Meet Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener of VIPER by KCH in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener.So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Kelsi and I (Celeste) met as interns at Bolthouse Productions in 2014. Kelsi had moved here from Reno, NV to go to Fashion School and I was raised here and decided to skip college and find an internship. We both thought we wanted to do event production. Kelsi was interested in producing fashion shows and I was interested in producing large scale events. Through interning and working the field, we both found that we didn’t want to do that at all. While working at different events, we seemed to somehow both always being tasked with the role of running the check in process. We had a boss that was very familiar with running a door efficiently and she trained us to do the same. Not long after, people started getting familiar with us at doors of events and started asking us to help run their event check ins. Kelsi and I actually were not friends at all, we just worked well together. In November of 2015, we were at a massive event in Downtown, LA and were both called for the same event unbeknownst to each other. That was the night we decided to partner up and brainstorm starting a front of house company. We were shocked it didn’t already exist when it was so badly needed in the industry. (Front doors at major events were notorious for being a disaster and very often overlooked during production.) However, in the beginning it was supposed to be a “very small, side hustle” – we had NO idea that VIPER would be born and quickly dominate the market. Word started to spread and clients started to call us. We are now 17 months old and still entirely self-funded and debt free. As of now, we just focus on being the best at what we do. We haven’t spent time on advertising or marketing yet, so far, we have gotten here just by word of mouth and were looking forward to continuing to expand.Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
HAHA! NOPE!! I think we have had more bumps than we can count but ultimately, they made us a much stronger company.

First off, being taken seriously as two young women in an entirely male dominated industry was just the beginning of struggles. We set out to build a company unlike anything on the market with zero investor capital as two females in our twenties. (We actually began with another business partner but she later realized this company was not for her, it was mostly peaceful but definitely another bump along the way.) We’re still debt free and entirely self-funded, and we’re proud of that but its brought us a plethora of challenges. As a start-up, there have been months where we couldn’t afford to pay our bills or even our staff. Kelsi and I always worked hard and put as much of our own money into the company as we could afford. Her and I would never pay ourselves out and instead pay the team that works for us a more competitive rate to build a stronger team. That’s not necessarily advice for everyone, it’s just something we believed in.

As a partnership, Kelsi and I had a rough start. We are both strong and opinionated in what we believe in and we hadn’t figured out the best way to communicate so there were lots of heated arguments at first. The challenges we’ve had range from super small like figuring out how to pack all our equipment into the back of Kelsi’s car our first weekend in business to faking it like were a much bigger deal to major clients in the beginning.

I’m sure I’m missing hundreds of other obstacles that have come up, just know — there have been PLENTY! But looking back on them is so funny and always makes us laugh.

Please tell us about VIPER by KCH.
VIPER by KCH is a front of house operations and logistics company for events and venues. We’re a unique company that specializes in curating a high-end hospitality experience for brands and occasions. We’re best known for our team of industry trained VIPER girls who run the guest check in, seat and escort VIPs, cocktail serve and represent brands. We also compile guest lists, provide all the software and technology, collect guest data on site for our clients, and more.

Hands down, we are most proud of our team of VIPER girls. We have a core team that is so much more than just a pretty face. We vet and train girls so that when clients hire us, they’re hiring pure quality. Our team is known for being the most efficient and intelligent. We are hospitality driven, solution based, and incredibly chic in presence.

We are set apart by our level of sophistication at any event. We are incredibly detail oriented and always overly prepared. VIPER makes the brand or client look better by being a phenomenal liaison to their guests.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Celeste: One of my all-time favorite memories is being 5 years old and packing my bags because I had decided I was going to live with Britney Spears! I packed all my favorite dolls and had my parents walk me downstairs so she could pick me up and I could move in with her. Needless to say, she never came, ha! I still love her though.

Kelsi:  One of my funnier memories is when I was 4 years old I wore the poofiest Christmas dress ever and I was missing my two front teeth and had to perform at a Christmas concert. So I got up on stage and sang “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!

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