This month, we're featuring another one of our favorite wedding industry ladies, Danielle Gombos. Besides having a fabulous name, Danielle is one of the most down-to-earth and nice gals I've had the pleasure of working with thus far. She is the owner of Gathered Vintage, a unique furniture rentals company based in Connecticut. Danielle started this company when she moved across the country to marry her husband, Dan Gombos (owner of another awesome wedding industry company, Shindig Lighting). With a background in wedding planning, Danielle decided she wanted to continue working in the industry but cater more to her love of design. She noticed a need for furniture rental options in the area for the wedding and events industry and decided to open Gathered Vintage to fill that need.
I think you all need to visit her warehouse. It's like a treasure trove of vintage furniture and decor. Plus, the warehouse itself is insanely cool with its white brick walls that are chipped and distressed just enough to be chic and its massive working 7-ton lift that, in 1912, was built to carry cars up and down from the warehouse to ground level. But besides the warehouse, what Danielle has filled it with is the real treat. I mean, I had to restrain myself from trying to sneak away with some of her awesome throw pillows and gorgeous vintage glassware.
Check out my interview with Danielle, below, to find out more about her fantastic company, why she loves what she does, and what brides should know about furniture rentals!
DANI :: What is “Gathered Vintage” and who can take advantage of your fantastic company?
DG :: Gathered Vintage is a vintage and specialty rental company located in Connecticut. We have a uniquely curated collection of lounge furniture, ceremony decor, tables, some tabletop items and soon - bars! Our collection includes vintage, timeless classics but we also love to incorporate new design, and with that comes pieces we have built in-house. We are all about creating a unique space that defines you and your design. We love to go the extra mile for our clients to create a cohesive look. We’re known to bring extra pieces - just because we feel like it. We do everything from weddings and social events to corporate events and hopefully soon trade shows (throwing it out there)!
DANI :: You used to work for a wedding planner... what made you decide to switch career paths to a rentals company?
DG :: I was with my business partner in San Diego for almost 4 years. For the first 2 years, as an associate wedding planner and the last 2 years as a partner. My business partner did all of the logistics (she is a logistics QUEEN!) and I did all the design. In a partnership, we felt like it was best to utilize what we excelled at. I didn’t even pretend to be better at logistics than her. When I met my husband and eventually decided to move to Connecticut, I was left with a hard decision: do I try to strictly do design or do I try to do it all and start a planning/design company? Well, logistics are not something I am necessarily passionate about, but design... that’s my jam. I’ve always said that my favorite details of a wedding are the lounge, the tabletop and the bar. It’s the things that guests always notice, it’s something that creates a huge impact, and it’s also something that can be designed to be totally unique to you. (Sure, I am a still a sucker for amazing day-of paper, specialty linens and great chairs, too.) With that being said, when it came to planning my own wedding, I knew I wanted a cool lounge, rad tabletop items and a stand-out bar. I did my research in the area to find a company with this sort of collection and my results came up empty handed. With that, I saw an opportunity. Starting this company allows me to still have a hand in the design, and to curate really pretty things, but it also lets me solve a problem in the area, and that was giving my clients access to specialty rentals.
DANI :: What do you like best about working in the wedding and event industry?
DG :: We’re in the business of happy. We create quick moments in time that bring people together for happy, fun occasions. On a more personal note, I love change and I love doing something new everyday. You know on those personality tests, when they say “do same mundane tasks tend to bore me?” yeah, I tick that circle. I got my start in the wedding industry in college, when I worked for an off-premise catering company. I was always fascinated that in such a short period of time, a team of people could come together to create a whole new experience. And each time I came to work it looked different and it felt different. I guess that’s why I love our industry so much. We get to work with new people, new events and new designs every day…all while simultaneously bringing joy to our clients.
DANI :: Do you have a favorite piece you wish you could take home with you?
DG :: SO MANY! I try to only buy pieces that I love. Which is great because it means I stand behind all of my pieces, but it also means I want all of them for myself. It takes a lot of self control. Recently it’s been a new leather sofa I just got.
DANI :: What is one challenge you face owning your own company and how do you overcome this?
