It seems within the last few years or so weddings, parties and events are less likely to take place in traditional venues. Look at any wedding blog/magazine or photographer’s website and you are sure to see these events taking place on farms, vineyards, and even forests. The use of vintage props, strung up lights, and mason jars as drinking glasses or candle holders have become an important component to creating a more soft but vibrant setting.
Gailene Bigart, owner of The Antique Owl, has built her business around this change and she’s on fire! From her sweet and thoughtful personality to her amazing showroom Gailene, along with her family, has put her heart and soul into this growing vintage prop and event styling company. The Antique Owl can transform any venue, traditional or not, into a breathtaking spot for your next gathering.
When did you first think about opening your own business?
Gailene: This had been a dream, I just couldn’t piece it together into what I really wanted it to be. For the last four years or so I’ve been thinking about becoming an event planner. I was doing some photography on the side and I would help with planning friend’s and family’s events. So, that was always in the back of my mind.
What was the spark that got you going?
Gailene: I was laid off from my job in May 2014. I had been a Construction Manager in the Telecom Industry for 12 years. My husband really pushed me and said, “Do something you love.” About the same time an extended family member was getting married and they asked for my help to plan their wedding in the fall. I planned all the decorations and orchestrated the whole thing.
Kelly: Was the wedding vintage? Gailene: Yes, I had all these ideas of what to do. I started looking on the internet to see what’s out there and I found Simple Country Weddings in Sacramento. I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is what I am going to do!” We don’t have anything like that here. How perfect would this be with all the venues we have in this area?
Kelly: Do you think visiting that store solidified your decision? Gailene: Totally, that is what I was going to do. I started it like that (she snapped her fingers). I got my sellers permit, business license, everything. At that time I thought about repurposing items and opening a shop. The idea of what The Antique Owl is now wasn’t even a thought at the time. I was thinking more of what the Junk Gypsy does on GAC.
Talk about your products & style.
Gailene: We have rustic, vintage with shabby chic rental props. The first thing I wanted to do was repurpose things. One of the first items were the old doors that are used as a back drop or entryway. We also have the arch. I went to flea markets to find the chandeliers. We would just start picking up little things, decorating jars, wine barrels and things like that. We go to garage sales and barn sales, all over.
What services do you provide?
Gailene: Besides the rental side, I also provide styling services. The rentals vary, some people might want two items, some want five items. We have the option of delivering the props or the customer can pick up, with the exception of the arch – we always delivery the arch. The styling service is more involved. I will sit down with a customer, sometimes more than once or twice, to help them plan their event. A lot of people go into this not really knowing what they want to do. Taking time and providing good customer service and assuring them, face to face, is important. There are custom orders too. Recently, a bride asked for something that I didn’t have. It’s important to me to provide what my customers need, so I ordered the product.
Favorite memory since opening.
Gailene: A wedding I did a few weeks ago at Taber Ranch. The morning of, my entire family helped me deliver the doors and the arch. They helped set it up and together we saw my stuff overlooking the Capay Valley. Having my family there with me was amazing. That same day I got to see the flowers that were added to the arch. It was beautiful to see their touch to my product.
How do you find balance as a mom and business owner?
Gailene: It’s tough sometimes. I think because my boys are older they can now see me doing what I love and they are impressed. Also, my husband is amazingly supportive and knows I love doing this. But work doesn’t stop at 5:00pm, ever. Even my husband will come home after his own job and work on something for me. He is very creative and recently surprised me with new barn doors.
Kelly: I think having a passion for something changes your outlook and how other’s view you too. Do you think that’s happened for you? Gailene: I’ve evolved as a person so many times through this process. I’m so much happier on the inside. I had a constant tug, something that was pulling me toward this. I couldn’t be happier.
What do you want the readers to know?
Gailene: I want to provide our surrounding community with something different and a great service that is reliable. Whatever their event is, I will go the extra mile in helping them create their special day. I just did a birthday party the other day that was rental only. I do more than just weddings!
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