The ecosystem of entertainment industry events, particularly behind the scenes, is a tricky one to navigate, clouded by smoke, mirrors, money and status. Onetime Bolthouse Productions interns Kelsi Kitchener and Celeste Durve, co-founders of VIPER (VIP Event Relations), saw through the lights and the fog, and made the decision to bet on their vision for a savvy team of young women to form a bespoke hospitality agency – focused on brand engagement and guest experience – without having to apologize for their age or their looks. Relatively quickly, the duo became fixtures in Hollywood’s hospitality industry, collecting accounts that include SoFi Stadium’s Bootsy Bellows Lounge and Nylon’s Coachella party, managing luxury events for HBO, Amazon, Hulu, Fendi and Nars, and working with the likes of Kanye “Ye” West, Drake, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus. The duo’s offshoot offering Smart Is Sexy, a YouTube channel and podcast of the same name, now in its second season, is an inside look into the lives of Durve and Kitchener as they navigate entrepreneurship and dating, discussing topics from self-development to business to spirituality, with the occasional solo episode or guest interview. “Celeste and I were always put at the front door for check-in for events, we had the personalities that you definitely would [pick] to greet people. So we got really good at seeing what was needed at that front door,” Kitchener explains of their time as interns who met in late 2014 in the Hollywood party-planning business. She and Durve both noticed that the lack of a dedicated team and efficient tools affected guests’ check-in experiences as they arrived at major industry events, as well as the overall tone of the night. “We came together and thought: ‘There has to be a better system for this that we can easily create.’ Bring in a group of girls, our own friends or people that we know, and kind of streamline this whole process.” So, the two friends and female entrepreneurs followed their intuition that improvement was possible and launched VIPER in the spring of 2016, when Kitchener was 24 and Durve was 20. “We were able to take a process that was usually run by a PA or an intern. And branded that front door with the ‘VIPER process,'” Kitchener says. Part of their approach to improving upon the check-in guest experience at the door was modernizing the now-archaic style of crossing off names with a highlighter, paper and clipboard. The duo brought in technology like iPads, new software and hotspots to run WiFi from, and found that things were getting easier and events were getting more successful as a result. In sum, VIPER offers front-of-house logistics and operations for events. They have a staff of independent contractors, some 120 young women (along with a 13-person management team) who all have a certain aesthetic that would not be an uncommon sight in an industry party or club’s private section (read: they are well-dressed and well made-up), who not only staff events, but also are available to work as brand ambassadors and atmosphere models. Earlier this year, VIPER handled 11 events over Super Bowl weekend (with a rare four in one night, which demanded a team of 130 staff members on deck). Two of them were for Revolve and h.wood’s “Homecoming Weekend” Super Bowl parties, which welcomed A-list names like Drake, Adele, Kendall Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion and Justin Bieber (and saw tables selling for $40-$100K). This fall, VIPER continues its presence at SoFi Stadium, one of the retainer clients Durve and Kitchener consult for on VIP guest experience; the group manages the field side Bootsy Bellows lounge for every Rams home game and concert, staffing everything from hosts to bottle service. And up next, VIPER will be curating guest experiences for a few participating designers in L.A. Fashion Week, beginning Oct. 6. The company is relatively racially diverse too, which is still considered unique in the luxury lounge and club world of Los Angeles. “As the VIPER brand grew, we started deciding what was cool,” Kitchener says. “We all knew how bad racism was in that Hollywood nightlife space. But now when you walk into a VIPER door, the whole team is diverse. We’ve actually reversed that [trend], which is really amazing and important.” Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, Durve and Kitchener are not really into socializing in L.A.’s nightlife scene. “Being two young girls, we didn’t have the luxury of being the party girls as well as running a company,” Kitchener says. Their idea of a fun night out is dinner and drinks at one of their favorite restaurants around the city: Pace, Marvin, Gjelina or Sunset Tower Bar.