Sursy Series 001 | FEBRUARY 24, 2019
The Sursy Story
Lauren Richardson is the founder + creative brain behind The Sursy: an experiential design + hospitality company based in Denver, CO that designs short-term rental properties and experiences to be shoppable; filled with for-purchase artisan goods, local art and products, and emerging brands.
I’m Lauren, the founder + creative brain behind The Sursy! To officially launch our Sursy Series, I thought It’d make sense to introduce myself and tell the backstory of where I drew inspiration to concept The Sursy and the vision for what I’m building!
I first started noodling on the idea of designing an “experience destination” back in 2012. I was living in Austin, Texas, AirBnB was shaking up the hospitality world, and Instagram was brand new on the social scene. I was working at a tech startup that managed social media marketing and content creation for small businesses across the country (a.k.a. my grandparents had no clue what I did for a living).
It was around this time that I realized what an impact social sharing was going to have on the travel and lifestyle industries in particular. The ‘world wide web’ had been around for many years at this point, but the cultural phenomenon ignited by the sharing of real-time content from tiny squares across the globe sparked a new generational norm.
Enter: the era of crowdsourcing, social influencers and #vsco.
The way people traveled – where they stayed, activities they booked, even the destinations themselves – was changing. No longer were people opting for the ease and reliability of traditional big name hotels nor the out of reach wanderlust-y locales. Whether traveling for work or for fun, people wanted an authentic, localized experience; to truly feel at home in the city they were visiting. If I’m in Portland, show me Portland. Where do the locals go? If I’m in Miami, let me feel like I am in Miami. San Francisco? Show me less double decker bus tour and more how to get to Bar Bocce (pro tip: look that one up).
Traveling was becoming more and more personalized and experience based, and I was here for it. It wasn’t just about a bed to sleep in, it was about a comfy bed with pretty, locally-sourced textiles in a #gramworthy home, with a thoughtfully curated local guidebook ready for me when I got there.
Flash-forward to 2015, I was living in San Francisco, and traveling all. the. damn. time. It was planes, trains and automobiles 24/7, and it was great. I was working at an experiential agency that had me bopping to cities all up and down the west coast and across the country. I was working for brands big and small, designing and producing integrated marketing campaigns that had me connecting the dots between influencers and digital strategy to partnerships and events. I always opted for staying in short term rentals or boutique motels when I traveled, mainly because it gave me a sense of feeling like I was at home…even if the home wasn’t mine. It was one trip in particular to Chicago when I was staying at a hotel chain though, when the concept for The Sursy really solidified in my brain.
There was a coffee table book I’d been eyeing the few times I’d stayed here; a big, chunky type with a really funky pattern on the front and I just needed it. But it wasn’t technically for sale. The book wasn’t expensive, or one-of-a-kind, but it was something that reminded me of Chicago and my travels there and so: I asked, they gave it to me, and plopped it right in my bag when I left.
There was another time soon after the ‘Chicago Coffee Book Incident’ where I was at this cute little restaurant in Charleston and loved the color and quality of the mug they’d served my coffee in. So, I asked the waiter if I could have it, he said sure, and I left one happy girl with one more cute coffee mug than before.
These ‘shopping while I stayed or played’ moments made me start to think about how I liked to travel, where I liked to stay, what I liked to do. I didn’t care for hotel chains. They were stale, not aesthetically pleasing, and nothing about the traditional hotel model was focused on bringing people together or offering a unique experience.
I saw an opportunity to reinvent the wheel on where and how people stay and gather. I wanted to merge the communal element of a hostel, the design-centric nature of a boutique hotel, the personalized experience of a bed and breakfast, and the drive-in look and feel of an old school motel.
Rooted in my knowledge and interest in event production, my eye for interiors, my passion for supporting community, and my affection for – as I like to call it – “shit you don’t need but really want,” The Sursy was born.
After moving to Denver, Colorado in late 2017, I fell quickly in love with the personality of the different neighborhoods and the eclectic mix of businesses that were creatively executing the “mixed-use space” model. The book store slash coffee shop slash record store on Broadway had a monthly comedy show in the back room. The local coffee shop slash brewery had a monthly dinner series. I saw proof that this idea of operating seemingly separate businesses under one harmonious brand worked and was understood, which inspired me to finally hit ‘go’ on launching The Sursy: Shoppable Spaces + Gathering Places.
2018 (…and 2019 thus far!) was the year of building, making, and learning. Building and connecting with communities and people online and across Colorado, making relationships with local artists and makers, and learning from real estate experts and other small business owners and entrepreneurs.
It’s quite the humbling process to start a business from scratch, and I’m so grateful for the experience as well as for the outpouring of support and guidance I’ve received thus far in this journey! As I continue to hustle to open the brick-and-mortar location, work remains to continue to grow our online store, build and nurture our social audiences, and plan and execute our event series…more to come on that!
One foot in front of the other, they say…
More questions? Ideas? Thoughts? Reactions? Want to meet for coffee?
Say hello! Lauren@thesursy.com