How a Burning Man Honeymoon Led This Founder to Change Her Biz Model

Like many new couples, after Portland-based event rental company Something Borrowed founder Lane Bigsby married the love of her life, they went on a honeymoon. But instead of heading to a tropical destination or on a romance-and-baguette-filled trip to Paris, the freshly wedded duo headed to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Yes, that's right. They went to Burning Man, honeymooning at the mecca of anti-capitalism. But Bigsby came home with a renewed idea for her biz. 

So, we caught up with the founder to chat humble beginnings, what she notices when she first walks into a room, and why sustainability will always be a part of her biz. 

What inspired the beginnings of Something Borrowed? 

When I was planning my wedding, I noticed there was a lack of decor that was unique and less traditional. I scoured the area trying to find exactly what I needed for our small wedding, and after failed attempts to find anything I could rent, I ended up sourcing vintage and reclaimed items. I had thought of the idea of starting a rental business, but kept going back and forth with myself as I had just started a corporate job that I thought was going to be "the one" (aka my career job). After our Burning Man honeymoon, I came back with a much clearer sense of what it is I wanted to do with my life and working for corporate America just didn't feel as authentic and meaningful as it once did.

How did you being to compile your stock? Did it start with one piece? Multiple? 

Our hand-curated collection started off small, with the left over wedding items from my own wedding (vintage china plates, rustic wood crates, antique mason jars, etc.). It felt like such a huge leap to branch off into furnishings and upholstered seating, which I did about nine months later. But, I quickly saw the demand for the few furniture pieces we had and I knew that was the direction to take the business, especially considering there was no one else doing what we did at the time.

Was sustainability always part of the Something Borrowed story and what inspired that route?

Sustainability has always been at the core of Something Borrowed. After moving to Portland from a five year stint in Phoenix, I wanted to educate myself with local recycling regulations. Phoenix left me feeling very wasteful and I knew I had to make personal changes. Being raised in a very rural part of Alaska where we literally "lived off the land", instilled in me how much we can get by with so little. I went through a 6-week training program with the City of Portland, and later became a certified Master Recycler. My own wedding produced less than one small grocery bag of waste as my rule was that anything we needed for our wedding was to be easily recyclable, reusable, and repurposed, such as my wedding dress which was made from old dresses and fabric scraps. Sustainability is not only part of my personal beliefs, but one of our core values and has earned us a Gold Certification with the City.

No matter what way you swing it, events produce a lot of waste. There's a lot of one-time usage. But you create beautiful environments AND care about the environment. What are some easy switches we can make when throwing an event? 

Whenever possible, work with vendors who make sustainability a priority. Such as caterers or florists who source from local, organic farms. In fact, you can ditch the flowers all together and instead opt for longer lasting potted plants, which still help bring an event to life but are not ditched after one use. Instead of paper signage, opt for something cooler such as acrylic or treated wood which can be written on and reused many times. When you're looking to source, look to your local community first, versus buying into the temptation of a big box store who may have items trucked or shipped in from out of the country.

"When you're looking to source, look to your local community first."

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What are some ways you encourage your customers to be more eco-conscious?

We always try to offer suggestions on ways our clients can repurpose or use what they already have. We work with a lot of clients for their wedding and one tip we recommend is to reuse floral from your ceremony and incorporate it into your reception. Also, instead of using throw-away items such as plates and cutlery, opt for durable dishware. If cost is an issue, opt for basic place settings which are less expensive, but dress up your table with cool, colorful glassware or table linens that can help pull your look together so that it's cohesive.

Portland and the PNW are definitely a city leading this charge of sustainable. What is it about being in Portland that has inspired you to be even better?

We are surrounded by nature... the coast to the West and mountains to the East. One of the countries largest urban forest sits directly across the river from our warehouse and we want to do what we can to preserve its natural beauty. The City makes it easy to be as green as possible, offering programs and services to residents and businesses wanting to do their part, but who may not know where to start.

What are a few secret tricks of the trade for creating a beautiful and memorable event? 

Excite the senses! You must not only create a visibly pleasing space with decor and lighting, but don't forget about the music, drinks, food and scents. Also, put effort into the theme of your event as this will spark the interest of your guests. It allows them the opportunity to step out of the ordinary and mundane, and into the extraordinary.

What is the most important part of an event?

The atmosphere you create for your guests. Orchestrate an environment that will WOW your guests, leaving them talking well after the party has ended. This might be curated decor that speak to and enhance your brand, interactive activities giving guests something to do, or creating swoon-worthy scenes that are so picture-perfect, you can't help but want to snap a photo to share with others which in turn creates buzz for your next event.

What is your favorite part of an event?

I love seeing how a blank slate can be transformed into a beautifully stylish space. You put in the hard work, plan for months, hand select your vendors and then to see it all come together is priceless!

When you walk into someone else’s event what is the first thing you tend to notice?

I tend to notice the details first. Does the scene fit with the brand or message of the event? Are there cool aspects that you may not have seen yet? People crave the unique and interesting and when I see this, I know the organizers put a lot of effort into truly understanding who their guests are and what vibe they want to create.

Photo credit: Something Borrowed Site