After 30 years of working in sales and operations in the hospitality event industry, Josh and Amy Kohn decided it was time to bring their knowledge and passion for Southern hospitality to the local event industry, along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast. In 2014, they launched SOHO Events and Rentals in Fairhope, Ala., and shortly after opened a second location in Mobile, Ala. “SOHO is short for Southern Hospitality, and we train the SOHO team with an emphasis on events and hospitality,” Josh says. “Our mission has always been to be the best event rental company in the region by providing exceptional products at a fair price with unmatched service.”
That mission, along with the couple’s knowledge of the industry, has catapulted the start-up company from being a garage-based business with an inventory of 50 folding chairs, to one with two locations, 30,000 square feet of warehouse space and 25 employees—in only three years. “Our motto is ‘Be Inspired,’ Josh says. “We believed if we hired good people and treated them fairly, and focused on this mission, that SOHO would be received well in the marketplace—and it was.”
Sit a spell
As the company grew, Josh and Amy put an emphasis on furniture. The business now has more than 500 pieces in its inventory, including stage facades, bars and leather furniture in white, red, purple, pink, brown, black and metallic gold. “In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, we find that our clients are looking for products that are timeless, yet fit their unique style,” Josh says.
SOHO serves clients who want a home-spun aesthetic as well as those who want a more upscale event. “We were recently hired for a wedding where the bride wanted us to transform a parking lot to a chic, modern event space,” Josh says. “We used a 40-by-60-foot frame tent with a white liner, gray wash flooring, acrylic tables, custom stage facade, custom wrapped bars and white leather soft seating throughout with white leather Louis Pop chairs for seating.”
SOHO’s commitment to the community includes acting as title sponsor for the annual Exceptional Arts by The Exceptional Foundation Gulf Coast (EFGC). EFGC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the social, recreational and artistic needs of people with developmental and physical disabilities, and its annual Exceptional Arts event brings together famous local artists with individual participants in order to create art based on the interests of the participants. “We provide all event rentals for this great event,” Josh says. “Proceeds from the Exceptional Arts event, in addition to other fundraising efforts, provide three-fourths of the funds needed to ensure that the foundation participants are able to gather daily for social activities, take field trips and compete in sporting events.”
Josh and Amy’s industry experience have helped them build a solid foundation with a hopeful future, in a small amount of time. “It’s an exciting time to be in the tent and event industry. We see the tent manufacturers constantly pushing the limits and imagination of what is possible,” he says. “And you also see the tent rental companies changing the idea of what a tented space can look and feel like for the client. We are very excited to be a part of such a great industry.”
And they still have the original 50 chairs.