Parents don't always know best. Rrivre Davies remembers that his parents used to kid him about his penchant for collecting "everything." "But my collections were always organized and labeled," he notes. "Now, I laugh and tell them, 'See, I make a living being an organized pack rat.'"
"Pack rat" is a humble way of describing Davies' role as founder and head of Los Angeles-based Rrive Works Event Design. Thanks in part to his passion for collecting beautiful pieces, Rrive Works now occupies a 60,000-square-foot warehouse offering event rentals, custom fabrication and event planning. The staff of 20 oversees "too many" events a year to count, Davies says. And he gives much credit for his success to his parents. "My design sense really derives from the fact that while growing up, my parents made a lot of sacrifices to take me around the world to very unusual places, as well as very far-off destinations," he says. "My eye is fascinated by different and unique things, and I was constantly stimulated by these experiences."
Davies fell into events on a fluke. He pursued Latin American studies and art history in college, then worked in the film industry while waiting to start grad school for architecture and urban development. His roommate was a caterer, who brought Davies along to a meeting for the upcoming première party of the Disney film "Pocahontas." Davies thought he as at the meeting to help with buffet design, but the Hollywood honchos assumed he was there to pitch a plan for the entire event. Enough people on the client side decided Davies could pull it off and hired him. In the end, "I made believers out of disbelievers, and they were my biggest fans after the event and got me all my work after that for years," he explains.
Although Davies "finessed" his way through that first big meeting, he believes in backing up promises by delivering quality, no matter how much work it takes.
"The wake-up call to the 30-and-under crowd is, this is no cake walk," he warns. "It can be--if you just want to take a client's money and smile. But to really, really be a creator, a designer, an innovator, an amazing caterer, or a planner who builds a great team of creative partners, it is more than phone calls and invoices. Our clients deserve more, the industry deserves more, and you should expect more for your own success."
Davies is no fan of the "charlatans," as he calls them, in special events, who take credit for the work of others but care only about their own pocketbook. Despite this, quality will win out over the fakers, he says.
"I truly believe the key to success is quality and innovation," he says. "I understand when the economy is in hard times, people look for cheap and pretty. But quality—the unique and the beautiful--will always win in the long run." He adds," "At Rrivre Works, we do not build event furniture and props. We build real furniture and props that we use to design events."
Oh, and where does a person get a cool first name like Rrivre? It’s a nickname from high school, Davies explains. "I was a swimmer, diver, beach lifeguard, windsurfer, bodysurfer, triathlete, lifeguard competitor, etc., in high school and college, so water was my life," he says. "My girlfriends started calling me Rrivre, and it stuck. Anyone want to race?"
Rrivre Works 2035 E Vernon Ave., Vernon, CA 90058; 323/985-4229; www.rrivreworks.com
"My father was a contractor, among other things, and that made me a contractor's indentured servant. I hated it at the time--roofing, laying floor, drywall, painting--remember oil-base Navajo White? But, now I feel blessed for my years of indenture, training and subsequent freedom. It is what allowed me to transition from being an event designer to also being a manufacturer of new and innovative pieces and collections."
GROUPIES VS. GREATS
"This industry has a lot of allure, so lots of people want in, but so many do not understand there is a beauty in paying your dues, building a network of creative associates, not burning bridges, and standing on your own merit. In the end, the entire industry suffers when we are not honest and forthcoming with one another. I guess it separates the great from the groupies in the long run, but it’s a sad process to watch."