I am so excited to begin my new blog series: Vendor Spotlight! Each month I plan to interview and post about a small business that I’ve worked alongside with in the past, in hopes to help brides discover the wonderful artists and vendors that can help make their wedding as beautiful and unique as they’ve always envisioned. I’m all about helping other small businesses, and raising other creatives up!
To kick off the first vendor spotlight, I’ve interviewed Kayla Larsen: the owner (along with her husband, James) of Garden Gables in Sister Bay, Door County.
Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Northern Door County, my parents moved my sister and I here in the early 80’s from the Chicago suburbs and I couldn’t be more grateful for the childhood I had. My father was a builder and I grew up on a small farm with horses in Fish Creek. Growing up in a tourist community and having parents that were both self-employed taught me at a young age how to work hard and create my own opportunities. I went on to college at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire and graduated with a bachelors in Psychology. I never was quite sure what I would do with my degree but I was thankful for the experiences, spontaneity of college life, friendships, and personal commitments I learned being at a University. I lived in Florida for a few years after graduation but eventually found my way back to Door County in the spring of 2007, when I met my husband James. For a few years we spent summers working in Door County and winters traveling and working other tourist communities in the States but we really wanted to figure out a way to live year round in the County. James landed a full time bar manager position at Husby’s in Sister Bay and I joined him there as an assistant manager.
How did your business begin?
After a few years back in Door County we became overwhelmed with house hunting and property prices and started to question our ability to really afford to live and establish ourselves here. What followed was a huge leap of faith… James convinced me to go to an auction at an old, dilapidated farm that had been foreclosed on a few years prior. My initial reaction was, no way. The magnitude of the property, the number of out buildings and the amount of work that needed to be done was overwhelming. I thought to myself, “we don’t even own a lawn mower.” In spite of all of the reasons not to, we went to the auction and ended up being the highest bidders! The following three years were filled with projects, trades and favors from handymen, neighbors and a incredible amount of hard work as we began rebuilding and repurposing our farm. In June of 2013 James and I married in our gardens and threw a ridiculously large reception of over 400 people.
Our property is situated on five scenic acres just four miles outside of Sister Bay. I consider us a farmette… there is something feminine and romantic about the whimsical space with rambling water features, walking bridges, garden trellises carpeted with summer flowers and the horses quietly grazing in the background of it all. The rustic out-buildings and raised garden beds are the perfect backdrop for anyone’s special event. The centralized garden gazebo where ceremonies are held is our mainstay. It is the only original structure on the farm that hasn’t been rebuilt. We also offer a private cottage space for the bridal party, a built in stone bar, onsite parking, a band stage, and multi-stall indoor restrooms.
I think what makes us different is that we live here, Garden Gables is our home and everything that has been done to repurpose the property has been a labor of love which lends to our attention to detail. Due to zoning and maintaining privacy we only do a handful of events each season, which keeps us unique and preserves originality. When we do host events, couples have access to the space Thursday through Sunday and I am around the entire time to answer questions, be present for vendor arrivals and general facilitation of the entire event. We are a great fit for the ambitious bride and groom that are enthusiastic about personalizing their day, all details are outsourced separately by the couple or their planner which makes for a one of a kind experience each time and helpful if they are budget conscious. We have a great relationship with many vendors but a couple isn’t tied into anything. We have seen everything from casual pig roast parties to full service catering events with an eight piece band!
Most of the couples that choose Garden Gables as their venue have been DIY and I have done the day of coordinating for them. Their ultimate goal is a beautiful ceremony location followed by an incredible celebration without overthinking it. We have an effortless setting with plenty of charm that doesn’t require you to bring in a bunch of stuff to “create” the atmosphere. Our pricing is simple and my goal is transparency from the initial emails to the culmination of the event. Please visit our website www.gardengablesdoorcounty.com to learn more about Garden Gables hosting your event!