In this week’s blog post, we are finding out more about Brenda Harper of Creative Balloons by Brenda!
JWSB: Tell us about Creative Balloons by Brenda and what services you offer.
Brenda: Creative Balloons by Brenda is a Balloon delivery service in Jacksonville, Florida that provides customized balloon decorations for all events such as, but not limited to: corporate events, birthday parties, grand openings, proms & formals, event decor, reunions, balloon releases, non-profit, baby showers, customized logos, sculptures, arches and columns . Each job is completed with the theme or desired look the client is going for. Our balloon bouquets are made to order with any theme or statement that the loved one is sending. All balloons are made with either helium or air, which allows many more options to build, construct and mold them into the most exceptional personalized balloon art for each client.
JWSB: Give us some ideas of what can be done with balloons at various types of events.
Brenda: Often times, we get people who have no idea what they want or how to get the desired look they want to achieve. It is after our free consultation and going over pictures of ideas that it all comes together for them. It is our job to ensure that we understand our customer’s needs and all aspects of the job. Having a clear picture of the event set-up helps immensely. Some of the questions I often ask the client are: Where the event is being held? Is this an outside or inside event? How many guests? Time of day? What is the ceiling height and door width (when working with arches and sculptures.) We also consider the seating location of honored guests, as well as table sizes, lighting in the room and, of course, the budget. This all helps to ensure that we have balance in the room, and as an end result, provides the “WOW” factor.
Don’t get me wrong, I also love the clients that call and say, “I trust you, do whatever you think is best” and then I run with it.
Balloons can be transformed into a masterpiece of any desired object. A balloon wall can create a focal point and/or backdrop for a wedding or it can provide a branding message to a client. Balloons hanging from the ceiling can draw a whimsical look into the room by adding shapes and different sizes to the balloon topiary. A balloon sculpture can be made into a person who just could not be in 2 places at once. (Yes, that does happen and it is fun to watch the guests interact with the balloon sculpture!) Large 40-inch foil letters can shout out your LOVE for someone or provide a statement of what you are wanting to say. From a specific name to letters such as “B.A.R” over a space lets others know where to find the cocktails. Foil numbers can express a 1st Birthday or a 50th wedding anniversary. Ideas such as making blocks with balloons for a Lego themed party with bold colors really allows the theme to “pop.” There are so many options a person can do for any specific event.
My motto is “Think outside the Balloon” and that really explains it all!
JWSB: How did you get started in your business?
Brenda: My passion is interior design. I love putting things together in a room and transforming the space into something different. I love patterns and color and all elements of design. I was in the mortgage business for over 22 years and decorated a few homes for friends and dreamed of being an interior decorator. When the housing market tanked a few years ago, I was moved to another division within the Mortgage Servicing group. I literally felt my life fading away in that desk chair. My energy was removed from me each day as I stepped through the doors. As I looked around one day, I saw balloons as far as the eye could see. This particular company was known to bring the party indoors mostly because no one ever left the building. I said in that moment, I can do that… and I can do that better…
Besides interior design, my next favorite hobby is party planning. I love putting all of the finishing touches on a party. I love to see my friends notice the small details and seeing their reaction as they walk into the room. Balloons design is another level of the creativity I have within me. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I searched for a person to mentor me. I immediately enrolled into a decorator class and learned the techniques of this trade (and there are many!) After all, I can put things together but I had to learn how to get them on a structure… LOL…I continue educating myself through attending conventions and watching videos to ensure I am always on top of the latest and greatest techniques. I have also developed strong relationships with other balloonists and we share ideas and support each other in our huge global community.
JWSB: How has this transition to entrepreneurship changed you?
Brenda: Being in the mortgage banking business and then switching to becoming an entrepreneur was a huge change for me. Not having owned my own business before and learning what it takes in this big world has been interesting, to say the least. Not only was I losing a good paycheck, I was having to earn trust and build relationships while keeping my own family happy. It took patience, self discipline and trust of my higher power to be in this business. I am not a franchise so I am the Bookkeeper, Sales Rep, Web Host, Marketing Manager and, of course, the artist behind the product. I wear many hats but I would not trade it for the world. Every day, I learn something new. Every day I talk to someone new. I build a new relationship with my reps and clientele and I challenge myself to do more. The transition from working 9 hour days to flexible time, and often working late hours and weekends is definitely an adjustment, but it is so rewarding at the end of the day when the work is complete.
JWSB: What do you like most about what you do and what would you hand off to someone else if you could?
Brenda: Excellent question! I love creative thinking and making new things, I love learning new ways to make an object. It brings me so much joy to see my clients happy with their finished products. The one hand-off I would give over in a heartbeat is the marketing piece. Having to be on top of your website, and blogging and updating photos and all the behind the scene stuff that makes me visible to the public. I assume this piece will be hired out as soon as I can get it off of my plate!
JWSB: Do you have a picture of one of your favorite balloon displays?
Brenda: Oh wow, that is a hard one. I have so many that I really enjoyed making for different reasons. I will share two with you.
I love this design because it is elegant, and although there are not many balloons, the balloons really tied it all together. These were centerpieces for a white party and the balloons had lights in them that glowed.
I worked on this one for some time and when it finally came together I was so excited! It was used in an outdoor run in the rain and wind and it held up perfectly. I was just so happy to see everyone take a photo with it, and the meaning behind the peace sign– just speaks for itself.
JWSB: Tell us about your family and what hobbies or interests you enjoy when you’re not busy blowing up balloons.
Brenda: I have three daughters, ages 20, 15 and 12. My number one job is to be a mom to my beautiful girls. They all have such compassion and have their own talents. I am a very proud mom. So when I am not ballooning, I am at the softball field with my youngest or attending school events or sporting events. Mostly, I play taxi mom to get them to where they need to be. My small business allows my schedule to be much more flexible and I am grateful for that. Sometimes I have to remind them that I am at work though!
Along with being a party host, I enjoy planting flowers and being outside as much as I can be. I call it my outdoor therapy.
The other thing that makes me really happy is to bring joy to others. Our family is big about giving back to the community. One of our annual events we do as a family is the annual Christmas party for Pine Castle. This year I was able to bring them balloon sculptures and to see their reaction through the balloons made my heart smile. It was awesome!
JWSB: How has the Jacksonville Women’s Small Biz been valuable to you and your business so far?
Brenda: The Jacksonville Women’s small Biz has allowed me to expand my connections within Jacksonville. It continues to provide support and networking opportunities that I would not have had if I had not joined this group. It is a great group to reach out to if you are looking for something or need advice. Along with getting a few jobs from these ladies I have also supported their businesses and purchased from them. We all learn from each other, we provide a safe place to share ideas and to grow and that is a “win-win” for any woman business owner. We all have the same goals and that is to connect, make it as an entrepreneur, earn money and share with others.
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So, which balloon picture do YOU like best? Leave us a comment!