By Amy Geiszler-Jones - Photography by Madison Ham
Editor’s Note: CEO Spotlight is a recurring monthly feature on CEOs, presidents and business owners in the Wichita area.
An event that has a wow factor doesn’t just happen by chance. It happens by design. That’s the philosophy of Nicole Wolf, whose design experience spans from high-end fashion to furniture and now the designing and staging of events in Wichita.
As a fashion designer, Wolf worked in both New York City and Los Angeles for such well-known brands as Victoria’s Secret and Donna Karan. She’s also developed a design business and brand, Same Tree, that provides expertise in designing interiors and custom-made lighting and furniture.
Her designs have been featured in “Vogue,” “Elle Decor,” “Harper’s Bazaar UK” and on online design sites such as Design Milk and Martha Stewart’s American Made.
Now she’s applying her design acumen to events with her upscale event and design consulting business Couture Ever After, which she started about 18 months ago in Wichita.
“I want to create experiences, not just beautiful events, for clients,” Wolf said. “I make sure all the details connect to bring an unforgettable experience and deliver that wow factor.”
Wolf started Couture Ever After around the time she was getting married and wanted to turn an important, unforgettable event in her life into one that her guests would find unforgettable, as well.
She realized other Wichitans want that too, not only for weddings but for other events such as the recent Home for Doc gala, hosted by Spirit AeroSystems to benefit the fundraising efforts of the well-known restored World War II, Wichita-built B-29 bomber named Doc.
“I felt with my fashion background, I could create an event that meets a person’s dreams of a unique experience and make this a more fun process,” she said, of starting her second business since returning to Wichita to fulfill what she termed “a calling to become an entrepreneur.”
Not only does Wolf design events, she creates and leases specialty event décor. Among her rental pieces are “I Love ICT” marquee lights, white trees – which arrived too late to be included in Wolf’s own wedding, a 14-foot tinsel chandelier and even an authentic World War II parachute that she repurposed to originally serve as a signature, lighted ceiling centerpiece at the Doc gala.
Whether planning an event for two or 200 or even larger crowds, Couture Ever After can provide a luxurious, all-encompassed experience for an event, Wolf said. Couture Ever After features many popular event themes – retro, bohemian, chic, rustic vintage, natural and more – that include corresponding specialty rentals and ready-made table settings that she calls party kits. Wolf can accommodate a client’s customized style.
The 8-place setting party kits retail for about $160 and include themed elegant dinnerware, flatware, chargers, custom napkin rings, name cards and chargers that are both completely gorgeous and completely disposable, noted Wolf.
Wolf recently opened a new storefront for her business at 520 S. Commerce Street, right next door to the bridal and custom dress shop Vanya’s Designs. The building was once a former corn broom factory. Earlier in 2017, Wolf designed the space for Vanya’s Design owner Alicia Ybarra. For both shops, Wolf has incorporated elegant, artistic and functional features with some of building’s original elements, such as the warm, worn wooden floors.
For example, at Vanya’s Designs, swagged cream-colored fabric panels trimmed in blush-colored, satin-like fabric serve as design elements, but they can become the “walls” of a dressing room. Oversized framed mirrors – again bringing design and function – lean against the walls. In the Couture Ever After space, Wolf used clean white and black colors as a backdrop to the colorful mood boards and large event photographs that hang on the walls to showcase event design possibilities. She’s created rotating window displays with the rental pieces and themes she has available.
“It all goes back to fashion,” Wolf said, describing how she approaches designing spaces and events. She makes sure all of the details come together to create a seamless, timeless and unforgettable product with plenty of style.
Wolf studied at New York’s premier Fashion Institute of Technology. She specialized in lingerie, she said, because it’s a foundational element that has to be considered when designing haute couture and high-end fashion. She applies that same concept – starting with the foundations and then building out the other specific details – when she approaches event design.
Her creativity, however, was sparked much earlier, when as a a pre-teen she started helping her dad, Bob Boles, repurpose things.
“We once built an elevated, canopied princess bed,” she said. He taught her to solder and understand how to construct things, she said. He’s her business partner for the Same Tree product line, which she started when she returned to Wichita. For awhile, Same Tree designs were carried in The Workroom in the Douglas Design District, but its customers now are primarily on the East and West coasts and in international markets, Wolf said.
An enamalized tumbleweed chandelier was the first Same Tree design piece, and it’s one that Wolf also makes available for rental through Couture Ever After.
The grand opening event for Couture Ever After is planned for Jan. 13-14, when the design studio will partner with Vanya’s Designs and Healing Waters to showcase their services. The event will be held at 520 S. Commerce. In March, Couture Ever After and Vanya’s Designs will hold their second Freedom Through Fashion fundraising event for ICT SOS, which fights human trafficking.