When Haydee and Federico Alderete began their business in National City, Calif., nearly eight years ago, it was a lark. “We actually started at home. We both had full-time jobs. My husband started making tables, 60-in. rounds, and we had some chairs. Some friends asked if they could rent them,” Haydee says.
A year later, Haydee quit her job to focus on Concepts Event Design. A year after that, her husband did the same. Four years ago, the couple rented a small unit in the same building they are in now. “We really thought we were going to be there for awhile,” Haydee says. “Then, all of a sudden, three months later, we ran out of room.”
Another unit became available and they moved for the second time in six months to their current 4,500-sq.-ft. facility. A second 1,200-sq.-ft. location provides additional storage. “We’re looking right now for a bigger location,” Haydee says.
In the meantime, the couple is redoing the space they have to accommodate their customer service philosophy. “We want to be able to help one customer in the front and have a separate location in the back to meet with customers. We want to have an extra space for coordinators to meet with their clients after the client has met with us,” she says.
The Alderetes have changed the look of the lobby to include lounge furniture, muted colors and framed prints of past events. In addition, Haydee hopes to add new lighting and a flat-screen television to portray an event slideshow for clients to see what they can do.
Meeting with clients is important, as 75 percent of the company’s business is weddings. The rest of the revenue comes from corporate events. “When we first started, my vision was the wedding industry,” Haydee says. “That’s what I advertised from the beginning. All my advertising is done in the north, but the best way to promote our business is to do a good job, because you can only do it once. That’s our best source of advertising for our work.”
Clearly, the philosophy has paid off. In January, Concepts was building a custom chandelier, adding each crystal string by hand. The chandelier was destined for a high-profile wedding, one that will be featured on “Platinum Weddings,” a television series shown on the Women’s Entertainment (WE) channel. “We didn’t know when we first started it, but we knew it was going to be a special wedding,” Haydee says.
The client also ordered custom linens and pillows, something Concepts is happy to provide. “A lot of times people bring in a pattern or something they want and we can create it for them. All linens are custom-made to specifications. We buy what will rent in the future. We custom-design everything. We do chair covers, chair pads and lounge furniture,” Haydee says.
Despite the small space, Concepts’ staff is split into two groups: event décor and furniture is led by Federico and linens is led by Haydee. Preparation for events is extensive for both crews.
“We are very limited with time when we get to the places,” Haydee says. “A lot of the preparation is done here at the office. We do a lot of the staging here. We can create the space here and have the exact measurements. We have our crossbars and trusses in the back, and from there we start decorating. Most of the designing is done here, and then we prepare everything and transport it.”
Most of their business is in the San Diego area, but Haydee says “right now, we can go up to Orange County and Palm Springs as that’s the furthest we’ve gone.”
Despite being in business less than eight years, the Alderetes already have loyal fans. “I have clients right now who used to visit the house when I had our showroom there. They’re happy with our work because we care. We limit the number of events we do in a day, because we want to do the best job possible. To us, customer service and quality has always been our No. 1 priority and as long as we keep doing that, we are going to be very busy. We want to be able to give them everything,” Haydee says.
The Alderetes already have three reasons to keep growing the business — a daughter, son and granddaughter. Currently, daughter Jessica is the office manager, son Andres works with Federico on site visits and granddaughter Natalie, who is three years old, already has a miniature tool belt and a flair for bright linens.
“She walks around in the back, wearing her little tool belt, and tries to imitate my husband. She’s so color-coordinated,” Haydee says. “This is a family business and we have to make sure the next generation continues. We plan to pass it on to our children.”