Nick Challed (nico) and Lauren Toker (ella) met and fell in love on a dance floor in 2001. Nick was DJing and Lauren was dancing. Five years later, while traveling around the world together, we got engaged. Inspired by our experience designing our own wedding, we decided to merge our creative talents to start an event design business. Thus, nicoella was born.
We split our time between the two bays we have been lucky enough to call home for over a decade - the San Francisco Bay Area and the Bahia de Banderas in Mexico, in between Sayulita and Punta de Mita.
We've been described by many as "salt of the earth" people. We appreciate good company, good food and organic beauty.
Nick Challed has a picture of himself at age 3 wearing headphones plugged into his parents’ stereo. His first concert was Stevie Wonder at age 8. Nick attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where he started spinning music in 1998 as a hip-hop DJ for a community radio station.
Since then, he has packed the dance floor at events, weddings, house parties and clubs. Nick co-founded Nicoella with his wife Lauren in 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area and opened up an office in Sayulita, Mexico in 2014. He is one of the few event and wedding DJs that still spins vinyl.
Nick ends most days with a classic soul LP on his vintage record console and a living room dance party with Lauren and their seven year old son, Mateo.
Lauren Toker appreciates the polarities of life. She loves finding vintage treasures but can just as easily admire contemporary industrial design. She enjoys getting lost in the crowds of New York City and has also been know to spend days exploring rural wilderness. Lauren's design influences derive from her experience living in diverse settings across the world such as Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and India. Through all of her travels, Lauren has called two places home - the urban oasis of Oakland, California and the tropical jungle of Sayulita, Mexico.
As a college student, Lauren studied Social Justice at UC-Santa Cruz where she started producing events for various activist causes. Lauren produced events for 10 years before starting to work professionally as an event designer and interior stylist in 2012. She co-founded Nicoella with her husband Nick in 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area and opened up an office in Sayulita, Mexico in 2014. One of her favorite creations—the interior of Lauren and Nick’s 1925 Craftsman home in Oakland, California —has been featured in published books as well as a Cannes selected short film.
Niki Bhattacharya joined Nicoella in 2016 after many years of working in the documentary film industry in New York City as a producer. Her love of media, art and people is a natural fit with the wedding industry.
Prior to Nicoella, Niki worked at the Director of the Documentary Film MFA program at the School of Visual Arts. During her tenure at SVA Niki produced numerous events, film festivals, and speaker series. Niki also taught undergraduate television production at The City University of New York for six years.
Before SVA Niki worked at the NY based non fiction production company Show of Force. Show of Force produces award winning documentaries screened on HBO, PBS, Discovery, National Geographic and major film festivals world-wide.
Niki received her Bachelors and Masters of Fine Arts degrees in Television and Film Production.
Niki divides her time between fabulous events and her two boys, husband and dog.
Ale spent her childhood in Mexico City and Cuernavaca. She is a licensed architect with a speciality in interior design.
She studied at both Universidad La Salle in Cuernavaca and Institute St. Luc. Tournai in Belgium. Ale has designed the exteriors and interiors of homes, hotels, retail spaces and restaurants. The architecture project she is most proud of is when she designed an olympic sized pool and gym.
Ale moved to Sayulita in 2014 with her husband and son (the two Olivers) to pursue a simpler life. Little did she know her keen eye and attention to detail would make her in high demand. In her free time, Ale runs a Mexican cooking program, children's art classes and does a lot of craft projects.
Ciam and her husband Cal moved to Sayulita in 2015 from Boise, Idaho. They fell in love with Sayulita after vacationing here for many years, being drawn to the warm waves, slower pace of life, and the bright colors and funky creativity that abound in this special place.
Ciam studied Economics and Political Science in college, but has had a lifelong love and skill for arts and crafts. Living a simpler beach life gave her both the time and inspiration to reinvigorate her creative side, and her work reflects both her creative and detail oriented personality.
In addition to crafting for Nicoella, she is currently a resident artist for the Calaverita de Mita boutique in Punta Mita, Mexico, and The Artisan Revival in Los Angeles, California. She was also recently selected as one of 12 local artists to paint a mural in San Pancho, Nayarit as part of a park beautification project.