Personalities of Bali: Vanessa Barlow & Sarah Giles, Co-Founder of Bali Event Hire

Sep 17, 2019
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For the last 10 years The Bali Bible has been celebrating all things Bali and fabulous - from beach clubs to nightclubs, restaurants to resorts and everything in-between.

We've been around to witness the fabulous evolution of Bali into the incredible destination we all know and LOVE - and we're launching a new series of articles celebrating the people whose vision, inspiration and dedication have made Bali the place it is today!

From expats to locals, the people behind the scenes of your favourite venues all have a story to tell, as well as excellent advice on their own favourite places to visit.

Today we are chatting with Vanessa Barlow & Sarah Giles, Co-Founders of Bali Event Hire

Tell us a little about Bali Event Hire?

Bali Event Hire is the leading supplier of beautiful, style focussed furniture for weddings and events in Bali.  We have a huge range which is updated 3 times a year to reflect international trends and all our pieces are handmade locally which we’re very proud of. We have an amazing team who are affectionately known as the ‘green army’ – they’re the backbone of our business and we (and all our clients) love them to bits. We’re super proud that in 6 years of operation, we’ve helped make over 4,000 Bali Weddings look incredible. That’s a lot of chairs, tables and love!

How did it all get started? How’d you end up in Bali and in this industry?

The universe definitely conspired to make Bali Event Hire happen. Sarah and I were planning a private party at the beautiful Villa Atas Ombak in 2013 and we obviously wanted everything to look incredible. When it came to selecting tables and chairs, we were super surprised to discover that there wasn’t any choice. Honestly, it was either white Tiffany chairs or white Tiffany chairs and we didn’t want either! Sooo… long story short we had our own Bentwood chairs and natural teak tables made, the event was amazing and an idea was born. Within weeks, we’d met our boss lady Ani, found our first small warehouse, employed 2 staff and we were off! Six years later, we have two warehouses, a Showroom and 40 full time staff (we haven’t lost a staff member yet) and our BEH family is so happy!

What is your role and what does day-to-day look like for you?

Vanessa is the Marketing Director and oversees all things pretty - social media, imagery, communication, website, photoshoots and new product development. Sarah heads up Client and Personnel and manages staffing, recruitment, client relationships and bookings.  

Ani is our Operations Manager and basically does everything!

What area in Bali do you live in? Why did you choose that area?

We moved to Bali with our (very supportive) husbands and our young kids when Bali Event Hire began and stayed for 3 years to help Ani get everything up and running. Sarah has a villa in Berewa and Vanessa in Umalas. Berewa is close to the beach and everything really, including the showroom and Umalas is super central with a quiet community feel. Now, we’re back in Melbourne but we travel to Bali every six weeks. Dream job!

What would be three things you would tell someone who is thinking of moving over to Bali to work or start a business?

Firstly, if you have a dream then trust the universe and go for it! Secondly, gather as much information as you can from a good local lawyer about visas and the legal requirements surrounding starting a business in Bali, it can be tricky to navigate. Lastly, have a sense of humour and an appreciation and respect for the cultural wonders Bali will offer you – it’s a magical place.

Why did you choose Bali as your ultimate destination?

We’ve always loved Bali and have travelled here regularly for many, many years.  It’s a short flight from Melbourne and it really fills up your happiness bucket every time you visit. The people, the landscape, the food and shopping, it’s a very happy place.

What do you love most about Bali?

The energy and kindness of the people.

When was your first trip to Bali? What has changed since then?

It was probably around 15 years ago. The growth has been unbelievable – Canggu, Berewa and Umalas were all dirt roads and rice-fields and look at them now!

What are your favourite destinations outside of Bali? 

Anywhere and everywhere! We love nothing more than a travel adventure – Italy, Greece, South Africa, Sydney, New Zealand, Red Hill – anywhere which takes us to a new place! We’re off to Sri Lanka soon which will be incredible.

What are some of your favourite things to do on the weekend in Bali?

Go for an adventure on the bike.  

Find somewhere delicious to eat

Have a sunset cocktail 

Get our downward dog on at yoga.

Not in that order!

If you had to pick, what would be your top 3 cafes?

Milu, Milk and Madu, Como Uma

If you had to pick, what would be your top 3 restaurants?

Mason, La Lucciola, Sardine

If you had to pick, what would be your top 3 bars or sunset drink spots?

Café del Mar, La Lucciola, Finns VIP

What’s a hidden gem or a less popular place that everyone should know about?

Mmmm… we’re obsessed with the chicken and cashew stir fry at Lantern.

Best things to do with kids in Bali? (if applicable)

White water rafting in Ubud (8 plus)

Trip to Lombok or Gilli Islands for epic snorkelling 

Splash or waterbomb park for waterslides

Bounce or Strike for bowling

How do you blow off steam?

An F45 class for a sweat session followed by yoga at Desa Seni. And then some retail therapy followed by a classic Margarita.

Favourite book at the moment?  

Boy Swallows Universe. Trent Dalton.

Best movie of all time?

Pulp Fiction

Favourite song right now?

Dance Monkey. Tones and I

What are three things you can’t travel without?

Bose Headphones and hand sanitiser.

Funniest thing that’s happened to you in Bali? 

How long have you got? Impossible to pick one, we laugh (hard) every day. Something ridiculous is always happening – which is why we love Bali!


See some of the other people we have interviewed as part of the Personalities of Bali initiative here.