By Cristina Carreon
Stephanie Rhea and Juan Carlos Barcia met on a mission trip to Ecuador 14 years ago, never knowing they would someday bring their unique wedding and event business and sunny California trends back to where it all started: Mississippi.
Stephanie Rhea is from a small town near Starkville but has lived in Tupelo for most of her life. The couple lived in Mississippi for ten years before deciding they needed a big change. Juan Carlos lived in Los Angeles before and wanted to return, so the couple moved to LA in 2016 before returning to Tupelo in October.
The couple are now in business together creating unique wedding and event experiences for their clients, and Stephanie Rhea said the two thrive on mutual creative energy to make their business model work. To diversify their creative event ventures, the couple put their heads together to distinguish themselves in a trend-driven business.
According to Business Insider, wedding trends for 2019 are all about saving costs while amping up creativity, that means smaller food-and-beverage stations to reduce food waste and a focus on the personal touches.
“We saw lots of mobile bars incorporated into weddings on the West Coast, so this is no surprise. The Campertini is a festive structure, as opposed to a simple bar top, that will make a wedding stand out visually for the couple and their guests,” Stephanie said.
The couple redecorate The Campertini for each client, adding unique designs to complement events. The camper is advertised as a “dry hire,” meaning the entertainment option does not automatically include food or alcohol. Although the couple do partner with other businesses who provide libations.
“If you can put a word in front of ‘bar’ we can probably do it – cigar, cocktail, dessert, etc. I love the creative process of dreaming of something different and then making it happen for the client,” Stephanie said.
The Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus, a 1972 Volkswagen, has served as a whimsical entertainment option for corporate events, weddings and grand opening celebrations. The Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus can hold up to four guests inside. Guests use a touchscreen to take the photos with or without the funny props like hats, wigs, glasses and large mustaches. The photo strips are printed in seconds, making the Foto Bus a fun way for guests to take something home from the event.
“It’s a statement piece visually, and guests get to take home a little souvenir reminding them of the special day,” she said.
Stephanie has been a photographer 14 years and shot wedding photography in LA while her husband worked on media projects. In November, the couple came up with the Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus together. Stephanie said she has always loved vintage; collecting cameras, suitcases, furniture, rugs and other items for 25 years, which eventually led to an interest in vintage trailers.
The couple’s obsession with vintage trailers began when they came across an Airstream-only campground in Santa Barbara, California. This led to following professional vintage Airstream renovators on Instagram and seeking out other vintage trailer campgrounds.
“We started searching Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and even drove through the countryside looking for Airstreams that needed a little – or a lot – of love,” she said.
Now, the couple own and operate The Campertini mobile bar and the Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus for events, but also have three Airstream trailers and a 1950s Spartan Mansion they are saving for future creative projects.
“We are going to see how the public responds to The Campertini and Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus. The long-term goal is to have a mini Airstream Boutique Hotel, so we will see how it goes. When the first one is complete, it will look like a luxe hotel room and we will probably offer to rent it for glamping adventures or stay-cationers,” she added.
Stephanie said there’s a lot of growth potential for bridal businesses in Mississippi, and she could see opening a brick-and-mortar location locally sometime in the future.
“I’d really like to see the wedding and event industry grow in our area because there are so many creative trends happening, but we have to let the public know what’s available. If we could find a space that could work for that, we would definitely consider it,” she said.
But for the moment, the couple is keeping future plans open. Stephanie said 2019 will be about partnering with local creative makers and designers to create interesting environmental experiences for events in northeast Mississippi.
“We don’t know how long we will be here, but in the meantime, we are going to invest in the community as much as possible and try to bring new, innovative experiences for the public to enjoy,” she said.
The couple have Instagram accounts for all of their services. To request more information, email Stephanie at email@example.com. Or send a direct message on Instagram:
Oh Hippie Day Foto Bus: @ohhippiedayfotobus
The Campertini mobile bar: @thecampertini
Stephanie Rhea Photography: @stephanierheaphotography