To launch a successful business you have to do a combination of so many things right, but number one above all things — you have to have a product or service that people need and want.
After you find that magic thing, you have to make time, save money to invest, and put the right people in place to make it all happen. It seems like to start a successful business you need lightning to strike twice...or in this case you just need two really smart women with style and some time on their hands. Lightning didn’t strike twice for Rhoda and Anna, but the perfect storm of events and situations did help them launch Loot Rentals eight years ago.
It all started when Anna was preparing for her wedding and wanted a very specific, curated look, made up of vintage china and 20s, heirloom style decor — sounds like the impossible that every woman wants, right? She had an eye for style and design and so did her sister-in-law Rhoda. Rhoda was a stay at home mom at the time, busy with one toddler and a baby, but quickly raised her hand to volunteer scour estate sales, antique markets, garage sales and anywhere really, that had vintage china and decor to help her new sis host the wedding of her dreams.
For anyone who’s done the dirty work of collecting their own wedding decor it’s known this takes hours and hours and more money than anticipated. And after it’s all over, you’re stuck with hundreds of non-practical plates, linens and whatever else you dug up for the ceremony...Rhoda and Anna saw this as an opportunity and jumped at the chance to save people everywhere the time and money they were wasting on this not-so-effective process. Why weren’t there people renting this stuff?
After Anna’s wedding, while she was away on her honeymoon in fact, Rhoda decided to test their new idea for a rental business. She posted an ad on Craigslist about their new “event rental business” and the items they had available: Anna’s wedding decor.
They immediately got responses.
Rhoda told us she was living in Fort Worth with her family at the time and couldn't make the client meeting they’d received, so it was up to Anna to make the run after her honeymoon.
“So I wrote her (Anna) on her honeymoon and said, “when you get back you have a client meeting with someone who’s interested in renting our things.” So when she got home she had to pack her hatchback with some samples or our 175 plates and some linens. She went to the girl’s house and showed her what we had in the back of her car...she was very nervous,” Rhoda laughed.
Still laughing, Rhoda told us they didn’t get the job.
But they did see an opportunity and a market given the response to a single ad on Craigslist, so the two women did their research and found some companies in California doing something similar. They packed their bags and attended a workshop to learn more about how they could make their business idea a reality. A month after their trip to California, a company hosting a gala in San Antonio called and needed three-hundred place settings of mismatched, vintage china.
This was their chance.
Rhoda and Anna took a month to scour all the sales they could find to collect over 1,000 pieces of vintage china. They scattered the china they hunter-gathered across the floor of the small office they were working from, slowing picking the stickers off of each one, washing, then carefully wrapping and packing them for the big event. “The rest is kind of a blur,” Rhoda sighed.
The Loot Rentals office has been in nine different locations since, and is now based out of a 10,000 square foot facility where they host events and store their goods which is now home to thousands of place settings and an impressive catalog of vintage furniture. Their client list is a mile long and they’re no longer driving to client’s homes and showing samples out of the back of Anna’s hatchback.
Loot partners with companies like Tribeza magazine and Create & Cultivate; and as Austin becomes an event hotspot for companies — they’ve become a go-to style favorite. “A switch was flipped when we discovered the value of corporate, and actually going out to market to them,” Rhoda told us as we sat in their swanky showroom in Northeast Austin. Not a moment later an employee packing for an event came over and carefully plucked the stylish pillows from the couch we were sitting on — and just like that the props were on their way to make an appearance at an event later on that evening.
From a craigslist ad to a sensational event staging and rental company, Loot Rentals has become a beloved staple at Austin events. When you walk into a space and see the perfect mix of modern styling and vintage furniture, you know it’s Loot’s lot. But getting to this point has been a journey, and a labor of love.
When we asked Rhoda what female founders needed to be successful she replied, “The first thing that comes to mind is support. When we first started this my husband was deep in his career and I stayed home with the kids so he could fulfill his dream...I started to get restless with staying home and I had all these ideas of things I could do, and right before this idea struck...I remember telling him something is coming; I don’t know what it is but I really need you to trust and support me on this. And he did.”
With her husband’s support, Anna, Anna’s parents and husband, Rhoda’s family and friends — Loot has flourished and grown.
Today the specialty rental company is expanding into new rental categories and looking to lead the charge in a new era for their industry (shh—they’re not sharing just yet). By popular demand, they’ve also recently curated collections for sale by their brand Loot Finer Goods. Thought leaders, style gurus, and inspiring women entrepreneurs, we tip our vintage hats and raise our antique crystal glasses to the co-founders and success of Loot Rentals.