R. Jack Balthazar is the creation of Rene and Niki Delacueva. Partners both in life and in enterprise, Rene and Niki met while living in the same freshman dorm at the University of Southern California. After graduating with degrees in finance and kinesiology (Rene and Niki, respectively), they were married and began their buttoned-up careers – Rene in a bowtie at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Niki in hose and pumps (FABulous pumps, but pumps nonetheless) working in othopaedic research of the hip. Yes, thrilling stuff...hold on, it gets better.
They began to entertain incessantly, constantly having friends over for elaborate dinner parties, theme parties – any excuse to plan some fun and to spice up the monotony...and the hobby of entertaining soon took hold. Rene and Niki launched R. Jack Balthazar in 2001 and celebrated with a bowtie and pantyhose bonfire. They went on to produce some amazing parties out of the garage of their tiny house. The garage soon became full of décor pieces and they moved R. Jack into a small bungalow in Pasadena, where they produced incredibly large-scale events out of a shop with one tiny sink and one tiny door. Now headquartered in Pasadena (with a roll-up door and FOUR sinks), R. Jack Balthazar is proud to be considered one of the premier event design firms in the country.
Who is R. Jack Balthazar?
Hmmm...that a question we get every day. It is, theoretically, the name of our first-born son; though technically, we do not have a son. Unconventional? Indeed. Endearing? We hope so. We do, however, have a daughter, Mila Jack
, who is our inspiration, our tireless travel companion, and she is glad we didn't name her Balthazar.
Now, back to the name. The "R" is a designation of "Rene", our Creative Director, and the "Jack" is just a classic cute-boy name. "Balthazar" is the name of a 12-liter bottle of champagne, and, as if that's not sufficiently inspiring, it is also the name our favorite restaurant in New York. And it was there, after a couple bottles of champagne and midnight towers of fruits de mer, that we decided "R. Jack Balthazar" would be the perfect name for our son and, until then, for our company. And this was all long before Balthazar became the demon on Charmed
, I swear!
Niki Delacueva, Co-Founder / PresidentEmail Niki
Born and raised in a small, quaint town in Northern California, my love affair with all things fabulous began when I moved to Los Angeles and I was immediately immersed in the many cultures of such a divergent and thriving city, a city where it seemed anyone could be transformed into anything, and where everything was possible. I loved exploring the wholesale area of downtown - where you could buy 5 for $10 tank tops, ballgown skirts, pet turtles, and bacon-wrapped hot dogs all on one block. Rene and I realized we shared the same affinity for exploring, for shopping, and for celebrating.
I have always been somewhat of a professional collector (AKA shopper). One of my most meaningful loves is vintage fashion...1950s dresses and hats, 1960s coats, 1970s accessories...true pieces of art. When Rene and I moved into a tiny 2-bedroom house we promptly turned one bedroom into a closet. We called it the "salon" (because "salon" sounds better than "bedroom converted into a closet"), and it was a glorious assemblage of rolling racks of vintage couture organized by decade. I'm addicted to magazines (I subscribe to at least 15 and can't bear to part with them each month) and feel a visceral hunger for coffee table books. I could open a library and it would have sections like "Palm Springs architecture", "Palm Beach fashion", "Hawaiiana", "Riviera lifestyle", "Fashion Photography" and of course, "Grace Kelly"). I collect vintage barware, vintage luggage, old maps, and monogrammed anything.
Compulsive? Perhaps. Passionate? Absolutely. So what's a girl to do? A girl with many obsessions - shopping, reading, writing, photography, a fascination with distant lands, an infatuation with fashion, and a passion for parties?
Well in my case, I was lucky to be married to a man who had his own mania for decorating, cooking, and creating. So we decided to start a business together, a company where all our disparate hobbies could live together in peace. We figured that at the very least, we'd have a legitimate excuse to continue to shop for things that we loved that didn't necessarily fit, make sense, and/or that we had absolutely no foreseeable need for. As we have found - it is these finds, collected over the last 15 years from all corners of the globe that are our constant inspiration. In fact we typically plan our journeys based on the shopping - the flea markets outside Paris, the night markets in Bangkok, the handicraft markets in Jaipur. On many occasions we have sat brainstorming about the right inspiration for a photo shoot, or an upcoming event and we'll flashback to some perfect shopping experience when we were drawn to something odd for no particular reason - as if the clouds parted to shine a ray of golden sunlight into the darkest corner of the dirtiest shop - to show us some peculiar little thing that we just can't live without!
With no background in flowers or events, no mentors, no training, and no real plan, we felt like renegades...and this rebellion has been invaluable. When we began this venture, we didn't know the names of different flowers - but we knew how we wanted them to look; and we knew the most important part was that they be used to evoke a certain feeling, and the rest of it could be figured out. We have never learned to follow any formulas when it comes to what we design - we take 100% of our inspiration from the product we are showcasing, the artist that is being promoted, or the radiant bride and how she wants to be seen on her most important day. What I most love about our work with R. Jack is that no two days are alike, no two events are alike, and no two clients are alike-from fashion houses and entertainment firms to non-profits and politico...and with brides running the gamut from corporate attorneys to surgeons to actresses and artists...we love that each day becomes its own little adventure!Niki's Faves
Rene Delacueva, Co-Founder / Creative DirectorEmail Rene
As Creative Director for R. Jack Balthazar, I am called upon to wear many hats. One day I may be choosing wall paint and carpet colors for our fabricators in Nice who are building scenic flats for an upcoming event in Cannes...or I may be surprised by the early arrival of a container of furniture from India that needs to be unpacked...but with 2 warehouses bursting at the seams, where do we put all the fabulous finds? I may be working with a PR firm brainstorming creative on the best ways to make their client's brand come to life during an event, all the while working with a gaggle of beautiful brides.
People always ask me questions like...How did I get started in this business? How did I learn to make flowers? Who did I train with? The short answer is that I have no formal training and I never worked in this industry or any design business before Niki and I began this venture (though I did what I could to spice up the spreadsheets that were the bane of my existence at my old corporate job). Our experience has come from the hundreds of events that we do every year...and the creativity and inspiration is fueled by the people and objects we interact with. The fun part is how we actually gather up all the ideas, digest it and then put it together into one cohesive vision. This is an intense job; I love every minute and I am passionate about what we create!10 Things I Can't Live Without
Things We Love:
Flowers...and branches, grasses, fun leaves and foliage, trees and succulents. Candlelight, fabulous fabrics, fancy ribbons, crystals and feathers, bubbling fountains and bubbly champagne, chocolate soufflés and Baked Alaska, warm cookies and cold milk, citrus trees in blossom, foggy mornings and starry evenings, cold mountain streams and calm alpine lakes, manicured espaliers and fields of wildflowers; butterflies and bumblebees, vintage books, vintage couture, little tools for funny things (like chestnut peelers and strawberry hullers), monograms (no matter whose they are), retro bar vessels and accoutrements, vintage china and time-loved linens, gorgeous silks that beg to be touched, big open spaces and innovatively designed small places...indulgence, extravagance, decadence, drama, luxury, novelty and innovation. And mostly, we LOVE parties!
Most people love a good party, right? For us, it's a love of the entire process. There's nothing more exciting than the rush of adrenaline at its inception, the moment when you realize that you have the perfect occasion to celebrate: whether for a lavish wedding, an intimate anniversary party or a gathering of friends to commemorate the summer solstice. The months of designing a personal "look" for the event and assembling the distinctive ingredients; the weeks of preparation and perfecting the details leading to the last moments before the guests' arrival, lighting the candles, straightening the linens and breathing in a deep feeling of contentment that this party will be fabulous!