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. 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 six 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, she has always called the urban oasis of Oakland, California home. As a college student, Lauren studied Social Justice at UC-Santa Cruz where she started producing events for various activist causes. Lauren is a collector of mid-century modern furniture, barware and vintage high heels (although she often prefers to go barefoot). Lauren produced events for 10 years before starting to work professionally as an event designer and interior stylist in 2012. 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 her move to Sayulita, 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 lives in Sayulita, Mexico with her two boys, husband and dog.