Sep102012

“Rustic Charm – Vintage Event Rentals has created a stir by capturing the timeless simplicity and warmth of yesteryear.”

Erica Diverio
Erica Diverio
Rustic Charm
Owner & Creative Director

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Owner and Creative Director, Erica Diverio brings years of successes in Public Relations and Events to the table. Her style continues to evolve, but one thing remains steady, her bubbly personality, and along with her partner, the ability to create an exciting event based on personal relationships and a desire to offer a unique creative affair.

Rustic Charm – Vintage Event Rentals has created a stir by capturing the timeless simplicity and warmth of yesteryear. Each wedding, event or professional photo shoot is as unique as our clients. We provide event décor and prop resources thru an array of inventory from casual chic furniture, vintage props and accessories. We supply rare and quality vintage pieces to photographers, designers, brides and grooms, and event planners hoping to achieve a one-of-a-kind, casual-chic setting. Through our ever-growing collection and rental and styling services, we put an original and inviting atmosphere on display.

MO: Can you talk about how planning your own wedding sparked the business idea for Rustic Charm?

Erica: My fiancé and I are both of the creative background, I work in Public Relations and he is a Graphic and Web Designer, so the stakes were pretty high – throw in the flair of my creative mother and we knew we had big shoes to fill. Our hopes were set on having a wedding that would be remembered as a stand out – different from the run of the mill wedding, with a relaxed casual chic vibe that would make our guests feel the day was as much about them as it was us. We dreamed of friends and family playing horseshoes, dancing in a huge barn – a real rustic twist with a vintage flair that would capture the eye and heart. The deeper we got into the planning phase the more we struggled to find what was missing – the props. While I was able to find a few select rental companies, most were too far and too expensive to consider and the ones I did contact didn’t return a single one of my queries. Everyone knows a soon-to-be bride has limited time – and certainly no time to waste – so there I was empty-handed and frustrated. We quickly accepted the void in the industry and were determined to find a solution, but, after endlessly searching there was only one answer: to become the solution. Fitting of our personalities, we took off running by searching high and low for antique and vintage finds that would fit the bill – throw in a natural giftedness for bargain hunting, and within 8 months we had a budding collection of pieces! Our goal is to change the perception of antiques and vintage finds by helping others to throw awe-inspiring, truly differentiated events with our inventory of furniture, prop resources and styling services.

MO: How and where do you source vintage props and accessories for events?

Erica: We LOVE THE HUNT for our vintage props and accessories – nowhere is off limits. At times we venture out of state doing style searches – scavenging small and large flea markets, auctions and antique stores. It’s often the overlooked hole in the wall places where we have scooped up the best deals and rarest pieces. My co-owner and I have our own tactics – mine is to always strike a deal – eight out of ten times a seller will drop the price. What it really comes down to is making a connection with sellers and dealers – the majority of them that we banter with, and share our business story with, are more than happy to share insider secrets, tips and discounts with us. It’s all staying informed, a lot of research, and hours and hours of scouring and road trips.

MO: What are some of trends that you’re really excited about? Where do you look for inspiration?

Erica: We are really excited that so many brides are turning away from the cookie-cutter wedding and one-size-fits-all venue – there are so many inspired possibilities for making that one very special day truly distinctive. It’s been such a breath of fresh air to witness! Our MO is styling with natural pieces and taking the comforts of what you would find in a comfy home to bring together a balanced yet relaxed look and feel. Adding elements of surprises through props and accessories that make your guests “Ooo and ahh” is very fulfilling. Most of my personal inspiration comes from magazines, whether its design publication or a company catalog that I get in the mail. I might rip one page out an entire magazine because that one single piece of furniture gives me that ah-ha moment! Another tool of great inspiration for us is Pintrest; it’s a great creative resource from so many angles with pins by people all over the world – it really helps us to see what’s trending and ‘of the moment.’ If something is trending then Rustic Charm heads in the opposite creative direction, as we are driven to march to our own stylistic beat while offering inspired flair based on who our clients are.

MO: What are some of your favorite items in your collection? Have you ever been tempted to keep anything for yourself?

