We managed to steal some precious minutes out of this dynamic duo's tight schedule. Read on, and you will see that Nick and Lauren's energy is simply contagious. Meet one of Sayulita's propelling forces in the wedding event, design and DJ'ing industry: Nicoella Event Design & DJing.
Lauren, Nick. You come from different backgrounds. What do the both of you separately bring into Nicoella Event Design & DJ'ing?
Our event design business was born out of our separate passions and skill sets that actually merge quite well under our business model. We both actually have backgrounds in the education and non-profit sectors in California. Lauren was a nonprofit program director and Nick was a grants director. But we always had side projects - Nick has been a DJ for years - first radio, then clubs, then events, and Lauren started working as a prop stylist on the side. We were lucky that one day, we decided to take the leap and merge our passions under Nicoella Event Design & DJing. At first we thought it would be a part time gig, but it proved to be very successful and now we have grown to a team of five. We feel very lucky to be able to do creative work from a place as magical as Sayulita.
How long have you been in the event planning industry?
Our company, Nicoella, is five years old. We started the business in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. We still work with clients there as well as in the Bahia de Banderas. It works out quite well, because we plan, design, and DJ events and weddings here in Mexico during the cooler months and go to California for the event season during the summer. Prior to Nicoella, Lauren did event planning for nonprofit organizations and Nick DJed a lot of friends' weddings.
What skills do you think are necessary for being an event planner?
From the planning end of things - the three skills that are imperative are organization, problem solving, and the ability to work with diverse groups of people.
Beyond being an event planner, Lauren prides herself on being a designer as well. One of the skills that she brings is encouraging (creative) thinking outside of the box. Lauren has designed weddings with themes as diverse as Matisse's snow flowers painting and a Russian Fairy tale. She is currently working on a wedding plan that honors foster animals. The couple has adopted six dogs and is partnering with SayulitAnimals to encourage their guests to adopt rescue animals.
As a DJ, Nick live mixes music, which means that he is constantly on top of trending music. He never knows what a client is going to throw his way and he likes to be prepared. Every week he spends a couple hours downloading and sampling music. The more diverse his musical taste and knowledge is, the more he can keep a crowd on the dance floor which is his ultimate goal. This past year, he has DJed events with music as diverse as traditional Persian music to tropical house. His favorite music to DJ is classic funk and soul and hip hop.
Maintaining your health and mindfulness through the rigors of a busy Sayulita high season seems like a challenge. How do you maintain your balance?
A lot of the reason we moved to the area is to establish such balance. After years of commuting through traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area, we traded it all in to work on our porch overlooking the ocean. We work a lot, but take breaks to exercise and enjoy the real reasons why we moved here. Nick surfs every day. Lauren is a runner, a fitness enthusiast, and a dancer. She spent years of her life studying dance in California, Brazil and Cuba, and currently dances salsa at Don Pedro's and takes dance-hall classes at El Club. We also spend a lot of time as a family and with our awesome community of friends here. The hardest part about leaving California was leaving our amazing group of friends in the Bay Area. We feel lucky to have rebuilt an incredible community here. Even though the beaches are stunning, we feel like the local community is the best thing about Sayulita.
Speaking of Sayulita, what are your impressions of Sayulita now vs. when you first started traveling there? When did you first go?
We actually first visited Sayulita in 2001 when we first started dating. We came on vacation to the property that we now live on in Litibu, which was connected to Nick's family. At that point, Higuera Blanca and Sayulita were only connected by a dirt road so it felt like a big adventure to drive to Sayulita. We feel lucky that we got to experience Sayulita back when it really was a quaint fishing village. We started coming annually and eventually bought a house down here.
We can't believe how much the area as a whole has changed since we moved here full time four years ago. When we first moved here, Lauren would run down the beach in Litibu and be the only person in sight. Now, Litibu beach is very discovered. Although we are sad to see the old, quaint Sayulita no longer, we also recognize that we benefit from the popularity and tourism. Our business has been very busy and we know that probably wouldn't have been the case years ago. Given our success, we see our best role is to do our part giving back to the community.
In what manner can Nicoella Event Design & Djing positively contribute to the community of Sayulita?
This is actually something we care deeply about and spend a lot of time committing to. We both have a strong background in social justice work and wanted to continue to weave this into our work in an industry that can sometimes seem superficial and only accessible to the wealthy. We contribute to the community in three main ways. Primarily, we practice socially conscious and green business practices as much as we can. We pay vendors and artisans we work with fair and just wages. We try to stay away from disposable materials and things like plastic water bottles and straws. We started a rental arm of our company that allows clients to rent decor from us verses buying it outright, which can be very wasteful. Additionally, we donate a percentage of our proceeds every year to charity. We pick which charities we donate to based on current events. For example, this year, we donated to the American Civil Liberties Union and to support Mexican Earthquake victims. We also support Costa Verde International School where our son goes to school. We encourage our clients to support similar initiatives through their wedding registries and purchases. Finally, we do pro-bono work when we can. We are limited in the amount we can do every year because of our busy schedules, but Nick has been know to DJ a lot of parties at no cost for good causes. There is nothing wrong with a party for a good cause with an amazing dance party.
Through the rest of 2017 what are you personally looking forward to? Do you have any events of particular interest?
We have a really packed season and are already booking new clients into 2019! We feel fortunate that we have attracted a lot of clients that they themselves work in creative industries, so we are looking forward to some weddings in particular that employ out of the box thinking.
We also are launching our rental company business. After years of trying to track down hard to find furniture and decor for events, we decided to offer something locally. We road-tripped around Mexico sourcing hard to find products and imported some products from the U.S. that weren't otherwise available here. We also partner with local artisans to offer their products to our clients. We are adding new products every week! They are available for rental to the general public for events and photo shoots, as well as our and other event planners' clients.
Finally, how can we get in touch with Nicoella Event Design & DJing for planning our perfect event, wedding, or party?