story by Allie Allsup
photos by Lindsay Pace
Twenty-six-year-old newlywed Haven Hildenbrand never foresaw herself making balloons for a living. But when COVID-19 swept the world, Hildenbrand found herself having to make some big changes.
After quitting her job, Hildenbrand did some brainstorming with her college classmates about how to make extra income.
“We saw that the balloon décor thing was getting big, and so I began to give myself lessons,” Hildenbrand said. “I took classes and kind of self-taught myself until I felt confident enough in my craft.”
Hildenbrand would do one or two a month to get herself through school before graduating in occupational therapy in May 2021. Realizing the job market in her field did not look promising, though, she chose to turn her craft into a full-time gig.
“I was up for a challenge, and I thought, ‘You know, I can do that,’ so, I tried it and it worked out. My classmates really helped me out too,” Hildenbrand said. “They are kind of like my sidekicks in the business.”
Aside from a few helpers from time to time, Hildenbrand does all the work herself.
“I really am the kind of person where, if I’m doing something, I’ve got to be the best at it,” she said. “That mentality is really what prompted me to make this business work.”
And work it has. While Hildenbrand started off with one or two a month, her schedule is packed in advance.
“It’s been far more successful than I ever could have imagined,” she said. “So far, I’ve been to six states total, and it’s so crazy, because I never thought I’d make it this far.”
Right now, Hildenbrand is strictly focused on balloons, from garlands to columns to centerpieces. She takes pride in creating something special for someone.
“The most rewarding part is just being able to see their faces, their expressions, when they see the reveal for the first time,” she said. “It just brings so much joy, and if that’s something that I can bring to people, then I’ll keep doing it.”
Where some see business competition, Hildenbrand sees community.
“We all kind of give tips and tricks to each other when we can,” she said. “There’s really no competition there. If one of us is booked up, we’ll suggest each other.”
Hildenbrand just celebrated both her first wedding and business anniversaries. She wants to expand her business even further.
“The event and party world aren’t going anywhere, and it’s because of that I really think it took off and continues to do so well,” Hildenbrand said. “People couldn’t celebrate or party when we were all in quarantine. So, when we all kind of came out of it, people were looking for an outlet to let loose. They found it in my business.”