Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Setting the Stage

Audrey Kondelis of Pole Barn Chic lives to create memorable events

By Amy Bizzari

Pole Barn Chic founder Audrey Kondelis was born and raised in the small town of Rochester, Illinois. Her husband, Nick Kondelis, was from the big city of Chicago. “Our worlds collided, and we fell in love,” says Kondelis. “The brand of Pole Barn Chic was born out of our love and our fun, wild, carefree parties. My idea of celebration is throwing a big-city party inside a big ole country barn.”

Pole Barn Chic founder Audrey Kondelis || Courtesy of Terry Farmer

Kondelis first started in the industry by making birthday cakes for schoolteachers and students at just 14 years old. She attended event- and wedding-planning classes after high school graduation, but her dream of opening her own events business was put on the back burner when she became a wife and mother at 19. She shifted to full-time cake decorating as she focused on raising her family.

Pole Barn Chic finally came to life during the challenging summer of 2020. “A small, local restaurant struggled to stay open through the pandemic,” she explains. “When a fire hit the already-struggling business, I decided to lend a helping hand by doing what I do best:
I threw a giant shrimp boil to raise funds. I brought up a Zydeco band from New Orleans, Louisiana; hired two chefs; and, in true New Orleans fashion, I welcomed everyone from all walks of life to our backyard for some much-needed fun. We had a massively successful event.”

While the pandemic took its toll on so many local businesses, perseverance prevailed for Kondelis, instead deciding that there was no better time than now to bring her dream business to life. “For me, party planning is easy—a no-brainer. It wasn’t until I saw the response from people that I realized they have a genuinely hard time with this type of planning and prepping. Fast thinking and pivots aren’t for everyone.”

Today, Pole Barn Chic hosts events at its own stylish venue surrounded by gardens in Springfield. With its 5,000-square-foot barn, the venue can accommodate an intimate soiree or a grand gala of 25 to 250 attendees. Large windows fill the barn with natural light that add to its breathtaking charm.

“I’m here to simplify someone’s life, one event at a time, so they can focus entirely on enjoying their [event],” she says.