Her business grew from a need to find things to decorate with for her own wedding. That was back in 2011.
And now, just a few years later, Holly Baker is operating Unique & Chic Event Rental and Design.
“I was planning my own wedding and I couldn’t find the things I needed,” said Baker, whose business is located in Port Orchard. “I wanted unique things, rustic and antiques, and the regular rental companies just didn’t have them. So I started shopping at vintage and second-hand stores and buying up all this stuff.
“After my wedding I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all this?’ I figured if I wanted these items for my wedding, other people might, too. So I started my rental business.”
Her inventory includes farm tables with mis-matched dining room chairs, vintage furniture, signs, a rustic bar, yard games like croquet, vintage dishes and linens, and an array of ball jars, candles, flowers and more. She started out slowly, with just a few weddings in 2014, 30 in 2015 and last year she did 230 weddings.
“It’s really something that’s catching on,” she said. “The young couples who are getting married want to create a space that’s different from any one else.”
That means possibly a backdrop for the ceremony or the head table at the reception. Baker has lots to choose from. She has barn doors, wooden walls, and archways that can redecorated with flowers or colorful lightweight fabrics.
“They want to make the head table look special,” she said. “And more people are having backyard weddings and want a barn door for that rustic feel. Sometimes they want a backdrop to provide privacy or to block the neighbor’s ugly backyard.”
Each item is priced and rented separately. Items can be delivered or customers can come to her location and pick them up. She does also do set-up.
“And the rental fee includes three days rental,” she said. “That gives them a day to set up, a day for the event, and a day to take down.”
As her business has grown, Baker has brought on her mother, Gayle Coles, to help her. Coles keeps the books and keeps track of the ever-growing inventory while Baker is the designer.
“She keeps things organized,” Baker said of her mother. “I’d be a mess without her.”
In some cases, Baker will even make signs for events if she doesn’t already have them in her inventory.
“I had a bride who wanted a big sign that said ‘Best Day Ever,’ so I made it for her. Afterward, it just became part of my inventory for others to use.”
The vintage furniture is often used to create a sitting area for parents and grandparents at the reception, so that they don’t have to use the hard chairs.
“It’s more conversational, too,” she said. “They can sit and talk to each other.”
And she has yard games for outdoor events including a vintage croquet set, a giant Jenga game, a ring toss that uses solid old glass bottles, and yard golf. She also has a chalkboard photo booth wall and accessories.
Her wares aren’t just for weddings, either.
“I’ve done 50th birthday parties, 50th wedding anniversaries, some corporate events and holiday parties,” she said. “We rent for all occasions.”
Since her wedding in 2011, she’s had a son, and begun a business. And the business is so successful that it is taking on a larger space at its location at 1700 SE Mile Hill Drive.
“The growth has been drastic in this kind of rental business,” she said. “It’s quite a change from the software training job I did before. But I have a background in interior design and this allows me to use that. I just enjoy it.”
For more, go to www.uniquechicrentals.com or call 253-334-9821.
This story originally appeared in the 2017 Wedding Guide.