personal decorating. But when my husband stopped asking “what are you going to do with that”? and began asking, “where are you going to put that”? I realized I needed to do something a little more productive.
I found my first outlet selling vintage and repurposed items and spent several years on the flea marketing circuit. At one show I met a bride-to-be looking for things for her wedding. It really was the proverbial light bulb. This nudge helped me see how becoming a rental company would provide a way to share my goods with others but would also save them the hassle and expense of sourcing and purchasing everything themselves. Plus they wouldn’t have to wonder what to do with things after their event was over! I could keep collecting the things I loved and others got to use them to bring a vintage vibe to their event. Definitely a win-win.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
The creative part. When I first started my creativity was limited to the items themselves – working to restore them or make something new out of them. But when customers began asking me how use and put items together at their event, I discovered a natural talent and passion for styling. Nothing is more satisfying than putting things together in a way that leaves people saying “Wow, I would have never thought of that”.
If you could pick one unique product or service offering, which would be your favorite, and why?
I really like it when I’m given a theme. It’s like the ultimate jumping off point for letting the creativity take over and just running with an idea. I love thinking of unexpected ways to use things that fit in with the theme.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to others just getting started in your field?
I’ve learned that you have to be open to change – whether it’s learning a new skill, entertaining a new idea or tweaking your business model. What I’m doing and offering now is different than what I was doing a year ago. If something doesn’t work, dump it and move on and never stop noodling on new ways to grow.
An equally important second lesson is to collaborate and value others in the industry. You can’t have too many friends, especially when you’re getting started. The vast majority of vendors I’ve met are generous with their time and love to share their experiences. Even if they don’t do exactly what you do, you can benefit greatly from learning more about the big picture. And you never know how the connections you make will pan out – word of mouth and referrals are huge to establishing your business.
What are your hobbies or non-work-related activities?
I have an amazing husband and family. We don’t have any kids left at home so that leaves us plenty of time for our two dogs and lots of outdoor activities. I love Michigan winters and my favorite activity is riding my snowmobile. And I’m the consummate treasure hunter – auctions, flea markets, estate sales, etc. I LOVE them.
Any great stories from working with a client?
When I was first getting started I did a LOT of freebies and crazy things just to get my name out there. One of the first years I was in business I was contacted by the Detroit Derby Girls (roller derby) and asked to style their end-of-the-season awards dinner in a Prohibition theme. The banquet was held in Corktown and suffice it to say these girls partied like they skated! We got such a kick out of them I actually became a sponsor for their next season.
What makes you different from others in your field?
Well, my inventory is unique by its very nature. No two vintage rental companies would ever have the same goods. On a personal level what makes me different is my ability to put people at ease and connect with them. I also embody two maxims, both ironically borrowed from cartoons. The first “here I come to save the day” and the second “watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat” speak to my skills as a creative resource and a problem solver, both of which are exactly what clients should look for when hiring someone for their Big Day.
Are there any trends that you absolutely love or would love to see brides leave behind?
I love steampunk and anything industrial. I hope it’s the next thing coming down the pike because I love that it’s so open to interpretation! I’ve seen enough burlap and mason jars to do me for the rest of my life (sorry, girls).
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are in the midst of planning their big day?
I’d tell them to think about not biting off more than they can chew when it comes to determining their capacity to DIY – especially on the day of their event. Social media and Pinterest make everyone think they can do it all. The last thing you need is frazzled and exhausted family and friends when everyone should be having fun. Plus – do you really want your closest peeps being responsible for something so important? That’s a lot of pressure! Cut back or hire professionals to take on the burden of the work so you and your guests can relax and enjoy your event.
Thanks Kelly! For more information about Serradella, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Kelly? Add them to the comments below!