Lauren Toker, with a background in design and prop styling, specializes in event planning along with her husband, Nick Challed, a professional DJ who creates specialized playlists for clients, serves as an MC, and provides all other sound management. Nicoella Event Design can be hired as a duo, or individually, and bring a unique and memorable experience to any Sayulita event.
What brought you to Sayulita?
Our company is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, but after coming down here annually to vacation for the past 13 years, we were offered a great opportunity to buy into an eco-community in the Litibu area, and so we moved down here last October. Somehow this small town seems like a hotbed for possibility.
How did your business come about?
When we developed Nicoella, we didn’t develop it so much as a money making venture, it was more of a passion. It literally came out of us planning our wedding, and whereas any couple has stress in their relationship, it was one of the least stressful things we’ve ever done in collaboration, and it illuminated a light bulb that “we obviously really like doing this." We’ve always enjoyed hosting parties, I love design, and Nick’s a DJ, who loves playing dance music that is particular to the people. So it was a way to merge our passions. By creating our own story, we have a tendency to attract clients that either have similar taste, or people that we would actually be friends with.
What kind of events do you do?
I love designing weddings, but also am really interested in doing events outside of weddings, whether it be for individuals, local businesses, non-profits or corporations. My ideal would be something that has an element of giving back to the community. That’s becoming more popular with weddings, especially destination weddings. When everyone is in one place for a week, it is possible to do something like a beach cleanup or volunteering at a local school, but I understand that’s not always on everyone’s agenda.
How would you describe your style aesthetic?
My style is natural and minimalistic. I don’t like to use a lot of plastic products. My inspiration is a combination of the local environment and the story of the clients that I am designing for. It’s great when I can attract clients that are environmentally and socially conscious, as opposed to coming to Sayulita to just throw a huge party and trash the town. I have a lot of ideals wrapped into our business. I like to be on point in terms of design trends, but focus on a minimalist palette, without a lot of busyness. Generally I like things to be simple, tasteful, and elegant, and include Mexican inspiration when possible. But, because we’re also based in California, we can also source things from there. I really believe in contracting with local artists to make things for the events I design, basically supporting local businesses as much as possible. I’d rather pull from a lot of local sources, as it makes me feel better about the product the client is getting, and the story behind it.
What is your ideal client like?
We have a tendency to take on clients that fit us best, and vice versa. Generally the clients we attract are people who authentically want to celebrate their milestone. In their minds, they want to have the best party of their lives, and they want real people with good communication skills that are organized and fun to be around to help them with that. I guess down to earth is the best way to describe it. Our clients don’t tend to care about all the bourgeois details.
We should also mention Nick, since he’s not here to do the interview. We both used to have community radio shows, and that’s part of how we met. His musical passion is old school soul and funk, in addition to hip hop, electronic music and indie rock. He’s traditionally a vinyl dj, though the climate here makes that difficult. His style is very vintage, but we spend a lot of time going to concerts in the Bay Area, so he’s also very up on the indie rock and more pop scenes. He’s also really personable, manages all the sound, and has all his own equipment. He’s interested in collaborating with other DJ’s in Sayulita to throw unique parties for both locals and tourists.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I really enjoy working with people. At the end of the day, you’re collaborating and creating a story that’s part of peoples’ lives in the long term. And I love how creative it is, and I never get bored because every project is totally different, and I definitely find myself in situations where I have to learn things that I never thought I’d have to learn, so it’s fun and causes you to think on your feet. The creativity is endless.