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Captivating Balloons Rises on the Memphis Event Scene

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This article is from the Spring 2017 issue of
Memphis Crossroads magazine. To read more from this issue of Crossroads, click here


The story of Chamber member and entrepreneur Adrian Winfrey’s career change is an uplifting one… literally.

About 18 months ago, Winfrey – a former hairstylist for more than two decades – traded in her scissors and combs for balloons. Yes, balloons.

Now, through her business Captivating Balloons, she transforms ordinary event spaces into distinctive, head-turning “Wow!” moments.

And while her company’s name may initially evoke images of kids’ birthday parties, balloon animals and cheery, inflatable movie characters, Winfrey’s work isn’t child’s play at all. It’s artistic and often complex: If you dream it, she can build it, including balloon chandeliers, elegant centerpieces and towering sculptures, to name a few.

Winfrey says her colorful career evolution was actually a happy accident.

“I was in charge of decorating an event at Hope Fellowship Church and I was looking for something different to do,” she said. “I was Googling decorating ideas, came across balloon design and found the whole thing intriguing.”

Winfrey started doing initial research by reading online do-it-yourself articles and watching YouTube tutorials. Later, she progressed to studying educational DVDs and attending balloon-design workshops across the country.

After Winfrey tried her hand at decorating some small events, which proved she had a knack for creating striking balloon displays, she decided to take a professional leap and launch a full-time business. In that respect, she credits the Chamber’s Advice on Tap program for providing her with valuable mentoring and tools for success. Advice on Tap gives small and mid-sized business owners free 30-minute consultations on a variety of topics with seasoned business leaders in the region.

“They matched me with [Communications Director] Dan Springer at Evolve Bank. I met with him over the phone for about 30 minutes once a month. He’s been extremely helpful,” Winfrey said.

Winfrey asked Springer for marketing guidance, as she had a limited budget for that crucial business-development tool. She said Springer gave her plenty of suggestions and a list of tactics to try.

Looking back on all that extensive groundwork, Winfrey encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to pursue business ventures they truly enjoy and, once they discover that path, utilize all the research and resources they can to help make it a success.

“Investing in myself through continuing education is a key reason why I’m now able to provide beautiful designs and professional services to my clients,” Winfrey said. “Supplies are also important. I use professional-grade balloons and materials that are only available from distributors.”

But it takes more than just excellent tools and a strong business foundation to create memorable balloon experiences. It also requires time, skill and high levels of creativity, which Winfrey has in spades. The creations she showcases on her Facebook page and professional website range from grand, multi-tiered towers to striking ceiling displays and various other jaw-dropping manifestations of her imagination.

Desiree Robertson, senior manager for the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation, is one of Winfrey’s clients. After hiring Winfrey to create balloon displays for the foundation’s annual mentoring breakfast in January, Robertson is now a fan and recommends Winfrey’s services to other business owners and event planners whenever she can.

“Adrian created amazing table displays and large hanging pieces with the Grizzlies’ colors for us. And since our theme this year was ‘MVP,’ she created a tower that said ‘MVP’ and a big ‘MVP’ balloon decoration up front,” Robertson said. “Most important, she invested a lot of attention in the event itself and made it look much better than it normally does.”

Robertson said working with Winfrey was also painless.

“One of the main things I liked is that I didn’t have to be creative myself … because I’m not,” she laughed. “Besides the colors and the fact that we needed centerpieces for the tables, I gave her very little instruction. She designed the space with very little input from me, and it turned out perfect.”

Winfrey also runs the nonprofit organization Girlzlife – a mentoring program for young girls and a partner organization with the Grizzlies Foundation’s TEAM UP Youth Mentoring Partnership. She often shares her insights on finding your passion and making it a reality with the young women she mentors.

Meanwhile, Winfrey recently returned from the international Float balloon convention in St. Louis, where she attended lectures and workshops and learned new design techniques. She’s looking forward to trying those techniques at the upcoming Pink Bride Memphis bridal show in August, which she’ll be decorating.

“I really love events that will allow me to be creative on the elegant side,” said Winfrey, adding that no event is off limits, however, and no design is unattainable for her when she’s accepting potential clients.

“I do birthday parties, baby showers, corporate events, any kind of private or business event,” she said. “And if a client calls me and they know what they want and ask me if I can do it, I say yes. Even if I’ve never done it before, I have confidence that I’ll figure it out.”

Learn more about Captivating Balloons at captivatingballoons.com.

Story: Erinn Figg 
Photos: Troy Glasgow
Posted: 6/20/2017 4:08:14 PM | with 0 comments



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THE M BLOG
The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 (cmeek@memphischamber.com) or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (jfish@memphischamber.com).

 

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