The Got Light Story
Twelve years ago, Jon Retsky and Russell Holt started a two-man lighting-for-weddings operation out of Holt’s basement in San Francisco’s Russian Hill. Little did they know that in this dark little space they were building a bright future for themselves and the San Francisco event scene.
Today, Got Light is a creative lighting company with 150 employees, a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and a rolodex that includes such event heavy hitters as the San Francisco Symphony, SFMOMA, the Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Ballet and the De Young Museum.
Retsky and Holt, who both hold the titles of owner and lead designer, graduated from San Francisco State University in 2000. Retsky studied theater and lighting design; Holt studied cinema production and fine arts. The one-time couple wanted to merge the then-disparate fields of art and event lighting.
“Got Light takes a very artistic approach to event design and production,” Retsky said. “And to this day, frankly, I don’t think anyone else does. That’s what gives us the edge.”
The company lights over 1,100 events a year from backyard weddings to large galas to lavish tech parties. “Our biggest claim to fame is that pretty much every social gala that you hear of in San Francisco is Got Light,” Retsky said. “We’ve been the exclusive partner to these institutions. It’s kind of been the building block of who we are in a way.”
For Retsky and Holt, starting Got Light was about more than running a successful business; it was about doing what they believed in. “We set out to make art and make a difference in the industry,” Retsky said. “If you don’t love what you do, it’s just not going to thrive.”
Though Got Light was a fast success, that doesn’t mean the founders were immune to worry. But they got through it all with a healthy dose of patience. “It’s a roller coaster of epic proportions,” Retsky said. “You have to (just) ride the waves.”
Retsky and Holt say it’s still a “mom-and-pop operation” with some of their first employees still with the company today. “This company would not be where it is today without the people that we have,” Retsky said.
‘Got Light brightens up events, lights up LGBT pride‘
San Francisco Business Times
awards & accolades
- Most Innovative Event Professionals (BizBash, 2016)
- Best Use of Lighting (Special Events, 2016)
- Top LGBT-Owned Business (San Francisco Business Times, 2016 & 2015)
- ‘Most Glamorous’ and ‘Most Quintessentially San Francisco’ (Borrowed & Blue SF Weddings, 2016)
- Best Event Lighting Design (BizBash, 2014)
- Best Sound & Lighting Design (Borrowed & Blue Napa Weddings, 2014)
- Certified LGBT Business Enterprise through NGLCC’s Supplier Diversity Initiative