We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Crelia and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

I wish I could say that I had a business plan and had everything figured out prior to starting Loot Rentals with my sister-in-law, but that would be a vast departure from the truth! In all honesty, there wasn’t much foresight at all because we didn’t start this business to become “business owners,” as crazy as that sounds. We started our company because we were passionate about offering something different in the Event Rentals space — something that didn’t exist, but that there was obvious demand for. When planning my own wedding, I was discouraged by the options at hand, so decided to set out to collect or buy items that fit within my vision. In my hunt for unique tabletop items and decor, I encountered plenty of others looking for the same thing. By the time of my wedding, my sister-in-law, Rhoda, and I had already decided on a name for our new event rental business, and were excited and ready to start marketing ourselves upon my return from my honeymoon. Our goal was to do around ten events per month in our first year. It seemed like a reasonable number — at that time, it wasn’t even a thought in our minds that it would grow beyond the two of us, or we’d have to hire a team to handle a larger demand. However, to our surprise, that first year exploded into 200 events, and we brought on a full-time warehouse manager six months in. There wasn’t much of a thought process behind the “how” to start – we just did it. Personally, I tend not to “overthink” things, and instead jump in headfirst as long as I have a good feeling about it. I wouldn’t necessarily give someone the advice to make a life-altering decision based on a “feeling,” but I do think there’s power in making a decision, acting on it, and figuring out the problems as they come. The more time you spend mulling over the “what-ifs” of a business model, the more time you spend missing out on opportunities that could be bringing in cash and growing your company.

The first year of running Loot Rentals and building it from the ground up brought so many challenges and lessons that could in no way be learned just by reading a book. We learned by doing, failing, and trying again. I might not have known how to interpret a P&L or budget plan when we first started our company, but I got a deep-dive course the first couple years in. We now know better – we have core values, a mission statement, business projections, and all the other business-y things that you’re “supposed to have.”

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Back in 2011, if someone said “event rentals,” you would picture long hard plastic tables, run-of-the-mill tablecloths, and rickety white folding chairs. Offering our signature look of blending vintage and new in a modern, free-spirited way as an option in renting furniture and decor — for weddings, corporate events, entertainment venues, magazine shoots, and so much more — was new territory. We were first-to-market in Austin when we launched in February of 2011, and there were only a handful of others doing the same thing around the country.

Ten years later, I am most proud of the fact that Loot has truly grown into a lifestyle brand — one that merges good design with practicality. What started with event rentals has organically grown into interiors with the launch of our Austin brick-and-mortar and online retail shop, Loot Finer Goods. There, we carry vintage apparel and home offerings, and apothecary goods, all of which focus on sustainability. Across all channels, we’ve created a brand that embodies that, and our other core values — like community, connection, and living a life of intention. These are ideals we work by, and ones we hope we can help carry through many parts of our clients’ and customers’ lives…from what they wear, to how they furnish a space, to how they celebrate with family and friends. You can find us at high-profile events like SXSW, and then also at a family’s Thanksgiving table — both of which we are equally proud to be a part of.

Within the past three years, the “Loot Look” has even gained popularity among the real estate market, where we are constantly asked to stage homes for sale. The soul and warmth that is apparent in a Loot-designed space is unparalleled in the furniture rental industry and has not only propelled our growth substantially, but kept us afloat when the events industry crumbled under the weight of the pandemic last year. I would confidently admit that we have not done things the easy way as we have built this business.  When we began, we didn’t have a blueprint or any metrics for how the business should look operations-wise — we had to invent our own way of doing things and use our own history to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It has always been important to us to practice sustainability within our company, which presents its own set of challenges. Have you ever tried to sustainably package 350 matching teacup and saucer sets without paper? Yeah, neither did anyone else, EVER… except for us! And, we did it successfully with crates, reusable boxes, dish racks and washable felt padding. Would I recommend taking the road less-traveled to set yourself apart? Absolutely. Would I vouch for the fact that doing so would yield your own value proposition that no one else would dare copy? You betchya.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

Well, since I’m still relatively new to the area I’m not sure I would make the best tour guide, but I have discovered some pretty special places that I truly love sharing with visitors when they come to visit Fort Worth!

