What happens when you take an expert at destination event planning and combine it with a love for camping? You have Shelter Co., a company that specializes in pop-up lodging for groups looking for an overnight outdoor experience. The brainchild of CEO Kelsey Sheofsky, the idea takes outdoor spaces to a whole new level.
Far from the sticky, smelly cabins of summer camp, imagine fully furnished, beautiful tents and amenities like catering and restrooms… in the middle of a stunning campground.
We met up with Kelsey to ask her about her favorite camping spots and how Shelter Co. all began.
An Interview with Kelsey Sheofsky of Shelter Co.
Hipcamp: What kind of work background do you come from?
Kelsey: I was the creative director of an event planning company for 6 years before launching Shelter Co. We specialized in destination weddings and events, so I traveled all around the world for our productions. My husband Mike, who is also my business partner, was working in custom furniture fabrication.
HC: What is your camping experience and do you have any favorite spots you can share with us?
Kelsey: Mike and I both grew up camping with our families. Our first real date was actually camping at Jalama beach down near Santa Barbara and we have gone on at least one camping excursion every year for the past 12 years. Jalama remains a favorite spot. We also love Big Basin. We do a big camping trip with about 30 friends every winter there. Big Sur is also a great spot!
HC: How did the idea come about, what inspired you?
Kelsey: The idea first came up after seeing so many of my weddings and events dictating their location on hotel proximity and availability. I thought it would be so cool to be able to bring the accommodations to the event, not the other way around. And our love for the outdoors helped drive the aesthetic towards a modern luxury take on camping. We cater to a lot of larger groups and events but also can provide full camp set ups for couples and families looking for a unique outdoor experience.
HC: Are the shelters being used by campers/glampers or mainly for events?
Kelsey: It’s probably half and half. We love working with both types!
HC: What if I want to make a skinny almond milk macchiato, is there electricity? Are there lights, and if so, there’s obviously no power hookups, so how do you get electricity to the tents?
Kelsey: Macchiatos are always an option! Some of our properties do have electricity but most don’t. If it’s something that’s desired we can bring it in. If it’s not, we use oil and battery powered lanterns for all the lighting at camp.
HC: Do you decide where the camping experience is or does the user?
Kelsey: We do it both ways. A lot of clients come to us with a specific location in mind but many don’t have any idea. We help guide them based on their specific needs and geography.
HC: How do you find the land where you have these experiences? Do you rent from the landowner?
Kelsey: We are lucky to have a lot of landowners approach us about becoming property partners. But we also love working with properties our clients have selected. And of course we love working with the State and National Park system, when it makes sense. Our tents are large and don’t always fit in a traditional campsite, but group sites work well for what we do.
HC: Do you think these glamping experiences are on the rise and do you think they’re here to stay?
Kelsey: Enjoying the outdoors isn’t a fad, nor is comfort. So I think it’s here to stay.
HC: How many of these camping experiences do you do per year?
Kelsey: We do about 40 per year, but we are expanding to the East Coast, Utah, and Texas in 2014 so we will be doing a lot more in those markets which we are excited about!
HC: What can we look forward to in the Shelter Co. future?
Kelsey: As stated above, expansion! This year we had so many inquiries for doing trips out of state but our travel expenses can be cost-prohibitive. So we are going to have inventory in 4 locations starting this spring so we can service the whole country a lot more affordably. We will also be retailing the tents beginning in January (2014), and are working on an entire product line which will likely launch next fall. Our other big development is bringing Shelter Co. to some of the bigger music festivals this coming year, starting with an entire private camp for Coachella. We are pumped!
As promised, new locations and tents are available on the Shelter Co website!
All images copyright of Shelter Co.
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