If there’s one thing we admire, it’s ladies who manage to be wonderful mothers, stylish individuals, and passionate entrepreneurs all at the same time. They’re a little bit like unicorns — we need to believe in them even if we’ve never seen one. This month’s pair of Besties are the real thing, and (if that’s not enough) they also embody another fantasy: sister-in-laws who are actually best friends. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Anna Crelia and Rhoda Brimberry, the owners of LOOT Vintage Rentals. When Rhoda began dating Anna’s older brother fifteen years ago, tensions were high. “He stopped talking to me about his girl issues, and the attention was always on ‘her’,” remembers Anna of her brother. Over the years that followed, Rhoda won Anna over with her thoughtful advice and smart personality. Now the two are best friends and powerful businesswomen at the helm of Austin’s most curated event rental business, LOOT. We spent an afternoon with Rhoda and Anna in the new LOOT warehouse to swoon over the inventory and learn more about what makes this friendship a fantasy come true.
photographed by nicole mlakar
How long have you known each other and how did you meet?
Anna: We’ve known each other for 15 years!
Rhoda: I met Anna when my boyfriend (her brother) brought me to Austin to meet his parents. As any loyal sister would be, she felt protective of her big brother so she stayed a little guarded. I married her brother about a year later and our friendship then began to blossom.
What inspired you guys to create Loot?
Anna: I think we came up with the idea individually at nearly the same time. We were driving in the car and I think I’d mentioned that I needed to figure out what to do with everything I’d collected for my wedding. I didn’t even have to finish my sentence before knowing that Rhoda and I were on the same page. We may have even blurted out “let’s rent it!” at the exact same time.
Rhoda: Anna wanted a vintage wedding, so we tasked ourselves as a family to scour thrift stores and flea markets for all the vintage table top items we could get our hands on. We both got into the process being avid vintage lovers and estate sale junkies.
Oh, just some of the amazing pieces Anna and Rhoda have curated at Loot!
What’s the hardest thing about working with your best friend?
Anna: Turning off business talk outside of work. It’s important to connect with your bestie without the business looming overhead but sometimes all you want to do is talk business!
Rhoda: Being vocal about things that might rustle the others feathers.
What does your bestie bring to the job that you couldn’t live without?
Anna: I couldn’t be without Rhoda’s “go-getter” attitude. She is always pushing for things to be better which has helped make our business as successful as it is. She has taught me to never settle and to always strive to be the best that I can be.
Rhoda: Anna has great style and a calm demeanor. She always has a positive attitude even when the going gets tough.
How would you label your bestie’s style?
Anna: She pulls off a pair of overalls better than anyone. She always throws in a little funk, whether it be her oversized glasses, a small brimmed hat, or an eye catching pair of heeled booties.
Rhoda: She is a classic bohemian with a little edge built in. She could be wearing a potato sack and people would still be complementing her style. She even walked in one day wearing a scarf as a dress. She looked great, of course.
What do you love most about what you do?
Anna: Well, Rhoda and I share the fun stuff – scavenging for new loot, transforming our finds with fresh upholstery and fabric, designing and styling weddings and events, and growing the business. I love giving these old, tattered pieces new life and sharing it with others.
Rhoda: Anna and I gave ourselves fun “chief” titles. Anna is co-owner and founder. She handles finances, scheduling, fulfillment, organization, etc. I am also a founder, co-owner and “Chief Picker”.
Rhoda, how would you describe Anna?
Rhoda: Classic, gentle, positive, determined, creative and bright. Not just bright as in smarts, but bright as in aura. I’m always inspired by her style and ability to pull it off with such confidence. I could keep going…
How does Anna inspire you?
Rhoda: She might not know it, but I do try to capture my inner Anna when I need to re-center myself. She always calmly levels me with her positive attitude. I love watching her go through all of life’s excitements with such grace and ease. I even was privileged to coach her through her birthing experience. I mean, she was not only induced but did it all without any pain medications! There is strength in this woman that is unmatched.
Anna, describe Rhoda in 5 words or fewer:
Anna: Strong, fun, loving, driven, and thoughtful.
Anna: Rhoda and I didn’t hit it off right away. I was probably being the snotty, jealous sister who didn’t want her relationship with her beloved sibling to change. He really liked her and I could feel our relationship changing – no more silly brother-sister rough housing, he stopped talking to me about his girl issues, and the attention was always on “her”, Rhoda. However, I soon embraced Rhoda as my sister and friend. She, being 10 years older than I was wise beyond my years and I always respected her advice. Soon, she became my go-to for my boy problems and life conundrums.
Wow. As sister-in-laws and best friends, you share one of the strongest of bonds. Was there a moment where you felt a change in your relationship?
Rhoda: When Anna’s wedding finally came around, we really bonded during the planning process. I still remember sharing a laugh with her in the car about how ugly I felt I looked when I cried. Then I blubbered my love for her at her bridal shower a few days later laughing through my tears because of the conversation we shared a few days earlier about my crying.
What would you say are your shared values as great friends & business partners?
Anna: Family is number one – it comes before work and we both share that value.
Rhoda: Our combined styles are what make up Loot. A lot of vintage touches, elements from nature and hand crafted goodness. And we are both obsessed when it comes to great customer service!
Anna: Rhoda is a great mom, a great wife, and a great friend. Even though she doubts her abilities to juggle all of these on top of running a business, she does it better than anyone I know. I hope that when my kids are older and life becomes a little more hectic, I’ll be able to balance everything as well as she does.
What is your favorite thing to do together outside of the office?
Anna: We can never turn down Tex-Mex and margaritas. Our convos typically involve our families, how we want to dress for the coming season, and whatever latest television show we are watching.
Rhoda: We spend a lot of time together as a family. Getting our kids together is always a treat because they are all so in love with one another (my daughter actually favors her!). While the majority of our time together is working on our shared passion of Loot, we love when we can leave work at work and share time as a family. Backyard grilling is always a favorite!
How do you see your bestie in ten years?
Anna: Rhoda will be 51 and for some reason I can’t see her aging. I imagine her still youthful, and full of energy. She will have one kid in highschool and another in college and she will continue to be very involved in their lives. Hopefully we are able to take a step back from the day to day grind at Loot and focus more on the things we are most passionate about.
Rhoda: She’ll be my age now in ten years. I expect she’ll have more kids, thriving business, great work/life balance, continual great health & style.
follow anna and rhoda on instagram: @lootvintagerentals