Business

Mount Vernon shop focuses on wedding rentals, decor

Ground Floor: Old Brick Manor owner went from wedding planner to event design

Jo Kutcher meets with clients at Old Brick Manor in Mount Vernon on Friday, April 6, 2018. The new boutique event planning shop offers design services and rentals. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Jo Kutcher meets with clients at Old Brick Manor in Mount Vernon on Friday, April 6, 2018. The new boutique event planning shop offers design services and rentals. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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MOUNT VERNON — Jo Kutcher fell into the wedding planning business almost by accident.

“A friend of a friend asked me to coordinate her wedding,” Kutcher recalled. “She knew I had that spark in me. I decided to just go for it and dove right in.”

The former first-grade teacher and stay-at-home mom found herself coordinating all aspects of that wedding, from the bridal party’s attire to the reception for 300 people at a local hotel.

From that first wedding in 2012, Kutcher’s first business, Unveiled Event and Design, was born.

“I thought I’d do maybe one wedding a year,” she said. “But it completely snowballed from there. The next year I did four, and after that I was doing 10-plus weddings a year.”

Kutcher spent five years managing all aspects of other people’s weddings and special events, from booking the venues and vendors to deigning the decor to coordinating the day-of activities. But with three busy children in sports and other activities, she found the time commitment to be too much.

Kutcher’s decision to scale back last year led to a new business, Old Brick Manor, which focuses on event rentals, design and decor.

“In the past year, I started looking at all the inventory I was slowly building and realized I had a lot of stuff,” she said. “I also looked at what aspects of the events I really love, and that was the decorating and design.”

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Kutcher’s new business offers for rent her large supply of decorative items, such as vases and candleholders, and vintage pieces, such as chairs, benches and serving dishes. Rental fees include free delivery to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and the surrounding areas.

In addition to rentals, Kutcher provides event design and decorating services. These services include everything from setting up event décor according to a bride’s specifications and tearing it down afterward to designing unique centerpieces, backdrops and floor plans.

“My brides are so different,” she said. “Lots come in already with a list. They know exactly what they want but don’t have the time to do it themselves. Others have no clue what they want, so I’ll get an idea of their style and design something just for them.”

To accommodate the new business, Kutcher and her husband built a small showroom off the back of their large brick home in Mount Vernon. She uses the space to display rental items and to meet with brides to review design ideas. The showroom is open to the public on Thursdays or by appointment.

Kutcher said she doesn’t miss the stress that comes with coordinating every aspect of someone else’s big day.

“I’m passionate about design and finding things people love,” she said. “I’m in heaven. I really am.”

l Know a business in operation for less than a year that could make an intriguing “Ground Floor”? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

 

At a Glance

• Owner: Jo Kutcher

• Business: Old Brick Manor

• Address: 1111 Palisades Rd. SW, Mount Vernon

• Phone: (319) 560-0233

• Email: jokutcher@gmail.com

• Website: oldbrickmanor.com

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