DG :: Right now my biggest struggle is balance. We all talk about that as business owners. My dad once told me it was the million dollar question. How to have balance and be an entrepreneur? It seems impossible sometimes. I do have to say that starting a business is one of the hardest and easiest things I have ever done in my career. Hard, because it’s a lot of work (a lot, a lot of work) and I am constantly learning. Easy, because I love doing it. Whenever I am burned out, I know that I really just need to take a day off. Sometimes the business suffers because of this, but if I don’t take care of myself and my mental happiness, the business suffers, too. Sometimes Dan and I “escape to the city,” where we take a 1 day “stay-cay” in New York City and take a breather. We did this once mid-season this year and it was the perfect little pick-me-up, where we come back recharged and not feeling like mush anymore. Balance is a tough one, but we’re constantly working on it.
DANI :: What do you find most rewarding about running your own company?
DG :: Really everything! I love the freedom in my schedule. While we end up working far more than 40 hours a week, if we decide last minute we want to not work and do something fun, we can. I love being my own boss and wearing what I want to the office. I love that I get to build our company culture. Also, that I get to build something on my own, the way I want and shape the business to truly represent me. I think that’s pretty cool.
photog credit :: Shane and Lauren Photography
DANI :: You and your husband share not only a work-space, but also an industry (Dan, Danielle’s husband, is the owner of Shindig Lighting). How do you find working so closely in proximity and in the event and wedding industry has had an effect on your relationship and your business?
DG :: Dan and I met at Engage!, a luxury wedding convention. I always sort of dreamed that I would meet someone in our industry and be a “husband-wife” team. Being in the wedding industry, our schedules are never a constant. We work the most random hours - many weekends, many late nights, and some holidays. I know friends that struggle in their relationships because of our hours. It’s hard. We’re so lucky that we have such similar schedules as it allows us to spend that much more time together. It’s also so helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of that “just gets it” - you know? We may have different companies, but he is so much a part of mine and me, his.
DANI :: Where do you typically find your rental pieces?
DG :: The fun is in the hunt! A huge part of our job (in that it’s very time consuming) is sourcing these pieces. A lot of our pieces are sourced locally, but some of our pieces have come from as from as far Sweden. A lot of the pieces we have come from online auctions. It’s easier for me to shop from my desk than driving all over for different sales, but I do that sometimes, too.
DANI :: Do you do any refurbishment and upholstry to pieces you find? And if so do you outsource or are you a DIY-er?
DG :: What we do to our pieces greatly depends on the condition they come to us in. The nice thing about working with older pieces, is that furniture is just not built how it used to be. They are much stronger and much higher quality. This means their lifespan is a lot longer, even with repairs. For now, all upholstery has been done in house. As we grow, I will likely either outsource this step, or hire someone in house that can do this for us. I definitely want to maintain a high level of quality with our pieces, which can be challenging in the rental business. We almost always reupholster our vintage pieces when we purchase them. It gives them new life, and makes them much more rentable.
DANI :: What is one thing you want couples to know about renting furniture for their weddings?
DG :: Please have fun with it! We want the pieces you pick for your wedding to represent you. It’s our main focus that the pieces we pull for your wedding or event enhance the overall experience of your guests, and elevate the overall design. Sending us inspiration is also super helpful and gives us a little creative freedom to pull things for you. I always say with any creative vendor, if you give them framework and let them work their magic, the outcome is always greater than if you try to be super specific.
DANI :: Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
DG :: I see myself hopefully owning a business that I run, instead of one that runs me. I want to have a collection that I 100% stand behind, and clients that feel the same. I’d like to have an organized desk (you should see it right now!) and a warehouse staff that helps with building and curating in house designs. I’d also love to travel to awesome amazing places to purchase pieces, like France and Morocco and Mexico. And and and!
A huge thank you to Danielle for taking time from her crazy busy schedule to share some of herself with all of us. Her motivation to build up her business and run her own company is inspiring. It also makes me want to go out and buy all the furniture. If only I could shop straight from her warehouse! Thanks again for all of your insight, Danielle!