How did you become a balloon artist?
I have been working in the balloon industry since I was 22. At that time in my life, I was determined that 100% of my income be earned through entertainment. Simply put, if the gig paid a good wage and allowed me to engage peoples’ emotions, I aggressively pursued it. Dinner theater, historical reenactments, character team building, educational theater, and basic balloon twisting paid my bills in 2007. I had been making balloons at restaurants once a week for a few months working for Richmond, VA Balloon Artist Mike Klee when he coerced me to attend a balloon convention called “Twist & Shout.” In order to take part in the convention I had to resign from one of my acting jobs, but Mike promised it would be worth it! I’ll never forget the moments of clarity I experienced when I walked in the lobby of the Twist & Shout hotel. I had never seen large scale balloons sculptures and decor. No one told me that balloons had the potential to be so beautiful! It became clear in those first few minutes that professional ballooning was my calling–it combined my three greatest strengths: small business skills, visual artistry, and entertainment. My inspiration was ignited, and I knew ballooning would be an industry in which I would rapidly advance. I actually said to myself, “In 5 years or less, I shall conquer this business.” I put on my cutest skirt, my most charming attitude, and went to work.
What kind of experiences have you had due to your career in ballooning?
It’s my balloon business that brought me to D.C. via Richmond in 2008. I love it here. It’s wonderful to work for myself and create a lifestyle that lends itself to creative expression and happiness. Right before my move to DC, I lived and worked in China for 2 months. I performed my show in which I climb INSIDE of a giant balloon on amphitheater style stages that I shared with AMAZING artists from all over the world. I was hired for the project with my Israeli lover and business partner. We split up after the tour but it sure was a lovely experience to share with a boyfriend! Last year I became a star on a 6 part reality TV series called ‘The Unpoppables.’ I lived in sunny Los Angeles for 4 months where I learned what it means to be a television personality. The show aired on the major cable network TLC and averaged 1.5 million viewers weekly. There are still clips online, I’m sure. Oh, and just last week I made balloon decor at the White House where I was lucky enough to meet Bo (the Obamas’ adorable dog!) My career in balloons has brought so much light into my life. I have developed a professional and social identity that gives me the platform to speak my brand of positivity into the universe. I am truly blessed and I thank G-d daily for my great fortune.
How do you relate to the Jewish community?
I grew up in a town where many people had never even met a Jew! To make matters worse, I was not raised in an observant home–NOT AT ALL. Like the title of that classic book, I started “Living a Jewish Life” when I was 19. I have actively pursued my understanding of our heritage but not by way of Judaism 101 or Hebrew classes. Instead, I have learned by befriending and dating Jews, asking a lot of questions, attending shul, and observing holidays. Through exposure and a sincere desire to learn, I feel like I’ve grown into a modern Jewish woman…which is exactly what I am. Though I am currently single, I truly hope to partner with a Jewish man to share home and family with.
What are your objectives in business and life?
The Katie Balloons mission statement is to “Generate as many smiles as possible.” I try, in everything I do, to be a conductor of positive energy. I want to be present in this moment. I want to be one of the young people that shapes the future.
Learn more at www.katieballoons.com