Female Founders of VIPER Prove Girls Really Run the World
Imagine two females meeting and a few years later they create a Forbes 30 Under 30 recognized company. That’s exactly what happened to Kelsi Kitchener and Celeste Durve; the founders of VIPER. Their successful company otherwise known as VIP Event Relations is a bespoke hospitality agency; reimagining brand engagement and guest experience. These are the ladies that the biggest names in the industry are hiring to create exclusive events.
“We met as interns at Bolthouse Productions, and after working the doors at many functions, a vision emerged of how this particular niche in the event industry could be moved forward,” said Celeste.
Kelsi and Celeste came to understand that the nightlife industry lacked female representation, modern structure, and was existing in ways that didn’t align with the digital age. So of course, the savvy pair set out to change that.
After investing everything they could, “mind, body, soul, and finances,” the ladies knew they just had to trust the process. “We hustled like hell. We struggled to make ends meet. But never once did we doubt our belief of what VIPER would, and did, become,” said Kelsi.
Not only was the company founded by these two determined women, but VIPER also employs 60 women (all paid competitively). “VIPER stands for empowerment, entrepreneurship, authenticity, and femininity. Our team is badass and so strong,” said Kelsi.
It is clear that these ladies don’t take the term “female boss” lightly, as they cherish being able to inspire and empower other female entrepreneurs. “We know we have a responsibility to keep showing up for the women who are going through it, who are struggling to make it to the finish line and see their own dreams to the end. We know it isn’t easy, we have been there, but we made it through…” said Celeste who is a first-generation Indian American and daughter of an immigrant.
The ladies are so passionate about giving back that they have even launched a podcast titled “Smart is Sexy,” where they share their advice, honest experiences, and provide stories. This is their way of connecting with girls who follow them and find inspiration in the VIPER story.
“We love having this platform that allows us to truly speak directly to these girls – we were once these girls, and supporting them truly brings everything to a full circle,” said Kelsi.
In a field largely dominated by men, the ladies knew that they could experience sexism. “We definitely have faced our fair share of sexism, but our brand is really about welcoming men into the conversation. While we are bosses and entrepreneurs, we are also feminine – you can truly be both,” said Kelsi.
Given that the ladies have men as clients and business partners, they make it known that they have felt so much support from the men they work with. “Nonetheless, we definitely do hold our own and we are not afraid to be stern and go head-to-head with men (or women) we work with, if we have to,” said Celeste.
Some of their male clients include none other than Kanye West, Drake, and Tyga. They also work with clients among the likes of Kim Kardashian, Google, Fendi, and hundreds of other prominent names and companies. “We’ve been fortunate enough to work on so many incredible projects over the years, and huge events, celebrities, and brands have entrusted the VIPER team with curating incredible guest experiences from the moment they arrive,” said Kelsi.
When asked who they’d love to work with next, they both answered “With the expansion of VIPER we want to keep solidifying our place as historically male-dominated spaces and create impactful partnerships and more space for women. We’d love to work with UFC, NASCAR, and the NBA.”
With so many accomplishments, one can’t imagine what the highlight of their career could be. “It’s hard to narrow down a favorite,” said Kelsi, “but two events that stand out to me as true highlights are The Golden Globes, and the Jonas Brothers’ movie premiere. Those were true “pinch-me” moments and really made me stand back and appreciate how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished!”
As for Celeste, she truly enjoys music events. “From Coachella parties to being part of the Ye x Drake: Free Larry Hoover concert, having VIPER included in major pop culture moments is extra special to us,” she said. Celeste is also very proud of their recent work with the Super Bowl. “We covered 11 events and had a presence all over the city throughout the week,” she said.
Despite all of their success and achievements, the ladies are still working on expanding their empire. They have impactful projects such as The VIPER Supper Club and the VIPER It Girl Dinners coming soon!
These women are a true testament to hard work.
“VIPER has always been inside of us – it just took courage, timing, and faith to truly bring it to fruition,” said Kelsi and Celeste as they agree that “VIPER’s next chapter will most certainly be one to watch.”
Talent: Kelsi Kitchener @kelsi.kitchener & Celeste Durve @celestedurve
Photographer: Bonnie Nichoalds @bonnienichoalds
Makeup Artist: Landyn Alexa @landynalexa
Hair Stylist: Kelsey Morgan @kelseymorganhair
Wardrobe Styling: Talent self-styled
Production: Emily Blair Media @emilyblairmedia
Location: Goya Studios @goyastudios