Rachel Hollis has thrown parties for Bradley Cooper, Rashida Jones and Al Gore. Some of Hollywood's most demanding brides have entrusted their special day to her.
Switching through TV channels you might see her on the Nate Berkus Show, Steve Harvey Show or Extra. How did this young woman from Bakersfield become one of Hollywood's most sought-after event planners? The answer may surprise you.
Nine years ago, when Rachel started her company, Chic Events, she had an advantage on the competition. It wasn't celebrity connections or a big bankroll -- it was her traditional Bakersfield upbringing.
"I was a lot more grounded than most other people," she said.
While other planners were chasing the latest trend and trying to stay ahead of fads, Rachel focused on what she learned growing up as a minister's daughter in a hospitable home.
"Good food. Good music. A lovely drink. That's what makes a party," she said.
Rachel moved to Los Angeles with the intention of becoming an actress. From the time she was old enough to know what goals were, Hollywood was hers. When she turned 18 in 2000, she graduated early from Highland High School and drove over the Grapevine to Hollywood to pursue her dream.
Rachel was ambitious, but she had a hearty streak of practicality, too. It didn't take her long to confront the reality that for every woman who makes it onto the big screen, there are thousands who don't. Instead of waiting for her big break, she decided to get her hands dirty -- albeit with glitter and frosting -- in the world of event planning.
Event planning turned out to be perfect for her skills.
Parties, she explained, feel a lot like theater: There is the adrenaline, the crowd, a tremendous amount of work and preparation that all lead up to one big night.
Short on experience but long on ambition, Rachel often found herself improvising her way through many difficult circumstances as she built her business.
For those wanting to find out about what happens when a wedding cake breaks into pieces or to go behind the scenes with LA's most outrageous bridezillas, her book "Party Girl" comes out this Feb. 14. Though it is a work of fiction, many of the scenes in the book are based on her experiences.
Though she still plans events for a handful of clients -- she will do the Sundance Film Festival in January -- Rachel is shifting her focus. These days, she spends most of her time as the editor-in-chief of thechicsite.com, an online magazine that offers advice on party planning, cooking, family life and personal style. In only two years, she said the site has gained a solid following, attracting 200,000 visitors a month.
Rachel's grandparents were Okies who picked cotton to support their six children. Her earliest childhood memories are of her family's little house in Lamont, just off Weedpatch Highway. She said she doesn't feel she became successful in spite of her simple beginnings; in fact, it is just the opposite.
"I am aware that my success is because I stand on my grandparent's shoulders," she said. "The greatest legacy that they gave our family was the value of hard work."
-- Do you know someone from Bakersfield who is finding fame, or is representing Bakersfield while in the spotlight? Email us an idea at email@example.com with the subject line: Finding Fame.