From Dripping Springs to Buckingham Palace, how Whim Hospitality rose to the top of the Texas wedding industry is a bit like six degrees of separation that spans the Atlantic Ocean.
Whim Hospitality is well-known in the wedding and special event industry and includes Whim Florals, Whim Catering, Whim Event Rentals, and the Texas wine resort — Camp Lucy. In addition, Whim has been named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list — five years in a row.
They’re part of locally-celebrated and internationally known events like SXSW, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) racing, Austin Ballet, University of Texas events, to name a few.
This unique company was the brainchild of business partners and real-life partners, Whit and Kim Hanks.
In early 2012, the couple saw that the wedding and special events industry was growing fast in the Texas Hill Country, and there was a need for a truly local rental company to service them.
What started as a single showroom and warehouse for rentals in Dripping Springs has grown into a full-service wedding and special event company with multiple locations that gives their clients a stress-free, seamless experience from rentals and florals to catering and a resort venue just outside of Austin.
That’s just the beginning for this dynamic duo and their talented team of experts at Whim Hospitality. Along with their talented team, this energetic pair has plans to expand even more, which is no surprise when you look back at how their business first got started.
WHIM HOSPITALITY’S ORIGIN AND ROYAL CONNECTION
This world-traveling couple has an affinity for all things British — including their English Bulldog, Beau. In fact, it was a wedding across the pond that inspired the royal look of their company.
“…When we first started Whim…our tagline was ‘party like royalty’; this was because Prince William had just married Princess Kate,“ says Kim, CEO, and co-founder of Whim Hospitality. “Princess Kate’s parents owned a party supply company. So our tagline was like the game six degrees of separation.”
While their travels inspire them, the passion that drives them comes from their insatiable curiosity — “and a sense of wonder.”
Kim’s experience as a wedding planner and seeing the challenge of bringing different companies together for one event got the owners thinking about a stress-free solution for clients. Paired with her husband’s expertise and international buying connections, they launched their event rental service.
She found that her joy was not in being the planner but in the catering menus and finding what combinations worked best in seasons or where the flowers were sourced. These were areas that she wanted to dive deeper into, and ultimately, she owes the formation of the multi-services company to her husband’s and her pure curiosity.
“Our curiosity runs deep,” says Kim. “From designing our own line of dinnerware to bringing on staff from other industries to keep us creative.”
It’s that synergy of creativity and everyone bringing their best to the table that has helped Whim make a name for itself over the years. Kim credits her partner and husband, Whit, as the big thinker who isn’t afraid to try new things.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without my partner, Whit,” Kim explains. She again credits his reputation as a fair and kind businessman as what helped establish them when they got started.
Whit’s uncanny ability to spot a great antique or new product line as an international buyer has set Whim apart in being able to bring a one-of-a-kind selection to their clients.
HOW WHIM HOSPITALITY ROSE TO THE TOP OF THE TEXAS WEDDING INDUSTRY
After the initial launch of their event rental business, their expansion into florals was next, thanks to a new hire that had been a florist in her previous career. Then Whim added catering because of a gifted chef that approached the couple with a great idea, and they felt it was meant to be. Whim’s owners love being employers and love that creative back-and-forth that comes with sharing a curiosity about what is possible.
“The heart behind Whim is our curiosity and sense of wonder,” says Kim, who recently won Best Boss in the 2020 Best of Dripping Springs Awards. “I’m motivated by my staff and my clients to offer more opportunities for adventure.”
And that curiosity — and push for more is also the hallmark of Whim’s expert team — people the Hanks say are the very fabric of the business.
“They are so kind and supportive of one another, and they really advocate for their clients — pushing the limits of what can be done,” shares Kim about the type of team members they hire. “…We need people that are curious and want to see how far they can go.”
With a team of more than 200 people, nicknamed Whimmers, the company culture is that of a family — even their team bios are full of fun and help you get to know everyone.
“Our titles explain a little more about our personalities and life experiences,” Kim explains about the unofficial titles she lets the staff select. Hers is — Jazz Hands Experience Creator.
“Mine comes from singing and dancing in my high school Jazz Choir — think Glee. My music teacher, Mrs. Simpson, would always ask us to bring out our jazz hand, which meant bringing out the dazzle.”
(Visit their team page to learn more about The Numbers Ninja, Whim’s Secret Ingredient, the Whim Wonder Woman, and more in the bios.)
In addition to a dedicated and talented team, Whim has earned its well-deserved reputation by delighting clients with a truly full-service event planning experience.
“The beauty behind our service is the event will run seamlessly because all of the ‘I’s are dotted, and T’s are crossed’ because we have gathered all of the information between our floral, catering, and rental areas — and we are in constant communication with each other,” says Kim.
“This allows us the luxury of customizing and creating magic with our teammates instead of worrying about the chain of communication getting broken.”
From their famous Sperry Tents made from an oyster color sailcloth with wood beams to their exquisite catering experience, the owners and their entire team of Whimmers keep pushing to see what’s possible to exceed their client’s expectations.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT — AND BUSY — FOR WHIM HOSPITALITY
For a company founded on curiosity and a sense of wonder — with a great team behind them — the future looks bright.
When asked what was next for Whim, Kim jokingly says — “What isn’t [next] for Whim?”
They are currently working on a program to train overlooked, underserved, and vulnerable communities. The goal is to hire and train individuals from those communities to become hospitality specialists to provide a future for themselves and their families. The primary focus will be training in floral arranging and design because they have a strong team that is well-known and highly sought after for their aesthetic.
Their resort, Camp Lucy, is getting some luxurious additions with a spa and adding more property that will include a restaurant with rooms that will live up to Austin’s foodie reputation.
“We have the most talented chefs on staff — so come hungry and expect to leave with a sense of wonder!”
As for Kim and Whit, they are in the process of taking their services across the pond.
From the royal wedding tagline inspiration to attending a private dinner with Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, their six degrees of separation has come full circle. The natural next step for these Anglophiles to expand their services from Texas to England. While the next chapter, it’s not the end of the book because they’re also interested in Italy, France, Ireland, and possibly Puerto Rico.
“I am open to opportunities around the beautiful country and abroad,” says Kim because, as she adventurously puts it — “why not?”
Photos courtesy of Whim Hospitality.
Written by Corrie McGee
A special thank you to Kim Hanks and her team at Whim Hospitality for sharing their experiences with Wed Society.