Last year I had the aweosme pleasure of working with a totally awesome rental company that has beautiful furniture, vases, dinnerware, well just about anything you could image! They are an ever growing inventory filled with beautiful, and some one of a kind items! I have worked a few weddings with them, and planned an inspirational shoot that is getting published this month – WHOOHOO!!! Working with Sarah, and her team was awesome! Sarah is so comfortable to talk to, and you can tell by talking to her that she love what she does. When I first met her last year, she was pregnant with her little man Ames – beautiful as ever! She was always there to answer questions, help me with my vision and got me everything I needed for an amazing shoot! How did I immediately thank her? I gave her and her team with yummy wedding cake from Main Grain Bakery! I felt immensely blessed and lucky to be able to bring so many beautifully talented people together! I am excited to work with them all again soon! After reading her answers below I began to love her and her company even more – and I know you will too!
I want you all to get to know the awesome woman and family behind A La Crate Vintage Rentals!
Full Name: Sarah Mullins
Current title/company: Co-Owner of A La Crate Vintage Rentals
Educational background: Bachelor of Fine Arts and minor in Communication of the Arts
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
An internship out of college landed me my first job with Colle + McVoy (www.collemcvoy.com), as a production artist.
They weren’t necessarily hiring for that role at the time, but I was lucky enough to meet with the department manager for an informational interview. After we met, I persistently stayed in touch and a few months later, they created the internship position to give me a chance! Awesome company. Awesome relationships built and knowledge gained. BEST job I could have ever asked for and friends I could have ever made. So glad they gave me a chance!
When did you open A La Crate?
We opened ALC December of 2011! Crazy how time is flying.
What has surprised you the most about owning your own business?
How much I’ve learned about myself in the process.
Do you have a favorite rental(s)?
Yes. Many! Each piece that we purchase comes with a story. The interesting people we meet, their memories they share about the history of the piece and then the item itself. If I was drawn to a piece aesthetically and then this rich history comes along with it, it makes me love it that much more.
A good example would be the aluminum carousel horse! Some may say it doesn’t necessarily fit with our collection, but it was such a fun piece to purchase. The seller was adorable and had a basement FULL of carousel animals right next to her washer and dryer. Zebras, lions, you name it! My dad and step mom joined me in this excursion and we found a few other gems for the shop and our house in the process. Every time I see the horse, it makes me smile remembering that day.
With owning a thriving business – what is your biggest struggle?
Sleep at the moment. Oh wait, that’s our five-month old! Really though… sleep. With a little one now, my work time is more limited. There are so many projects that I’m excited to work on that when I do get to slow down at the end of the day, my mind is still going 100 mph!
What do you like about your career?
I like a lot. Love actually. I love that I work with my husband. I love the pride of working hard. And I love the people that we get to work with. I also really love coming up with ideas, shopping and working with local artists! ALC has been a great fit for my skill set and life goals. I pinch myself a lot.
What do you dislike about your career?
The stress. I’ve gotten better at handling it and trying to let go, but being your own boss and being married to your partner in business as well can be stressful. Our word for the year is “clear”. We are doing our best to keep things simple and clear. Communication, ideas, schedules, etc.
What do you love most about living in Wisconsin? Favorite things to do?
Probably the seasons. And frozen custard. 🙂
Describe a typical day.
7am: up and Adam!
8am: off to the shop
9am: coffee and emails
10am: customer appointment
11:30am: realize that I forgot to pack a lunch while designing chalkboard layouts
12:30: on my way back home to eat and swap Ames (our son) with Jeff (my hubby)!
1-6pm: being a mom
7pm – 10pm: computer work
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
I’d love to see our family of three, become a family of four or maybe even five! Finding a nice balance of work life and personal life. In our work life, I would love to see ALC making more hand crafted goods and working with more and more local artists to create timeless pieces that are one-of-a-kind. Maybe by then, we will have some items for sale too?! Who knows!
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I always dreamed of being an entrepreneur but never knew WHAT kind of business I would open. A small business owner in Minneapolis once told me to move to a new area, find a need, and fill that niche. I thought this was excellent advice. When we moved to Madison, planned our own wedding and found the need for uncommon rentals… her advice came back to me!
Go-to music while you work?
WHILE I work, I actually prefer no music. Call me crazy, but when I have a lot to get done, I prefer silence. If I’m working with my hands or working on a chalkboard, then I really love my Hall & Oates Pandora Station.
If you could have lunch with any three people, who would it be and what would you order?
1. My mom. We’d stay in and cook/bake all of our family favorites including her sticky pecan rolls.
2. Jeff (my husband). We’d go out for Vietnamese at Ha Long Bay.
3. Grandma Staszak. Her gnocchi and home-made buns.
Anything else you would like to say to a young person aspiring to join your profession?
I think my advice would be for dreamers like myself, who have always wanted to own your own business, but are not sure exactly WHAT that is. I must have started 20 different businesses thru the years, but none of them came to fruition for one reason or the other. Hang in there. KEEP TRYING different things. Learn new skills. Absorb and enjoy the process. You’ll learn from EACH and EVERY experience. They will all add to your skill set and someday make sense.
This is my favorite quote:
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I can’t leave you all without sharing this adorable photo of little man Ames!
A La Crate is on my preferred vendors list, and suggest them to all my clients – and today I am telling each and everyone that reads this blog that you should definitly check them out! They are wonderful people with beautiful hearts! You won’t regret any minute of it, I promise!
With Love – Christine