Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Kaplan and Steven Cowell.
Jennifer and Steven, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Jen: If you had told me a year ago that I would have a boutique furniture rental company, I would have laughed out loud and told you, you were crazy. I was perfectly happy being a marketing director and this was not anywhere in my orbit.
Right after I got married, I called the company where we had rented our beautiful lounge pieces to see if I could purchase our sweetheart bench as a keepsake. When I was told that it wasn’t for sale, I went on the hunt to find it.
A bench turned into two sofas, etageres, multiple chairs, and pretty soon my garage was completely overflowing with unique new finds. Before I knew it, I registered a few domain names before settling on Papillon, inspired by my late grandmother who lovingly called me Madame Butterfly. Papillon, pronounced pap-ee-yawn is the French word for butterfly.
Once I decided to go for it and leap into the complete unknown, I looked through vendor contracts and proposals from my own wedding and saw just how expensive it all added up to be. I thought… how can I create these experiences, and make them more accessible? So my mission began…create a more affordable rental company.
Papillon was going to be rentals reinvented, reimagined. I called one of my best friends Steven, who coincidentally was a bridesman at my wedding and caught the bouquet!
Steven: I loved the idea from the start. I grew up thrifting, renovating, doing DIY projects, so this was right up my alley. Three months after she told me about the idea, she asked me to quit my job. For a moment, I thought she was half-heartedly joking.
Five minutes later I sent in my notice, and we hit the ground running the very next day. A garage turned into a storage unit, then two units, then three. A month or so later we secured a 1000 sq. ft warehouse space, and three months after that, acquired the unit next door.
Jen: Papillon has been growing, evolving, and creating memories ever since.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Steven: Haha, no. We were the definition of rookies. We had no prior experience in rentals, furniture, or anything like that.
Jennifer: It was very challenging as newbies in the industry. Everything was a learning curve. How much do we charge? Which pieces do we add to our inventory? How many?
We learned early on that staying organized, and having a seamless delivery and strike is vital.
Steven: Jen and I moved the pieces ourselves for the first 20 events in order to learn about the process, and see how the other vendors were doing it. Learning by doing!
Jennifer: Steven and I learn something new every day. Never a dull moment at the showroom.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Papillon Rentals – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Papillon is a boutique furniture and tabletop rental company. Our specialty is our ability to understand our client’s style and vision. We offer a fun mix of classic European pieces, modern and sophisticated lounge furniture, as well as custom backdrops and bars.
Steven: We’ve become known for our incredible custom work. We were recently featured in People magazine for a custom donut wall built.
Jen: What I’m most proud of is how much we care about every single event, every client, and every piece. The fact that our clients put their trust in us never goes unnoticed or unappreciated. We feel honored to be a part of their story.
Steven: What sets us apart from others is our customer experience. We’re with them from start to finish and they become part of our Papillon family. We did a wedding recently and saw our bride make her way down the aisle.
Jen: I totally started crying!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Jen: Absolutely! We’re the City of Dreams. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and the landscape has changed so much in the last twenty years. I love that LA is always reinventing itself, and some of the best creatives are right here in our city. LA has such an entrepreneurial spirit. The diversity of opportunities here are vibrant and endless.
For someone starting out, my advice would be to just go for it. Take the first step, and say your idea out loud.
Steven: Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, colleagues, and people working in the industry you aspire to be a part of. We’ve learned so much through our photographer friends such as the lovely Michelle Ramirez, and Jessica Grazia.
Jen: Exactly! Planners like Star Hansen and Kristeen LaBrot who have offered support and advice. I’m so inspired by other rental companies and event planners who do what we do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Steven: And it’s ok to ask for help!
Jen: We’re looking forward to expanding our inventory, moving to our new, larger showroom, and continuing to working with new people.
Steven: My goal is to become a company that helps clients celebrate all of their milestones. Stay tuned, Papillon will be expanding our menu of services to include event planning later this year.
- Furniture starts at $45
- Tabletop starts at $2.25
- Minimums start at $1000
- Address: 9345 Melvin Ave Suite 10
Northridge, CA 91324
- Website: www.papillonrentals.com
- Phone: 818-422-4485
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @papillonrentals
- Facebook: @papillonrentals
Michelle Ramirez Photography, Joey Reger Photography, Jessica Mangia Photography, Angelica Marie Photography