Erica: This is honestly one of the most challenging parts. When your gaze first lands on an item and you know you love it, it’s sometimes a struggle to even want to add it to the inventory. We love our finds and sometimes can’t help ourselves – and yes, few pieces have ended up in our homes. Every item in our collection has a story, or for us a memory attached to it – where we bought it, the deal we struck when buying it, where it came from and so on. One of my definite favorites is the 1920’s stool I purchased when I first began scouting pieces – it has a turning center so you can adjust its height and the bottom of it has thin metal wires that defines old-world handiwork and solid construction. Stage it in front of the fabulous chippy old door we scored and you have a win. Another favorite of mine is the vintage typewriter I found at an antique shop – it was hidden underneath an old cupboard – a writer by trade, I was so intrigued by this piece and who once used it. How many hours and emotions were poured out thru its keys? As I said, there’s so many props that I’m smitten with. In terms of being tempted to keep anything for myself – most definitely! Right now, I probably have six larger pieces in my home that are business finds and a whole lot of newly purchased ones that have to make their way to our storage building – eventually they get there, but sometimes I keep them around a little bit longer either as eye-candy or to build ideas off of for future events. I was visiting my co-owner recently, who also happens to be my mom, and I noticed she has an array of charming pieces in her home that she needs to relinquish to our inventory.

MO: What are some tips for styling and staging an elegant and memorable event? What details can take it to the next level?

Erica: Our goal at Rustic Charm is to make every event or photo shoot a one-and-only. When our clients rent our props and furniture then it’s up to their creative discretion to make the effects and appearance what they desire it to be. On the other hand, when we are hired to not only rent our props and furniture but to also style it, we have honed our approach to be organized and efficient. Here are some helpful hints and tips for those styling an event to take it to the next level:

Know thy venue: many venues have a very limited timeframe that you can work within, for most it averages 5-6 hours from set up to finish. It’s important to know what the limitations are, what you can and can’t do, and to plan ahead to accomplish everything within that timeframe. For example, I did a wedding recently where we had the venue for 2 whole days, which seemed like an eternity when it comes to delivering the props, unloading them, unpacking them, and divvying them up in their appropriate places – but people will be amazed by how long the setup and breakdown takes, even with the help of ten other people when you are doing a large event from the ground up. Depending on the setup of the venue, it’s very time-consuming and important to have a plan in place.

Be organized: there is always so much going on in the months leading up to a wedding and event, that often times, things will slip through the cracks. One of the best tips I can share is to make sure that your vendors are on target with a schedule of the events by having a point-person to say, “We have 2 hours maximum to unpack these items, get them in their appropriate spot and setup.” Or, “At 2p.m. this area needs to be clear of wrapping and boxes so we can unload the bigger pieces.” Having someone directing is extremely helpful if you plan to simply use us as a prop resource. I have learned from personal experience that the bride and groom simply can’t accomplish everything. It’s better to have a point of contact for vendors, guests, etc., someone that everyone can go to with question and direction.

Do your homework: when styling on your own, it’s so important to do much of the legwork a few weeks prior to the event. Know what pieces you’ve selected, have a general plan for where you want them to go, who is going to assist you in staging, and who is going to breakdown and repackage everything at the end of the night. Without a course of action, these tasks become time-suckers, and much of this can be avoided with proactive preparation. It’s also important to know that snags will arise, and that if they do, you or your point of contact will solve them.

Taking an event to the next level can is best achieved through preparation and creative planning weeks prior, and if possible, it’s worth it to have a team (like Rustic Charm) to do the staging and styling to avoid hiccups, decorating faux pas, and running into troublesome time constraints.

MO: You also offer a custom search service to your clients. What’s the most unusual item that you’ve ever been asked to find?

Erica: Yes, there are times when clients are looking for something specific that’s on their must-have list, but they either don’t know where to look for it, or they are up against time constraints and need us to locate it for them. Our custom searches can either be a part of a rental or styling agreement – or just a one of a kind search for someone’s personal collection. To this day, no one has requested anything too far off our radar, but I will say that one of the hardest pieces we had to locate was an antique violin on a specific budget with a unique look. Something like this can be more challenging to find if you are trying to stay on target with a reasonable budget. In case you are wondering, we were successful in finding one, and coming in under budget.

MO: Despite the sluggish economy you’re taking the east coast by storm. Can you talk about your expansion and why you think that Rustic Charm isn’t just surviving but thriving?

Erica: We are a close mother-daughter team and place high value on our relationships first and foremost – from those we hold most dear to every new client. We are confident this shines through at our initial meeting with clients. We also believe honesty and reliability are harder to find in this more challenging market and never compromise in these areas. Through our experiences, we have come across rental companies with astonishingly high prices and at times, it was very discouraging for what was being offered. We work diligently to offer maximum return for our client’s expenditure.

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