In each Power Couple Profile you will meet a couple that inspires us to grow stronger together. Our goal is to learn from these incredible people and share their unique stories and experiences with our readers. If you know a power couple we should connect with, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
I have always loved Katie’s fun, bubbly energy. I know her from way back in college in Buffalo, NY. We worked together at Abercrombie & Fitch and were the typical college students that loved to go out and have fun. Over time we both grew out of the party life. Katie moved to Miami, found the man of her dreams, and now has a kickass life. Her success didn’t happen overnight though. It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to get to where they are now.
Names: Katie & Jovan Blineau
Ages: 31 & 35
Location: Miami, FL
Occupations: Owners at Unearthed Vintage
We met in June of 2010, dated for one year, were engaged for approximately engaged months, and will be married for five years on February 18, 2017. We have a 1.5-year-old son named Sawyer, and two fur babies. (Both rescues, Riley & Stella.)
How did you meet?
We met because of our former jobs. I (Katie) was the director of operations of an eating disorder clinic, and Jovan was my fire inspector.
I had been waiting weeks for an inspection, and called the phone number of the inspector in my area leaving a semi-threatening voicemail. The next day I had my inspection scheduled. The inspection definitely took longer than usual with some flirting and added conversation (compared to a typical inspection) and I was totally okay with that. I got back to my office and started telling my colleagues (all women) about the “cute boy” I had met.
The next day the phone rings and the caller ID says “Miami-Dade Fire Department”. My assistant called over and said “I think that cute boy is on the phone for you.” I was ecstatic, red in the face, and had to take a few deep breaths before picking up the phone. When I finally got on the call, it wasn’t him. It was his supervisor following up making sure I got the inspection that I needed. I was crushed.
At that point I realized that this was not a normal reaction and I had to do something. I had Jovan’s business card, which included a cell phone number. I ended up texting him, asked him if his GPS tracking device (from the county) let him go out with cute blonde girls, and basically forced him to ask me out. He has been stuck with me ever since.
(Jovan will add to the story that before the inspection started when we drove past one another looking for parking, he did a double take and thought I was cute and he couldn’t believe that I was the person he was meeting for the inspection.)
What makes you a Powr Cupl?
We are a power couple because we share so many loves, and we also run a successful business together. We are both animal lovers, enjoy weightlifting, being outdoors in great weather, and we are both obsessed with our son.
What is your love language? Give an example of how your partner expresses that to you.
We both had to take the quiz to answer this question. Jovan’s love language is “words of affirmation,” and Katie’s is “physical touch.” More than anything we are a support system for one another, and would do anything for the other person.
How do you hope to inspire other couples?
We get up every morning to lead the way in the event industry so we can influence those around us to create a more beautiful and sustainable world and better themselves while doing so.
What was the lowest point in your relationship and how did you overcome the difficult times?
In October of 2012, just ten months after starting our business and nine months after saying “I do” we decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and move in with our business (into our warehouse) to help the business grow. At the time we were both working full-time jobs and could only afford rent on a warehouse or an apartment, but not both. We came up with the idea together and found a warehouse that we could (literally) call home.
We spent one year and two months living in that place, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. It was a really tiring experience. From upstairs neighbors who had a drum set over our bedroom (and played at all hours of the night) and neighbors and guests who would park in front of our truck and overhead door, keeping us from being able to load up and deliver for events, it was just awful. We also could never really turn “off” since we lived and worked all in the same location (aside from our day jobs, of course). We would get up, go to work for 8 hours, come home, work on the business, see clients, finally go to bed (often later than 2am), then get up and do it all over again.
Looking back now, we honestly feel lucky to still be husband and wife and business partners after that.
What is the best investment you have made in your relationship?
This one is more of an indirect investment, but we invested in business coaching to help us learn to become better business owners, and in turn we learned how to become better communicators, which has helped our relationship grow stronger.
What is the key to a strong and successful relationship?
Communication, hands down.
Just a Cupl More…
Give us a rundown of Unearthed Vintage…
We conceptualized the idea of Unearthed Vintage in 2011, bringing our ideas to life in January of 2012 as South Florida’s first vintage rental company, leading the way in the event industry with our carefully curated collection. With a passion to remain the largest vintage rental company in the southeast, we are dedicated to continuously evolving by incorporating new trends with timeless classics. We believe in quality, both in the rentals we offer and the service we provide, building meaningful relationships with everyone we come in contact with. We exist to create memorable experiences through our unique style and innovation.
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Last nights wedding was definitely amazing. Our Thompson farmhouse tables and our Whimsy bistro lighting helped it all come together. We always love @vizcaya_museum weddings! Especially with @jcgevents @juliarohdedesigns @billhansencatering @cloud9bakery @sperrytents_mia & @shutterbarn #meetthemaretts
What made you want to do business together?
From very early on in our relationship we knew we wanted to start a business together. We toyed around with ideas of owning a shack on the beach where we rented paddleboards, and Katie would teach SUP yoga after becoming certified. Then when we started talking about marriage in early 2010 we learned that we both had a passion for vintage. Fast forward to getting engaged in June of 2010, we started searching for a company like ours that we could rent from. At the time it only existed in California.
With that, we started collecting, giving ourselves eight months to have enough for our 100 person wedding. After three months’ time we had more than enough, and we realized that we loved doing this. We also realized that there was a need for this in South Florida, and that’s when we began business planning.
