Arrangement of items rented from Rentivist

Our Story

When you start to look around, there are a lot of people who have incredible things they’re willing to rent, and an equally large number of people who would rent those things…if they could just find each other.

In her years as an event designer and wedding venue owner, Alyson Newquist witnessed this time and time again. So she began to brainstorm a way to revolutionize the rental process with a platform where businesses and individuals could catalog and showcase their items to potential renters.

Alyson brought her still-secret business plan to Gretchen Culver, a friend and fellow event planner who also frequently felt burdened by the cumbersome rental process.

Gretchen quickly realized the potential in the plan and, as a first step to making it real, suggested Alyson seek the help of her friend, small business attorney Mary Ellen Reihsen. Again, the excitement of the idea was contagious, and Mary Ellen wanted to do more than provide legal consultation, she wanted to be part of it making it happen, too.

Seeking additional insight to help them get the business started, the trio pitched the idea to Jessica Gillin, Gretchen’s friend and past client. As a local entrepreneur with a background in marketing, Jessica was excited to join the team.

In July 2015, it all came together when Rentivist opened its virtual doors and began connecting listers and renters across the country.

We’re committed to making renting and listing easier, faster, and way more convenient. We want to help people find a new revenue stream by showing how the things they own might be the very things someone else wants to rent. Really, our goal is to make the world a much more styled place, one rentable at a time.

For more, please download our press kit.


The Rentivist Team

Alyson Newquist

Chief Innovation Officer // Co-Founder
Alyson Newquist, Chief Innovation Officer // Co-Founder

Alyson Newquist is a doer, experience maker, builder of things and visionary of big ideas. Rentivist was the product of her experience as an event planner and wedding venue owner.

Much of Alyson’s perspective on attitude and gratitude were shaped by the deaths of her father and mother in just a three-year span. Having experienced such loss, she leads her life with a carpe diem philosophy and, as she says, obnoxious optimism.

Looking for a place of solace, Alyson and her future wife, Jesse, bought the parcel of land tucked away in the woods in the heart of Minnesota that would become Juliane James Place. They envisioned it as a place where they and other couples could get married or simply vacation. A place where happiness happened and families could make memories to last beyond lifetimes.

At Rentivist, Alyson serves as the Creative Director of the brand and helps oversee and implement the master plan. She sees Rentivist as a go-to for people and businesses looking to make money off of the stuff they own. But more importantly, she believes Rentivist will create the next generation #girlboss entrepreneurs.

Alyson has an M.A. in Cultural Geography from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She is the owner of Bash Collective, an event design and venue consultancy/management company, and Juliane James Place, a three-time MN Bride Awards Best Of Finalist and selected by June Bug Weddings as one of the world’s best venues. In 2011, Alyson and Jesse’s wedding was the first same-sex wedding featured in MN Bride magazine and was chosen by Style Me Pretty as one of the top ten stylish weddings of the year.

Alyson believes we should go to bed happier than when we woke up, it’s totally acceptable to quote Marxist cultural theory, and crossing the street to pet a dog is worth the effort. Her happiest moments are spending time with Jesse and their two dogs, Tuesday and Dinosaur. Alyson is from originally from Lemont, Illinois.

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Gretchen Culver

Gretchen Culver, Co-Founder

If you are a business owner of any kind, you want to know Gretchen Culver. Outgoing, energetic and propelled by a go-getter attitude, Gretchen is a spitfire in the best way.

As a Minneapolis native with more than 13 years of experience in the special events industry, Gretchen knows people in every corner of the country. She has a gift for connecting the right people at the right time. And in the event world, she’s a catalyst for making brilliant, creative things happen.

In 2010, Gretchen launched her own event planning and design company, Rocket Science Weddings & Events. Something of a rock star in the industry, Special Events Magazine named her one of the “30 under 40 to watch” in 2012, and in 2014 she was recognized by Martha Stewart Weddings as one of the Top Wedding Planners in the country, and the only one in Minnesota. Her events have been featured in many local and national publications for their high-end feel and ultra creative touches.

Gretchen was key to making Rentivist real by bringing together the core team, and she continues to serve as the official Chief Experience Officer. To her, it’s worth the effort. Rentivist is the tool she always wished for as an event planner and she believes it will be a revolutionary force in the industry. She is passionate about enabling people and small business owners to create a new revenue opportunity through Rentivist, and to serve as a role model to other women who dream of entrepreneurship. 

Gretchen holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of St. Thomas. She is active in the International Live Events Association and the Independent Wedding Association, and serves as a mentor for female students at her alma mater. Outside of the event world, she loves spending time with her husband and three children.

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Mary Ellen Reihsen

Mary Ellen Reihsen, Co-Founder

Whatever assumptions you have about lawyers, Mary Ellen Reihsen is in a different class. She’s seen both sides of the creative industry and has built her career around being the legal voice for small, creative businesses, particularly those in the wedding and events industry, who would otherwise get lost in a world of fine print.

Mary Ellen got her first glimpse at the legal issues that plague creative businesses while working as a high-end caterer to help pay her way through law school. Ten years later, she became the Owner and Managing Attorney at Reihsen Law & Minnesota Wedding Lawyers, LLC where she represents dozens of weddings and event business owners in every facet of the industry.

What Mary Ellen loves most about being an attorney is having the opportunity to solve problems for clients and spotting untapped potential. Recognizing those characteristics at the very heart of Rentivist, she didn’t hesitate to become part of the team. Since day one, she’s poured her heart and energy into the company’s legal health and growth because she wants Rentivist to have a solid foundation as it becomes the epic tool the rental industry needs.

Mary Ellen earned her Juris Doctor from the Hamline University School of Law. She received MN State Bar admission in 2008 and U.S. District Court MN admission in 2010. She also provides pro bono services for low-income mothers and is an active member of ISES and TCWEP. When she’s not acting as the legal eyes, ears and brains behind Rentivist, Mary Ellen plays a much more important role as the mother of two young children.

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Jessica Gillin

Partner + Community Development Manager
Jessica Gillin, Partner + Community Development Manager

Even the best ideas are nothing without a tireless advocate. Enter Jessica Gillin. She’s the fuel for the Rentivist engine, providing creative energy, marketing know-how and a general “we can make it happen” attitude.

Jessica has a natural gift for connecting with people, an indispensible asset during a career path that has led her to a variety of opportunities, including interior design, health and wellness goods and services, and marketing and design solutions. She has an intuitive knowledge of what needs to be done to get the best results.

She’s excited to be part of the Rentivist team, believing the company will change the way people look at and interact with the rental industry.

With a passion for healthy living and outdoor activities, Jessica is an avid participant in seasonal soccer leagues. She was an athlete at Winona State, where she studied marketing and communications. She stays particularly busy exploring local boutiques with her two little boys.