Going out to see live music is a MUST. Here’s where we would go:
• Keys Lounge on a Sunday or Thursday night. This is where you go to hear the blues. And it’s the best.
• Tulips on a Tuesday to hear Big Mike sing Elton John covers and have the best Reuben you’ve ever tasted in your life.
• The Post at River East, to catch an intimate show with a local singer/songwriter and drink (very strong) cucumber gin sodas.
• Shipping & Receiving Bar on Tuesday night to see Jim Milan’s Bucket List Jazz Band, where Jim (now in his 90s) plays some of the best big-band jazz music in the area, alongside a fantastic group of classic musicians.

If it’s warm, then we would have to get outside for some Vitamin D and sunshine. For fun outdoors, here’s where we would go:
• Dinosaur Valley State Park for a quick hike down to Blue Hole, a great little swim spot with cliffs to jump off of. We would spend the whole day swimming, snacking and drinking Ranch Waters.
• Eagle Mountain Lake, where we would rent a wake-surf boat through my favorite boat sharing app GetMyBoat, and spend the day surfing and trolling around to find the best cove to relax in. Lake snacks would include charcuterie and cookies, while local beer from Cowtown Brewing would fill an ice chest.
• One of my favorite spots to spend the day in the water is Big Rocks, where we park our folding camping chairs right in the middle of the water, and watch the kids splash and splash with the dog. Afterwards, we always hit up the snowcone stand down the street. I highly recommend the Pina Colada with Cream.

For eats, our go to’s are casual but always good:
• The Woodshed for a casual dinner and bonfire on a cool night
• HG Supply along the Trinity River for their Thai curry bowl
• Joe T’s for fajitas and margs on the picturesque patio
• The Tavern for Sunday Brunch
• Tinies on South Main for some of the best interior Mexican food and empanadas
• Heim Barbecue on the River for really good brisket, ribs and slaw
• Cannon Chinese Kitchen for an authentic Chinese family-style meal in a 1930s bungalow
• Wabi House for my favorite Happy Hour in the city!
• Nonna Tata for homemade pasta and the feeling of being in Italy. Don’t forget bring your own bottle of wine!
• Gemelle for yummy pizza, cocktails, and bocce ball in the beautiful outdoor space
• And, because you can’t come to Fort Worth and not get a steak, we would go to The Stockyards and order a mouth-watering hand-cut filet and whisky cocktails at Lonesome Dove.

For a little gift to bring home to the pet sitter, you can’t go wrong when shopping down and around South Main. My favorite spots to take out-of-towners are:
• Morgan Mercantile for unique Fort Worth goods and souvenirs
• Laude the Label for breezy linen staples and on-trend artful jewelry
• W Durable Goods for a vintage cowboy hat and handmade leather goods

Fort Worth is also home to the largest rodeo, some of the best art museums, and America’s best voted zoo, so it’s hard to get bored in this town! My favorite museum is The Modern, for their impressive art collection and the architecture within the space. The Fort Worth Zoo also never disappoints – you could spend three days there and STILL not see everything there is to see. Plus, they’re always growing or adding a new exhibit. And for anyone that ever visits, we always take them to see the stockyards and the cattle drive! There is just nothing else like it and is quintessentially Texas.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

First and foremost, my business partner and my sister-in-law, Rhoda Brimberry, for being an excellent wingwoman the past 10 years. She balances my impulsiveness and pushes the envelope with her crazy ideas, making Loot what it is today.

My husband, Tyler Crelia, for putting up with this wild journey since our wedding day, and being the biggest supporter since Day One. He has been there to wash dishes, load trucks, and — on a whim — pick up 16 church pews from a little church in Victoria, Texas that we just HAD to have in our inventory.

And, our mothers. Rhoda’s and my mom both loaned us money to start this crazy venture. Without their investment, we wouldn’t have been able to fulfill our very first order, which consisted of over 1,500 pieces of mismatched china!

Website: www.lootrentals.com // www.lootfinergoods.com

Instagram: @lootrentals // @lootfinergoods

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annacrelia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lootvintagerentals/ // https://www.facebook.com/lootfinergoods/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/loot-rentals-fort-worth

Other: LOOKBOOKS https://issuu.com/lootvintagerentals

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.