Since we were also planning our wedding, we waited until January of 2012 to register (also giving us a full year before having to worry about taxes). We went into our wedding knowing that we would use the photos for our marketing. Within days after our wedding (February 18th, 2012) with the help of Jovan’s sister, we submitted the photos to Ruffled Blog, a national wedding blog, and we were picked up and featured almost immediately. After that the inquiries started rolling in. We completed our first official event in March and the rest is history.
How did you get the word out about Unearthed Vintage when you first started your business?
We used our wedding photos as the first marketing opportunity and were fortunate enough to have them featured on a national blog. We also did a lot of networking to get the word out to the local event industry. We had a PR company help us early on, who assisted us with features on Daily Candy, Refinery 29, and several other blogs and magazines. We also used social media to post pictures of our new pieces, and to connect with local professionals.
What is each other’s role in the business?
Katie is the CEO, and oversees just about everything in the offices. Jovan is the COO, and handles more of the operations in the warehouse. We definitely have different roles in the company, and it is balanced based on our strengths and what we enjoy doing.
Tell us the experience of the growth and how has it impacted your relationship.
We are very fortunate that we have grown as fast as we have. In five years we went from completing 30 events a year (in our first year) to almost 350 last year alone, and we will beat that number this year. Our relationship has both struggled and grown stronger because of the business. We have made sacrifices, and there have definitely been arguments, but we always overcome the hard times through communicating with one another. Overall it has made us a stronger couple. (A Powr Cupl, maybe?)
Do you have employees?
When we got started it was just us. Running the offices, lifting the heavy furniture, driving the trucks, delivering to events, it was us. Into the first year we were hired for some larger events that would have been too much for just the two of us, so we began to hire event staff for the weekends.
Fast forward five years and we have a full-time Event Producer who handles all of our sales, a full-time Logistics Guru who handles all of our incoming inquiries in addition to all of the details surrounding the logistics and routing for events, a full-time Event & Warehouse Manager who oversees all events and warehouse operations, and several part-time delivery staff.
Has it been hard balancing your rolls as parents and business owners?
It was something we were very worried about when we first got pregnant. Ultimately it motivated us to step back from the business and be less involved, while trusting our employees more (ie: working 40 hours a week instead of 60-80). We also found a wonderful nanny through care.com (we won the lottery with her!) and right after Sawyer turned one we started him in a toddler program at a Montessori school. Our great support system means everything. Every morning we drop him at school, and Lisa (our nanny) picks him up, and then we make it home by 6pm so we have time to hang out at the park before bath and bedtime. We spend our weekends doing family activities, and it’s the perfect balance.
Do you feel that your relationship got stronger after having a business together and having a son?
Absolutely. It took a little getting used to at first, since our whole world was turned upside down, but after about four months we got into a groove and have continued growing stronger and closer together ever since.
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Getting a bit personal this morning. Happy Father's Day to this guy and all of the other amazing dads out there. This company, our baby boy, and even more so I (@katie_unearthedvintage) would not be where we are today without him. #fathersday #babysawyerjames 📷 by @katbraman
Since you live and work together, how do you handle “clocking out” in order to step away from the business and relax or focus on each other?
This was more of an issue when we lived with the business. Now we’re at a point where once we leave the office, we are done working (for the most part). Sometimes issues arise that our employees need to contact us for after hours (since events take place 24/7) and it’s unsettling when that happens, but for the most part Jovan and I are able to “turn off” on most days.
Does your business ever interfere with your love life?
Between a growing business and a growing 1.5-year-old, our love life is very different from what we used to know. It now takes more effort to show one another how we feel, which also makes it that much more special. We also schedule a date night once a month, which may not sound very often to most, but it works for us. More recently we have decided to start taking our date “nights” elsewhere, instead of having nice dinner at a restaurant our next date will be paddle boarding or heading out on Jovan’s boat.
Tell us about a mistake you’ve made in your business and what you learned from it?
Our biggest mistakes have all stemmed from a common mistake, which is not trusting our gut. There have been several instances that this has come back to bite us and we have learned that if there is something, even if it’s just a little something, deep down that is telling us not to do something (or to do something) then we should follow our gut.
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Showroom is coming together! #eventrental #vintagerentals #vintagerentalsmiami #eventfurniturerental #vintagefurnituremiami #eventfurniturerentalmiami #rentvintagefurniture #farmhousetablerentals #farmtablerentals #farmhousetablerentals #vintageweddingideas #unearthedvintage #eventrentals #eventprofs #miamievents #miamiwedding #miamiweddings #focusmiami
In your businesses, what has proven to be the biggest waste of time and/or money when it comes to marketing and promoting? What has been your best marketing tool?
Traditional advertising outlets, such as magazine advertising and also advertising on Yelp! have been the biggest waste of both time and money. It was a huge investment with zero return, and we will no longer consider traditional forms of advertising as an option. What has worked for us is word of mouth/referrals, and encouraging repeat business with our stellar service. We have a large following on social media, which has also helped with our branding and recognition, however it typically does not bring us direct business.
Give some advice to other couples that want to start a business together…
You have to be a little bit crazy to want to start a business together. We had so many people tell us in 2011 that this would never work and we shouldn’t do it, and truthfully, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If you’re thinking about it, we say to do your research and go for it…just remember that communication is key.